Couldn't Care Less


Robert
Dec 15, 2020
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51 Comments

This was going to be today's newsletter. But now it's a free post on the site. I will sometimes begin writing something with one idea and then the words take me somewhere else. This is that somewhere else, so you newsletter folks will have to wait a few days for that.

I haven't written very much over the past few days (OK, "at all"), and I should explain why before I get into this. First off, my son was in town from Idaho with his wife. They got married in the mountains there this summer. He needed to get some things in storage in St. Louis, and so they chose this weekend as the time they'd drive here, pick up their stuff, and drive it back to Idaho. I'm so glad they picked this weekend.

Why? Because I only watched into the second quarter of the Northwestern game and none of the Missouri game. I said last month that it was a day specifically designed to break me, and watching both games might have broken me. But I didn't watch. I hung out with family. Seeing the scores still hurt, and the realization that we've lost three straight to Missouri and six straight to Northwestern is soul-crushing, but the warmth of family certainly helped.

Then on Sunday we get the news that Jimmy Collins died. That one will need its own post. And then, soon after that, Lovie fired. Slow down, weekend, I cannot keep up.

There are a lot of reasons I haven't found the words to write about Lovie over the past 36 hours, but the main one is that a coaching change is always quite depressing for me. I think the last time I said the words "fire the coach" was 2012 with Bruce Weber. I basically hope that it will work out right up until the moment where it doesn't work out. And when it officially didn't work, man, that's an avalanche. So many people in that building were losing their jobs and the student athletes are caught in the middle and the whole thing just makes me so sad.

I tried to write last night and simply could not. I had nothing today, either. It was even bothering me to see how many people were subscribing this morning. I will now say something about that:

If you subscribed this morning because you're wanting info on the coaching search, please email me (robert@illiniboard.com) and I can refund your money. I hate the thought that people are subscribing hoping for coaching search content when I haven't written since Friday. I even texted Brumby to see if we could take subscriptions down for a while and not let anyone subscribe until I could write these words (he wouldn't have been able to do it until late tonight).

Another guy canceled his subscription this morning (a subscription that has nine more months pre-paid), and that I totally understand. We lose to Northwestern, lose to Missouri, fire the coach, and I write nothing. Again, if anyone ever wants their money back, please email me and it's a one-click refund. I know that some people will sign up thinking they'll get Illini info and then they get "sorry everyone I'm too sad to write" - I have zero problems refunding your money if that's you. Just email me.

OK, that's just the preamble. Let's get to the actual Lovie article.

I'll start with this. I've always explained Lovie the same way. Instead of writing that again, I'll just cut and paste from an article I wrote in January and we'll go from there.

Say Lovie Smith and PJ Fleck both encounter a family at Christmas that doesn't have money for presents. The coaches are, I don't know, standing in line at Walgreens and notice an overwhelmed parent. Both coaches decide to help the family, both purchasing their medicine and giving them cash for Christmas presents. They're blessed with their millions, they were moved by what they saw, they stepped in to help. I think both men would do that.

If both situations were to happen, you would absolutely find out about Fleck doing that and would never hear about Lovie doing that (unless someone observed it happening). That's not really a shot at Fleck - I'm just saying that he would be kind enough to step in but he would also see it as an opportunity to teach others about how to live your life (again, he's more megachurch pastor than he is football coach, and that's not really a shot either). There would be some coaching convention, and Fleck would tell the Walgreens story and how he had to step in and that's how you build a culture because it's your actions not your words and blah blah blah put another slogan on the wall. Okay, THAT was a shot.

