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Illinois will retain interim head coach Bill Cubit with 2-year deal

The Illini will stay the course direction with their short-term replacement for Tim Beckman.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois will retain interim head coach Bill Cubit with a new two-year deal, the school announced Saturday. Cubit's salary will reportedly be $1.2 million, and only one year is reportedly "mostly guaranteed."

Interim athletic director Paul Kowalczyk, in the school's statement:

Bill has stepped in during an extremely difficult period and done an outstanding job in leading our football program since August. Our student-athletes have responded in a positive manner and we feel he is the best person at this time to be the head coach. We wanted to allow Bill to make decisions regarding the program as the head coach without the interim title, and lead the Fighting Illini into Saturday's game without speculation.

Cubit led Illinois to a 5-6 record after being the Illini's interim head coach in August, following a review into allegations of mistreatment that prompted the firing of Tim Beckman. Cubit had previously served as Beckman's offensive coordinator. The Illini finish their season Saturday against Northwestern.

Illinois didn't really improve from its woeful Beckman years (he went 12-25 in three full seasons in Champaign) in 2015, given that Illinois went to (and lost in) the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2014. But the Illini did start 4-1! And they beat Nebraska for the first time in program history since the 1920s!

And ... okay, yeah, that's not very much to recommend Cubit. SB Nation's Illinois blog The Champaign Room was strongly against his retention, writing that "while he's a nice guy and all, Bill Cubit isn't the answer":

There's a certain hilarious irony about not wanting to go after a new coach because the new AD might fire him but legitimately wanting to give the interim coach an extension with "very reasonable buyouts." That's not stability. That's lying to yourself that the house you built out of cardboard and old broomsticks will be able to survive the winter. That's the emptiest show of faith possible in a coaching staff. And that continues to overlook the simple fact that while you may be gaining continuity, that's literally all you'd be gaining. The on-field results aren't agreeing with what you're trying to sell.

Cubit previously coached at Western Michigan, where he went 51-47 and made three bowls (losing all three) with the Broncos before being fired in 2012.

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