Big Ten

Report: Rutgers set to hire Buckeyes DC Chris Ash as head coach


Report: Rutgers set to hire Buckeyes DC Chris Ash as head coach

After Maryland made Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin its new head coach earlier this week, another Big Ten East team is going to fill its head-coaching vacancy with a coordinator from inside the division.

According to a Saturday report from Sports Illustrated, Rutgers is close to hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash as its next head coach, replacing Kyle Flood, who was fired last weekend.

It was reported earlier this week that Ash was a candidate for the job, and it looks as if the Scarlet Knights are ready to welcome in one of Urban Meyer's assistants.

Ash has spent the past two seasons running the Buckeyes' defense after serving as an assistant under Bret Bielema for four seasons at both Wisconsin and Arkansas, the final three spent as defensive coordinator for the Badgers and Razorbacks.

This season, Ash's defense has been one of the country's best. Ohio State ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an averaging of 14 points per game, and 10th in total defense, allowing an average of 303.5 yards per game. The Buckeyes have been particularly stingy against opposing passing attacks, ranking 12th in the country in passing defense, allowing an average of 176.2 pass yards per game.

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Not only does Ash have experience winning, the defensive coordinator for last season's national-championship Ohio State team, but he brings familiarity with the conference, something that could help the Knights win some games in the challenging Big Ten East.

While Rutgers' football program has been in turmoil for the past season — numerous off-the-field issues including Flood's involvement in a grade-influencing scandal led to the head coach's firing, and athletics director Julie Hermann was also fired — there are positives to the program, chief among them Rutgers' placement in a fertile Mid-Atlantic recruiting ground. A lot of top talent comes out of New Jersey, and if Ash can capitalize in recruiting, he could make the Knights competitive.

But there's no doubt that the division is loaded, with Meyer running the show at Ohio State, Mark Dantonio helming a college football power at Michigan State, Jim Harbaugh rapidly turning Michigan around and James Franklin in charge at Penn State.

It's up to Ash to find a spot for Rutgers.

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.