This rant is brought to you by The Lumineers, enjoy.
Lovie Smith didn’t start the avalanche.
We can argue all day over what exact moment marked the end of Illinois Football’s relevancy in the Big Ten and college football at large. There are plenty. But it wasn’t Lovie Smith’s handiwork.
The goal of the Lovie Smith hire was stability, with the upside of winning. #WeWillWin was a lie, a bag of goods we willingly bought because we needed to feel something. The tagline should have been #WeWontBeACompleteLaughingStock.
Fate has dealt me a lonely blow // Tried to help, but only hurt // In the end, I made it worse
Well, mission accomplished. We aren’t as embarrassing as Rutgers or Kansas, but the results on the field are no different than they would have been if Mike Thomas and the Cubit Clan were running the show. We got our stability and have hit our head on the very low ceiling of a Lovie Smith college football program.
Lovie was doomed once he lost to EMU. We all knew that deep down. But there was still that one little voice in the back of your head that was telling you there was still a chance. That Minnesota isn’t that good. Purdue is banged up. Rutgers is Rutgers. And Northwestern can’t score to save its life. And that voice was right. It just failed to mention that we are still Illinois. And Lovie Smith is still Lovie Smith.
Illinois loses 40-17 at Minnesota. The offense puts up three points thanks to a bonehead timeout by Fleck. Lovie’s defense scores two flukey touchdowns and gave up 330 rushing yards to a woeful and injured Gopher backfield. Nail meet coffin.
While Lovie isn’t the root cause of our despair it’s very clear he isn’t helping to deter it. If anything he is hurling more debris into the landslide and accelerating it’s pace and force. His long outdated defense, lackluster recruiting chops, poor in-game decision making and overall lack of enthusiasm and inspiration has worn out its welcome in Champaign, just like it did in Chicago.
You drove me wild, drove me insane // Drank the whole bottle and forgot my name // All I ever wanted was a mother for the first time // Finally, I can see you as the leader of the landslide
There will be plenty of time to perform a deep-dive post-mortem for Lovie Smith and his four-year tenure. I simply don’t have the patience or energy to bring up every example of poor decision making that led to Lovie’s eventual demise.
Just know that Lovie Smith successfully completed his primary task of being a respectable name and figurehead. And completely failed on every single other line item of the job description.
No one has ever said that firing Lovie Smith will fix our problems. No Illini fan is still that naive. The next coach probably won’t get us there either. Maybe it will be the one after that. Or maybe it won’t. Who knows.
All we do know is that Lovie Smith isn’t taking this program any further. And it’s the definition of insanity to think that a 60-year-old NFL coach is going to change his ways, and that there is some kind of magical breakthrough coming. Isaiah Williams isn’t the answer. Luke Ford isn’t the answer. Bobby Roundtree isn’t the answer. It’s systemic. The disease has spread and we can either choose to suffer or pull the plug.
The writing’s on the wall // Please believe me, I smell the alcohol // The only thing I know is that we’re in too deep // And maybe when she’s dead and gone I’ll get some sleep
The crazy part is that we have fans blaming each other for not showing up to support a terrible program. Fans blaming each other for not rallying behind a man who hasn’t even feigned interest in the job since he accepted the position four years ago.
And then the athletic program has the audacity to make their marketing slogan “Join the Fight!”????
You have to be kidding.
You blamed it all on your kids // We were young, we were innocent // You told me a lie, fuck you for that // Fuck all your pride, and fuck all your prayers // And all this time I waited like a fool, and for the first time // Finally I can see you as the leader of the landslide
Look, it sucks. It really sucks. We all know what this means. Another tear down. Another two-win season on the horizon. No Illinois fan wants to go through that. But we all know it’s inevitable. Josh Whitman knows it’s inevitable. And every second that goes by where Lovie Smith remains the head coach is merely delaying the inevitable.
Yet again, we as a fanbase must gather together and venture out into the dark and cold unknown. Over the decades we have shrunk in numbers and in pride, but we’ll survive this upcoming long and dreadful night as well. Just as we always have.
Out there on my own I was feeling so alone // Like a poltergeist in the afterlife // Fading by degrees, I was shaking in the knees // In the aftermath of this broken glass
It’s not all Lovie Smith’s fault. But he’s the Leader of the Landslide now. And there’s officially no hope that he will be the one to slow it down.