Jameis Winston is not a lost cause, after all. Mired in self-induced drama much of his second and final season at Florida State, the former Heisman Trophy winner—thought at one point to be a risk as an NFL high draft pick—has blossomed nicely into the sure-fire No. 1 selection. Turnabout is fair play.This position for Winston is almost stunning, considering he continually, immaturely raised questions about his stability to run a team, which is the last mark any quarterback wants on him. But being accused of sexual assault, stealing crab legs from a grocery store and shouting an obscenity on campus can put you in that dreaded box. Quickly.Amazing thing was that Winston continued to perform at a high level as he and his supporters continually fought off the troubles, including facing expulsion over the sexual assault case. Winston claimed consensual sex and a school investigation found that the accuser tried to extort money, had picked up Winston at a bar and overall did not have a case. The woman, in a telling act, participated in a documentary called “The Hunting Ground” about her experience with Winston.Whatever the case, Winston played on and played well. And as those who looked on after he engaged in one controversy after the next, he always spun it back to being a kid.Well, he has not only been without incident for months, he has shown marked improvement in his judgment, so much so that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost assuredly will take him with the No. 1 selection in the upcoming draft.That’s a major leap for a player who looked to be falling off a self-created bridge not that long ago.“I haven’t changed at all,” Winston said on ESPN. “I’ve grown.”Yes, that’s a contradiction, but his point was made.“I’ve grown into the person I am now,” he added, “the young man that I am now. And my actions have to speak [to that]. … At the end of the day, all my mistakes make me a better person. I get to learn from that.”Under scrutiny, what has been learned about Winston is encouraging that he really has become this young man who has learned from past missteps. More than that, he’s as good—or maybe even better—as he played for the Seminoles, and has the leadership qualities to match.At his Pro Day for NFL scouts, Winston was on the field two hours before he was scheduled to throw, mixing it up with teammates and encouraging them. When he did throw, reports are that he was fantastic. And he threw 100 more passes than necessary.As a comparison, Sports Illustrated pointed out that last year, quarterback coach George Whitfield designed a pro day for 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel that featured music by rapper Drake and 64 throws in helmet and shoulder pads.For Winston, Whitfield designed a workout that was devoid of music. Winston threw more than 135 times, including 35 warmup passes. Whitfield and his assistants regularly chased Winston from the pocket, sometimes with tennis rackets or a broom.“It goes to each man’s idea of how he wants to make his statement,” Whitfield said to SI. “That’s how Johnny wanted to make his statement. You go off how they want to make their statement and you try to engineer something functional around it. This is what Jameis wanted to do. Blue collar, no music, high volume [of throws], stress.”And it worked.“He had a great day,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. “He threw a full nine innings.”The Bucs will not commit on the record to Winston, but the QB has visited the team’s offices and met with the owner. Trust that the team has vetted him through-and-through. “It’s just part of the process,” Licht said. “We’re going to use every minute of time that we have here in the next few weeks to make a decision.”Winston’s decision to grow up has helped him immeasurably. Could he slip up and fall into trouble? Of course, he could. But the feeling is that the falling is over and the only trouble he will be involved in is causing it for NFL teams next year.