Lovie, from my observations, is the opposite. He'd help the family out and never tell a soul. Maybe not even his wife. It's just how he is. And that doesn't mean "my God what a humble servant-leader" either - there are many flaws to that personality type, especially for a college football coach. I believe Lovie Smith could improve his recruiting with a little more "we desperately need you" and a little less "if you don't want to play here, your loss". I've made the comparison before that if there was an in-state coaching convention and the coaches are all in the hotel bar, Pat Fitzgerald would glad-hand every coach in the room and Lovie would sit at the bar by himself with the high school coaches unsure if they should approach him or not. Pat Fitzgerald needs you to like him, and that need is very motivating and helpful as a college coach. Lovie doesn't need anything from you, and while that's a great personality trait - the rare, secure man who feels no need to impress you - sometimes that's a problem for a college coach.

That is still how I feel about Lovie Smith, college football coach. It was clear this fall that it was over. This was supposed to be a leap, and it was a tumble. Here's what I wrote last week about what the numbers should look like with an experienced roster vs. what they actually look like.

To most, I think - to 90% of the fans I interact with - this fall was a joyous revelation. "SEE? I told you it would never work. Because of {reason} and {reason} and {reason}, Lovie was destined to fail here." When you short the coach, there's a big payoff when he fails.

But the thing I can't stop thinking about tonight, and the thing I feel like I have to write about, is the failure of anyone to define those reasons. I still feel like there's this massive misunderstanding on how and why this failed. The answer, to me, is simple:

Lovie failed and was fired because he couldn't care less.

Slow down. That doesn't mean what you think it means. Let's talk about it.

"Lovie doesn't care about recruiting and will never put in the effort necessary."

Not in my view. This one always drove me insane. Effort wasn't the problem. I believe Lovie deeply enjoyed the two weeks in December and two weeks in January when head coaches could leave campus to recruit (the rest of the year, only assistant coaches can leave campus). The way I saw things, he absolutely loved living rooms and meeting with families. He lived for that connection with a recruit and his parents. Will probably miss it in the weeks ahead.

Why didn't it work? This is just my opinion, but it was never about effort or "caring about recruiting". I believe he cared about recruiting. He simply couldn't care less if a recruit said no. Begging? Pleading? Messing with the kid's head by telling him his offer might expire soon? That's not Lovie's style. He had looked the kid in the eye and made his pitch. If the kid goes elsewhere, ~shrug~.

Maybe you'll call that effort, but I don't. I'd put it more in the category of "willingness to debase oneself". Jim Harbaugh will sleep at a kicker's house. PJ Fleck will flip over an hourglass and tell a kid he has one hour to commit. Lovie would never do those things in a million years. And that was a problem.

"Lovie has pissed off the Illinois high school coaches - they love Pat Fitzgerald and hate Lovie Smith"

Absolutely true. And he couldn't care less. That's not arrogance, and that's not "Lovie is just an a-hole" - it's simply that Lovie sees no need to suck-up to anyone. High school coaches ask them to dance a little bit if they want access to the recruits, Fitzee puts on his tights, Lovie leaves the room without saying a word.

I need to pause here to make sure you understand what I'm saying. This is not some "the only thing Lovie has to apologize for is having TOO MUCH integrity" article. This is not praise. This is not "Whitman shouldn't have fired him - Lovie is just misunderstood". This is someone (me) who attends spring ball and postgame press conferences and training camps and pandemic Zoom pressers telling you that the "why Lovie failed" takes all seem off. They don't align with what I've observed.

I'm saying that you need to view Lovie Smith like Ron Swanson. If he saw Tom Haverford bowling underhand with two hands, Lovie would absolutely yell "son, people can see you". And if there was a burger contest in the courtyard, James Franklin would bring the Asian-fusion burger made with Willow Farms organic turkey, a toasted taleggio cheese crisp, papaya chutney, black truffle aioli, and microgreens on a gluten free brioche bun. And Lovie would Swanson:

"Here's mine. It's a hamburger made out of meat on a bun with nothing. Add ketchup if you want, I couldn't care less."

And if the high school coaches asked Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson to present something on a Zoom webinar, Leslie would and prepare a six hour PowerPoint and Ron would decline. And he wouldn't decline out of laziness - he'd decline out of principle.

