D.J. Durkin might be relatively new to the role of head coach, but there will be plenty of head-coaching experience roaming the sidelines in College Park.
Durkin made some noise Wednesday, when the university announced he'd added former Virginia head coach Mike London and former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer to his staff. London will serve as the associate head coach and defensive line coach, while Schafer will serve as the defensive coordinator.
London spent the past six seasons running the show right down the road in Charlottesville, leading the Hoos to a 27-46 record and one bowl appearance. Prior to arriving at Virginia, London was extremely successful in two seasons as the head coach at FCS Richmond, leading the Spiders to a 24-5 record and a national-championship win in 2008.
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Shafer spent the past seven seasons at Syracuse, including the last three as head coach, leading the Orange to a 14-23 record and one bowl appearance. During the 2008 season, Shafer had the same job Durkin had last season, serving as Michigan's defensive coordinator. Shafer has a couple other Big Ten ties, having worked as the Illinois defensive backs coach in 2004 and having worked under current Illinois head coach and then-Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit as the Broncos' defensive coordinator in 2005 and 2006.
Speculation that Mike Locksley could remain on Durkin's staff intensified Tuesday night when a Maryland recruit tweeted a picture of himself with Durkin and Locksley during an in-home visit. Locksley served as the team's interim head coach following Randy Edsall's midseason dismissal. Locksley was Edsall's offensive coordinator with the Terps and has his own head-coaching experience, serving as the New Mexico head coach from 2009 to 2011. He was also a Maryland assistant from 1997 to 2002 and worked as an Illinois assistant from 2005 to 2008.
There's no telling how Durkin will fare in his first permanent head-coaching gig — he was Florida's interim head coach for last season's bowl game — but surrounding himself with guys who have done the job before can't hurt.
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.