Big Ten

Huskers AD Shawn Eichorst supports Mike Riley, thanks fans in letter

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Huskers AD Shawn Eichorst supports Mike Riley, thanks fans in letter

With Nebraska seeing losses on the football field come faster than they ever have before, athletics director Shawn Eichorst put out a statement Monday thanking fans for their support and assuring them that the wins will come.

It was Eichorst who fired perennial nine-game winner Bo Pelini after last season, saying at the time that while the Huskers were winning games, they weren’t winning the right games, the big games.

There likely won’t be any big games to play in this season, as Eichorst’s pick to replace Pelini, Mike Riley, has already lost six games this season and would need to win out to simply reach bowl eligibility.

The Huskers lost six games before November for the first time in program history with Saturday’s 55-45 defeat at Purdue.

[MORE BIG TEN: Purdue scores 55 points to send Huskers to their sixth loss]

It all led Eichorst to pen the following letter to Nebraska fans.

Dear Husker Family,

Good morning.

I want to express my sincere appreciation to every Husker fan who has come to Memorial Stadium this season to cheer on the Big Red, who has traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to proudly wear the red and white in visiting stadiums and who has passionately supported our student-athletes, our head coach, our assistant coaches and staff. Your support and patience as Mike Riley rebuilds our storied program one brick at a time mean the world to our young men, our staff and our university.

While many are understandably disappointed in the current record of the football team and the heartbreakingly close losses we have suffered, I am confident the future is bright because I see it in the eyes of our players, coaches and staff, and I am impressed by what I know is going on behind the scenes. Our coaches are developing our student-athletes and, though the consistent victories are not there yet, I am confident they will come. I have witnessed how our young men battle every day in practice and fight to the finish on game days in the face of great adversity. Football can be a humbling game of inches and seconds, and our players have laid everything on the line while making no excuses. The prospective student-athletes looking to make Nebraska home possess athletic talent, academic potential and high character making for a bright future. Coach Riley has a vision and a plan and is committed to providing the Husker faithful with a sustained winner which will compete annually for championships.

As I have said many times, it is an honor and privilege to represent Nebraska, and I am humbled and care deeply about the men and women I have a chance to work with every day here. The incredible amount of hours they put in and the sacrifices they all make to represent Nebraska are truly remarkable. In two decades as a student-athlete and athletics administrator, I have had the opportunity to learn and work alongside some incredible people at five different institutions. What the best administrators and coaches have in common is a consistent commitment to teaching young minds to do things the right way and to instill a values system that emphasizes hard work, discipline, loyalty, teamwork, compassion and excellence. Those principles coupled with a positive attitude generally result in championships.

Your continued support is what makes Nebraska special and together, we will do great things. Thank you again for your incredible passion and support. We look forward to another home sellout and an electric environment on Saturday as we come together to cheer on our team against Michigan State.

Have a great week and Go Big Red!

Shawn Eichorst

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Huskers gear right here]

The cause for panic in Lincoln might not be quite as bad as things seem. Five of the Huskers’ six losses have come by three points or fewer, some in excruciatingly tough circumstances. Even Saturday, Nebraska fought back, scoring 29 points in the fourth quarter to turn a 42-19 deficit into a 55-45 final score.

Still, a coaching change that looked somewhat unnecessary at the time it was made looks even more unnecessary now, as Riley has already failed to reach Pelini’s annual mark — he won at least nine games and lost exactly four games in each of his seven seasons — by a wide margin.

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.