Lovie Smith out at Illinois

#251      
It's hard to assess how vulnerable we were to real roster devastation in March of 2016. That Cubit team was basically Beckman's, he got fired a week before the first game, it was his roster and his staff. Cubit had replaced most of the staff and was on a joke no-credibility contract. The 2016 class was weak and surely the 2017 even weaker, and how would the existing players have handled a year under a lame duck? And you also have to consider how absolutely poisonous the fan atmosphere was after Not Ideal. The relatively quality of the 2015 team does not tell the whole story of how shaky that situation was.

It MIGHT have been a better idea to ride out 2016 with Cubit and then do a real coaching search. But there are big potential pitfalls between March and December of 2016.

The problem wasn't the hiring of Lovie, which was a calculated gamble by Whitman from a position of weakness that he didn't create. The problem was the galaxy brained logic that prized "stability" as an abstract concept over really looking at what was happening. Not to mention Whitman's bad tendency toward structuring contracts to make it financially impossible to fire a coach early when he doesn't have to because he's not negotiating against anyone.

He should have been gone the morning after 63-0. That's the mistake. We've had some fun moments in the intervening two years, but we have a lesser roster and a lot of wasted time to show for it. And it would be worse if not for the Covid rules letting our seniors come back.
I'm roughly in agreement with you on when the firing should have happened. Short of immediately after 63-0 (there was only 1 week remaining), there is no way that Smith should have been allowed to name himself as DC and elevate his son to coaching LB's that offseason. JW demonstrably failed in his oversight responsibilities there, and if LS would have fought him on those issues he should have been fired then. Either way, he should not have been HC without a DC and with an incompetent, nepotism hire at LB coach by the time the 2019 season rolled around.
 
#252      
Geneseo, IL
Final F/+ Rankings are out, so let's close the book on the Lovie era:

Zook
2005: 102nd
2006: 79th
2007: 18th
2008: 40th
2009: 84th
2010: 30th
2011: 52nd

Beckman
2012: 107th
2013: 71st
2014: 78th

Cubit
2015: 65th

Lovie
2016: 103rd
2017: 119th
2018: 108th
2019: 67th
2020: 102nd

In Conclusion
There's a lot of suck in there.
 
#258      
Tennessee
"The problem wasn't the hiring of Lovie, which was a calculated gamble by Whitman from a position of weakness that he didn't create. The problem was the galaxy brained logic that prized "stability" as an abstract concept over really looking at what was happening. Not to mention Whitman's bad tendency toward structuring contracts to make it financially impossible to fire a coach early when he doesn't have to because he's not negotiating against anyone."

Agree.
 
#259      
You might be the first person I've seen claim the program was "stable" at the end of the Beckman/Cubit/Thomas era and not saying that as satire. There were lawsuits that required the University to pay out $500k in settlements. Thomas was fired. An administrator deemed the Cubit contract "not ideal". This goes beyond the record of that team and completely ignores that crises can happen off-the-field. Would we state the same about Penn State football when Bill O'Brien took over? Or when Bielema took over at Arkansas following Petrino/John L.?

My answer to that, who cares? None of those things actually matter in terms of building a football program. They are just things fans say when they want to make excuses for a new coach failing. Unless something off the field results in NCAA sanctions, then its just excuse making for things that have nothing to do with A) Winning Football games, B) Recruiting Elite Athletes. That is, believe it or not, all it takes to build a successful program. Win games and recruit. Pretty simple. Whatever is going on with the AD getting fired, or one former player suing the university does not matter at all. Again, none of those things you cited resulted in NCAA Sanctions. If they did, you'd have a point. If we had massive roster turnover because of coach abuse scandal, you'd have a point. But nearly the entire roster, which was an average football team by Illinois standards, returned so obviously they didn't care about any of that.

We have better facilities since Cubit was fired. That's the only thing that is better about the program. Claiming that we are better off because "at least we don't have any lawsuits facing the university", is literally ridiculous. Giving any coach credit for simply not being put on probation is a bar I will never ever acknowledge. Because that is not an accomplishment. Simply doing what you are supposed to do, you shouldn't get any credit for that. That's like showing up to work on time, and then doing nothing. But then someone saying "At least they showed up to work". No.