How unpredictable has this year’s NCAA men’s tournament been? The most lopsided win of the Elite Eight belonged to an 11 seed that advanced to its first Final Four appearance in 55 years. At the same time, the three national semifinalists other than Loyola of Chicago — Kansas, Villanova and Michigan — are among the most successful programs in college basketball history. Together, they fill out a Final Four that nicely mixes the traditional with the unexpected.Loyola is the most compelling story of the tourney, thanks to a run that slowly turned them from a fun Cinderella into something much more special. But they’re not merely a George Mason or Virginia Commonwealth that’ll be easy to knock off, despite the identical seed numbers. According to our Elo ratings — a measure of a team’s strength that is based on game-by-game results — the Ramblers were the 25th-best team in the field going into the tournament, compared with No. 44 for George Mason in 2006 and No. 52 for VCU. (Loyola is a little more like LSU in 1986, which ranked 32nd in the field before the tournament and became the first double-digit seed ever to make a Final Four.) Going back to the start of the 64-team era in 1985, Loyola’s pre-tourney Elo ranks sixth-best among the 14 Final Four teams who were seeded seventh or worse: Either way, Michigan’s defense has been dominant — it’s holding opponents to 38 percent shooting from the field in the NCAAs thus far — and in some ways the Wolverines will be facing a smaller and less-heralded version of themselves in the defensive-minded, slow-paced Ramblers. Plus, for all the talk of Loyola’s last championship coming in 1963, it’s also been nearly three decades since Michigan, behind Glen Rice and coach Steve Fisher, last cut down the nets — a somewhat surprising title drought for a marquee program like UM. Our prediction model gives Michigan a 69 percent chance of advancing to its second title game in six years under John Beilein.2In 2013, the Wolverines lost in the final to Louisville, which later vacated its title.Meanwhile, for all the chaos of this tournament, chalk prevailed in the other regional finals, producing a pair of No. 1 seeds in Kansas and Villanova. It’ll be the tournament’s 15th battle of top-seeded teams in the national semifinals, and the first since Wisconsin-Kentucky in 2015.Kansas had its hands full with Duke in the Midwest region’s titanic 1-vs-2 clash. According to our excitement index, which measures how thrilling a game was by computing the average change in win probability on each play, the Jayhawks and Blue Devils tied for the second-most heart-pounding game of the entire tournament so far, trailing only Michigan vs. Houston from the Round of 32. It was the kind of game Kansas hasn’t tended to come out on top of in recent years — it’d lost a regional final in each of the past two seasons, and was 1-3 in chances to go to the Final Four since last winning the championship in 2008.When we looked at March Madness’s best coaches — in terms of exceeding the record we would expect a team to earn in their tournament games based on Elo — the statistical contrast between Kansas’s Bill Self and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski pretty much summed up the narrative for the two coaches. While each had guided tournament teams with roughly the same seed on average (Self’s teams had an average seed of 2.7, while Coach K’s were at 2.2), Self had played almost exactly to his expected record over the years (+0.1 wins, 188th-best among all coaches), while Krzyzewski had outpaced his expectations by 5.8 wins (seventh-best) since 1985.But Self and the Jayhawks found redemption behind the outstanding play of Malik Newman, who scored 32 against the Blue Devils, including all 13 Kansas points in overtime. We weren’t fully sold on the Jayhawks before the tournament began — we thought there was a glimmer of hope for Penn to upset them in the first round — but KU has now worked itself up to the fourth-highest power rating of any team in the nation, giving itself a 23 percent title probability according to our model. Villanova’s path was easier than Michigan’sPregame Elo ratings for Villanova’s and Michigan’s 2018 NCAA tournament opponents, by round Source: Sports-Reference.com/cbb, ESPN 1827Average1867 32014KentuckyMidwest81876 SeasonTeamRegionSeedPre-Tournament Elo 102013Wichita StateWest91791 62018Loyola (IL)South111838 Alabama1795Rd. of 321934Houston 122017South CarolinaEast71747 The best low-seeded Final Four teamsBest pre-tournament Elo rating for Final Four teams seeded seventh or lower, 1985-2018 142011VCUSouthwest111725 112016SyracuseMidwest101772 132006George MasonWashington111747 Radford1552Rd. of 641693Montana So you can build a case that the Ramblers are much better than the typical low-seeded Final Four squad. Still, history has not been kind to Cinderellas in the tournament’s third weekend. In fact, the Final Four is right around when the clock strikes midnight: Teams seeded ninth or worse are 0-6 all-time in the national semifinal.Michigan is an especially interesting opponent for the Ramblers, given that both teams are riding double-digit winning streaks (Loyola has won 14 straight, and Michigan has won 13) and that the chief knock on Michigan’s otherwise stellar tournament play has been a lack of difficult opponents. If they do beat Loyola, the Wolverines will become the first team in history to make it to the national title game without facing a single team seeded better than sixth. But that probably overstates how easy Michigan’s path was: The average Elo of the Wolverines’ opponents is not notably low by Final Four standards,1It ranks 82nd-lowest out of 136 Final Four teams since 1985. and what’s more, it’s not even the lowest of 2018. (Villanova has faced a much easier path to the Final Four, in terms of its opponents’ average Elo ratings.) 