If Lovie Smith has it his way, he won't coach in the NFL again.
"I'm signing -- no, I signed -- a six-year contract. I'm not going anywhere," Smith said. "This is the start of the third quarter of my career. This is where I want to finish up my football career."
Smith was fired after a 6-10 season with the Buccaneers in early January, about six weeks after Illinois decided to remove the interim tag from coach Bill Cubit, signing him to a two-year contract as head coach. However, Cubit was replaced by Smith before even getting the chance to put the first Illini team he could truly call his own through spring practice.
Smith, for his part, isn't watering down expectations for one of the worst programs in the Big Ten.
"If we recruit the way I know we will, there's no rebuilding as far as I'm concerned," Smith said. "We're going to try to put the best football team we possibly can on the field as quick as we possibly can. Simple as that. And in time, whatever time it might be, we will be competing for Big Ten championships."
Smith hasn't coached at the college level since he was the secondary coach at Ohio State in 1995 -- he spent the next 20 years in the NFL. Illinois will be his first head-coaching job at the college level.
And if he's right about where his career will end, he's coached his last game in the NFL.