Big Ten

Did Gophers' Richard Pitino almost take Alabama head-coaching gig?


Did Gophers' Richard Pitino almost take Alabama head-coaching gig?

According to someone who would know, Richard Pitino was considering leaving the Gophers this offseason.

That someone is Rick Pitino, the head basketball coach at Louisville and the father of the head basketball coach at Minnesota, and he told Jim Rome that his son was "seriously considering" taking the head-coaching gig at Alabama, which was vacated after the SEC Tournament.

Apparently the elder Pitino advised Alabama athletics director Bill Battle on the job opening — which ended up going to former NBA head coach Avery Johnson — and Richard's name was mentioned.

"I've met with the Alabama athletic director, talking about different guys for that job. Richard's name came up, and Richard was seriously considering making that move," Rick Pitino told Rome. "He called me up and said, 'You know, Dad, Alabama's a great job, but I don't deserve it.' You know what, for a 32-year-old, that's as proud I can be as a dad. He was just so humble about it. And he said, 'I haven't done enough to warrant any move or even consider any move.' He said, 'We've got a tough rebuilding job here at Minnesota, and I'm going to get it done."

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini miss out on Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis]

Richard Pitino has amassed a 43-28 record in two seasons helming the Gophers, including an NIT championship in 2014. Minnesota has been on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble in each of those seasons.

In 2014, the Gophers finished with a 25-13 overall record and 8-10 conference record, a seventh-place ranking in the Big Ten. Last year, the Gophers were 18-15 overall and 6-12 in the Big Ten, placing 11th in the league.

It has to be comforting to Gophers fans that Pitino wants to stick around and finish what he started at Minnesota. But there's no doubt that he's drawing interest from elsewhere, too.

(h/t CollegeBasketballTalk)

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.