Lovie Smith receives 2-year contract extension through 2023

#51
When one week you can get a team up and prepared to play like Saturday against NW (a few dropped passes caught and there's no telling what could have happened in that game) and a few weeks prior Iowa beats you 63-0, to me, that's all on the head coach. Tried to be optimistic, tried to give this a chance, but I just see no reason for optimism. Yes the program has been average to bad for a long time, but not this bad
 
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#52
I am reading these posts and I'm shaking my head. Does anybody really think that giving Lovie 2 extra years is going to solve anything? Look back to Mike White. Inherited a death spiral of a program and got the U of I to the Rose Bowl in 5 years. He ran the table with Juco talent and sure he cut a couple of corners but he brought us to Pasadena for the first time in 20 years. John Mackovic brought us to 4 bowl games in four years. Ron Turner went from 0-11 to the Sugar Bowl. Ron Zook came in, recruited so well that the New York Times accused him of cheating (which he did not) and got us to a bridesmaid Rose Bowl in 2008. Zook got fired for a 6-6 season. Lovie has shown nothing in his tenure here; his record is Gary Moeller abysmal, his recruiting classes make alumni envious of the recruiting class of North Dakota State, and has brought the program back to laughing stock status. Lovie Smith is a money grubbing cancer that will bring nothing more than additional misery to an already awfully pathetic program.

And, let's be brutally honest...Ron Zook got fired for a 6-6 season and Lovie Smith got rewarded for a 4-8 season. Something tells me the Illinois PC police have an agenda other than winning games.
 
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#54
What exactly does it hurt to have sucked one more year?
That's not the question. The question is what is in the best interests of the program moving forward.

I more or less think that sticking with Lovie is the right decision, and if we've gotten all this "stand by your man" stuff into the press and our recruits twitter accounts in exchange for a negligible increase to the buyout than it's a pretty clever job by our AD.

But the risks are pretty clear. If there is more roster turnover, that's a weaker program you're handing to the next coach. And we currently have 28-29ish rising scholarship juniors. We can only bring in 25 players in any given year. If Lovie adds more to that total with desperation win-now Juco additions (and there has been an uptick in Juco offers), every single one will represent an empty roster spot in 2021, potentially year two for the next coach.

So there is downside beyond just sitting through 12 more games of garbage and the opportunity cost of maybe missing out on your savior this offseason.

But there's upside too. This could work. Or even if it doesn't we could hand over a roster in pretty good shape next offseason, which will make us more attractive to potential coaches and give them a chance to hit the ground running.
 
#55
And, let's be brutally honest...Ron Zook got fired for a 6-6 season and Lovie Smith got rewarded for a 4-8 season. Something tells me the Illinois PC police have an agenda other than winning games.
Zook lost 6 games in a row to finish the season. His recruiting was tanking and he had significantly underachieved with the talent he had during his tenure.

Lovie wasn't kept to please the PC police, he was kept to allow him a reasonable chance at success. It was a good football decision
 
#56
I honestly cannot fathom that people really thought Whitman would fire Lovie after just 2 recruiting classes and a 12 mil. buyout. Next year is his "prove it" year. Whitman made an informed decision that is the best one for this program and for recruiting next year. The erratic fans on here that can't see that would likely mismanage a 3rd grade rec league.
 
#57
The bullet-point letter to donors was a joke and embarrassment. Sure it was used to try to convince recruits and coordinators that there is stability within the football organization but come on, recruits and coordinators are able to see through this just as well as anybody else can. 80% of the fan base is checked out and are not coming back. Whitman should have been straight up with the fans and told us there are multiple problems within the football organization and they will be addressed and fixed instead of this pie in the sky Beckmanesque crap.
 
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#58
That's not the question. The question is what is in the best interests of the program moving forward.

I more or less think that sticking with Lovie is the right decision, and if we've gotten all this "stand by your man" stuff into the press and our recruits twitter accounts in exchange for a negligible increase to the buyout than it's a pretty clever job by our AD.

But the risks are pretty clear. If there is more roster turnover, that's a weaker program you're handing to the next coach. And we currently have 28-29ish rising scholarship juniors. We can only bring in 25 players in any given year. If Lovie adds more to that total with desperation win-now Juco additions (and there has been an uptick in Juco offers), every single one will represent an empty roster spot in 2021, potentially year two for the next coach.

