Big Ten

Report: Les Miles meeting with Minnesota about head-coaching job

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USA TODAY

Report: Les Miles meeting with Minnesota about head-coaching job

Could Les Miles be on the verge of coming back to the Big Ten?

According to a Thursday report, the former LSU head coach — a Michigan alum and former assistant with the Wolverines — is heading to Minnesota to talk with university officials about the Gophers' newly vacant head-coaching position.

Minnesota needs a replacement for Tracy Claeys, who was fired earlier this week in the fallout of a brief player boycott that was sparked by a university investigation into an alleged sexual assault that resulted in the suspensions of 10 players.

The program is hardly on solid ground, with players openly discussing their disdain for the administration, specifically targeting complaints at new athletics director Mark Coyle. Both quarterback Mitch Leidner and former head coach Jerry Kill have blasted the administration in recent days, and one underclassman was quoted saying many players will transfer away from Minnesota regardless of who the next coach is.

But big names have still been speculated about when it comes to Claeys' successor. That includes Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck, who after leading the Broncos to 13 wins this season reportedly met with Minnesota officials Wednesday in Chicago.

And now Miles' name is heavily in the rumor mill after Thursday's report. Miles headed up a perennial national-championship contender at LSU, amassing 114 wins with just 34 losses in his 11 and a half seasons in Baton Rouge. He won a national championship at the end of the 2007 season and took the Tigers to the national title game at the end of the 2011 campaign. Miles won double digit games in seven seasons at LSU.

While Miles might seem as much too big a fish for the Gophers to land — this season's nine-win finish was just the eighth in program history — any Big Ten head-coaching job is a quality one, what with the ample resources and national stage the conference provides. Minnesota also plays in the Big Ten West, which has a much easier annual path to the conference title game than the other half of the league.

And Miles has Big Ten roots. He played under Bo Schembechler at Michigan and returned as an assistant under Schembechler and Gary Moeller.

Stay tuned as Minnesota continues to look for its next head coach. A big splash could be coming.

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.