Big Ten

Report: Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead turns down Minnesota

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USA TODAY

Report: Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead turns down Minnesota

It makes sense that Minnesota would look at the Big Ten's hottest coordinator to fill its head-coaching vacancy.

But according to a Wednesday-night report from the Associated Press, Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has no interest in signing up to lead the Gophers.

The AP reported that Minnesota reached out to Moorhead to discuss the opening, created Tuesday when Tracy Claeys was fired, and received word that Moorhead wasn't interested in leaving Penn State.

Moorhead did a sensational job this season turning around the Nittany Lions' offenses, converting it from an ineffective unit under Christian Hackenberg to an explosive point-producing machine under quarterback Trace McSorley.

With McSorley, Big Ten Running Back of the Year Saquon Barkley and a fleet of play-making pass-catchers, Penn State averaged 37.6 points a game (third in the Big Ten and 21st nationally).

Nowhere was Penn State's electric ability more on display than in its final two games of the season in the Big Ten Championship Game win over Wisconsin and Monday's thrilling Rose Bowl loss to USC. Against the Badgers, the Lions erased a three-touchdown deficit with McSorley throwing four touchdown passes. In the Rose Bowl, the Lions erased multiple 13-point gaps and scored touchdowns on seven straight drives.

While the pros of leaving for Minnesota are the same as leaving for any Big Ten head-coaching job — ample resources and a national stage, plus coaching in the Big Ten West offers a much easier path to the league title game each season — Penn State is expected to be among the preseason favorites to win the national championship next season.

In other news relevant to Minnesota's head-coaching search, Gopher officials reportedly met with Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck on Wednesday in Chicago, though another report said no offer was made to the energetic young coach who guided the Broncos to 13 wins this season.

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.