Big Ten

Did Nick Saban blame NFL Draft for Alabama's Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State?


Did Nick Saban blame NFL Draft for Alabama's Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State?

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.

[MORE BIG TEN: Michigan, Ohio State each land two linebackers on Butkus Award watch list]

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.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.