12015Michigan StateEast71914 Villanova Opp.Elo RatingRoundElo RatingMichigan Opp. 42011ButlerSoutheast81875 91985VillanovaSoutheast81802 81986Louisiana StateSoutheast111804 22014ConnecticutEast71909 West Virginia1972Sweet 161892Texas A&M 72000North CarolinaSouth81822 52000WisconsinWest81871 Texas Tech1988Elite Eight1948Florida State Source: Sports-Reference.com/cbb Villanova remains our favorite to win the tournament, however, with nearly a 50 percent chance against the field. Unlike Kansas versus Duke, the Wildcats were comfortably in control of their Elite Eight matchup with Texas Tech for practically the entire game, helping it produce the lowest excitement index of any regional final (even lower than Loyola’s rout of K-State). Aside from some midgame jockeying with West Virginia in the Sweet 16, Nova’s victories have seldom been in doubt on the road to the Final Four.Even when the Wildcats’ offense has sputtered — and against the Red Raiders, they were not impressive by any means, generating their fifth-fewest points per possession in any game this season — their defense has come through. During the tournament, only West Virginia has managed to crack 95 points per 100 possessions against Villanova, and even the Mountaineers were held to their sixth-worst offensive game of the season. Against the Red Raiders, the Wildcats’ two most dynamic players –Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson — combined to shoot 7-for-24 from the floor (including 0-for-9 from deep), and yet the defense was strong enough to help Nova not just overcome problems on offense, but cruise to victory.A Villanova win would put an uncharacteristically routine capper on what has been a wild season in college basketball. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, the Wildcats won their 134th game in the last four seasons when they beat Texas Tech, breaking the Division I record for the most wins by a program in a four-year span. If they win a couple more, they’d become the fourth program to win at least two championships in a three-year span since 1985.But it feels premature to speculate about that. This year has already offered some of the most unexpected moments in tournament history. So who knows, maybe the tourney still has a few surprises left in its final weekend.
VIDEO: Ohio State’s chances are better than mostCheck out our latest NFL predictions. With news that New England tight end Rob Gronkowski probably is out for the rest of the season, it’s tempting to say the 9-2 Patriots will remain dominant over their remaining regular-season games and into the playoffs. After all, they did just fine without superstar 39-year-old quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of this season. Surely they can do without one seam-runner, right?Honestly, I’m not sure. While keeping in mind that football is an enigma, and that anyone who says they can tell you exactly how much any player is worth is either foolish or selling something, there’s a fairly strong case that “Gronk” is incredibly valuable to Brady and the Pats — more so than we might guess at first blush.Let’s step back for a second. From 2001 to 2006, Brady averaged 25 touchdowns per season (with a high of 28) and averaged 13 interceptions (with a low of 12).1To go with his 0.5 yearly Super Bowl wins, naturally. In 2007, he basically doubled his production by throwing 50 TDs, with just eight INTs. While those numbers were MVP-caliber gaudiness, they were fairly easy to ascribe to the arrival of one Randy Gene Moss, who had already demonstrated his otherworldly capacity to make QBs look amazing with the likes of Jeff George, Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper.But the most shocking and mysterious period of Brady’s career may have begun in 2010, when — after Moss was bizarrely shipped to the Vikings with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a third-round pick after four games — Brady threw 27 TDs and just 2 INTs over the back 12. At the time, much of the credit for that was given to Wes Welker, the other star receiver brought to New England for that 2007 season. But that impressive stretch by Brady also included eight TDs (after two in the first four weeks) thrown to 6-foot-6-inch then-rookie tight end Gronkowski. And after that Moss trade cost Brady the ability to throw to what may have been one of the best, if not the best, wide receivers of all time, Brady has continued to flourish in the Patriots’ wide-open offense — in which Gronk has been heavily featured.Maybe Brady’s remarkably strong performance sans Moss isn’t so remarkable: Maybe Gronk is just so good that he has taken Moss’s place as the quarterback-maker du jour. To get a sense of Gronkowski’s impact, I did a little “with or without you”-style analysis of pairings between QBs and wide receivers or tight ends since 2006. This looks at how a pass-catcher being in the lineup or not affected his QB’s performance in both yards per attempt (which corresponds roughly to how explosive an offense is) and points above replacement (meaning how efficient the QB’s offense is relative to expectations for all the situations it finds itself in). So, Gronk is at the top of the pack in terms of observed impact. Note — and I can’t stress this enough — that these are incredibly high-variance comparisons and shouldn’t be taken as definitive about any player. (Moss had a fairly similar observed impact with eight different quarterbacks — and we still kept our conclusions at least a little tentative.) But coupled with Gronkowski’s production on paper, his effect on Brady’s stats makes a strong case that the Patriots aren’t just using Gronkowski, they’re relying on him. While he may never have as convincing a data set as Moss did (having so much impact over so many stints with so many quarterbacks is unique in NFL history), he appears to be on that track. Which is unfortunate news for Patriots fans, at least for now. But in the long run, any evidence that the Patriots’ stellar passing game isn’t going to retire anytime soon should be welcome.
