Yes, you read that right.
Had we (the site) been around from 2009 to 2012, “Lovie Smith Speaks” would have been a thing we did with regularity. It might not have been the most captivating collection of words ever uttered by a coach, but we would have made the most of the situation – much like Smith did when he had Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton quarterbacking his team.
Alas, it’s 2017 and Smith is in his second year as the head coach of the University of Illinois football team. But earlier today, Smith jumped on WSCR 670-AM and dished on a variety of topics from Brian Urlacher’s hair, to life with an afro, to the challenges that come with being a college coach in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins.
As for the highlights:
- I think you could say that Smith is optimistic about the Bears’ future at the quarterback situation. The former Bears coach has a unique perspective having coached Mike Glennon and oversaw the changing of the guard when the team drafted Jameis Winston, who started right away for the Smith-led Buccaneers. Obviously, things are a bit different with Glennon being installed as The Man early on, but Smith believes the best is yet to come saying “It should be all good for Chicago Bears fans.”
- Even though there is an old adage that suggests your team has no quarterbacks if it is playing two, Smith believes the Bears are in a great position with their two quarterbacks, in part because of Glennon’s ability to bridge the gap from the past to the future with Trubisky. He lauded Glennon’s intelligence, knowledge of the game, and experience having played as a rookie starter and grow into a backup. “I think Mike will handle it well. Mike’s a pro,” Smith said. “His teammates are going to love him, believe in him, and believe in his leadership.”
- As for a quarterback Smith actually coached in Chicago, Smith dished on Jay Cutler, who he described as guarded at times. Even still, Smith was complimentary of Cutler, a quarterback who led the Bears to a 34-22 record in 56 starts from 2009 to 2012. As for his broadcasting career, Smith has high hopes for an ex-player he said was “a great communicator” and added “A lot of the guys that know the game very well have a lot of insight into it. He’ll be great.”
- Smith also addressed his coaching style, which was often maligned in Chicago because he wasn’t an emotional, high-energy guy spouting off soundbites at wits end. His reserved nature and mature approach represents a stark difference compared to many of college football’s most visible and successful coaches. To that end, Smith explains why he stays true to himself even after transitioning from the NFL to the Big Ten: “I think you have to be yourself. Winners come in a lot of different shapes. You can motivate guys in a lot of different ways. College players, pro players want you to coach them, teach them, and be honest with them. They respond to that.”
- Smith went 81-63 as the Bears’ head coach, leading the team to a Super Bowl appearance, and three of its five postseason berths in the post-Mike Ditka era. Upon his firing after the 2012 season, only Ditka and George Halas had more coaching wins in Chicago. Things didn’t end well for Smith in Chicago, despite a 10-6 campaign in his final season. Still, he didn’t find it weird being back, instead focused on the good times, of which were plenty. “We had some great memories, great teams here. Won a lot of football games, now we want to do the same at the University of Illinois.”
- Good luck with all that, coach. We’ll always have the good times from 2004 to 2012.