Where does Lovie Smith sit amongst the Division-1 college coaching ranks? According to Athlon Sports, it's probably quite a bit lower than you think. The website's staff rated all 128 head coaches on Tuesday, and Smith was slotted at No. 65 overall -- which puts him at No. 11 in the Big Ten Conference.
Here's what they had to say about the new Fighting Illini head coach:
While [Lovie] Smith hasn't coached in college since 1995, he brings plenty of name value to Illinois, which should add credibility on the recruiting trail. In 11 seasons as a head coach in the NFL, Smith went 89-87 and guided the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. It may take a year for Smith to adjust to the collegiate ranks, and he's already getting a late start due to the March hire. However, he hired a good staff to ease the transition and there's plenty of potential for this program to improve in the Big Ten West.
Without really examining every single name on the list, I probably would've had Smith about 15-20 spots higher to begin the season. That may be a bit generous, but I sure as hell would've had him ahead of guys like Dave Clawson (Wake Forest), Dave Dorean (N.C. State), Rocky Long (San Diego St.), Matt Campbell (Toledo), and Steve Addazio (Boston College). While the concerns about his jump to the collegiate level are definitely valid, I think Athlon Sports severely underrated Smith's past coaching pedigree and the quality of the assistants in place around him.
Where would you have put Lovie Smith in the rankings? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to vote in the poll question at the bottom.
Illinois Fighting Illini News | June 22, 2016
Hill's vertical jump has increased from 33 inches to 37½, a remarkable gain. His weight is up, his body fat down and his squat lift has jumped from 370 pounds to 440.
"He is jumping higher than he's ever jumped. His body fat is lower than ever," [Adam] Fletcher said. "Now, because he's jumping so much higher, we're making sure he knows how to land.
Jeremy Werner ranked Illinois' top head coaches, and Mike Small (men's golf) took home the top spot. Lovie Smith was slotted at No. 6, which seems about right given the success of some of the non-revenue programs. I probably would've had him higher than Dan Hartleb, though.
Illinois and VCU will square off at AmericanAirlines Arena — home of the NBA's Miami Heat — as part of the Hoophall Miami Invitational, a non-conference preseason event sponsored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Big Ten Conference announced their preliminary 2015-16 basketball schedule on Monday, and it looks like the Fighting Illini may have gotten a favorable draw. While it'll be a few more weeks until concrete dates get announced for these matchups, we finally know how many times Illinois will play each program.
Here's our scouting report of future Fighting Illini quarterback Cameron Thomas. While Illinois was his only scholarship offer, the 6-foot-3 prospect has some serious playmaking ability.