Lovie Smith retains three coaches, Scheelhaase

Lovie+Smith+thanks+the+Illini+Marching+Band+in+the+Illini+Union+on+March+7%2C+2016.+Photo+by+Lily+Katz

Lovie Smith thanks the Illini Marching Band in the Illini Union on March 7, 2016. Photo by Lily Katz

By Dan Collins

Four members of Illini football’s coaching staff were retained by new head coach Lovie Smith, the University announced Tuesday.

Tim McGarigle — linebackers — and Paul Williams — secondary — will remain in their respective coaching roles. Mike Phair, last season’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, will coach the defensive line again in 2016-17 after being promoted to defensive coordinator in the offseason. 

Hardy Nickerson was named defensive coordinator Monday. Nathan Scheelhasse, 2015-16’s running backs coach, will remain on the team in a non-coaching role. His exact position is yet to be determined.

The Illini defense jumped from the nation’s 109th-best total defense to 30th in one season under Phair. He coached under Smith in 2011-12 with the Chicago Bears and in 2014-15 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

McGarigle never got the chance to coach alongside Cubit — he was hired on Jan. 2. The Chicago native spent the last four seasons at Western Michigan.

Williams, who was also hired on Jan. 2, is in the same situation as McGarigle in that regard. Williams’ last five seasons were spent at Miami as the defensive backs coach.

“I am very pleased to have Mike Phair, Tim McGarigle and Paul Williams on our Fighting Illini coaching staff,” Smith said in a press release. “Mike has worked with me at two other places and is an excellent football coach. In addition to his outstanding coaching skills, his experience here at Illinois over the last year will be invaluable.”

Assistant director of football operations was Scheelhaase’s first role after his playing days with the Illini. Shortly after he was moved to running backs coach.   

[email protected]

@TweetDanCollins