The University of Texas hired John Mackovic of the University of Illinois as its new head football coach Wednesday and officially will announce its decision at an afternoon press conference today, according to school officials.
An Illinois source said Texas offered a five-year package worth $3 million – $600,000 annually – plus additional unspecified perks.
According to UT athletic department sources, Mackovic agreed in principle to the deal during negotiations Wednesday night. Final details of the contract have yet to be ironed out.
Mackovic could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Mackovic, who has coached the Illini to a 30-16-1 record and four bowl appearances in as many seasons, will become the 27th head football coach in Longhorns history. Mackovic, regarded as one of the finest offensive innovators in the game, headed the No. 13 passing offense in the nation this season and coached quarterback Jeff George, the No. 1 pick in the 1990 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. His college career record, including three seasons at Wake Forest, is 44-36-1.
As an NFL coach, Mackovic, a native of Barberton, Ohio, led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first playoff appearance in 15 years in 1986, his fourth and final season in Kansas City. He was an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys in 1981-82.
Meanwhile, the Illinois athletic board scheduled an emergency meeting for noon today to name an interim coach and athletic director. Mackovic, 48, also has scheduled a 7:30 a.m. meeting today with the Illini players.
Illinois (6-5) will meet UCLA in the John Hancock Bowl on Dec. 31.
Mackovic met with Texas President William Cunningham, Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds and former Texas coach Darrell Royal near Chicago on Wednesday. Dodds and Cunningham could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Sources close to the Illinois program also told the Austin American-Statesman the school made a counteroffer to Mackovic earlier Wednesday that included an annual salary of $500,000 on a contract that runs through 2000 and funding for a $1 million annuity. Those sources said Mackovic’s agent then informed Texas it had to match the offer by Wednesday or lose any chance at Mackovic.
Former Coach David McWilliams, who resigned under pressure Dec. 2, earned about $300,000 annually.
Mackovic was earning $400,000 – $365,000 for coaching and $35,000 for directing the athletic department.
Besides money, another point in the negotiations could have been Texas’ insistence that Mackovic retain defensive coordinator Leon Fuller, who shaped the Longhorns into one of the country’s best defensive units this season. Texas ranked fourth nationally in total defense – first in passing efficiency and ninth in scoring.
Illinois sources acknowledge that Lou Tepper, Mackovic’s defensive coordinator, almost certainly will become the interim coach and is the leading candidate for the permanent position. Robert Todd, Illinois’ associate athletic director, is expected to succeed Mackovic as athletic director.
Mackovic is expected to bring most of his offensive assistants to Texas. Green Bay Packers running backs coach Willie Peete is a prime candidate to join Mackovic at Texas. Peete was an assistant with Mackovic at the Kansas City Chiefs.
Former Texas assistant Mike Parker, who coached four All-Americans with the Longhorns, would be receptive to joining Mackovic’s staff.
McWilliams stepped down after going 31-26 in five seasons. The highlight of his Longhorns coaching career was leading Texas to a 10-2 record and a Cotton Bowl berth in 1990. He also defeated rival Oklahoma three straight seasons.