Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz became the latest to weigh in on Illinois’ firing of head coach Lovie Smith.
The Fighting Illini parted ways with their fifth-year head coach after another disappointing campaign in 2020. Despite getting the chance to recruit over the last few seasons, Smith’s Illinois team went 2-5. He ended his time in Champaign with an overall record of 17-39.
Illinois released a statement addressing Smith’s dismissal earlier this week.
“Illinois director of athletics Josh Whitman announced today that Lovie Smith has been relieved of his duties as head football coach after five seasons at the helm of the Fighting Illini,” a statement from the athletic department said. “Smith will not coach the Illini during its final game of the season. … Beginning immediately, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics will launch a national search to identify coach Smith’s successor.”
For Ferentz and many other head coaches around the Big Ten, the announcement was a major blow. Although Smith certainly struggled to get momentum at Illinois, he clearly remains a well-respected voice in the college football community.
Ferentz directly addressed the firing in a press conference on Tuesday.
“A real loss for college football and college football needs more coaches like Lovie Smith,” the Iowa head coach said.
He continued by saying that he has the “highest respect and regard for him as a human being.”
— 247Sports (@247Sports) December 15, 2020
Coming from the long-time Iowa head coach, the comments should show how well-liked Smith became in his short time in the conference.
Hopefully, Smith can find his way back to a head coaching role in the near future. With his success in the NFL, it’s very possible that he could make the move back to the professional level.