Illinois assistant Ryan Walters lands head coaching job at Big Ten rival Purdue

Illini fans lamenting Walters’ departure shouldn’t miss the point. This is what happens when you get good. You can’t have one without the other.

SHARE Illinois assistant Ryan Walters lands head coaching job at Big Ten rival Purdue
merlin_110359586.jpg

Illinois defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters looks on before an NCAA college football game against Northwestern on Nov. 26, 2022 in Evanston, Ill. Purdue announced Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, they had hired Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters as their head coach less than a week after Brohm left for his alma mater, Louisville. (Anthony Zilis/The News-Gazette via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHN301

Anthony Zilis, AP Photos

Illinois football fans found themselves on the business end of a hard hit Tuesday, when they learned outstanding defensive coordinator Ryan Walters had accepted the head coaching job at Big Ten division rival Purdue.

Those who spent time lamenting Walters’ departure shouldn’t miss the point. This is what happens when you get good. You can’t have one without the other.

“Boilermaker nation, it’s the dawn of a new day,” Walters tweeted in a video. “I’m Ryan Walters, your head football coach, and I can’t wait to get to West Lafayette. Boiler up.”

It’s a well-deserved opportunity for the 36-year-old, who was a finalist for the Broyles Award — given to the nation’s top assistant — after the Illini finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in scoring defense (12.3 points per game) and No. 2 in yards allowed (263.8). The Illini enter the ReliaQuest Bowl ranked in the top 10 in 17 major defensive categories.

Walters will not coach in the Jan. 2 bowl game against Mississippi State in Tampa. It’s unclear who will perform that task for Illini coach Bret Bielema.

“Ryan is a talented coach with a bright future, and we thank him and his family for everything they did for our program,” Bielema said in a statement. “This is something that I had seen coming for a while now. We have had a plan in place that we will unveil in the coming weeks that will position Illinois football for sustained success in 2023 and for years to come.”

Walters replaces Jeff Brohm, who left for Louisville, his alma mater.

The Latest
‘‘I don’t like the way the play was called,’’ Grifol said before the Sox’ 6-4 loss Friday to the Orioles.
“And that’s on getting a win in a packed arena, not just cause of one player on our charter flight,” Reese shared in a since-deleted post on X, formerly Twitter.
Notes: Lefty Drew Smyly likely will be activated this weekend in St. Louis.
Imanaga originally was scheduled to pitch Friday, but when the game was postponed, the Cubs pushed his start to the next series in Milwaukee.