Lovie Smith is still working on his offensive and defensive coordinator hires, but he does reportedly have one assistant coach in the bag and, on the surface, it seems like a very smart hire.
The Fighting Illini are set to hire Jacksonville Jaguars assistant offensive line coach Luke Butkus to coach their offensive line, according to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated.
And, yes, Butkus is related to the Butkus – Dick Butkus. As if there could be any other outcome. Luke is the Hall of Fame Butkus family member’s nephew.
Joining Smith’s staff would represent the third separate stint for Butkus in Champaign. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection as a Fighting Illini center from 1999-01, then bounced around professional football beginning with (who else?) the Chicago Bears.
Butkus jumped into coaching as a graduate assistant at Oregon in 2005-06, then spent three seasons as the assistant offensive line coach under Smith with the Chicago Bears from 2007-09. Butkus spent the 2012 season as the offensive line coach at Illinois before joining the Jaguars’ staff as assistant offensive line coach.
Illinois finished the 2015 season ranked 111th nationally in rushing offense, 96th in third-down conversions and in the top 40 in both sacks allowed and tackles for loss allowed.