Big Ten

After being accused of cheating, Jim Harbaugh goes full-on Trump, attacks Paul Finebaum on Twitter for #AlternativeFacts


After being accused of cheating, Jim Harbaugh goes full-on Trump, attacks Paul Finebaum on Twitter for #AlternativeFacts

Alternative facts, man. They're going around.

While Jim Harbaugh is perhaps the most powerful person in Ann Arbor, he suddenly has a lot in common with the most powerful man in the world.

The Michigan head football coach — who by the way attended a Barack Obama speech at the university during the 2016 presidential campaign and visited the White House multiple times under our previous president — unleashed a Donald Trump-esque Twitter attack Thursday night, blasting ESPN commentator Paul Finebaum for talking bad about him on TV.

It's Trump-esque not only because of its vitriol and reference to a media member needing to get his facts straight, but also because it includes an error. He wrongly called Paul Finebaum "Pete Finebaum." Though unlike the president's frequent spelling and grammar faux pas, this one might have been intentional.

Anyway, you might be wondering why Harbaugh felt the need to lash out at Finebaum.

It started with Harbaugh making an addition to his coaching staff, bringing in Michael Johnson to be an assistant with the Wolverines. Johnson most recently worked as the head coach at a California high school, but he's also a former NFL offensive coordinator who worked under Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers.

But the part of Johnson's bio that has folks flipping out is that he's also the father of Michael Johnson Jr., one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the 2019 recruiting class.

That fact is causing many to assume that Harbaugh made the hire solely to get into the family's good graces and best position himself to bring the younger Johnson to Michigan.

Finebaum is among those people, and he voiced his opinion that Harbaugh is flat-out cheating during an appearance on ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

"He is an evil genius. I think he's one of the smartest people I've run into in a long time, and most of what he has done is exactly that: genius," Finebaum said of Harbaugh. "This is wrong. It may not be illegal by NCAA standards and bylaws as of this moment, but to me it's cheating. It's blatantly disregarding the spirit of the NCAA rule.

"We all know why he's doing it. And this is the same person who last year accused Nick Saban of cheating, he accused Hugh Freeze of cheating. And in my mind — and I know you can't prove it, and he won't be penalized for it — but he's cheating, and why don't we face up to it. There's no other reason why he would hire this man. It's been done in the past. And you pointed out a couple of years ago it was done, but it's still wrong. And I don't know why the media celebrates Jim Harbaugh for disregarding the NCAA rule book and doing things that are in my mind unethical.

"If this man was such a great coach, then why didn't Jim Harbaugh hire him earlier? Why did he wait till his son was about to become eligible to play at Michigan? And what bothers me — no, no one's ever going to accuse Jim Harbaugh of this, and it's not going to stick. He is that smart. But for someone who likes to go around pointing fingers at everyone else, I think it's time to start pointing fingers at him. This is unethical. It stinks to high heaven, and I don't know why you or the Michigan zealots out there want to keep propping him up."

Here's the full segment from "Outside the Lines," which includes a defense of Harbaugh from writer John U. Bacon.

Finebaum, of course, is a polarizing figure in his own right. He's been a talk-radio host in SEC Country for a long time and joined ESPN within the past few years as a part of the network's expanded SEC coverage.

It seems he struck a nerve with Harbaugh, as the tweet from Thursday night would suggest.

Here's the kicker, though: It turns out the elder Johnson might not even end up coaching at Michigan, perhaps sparking the #AlternativeFacts tweet. The high school where Johnson used to coach tweeted he'd be joining the Wolverines' staff, but a Friday report said Johnson would be joining the Oregon Ducks' coaching staff.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately


Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal


Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.