Big Ten

Reports: Ex-Bears coach Lovie Smith could be new Illini head coach

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Reports: Ex-Bears coach Lovie Smith could be new Illini head coach

In the middle of a press conference where Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman addressed the dismissal of head football coach Bill Cubit, reports popped up of a big name that could be Cubit's successor.

Multiple reports indicated that former Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith could be the next head coach of the Fighting Illini.

Smith was fired as the Buccaneers' head coach in January after two seasons during which he posted an 8-24 record. Previously, he spent nine seasons as the Bears' head coach, posting an 81-63 record and leading the team to three division championships and an appearance in Super Bowl XLI.

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Smith has never worked as a head coach at the college level but has plenty of collegiate coaching experience, working as an assistant at Ohio State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona State, Wisconsin and Tulsa before he jumped to an assistant role in the NFL.

Cubit was dismissed Saturday morning after just a little more than three months on the job as the Illinois head football coach. He spent all but the final game of the 2015 campaign as the team's interim head coach, leading the Illini to a 5-7 record. He took over when head coach Tim Beckman was fired a week before the season opener.

Smith would certainly be a big splash for Illinois and Whitman, who already made eyes pop with his decision Saturday. Smith would bring a big name to Champaign and plenty of excitement to a program that is in desperate need of it.

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.