5 worst Illinois football coaching hires in program history

Throughout the history of the Illinois football program, we have hit some land mines when it comes to coaching hires.
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The Illinois football program has a rich history of legendary players and great seasons, but that history also has some terrible coaching hires.

For every Dick Butkus, Red Grange, and Rose Bowl appearance, there is a bad coach who helped plummet the Illini into a college football dark hole.

But which of the horrible coaches takes the top spot as the worst coach in the history of the Illinois football program?

Here are the five worst Illinois football coaching hires in program history

5. Bob Blackman - 1971-76

  • 29-36 overall
  • 44.7% win (7th worst)
  • 6-4-1 best season
  • 0 bowl appearances

Throughout the great history of the program, the Illinois football team has had some stinkers as coaches. I am claiming Bob Blackman as the fifth worst coach in program history.

Illinois was in a dark place in the late 1960s. In the three seasons prior to Blackman taking over, the Illini had a combined four wins. It is a tough ask for a coach to come in and resurrect a program that hit those depths.

Blackman’s first season at the helm saw Illinois go 5-6 in 1971. This was the best record for the program since the 1965 season under Pete Elliott. The Illini seemed to be going in the right direction, but that didn’t end up being the case.

Blackman spent six seasons in Champaign with his best year coming in 1974 when the team went 6-4-1. He had a combined record of 29-36 overall, giving him a 44.7% winning rate. This was bad enough to rank as the No. 7 worst winning percentage in program history among coaches who weren’t interim.

On two different occasions, Blackman-led Illinois teams were ranked in the Associated Press poll, but they couldn’t stay ranked. The Illini never made a bowl game during the Blackman era either.