Illinois Fires Lovie Smith

By Matthew Filipovits on December 13, 2020 at 1:06 pm
Oct 27, 2018; College Park, MD, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Lovie Smith walks across the field before the game against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Illinois football program has parted ways with head coach Lovie Smith, bringing an underwhelming 5-year run to an end and taking one of the best beards in college football out of the Big Ten.

The former head coach of the Chicago Bears, Smith sent shockwaves across the college football world after accepting the Illinois job in 2016. Prior to landing in Champaign, Smith spent more than a decade as a head coach in the NFL and had not coached in the college ranks in over 20 years.

The Illini went 17-39 during Smith's tenure, including a 10-33 mark in Big Ten play. The program looked to be on the rise after making a bowl game in 2019, their first postseason appearance in four years. They went able to keep that momentum, going 2-5 in 2020.

A national search will begin immediately.