Illinois hires Jim Bridge as O-line coach

Illinois on Wednesday announced a second hire for its offensive coaching staff as Tim Beckman selected Jim Bridge to oversee the Illini offensive line.

Bridge spent the past six seasons at NC State, the past two as the Wolf Pack's offensive line coach. He coached NC State's tight ends from 2007-2010 and needed a new post following the school's dismissal of Tom O'Brien.

Bridge replaces Luke Butkus, who left Illinois after just one season for a post at Florida International. He joins an offensive staff now led by coordinator Bill Cubit, who replaced the ousted Chris Beatty.

"Illinois is a great fit for me, personally, and Coach Beckman has assembled an outstanding staff," Bridge said in a prepared statement. "As a coach, you always look forward to competing in a premier conference like the Big Ten and at one of the nation's great academic institutions such as the University Illinois. I can't wait to get started with the members of our team and especially our offensive linemen."

Beckman and Bridge coached together on Urban Meyer's staff at Bowling Green in 2000, as Bridge coached tight ends and Beckman served as defensive coordinator. Bridge has coached tight ends or offensive line for most of his career and has made previous stops at Boston College, Eastern Michigan and The Citadel. His only previous Big Ten experience came as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2001.

He takes over an offensive line that underperformed in 2012 despite two veterans in Hugh Thornton and Graham Pocic. Several young linemen received extensive experience last fall, and Bridge will need to get the group back to the level it performed at for much of the 2010 season.