Cubit ready to fill Illinois football head coaching role


Tyler Courtney | The Daily Illin

Head coach Bill Cubit congratulates senior Tim Clary before his last game as an Illini against Northwestern at Soldier Field on Saturday. Illinois lost 24-14.

By Charlotte Carroll, Staff writer

Instead faculty representative Matt Wheeler made the announcement to a room filled for a team meeting that was only 40 minutes after he found out the news himself. It was right before the Illini boarded buses from their Chicago hotel to head to their game against Northwestern at Soldier Field.

After weeks of speculation, the University and Cubit agreed to a two-year contract taking the pressure off of Illinois’ head coach

Dressed in a suit after his team’s 24-14 loss to the Wildcats, Cubit was optimistic about the program’s future.

“There’s a lot positive vibes out there,” Cubit said. “But my job is to convert the naysayers. The biggest thing to me is you can’t be negative. Negative has not done well around here.”

Cubit added that there is plenty to work on but now he has time to add his own spin on coaching. This is time he didn’t have when he was named the interim head coach a week before the season.

Seniors agreed that Illinois football needs a positive voice to take it in a positive direction. While they won’t be back next year, they are confident that Cubit has the trust of underclassmen to lead the team.

“When the guy came in and said ‘I’m introducing a new head coach,’ I saw a few guys look around like ‘Who is it going to be?’” senior safety Clayton Fejedelem said. “But I knew it was going to be him.”

But Cubit’s son, quarterbacks coach Ryan Cubit, had a different take, knowing well enough to wait until the official word.

“In this business you never know,” Ryan Cubit said. “Until something is signed, there’s nothing you can control. You can only go out there and do your job.”

Interim Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk spoke with media before the game. With an interim chancellor and interim athletic director, Kowalczyk said the University made the decision to keep Cubit to add a little stability to a program rocked by changes this year.

Illinois dismissed previous Athletic Director Mike Thomas after the release of the final Franczek Radelet report on allegations of abuse of football players under previous head coach Tim Beckman.

Illinois’ focus will be on the search for a new Athletic Director, who will then have his or her say on the next head coach. Cubit’s extension includes a buyout provision.

“Obviously it’s not ideal,” Kowalczyk said. “For now, I don’t think it will put a dagger in the heart of the program.”

Kowalczyk added that he wished the decision was made earlier, but there was a lot of communication between University personnel and they have confidence in Cubit to keep the program moving forward.

And while Illinois’ new full-time head coach was in a suit in front of the media after Saturday’s loss, he said he’ll be in the back in the office working at 8 a.m. the next morning.

“I’ll go out there and I’m going hard,” Cubit said. “I really am.”

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