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Illinois Announces Decision On Lovie Smith

Illinois football coach Lovie Smith on the sideline.

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 01: Head coach Lovie Smith of the Illinois Fighting Illini watches warmups before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Usually the first day after the end of the regular season is a dark day for struggling college football head coaches, as this is typically when programs announce they are moving on from them and going in a different direction.

However, that's not the case for Illinois' Lovie Smith. In fact, the Illini are doubling down on Smith, and have given him a contract extension.

Illinois AD Josh Whitman announced moments ago that Smith has received a two-year extension to stay at Illinois through the 2023 football season.

"This extension demonstrates my belief in Lovie Smith, his staff, and the plan they have for the future success of Illinois Football," said Whitman. "I have studied our program extensively, and I see steady progress, both in the development of our current players and the talent we are adding to our roster. To date, we have remained one of the youngest teams in college football, with only nine seniors and nearly 80 freshmen and sophomores. As our players grow in strength, skill, and experience, more wins will follow.

"We recognize that our work is far from finished, with improvement needed in every phase of our program's development, but our plan is sound and our resolve is stronger than ever," Whitman continued. "As I have said on many occasions, stability and continuity are key to building a foundation that will yield long-term success. With the opening of our new facility next summer, and the continued efforts of our staff and student-athletes, the success we all covet is within reach. I applaud Coach Smith, his staff, and our team for their commitment and steady progress, and I stand ready, as we all should, to help them in whatever way possible to continue building upon their momentum."

This seems like a curious move considering Smith is 9-27 in his three seasons in Champaign.

However, as long as Whitman has not guaranteed any money for the extra years and is doing this chiefly for recruiting purposes, its not a major deal.

Smith led Illinois to a 4-8 mark in 2018, its best record during his tenure.