The Weekender: Iowa Catches Illinois Students in A Lie, UNC Hires a 22-Year-Old Field Hockey Coach and Tommy Rees Leaves Notre Dame for Alabama

By 11W Staff on February 5, 2023 at 11:35 am
Orange Krush
Patrick Gorski – USA TODAY Sports

Own the group chat with The Weekender, highlighting the biggest stories in college sports, standout writing from Eleven Warriors, and a glance at what's next.

Iowa revokes Illinois student tickets

The biggest story in Big Ten basketball over the past week happened off of the court.

When Illinois’ official student section, the Orange Krush, initially tweeted Wednesday night that the University of Iowa had revoked 200 tickets they had purchased to attend Saturday’s game between the Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, public sentiment was clearly on the Illinois students’ side. Because the tickets weren’t canceled until Wednesday, it was too late for the students to receive a refund for the charter buses they had arranged for the trip, and the students criticized Iowa for its “cowardice.”

Much of the public sentiment quickly turned against the Illinois students, however, when Iowa revealed the Illinois students had posed as a chapter of the Boys & Girls Club in order to purchase tickets at a discounted group rate. After canceling the Orange Krush’s ticket order, Iowa donated 50 of those tickets to the actual Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids.

The Illinois students issued an apology for their ruse on Friday, saying they “exercised poor judgment.”

While some viewed the Orange Krush’s actions as a harmless rivalry prank, others saw it as using a charity to commit fraud.

Ultimately, Iowa got the last laugh while the Illinois students had to watch their team lose from home as the Hawkeyes won Saturday’s game, 81-79.

UNC hires 22-year-old field hockey coach

Imagine if C.J. Stroud had ended his Ohio State career this past season only for Ohio State to hire him as the Buckeyes’ new head coach a month later.

That’s effectively what North Carolina just did by hiring Erin Matson as its new field hockey coach on Tuesday.

Matson, who is just 22 years old, was hired to succeed Karen Shelton, the Tar Heels’ head coach for the past 42 years. She becomes head coach less than two months after graduating from UNC, as she just completed her playing career with the Tar Heels this past fall.

Matson was a star on the field for the Tar Heels, finishing her career as the all-time scoring leader in ACC history and NCAA Tournament play and winning the Honda Sport Award for Field Hockey three times. Now, UNC is hoping her excellence as a player will translate to immediate success as a coach.

“Erin is an outstanding leader who has a deep and thorough knowledge of the game, understands the balance it takes to be a successful student and athlete, and is determined to expand and propel the winning tradition of Carolina Field Hockey,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “She knows how to inspire, listen, teach and win – all qualities that will translate well to the sidelines and make her a terrific head coach. We all look forward to supporting her as she transitions and leads in this new role.”

Tommy Rees leaves Notre Dame for Alabama

Even though he played for the Fighting Irish, former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees chose to leave his post as the offensive coordinator in South Bend to take the same position in Tuscaloosa.

Rees reportedly accepted Alabama’s offensive coordinator job on Friday. He’ll replace Bill O’Brien, who left Alabama after two seasons to become the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. 

Per ESPN’s Pete Thamel, “the opportunity to work for Nick Saban proved to be a deciding factor” for Rees, who has been on Notre Dame’s coaching staff since 2017 and played for the Fighting Irish from 2010-13. The Alabama job will be his first full-time coaching job somewhere other than his alma mater, though he was a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2015.

Alabama opted to hire Rees even though Notre Dame finished just 60th nationally in total offense and 98th in passing offense in 2022. While Alabama will entrust him with the responsibility of developing its successor to Bryce Young at quarterback and building an offense around the Crimson Tide’s new starter, Marcus Freeman must now hire a new offensive coordinator for the first time as Notre Dame’s head coach, as he opted to retain Rees when he took the program over from Brian Kelly a year ago.


James Laurinaitis Aspires to “Be the Best Linebacker Coach in the Country” As He Returns Home to Ohio State

Although he’s just a graduate assistant, Laurinaitis will have a hands-on role in helping Jim Knowles coach Ohio State’s linebackers this season after returning to his alma mater. He spoke Wednesday about his goals for his coaching career and what it means to him to be back at the school where he was a three-time All-American during his own playing career.

Ranking Ohio State’s Top 10 Quarterbacks of the 21st Century

How does C.J. Stroud compare to Justin Fields, Troy Smith and the rest of Ohio State’s recent quarterbacks? We ranked Ohio State’s 10 best quarterbacks since 2000.

Brian Hartline Will Call Offensive Plays During Spring Practices, But Ryan Day Won’t Make Final Decision on Delegating Duty Until After Spring

Day is considering delegating offensive play-calling duties to newly promoted offensive coordinator Brian Hartline, but he isn’t ready to commit to doing so quite yet. Spring practices will serve as a test run of sorts for Hartline to show he’s ready for that responsibility, which he’s “very confident” he is.

What’s Next

  • Men’s Basketball: at Michigan, 1 p.m. Sunday (CBS)
  • Wrestling: at Northwestern, 3 p.m. Sunday (BTN+)
  • Women’s Basketball: at Maryland, 4 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2)
  • Women’s Hockey: vs. St. Thomas, 6 p.m. Friday (BTN+)
  • Men’s Hockey: at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. Friday (Peacock)
  • Football: First day of spring practice, March 7
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