New Illinois staff heavy on experience with NFL, Smith

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Lovie Smith's new staff at Illinois is heavy on coaches who have worked in the NFL, worked with Smith or both.

Smith said Tuesday that is what he had in mind when he hired them during what is an unusual time to put together a staff.

Smith was hired March 7 after the surprise firing of Bill Cubit two days earlier.

Former Louisville offensive coordinator Garrick McGee is filling that role at Illinois. He and Smith have known each other since Smith recruited McGee at Arizona State. Smith said he and McGee plan to run a pro-style offense.

After a long NFL career and several seasons coaching high school football, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson was part of Smith's staff at Tampa Bay.