Lovie Smith has a new job.
Illinois’ former head coach will reportedly be the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans’ new regime under David Culley. Culley, a former Ravens assistant, was named head coach for the Texans on Thursday.
The move will likely be official Friday afternoon.
Smith was fired by Illinois in December after five losing seasons and one bowl appearance in Champaign. As we all know, AD Josh Whitman hired Bret Bielema for the job, as Bielema has now finished putting together his new coaching staff.
Once having taken the Bears to the Super Bowl, Smith is no stranger to the NFL. His time with the Illini was his first time dipping his toes in the college waters in decades, after a long time serving as a defensive coordinator and then head coach in Chicago and Tampa Bay.
Smith actually gets to take over a fairly decent Texans defense, with former Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, as well as former Illini Whitney Mercilus on the defensive line. The biggest issue in Houston is who will be playing under center, with QB Deshaun Watson requesting a trade this week.
As far as we can tell at TCR, Smith getting hired in Houston has no effect on the buyout he is still owed by the University. According to details in his 2018 two-year extension, Illinois has to pay Smith a $2 million buyout if he was terminated after the 2020 campaign (which he was), unless the school and Smith’s representatives — his agent, son Matthew — came to a settlement. That seems unlikely considering Whitman has said nothing of Smith’s exit being mutual.
Well, we wish Lovie the best. And to J.J. and Whitney, good luck.