SEA40.311.8CHI18.104.22.168 8New England3825,4785 PHI65PHI57PHI 18, ATL 12-9.6– LAC56LAC55KC 38, LAC 28-0.6– Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total Change ATL51.114.1CAR52.413.928.1 BAL59.0%+/-15.1CIN39.6%+/-14.829.9 NYJ39.013.3MIA30.312.926.2 LAC33.312.4BUF21.89.822.2 Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com 3Pittsburgh4118,7546 JAX64.310.8NE81.88.819.6 GB29.013.5MIN73.712.926.3 DEN30.010.5OAK14.37.918.4 The Ravens come into the matchup off of a 44-point demolition of the Buffalo Bills, which propelled Baltimore from 12th to eighth in our Elo rankings. With the Bills starting the comically ineffective Nathan Peterman at QB, it’s difficult to judge how much we really learned about the Ravens in the blowout. But it had to be encouraging for Baltimore fans to see Joe Flacco play well, regardless of the opponent. At home against Buffalo, Flacco generated 119 more adjusted net yards than a generic backup-level quarterback would have (aka yards above backup QB, or YABQ), which ranked sixth among all signal-callers in Week 1 — behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.In terms of YABQ, this game also represented the third-best that Flacco has enjoyed since Week 3 of the 2015 season, which helps underscore how bad Flacco has been in recent years. For instance, last season the Ravens had the third-worst quarterbacking production of any team in the league, with Flacco’s individual metrics in a three-year tailspin. For a team that featured one of the NFL’s best defenses last season, any spark that Flacco and the offense can provide could go a long way toward sending Baltimore back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. And in their first test against the overmatched Bills, Flacco and the revamped Ravens receiving corps passed with flying colors.A somewhat similar narrative is unfolding in Cincinnati. With much-maligned QB Andy Dalton embarking on his eighth season as the Bengals’ starter (and coach Marvin Lewis back for an astonishing 16th year on the team’s sidelines), Cincy went into Indianapolis and beat Andrew Luck and the Colts thanks to solid passing and rushing, plus timely defensive plays late in the game. Aside from maybe Flacco, few quarterbacks in the league needed to start the season on the right foot more than Dalton, who infamously has never won a playoff game during his time in the Queen City.A win over Baltimore on Thursday won’t change that — perhaps surprisingly, Dalton has beaten the Ravens more often than not anyway — but it would help quiet the doubts that Dalton’s best days are behind him. Since he finished third in the league in YABQ in 2015 (despite suffering a season-ending injury that December), he slipped to 11th in 2016 and 21st in 2017, and the Bengals didn’t make the playoffs either year. With a defense that projects to be mediocre at best, Cincinnati needs Dalton to reverse that slide in order to have any shot at the postseason — and probably to have any chance at salvaging the Dalton/Lewis era.The great irony of the Bengals is that their quarterbacking has always been just good enough to come up short. While the Ravens have won two Super Bowls behind a couple of QBs (Flacco and Trent Dilfer) who were below-average passers for their careers, Cincinnati has consistently had average-to-good passing over the years, aside from a few notable exceptions. Just look back at the Bengals’ history of primary quarterbacks: 40 of their 47 seasons since 1972 have been led by five quarterbacks — Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, Jeff Blake, Carson Palmer and Dalton. Although none is in the Hall of Fame (Anderson’s case is a point of contentious debate), each rates as average or better in his career according to Pro-Football-Reference.com’s advanced passing index.That’s why, from the 1970 AFL-NFL merger until the present day, no team has gotten more seasons of “competent” (above-backup level) quarterbacking than the Bengals have: PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET points OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION DAL33.58.1NYG22.214.171.124 3Miami4125,4802 8Philadelphia3816,0041 PIT53.812.1KC74.89.922.0 JAX58JAX62JAX 20, NYG 15+0.7– SEA54SEA52DEN 27, SEA 24+0.0 ARI61ARI55WSH 24, ARI 6+4.8– MIN76MIN71MIN 24, SF 16-5.3– *Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: ESPN.com PIT79PIT76PIT 21, CLE 21+0.0 OAK50%LAR68%LAR 33, OAK 13+11.7– WSH39.17.9IND126.96.36.199 6Minnesota4023,1180 Bengals-Ravens could help make or break their seasonsWeek 2 games with the most total potential swing for the two teams’ playoff chances, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo predictions MIA53TEN55MIA 27, TEN 20-10.3– 7Denver3922,6483 TEN30.49.7HOU188.8.131.52 NE86NE77NE 27, HOU 20-6.3– And yet, even though the teams around them on that list have won multiple Super Bowls, Cincinnati has yet to break through with even one win of its own.History says that’s unlikely to change this season. But it is fair to say that Dalton’s duel with Flacco this week has taken on unexpected importance for an early season game. The winner will ensure itself a quick boost in playoff chances — and an extra helping of redemption after the way both teams have played the past few seasons.