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Illinois Football Hires Bret Bielema as Head Coach

Illini football didn’t take long to find a replacement for Lovie Smith.

Bret Bielema Illinois
Photo: Matthew Swensen/New York Giants

After parting ways with former head coach Lovie Smith under a week ago, the Illinois Fighting Illini football team has hired a well-known face in the Big Ten, Bret Bielema.

Bielema served as Wisconsin’s head coach from 2006-2012 before heading up Arkansas’s program from 2013-2017. Most recently, he served on the coaching staff for the New England Patriots and New York Giants. Bielema won the Big Ten with Wisconsin from 2010-2012 and hopes to bring some of that success to Champaign-Urbana. A 97-58 overall record as a college football head coach will be a welcomed sight for Illini football fans.

Bielema’s initial contract will run six years with an annual salary of $4.2 million. He will attend Illinois’ game at Penn State this afternoon as a guest of athletic director Josh Whitman.


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