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Illinois fired its glorified interim coach in March and hired Lovie Smith 2 days later

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Saturday morning, former interim Bill Cubit was the head coach of the Illini, with Signing Day one month in the rear view and spring practice starting in less than a week. Cubit had just signed a full-time head coach contract while leading a 5-7 season, albeit a weirdly short two-year deal.

Saturday afternoon, former NFL head coach Lovie Smith was the favorite to replace Cubit, who was fired within hours of new AD Josh Whitman officially taking the wheel. The firing alone is weird for like eight different reasons, and it completes (?) a diaper fire of a year for Illinois athletics*.

Monday, this happened (our Illinois blog is happy):

* (Although it does mean some of Cubit's coaching staff is suddenly out of work at a time when nobody's looking for coaches, which sounds par for the Illinois course. The freshmen who'd just signed to play for Cubit likely wouldn't be disappointed to play for Smith, but the new AD messed up at least part of this coup, as players found out about the firing via Twitter.)

It's a six-year, $21 million deal.

Smith hasn't coached in college in 20 years and was never even a college coordinator, but surely he can catch the eye of Midwest recruits whose first sports memories include him coaching Chicago in the Super Bowl. And before we worry too much about Smith's college experience, let's remember the current goal for the Illini is, like, making a couple bowls in a row. Outrecruiting Ohio State is not exactly on the list of requirements at the moment.

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