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersLast week, we relaunched our NFL Elo prediction interactive, which you can use to track every team in the league in the race for the Super Bowl. Along with it, we also brought back a popular feature from last season — a prediction game that lets you test your football smarts against our model (and thousands of fellow readers). Here were Elo’s best and worst picks against the field in Week 1: IND50IND50CIN 34, IND 23-1.9– FranchiseSeasons above backup level since 1970Total YABQSuper Bowls LAR58.110.9ARI14.17.918.8 8San Francisco3831,0285 DET19.18.7SF22.28.417.1 3Dallas4128,3835 BAL64BAL72BAL 47, BUF 3+2.9– Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 1Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 1 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game Just one week into the NFL season, it’s hard to know exactly which teams will be contenders and which will be focused on their spot in the draft next spring. So it probably seems too early to be discussing playoff implications — a conversation that’s usually on hold until Thanksgiving. But in a 16-game schedule, the margins are small, and each game has a big effect on the postseason picture. Week 2 is no different — after all, the season will be 12.5 percent over after Monday night.Thursday’s AFC North tilt between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens is one of those early season contests that could end up having real postseason consequences. In fact, our NFL Elo prediction model considers it the most important game of Week 2. (Remember when Thursday Night Football was a place to stash the NFL’s unwanted matchups?) With a win, each team’s chances of making the playoffs would jump by about 15 percentage points, while the loser would see a commensurate decline. Especially after the division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers stumbled out of the gate without star RB Le’Veon Bell, the chance to jump out to a 2-0 start is a big opportunity for both Baltimore and Cincy. The Bengals always get competent QB play — but no ringsMost seasons with positive yards above backup quarterback (YABQ) for NFL franchises, 1970-2017 The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. GB63GB71GB 24, CHI 23+3.3– NO74NO82TB 48, NO 40-13.5– DET71DET71NYJ 48, DET 17-2.4– NO27.84.2CLE184.108.40.206 1Cincinnati4223,1280 TB35.611.6PHI82.98.420.0 Playoff %Playoff % 1Washington4223,6423 CAR60CAR60CAR 16, DAL 8-1.8– Overall, it was a pretty impressive opening week for Elo — in fact, our model cleaned up nicely, beating readers by 28.3 total points on average. This is especially surprising because Week 1 would seem to be the moment of the season when human pickers have the greatest edge on the algorithm. In our NFL preview, I noted that Elo can get caught a little flat-footed early in the season because it doesn’t know about all the roster and coaching moves that transpired over the summer. Theoretically, that should have made it as unprepared for Week 1 as Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions … but unlike the Lions, Elo proved the naysayers (i.e., me) wrong.Elo’s biggest win was in not dismissing the Buccaneers completely. While our readers gave the home Saints a better than 80 percent chance of winning, the model was more cautious, and it ended up paying off when Tampa (and backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) dropped 48 points on New Orleans. Elo also picked up credit for calling the Dolphins’ protracted win over the Titans and for once again showing faith in the Eagles (just like in last year’s playoffs).If the readers did have a crowning moment in Week 1, though, it was for calling the Rams’ big win over the Raiders in Oakland on Monday night. Elo thought the game was a pick ’em, but the readers knew better, giving L.A. a 68 percent chance of spoiling Jon Gruden’s return to the sidelines.Thanks to everyone who played on opening week, and remember that it’s not too late to start, even if you missed Week 1. So be sure to get your picks in now!Check out our latest NFL predictions.
