The University of Illinois has fired head football coach Lovie Smith with one game left in the regular season.
Director of Athletics Josh Whitman made the official announcement Sunday, effective immediately. Offensive coordinator Rod Smith takes over as acting head coach
“Lovie Smith led the Illinois football program with unquestioned integrity during his nearly five years of service,” Whitman said. “I have tremendous respect for Coach Smith and will always be grateful to him for providing a steady, experienced hand at a time when our program required stability. His unshakeable leadership, never more needed than during this pandemic, will be forever remembered."
Whitman cited a lack of progress "at the rate we should expect" as the reason for Smith's departure.
In happier days, Illinois head coach Lovie Smith celebrates a 2019 victory over Michigan State. (Photo: Mike Carter, USA TODAY Sports)
After head coaching stints in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith brought instant credibility to the Illinois program when he was hired in 2016. However, in his five seasons in Champaign, Smith's teams compiled an overall record of 17-39 with a 10-33 mark in Big Ten play and one bowl berth — the 2019 Red Box Bowl.
Saturday's 28-10 loss to Northwestern dropped Illinois' record to 2-5 this season.
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