Illinois hires Mike Phair as Illini co-defensive coordinator

By Sean Neumann

Illinois announced Friday that Mike Phair will be the football team’s new co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach.

Phair has spent the last 13 years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, and most recently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Phair will work alongside Tim Banks, who has been Illinois’ defensive coordinator for three seasons.

“I am extremely pleased to add someone of Coach Phair’s caliber to our coaching staff,” Illinois head coach Tim Beckman said in a press release. “He is established as one of the rising defensive line coaches in the profession and is greatly prepared to take on the role as our co-defensive coordinator. His work with Lovie Smith, Coach (Marc) Trestman and Rod Marinelli has provided an incredible amount of experience.”

Phair worked under Lovie Smith as the defensive line coach in Tampa Bay in 2014. Phair was the Bears defensive line coach from 2011-13, also under Smith and later Marc Trestman, where he coached Pro Bowlers Julius Peppers and Henry Melton.

It was reported last month that Illinois was closing in on Missouri’s Craig Kuligowski to the same position; however, Kuligowski opted to stay at his current position.

The Illini rushing defense was the worst in the Big Ten last season, allowing 239.2 yards per game. Overall, the team’s total defense was the worst in the conference, allowing 456.4 yards per game and 34 points per game.

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @Neumannthehuman.