While he was just a graduate assistant at Illinois, Cullen is well thought of by Ron Zook and has been a Defensive Coordinator at Indiana, so he has the experience needed to lead a Big Ten defense. There is one black mark against Cullen though: he was reprimanded by Indiana in 2003 for slapping Indiana linebacker Herana-Daze Jones on the side of his helmet. After the incident, Cullen told the Indianapolis Star that he "was just trying to get him a little fired up in the red zone."
Whoever replaces Mallory as Illinois' Defensive Coordinator, he will be inheriting a defense that has struggled for the better part of three seasons to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard. In the 2005 season, Illinois ranked last in the Big Ten in numerous defensive categories including:
- Points Against: 39.5 points per game
- Turnover Margin: -1 per game
- Rushing Defense: 234.0 yards per game
- Sacks By: 11 all season
- Opponent Third Down Conversions: 50.7%
The Champaign News-Gazette is reporting that Mike Mallory is heading to the coaches convention that started on Sunday in Dallas to look for a new job. The rumor is still around that Mallory could become the next defensive coordinator at Indiana, a place where his father, Bill Mallory, is still the program's winningest football coach of all time.
There are not expected to be any other chances in the Illini coaching staff this off-season.