So there is downside beyond just sitting through 12 more games of garbage and the opportunity cost of maybe missing out on your savior this offseason.

But there's upside too. This could work. Or even if it doesn't we could hand over a roster in pretty good shape next offseason, which will make us more attractive to potential coaches and give them a chance to hit the ground running.
You are essentially in agreement with me then. There are more upsides to this decision than downsides. It would have been a step back to have let Lovie go. This is better for recruits, the DC search, and the current players who will be juniors/sophs. next year. One more year will not catastrophically set back the program if Lovie fails. In all reality it will more than likely put the next coach in a better position coming in if Lovie fails in year 4.
 
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#59
No idea if this is going to work but Frank Beamer went 24-40-2 in his 1st six seasons. And then won at least 7 every year til he retired. At least that is what I will place my hope in. There was some improvement this year on offense. Maybe a slow build is the thing that finally “fixes” football. If not we just start over again in a year or two.
 
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#60
You are essentially in agreement with me then. There are more upsides to this decision than downsides. It would have been a step back to have let Lovie go. This is better for recruits, the DC search, and the current players who will be juniors/sophs. next year. One more year will not catastrophically set back the program if Lovie fails. In all reality it will more than likely put the next coach in a better position coming in if Lovie fails in year 4.
I mean, there is uncertainty in either direction. There are no guarantees in either direction. But so long as this extension doesn't put us in a position where a firing next year would be financially damaging (and we don't know that either way yet, apparently it's not even finalized), I think on balance this was the right decision for this moment in time.

But I also think Lovie's performance thus far has been atrocious and that he has no excuses for it. He probably "deserves" to be fired, but as I said in my previous post, the question is what's the best option for the program moving forward, not what is "deserved".
 
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#61
I don’t want to be either of those teams. I don’t consider them the bar for success
They aren’t the bar for success but what they have shown is that a program can be turned around in 2-3 years. Sure we may have not had players not as good as those teams but that was three years ago.
Let’s face facts Lovie made some really bad assistant coach hires. Especially on the defensive side. Adding Ron Smith is a good start but he needs to clean up his own mess if he and Josh want to keep their jobs.
 
#62
Stability? Looks like the stability is we're going to be a bad football time for a few more years. 63-0........enuf said.
 
#63
The Transfer Portal
I understand the gnashing of the teeth on this, but there's really no downside to doing this. It removes a cudgel that was certainly already being used against us on the recruiting trail, and should make it a bit easier to make staff hires this offseason. And, has been stated, if we faceplant next year, we're probably changing course anyway, so nothing has really changed.
 
#64
Thrilled to hear it. Being at the game yesterday the NU coaches got pretty quiet as the Illini inched closer and closer. They sense the footsteps and their window closing.
 
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#65

Deleted member 643761

D
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I am reading these posts and I'm shaking my head. Does anybody really think that giving Lovie 2 extra years is going to solve anything? Look back to Mike White. Inherited a death spiral of a program and got the U of I to the Rose Bowl in 5 years. He ran the table with Juco talent and sure he cut a couple of corners but he brought us to Pasadena for the first time in 20 years. John Mackovic brought us to 4 bowl games in four years. Ron Turner went from 0-11 to the Sugar Bowl. Ron Zook came in, recruited so well that the New York Times accused him of cheating (which he did not) and got us to a bridesmaid Rose Bowl in 2008. Zook got fired for a 6-6 season. Lovie has shown nothing in his tenure here; his record is Gary Moeller abysmal, his recruiting classes make alumni envious of the recruiting class of North Dakota State, and has brought the program back to laughing stock status. Lovie Smith is a money grubbing cancer that will bring nothing more than additional misery to an already awfully pathetic program.

And, let's be brutally honest...Ron Zook got fired for a 6-6 season and Lovie Smith got rewarded for a 4-8 season. Something tells me the Illinois PC police have an agenda other than winning games.
Um, lots of people obviously think that 2 extra years might solve this. I imagine everyone is also realistic that it might not. We shall see.

