Report: Lovie Smith tabbed as Illinois' next coach

Dr. Saturday

A few hours after Bill Cubit was fired as Illinois’ head coach, reports are emerging that former NFL coach Lovie Smith will be the next to take over the Illini.

CBS Chicago first reported the news, but Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman also confirmed the move.

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Smith, 57, was fired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the season. His last collegiate job was 21 years ago when he was the defensive backs coach at Ohio State.

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However, Smith was a bit of an icon in Illinois after leading the Chicago Bears to three NFC North titles and a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. He is 89-87 overall as an NFL head coach and most recently went 8-24 in two season with the Buccaneers.

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, who was in his first day on the job, announced the firing of Cubit and his son, offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit, late Saturday morning. He also announced the postponement of Illinois’ spring practice, which was slated to start March 11. He did, however, seem optimistic in his release that a new coach would be hired shortly.

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If Smith is not ultimately the choice, there are several replacements that have been mentioned, including Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck, former Miami coach Al Golden and Air Force's Troy Calhoun.

For more Illinois news, visit OrangeandBlueNews.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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