Lamar Cardinals at UTSA Roadrunners Football

Barry Lunney Jr. was hired as Illinois’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Saturday. Lunney spent the past two seasons at Texas San Antonio in the same role. He will be the Illini’s 12th different offensive coordinator since the 2008 season.

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CHAMPAIGN — Bret Bielema moved quickly in providing new direction for the Illinois offense.

The Illini coach, who officially announced he had fired offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tony Petersen on Friday night, hired Barry Lunney Jr. in the same role late Saturday morning. Both moves had been in the works for some time. Lunney’s hire is pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“I am so excited to bring Barry Lunney to the University of Illinois family and put him in a position to lead our offense,” Bielema said in an official release. “He has had success at every level he has coached and has a system that will help take our offense to a new level of success. He is a great teacher, communicator, and leader that our staff and players will gravitate to.”

Lunney, who was tight ends coach for Bielema at Arkansas from 2013-17, joins him again with the Illini after spending the past two seasons at Texas San Antonio as associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

UTSA went 12-2 in 2021, including a 37-30 victory at Illinois on Sept. 4 in Champaign that saw the Roadrunners put up 497 yards of total offense. That included a 117-yard game from running back Sincere McCormick and quarterback Frank Harris picking apart the Illini secondary for 280 yards and one touchdown.

The UTSA offense ranked 11th nationally in scoring in 2021 at 36.9 points per game and 34th in total offense at 439 yards per game.

Conversely, Illinois was tied for 115th nationally in scoring offense at 20.2 ppg and was 112th in total offense at 329.8 yards per game.

Lunney joined the staff at UTSA after six seasons at his alma mater, Arkansas, where he served as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator during his tenure. He was also named interim coach late in the 2019 season after Chad Morris was fired. Lunney also spent three seasons at Tulsa (2000-02), two at San Jose State (2003-04) and nine as the offensive coordinator at Bentonville (Ark.) High School before Bielema hired him the first time.

“I’m thankful and excited for the opportunity to join Coach Bielema at the University of Illinois,” Lunney said in the same release. “Coach B. is one of the most respected coaches in college football, and I look forward to building on the foundation that he set during his first year in Champaign. The opportunity to work with Coach B. again after spending five years together was one that I could not pass up.”

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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