Categories
Illini basketball Illini football

In hindsight, it was a pretty good day

Yeah, Illini football got walloped by a basketball school. Let it pass. Saturday was magical.

A lot of the attendees had never before seen a full Memorial Stadium. They weren’t alive when Mike White and John Mackovic’s teams were forced to build temporary bleachers to accommodate 76,000+ fans.

No Illinois undergrad was alive the last time a packed Tailgreat (look it up) celebrated perfect weather buttressed by unfettered optimism for the program’s future. The 80s Belonged to the Illini (look it up).

You might even blame excitement for the team’s mistake-prone performance. They were just that hyped up. Thirteen penalties and six fumbles might, if we’re lucky, stand as all-time records for the Lovie Administration.

Scroll down a bit and you’ll find Vashoune Russell’s pictures from the evening. This one captures Center Joe Spencer’s once in a lifetime 9 yard rush. It would have been the play of the game except that Gabe Megginson severely twisted his ankle just as Spencer was scooping the ball from the turf.

Illini center Joe Spencer nearly gained a rushing first down after picking up a fumble (Vashoune Russell)

But let’s stick to happy thoughts.

It wasn’t just a vibrant atmosphere among long-suffering tailgaters. The north end zone was packed with unofficial visitors, potential football recruits who’ve taken note of the NFL pedigree now running the Champaign show.

Garrick McGee continued to look like a 1940s leading man as he introduced priority target student-athletes to one-another. It’s the mustache, but it’s also the demeanor.

At the northeast corner of Zuppke Field, John Groce entertained FOUR Official Visitors and their families. Yes, three of these Visitors have already verballed to Illinois. But that doesn’t answer the question: Has any D-1 basketball program ever hosted FOUR Official Visitors on the same weekend?

Maybe this is the year John Groce turns things around. Even Jalen Coleman-Lands looked pumped as the team convened in the north end zone, and he’d had hand surgery just a day earlier.

So, yeah. Larry Fedora’s Flash In The Pan put a hurt on your orange for the second time in as many seasons.

Next year, he’ll be coaching somewhere else. UNC will be on probation. Lovie et al will have signed the most widely discussed recruiting class since Dwight Beverly (look it up).

Illini head coach Lovie Smith admonishes Ke’Shawn Vaughn after the latter’s personal foul Saturday night in Champaign (Vashoune Russell)

T.J. Logan eludes Illini Chris James (Vashoune Russell)

Luke Butkus and Hardy Nickerson Sr. are bemused (Vashoune Russell)
Bad form tackling by Lovie Smith versus Carolina RB Elijah Hood (Vashoune Russell)
Dawuane Smoot is not bemused (Vashoune Russell)

 

Categories
Illini football

Lovie signs a contract

You thought Lovie Smith was hired on March 7, 2016.

Those of us who filed FOIAs that day, seeking the terms of his contract, were told we’d be mailed a copy when it was signed, and that we needn’t ask again.

So for a few months, some of us have been wondering when this day would arrive. And why the delay?

Image by Vashoune Russell

Lovie signed a “Term Sheet” on the weekend Josh Whitman delivered him to a stunned Illini nation.

Billy Gillispie operated under a similar device, labeled a “memorandum of understanding” during his brief tenure at Kentucky.  (Gillispie’s eventual settlement with the Wildcats paid a fraction of what he’d have earned had he signed the seven-year offer left on the table.)

The Lovie contract runs 41 pages. There’s a strongly-worded clause about health and well-being of students (surprise, surprise) followed by a quizzical paragraph admonishing the coach to recruit good student-athletes.

It gets weirder and more interesting in 3.2.f , which states that the head football coach makes decisions about his staff’s continued employment and compensation subject to the approval of the athletic director, and then

Josh Whitman may be a Ron Guenther protégé, but he absorbed more about the power of contracts than Guenther.

Lovie will get a lot of perks. “Up to two late model vehicles” with paid liability and comprehensive insurance (cf. John Groce’s contract, which specifies a second car for his wife), a family membership to a local country club (why not just come out and say it? … the Champaign CC) and a maximum $25,000 reimbursement for moving his household.

He also gets 20 tickets to all football games, home and away, for his personal and family use. He gets the use of one west side Memorial Stadium suite, and two “VIP parking passes” for every home football game. He gets four tickets to every men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball game. And a VIP parking pass for basketball games at State Farm Center.

The buyout terms are similarly friendly.

The penalty clauses seem obsessive. They probably aren’t the reason Matt Smith (Lovie’s son and agent) delayed signing for half a year.  Ostensibly, Lovie doesn’t care about these clauses. He signed the contract.

But there are a number of activities which would void Lovie’s contract, costing him $19,000,000, yet are perfectly legal. The clause about drinking alcohol  doesn’t mean Lovie can’t get drunk. It means he can’t be drunk on the job. Or under the influence of narcotics, steroids or other “chemicals” not prescribed by his physician.

Who’s to say whether and when he is “materially impair”ed by a chemical?  I took a DayQuil geltab once. It made me feel odd.

The clause about betting on pro sports is a restraint on trade, albeit a trade that’s legal in few jurisdictions.

“The University,” as it’s identified in this agreement, covers its ass in ways unimagined by previous contracts with previous coaches. At the same time, it offers enormous remuneration and embarrassingly paltry yet delineated incentives to assistant football staff, arguably it’s downfall. Illinois still hasn’t figured out, evidently, that it  can pay Hardy Nickerson and Garrick McGee amounts which might compel them to stay here for a while. That’s a huge problem, and one that most university departments had figured out by the Jimmy Carter Administration.

The Lovie contract refers to a pool of money for assistants. Competitive schools pay “pool” money to individuals.

The U does recognize the cost associated with an untimely departure of its head coach, in myriad clauses. The U seeks to defray those costs, in those clauses.

Does this seem too clausy? Why am I barraging you with incessant paragraphs when I could simply embed the entire contract?

Sorry.

Here it is, in full. Read it.

[gview file=”http://illinireport.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Lovie-Smith-Executed-Employment-Contract-090816.pdf” height=”800px” width=”800px” save=”0″]