The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired forward Antawn Jamsion from the Washington Wizards as part of a three-team deal that sends center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a first-round draft pick to Washington. The Los Angeles Clippers, the third team in the trade, send point guard Sebastian Telfair to Cleveland and forward Al Thornton to Washington. Forward Drew Gooden, traded to the Wizards last weekend, moves on to the Clippers. The Cavs were in discussions about a deal involving Phoenix’s Amar’e Stoudemire earlier in the day, but those talks fell through and the team quickly turned its attention to Washington’s 33-year-old forward. Under NBA rule, there can be no discussion of buying out a player involved in a trade before the deal is complete. However, it has widely been speculated that Ilgauskas would be bought out by his new team and would return to the Cavs after the league’s mandatory 30-day grace period. Jamison is averaging 20.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.After three months of hibernation, Tiger Woods will speak to the public Friday. His agent said that Woods will not take questions from the media when he speaks at 11 a.m. from the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse in Ponte Vedra, Fla. Woods put his golf career on hold after a series of events and revelations surrounding the 14-time Major winner and his wife, Elin that started on Thanksgiving.Oregon running back LaMichael James, who torched Ohio State for 70 yards in the Rose Bowl before bowing out with a shoulder injury, was arrested on an alleged domestic violence charge. According to a report, James’ girlfriend said he grabbed her neck during an argument and shoved her to the ground. James, coming off a stellar freshman season in which he filled in for suspended running back LeGarrette Blount, is facing misdemeanor charges of menacing, strangulation and assault.The Cleveland Browns released running back Jamal Lewis on Wednesday, the team announced. Lewis played in nine games last season before being placed on injured reserve after sustaining a concussion. Lewis had stated his intentions to retire throughout the season. There is no clear indication on whether or not he will follow through with that claim.
The OSU men’s basketball team huddles before the game against Wyoming Nov. 25. OSU won, 65-50, at The Schottenstein Center. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe Ohio State men’s basketball team used a 20-5 run in the last 13 minutes of play to secure its fifth victory of the season, defeating Wyoming 65-50.OSU senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. poured in a game-high 20 points on 5-8 shooting from 3-point land. Junior center Amir Williams did his part, recording a double-double with 12 points and 16 boards.“I thought that Lenzelle was the difference in the game,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said.Despite only allowing an average of 23.5 points in the first half of its first four games, OSU gave up 34 in the first 20 minutes against the Cowboys. Wyoming shot 56 percent from the field and had 24 points in the paint before halftime.“Quite honestly, it was like a layup clinic,” OSU coach Thad Matta said about the opening half.The Buckeyes struggled containing Akron, Ohio, native Larry Nance Jr throughout. The 6-foot-8-inch junior forward had 11 points on 5-9 shooting in the first half, including multiple dunks. Nance finished with a double-double in his homecoming, scoring 17 points and collecting 12 rebounds.The Buckeyes leaned on 3-point shooting in the first half, tossing in six of 13 attempts. Smith Jr. accounted for half of those makes to give him a game-high of 12 points at the half. OSU made just 28.6 percent of its 3-pointers coming into Monday, tied for worst in the Big Ten with Indiana.Matta said Williams’ improved play and resulting defensive attention helped his team make open shots from the perimeter.“It’s hard to leave (him defensively) now, and you saw the effects when they did,” Matta said about the added attention to the Buckeye center.OSU struggled to continue its hot shooting from deep to start the second half, as they missed three attempts from range in their first five possessions.The poor shooting allowed the Cowboys to get a three point advantage, 42-39, with 15:27 remaining, prompting Matta to call a timeout.Matta’s men responded with a 6-1 run, but a rocking Schottenstein Center was abruptly silenced by a technical foul call on junior guard Shannon Scott with 13:06 remaining after he appeared to knock over a Wyoming player with a forearm to the chest.Matta did not comment on the call after the game, as he said he was not watching Scott when it occurred.Junior guard Riley Grabau made both ensuing free throws for the Cowboys, tying the game at 45.OSU scored 12 of the game’s next 14 points to open up a 10 point lead with just under six minutes remaining. The Buckeyes would not look back, pushing the lead all the way to 15 at game’s end, OSU’s largest lead of the night. Wyoming failed to make a shot from the field in the game’s final 10 minutes.Junior forward LaQuinton Ross also struggled offensively, posting just three points and one rebound in 19 minutes of action in another disappointing performance.