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OFFICIAL: Illini Football to hire Mike Phair as new Co-defensive Coordinator

A former Chicago Bears defensive line coach is reportedly being hired by Tim Beckman as Co-DC.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

According to a breaking news report filed by Bob Asmussen for the News-Gazette, current Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Mike Phair will be hired by Tim Beckman to fill the co-defensive coordinator role with the football team.

Phair was hired by the Buccaneers about a year ago to be their assistant defensive line coach. Before that, he held a similar position for three years with the Chicago Bears and worked for the Seattle Seahawks for six years.The Bears fired Phair after a tough 2013 season in which the Bears totaled just 31 sacks, tied with Jacksonville for fewest in the league. However, Phair was the leader of some pretty powerful defensive lines with the Bears prior to the season that led to his firing.

With the Buccaneers, Phair helped run a great defensive line, despite the team's struggles. Gerald McCoy was selected to his third consecutive Pro Bowl under the tutelage of Phair and is regarded as one of the three best defensive tackles in the league. An ESPN positional review article detailed the success of the interior of Tampa Bay's line this January:

If the Bucs were as good everywhere else as they were at defensive tackle, they'd be a playoff team. Gerald McCoy, who had 8.5 sacks despite missing three games with injuries, is viewed by the coaching staff as the team's best player.

This is good news because if the Illini were as good everywhere else as they were at defensive tackle, they wouldn't have won two games last year. It's difficult to tell how much of Tampa Bay's interior success is due to Phair and how much is due to having a stud like McCoy, but I certainly don't think fans could say this is a bad hire on face value. It's not a splash like Craig Kuligowski would have been, but it's hard to expect one of the best DL coaches in the country to come to Illinois.

It is a bit strange to hire a coach who's worked in the NFL for nearly his entire career, especially to a position where Illinois sorely needs recruiting help. I'd imagine that Phair seemed willing to jump in headfirst on the recruiting front though, or he never would have been offered the job. Let's just hope he's good at it.

We'll be sure to update this article as the situation develops further. For now, begin crafting all the hot takes you like about this likely new hire.


UPDATE, it's official.


Quote from Beckman:

"I am extremely pleased to add someone of Coach Phair's caliber to our coaching staff," Beckman said. "He is established as one of the rising defensive line coaches in the profession and is greatly prepared to take on the role as our co-defensive coordinator. His work with Lovie Smith, Coach Trestman and Rod Marinelli has provided an incredible amount of experience. Mike has worked with some outstanding defensive linemen during his career, and we are really looking forward to what he brings to the table."

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