CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football coach Lovie Smith and Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson have never coached together before but the two guys have a lot in common. Both are trying to rebuild teams that have struggled for years. Both have similar philosophies to life and coaching, and both were in attendance at the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association annual clinic Friday morning, with Jackson as the featured speaker.
“It was Lovie Smith, that’s what got me here,” Jackson said. “Obviously our relationship and me watching his career over the years, I’ve always thought Lovie was one of the better coaches in the National Football League and just one of the better coaches period. When he calls, you answer.”
Jackson spent time talking X’s and O’s but also about the bigger responsibility coaches have, influencing the younger generation and players.
“I think part of being a great coach is being a great teacher and I think it’s bigger than just football,” Jackson said. “I think it’s trying to get these young men to understand what it takes to be successful in life. Obviously it still leads to football, but I think there’s so many other principles to teach as you’re teaching these guys how to be good football players.”
Jackson has struggled with the Browns, who failed to win a game last season, but the longtime coach says he’s confident Smith will turn the Illini program around.
“I’m tremendously confident in him,” Jackson said. “I think as long as everybody has patience. It doesn’t happen overnight. You’re rebuilding a program. I’m in the midst of doing that myself, so I get it. I know for our fans we want them to hold on and understand, and sometimes they don’t. But I would hope that people have a little patience with him because he’s going to get it done here.”