USA Today // Rich Barnes

Bill Cubit reacts to Illini dismissal

Former Illini football coach reacts to surprising March dismissal by new athletics director

Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman told football coach Bill Cubit he no longer was the Illinois football coach at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Cubit and his revamped staff never saw it coming.

"Just shock, it really is," Cubit told on Saturday afternoon. "My biggest thing really is No. 1 the players and then No. 2, it's the coaches. There were coaches who just moved up here. If I had any doubt at all that we wouldn't be here, I wouldn't have brought these guys here. That bothers me."

Cubit replaced Tim Beckman, who was dismissed a week before the start of the 2015 season, last August and was given a two-year contract in November by interim athletics director Paul Kowalczyk and interim chancellor Barbara Wilson.

Whitman, who had met with Cubit and offered support in the last few weeks since his hiring, bought out that deal on Sunday, handing Cubit almost a $985,000 payout. Cubit's son, offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit, also was dismissed and will receive a $361,000 payout.

The rest of the coaching staff's future will be left up to the next head coach, who could be announced in the next few days. Cubit said the coaching staff assistants were told to leave the football offices by 1 p.m. Saturday and that their offices must be cleaned out by 5 p.m. Sunday.

Four of the assistants just arrived at Illinois on Jan. 1: defensive backs coach Paul Williams, offensive line coach A.J. Ricker, tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski and linebackers coach Tim McGarigle.

"There's a lot of lives," Cubit said. "This time, to wait this long, there's guys that can't get jobs. The job market's done. To me, that's not fair to these coaches. ...I don't have anger. Me personally, we uprooted a lot of coaches and their families with the understanding that we were going to be here this fall. Now, that's not it. There's three families that just moved from long distances. These poor guys. They just got leases and rents. What do they do? That's where I'm disappointed I guess. I don't have much anger in my life anymore, but that bothers me."

What's Cubit's future?

"I don't know," said the 62-year-old Cubit. "The bad part of it is (my wife) Nancy is down in Florida. She was in total disbelief. Literally, I had to tell her three times. ...My kids had to find out on the internet. That was the tough part. I'll just sit back. I could do a lot of good things. I wish I could have done it here because I really thought we were on the right track. We had a great recruiting staff. Our strength staff said this was the best offseason our kids' had in four years since they've been here. Kids were buying in.

"I got to take a step back. And there's nothing I can do anyway because it's so late. If it would've happened in November, in November I was getting calls. Now, there's nothing."

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