"Lovie was just maliing it in and collecting a paycheck. This whole thing was just a retirement plan to him."

Nope. I believe he cared deeply about turning this program around. Whatever level of effort you believe he put in, double it. I do not in any way think this was for lack of effort.

Overconfidence? Absolutely. Nickerson and McGee, "I'll do it myself"-ing the defense, meeting a juco defensive line coach he liked and adding him to the staff instead of a national search - everything was steeped in overconfidence. But this wasn't the "he's just mailing it in" you've been thinking it was.

"We only have two recruits while everyone else in the conference has 10! He's not even trying!" That's not what I observed. He was the tortoise, supremely confident that around the next bend, the hare would be napping. It always seemed intentional to me.

"Trying to rebuild through transfers is just another sign that he's mailing it in. No draft prep needed if you just chase free agents." Yes, transfers did fit his NFL brain better, but this was a strategy, not laziness. What you saw as a byproduct of laziness was actually something being done intentionally (and studied exhaustingly).

If I had to guess, I think he's stunned by the results this fall. I feel like he would have bet six figures on the Vegas over. He absolutely, 100% believed that this season would be the culmination of his five-year plan. He expected the season Indiana just had.

That's why he lost his job yesterday. It wasn't because he mailed it in. He was simply way too confident in his own ability to implement the plan.

And you see that in his coaching hires, right? He couldn't care less that people raised hell when he hired his son. He believed he was assembling a staff that could win. He trusted Rod Smith to add Bob McClain as the OL coach. These schemes, these coaches, these players - it all comes together in 2020.

He also went out of his way to assemble a massive support staff. Tripled the number of analysts. Added a Navy Seal as a "Director of Man Development" to work on the mental development of each individual player. He had a four-year plan for every player, developing them from boys to men, helping them mature mentally and physically. Soon the machine will be assembled and Illinois football will take off to the stratosphere.

17-39.

(When telling my grandkids about attending the 2019 Michigan State game some day, if they ask about the Lovie Smith era, I can tell them that wins were hard to come by but that I flew to Michigan and got to attend............ one of the seventeen.)

The main question here: why the overconfidence? I'll repeat what I said above: he's the rare secure man who feels no need to impress you. Camp out along Kirby/Florida on any afternoon in August and at some point you'd see Lovie Smith ride by on his bicycle on his way to practice. That wasn't a gimmick, he wasn't doing it for attention - it was just a practical way to go back and forth. Was it weird to see a Super Bowl coach riding a bike across campus? It was to me, but Lovie couldn't care less.

In my estimation, people like that make great leaders because they have no needs. They're secure and confident while you're over here stuck in your insecurities and wishing you were them. Steady confidence is a trait that draws people in.

But it doesn't mean you'll be successful. Confidence can quickly leak into overconfidence, and if you don't have the right people around you telling you where things are going wrong, you can trust that overconfidence all the way to the point of failure. Just because you have some initial success doesn't mean you're locked in for unlimited success.

And that's maybe why this whole thing never really got off the ground. Lovie fixed the Rams defense and got them back to the Super Bowl. That led to the Bears job and he got back to the Super Bowl again, this time as a head coach. His system was being proven at the highest level. A "couldn't care less" attitude pays off - just stick to your plan, ignore the criticism. and you'll eventually get there. It worked in the NFL, it will work in college.

17-39.

That's how I view this firing. This was not "he didn't put much effort in and here's the results". This was not "he hates recruiting and barely tried". Despite what you think, Lovie cared a lot about this program and desperately wanted to turn it around. I think he really enjoyed coaching in college again and cherished the one-on-one time with his players. He told them he could lead them to greatness and he 100% believed it.

His fatal flaw? Criticism arose. Adjustments had to be made. Experienced assistants were needed. Schemes must be tweaked. The volume grew louder and louder and louder.

And he couldn't care less.

Comments

danny on December 15, 2020 @ 06:34 AM

That is beautiful. I needed that. So very well stated. Thanks Robert.

