Football Hayes & Cannon Podcasts

Silver Bullets Podcast — State of the Big Ten: Illinois

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After Ohio State hired Urban Meyer, he said that he wanted to see the rest of the Big Ten schools step up and improve the state of their respective programs. In their own ways, each of those programs is trying to answer the call.

Over the summer on The Silver Bullets Podcast, we will be discussing every team in the B1G in order to see what they are doing to improve their position in the conference.

Week by week we will speak with somebody who covers the other Big Ten teams in order to get a closer look at the rest of the conference. Up first in this series is the Illinois Fighting Illini. Robert (@ALionEye) from joins us to discuss the state of the Illini program.

This time of year it is popular for writers, bloggers, podcasters, etc. to come up with their myriad lists to pass the time. One that always pops up is a list of coaches on the hot seat. Now in his third season, Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has made it on many of those lists, and that shouldn’t be.


Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman hired Smith with a vision of this rebuild taking at least five years. The first year Smith was hired, the spring practices had to be delayed as he put together his staff. Because of his late arrival when he was hired, the 2017 recruiting class was his first.

The 2019 recruiting class is off to a very nice start with Top 100 players Isaiah Williams (No. 3 ATH) and Marquez Beason (No. 5 ATH). If they can keep those two players and then build on them, that five-year plan might be right on time.

Along with a pickup in recruiting, Illinois is also building a new football facility.

Illinois started the 2017 season 2-0, then failed to register another victory the rest of the year. This season they look to start strong once again, with games against Kent State, Western Illinois, and USF. The USF game will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago. Their three B1G East crossover opponents are Penn State, at Rutgers, and at Maryland.

The over/under for Illinois wins is 3.5. How close are the Illini to being a good bet on the over? We discuss that during the show. The youth movement that the Illini are relying upon now is also a topic of conversation.

Running an almost seven-million dollar deficit, Illinois will need to get it turned around soon. A promising season will help to increase ticket sales and revenue. Can Lovie Smith get it done?

Last season, Ohio State defeated Illinois on a cold and rainy Saturday in Columbus 52-14. They won’t face each other again until 2020.