The deal is for six years, worth $21 million, and Smith will be paid $2 million each of the first two seasons. This gig is the first head coaching job at the college level for the former NFL coach, who was introduced at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
Smith claimed in the news conference that he takes this job very seriously, and looks forward to making Illinois a contender for the Big Ten title. He is the first black football coach hired by Illinois, which will end the criticism of the school never hiring an African American basketball or football coach.
The school's athletic director, Josh Whitman, tweeted out the news Monday morning with the hashtag "#WeWillWin."
Smith coached the Bears from 2004-2012, and most recently the Buccaneers for just two years, ending this past season. He was fired in January after posting an 8-24 record in those two seasons.
The 57-year-old led the Bears to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1985, and ranks third on the team's win list. He has worked as an assistant at the college level with the likes of Ohio State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona State, Wisconsin, and Tulsa.
The former defensive assistant joins Nick Saban, Jim Mora, Jim Harbaugh, and Mike Riley as the only FBS coaches with professional experience. He looks to use that experience to help turn Illinois' football program around, searching for immediate success in the tough Big Ten Conference.