Lovie Smith Named Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week
Smith receives award after upset victory over No. 6 Wisconsin
ATLANTA (Oct. 21, 2019) – Officials from the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl today announced that Illinois head football coach Lovie Smith has been selected as The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week.
The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week award honors a football coach who led his team to a significant victory during the previous week, while also embodying the award’s three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity.
The Illini welcomed conference foe No. 6 Wisconsin to Champaign for Illinois’ homecoming weekend. Entering the game, Wisconsin had outscored its opponents 255-29, boasting a defense that had allowed only 29 points the entire season, including four shutouts. That said, it was the Illini defense that made a statement with three turnovers that resulted in 17 points. Illinois secured the victory and its first lead of the afternoon when James McCourt kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired to win the game 24-23.
This was Illinois’ first win against a top-10 team since defeating No. 1 Ohio State in 2007 and its first against a ranked opponent since 2011, when it defeated No. 22 Arizona State. Coming into the game against Wisconsin, Illinois was a 30.5-point underdog, making this the biggest upset of the college football season to date and the second-largest upset in a Big Ten game over the last 40 seasons.
“Last week the nation was stunned when South Carolina defeated Georgia, and this week Coach Smith and his team pulled off an equally huge upset,” said Jim Terry, chairman of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation. “This was a historic win for the Illinois program. Leadership and preparation is critical in a game where your team comes in as a 30-point underdog. Coach Smith kept this team focused and pulled of a win Coach Dodd would have admired.”
Smith arrived in Champaign in 2016 following an illustrious coaching career in the NFL. Prior to Illinois, he coached in the NFL for 19 seasons, including 11 as a head coach. As head coach of the Chicago Bears in 2005, he led the team to a Super Bowl appearance, the franchise’s first appearance since 1985. He was named AP Coach of the Year in 2005, and ultimately left the Bears after the 2012 season as the third-winningest coach in the storied franchise’s history. When Smith took over the Illinois program, it was his first time as a college head coach, but not his first collegiate experience. Prior to his NFL coaching career, he spent 14 years as a collegiate assistant, including stints at Tulsa (1993-86), Wisconsin (1987), Arizona State (1988-1991), Kentucky (1992), Tennessee (1993-94) and Ohio State (1995).
In addition to bringing new life to the football program on the field, he has also been committed to the academic success of his players off of it. The Illinois football Academic Progress Rate (APR), a measure of academic performance year-over-year, currently stands at 982 out of 1000 under Smith, which is one of the top-25 highest scores in the country and is the third highest in Illinois history since the APR began.
Smith has also shown a dedication to the community and social issues. He and his wife founded the Lovie and MaryAnne Smith Foundation, which is dedicated to providing educational and life skill opportunities to young people who otherwise face barriers.
“Coach Smith has built one of the most impressive coaching resumes in all of football,” said Gary Stokan, CEO and president of Peach Bowl, Inc. “He is an embodiment of Coach Dodd’s principles of scholarship, leadership and integrity, and has truly left his mark on the Illinois program, both on and off the field.”
The Dodd Trophy presented by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – along with the Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week Award – celebrates the head coach of a FBS team who enjoys success on the gridiron, while also stressing the importance of scholarship, leadership and integrity.
A panel consisting of all previous winners, national media, a member of the Dodd family and a College Football Hall of Fame member will identify the final list of potential recipients at the conclusion of the 2019 season. The winner of the 2019 Dodd Trophy will be announced in Atlanta during bowl week for this year’s College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.