Smith brings an atypical coaching style to the team

Eli Schuster

Illinois football coach Lovie Smith speaks to reporters at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.

Illinois football head coach Lovie Smith doesn’t like to yell. He doesn’t see much use in it.

And he could have done a lot last year with a 3-9 football team.

“Do you need to shout to be a good trainer?” Smith asked a reporter after the topic came up.

Smith said he doesn’t care how his messages are received as long as his players learn from him and the coaching staff. He wants his words to have an impact in the locker room and on the pitch.

He just doesn’t see yelling as a necessary way for his players to learn from him.

“I hope I coach them, teach them, teach them how to be a man,” Smith said. “I don’t think you need to scream to do that.”

One of Smith’s favorite teachers never yelled at anyone. It inspired him to embrace his balanced workout style.

“Ms. Pace never yelled at me and I listened to everything she said,” Smith said. “So as long as the guys listen to me, I hadn’t thought much about yelling.”

Smith’s players said that while his voice may be softer, the head coach’s tone is clear and direct.

Defensive back Jaylen Dunlap is entering his senior season with the Illini and said he knows when Smith means business.

“Coach Smith doesn’t yell; it’s surprising because I’ve never had a coach who didn’t yell,” Dunlap said. “The coach can yell at you without yelling at you. He’s highly respected. He doesn’t say anything he doesn’t mean.

Dunlap admitted he acted unprofessional after making a good play by the Michigan State sideline last year. When he returned to the bench, Dunlap said Smith’s stern tone taught him a valuable lesson.

“Coach (Smith) just said to me, ‘You don’t act like that, that’s not the way you do things,'” Dunlap said. “It’s sportsmanship, and that’s what he tries to preach, and that meant a lot to me”

The lesson held Dunlap back enough to seek out and apologize to Michigan State head coach Mike Dantonio Monday during Big Ten Media Days.

Wide receiver Malik Turner echoed Dunlap’s sentiments and thought Smith’s technique suited the Illini system well. He said other coaches on Smith’s staff followed his lead and wanted their players to continue learning.

“With (wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker) he taught me a lot, and I know the type and quality of work you need to do on a daily basis to improve,” Turner said. “He just taught me what to do with the other receivers over there.”

As Smith enters his second season as Illini’s head coach, he has no plans to change the way he approaches coaching his football team.

“I want to teach my players how to play, the expectations I have for them,” Smith said. “As long as I’m not shouting, I’m thinking about coaching.”

[email protected]