Big Ten

Lovie Smith's Illini coaching staff finally complete


Lovie Smith's Illini coaching staff finally complete

Lovie Smith's coaching staff is finally complete.

Two weeks after Smith was introduced in Champaign as the Illini's new head football coach, Illinois announced the final addition to his coaching staff in new running backs coach Thad Ward. Ward spent the past three seasons as the wide receivers coach at Northern Illinois.

Ward's hiring completes Smith's staff. Previously announced hires include offensive coordinator Garrick McGee, who joins the Illini after two seasons in the same role at Louisville.

Defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson spent the past two seasons as the linebackers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bob Ligashesky is the new special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. He spent the past four seasons as an NFL special teams coordinator with both the Buccaneers and Houston Texans.

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Luke Butkus returns to Champaign as the offensive line coach, a role he had before in 2012 under Tim Beckman. The former Illini captain also worked under Smith as an assistant with the Bears.

Andrew Hayes-Stoker is the Illini's new wide receivers coach. He had the same job under Smith in the past two seasons with the Buccaneers and worked as an assistant with the Bears.

Tim McGarigle was hired as an Illinois assistant by Bill Cubit prior to the latter's dismissal. The Northwestern alum stays on as Smith's linebackers coach after four seasons at Western Michigan.

Mike Phair, hired as co-defensive coordinator under Tim Beckman and promoted to defensive coordinator under Cubit, stays on as Smith's defensive line coach. Phair worked under Smith with the Bears from 2011 to 2013.

Paul Williams was hired as the new Illinois defensive backs coach by Cubit and retained by Smith. Williams spent the past five seasons at Miami.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.