GilThorpe on December 15, 2020 @ 06:41 AM

great article, Robert. Stuff like this is EXACTLY why I subscribe.

I think 99% of the fanbase was behind him and his hiring from the start. But that began to fade and I think that really began to totally flip to the opposite when we came out totally FLAT in the season opener at Wiscy when our defense made their "wet behind the ears" QB look like Tom Brady.

Onward and upward. Such is the difficult experience we Illini football fans have to endure. Can anyone else say Sisyphus?

CapitalCityOutlaw50 on December 15, 2020 @ 06:56 AM

Pretty good stuff Robert. Honestly.

Ill just add its a short road from overconfidence to arrogance.

And its a good thing not to care what other people think..... until you are wrong about 80% of the time. Then maybe you should at least listen, if not care. . .

macdivot on December 15, 2020 @ 07:21 AM

Seventeen wins for seventeen football fans. I thought Lovie was a creative hire, especially given the hand Whitman was dealt. Unfortunately, Lovie was not cut out for the college game. The frustrating part is he refused to change, even though he was being paid millions of dollars per year. He knew better.

NC_OrangeKrush on December 15, 2020 @ 05:20 PM

This is why other coaches have been fired but also why I have hope in Brad Underwood.. He has proven he will change when needed....

ktcesw on December 15, 2020 @ 07:24 AM

Superb article, Robert! There too many out there that make assumptions based upon their lack of knowledge concerning rule, as well as, strategies. This article should be required reading for all Illini fans! I didn't like some parts of Lovie, as a coach, solely because I just don't believe in his ground game emphasis. Defensively, he ran an instantaneously react type of play that takes a while for some NFL players to grow into. He believed in it and it cost him. As long as we don't pick a former defensive coordinator or triple option adherent as our new head coach then, I will be happy.

Subortus on December 15, 2020 @ 07:29 AM

Let's assume for purposes of discussion that your description is 100% accurate. If so, somebody with those personality traits might be well-suited to be a small business owner or something ("I did it MY way") but they are a terrible fit to be the head coach of a P-5 college football program.

Duce20 on December 15, 2020 @ 07:50 AM

Bingo!

ATOillini on December 15, 2020 @ 08:24 AM

Whitman totally surprised everyone with the Lovie hire. He did similar with Underwood. Neither were on any short list being bantered about. It will be interesting to see what Act III is going to produce.

Brave Illini on December 15, 2020 @ 08:25 AM

i just re-upped my subscription, but not because I thought it would afford me some special insight into who the next head football coach might be. I know that's not Robert's thing. Rather, I resubscribed because I have renewed hope, anticipation and excitement; and because I really like Robert's contribution to my overall Illinois sports fan experience. I think, and dearly hope, that Whitman has learned from his head coaching selection decisions over the last five years. And as a result I expect he will make a great decision on our next head football coach. I won't delve into the Lovie situation, other than to say I appreciate, and fully accept, Robert's insights and conclusions. There is nothing useful to be gained by continued opinionating about Lovie. I am ready to put that phase behind me and look forward. I see no reason why Illinois cannot become a perennial collegiate football powerhouse. Let's do it.

stevelsloan on December 15, 2020 @ 08:28 AM

Beautifully said and once again confirms my decision to subscribe. Thank you

Barbbas on December 15, 2020 @ 08:36 AM

Great article Robert! I was happy when Lovie was hired, I respect his integrity which we needed after the Beckman years--I repected his Bears record--I really thought he would be successful here. Then came the big loses, the "I'll be the DC", my son can LB coach and the system will work. I had trouble reconciling the dignified Super Bowl Coach, with the stubborn defensive (pun intended) coach. Very insightful article

JohnnyKarate on December 15, 2020 @ 08:42 AM

Well written. Honestly, I can't wait til next August when you're covering training camp full time for a new coach and we have so much to be excited about.