“He needs to make some shots,” Matta said. “LaQuinton needs to trust himself.”Matta said his starting five will not change before the next game.OSU is set to return to action Friday against North Florida at 5 p.m. in the Schottenstein Center.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer sees Mike Weber having a larger impact in 2017. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing EditorCHICAGO — The lack of offense consistently shown in the 2016 season prompted Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to make staff changes. One of the most obvious weaknesses on the offense was the passing game, but that doesn’t leave other offensive players off the hook.As a first-year starter, then-redshirt freshman Mike Weber became only the third freshman running back in program history to rush for more than 1,000 yards. In year two, Meyer said Weber has to take the next step.“I do think he can (be a premier running back), and we need that,” Meyer said. “That’s a must. That’s a must. And it’s time.”Meyer brought in Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson and former San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Ryan Day to co-coordinate the offense and revitalize the passing game after finishing sixth in the Big Ten in passing offense. It was a move that had to be made following 215 total yards in an embarrassing loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.The development of the wide receivers for 2017 is still a major concern, considering the Buckeyes’ top three receivers last season graduated or are in the NFL. But after a successful first season, Weber’s expected contributions to the offense could ease some pressure on the wide receivers.“I don’t think (Weber) was a premier back last year, I thought he was good,” Meyer said. “And (redshirt senior quarterback) J.T. (Barrett) needs him to be a premier back. You want to be a great quarterback, have a premier running back right next to you. Have some premier receivers out there too. It’s time.”The combination of a stellar receiving corps and a running back who could only be stopped by a freight train is part of the formula that turned a young 2014 Ohio State team into national champions.Barrett, the 2016 Big Ten Quarterback of the Year, had his best season as a redshirt freshman in 2014 with a dynamic offensive play-caller in Tom Herman. He also had arguably the best running back in the country in Ezekiel Elliott.Meyer said he believes Wilson and Day coaching the offense will reincarnate that side of the ball into what it was during the 2014 season when the offense averaged nearly 510 yards per game, compared to 460 yards per contest last season.Weber, who scored nine times as a redshirt freshman, doesn’t need to be Elliott, but the shoestring tackles he consistently suffered and quiet games he had against tougher competition can’t happen if Ohio State wants to get over the hump in 2017.Meyer said the Detroit native has already taken steps in workouts and in the locker room.“He didn’t have the breakaway speed. He needs to pick up his feet,” Meyer said. “I want to say he’s lost seven pounds. He’s legitimate fast now. He wasn’t fast. He wasn’t mature. He’s very mature right now. “I’m hoping you guys see a different back. And he was good, but he wasn’t premier.”Running back pictureFreshman running back J.K. Dobbins was the No. 2 running back on the depth chart throughout spring camp as an early-enrollee freshman. Meyer said he’s earned his way onto the field with his play in the spring and continued improvement in offseason workouts.“He’s already proven the fact that he’s going to play,” he said.Meyer listed the running back depth chart as follows: Weber, Dobbins, redshirt sophomore Antonio Williams, sophomore Demario McCall and redshirt junior Parris Campbell, who is projected to start at H-back.
Ohio State women’s soccer head coach Lori Walker-Hock paces the sidelines in the second of the game against Florida Gulf Coast University on Sept. 7. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThe Ohio State women’s soccer team, coming off a recent 1-0 loss to Florida Gulf Coast, heads to Pennsylvania to take on Penn State this Friday at 6 p.m. With a loss to the Eagles at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the Buckeyes ended a three-match win streak, dropping their overall record to 3-3-0 so far this season. Ohio State will look to get back on track as they enter Big Ten play on Friday. After wins over West Virginia and Duquesne to start the season, Penn State has lost three of its last five games. The Nittany Lions struggled in their previous game against Virginia, suffering a 1-2 loss at home, bringing their overall record to 4-3-0 on the year. Last season, the Buckeyes fell to the Nittany Lions 1-0 in double overtime loss in University Park, winning every game against Ohio State since 2011. .Freshmen midfielder Blair Cowan, who scored the game-winner in the 80th minute in the match against Notre Dame, said the team has been sharp in training heading into the matchup against Penn State. “We’ve worked on things we struggled with in our last match,” Cowan said. “I think we’re ready for Friday night.”Following the Penn State game, Ohio State will stay on the road for a series of away games against Illinois on Thursday Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. and Northwestern on Sunday Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. Ohio State will face Penn State on Friday at 6 p.m.
