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University of Illinois football has made the moves and are talking the talk. Can they walk the walk?

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Courtesy of Peoria Journal Star

Dec 20, 2020, Brett Bielema was hired as the head football coach to direct the Fighting Illini. He hit the ground running. Calling on coaches getting himself known, and oh yeah, hiring a staff.


Dec 28, 2020, Tony Peterson (54),

Offensive Coordinator, 31 Years coaching experience

Appalachaun State athletics

Peterson started his career in 1990 As a Grad Asst. At Kentucky, before returning to his Alma Mater in 1991, he spent the next 8 years coaching Backs, Receivers, Ends, and QBs, eventually Offensive Coordinator in 1998. The next 8 years were at Minnesota as passing game Coordinator, then Offensive Coordinator the next 7 years. He was at Iowa State and South Dakota before going back to Marshall in 2010-2012 as the Asst Head Coach/ Offensive Coordinator.

A Football and Baseball player at Marshall Peterson was drafted in the 16th round of the 1986 MLB draft by the Kansas City Royals as a relief pitcher.

Dec 29, 2020, Bart Miller(35),

Offensive Line Coach

Coaching experience 11 years

courtesy Casper Star Tribune

The one line from his press conference that struck a chord with Illini fans was "Losing is not OK." Miller worked for Bielema in 2012 as the Offensive Line Coach for the Wisconsin Badgers. Miller has been the O-Line coach at Wisconsin(2012), New Mexico State(2013), Florida Atlantic (2014-15), Minnesota(2016), Ohio(2018), and Wyoming(2019-20). In 2020 at Wyoming, he also was the run-game coordinator. He coached Tight Ends for Air Force (2017). Miller is from Elk Grove, Illinois. He recruited Illinois for Wyoming and still has valuable contacts. In 2019 Wyoming was second in the Mountain West and 23 in the nation in rushing offense. At Ohio, in 2019, the Bobcats were 9th in the nation in rushing offense. While at Minnesota, the Golden Gophers rushed for 185 yards per game and were 19th in the nation's fewest sacks allowed.

January 5th, Cory Patterson(39), Running Backs Coach.

Coaching experience 9 years High School, 3 years College

Photo by FOX2Now

Originally hired by Lovie Smith to be the U of I Tight Ends Coach in 2018. In 2021 he will be the Running Backs coach. Before being hired by Illinois, Patterson was the Head Coach of Trinity Catholic High school in St Louis, MO., and led the Titans to the 2016 Missouri state championship. It is said he has a good rapport with the players. He will act as a transition for the players from the Smith staff to Bielema's. Plus, he knows the St. Louis area in terms of recruiting.

January 10th, Ben Miller(40), Tight Ends Coach.

Coaching experience 17 years

photo U of I athletics

Bielema brought back a former Grad Asst from the Ron Zook era in Ben Miller. Miller, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, was a Grad Asst from 2002-2003, played for the Cleveland Browns in 2004, and was on the Philadelphia Eagles Practice Squad in 2005. Then a Grad Asst at Illinois with the offense. Then Back to Air Force, Coaching Tight Ends in 2007. In 2008-2011 he was Tight Ends and Specialists Coach. 2012-2020 Special Teams and Running Backs Coach. Miller had this to say about coming to Illinois. While at Air Force, he coached Cody Getz, who rushed for 1,248 yards in 2012. He also coached Jacobi Owens, a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher in 2014 and 2015, netting 3,000 yards for his college career.

January 20 George McDonald(44)

Asst Head Coach and Wide Receivers

Coaching experience 19 yrs

Photo Nick Faulkner - Pack Pride

A former four-year player at Illinois 1994-1998 as a wide receiver. McDonald's has been rising in the coaching ranks. He comes with 19 years of college coaching and 2 years in the NFL. For the last 6 years, he has been with NC State (2015-2016) Wide Receivers. in 2017, he was also named passing game coordinator. In 2019 he was moved to Co-Offensive Coordinator and Recruiting Coordinator. In 2020 he was again moved up to Asst. Head Coach as well as coaching Wide Receivers, Passing Game Coordinator, and Recruiting Coordinator. After graduating from Illinois, he got a Grad Asst job at Ball State(2000), Northern Illinois (2001-2003) Wide Receiver Coach, Stanford(2004) Tight Ends Coach, Western Michigan(2005-2006), Offensive Coordinator and Wide Receivers Coach, Minnesota(2007-2008) Wide Receivers Coach, Then to the Cleveland Browns (2009-2010) University of Miami(2011-2012) Wide Receiver Coach and passing game Coordinator, Syracuse (2013-2014) Offensive Coordinator / Asst Head Coach. His experience and the fact, he IS an Illini alum will pay big dividends on the recruiting trail.

The offensive staff has a good mixture of youth and experience and time spent in power 5 programs with the Hire of former alum McDonald and the Familiarity with Illinois High school coaches with MacDonald, Patterson, and Ben Bart Miller. Getting to in-state kids might get better.


