Have you heard the news? Lovie Smith is Illinois' new head football coach. New athletic director Josh Whitman has written another letter to fans and I-Fund members to officially announce the hiring; in it, he highlights Smith's past accomplishments while detailing future expectations for the program.
Here's his full message:
Today, we took a bold step forward with our football program, announcing Lovie Smith as the 25th head coach of the Fighting Illini. Lovie comes to Champaign after eleven seasons as a head coach in the National Football League, highlighted by nine years with the Chicago Bears. He has coached in two Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XLI, when he and mentor Tony Dungy became the first African-American head coaches in Super Bowl history. Lovie Smith is one of the finest coaches in America, and he is now a Fighting Illini.
In the time Lovie and I have spent together, several themes have emerged. First and foremost, Lovie is a natural leader with deep personal investment in the development and well-being of the young men under his charge. Second, he is an intense competitor who will leave no stone unturned in his quest to be successful. Third, this is a man with the highest ethical standards, who will lead us to a position of national prominence without cause for concern about the way in which our success is attained. Under Lovie's leadership, I have great confidence we will achieve the three goals I outlined in my previous letter. We will change the lives of our student-athletes. We will energize and impassion our fan base. And we will win!
Today's announcement demonstrates our university's commitment to enhancing our brand, in the state and across the country, through football and, more broadly, intercollegiate athletics. It also shows our ability, when presented with such a unique opportunity, to act quickly and decisively. I would like to express my thanks to Chancellor Barb Wilson who, with support and cooperation from President Tim Killeen and the Board of Trustees, spearheaded our hiring efforts with full appreciation for the need to move promptly and confidentially. They provided extraordinary leadership at a historic moment.
With Coach Smith at the forefront, we are assembling a team to begin our ascent toward the pinnacle of college football. We are providing him with the resources necessary to compete aggressively for top talent, among both coaches and prospective student-athletes. And understand this: that team includes you, along with a coalition of hundreds of thousands of Illini supporters around the globe. Today is a signal that we will not accept mediocrity. Ours is a standard of excellence, built on a championship culture and fueled by the passion of our fans and alumni. Together, there is truly no limit on what we can accomplish.
Please join me in welcoming head coach Lovie Smith, his wife MaryAnne, and the entire Smith family to the Illini Nation. Be proud to be a Fighting Illini. With your help, we will be champions.
With tremendous enthusiasm for our bright future,
Josh Whitman, Director of Athletics
As you may recall, this isn't the first time that Whitman has penned a letter like this. The new AD issued a similar message to fans and I-Fund members the day he was appointed to his current position.
For more on this developing story, check out our Lovie Smith news feed.