According to Football Scoop, new Illinois head coach Lovie Smith is quickly making moves to put together his coaching staff. The report indicates that Hardy Nickerson is being pursued to help run the defense with Lovie Smith. Alex Marvez is also reporting that former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman is the top target for offensive coordinator.
Source tells FootballScoop Lovie Smith is targeting Hardy Nickerson for his defensive coordinator role at Illinois https://t.co/sNnVtycOD5— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) March 8, 2016
Sherman, 61, was the Packers' coach from 2000-05. Once fired, he held two positions with the Houston Texans before becoming the head coach at Texas A&M (2008-11). Sherman is currently coaching at Nauset Regional high school in Massachusetts. Lovie has already stated that he'd like to run a balanced, pro-style attack on offense, and that's exactly what Sherman would presumably bring to Champaign.
According to Pete Thamel, current Louisville offensive coordinator Garrick McGee is Lovie Smith's 'top target' to fill the same role in Champaign.
Source: Illinois targeting Louisville OC Garrick McGee as Lovie Smith's OC/QB coach. Not done. But clear top target.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) March 8, 2016
Hardy Nickerson, who's currently the San Francisco 49ers' linebackers coach, is a five-time NFL Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro selection, and a member of the NFL 1990's All-Decade Team. Nickerson has previously served as an assistant under Smith in Chicago (2007) and Tampa Bay (2014-15).
Lovie is also reportedly targeting Tim Holt and Andrew Hayes-Stoker to fill positions on his staff.
Illinois' money pool for assistant coaches has jumped from $2.4 million to $4 million with the hiring of Lovie Smith. That's an absolutely unprecedented figure for the Illini, and it shows the administration may finally be committed to building a successful football program. In fact, that $4 million would've been No. 2 in the Big Ten (Michigan) and No. 10 in the country last season.