Sports

Chicago State athletic director; diligent basketball coaching search worth the wait

By Patrick Engel
Medill Reports

Chris Zorich knows the narrative that surrounded his three-month coaching search. He heard the criticism of his long hiring process and Chicago State’s lack of a men’s and women’s head basketball coach during the entire spring and summer evaluation periods. The first seven words he spoke while standing behind a podium Wednesday acknowledged it.

“This has been a long time coming,” Zorich said, grinning.

And he doesn’t care one bit about the criticism, because he says he’s found his ideal coaches.

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Commentary: Legalized sports betting shows the Big Ten’s recent tradition of cutting corners

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

The unthinkable happened to the Big Ten coaches on May 14, 2018: tradition was changed. The natural order was shattered. Comfort became the uncomfortable.

In reality, the U.S. Supreme Court just legalized sports gambling across the nation.

This was a metaphysical thorn in the sides of all 14 Big Ten coaches. It was also one of the first topics addressed on the first day of Big Ten Media Days, and it carried over across both July 23 and 24. But, that’s because it just cost coaches a competitive advantage.

“Avoid it like the plague,” Harbaugh said of what he told his players gambling. “Don’t walk away from that, run.”

It almost seemed like Harbaugh was talking to himself.

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Indiana’s “Big Wes” Martin stands tall in Big Ten and hometown

By Robbie Weinstein
Medill Reports

Indiana offensive lineman Wes Martin is so strong, Hoosiers safety Jonathan Crawford doesn’t like to watch him lift. In fact, the redshirt senior is the undisputed strongest player on the team. Even among the many towering athletes at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, Martin stands out.

Martin’s former head coach at Milton-Union High School in Ohio says the 6-foot-3, 316-pound offensive lineman—known by many as “Big Wes”—is the largest student to ever come through the school. Many children from Martin’s hometown of West Milton look up to him, and he represents them each time he steps on the field at Indiana’s Memorial Stadium.

“Wes will do anything any kid needs,” said Mark Lane, Milton-Union’s athletic director and former head football coach. “You’ll hear young kids who are in our elementary school today still talk about Big Wes. That’s what everybody says here at Milton, ‘Big Wes, Big Wes.’ Some of those little kids might not even know his last name, because all they know him by is Big Wes.”

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Big Ten Media Days continues with Urban Meyer and Lovie Smith

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Day 2 of Big Ten Media Days featured coaches with different realistic goals. Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer is searching for another national title while Illinois Head Coach Lovie Smith is looking to win a single game in the Big Ten conference this year.

Our reporters weighed on on both coaches and how one team is looking to heal after a death in the off season.


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Commentary: Scott Frost is where he belongs. Now he’s ready to make up for Nebraska’s lost time

Py Patrick Engel
Medill Reports

Scott Frost should have been here three years ago.

Something just seems right about him standing behind a podium with “B1G” stickered onto it, sporting a Nebraska lapel pin with a matching red tie and stating that his move to coach his alma mater was the right decision.

Monday morning at the Marriott in downtown Chicago, it happened. Finally. And it was nothing like the Big Ten media days debut of his predecessor, Mike Riley. Nebraska hired the then-62-year-old Riley in 2015 instead of Frost, who was the offensive coordinator at Oregon at the time. Riley crooned through an answer about having “one more big adventure” left in him when asked why he took the Nebraska job after 12 years at Oregon State. It embodied his 16 minutes of uninspiring remarks that carried a sense of an inevitable middling tenure.

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Big Ten Media Days kicks off with Fitzgerald, Harbuagh & more

By Nick Mantas
Medill Reports

Big Ten conference head football coaches stepped up to the microphone to face the media and talk about their upcoming seasons. The Medill Reports sports team was at the 2018 Big Ten Media Days as well.


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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh says ‘willingness on both parts’ needed to continue rivalry vs. Notre Dame

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Michigan will play Notre Dame for the first time since 2014 on September 1, renewing a rivalry between two of the winningest programs in college football.

Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh, who played in two games against the Fighting Irish as a player, said any continuation of the series against Notre Dame will come down to whether or not the two programs are willing to schedule more games.

“It’s one of those things where both parties are willing to put it on their schedule,” Harbaugh said.

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Meet Jesus Coll, one of the first college students in the U.S. to receive an athletic scholarship for esports

By Daniel Comer
Medill Reports

The next big thing in college athletics is simmering beneath the city streets of downtown Chicago, tucked away in a basement full of computer science majors whose sweaty palms and beady eyes indicate they’ve been battling for hours.

Athletes or not, this team of Robert Morris University (RMU) esports players is poised to challenge conventional thought and shake up the future of college athletics, one scholarship “athlete” at a time.

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KPMG Women’s PGA Championship; day 2

By Darren Zaslau
Medill Reports

Three U.S. Olympians addressed the media prior to the start of the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the Kemper Lakes Golf Club. Darren Zaslau reported from Kildeer, Ill., on June 27th for Medill Reports.

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The pressure for success in Chicago sports

By: Nick Mantas and Aaron Rose
Medill Reports

The Chicago Bears and Bulls haven’t won a championship in this century. ESPN and Sun Times reporters weigh in on the reasons for what has led to their unsuccessful seasons and what next season could bring for both organizations. During  the second segment,  we talk about the challenges of raising a young Chicago basketball star.

PHOTO AT TOP: Chicago Bears practice drills in the off-season. (Nicholas Mantas/MEDILL)