Earlier this week the University of Illinois made a splash by announcing the hiring of former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith as their head coach. The hire of Smith came shortly after the firing of Bill Cubit, the one-time interim coach who replaced known hick and bully Tim Beckman. Smith significantly raises the credibility of a football program that has only had five winning seasons in 20 years and has attendance comparable to a Legends Football League game.
Smith's biggest impact may come on the recruiting front. (He's already turned his attention to 5* in-state recruit -- and Hawkeye legacy and current Iowa verbal commit -- A.J. Epenesa.) For years, Illinois has seen Chicagoland recruits pilfered by the likes of Missouri, Notre Dame, SEC schools and Big Ten rivals. A former NFL head coach might be just what the good people of Champaign-Urbana need to start bringing big names to the flatlands of Central Illinois.
The investigative team at BHGP* was fortunate enough to get their hands on a rough draft of the recruiting packet** that Lovie Smith and his staff will soon be sending out to potential recruits and wanted to share what we felt are the top 10 lines. Enjoy.
* - There is no investigative team.
** - There is no recruiting packet. None of this is real.
1. Looking to play for an aggressive coach who takes chances?! Coach Lovie Smith once ran Ron Rivera out of town!
As head coach of the Chicago Bears, Lovie Smith dropped Ron Rivera like a bad habit just over two weeks after the Bears were defeated by the Colts by an embarrassing score of 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI. The Bears defense, coached by Rivera, gave up a humiliating 430 yards to Indianapolis and their no-name offense. Despite the Bears offense fighting gallantly behind the immortal Rex Grossman, Coach Smith's handpicked QB who managed to help Chicago net 265 yards that day, the Bears fell. Coach Smith's decision to let Rivera ultimately proved correct as their total defense bettered from 5th in the NFL in 2006 to 28th in 2007, 21st in 2008, and 17th in 2009. Ron Rivera has since fallen off the face of the planet.
2. "I started Rex Grossman in a Super Bowl." - Coach Lovie Smith
That's right! Rex Grossman did actually start in a Super Bowl and that was all thanks to the genius of Coach Lovie Smith! Grossman was a rare talent, the type of guy who finished an NFL game with a passer rating of zero and often tried to throw passes with his left-hand (he's right handed).
3. "In addition to Grossman, I've coached Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Jonathan Quinn, Caleb Hanie and Todd Collins. I think I know a little bit about the QB Position." - Coach Lovie Smith
Coach Smith has a long history of developing quarterbacks; not just rare talents like Rex Grossman. Take Todd Collins, a career journeyman who Coach Smith knew had the "right stuff" to fill in for Jay Cutler back in 2010. Collins went 4/11 for 36 yards and 1 interception. Brilliant!
4. Looking for composure? No one stares lifelessly up at the scoreboard while his team is down three touchdowns quite like Coach Lovie Smith!
No need to get worked up! There isn't a head coach in football that shows the lifelessness and composure that Coach Smith shows when his team is losing. Known for his thousand yard stares at the scoreboard, Coach Smith's expressionless face gives fans and players the reassurance needed that no matter how bad things get, he won't panic. This is exactly the type of stoicism needed for a program that is routinely down by three touchdowns.
5. Nothing says adventure like playing for a coach who hasn't been on a college sideline since 1995!
And you thought you could only choose your own adventure at Iowa State! Coach Smith has never been the head coach or coordinator of a college football team and hasn't been involved at the collegiate level since 1995! So why not learn on the job with him?!
6. BTW, did we mention Lovie Smith coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?!
He sure did! A true riverboat gambler, Coach Smith actually attempted to make Mike Glennon look like an NFL quarterback in 2014 and the result of his hard work was the Buccaneers getting rights to the first overall pick of the 2015 Draft. The Buccaneers then drafted model citizen Jameis Winston!
7. Are you the type of player who might need a second chance? Two words: Chris Conte.
A true humanitarian, Coach Smith is the type of person who always gives a second chance to someone in need. Take Chris Conte, for example. The one-time Bears safety that singlehandedly cost Chicago a playoff berth and was a human traffic cone in the secondary was picked up by Coach Smith and Tampa Bay after he was ridden out of the Windy City on a rail. He's currently on injured reserve after a "stellar" 2015 campaign.
8. Play for Illinois and Coach for Lovie Smith at a position you didn't even play!
If you play for Illinois there's a good chance you'll eventually end up right back here coaching a position you didn't even play in college! Take Nathan Scheelhaase as an example. A four-year starter at quarterback for the Illini, Scheelhaase hasn't played running back since high school but that doesn't mean daredevil Coach Smith won't hire him as the Illini's running backs coach! Just think, if you're the next starting WR for Illinois you could one day be coaching our offensive linemen!
9. "I've coached some of the best wide receivers in the game. How'd you like your name to be included in the same sentence as Devin Hester, Rashied Davis, Marty Booker and Johnny Knox?" - Coach Lovie Smith
Coach Smith has an absolute pedigree when it comes to coaching wide receivers. Just look at those names. Remember when Coach Davis tried to turn Devin Hester, a 5'11, 190lb return specialist into a starting wide receiver in the NFL? A true risk taker.