As to the recruiting, we'll see how this class finishes out. I actually don't mind that it's not that big right now. Let's close strong. We have some great names on board and if we keep them and add, we'll have a solid recruiting class.

I don't follow ND State too closely, so I wouldn't know enough to be envious. But I actually like how our class is shaping up against the teams we're most concerned about in the B1G.
 
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#67
Champaign, IL
I understand it. Many don't like this decision. Some are resigned to it and I think a few Lovie supporters like the move. Ultimately, it was the only move that could be made. Whitman's biggest mistake was having a $12 million buyout in the contract. This might have been intentional as the fears initially was that Lovie would jump back to the NFL if given a head coaching job.

At this point, as long as we got favorable buyout language and $$$, it may have be the best situation we could have gotten. It is going to be harder to use this against us in recruiting. It may keep our recruits we have committed but not signed. Is it ideal? No. But if we can keep an upward trajectory with wins, get new football center opened up, there is some hope, if not for Lovie, then for his successor to not be in the same situation that Lovie faced when coming to Illinois. I know that the most popular player is typically the back-up quarterback and the most popular coach your next coach. The unheralded wonder coach that you are lucky enough to find.

I just hope that this is a negotiated buyout type of extension. Enough to pacify the recruits, gives Lovie a chance to hire a defensive coordinator and improve, and gives our AD options in the future years if things don't improve.
 
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#69
Well let's at least look at the situation in context a little bit.

Lovie chose to run off the players he inherited in favor of playing raw, unprepared freshmen. I think the claims made here about the talent of those players are laughable nonsense and that choosing to run them off was a gigantic mistake. But there's no use crying over spilled milk, that's what he did, what's done is done.

The reason other schools can rebuild in 2 or 3 years is because they get buy-in from the players they inherited and with their coaching acumen and player development ability they mold those guys into solid contributors and leaders, supplemented by a sprinkling of the best of their own hand picked recruits. That's how they do it in that amount of time. And they all do it, that is the story of every successful rebuild, and claims to the contrary are falsehoods.

We ran those players off, so we did not have that opportunity. No coach could have won with the lineups we chose to field in 2017. As for this season, we should have been better than we were, but we still badly lacked that veteran leadership that Lovie made the affirmative choice to jettison. We chose to construct the roster in a way that would push competitiveness down the road a couple of years, in lieu of trying to be respectable in the meantime.

The good news is, that story is now the past. Illinois is a veteran football team now, an extremely experienced one. We have more than enough to be a 6-7 win team next year, I honestly think we probably will be.

And if we're not, it's about as easy and thoroughly researched and proven of a decision as an AD will ever make. If we're not good next year, Lovie is not the answer, that's all she wrote.
Not really accurate. Our defense was made up of mostly seniors in Lovie's first year, including the entire DL (Smoot, Phillips, Bain, Clements) + Nickerson at LB. That Jr & Soph class had very little talent. The only players of consequence, who we could've really used this year, were Watson & Nelson. But they weren't run off and they didn't leave until this past year, and Watson actually had a horrible '17 season. We did lose Vaughn after '16, but McGee proved he didn't handle any part of the Offense correctly, especially RB & OL.

That 2016 season was a disappointment, with what seemed to be a defense with some talent and experience. But it was mostly due to the ineptness of our offense, which carried over and continued in 2017. Hopefully, with some improved WR play the offense will continue to do their part. Minus Phillips, the entire D returns, so hopefully with the experience & another off-season, we'll see significant improvement. A new DC can only help after the debacle that we watched most of this year..
 
#70
I am not a Lovie guy. Think he is at the end of his career and I prefer a higher energy guy. That being said, he either needed to be fired today or ensorsed by JW. He chose to endorse him and by doing that it shows he believes in the bigger picture he envisioned when he hired Lovie. Lovie is our coach and I am eager to see the next steps in solidifying his staff. We need to lock down our current commits and build this class. 6+ wins should be the bar next year. 5 or less and he is gone.
 
