- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Illinois has hired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears assistant coach Mike Phair to be a co-defensive coordinator.

Phair, a coach with a long NFL resume but little college experience, will join current coordinator Tim Banks and try to improve one of the Big Ten’s least effective defenses. Phair will coach the defensive line.

Illini coach Tim Beckman on Friday stressed Phair’s connections to former Bears coaches.

“He is established as one of the rising defensive line coaches in the profession and is greatly prepared to take on the role as our co-defensive coordinator. His work with Lovie Smith, Coach Trestman and Rod Marinelli has provided an incredible amount of experience,” Beckman said.

Phair was Tampa Bay’s defensive line coach last season and was a defensive line coach for the Bears from 2011-13. He spent six seasons as a coach and scout with the Seattle Seahawks before that. His college experience is limited to a season as a defensive assistant at Tiffin University in Ohio and two seasons as a graduate assistant at Arizona State. He also played at Arizona State as a linebacker in 1990 and 1991.

Beckman fired defensive line coach Greg Colby after last season along with special teams coach Tim Salem. Salem’s spot has not been filled.

Illinois finished 6-7 last season. Its defense was ranked last in the 14-team Big Ten.


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