January 7th, Ryan Walters(34), Defensive Coordinator

Coaching experience 12 years

Photo from FOX2Now

Walters spent the last 5 years with the University of Missouri as Safeties Coach in 2015, promoted to Co-Defensive Coordinator in 2016, Then Defensive Coordinator in 2018. Under Walters, the Tigers defense in 2019 ranked in the nation's Top 20 in several major categories, including total defense (14th NCAA/3rd SEC – 312.0 avg) and scoring defense (17th NCAA/6th SEC – 19.4 avg.), while excelling as a Top 10 pass defense (eighth in passing yards allowed NCAA/2nd SEC – 179.3 avg.). After Graduating from Colorado, he was a student Asst Coach for the Secondary in 2009. Became a Grad Asst for Arizona in 2010, then Defensive Backs Coach in 2011 for the Wildcats. 2012 he was a Grad Asst/Cornerbacks Coach for North Texas. Moving To Oklahoma in 2013 as the Cornerback Coach and then to Memphis in the same Role before landing at Mizzou. He should be a shot in the arm for the Illini defense.

January 10th, Terrance Jamison(34),

Defensive Line Coach.

Coaching experience 13 years 1-year High school 12 years College

Photo from Journalm Courier

Jamison Played for Bielema at Wisconsin. He coached 4 years at Wisconsin after Graduating as a student assistant, quality control, and Grad Asst 2008-2009, 2011-2012. He was defensive Quality Control for the University of California in 2013, Defensive Line coach for Florida Atlantic 2014-2016, Texas Tech 2016-2017, Air Force 2019, and Purdue 2020.

At Air Force, he defense earned national recognition in several categories, including rushing defense (7th, 100.5), defensive touchdowns (12th, 3), total defense (17th, 319.6), and scoring defense (20th, 19.8). Jamison is an Illinois Native from Riverdale who played his High School ball at Thornton Township High School.

January 11, Andy Buh(47), Linebacker Coach

Coaching experience 23 years

Photo News gazzette

Buh(pronounced BOO) With stops in 3 power 5 conferences, Pac-12, Big Ten, and SEC, but has a wealth of knowledge in big-time programs. He has coached at Nevada(1997-1999) Grad asst/ Linebacker Coach. California 2000-2001,2013) Administrative asst and Defensive Coordinator/Linebacker Coach, San Diego St. (2002-2005) Linebacker Coach, Fresno State Grad Asst., Stanford(2007-2009) Linebacker Coach/Co-Defensive coordinator, Wisconsin(2012) Linebacker Coach, Kentucky (2015) Outside Linebacker Coach, Maryland(2016-2018) Defensive Coordinator, Rutgers(2019) Defensive Coordinator, Arizona(2020) Outside Linebacker Coach. Buh's expedience will aid him well in dealing with the Young group of Linebackers that the U of I have. he should also help Illinois recruiting in the country's West Southwest areas.

January 12, Aaron Henry(32) Defensive backs Coach

Coaching experience 7 years

Photo from U of I Athletics

One of the youngest coaches on the Illinois Staff, Henry still has some good coaching experience in power 5 conferences. Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Coaching at Arkansas (2014-2015) Grad Asst. Defense, Rutgers (2016) Defensive Backs Coach NC State (2017-2019)Safeties then Cornerbacks Coach, Vanderbilt(2020) Cornerbacks Coach. Henry was an ALL Big Ten 1st team Defensive Back(2011) and a 3 year Academic ALL Big Ten.

In 2016 the Rutgers defense was 18th in the nation in pass defense. He has coached in three Bowl games 2015 Liberty Bowl with Arkansas, the 2017 Sun Bowl, and the 2018 Gator Bowl with NC State. Also known as a good recruiter who is familiar with the East and Southeast.

January 21, Kevin Kane(37),

Associate Head Coach/ Outside Linebacker Coach

Coaching experience 15 years.

Bielema reached back into his bag of former coaches and players and drew out Kevin Kane. A graduate of Kansas and Student Asst. (2006-2007) a Grad Asst for two years at Wisconsin(2008-2009) and 1 year as quality control (2010). Moving to Northern Illinois(2011-2014) Tight Ends and Fullbacks, then moving to Linebackers Coach, then Linebackers and Special Teams Coordinator. Back to his Alma Matter Kansas(2014) as Linebacker Coach, Northern Illinois again in(2015-2016) Defensive Coordinator/Linebacker Coach, then SMU(2016-2017) Defensive Coordinator/Linebacker Coach.

The defensive side of the ball also shows a fairly young staff. They may be young but have loads of experience in conferences like the Big Ten, SEC, and ACC. It will be interesting to see what they can do.

Bielema has assembled a varied staff with experience in Buh, Peterson, McDonald, and Ben Miller. and young up-and-comers like Walters, Henry, Jamison. Coaches with Big Ten Experience and deep power 5 experience. Also, top recruiters in Buh, McDonald, and Walters. Bielema has worked with a number of these coaches before, which will help the continuity. They have made recruiting the State of Illinois a priority. If they can achieve that goal, they can mold Illinois into a Big Ten power and a National power.

as always, thanks for reading

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