Lovie Smith’s coaching staff will have several new faces as Illinois enters a crucial 2018 campaign.
FootballScoop is reporting that Illini defensive line coach Mike Phair is stepping down from his position after three seasons on staff and is set to return to the NFL. The report says he will be the defensive line coach with the Indianapolis Colts, who are expected to hire New England Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels as the team’s new head coach after the Super Bowl next weekend on NBC.
In addition to Phair’s departure, it was announced earlier on Thursday that offensive analyst Nate Scheelhaase was hired by Iowa State to coach running backs.
Phair was originally hired in Champaign by Tim Beckman but never coached with him after the latter was fired just prior to the 2015 season. Phair was promoted to defensive coordinator that year by interim coach Bill Cubit and was retained by Smith to oversee the line the past two years.
The long time assistant coach also had stops with the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks over the years. Phair developed two draft picks during his short tenure at Illinois (Jihad Ward and Dawuane Smoot) while brining along a very young unit in 2017 for the team.