#71
I could not agree more. People forget that football is supposed to be a revenue sport. I checked out of being a donor to the I Fund scam about 5 years ago during the Groce/Beckman trainwreck. Why donate $10k a year to a program that excuses failure and celebrates future failure with a washed up, unenthusiastic Head Coach? Besides, if I want to go to a game where there are 30,000 empty seats and I can get a pair of tickets on the 40 yard line on StubHub for $60 why would I donate a dime?. That is the mediocrity that the University now embraces and pays handsomely for. Considering the plummeting reputation of the U of I in the academic world, having a underachieving Head Coach like Lovie Smith is only fitting.
Appreciate your sensibility on donations vs game day tickets, seriously.

I don’t have your billfold, but wish we had more alumni with enough money/generosity to buy their friends and family the stubhub tickets and let their families go and enjoy the game day atmosphere of Grange Grove and Assembly Hall.

I have a family friend donor that does this consistently (gave us over 10 tickets for the upcoming border war game). No paybacks required, he offers as much as he can to ensure Illini fans show up in STL (my guess).

This level of character is part of being a donor/bigwig in tough times. I appreciate his generosity and hope we find success sooner than later.
 
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#72
Let's say we fire Lovie, who do you hire? Who even wants to come here? Who could we even afford after putting up $12M for someone to organize his sock drawer? Offense did improve a ton this year. Hopefully the defense can make a similar stride and then we'll be bowling.
 
#73
California
I don't think there was a realistic choice under the current situation.

Josh has tied his job to having this work out.

And most of the ticket-purchasing fans have checked out.
 
#74
It baffles me that people are upset with this move.

If memory serves roughly 3 years ago:

*We fired complete moron of a coach for cause amid embarrassing allegations from former players.
*We fired a completely incompetent AD who had alienated donors & alumni & due to lack of funding we compromised & settled on all building projects during his tenure.
*We turned the program over to a coordinator who had previously been fired as a head coach at W Michigan in a move the interim chancellor described as not ideal.
*With our mens bball program, we clung to hope that somehow our coach could be successful despite every evidence of lack of in game coaching acumen. However, he was a great guy that we all rooted for.
*We fired our women's bball coach for cause.

Those were similar circumstances to Purdue & Minnesota right? No???????????? Hmmmmm!
(I also believe these 2 programs will be no better next year than they were this year & may regress.)

Enter Josh Whitman in the spring of 2016:

He promptly hired Lovie Smith & instantly added hope & credibility to our football program. He instantly gained back donors & alumni. Can you name any other coach we could realistically hire that would have instantly brought unity & excitement back like Love did? Granted, Lovie's contract included a mutually beneficial buyout clause. We were a school worried about a coach being successful & leaving. Meanwhile, he was a coach worried about being fired before having the chance to succeed. Since then we have brought in close to 100 million in donations to upgrade numerous facilities. I would argue that every program is in a better position now as opposed to then. I also will just focus on football for the rest of this flipping loooong post.

1. No one expected success in the first 2 years & preseason projections put us at 3 wins this year. I can look back & I truly believe we should have won at least 5 games maybe 6.
2. We fielded a roster that was young, inexperienced, lacked play makers, & had no depth.
3. Yes, the defense was a complete disaster. I believe that there was more going on behind the scenes with Hardy than any of us will ever know. Also Abram's left the team less than a month before the start of the season.
4. Yes several of the loses were complete embarrassments. Have any of you coached a young team that makes mistakes & loses confidence in themselves? It can get ugly really quickly. If the loses would have been competitive I believe most would be happy with 4 wins & 2 near upsets.

If we don't win 6 games next year Lovie is gone. As many others have said this extension changes nothing in that regard. I don't really see the downside or risk in keeping Lovie for another year. In 2019 we will have a veteran roster, a finished football facility, & an AD that has proven he will stand by his coach & support the program in every possible way. I think he will be in position to hire his choice of many desirable coaches. However, if the team takes a realistic step forward we could turn 4 games we lost this year into wins. Yes that would mean not just 6 but 8 wins. Don't @ me, I am not saying it will happen. I am saying it could, & even that it should! We must make the right hires this offseason & complete the recruiting class by keeping the current commits & adding depth. No I have not been drinking orange kool-aid.

So basically 3 years ago we were a complete dumpster fire & now - well were not! Even if Lovie fails next year, I am thankful he came & restored hope & moved us light years forward. I also will believe the next staff will be in a position to win sooner than later.