Cubit, who served as the interim coach for the entire 2015 season, was given a two-year contract two months ago by former AD Mike Thomas.
Smith would also be Illinois’ first black head coach in either football or men’s basketball, the school’s two most high-profile sports.
Cubit joined IL as the offensive coordinator in 2013 after being fired by WMU after the 2012 season.
Two days after athletic director Josh Whitman fired Bill Cubit, the university officially announced Smith has been hired to take the reins of the football team.
A few hours later, a second surprise began to leak: IL already had Cubit’s replacement lined up, and it was former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smithwho would be taking the job.
Smith has college coaching experience at Tulsa (linebackers coach, 1983-86), Wisconsin (linebackers coach, 1986), Arizona State (linebackers coach, 1988-91), Kentucky (linebackers coach, 1992), Tennessee (defensive backs coach, 1993-94) and Ohio State (defensive backs coach, 1995).
The new Illini athletic director posted photos of him and Lovie Smith on Twitter on Monday morning, signifying a new era at IL.
What’s next for IL, a school that since 2011 will have had four football coaches, three athletic directors and two hoops coaches?
“We will build a program that contends annually for Big Ten and national championships”, Whitman said in a statement.
Salaries for assistant coaches were a point of discussion in Sunday’s meeting between Whitman and Smith in Tampa. In 2006, Smith led the Bears to Super Bowl XLI; they eventually fell to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
Brooks and Smith have a new relationship now, one that can actually limit their contact – Brooks’ son Decalon is a coveted college prospect who is piling up scholarship offers, and Smith will be another coach in the hunt for his services.
The strongest connection from Whitman to Smith is coach Ron Turner, who coached Whitman at IL and later spent five years on Smith’s staff in Chicago.
Illinois’ current defensive coordinator, Mike Phair, came to IL last season after working for Smith with the Buccaneers. I thought he deserved one more year, at least.
To attract someone with the pedigree of Lovie Smith to IL, given the broken down state of the program right now, is astonishing.
The Illini finished 5-7, 2-6 in the Big Ten last season under Cubit.
He’s the latest big football name to share a tie with both the Bears and Illini.
“It’s not ideal to have a bunch of head coaches”, Dudek said in an interview.
Beckman lost his job after a law firm hired by the university to investigate allegations of player mistreatment concluded the head coach had interfered in medical decisions and pressured players to play through injuries.