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Rod Smith named Illinois’ offensive coordinator

Smith was at Arizona for six seasons.

Arizona Daily Star

Illinois reportedly agreed to hire Rod Smith as its next offensive coordinator Friday.

Smith coached in Tucson for six seasons alongside head coach Rich Rodriguez. He was the team’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, coaching electric players like Khalil Tate and Any Solomon.

He joined Arizona in December 2011 after one season in the same position at Indiana.

Arizona established single-game records for team scoring, total offense and rushing offense during his tenure.

Smith coached with Rodriguez at Michigan and West Virginia a decade ago, coaching players like Pat White and Denard Robinson at those stops. Smith has been in the spotlight with major players, something Illinois will need him to do in a hurry if it hopes to turn around the program.

Illinois, on the other hand, had little success on offense last season, leading to the firing of offensive coordinator Garrick McGee after two years with the program.

McGee was hired in 2016 after Lovie Smith was brought on as Illinois’ head coach.

Illinois finished the 2017 season No. 126 in total offense, only ahead of (2018 opener opponent) Kent State, Rutgers and UTEP. The Illini averaged 15.4 points and went through three starting quarterbacks throughout the course of the season.

Not only was McGee fired and the offense was unwatchable at points, two of Illinois’ quarterbacks announced they will be leaving the program. Sophomore Jeff George Jr. announced his intent to transfer Wednesday afternoon. Junior Chayce Crouch retired from football the same day.

Smith has also had stops at South Florida, Clemson and Urbana (Ohio) University.

Rod Smith can be followed on Twitter at @BearDownRSmith, but we’ll have to see if he changes his Twitter handle following the move.

Stay with The Champaign Room for more analysis of Illinois’ new assistant coach.