San Joaquin on December 15, 2020 @ 08:45 AM

great read

maz82 on December 15, 2020 @ 10:55 AM

Great piece of writing Robert.

Nashvegas Illini on December 15, 2020 @ 11:29 AM

Lovie missed having people that challenged him.

Ellisrt1031 on December 15, 2020 @ 11:30 AM

Excellent. Glad you knocked down the lazy, just there to take the money narrative that those on internet boards perpetuate.

JimmyTheLayup on December 15, 2020 @ 11:43 AM

Your section on Lovie's recruiting is exactly what I've thought basically since the 2018 class. Most coaches are going to sit in living rooms, or their own office, and badger kids about committing. We need you! You're the missing piece! We only have 1 'ship left, better jump on board now! Things like that, and obviously some more than others cough Fleck cough. I couldn't see Lovie ever doing that. Hell, I could see a kid trying to verbally commit and Lovie saying "Son, are you sure?". Great quality as an average human being, terrible quality for a college football coach.

Dix on December 15, 2020 @ 11:51 AM

I really hope people read this. It’s so easy to jump on the “ding-dong the witch is dead” bandwagon when a coach is fired. When I saw the news, my heart sank. It wasn’t because I didn’t agree with the decision, but because, even as an outside observer/fan with no access, I saw what you so eloquently described above. If it had worked, we’d be praising his mystique/Ron Swanson-ness (just see all the vitriol and juxtaposing PJ Fleck to “our guy” morph into we should have hired Fleck over the years).

Thank you.

Tolkien73 on December 15, 2020 @ 11:54 AM

Fantastic, Robert. One of your best articles ever.

Nabor568 on December 15, 2020 @ 12:28 PM

Perfect, this should be linked to the ‘Subscribe Form.’ If this isn’t your style....keep on moving. Also, I found myself Sunday in the odd position of glad we’re moving on and grateful for Lovie’s contribution to the program. I think he clearly built up from Beckman and the next coach has some solid tools to work with. If he/she can build off that? (Clearly a big ‘if.’) Then to paraphrase an earlier post....some Nebraska blogger will be lamenting how Illinois ‘pulled an Indiana’ and fired a not great but not bad coach and built off of the previously established foundation.

Illinifanbobj on December 15, 2020 @ 12:36 PM

This was excellent, Robert.

I thought Lovie was a risk worth taking at Illinois but it hasn't worked out. Gotta try someone new.

tgb on December 15, 2020 @ 12:56 PM

Great article Robert. Illini fans live for hope, even if it's years in a hopeless scenario. Can't wait to hear who the new coach will be.

pbillini70 on December 15, 2020 @ 01:03 PM

While everyone was excited when Lovie was hired, Whitman missed the golden opportunity to land an up and coming guy in Luke Fickell. At the time I thought he was the best candidate. He was DC at Ohio State. Now he's HC at #6 Cinncinnati and we probably have no chance of landing him. This was an opportunity missed that Whitman owns.

MuckFichigan92 on December 15, 2020 @ 01:59 PM

Wow, Fickel and that #6 ranking would be damn fine right about now.

I thought Lovie's hiring was closer to a PR blitz than a tactical acquisition. It was more likely to create buzz in the fanbase before in the living room of recruits.

Hope the new coach will be a "squad" guy, one who comes with a large number of people with whom he has worked, e.g. Jerry Kill.

taz on December 15, 2020 @ 01:15 PM

Excellent take and has been my opinion of Lovie as well (I was right ALL ALONG!)

However, I disagree with this:

"To most, I think - to 90% of the fans I interact with - this fall was a joyous revelation. "SEE? I told you it would never work. Because of {reason} and {reason} and {reason}, Lovie was destined to fail here." When you short the coach, there's a big payoff when he fails."

