Illinois hires Lovie Smith, saves Bucs $4 million
Illinois made the hiring of former Bucs coach Lovie Smith official on Monday morning, and his new contract as the Illini head coach will save the Bucs $4 million over the next two years.
When the Bucs fired Smith in January after an 8-24 record in two seasons, the team was on the hook for $10 million in remaining salary, though his contract had "offset" language that any salary received from another job would be deducted from what the Bucs owe him.
Smith, well aware of this, was smart to backload his contract, with more money after the 2017 season, when he's no longer paid by the Bucs — his salary for the first two years is $2 million per year, but it rises to as much as $5 million in 2021. It's the same money to Illinois over the life of the contract, but Smith gets an additional $3 million in total income as opposed to a level deal that would pay him $3.5 million each year.
No details on Smith's coaching staff, but reports already have a Bucs flavor to it, with his sons Mikal and Miles expected to again be part of his staff, and Illinois defensive coordinator Mike Phair, who was Tampa Bay's assistant defensive line coach under Smith in 2014, is expected to be retained. You could see other former Bucs assistants like cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd and special-teams coordinator Kevin O'Dea hired as well.