Lovie Smith's coaching staff at Illinois is evolving fast.
After a Tuesday report indicated that Louisville offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was Smith's "top target" for his new offensive coordinator, a Wednesday report from ESPN's Adam Rittenberg said that McGee will indeed be coming to Champaign.
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As outlined Tuesday, McGee was an assistant at Northwestern for four seasons under both Randy Walker and Pat Fitzgerald, serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in the final two years of his tenure in Evanston. McGee has been Louisville's offensive coordinator for the past two seasons after a two-year stint as the head coach at UAB. Prior to that he worked as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas.
McGee is a Tulsa, Okla., native and an Oklahoma alum. Smith attended Tulsa, and that's where he got his first college assistant coaching gig.
Last season, McGee's Louisville offense ranked 51st in the country in total offensive yardage, while the passing game ranked 44th in total passing yardage. The season prior, Louisville ranked 68th in total offensive yardage and 43rd in total passing yardage.
Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino essentially confirmed the move with this statement Wednesday:
“I wish Garrick McGee and his gamily nothing but the best, and I am grateful for his friendship and commitment. I’ve known him for a long time, and I’m going to miss him as a person and a coach. He did a great job wherever we have coached together, and I think he has a great football mind. I know it was a difficult decision for him because he’s had such a close relationship with Lovie Smith, and he feels like this is the right move for him. I wish him nothing but success, and I am grateful for his dedication through the years.”
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 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.