Lovie Smith officially has both his coordinators in place.
Illinois officially announced the addition of Hardy Nickerson to Smith's staff as defensive coordinator just a few days after officially announcing the addition of Garrick McGee as Smith's offensive coordinator.
"Hardy Nickerson is one of the few superstar players who have been able to transition into coaching and translate the style and level of play needed to succeed to the players he is coaching," Smith said in the announcement. "He has been on my staff with two different NFL teams, and I'm really looking forward to having Hardy join us here at the University of Illinois as our defensive coordinator. His ability to connect with young men and their families will be a huge benefit when it comes to recruiting, and his knowledge of our defense will certainly help us get to where we want to be faster."
Nickerson was a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker during his 16-season NFL career, starring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1993 to 1999. He began his coaching career under Smith with the Bears in 2007 before joining Smith's staff with the Bucs over the past two seasons as linebackers coach. He was hired as the San Francisco 49ers' linebackers coach just a couple months ago but will work at Illinois instead.
[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Fighting Illini gear right here]
Friday, shortly before the Illinois men's basketball team played Pudue in the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois made the reported hiring of McGee official, as well.
"My relationship with Garrick McGee goes back to when I recruited him to Arizona State, and have maintained that friendship as he has risen through the college ranks and become one of the top offensive coaches in the nation," Smith said in that announcement. "We are fortunate to have him run the Illini offense, and our fans should be excited, because we'll showcase an exciting brand of football."
Smith recruited McGee to play quarterback at Arizona State before the Tulsa native finished his collegiate career at Oklahoma. McGee has worked as an offensive coordinator at three other Power 5 schools, most notably Northwestern, where he spent four years as an assistant under both Randy Walker and Pat Fitzgerald. He also worked as the offensive coordinator at both Arkansas and Louisville, leaving the latter last week to join Smith's staff in Champaign.