Ex-Bears Coach Lands in NFL Again With New Gig

Lovie Smith Texans

Getty Former Illini and Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith is heading to Houston.

Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith is back in the NFL. Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Texans are hiring Smith to be their new defensive coordinator.

According to Wilson, the 62-year-old Smith had his interview in Houston on Wednesday, the same day the Texans hired David Culley as their new head coach. The team will announce the hirings of Smith and new head coach David Culley publicly Friday, per NFL insider Ian Rapoport, who also reported that former Bears quarterback Josh McCown will be another new addition to the Texans’ staff.

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Smith Has Not Coached in the NFL Since 2015

Smith was relieved from his duties as head coach at the University of Illinois on December 13 after he went 17-39 in five seasons there. His 10-33 record against Big Ten opponents could not have helped matters.

Here’s a look at Smith’s coaching resumé:

  • 1980, Big Sandy HS (TX) (defensive coordinator)
  • 1981–1982, Cascia Hall Prep (OK) (assistant defensive backs/wide receivers coach)
  • 1983–1986, Tulsa (linebackers coach)
  • 1987, Wisconsin (linebackers coach)
  • 1988–1991, Arizona State (linebackers coach)
  • 1992, Kentucky (linebackers coach)
  • 1993–1994, Tennessee (defensive backs coach)
  • 1995, Ohio State (defensive backs coach)
  • 1996–2000, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (linebackers coach)
  • 2001–2003, St. Louis Rams (defensive coordinator)
  • 2004–2012, Chicago Bears (head coach)
  • 2014–2015, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (head coach)
  • 2016–2020, Illinois (head coach)
  • 2021-present, Houston Texans (defensive coordinator)

As head coach of the Bears, Smith posted an 81-63 overall record before getting fired after a 10-6 campaign in 2012. The defensive-minded coach also spent two years as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, going 8-24 in his two seasons with them.

The former head coach took the Bears to their last Super Bowl after the 2006 season, losing to Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts. Despite never winning the big game, Smith was beloved by his team. After he was relieved of his duties in 2012, several of his ex-players defended their former head coach.

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Several of Smith’s Former Players Still Speak Highly of Him

When Smith was let go by Bears brass after barely missing the playoffs with a winning record, many of his former players were not happy about it. “If I could rewind time and go back and make something happen, I wish we would have kept Coach Lovie,” running back Matt Forte told Sports Illustrated in 2018.

“I was upset and hurt but it’s business,” ex-Bears All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs told USA Today back in 2013. “That was the decision the organization made and that’s the decision we have to live with.”

Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher went so far as to suggest that the team unceremoniously releasing Smith has hexed them a bit, so to speak: “I like to say it’s the Lovie Curse — because since he left [the Bears have struggled],” Urlacher said in 2017, via Pro Football Talk. “He got fired being 10-6 … I don’t think the GM liked the way he coached the football team. The guy’s a winner. I love(d) playing for him.”

Smith will now continue to script his story in Texas, where there has been no shortage of drama over the past few seasons. He’ll also be returning home, as he was born in Gladewater and raised in Big Sandy, Texas.

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