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February 04, 1988

Lindy Infante, offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns, accepted a five-year contract to coach the Green Bay Packers, and John Mackovic, former coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, accepted a similar contract to coach the University of Illinois football team.

Infante, 47, succeeds Forrest Gregg, who resigned in December to accept the head coaching position at Southern Methodist University, his alma mater. Michigan State Coach George Perles had been offered Green Bay job first, but turned it down.

Infante said he was disappointed that he hadn't been the first choice, but added:

"I have been a second choice in other jobs and it's not going to have any effect on my dedication to the job at hand. It certainly is not going to make me feel I am second-best to anybody. I have great faith and confidence in myself. If I can't get it done here, then quite frankly, it's time to get into something else."

Infante was head coach of the Jacksonville Bulls of the now defunct United States Football League, compiling a 15-21 record in 1984 and '85, before joining the Browns. He said that he would probably supervise the Packers offense instead of hiring a coordinator.

Mackovic, 44, replaces Mike White, who resigned Jan. 18 after eight years as the Illinois coach. White departed amid charges of recruiting violations by the NCAA and the university. The Illinois' football program was placed on probation in 1984 for similar infractions.

"No doubt there have been disappointments and frustrations, and that's why I'm here," said Mackovic, who had been out of football since his firing by the Chiefs a year ago. "We will operate within the rules. We want to play and we want to win, but we want our people to graduate."

Chancellor Morton Weir described Mackovic as a man of integrity and honesty.

"Try as we did," he said, "we could not find a single person who would question his record in that regard."

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