Lovie Smith has a long coaching resume and a tall task facing him in turning around a program at Illinois.
Smith talked about his new job and the upcoming season in a one-on-one interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith in a segment that aired Saturday.
During the conversation, Smith was asked if he had a goal in terms of wins for the upcoming season, and he answered with a broader look at the Fighting Illini’s future.
“We don’t want a number, we want to play up to our potential. Our goal is to become Big Ten Champions,” he said. “When that happens, we’re going to enjoy the journey until we accomplish that, but it’s one day at a time. And I think at the end of the year, we’re going to be satisfied with our record.”
The full interview can be found here. Below are a few more highlights from the first-year Illinois coach:
On being a first-time college head coach…
“(It’s) a new and exciting experience. I’d been in college ball, but leading a program, I’m a rookie. And there’s a lot of excitement about being a rookie.”
On being one of only 15 African American head coaches in college football…
“Growing up, I didn’t see a whole lot of people who looked like me on the sideline. Now I have a chance for young men who are in the position I was in to see me there. You want them to see you in a certain way. See you as a winning coach doing things the right way.”
On his tutelage from Tony Dungy…
“What I saw was a man that talked about developing you as a person, who treated guys with class and expected you to be honest and do things the right way. That’s what I saw in Tony Dungy and that has to have a big influence on me.”