Illini Football Coach Cubit: ‘Everybody’s Rallying’ Around This Team

August 31, 2015
 
In this Nov. 22, 2014, file photo, new Illinois coach and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit talks to quarterback Reilly O'Toole (4) during a game against Penn State in Champaign,

In this Nov. 22, 2014, file photo, new Illinois coach and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit talks to quarterback Reilly O'Toole (4) during a game against Penn State in Champaign,

(AP Photo/Bradley Leeb, File)

Illinois’ new head football coach said he hopes the community will rally around his team when they play against Kent State on Friday night.  The game will mark Bill Cubit’s one-week anniversary at interim coach, after two years as offensive coordinator.  

Cubit said he’s getting support from all over.

“To see the reaction I got from a lot of the country – a lot of alumni – hey, coach, we’re all in your corner, let’s go," he said, in a Monday press conference.  "And we have defensive guys come up to you, 'Coach, I got your back.  Don’t worry about it.  I think that’s pretty neat, especially a guy of my age, being able to do something like this.  You're going to see a passionate (team), hard working, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.  That's the way we're going to approach this thing."

Bill Cubit joked about the blue blazer he wore to talk to reporters on a warm day Monday.    But the 61-year-old coach said he hoped wearing the jacket showed professionalism.

Cubit succeeds Tim Beckman, who was fired as the Illini’s head football coach last week, after an external review found evidence of player abuse.  He denies the allegations.

Cubit said he doesn’t know what went on in incidents involving Beckman in which players were allegedly pressured to play hurt.  But he said the coaching staff knows that they should listen to the team’s trainers and physicians when it comes to player injuries.  Cubit said he hadn't been in touch with Beckman over the weekend, but was open to keeping those lines of commuication open.  

He's taken a long road to his first top job at a major-conference school.  At 61, his only previous head-coaching job was at Western Michigan.

Linebacker Mason Monheim said he is stunned by what has happened with Beckman's firing, and is thankful that he gave him a chance to play.

“The seniors that stood up there and talked during camp, they said he gave me an opportunity," he said.  "And that’s what he’s done for a lot of guys on our team.  He was the guy who that put his neck out there, gave us an opportunity, gave us a shot.”

Quarterback Wes Lunt calls Beckman’s dismissal ‘just more adversity to overcome.'

“We’re excited about this year, and we have big expectations for ourselves," he said.  "We’re going to fall behind Coach Cubit’s lead, and do all we can to win.”

Friday night’s Illinois-Kent State game kicks off at 8 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

Story source: WILL