Lovie Smith

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Lovie Smith’s glorious beard is no more as Illinois head coach shaves facial greatness

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Long live the Lovie Smith beard.

Up until last season, arguably one of the best things about the Illinois football program was Lovie Smith in general and his beard specifically.  For the better part of three years, it was the envy of all face-follicly-challenged head coaches.  Its genesis?  As greatness ofttimes is, a man’s better half.

“I never shaved much during the summer, before seasons started,” Smith told the Washington Post in October of last year. “Two summers ago, I let it grow out for a while, and my wife said to me: ‘I love it. Don’t ever shave it.’ So I guess I won’t.”

And, if you need another visual refresher as to the bearded splendor…

Sadly, that era of facial greatness has come to an end.  On Twitter Wednesday, Illinois revealed that the flush-with-white mane of glory that was Smith’s beard is no more.

(I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself.)

(You good?  Good.)

In the first three seasons under Lovie Smith, the beard was about the only thing to celebrate.  From 2016-18, the Fighting Illini went 9-27.  In 2019, however, they won six games and appeared in a bowl for the first time since 2014.

Smith and the Illini have also been killing it on the transfer portal front.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith (HERE) and Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu (HERE) in mid-May as well.

Illinois lands FCS All-American offensive lineman as transfer

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Lovie Smith has dipped into the FCS ranks to help further his rebuild at Illinois.

In an intriguing pickup for the Illini, the Moultrie News confirmed that Wofford offensive lineman Blake Jeresaty will be making the move to Champaign in the near future.

“I want to compete at the highest level possible,” Jeresaty told the paper. “If I didn’t challenge myself against the best then what was the point of transferring in the first place? Illinois believes in me. I believe in them. Now it’s time to go prove each other right.”

Jeresaty played center for the Terriers but could shift over to guard with Illinois returning a 27 game starter there in Doug Kramer.

Last year at Wofford, Jeresaty was named an AP FCS first-team All-American and received the Southern Conference Jacobs Blocking Award. The school said he led the team with 127 knockdown blocks as well.

When Jeresaty actually gets to campus remains in question given NCAA and Big Ten restrictions on athletic activities at the moment. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has upended most of the spring for football coaches however, it seems that Smith is still making out okay in the interim by landing players like the former Wofford star.

The Illini are currently scheduled to open up against another FCS team in Illinois State on Sept. 4.