Cardinals RB Rashard Mendenhall explains his retirement

mendenhall

Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall will retire. Yes, at the tender age of 26. How’s that for a surprise to kick off NFL free agency?

UPDATE: Rashard Mendenhall explains his retirement decision to HuffPo

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter first reported this development. Mendenhall battled turf toe for much last season. When he finally got to be 100%, Mendenhall scored five touchdowns in his final eight games. Rashard Mendenhall was “kind of a big deal” coming out of Niles West high school. As a five-star prospect, he was rated the No. 1 recruit in the state of Illinois by Scout.com. He committed to Ron Turner and the Illini where re-wrote the Illinois single season rushing record book.

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Eleven worst Illini basketball losses of the past 10 years

bruce weber-upset

As proud a program as Illini basketball is, they’ve certainly had some “hiccups” (wow, what a euphemism there) in recent years. A 52-49 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers on January 30th, 2011 was just one disgusting-to-watch debacle that didn’t even make the cut. It marked the first win over a ranked team at IU for Tom Crean. Last night, I experienced something similar to “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” from “The Book of Mormon.” I dreamed Illini basketball put up only 15 points by halftime, couldn’t make a three-pointer to save their lives, and missed more lay-ups, put-backs and bunnies than any college basketball team in history.

Worse yet this spooky Illini basketball hell dream took place at Northwestern! Versus the worst Northwestern team they’ve had since 2007

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Former Bears coach Ron Turner apologizes for players’ PUBLIC NUDITY

ron-turner

What a weird week for former leaders of the Illinois Fighting Illini program. We found out on Monday Ron Zook now works at a small bank in Florida.

And now Ron Turner is apologizing for the public nudity of his Florida International University college football players.  Yes, it was very difficult to not commit the typo of “pubic” in place of “public” when you put the word next to “nudity.”

Mistake happens all the time. Just like when you disrobe in public. FIU coach Ron Turner is apologizing on behalf of some players who used a public outdoor shower after a beach workout Friday and got naked for the people of Florida to see.

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Illinois basketball shafted in Tourney; NCAA changes rule yesterday

illinois basketball

Partially due to a blown call, Illinois basketball has beaten a higher seeded NCAA Tournament team just twice in school history. Trailing 57-55 with 40 seconds remaining, replays clearly showed the Illini should have maintained offensive possession on an out-of-bounds call. Instead, the ball was wrongly awarded to the Miami Hurricanes. And even a Miami player admitted it.

Now the NCAA is going to going to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again.

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Illini grab Seton Hall transfer Aaron Cosby: Champaign gets The Cosby Show

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Aaron Cosby was the Seton Hall Pirates second leading scorer during his sophomore season, averaging 12.6 points per game. After living the Big East program, he appeared to have many potential landing places. Then Aaron Cosby limited it to just the Illini and Mizzou. Well, The Cosby Show is officially coming to Illini basketball.

How’s that for “Braggin Rights,” Missouri?

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Kendall Gill: what will become of Bulls TV analyst, Illini legend?

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As you now have heard, Kendall Gill, former Illinois Fighting Illini star and Chicago Bulls pre-and-post game analyst for Comcast SportsNet Chicago (and WGN sometimes too) is suspended for the rest of the year. It’s all in the station’s hands, but Gill’s job could be in serious jeopardy when CSN re-evaluates his contract this off-season.

During his suspension, Gill won’t miss much when it comes to Bulls basketball.

He might be missing the studio and the money, but this Bulls season is a lost cause. They have first-round elimination written all over them and the Derrick Rose returning or not returning drama has now mentally, psychologically and emotionally persecuted a fan base. It’s now at Roger Clemens or Brett Favre level status. And I don’t know who’s at fault: the team, the doctors, D. Rose, Coach Thibs, the 3rd largest media market in the country, the Luvabulls, everyone all at once…but I do know the storyline is draining and irritating. This Bulls season can’t end fast enough.

I just hope Gill’s broadcasting career doesn’t end with it.

But if it does, I completely understand why.

I’ve written over 1,700 words about the past, present and future of Kendall Gill. Go here for that.

