Big Ten

Penn State returning to no names on backs of football jerseys


Penn State returning to no names on backs of football jerseys

For the past three seasons, Penn State, with good reason, bucked tradition and put players' last names on the backs of the classic blue-and-white football jerseys.

Well, tradition is coming back.

Penn State announced Thursday that there will be no names on the backs of jerseys in 2015 and beyond.

The reason the names were there in the first place was thanks to former head coach Bill O'Brien, who wanted to recognize and honor the players who stuck with the program during the Jerry Sandusky scandal during the 2012 season. With many of those players on the team the past two seasons, as well, the names stuck.

But now current head coach James Franklin, who's entering his second season with the Nittany Lions, is restoring the nameless look, which Penn State boasted for well more than a century.

[MORE BIG TEN: Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton, three other B1G receivers on Biletnikoff watch list]

"For 125 years Penn State proudly followed a very simple idea: 'Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game,'" Franklin said in a statement. "In 2012, for the first time in the program's history, names adorned the back of the jersey to forever identify the men who stayed loyal, sacrificed and chose to play for this institution during the most difficult of times. The 2012 team, permanently recognized in Beaver Stadium, will hold an enduring place in our program's history. Their commitment will never be forgotten. However, it's time we bring back the tradition that represented Penn State for 125 years. We are a strong family, playing for one goal, one university, and there is only one name that truly matters, Penn State."

While perhaps inconsequential to some, Penn State fans are pretty serious about how the Lions look on the field. Tradition has an odd place in college football, sometimes honored to great extents and other times thrown out the window. The Penn State uniforms and fans' feelings about them certainly fall into the former category. Surely, Franklin will be cheered extensively for this decision.

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.