There are of course a few people on the message boards or Twitter who will gleefully SCOREBOARD when given the opportunity. But a vast majority of actual fans are only happy about the firing because it is the right thing for the program and gives us some measure of hope for our future, where we had none on Saturday evening. It is not "see?! I was right! ". It is "YES! The decision that is well beyond my control was made in the way that I thought was the right path!"

illinivek23 on December 15, 2020 @ 03:33 PM

This is exactly right. I kept convincing myself it would work out when so many experts seemed to not be aligned with that thinking (i.e. the BTN analysts, etc).

I can't wait to get this next one properly done. Glad Josh is making the decision!

Robert on December 15, 2020 @ 03:42 PM

There are of course a few people on the message boards or Twitter who will gleefully SCOREBOARD when given the opportunity. But a vast majority of actual fans are only happy about the firing because it is the right thing for the program and gives us some measure of hope for our future, where we had none on Saturday evening. It is not "see?! I was right! ". It is "YES! The decision that is well beyond my control was made in the way that I thought was the right path!"

That's fair. But please note that I said "90% of fans I interact with", not "90% of fans". It may only be a small minority of the fanbase (I have no idea), but it's the only noise I hear in my mentions during games.

taz on December 15, 2020 @ 10:13 PM

Point taken.

edgyinchina@yahoo.com on December 15, 2020 @ 02:55 PM

Nicely done Robert... I think that 'explains a lot', and enjoyed the analysis...

iluvrt on December 15, 2020 @ 03:41 PM

I am a proud subscriber. Thanks for this*

Illini20@aol.com on December 15, 2020 @ 03:48 PM

Robert, my wife and I sat in front of you at the Michigan State game. We remember how wonderful it was to be celebrating in our corner of the end zone, and seeing our players and Lovie joining that celebration . That will be my fond memory of the Lovie era.

Robert on December 15, 2020 @ 03:51 PM

Sorry if I ever kicked you in the back while jumping around going insane. We got a little rowdy there at the end....

jfinsocal on December 15, 2020 @ 03:58 PM

Smith made several mistakes including:

  1. He didn't need to run off/stop playing the inherited players in his first year or two. That was arrogant and most likely made some enemies.
  2. His delegation skills were poor. Ya' gotta' hire competent people, trust them, and hold them accountable.
  3. He relied too much on the "eye test" - this guy is fast and athletic therefore we are going to make him a football player. Beckman (and Northwestern more successfully I suppose) was the opposite; he'd recruit they guys that played Pop Warner since age 8 and knew the game but were maxed out on talent. If you can't get players that check both boxes (4 and 5 stars mostly I suppose) then it's probably better to go halfway.

Hope for the best.

GForce on December 15, 2020 @ 05:04 PM

So Lovie lacked his Coach Gentry, someone to tell him he needed to make changes, and someone he would listen to. It's too bad, college football sorely needs the integrity of people like Lovie Smith.

twilson77@comcast.net on December 15, 2020 @ 05:11 PM

Well-done, Robert (as usual)---appreciate your thoughtful views and happy you made this article available for all to read (maybe even Lovie?).....

raleighIllini25 on December 15, 2020 @ 06:48 PM

Robert I have to agree with all the sentiments above. Your unique viewpoint and beautiful writing is what we come here for. It’s clear that you were dedicated to providing an excellent product for all of us to enjoy.

That is the thing that I think was lacking with the current coaching regime. I really had a bad feeling when Lovie started talking about Black Lives Matter/politics.

Once you start dividing your attention your opponents have the upper hand. And if you always think the deck is stacked against you you always have an excuse of why you fail.

Sadly I think they were many moves in the administration and in the football program that had more to do with politics then it did with football.

The only thing we didn’t do is put a woman on the field. But we certainly hired a woman coach. Not sure if she’s any good but she is a woman. So therefore I suppose we get some woke points. Put stupid slogans on the uniform and helmets: get woke points. Problem is woke points don’t count in football games.

Maybe we should hire a football coach who only wants to coach football.

