Big Ten

Ex-Illini Sergio McClain on basketball program: 'Hire me as the head coach'

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Ex-Illini Sergio McClain on basketball program: 'Hire me as the head coach'

Plenty of Illinois fans have concerns over the present and future state of the basketball program, what with the Illini sitting at 10-10 and potentially missing the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.

Solutions are hard to come by, but one former Illini thinks he has one: himself.

Sergio McClain, who played at Illinois for Lon Kruger and Bill Self from 1997 to 2001, told the Champaign News-Gazette that the first act of whoever becomes the new athletics director in Champaign should be to hire him as the head men's basketball coach.

[MORE BIG TEN: After second-half dry spell, Illini beat Gophers in overtime]

From the News-Gazette's Jeff D'Alessio:

"Easy. Quit ignoring and hire me as the head coach of my alma mater. I truly bleed those colors. And if you feel there is inexperience — which there really isn't because I'm my father's son and have been taught the ropes; Illinois won conference 'ships when the McClains were in office and that's a fact — put experience around me that I can trust, like you're doing with Dee Brown in administration.

"No assistant coaching job. Head. I hold the key to the Illinois pipelines when it comes to recruiting, plain and simple. It's time, whether you're ready for me to lead or not. If they pass on me, they will regret it in the long run. No ill will intended; I just know I'm the best out there.

"You can't use Central as a measuring stick. I wasn't supported by the administration, nor the majority of the parents whose kids played because I was about building a program and it not being a recreation center.

"Know this: In this era of great players across the nation, fathers and mothers are from my generation. They either played with me or against me and my father. One thing is for certain: My character and name carry a level of respect and trust with them that can never be severed. To get to the father's kingdom, you must go through the son."

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Fighting Illini gear right here]

OK then.

McClain certainly has passion for his alma mater, but the line "if they pass on me, they will regret it in the long run" raises some eyebrows.

McClain's father, Wayne, was a successful high school coach in Peoria and served as a longtime assistant on the staffs of Self and Bruce Weber for 10 seasons at Illinois. He joined Self's staff after Sergio's playing days were over and stayed on once Self left for Kansas, coaching alongside Weber for his entire tenure and his first year at Kansas State.

Sergio McClain has minimal coaching experience, coaching briefly at Parkland College, Champaign Central High School and in a couple small basketball leagues.

While he played at Illinois, the Illini won two regular-season Big Ten titles and made three NCAA tournament appearances, including one trip to the Elite Eight.

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

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USA TODAY

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

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USA TODAY

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.