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More Illini NCAA Tourney wins would be huge for Chicago

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The Illini were huge in Chicago in 2005, and if they can upset #2 seed Miami today, they just might be again. If the Illini make it to the next weekend, and this becomes a regular thing -Illini basketball- playing deep in the NCAA Tournament, Chicago will truly be more of an Illini town. The more they win in the big dance, the more the media will cover them, and the more Chi-city bandwagon college basketball fans will jump on board the bandwagon. Like they did in 2005 when the Illini went to the national title game. I explored this in detail here. University of Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas is aggressively promoting the Illini athletic programs in Chicago and Illini hoops coach John Groce has re-opened the recruiting pipeline to the Chicago Public League. Bruce Weber, for whatever reason could not do the CPL right.

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Illinois basketball CRUSHES Northwestern by 21, redeeming previous loss

illinois-basketball

Illinois basketball (19-8, 6-7), erased the second worst blemish on their NCAA Tournament resume by paying back Northwestern Sunday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston. On January 17th the Illini never led in a 68-54 defeat. Tonight Illinois basketball responded with a more than convincing 62-41 victory

Northwestern (13-13, 4-9) endured a scoring drought of ten minutes which allowed the Illini to build a 30 point lead. The nearly 3/4 Illinois basketball favoring crowd at Welsh-Ryan was empathetic and gave a bronx cheer when James Montgomery III finally ended the drought. Northwestern shot only 25 percent for the game. It’s Northwestern’s lowest point total since 2008 when it scored 37, also  against the Illini.

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Illini Cheerleader Sister is former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis (pics)

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It’s a great thing we have student media. They’re the guys who gave me leads like this to go research important stories like this. And make no mistake this is hard hitting, extremely important news. Let’s say you’re a fan of WWE and enjoy the work of former  WWE Diva Maria Kanellis. Now let’s say you’re an Illini fan, someone who really watches a lot of Illini games (these two groups of fans overlap quite a bit, I’ll show you the Ven diagrams) you might have noticed a member of the Illinois Dance Team or “Illinettes,” who kind of looks like Maria, but on a multi-year delay.

And you’d be right, they are indeed sisters. Janice Kanellis a.k.a. Janny Kanellis is indeed the younger sister of Maria Kanellis. Forget the wins over the #1 Hoosiers, and top 20 wins over the Gophers, Butler, Ohio State and at Gonzaga. This is truly the Illini feel good story of the college basketball season. How can you look at Maria Kanellis and not feel good?

Let’s get to the pictures.

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College basketball is AWFUL in all of Illinois, yet again

depaul blue demon

What a shame. What a crying shame that Chicago, which every year has some of the best preps talent in the country, has zero going for it on the college level. Unless the Illinois Fighting Illini can somehow go 6-3 down stretch (and they face some brutal opponents so this highly unlikely) what Land of Lincoln team will get into the big dance? An improved UIC team that is 9-2 at home and 5-5 on conference could very possibly win the Horizon League Tournament, the only way they get their ticket punched. So maybe zero teams in the NCAAs this year, just like last year, just like four years ago. Juxtapose that with Indiana in 2000, when the Crossroads of America got seven teams in the big dance.

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Illini announce new OC, 10 members of incoming class enrolling early

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Illinois football announced Bill Cubit as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach following an eight-year stint as head coach at Western Michigan. Cubit led WMU to a 51-47 overall record and three bowls during his tenure with the Broncos.

With the hiring, Billy Gonzales will be re-assigned as wide receivers coach after serving as co-offensive coordinator in 2012. The other co-offensive coordinator was fired; thank goodness. You remember how atrocious the Illini were on offense in 2012, ranking 12th (dead last) in the Big Ten in most major categories and close to the bottom nationally.

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Illini seniors D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul lead the way

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The Illinois Fighting Illini suffered their first loss last night to Mizzou, but they’re still 12-1. And nationally ranked. I think any Illinois fan would have taken 12-1 at this point when the season started. This Illini team will go as far as their seniors will take them. And I’m not talking about Tyler Griffey. Four year starter guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul are the keys to the Illini maintaining that top ranking and getting a high seed in March. And then doing something with it.

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