A position has unexpectedly opened up on the Illinois football coaching staff. According to a press release from the program, linebackers coach Tim McGarigle will be leaving Champaign to become the Green Bay Packers’ new Defensive Quality Control & Linebackers Coach. McGarigle, one of the few holdovers from Bill Cubit’s regime, joined the Fighting Illini in January of 2016.
Under McGarigle’s guidance in a new defensive scheme, Illinois linebackers Hardy Nickerson Jr. and Tre Watson both earned recognition as All-Big Ten Honorable-Mentions.
Statement from Tim McGarigle
"Coach Lovie Smith and the rest of the coaching staff will have the Illini football program doing great things in the near future. Even though I was here just one year, it seems like so much longer because of the quality of people and relationships I've made in just a short time. However, I've always dreamed of coaching in the NFL and this opportunity with an organization like the Packers was something I couldn't pass up. Telling the linebacker group today that I was leaving was one of the toughest things I've ever done."
Statement from Lovie Smith
"There is no doubt that Tim McGarigle is a rising star in the coaching fraternity. As much as I would have been happy that he stayed on our staff, I would never want to stand in the way of a coach moving into a position he wanted to attain. Tim is a terrific defensive coach and excellent communicator. I have no doubt he'll have a very successful career. We'll try to fill this position as soon as possible with spring ball beginning February 14."
It’ll be interesting to see how Illinois fills this vacancy in the coming weeks. With defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson already acting as a sort of de-facto linebackers coach, Lovie Smith doesn’t necessarily need to bring on anyone else to teach the position. So, at least from my point of view, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Orange and Blue opt for a new staffer that offers more recruiting advantages. We’ll just have to wait and see!