Ohio State head-coach-in-waiting Ryan Day answers questions from the media during a press conference at the Fawcett Center on Dec. 4. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorRyan Day has spent only three games as head coach of Ohio State, but when he takes the reins as the full-time head coach on Jan. 2, 2019, he will immediately become one of the highest paid coaches in college football.Day will be the head coach for five years and will receive an annual pay of $4.5 million, according to his term sheet obtained by The Lantern. His contract will give him a base salary of $850,000, with media, promotions and public relations adding $2.39 million, equipment deals giving him $1.25 million and a Coca-Cola appearance of $10,000.On top of that, Day will receive separate retention payments of $250,000 if he is still the Buckeyes head coach on Jan. 31, 2022, and Jan. 31, 2024.According to a database of college football coaches’ salaries by USA Today, $4.5 million would place Day as the 18th-highest paid coach in college football. The database said Urban Meyer made $7.6 million this year, second only to Alabama’s Nick Saban, who made $8.3 million.Day was named the head coach in waiting after Meyer announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon. Day, formally the offensive coordinator, served as acting head coach when Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the season. He was paid $487,000 for his time at the helm.As offensive coordinator, Day made a base salary of $810,000 that, with incentives, could have reached as high as $1.1 million.The term sheet also lists academic bonuses for his team’s success in the classroom. He would receive $50,000 if his team has a cumulative GPA of 3.0, $100,000 if the team reaches 3.3 and $150,000 if the team averages a 3.5 GPA. The GPAs are based off both fall and spring semesters and he would receive the bonuses on May 30 each year.Of course, Day will also be rewarded for the team’s success on the field. If Ohio State wins the Big Ten East, he will be given a $50,000 bonus. On top of that, he can receive an additional $100,000 if his team wins the conference. Should the Buckeyes make it to a College Football Playoff bowl game, he will be given a $200,000 bonus. If that bowl game is a CFP semi-final game, the bonus is $250,000, however, he would receive a $350,000 if he leads the team to the finals. Should he find personal success, winning Big Ten Coach of the Year, Day would receive $50,000. He could also receive $75,000 if he is named National Coach of the Year.The term sheet also gives him an automobile stipend of $1,200 per month. Day will also be given a chance to enjoy his leisure time, with Ohio State providing Day with a membership to a mutually agreed upon golf course. The university would pay any monthly dues, but Day has to pay any personal expenses with the membership.A private jet will be available for Day to use on any university business, including recruiting visits in time not exceeding 50 hours per year. Day can also use the aircraft for 50 personal hours per year.Day can treat his family and friends to tickets to Ohio State football games with 12 football tickets per home game and five press booth credentials, with the option to buy 20 additional home tickets. Day’s spouse and family will be granted access to a suite for the games. Day will also receive two parking passes per home football game. He also will be given two tickets per home men’s basketball game.
Nicola Sturgeon has appointed a minister to help keep Scotland in Europe who has previously spoken out against closer political ties with the EU. Michael Russell, the combative SNP veteran and former education minister, has been tasked with leading the Scottish Government’s negotiations with Westminster over Scotland’s future relationship with the EU. Mr Russell, who has not been in the Scottish cabinet since Ms Sturgeon became First Minister in 2014, has been given the official title of Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe. Following the Brexit vote in June he said Scotland must remain in the EU “no matter how and no matter what it takes”. But in a book on Scottish nationalism which he co-authored 10 years ago, entitled Grasping the Thistle, the Argyll and Bute MSP wrote that “the best way forward for our involvement with Europe should be in the trading sphere not through further political integration”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Jackson Carlaw, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said last night: “As he takes on his new job, Mr Russell will need to explain why the SNP is so desperate to be part of an ever closer political union with Brussels when it appears he doesn’t believe in a word of it.” Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly warned since the Brexit vote that another independence referendum is “highly likely” in order to keep Scotland in the EU. She said yesterday that the appointment, which is subject to approval by Holyrood next month, was an indication of the importance she was placing on the Brexit negotiations. Mr Russell will report to her and attend cabinet. She added: “We already have an agreement with the new Prime Minister that the Scottish government should be fully involved in the development of the UK Government’s position ahead of Article 50 being triggered and beyond, and that options to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe will form part of these discussions. “By putting a dedicated and experienced minister at their centre, it will ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard loudly and clearly.” Fiona Hyslop, the external affairs minister, and Alasdair Allan, the Europe minister, will continue to lead discussions with EU institutions and member states. Mr Russell said he was delighted with the new role, adding: “Following the overwhelming vote in Scotland to remain in the EU, it is essential that Scotland comes together to defend our national interest. Accordingly in these discussions, it is important that the nation speaks, as much as possible, with one voice.” Scottish Labour said “people voted in overwhelming numbers to maintain our relationships with both the EU and the UK”, adding: “Delivering an outcome that achieves both of these is what we want to see.”A spokesman for Mr Russell said: “This was a jointly authored book and whilst Michael Russell is a lifelong European, Dennis MacLeod is a lifelong anti-European, a point clearly made in the book’s introduction.”