Ohio State beat Alabama, 42-35, in last season's Sugar Bowl, advancing to the College Football Playoff national title game and eventually winning the national championship.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is obviously still a little sore about that loss, and he's not too happy with ... the NFL Draft?
Saban said Wednesday at SEC Media Days that with his players receiving their NFL Draft grades from the league two and a half weeks before the Sugar Bowl, some of them played not to get hurt in that crucial game against the Buckeyes. He even went as far to say that those draft evaluations screwed with the Tide's team chemistry.
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The NFL Draft is an odd scapegoat for a coach whose team blew a 21-6 lead and allowed 537 yards of offense.
Sure, the Tide have a lot of players drafted on an annual basis, and it's very likely that one of the main reasons these guys attend Alabama is to better their chances at an NFL future. So those players wanting to protect that future makes sense and wouldn't be surprising if it's something that happened.
But also, in addition to Saban's notion being a little insulting to those competitors, Saban's teams have won three national championships in the past six seasons. So getting players to refocus on the game instead of their draft evaluations hasn't seemed to be a problem in the past. Why was it this time around?
Saban could also try giving some credit to Cardale Jones (286 total yards and a touchdown pass) and Ezekiel Elliott (230 rushing yards and two touchdowns) and the Buckeyes defense (three interceptions and only 170 rushing yards allowed). I seem to remember them having a lot to do with the outcome of that game, too.
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 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.