Lovie retains three from previous staff

New Illini coach Lovie Smith retains three Cubit staffers; Scheelhaase to serve in support staff role

Illinois coach Lovie Smith announced he will retain three assistants from the previous staff.

As expected, Mike Phair -- who was promoted to defensive coordinator in December -- will stay on staff as defensive line coach.

Smith will keep two of the four assistants hired by former coach Bill Cubit in January.

As IlliniInquirer reported earlier this week, defensive backs coach Paul Williams (who served the previous five seasons at Miami) will stay in his role. Also, Tim McGarigle (hired from Western Michigan in January) will stay in the same role. The two other January hires -- tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski and offensive line coach A.J. Ricker -- were dismissed.

“I am very pleased to have Mike Phair, Tim McGarigle and Paul Williams on our Fighting Illini coaching staff,” Smith said in a statement. “Mike has worked with me at two other places and is an excellent football coach. In addition to his outstanding coaching skills, his experience here at Illinois over the last year will be invaluable.

“After meeting with both Coach McGarigle and Coach Williams,I was very impressed with the energy they bring to our staff, as well as their coaching background and experience. Even though they were on the Illini staff only for a few weeks, they will be very helpful in the transition. I’m also excited that Nathan will continue working with the program. He is an outstanding young man who loves the Fighting Illini." 

The school also announced that former Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will remain on staff in a non-coaching role. Scheelhaase, who was hired as assistant director of football operations last spring, was promoted running backs coach last season following head coach Tim Beckman's dismissal.

Smith has now filled seven of his nine assistant spots.

Lovie Smith's reported staff

Head coach: Lovie Smith

Offensive coordinator/QBs coach: Garrick McGee (official)

Defensive coordinator: Hardy Nickerson (official)

WRs coach: Andrew Hayes-Stoker (official)

OL coach: Luke Butkus (official)

DL coach: Mike Phair (official)

LB coach: Tim McGarigle (official)

DBs coach: Paul Williams (official)

Two remaining assistant spots


Illini Inquirer Top Stories