CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. has given the Illini offense a boost this season and his work is being rewarded with a contract extension and raise. Lunney Jr. will remain in Champaign through the 2025 season, a one-year add on to his current three-year deal, with a boost in salary up from $675,000 this season to $800,000 for and $825,000 for the 2024 and 2025 seasons.
“I am grateful to Coach Bielema and Josh Whitman for their commitment towards my family and me,” Lunney Jr. said in a statement. “The atmosphere and expectations that they have created in the Smith Center and Memorial Stadium are an honor to be a part of. I am excited to continue to build the Illinois offense under the leadership of Coach Bielema and alongside our exceptional staff and student-athletes. Thank you to the Champaign-Urbana community and the University of Illinois for welcoming our family to such a special place. We look forward to being a part of Illinois football in the years to come, as we continue building towards championships!”
Lunney Jr. has led a big turnaround for the Illini (7-2, 4-2 B1G) offense, moving up 121 spots in completion percentage (3rd from 124th), 74 spots in passing efficiency (47th from 121st), and 59 spots in yards per game (53rd from 112th). Illinois also has the nation’s leading rusher in Chase Brown, leading the country in rushing yards (1,344), all-purpose yards (1,485), rushes of 10+ yards (41), and 100-yard games (9).
“Coach Lunney has had a huge impact in his time here directing our offense,” Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said in a statement. “He has provided an excitement for our offensive players and coaches in the building every day since he came in. The opportunities he has provided our players through his efficient scheme has been vital for the success of our program as we set new expectations going forward. I’m grateful to Josh and our administration for being proactive in locking in Coach Lunney for the future.”
“Barry Lunney has provided a needed spark to our offense, which has been among the most improved in college football,” Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “He has brought an exciting, efficient system and has guided several of our student-athletes to career years that are earning national recognition. Stability in key leadership positions in the Smith Football Center is important to continuing our upward momentum toward and realizing our championship goals. We are grateful to Barry, Janelle, and their sons for their commitment to the Illinois family.”
No. 21 Illinois hosts Purdue Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN2 in a crucial game in determining the Big Ten West champion, with the Illini holding a one-game lead in the division with three games to go in the regular season.