How will ex-Bucs coach Lovie Smith fare at Illinois?
CBS' college football announcers seem to think Lovie Smith will do better as the head coach at Illinois than he did with the Bucs.
"I think the Illini can take a step forward," CBS Sports analyst Rick Neuheisel said Thursday in a teleconference with reporters.
Neuheisel said Smith's defensive prowess will help, because there's a lot of carryover between the NFL and college games on that side of the ball.
"He's going to fit masterfully in that," said Neuheisel, a former Bucs backup and head coach at UCLA. "Given all that he's accomplished as a defensive coach and a head coach at that level, he'll bring that expertise to the Illini - and certainly a credibility of winning and doing things the right way. If you're a young guy, how can you not look up and say, ‘Our head coach is Lovie Smith. He's been to a Super Bowl.' That's a pretty good start."
CBS' Gary Danielson said athletic directors have been looking for something new to sell when they hire coaches. Instead of going with finesse, Illinois hiring Smith was a throwback to the fundamentals that have made programs like Iowa and Wisconsin successful in the Big Ten.
"What better guy to bring in than Lovie Smith, who really built his NFL resume on defense, and moving on from there?" Danielson said.