Big Ten

Illini dismiss head football coach Bill Cubit


Illini dismiss head football coach Bill Cubit

New Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman made a big move on his first official day on the job.

Whitman announced the dismissal of head football coach Bill Cubit on Saturday morning, ending Cubit's brief tenure as the head coach of the Fighting Illini. Offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit was also dismissed. 

Cubit served as the interim head coach during the majority of last season after Tim Beckman was fired a week before the season opener. Cubit led the Illini to a 5-7 record, and he was named the permanent head coach before the season finale against Northwestern, receiving a two-year contract.

“I appreciate the leadership that Bill Cubit provided our football program during what has been, unquestionably, a very tumultuous time,” Whitman said in the announcement. “He accepted the challenge on an interim basis under incredibly difficult and unusual circumstances, and he has continued to work diligently for the betterment of our student-athletes. Through his efforts, he has kept the program moving forward. Bill is a good man and a good football coach. All of us in the Illini Nation owe him a debt of gratitude for his work leading our team these last months. At this juncture, however, I think it is most important that we position our program for long-term success by creating a more stable environment for the coaches, players and prospective student-athletes.”

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It's another shock to the program's system, as spring practice was scheduled to begin March 11. The announcement said that the start of spring practice will be delayed until a new coach is in place and that there will be information in the future regarding the spring game, scheduled for April 16.

Cubit joined Beckman's staff as offensive coordinator ahead of the 2013 season and with the help of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase transformed the Illini into one of the more explosive offenses in the Big Ten. The numbers took a dip, however, in the first year with quarterback Wes Lunt in 2014, and the Illinois offense continued to struggle a season ago with Cubit as the head coach.

Cubit joined the Illini after eight seasons as the head coach at Western Michigan, where he compiled a 51-47 overall record.

That head-coaching experience along with his familiarity with the program made Cubit as good a choice to take over for Beckman as there could have been under those circumstances. Many felt Cubit was dealt a bad hand with that two-year contract, which could have negatively impacted recruiting in addition to show that an athletics department in flux wasn't committed to him.

Now with a new leader in that department, obviously things are moving in a different direction.

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


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


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.