Big Ten

Fred Hoiberg to Ohio State? Report stirs speculation of rare NBA-to-college move — and Lovie Smith comparisons

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Fred Hoiberg to Ohio State? Report stirs speculation of rare NBA-to-college move — and Lovie Smith comparisons

Now here's an interesting development.

Per a Wednesday-night tweet from CBS Sports' Gary Parrish, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg is a "real candidate" in Ohio State's freshly minted coaching search.

The Buckeyes are in need of a new leader for their basketball program after ending the 13-year tenure of Thad Matta earlier this week. While Matta was extremely successful — the school's all-time wins leader who took Ohio State to two Final Fours — recruiting losses and a declining win total made athletics director Gene Smith's decision to move on an understandable one.

The lists of potential candidates hit the internet immediately, and while some were more realistic than others, logical options included Xavier's Chris Mack and Butler's Chris Holtmann, who both coach at former Matta employers. Some of those potential candidates thrown out there were current NBA head coaches, though Hoiberg's name wasn't as prevalent as pie-in-the-sky picks like Boston's Brad Stevens and Oklahoma City's Billy Donovan.

While it's typically college head coaches leaving for NBA gigs — just like Hoiberg did two offseasons ago, leaving Iowa State for the professional ranks — this could be the latest example of an NBA coach returning to college.

Though while there are several recent examples of that happening — Alabama's Avery Johnson, Nevada's Eric Musselman, Southern Methodist's Larry Brown and Florida State's Leonard Hamilton — none of those guys left NBA jobs they held to go back to school. That's what Hoiberg would be doing should he evolve from "real candidate" to the Buckeyes' next head coach.

That's an odd route and might to speak to all the talk around Hoiberg in Chicago.

At Iowa State, Hoiberg was a hero. After a successful playing career in Ames, the man they called "The Mayor" led the Cyclones to four straight NCAA appearances and back-to-back Big 12 Tournament titles before bolting for the big time.

The big time hasn't gone too well for Hoiberg, though. He's a mere three games over .500 in two seasons, only the second of which featured a trip to the postseason, ending with a first-round exit.

Those results have meant constant discussion of Hoiberg's job status moving forward, so much so that Bulls brass had to declare he'd be back for the 2017-18 campaign.

Perhaps Hoiberg is pining for his more successful days as a college coach?

Given what he was able to do at Iowa State, you'd figure Hoiberg coming to Columbus would be a tremendous hire by the Buckeyes. He brought in highly rated recruits, won conference championships, reached NCAA tournaments and became one of the hottest coaches in the game — and did it all in Ames, Iowa. With the resources of one of the highest-profile athletics departments in the country and those that come with playing in one of the best conferences in college basketball, Hoiberg could do even more.

It remains to be seen whether this progresses past a simple Twitter report, but should it, it would be a move not dissimilar from fellow Big Ten school Illinois hiring Lovie Smith to helm its football program in spring 2016: an oddly timed coaching search ending swiftly with a splash hire from the professional ranks. Also, there'd be the coincidental Chicago connection.

Smith's arrival in Champaign brought instant credibility to a floundering program. Ohio State basketball is a stronger brand now, even after back-to-back seasons missing the NCAA tournament, than Illinois football was then. But Hoiberg's hypothetical arrival in Columbus could have a similar effect, an instant boost in excitement, recruiting and the value of the brand. While Hoiberg hasn't had the success Smith had at the professional level, he has had college success while Smith had no college head-coaching experience whatsoever.

Right now it's just a talking point for the internet. But if Hoiberg's candidacy is as "real" as Parrish reported, perhaps another big-name coach could be joining the Big Ten very soon.

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

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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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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.