Jan. 16, 2009
University of Illinois head football coach Ron Zook announced today the hiring of former Houston, Toledo and Central Florida coach Joe Gilbert as the newest member of the Fighting Illini coaching staff. Gilbert will coach the offensive line.
"I am very excited to have Joe Gilbert join our staff," said Zook. "He is a proven offensive coach who fits well with our staff and philosophy. He knows how to motivate and get the most out of his players. He's a great recruiter and family man and in researching his was a name that came highly recommended by many people. We got better today."
"The big reason for my decision to come to Illinois was Coach Zook and his staff," Gilbert said. "When I interviewed, I really enjoyed and felt comfortable with the people that I will be working with. Another deciding factor was that Illinois has a chance to be a great program in the Big Ten. It is a great opportunity to coach in a prestigious conference like the Big Ten. I feel fortunate to be coming in at the same time as Coach Schultz so we can carry on the successful offense that has already been created. I was able to watch film on my visit and I am excited about the young players coming back and the chance I have to help them grow as players and people."
Gilbert just completed his first season at the University of Houston, where he led an offensive line that ranked second in the nation in passing and total offense and 10th in scoring offense. The Cougars' offense averaged 562 yards of total offense and 40 points per game and the line blocked for quarterback Case Keenum's 400 yards of total offense per game.
Gilbert arrived in the Houston after spending the 2007 campaign at the University of Toledo. He coached the tight ends at Toledo in 2007, his second stint on the Rockets' coaching staff. Gilbert worked with the offensive line at Toledo from 2001-03 before leaving to take the offensive line position at UCF, where he spent the previous three seasons.
In 2006, UCF ranked 30th nationally in passing offense (233.75) and 34th in total offense at 373.17 yards per game. Knights offensive lineman Kyle Smith earned Honorable Mention All-Conference USA accolades under Gilbert's tutelage.
Gilbert's offensive line was one of the Golden Knights' most consistent units in 2005 and helped pave the way for Conference USA Freshman of the Year Kevin Smith, who totaled 1,178 yards on the ground from his tailback position. Center Cedric Gagne-Marcoux garnered C-USA All-Conference First-Team recognition, while guard L.J. Anderson and tackle Patrick Brown earned conference All-Freshman Team honors.
During his first stint at Toledo, Gilbert helped develop one of the nation's top offensive lines and also helped groom future New England Patriots starter Nick Kaczur. In 2001, Gilbert guided the Rocket offensive line to an outstanding season, helping pave the way for Mid-American Conference and Motor City Bowl championships. Toledo ranked 13th in the nation in total offense (444.5), 16th in scoring offense (34.9) and 17th in rushing offense (213.4) that season. Offensive linemen Kaczur and Matt Comer were named All-MAC, while Kaczur also earned Freshman All-America honors.
Gilbert's offensive line enjoyed a banner season in 2002 as the Rockets ranked fifth in the nation in total offense (472.2), 11th in scoring (35.4) and 16th in rushing (214.3), while earning a second MAC West title and a repeat visit to the Motor City Bowl. Kaczur and center Chris Tuminello earned First-Team All-MAC honors. In 2003, the Rockets ranked 11th in the country in total offense (462.75) and sixth in passing efficiency (155.55). Kaczur made First-Team All-MAC while fellow offensive tackle Erik Faasen earned second-team honors.
Gilbert also worked as a head coach at Mansfield (PA) in 2000, and as an assistant coach at Maine from 1994-99, including four years as offensive coordinator. During his tenure with the Black Bears, Gilbert directed an offense that set 11 school and five NCAA I-AA records. He also coached Mike Flynn, a 10-year NFL veteran and starter at center for the Baltimore Ravens.
Prior to coaching at Maine, Gilbert was the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Northeastern from 1991-93, and assistant line coach and recruiting coordinator at Pennsylvania in 1989-90.
Gilbert was a standout at Horseheads (NY) High School where he earned All-Twin-Tier honors before attending Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. A four-year starter on the offensive line at Hamilton, Gilbert was a three-time All-Conference selection, and in his senior season became the first Hamilton player to earn first-team All-America honors.
A 1983 graduate of Horseheads High School, Gilbert earned a bachelor's degree in government at Hamilton in 1987. He and his wife, Cheryl, have a daughter, Madison, and two sons, Nicholas and Joseph Tennessee. The Gilberts are expecting their fourth child in August.