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Illinois gives Lovie Smith two-year extension through 2023 season

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NCAA Football: Iowa at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois extended head football coach Lovie Smith through the 2023 season on Sunday morning. It’s a two-year extension for the Illini’s head coach.

“I think we have strong leadership,” Athletic Director Josh Whitman said. “I believe in Coach Smith... We’re three years into this with two recruiting classes. That’s not near enough time to take the steps forward coming from where we were. It’s easy to forget the position we put Coach Smith in.”

Smith finished his third season with a 4-8 record, concluding with a 24-16 loss to Northwestern on Saturday. Through three full seasons with the Illini, Smith’s record stands at just 9-27, including a winless 2017 conference season.

“I have an insider’s look,” Whitman said. “I see everything that happens inside Illinois football. I recognize that we aren’t satisfied in anyway, but I also see the progress we’ve made...”

This past offseason saw the departure of offensive coordinator and close friend of Smith, Garrick McGee. Citing health reasons, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson also left the program midway through the 2018 season.

We’ll update as we get more information and hear from Josh Whitman.