Monday, March 07, 2016

I Don't Know How to Lov(ie) Him ... or Do I?

So today Lovie Smith was officially introduced as head football coach of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. Yes -- the same Lovie Smith who once coached the Chicago Bears and, more recently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What do I make of this?

My niece's husband, a southern gentleman who was born in and breathes the SEC, snarkily remarked on Facebook the other day, "I didn't know that Illinois had a football team" when I posted that then-coach Bill Cubit had been fired. It is difficult to disagree.

The University of Illinois has been a mess for many years. Outside of admissions scandals, hiring former terrorists, university administrators trying to get around FOIA requests, administrators being canned and getting involved in a messy "he's hired -- no, he's not" controversy, the Athletic Department has had its share of problems. Lawsuits by former athletes. Coaches and Athletic Director fired. Poor performances by the revenue generating sport teams. A major university that loves its sports, yet can't seem to get back on track with the major teams like football and basketball.

I must admit, I was never really a Lovie Smith fan during the time he coached the Bears. Although he had some success, there was always a feeling that the Bears could have done better with their personnel. He just seemed to be lacking that certain something that could move the Bears up to the next level. Yes, they went to a Super Bowl, losing to the Indianapolis Colts, and twice were the NFC champions. But missing the playoffs five out of six years doomed Smith's career in Chicago. There was a lot of frustration in those seasons.

But now it is time to be realistic. I don't think that anyone doubts that Lovie knows his stuff on defense. Who could the Illini possibly attract to be its head football coach? Lovie Smith is definitely more than I and most fans would have expected. He may have worn out his welcome with the Bears and the Bucs, but he has a chance to turn around a floundering Illini team. The twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, current students, alumni and supporters across the country are excited. The smell of change is in the air.

Welcome to the University of Illinois, Lovie!
Lovie at the Illini Union today


Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

The question is whether he can recruit or not, and I believe he can. Should be good times ahead.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

There's very little I can think of that I care less about than Illinois football.

But I just want to say I think the title of this post is very clever. Good job!

12:24 AM  

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