Lou Tepper did the same thing. Kill the program because he wanted to make sure that the black kids in the white kids roomed together. That’s a laudable goal but that’s not what football is. I don’t know a lot about coaching football but I certainly know that winning a national championship would make the team feel like family and always be connected and I bet the white and black guys would love each other.

I know it’s certainly more complicated than that, but that certainly is one problem that we didn’t need. Not when we’re trying to rebuild a program.

Hail to the Chief!

Nall23 on December 15, 2020 @ 07:32 PM

It sure is a shame that Lovie commented that Black Lives matter. It sure distracted him from his * checks notes * strong track record prior to this football season.

As an aside, Lovie was the only Big Ten coach not to issue a BLM statement.

16th&mission on December 15, 2020 @ 08:16 PM

Excellent work Robert - you really drive the point home that it’s “couldn’t” care less, not “could”. I’ll be renewing my subscription.

gloriouskk on December 15, 2020 @ 08:25 PM

Thank you Sir for taking time (with family) and giving words that resonate truth whether it's liked or understood.
Excellent observation that should open eyes of those who

  • have not seen literally or professionally the inside of this sports business/life on various levels -are just mad about w/l and not realizing that some of these young men need more than on field experiences because they need more than sports -don't know of the students Coach Lovie Smith did go see and
  • have been headed hunting but...

I couldn't care less.

But I do care to say thank you Coach Lovie Smith!

IBFan on December 15, 2020 @ 09:44 PM

Subscriptions renewed , hope renewed?

Thank you Lovie Thank you Robert

You are hearing what has always been the case in business - 1 happy customer tells 1 person, 1 unhappy customer tells 10. Now with the internet the numbers are worse. With the Illini struggling there is way too much negativity and maybe a new coach helps

illinizeeman on December 16, 2020 @ 07:34 AM

Poignant. Nailed it.

Efrem on December 16, 2020 @ 09:42 AM

Good stuff Robert. Definitely captured my feelings on this well

mrmill on December 16, 2020 @ 01:04 PM

Good article- though as someone who has spent 17 years following Lovie coached teams - it was stubbornness. His scheme worked until it didn’t. But he was too stubborn to change.

I wish it had worked. But to work, he needed to surround himself with experts from CFB from day one. Not his guys.

TRC on December 16, 2020 @ 01:09 PM

As much as it hurts t do so, please remember the state of the program at the end of the Beckman/Cubit era. One coach was an embarrassment for multiple reasons, the second was a nice man WAY out of his league. We were rock bottom. When Lovie was hired, I believed it a risk worth taking: either it was a stroke of genius, or he fails; if he fails, it's not like we can go lower. He failed, and it was not pretty, Nevertheless (the 2018 Iowa game aside), I think the program is in better shape today than it was when Lovie took over. I have more hope for the future than I did in 2015.

PowerGranger on December 16, 2020 @ 02:49 PM

I’ll preface my story with a quick “I hate Fleck”. There. I have been heavily involved with a charity that provides health care in a third-world village for 20 years, been there 15 times. I don’t talk about it because it feels like bragging. It’s only recently when we started getting low on funds that I realized how selfish that was. Talking about the program saves lives. Something you need to do.

kpkelsey on December 16, 2020 @ 08:12 PM

THIS article caused me to do something that I NEVER do: subscribe to a web site. When I read this, I was reading a guy who cares about Illinois like a true fan and seems like he's trying hard to provide honest perspective. You sold me. Here's to hoping for a bright future for Illinois football. I asked Santa for Jeff Monken, by the way.....

gvibes on December 16, 2020 @ 08:50 PM

"Lovie sucked at closing on recruits and pissed off every high school coach" "But you see, he didn't care about sucking at recruiting or pissing off high school coaches." Doesn't that just make him a bad coach with bad views? This reads like it's intended as a defense of Lovie, but seems to be the opposite.
"His fatal flaw was he made a lot of bad decisions and took a lot of bad approaches, but you see, he didn't care about being bad and wrong."

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