April 23, 2014

Terrell Pryor to be cut or traded by Raiders

Terrelle Pryor Ohio State Sugar Bowl

Former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrell Pryor didn’t have an awful year last year, but he apparently isn’t going to be a part of the future in Oakland. It certainly sounds like if you’re a bettor that you should probably assume he’ll get cut.

It seems unlikely that anyone would trade for Pryor when the word is out that he’s about to be cut. Then again, he did show flashes of promise last season, and he’s only due a salary of $750,000 this year, so it’s possible that some team might think he’s worth a seventh-round pick.

I certainly don’t think this is the kind of thing that the Browns should pursue, but you never know where Ray Farmer and company might think to look for a backup to replace Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden. Terrell Pryor might not excite Browns fans, but in a field that includes Rex Grossman, it’s probably not the worst idea ever.

Pryor’s highlights from last year were mostly plays he made running the ball, but he did have two games where he had a QB rating over 100. He also had two games with over 100 yards rushing.

Buckeyes add transfer Anthony Lee for next season

The 2014-15 version of the Ohio State Buckeyes is going to look much different than the squads of the last two seasons. First, the starting backcourt of Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. has graduated. Then, junior LaQuinton Ross and sophomore Amedeo Della Valle both chose to pursue professional opportunities and leave Ohio State early (Della Valle for pro ball in Europe with Ross looking to be drafted in the NBA). Now, coupled with the incoming top five recruiting class headlined by D’Angelo Russell, Keita Bates-Diop, and Jae’Sean Tate, Thad Matta added transfer big man Anthony Lee today, per ESPN Insider Jeff Goodman.

Lee comes to Columbus via Temple, where the big man played three years as an Owl before completing his undergraduate degree. Last season, he averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds and just under a block while playing over 31 minutes per night. At 6’9″ and 230 pounds, Lee likely slots into the starting center role, displacing the incumbent Amir Williams, who has been an overwhelming disappointment after being a highly-touted recruit and McDonald’s All-American. Williams, fellow junior Trey McDonald, and Lee will all be gone at next season’s end, leaving a large opening in the OSU frontcourt for Thad Matta to recruit some new bodies. Thad’s already working on that with another traditional transfer prospect in Virginia Tech’s Trevor Thompson.

As someone who can step in immediately by NCAA rules that permit transfer to a graduate school program not offered at the current institution, Lee was highly sought. After saying he wanted to play in the Big Ten, ACC, or Big 12, he received interested from several schools, including Indiana, Iowa State, Lousiville, Notre Dame, and others.

Returning to the rotation next year will be juniors Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, Williams, and McDonald along with sophomore Marc Loving and redshirt freshman Kam Williams, who sat out last year due to mononucleosis that delayed the start of his year. Russell, Bates-Diop, and Tate rank 13th, 21st, and 27th respectively in the 2014 class. Russell is considered a five-star per ESPN as a 6’4″ shooting guard out of Louisville, KY. Bates-Diop is a 6’7″ small forward prospect from Illinois that will likely play some power forward in Matta’s system despite weighing just 190 pounds currently. Tate is a local recruit out of Pickerington and is a 6’5″ small forward. It’s possible (though unlikely in the beginning) that Ohio State could start four newcomers along with Scott at the point.

The Buckeyes will look to return to their period of sustained success that included a Final Four in 2012 and Sweet Sixteen appearances in four straight seasons prior to their first-round exit1 at the hands of the Cinderella Dayton Flyers.

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Footnotes:

  1. I refuse to call the games following the “First Four” the “second round”. []

It’s good to be the king… While We’re Waiting

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I don’t really like math. So I don’t really ever sit and just do some for fun. Maybe that’s why this piece on Gene Smith threw me for a loop. The Ohio State Athletic Director will get a bonus of $18,447.94 for junior wrestler Logan Stieber’s national championship from the weekend. Smith gets bonuses for teams or individuals from the Buckeye programs winning on the national level. I understand the idea behind these bonuses. They are incentive for the AD to build winning programs.

What really threw me was the revelation that this bonus was equal to one week’s pay for Smith. One week? Are you serious? Like I said, I’ve never really bothered to break down a million dollar salary by the week as it wasn’t really necessary for my family budget. That just seems unbelievable to me. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Smith probably shouldn’t have survived this long at OSU. What a lucky man.

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Grantland’s Bill Barnwell takes aim at QB pro days in his latest piece, and specifically seems to go to bat for Teddy Bridgewater. I agree to an extent that the pro days don’t tell us the whole story. Perhaps the pro day is kind of a waste of time when you compare it to a private work-out. Maybe that’s why Ray Farmer has already told us he won’t be attending Manziel’s pro day. Hey, it sure would be nice to have a front office ahead of the curve in something.

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Some really good nuggets in this piece about tanking. “Since 1985, when the NBA’s draft lottery began, 19 of the NBA’s 30 teams (63 percent) have played in the Finals, but only eight franchises (27 percent) have won a championship. By comparison, over that same time span, the NFL has seen 25 different teams (78 percent) reach the Super Bowl, with 14 teams (44 percent) winning the Lombardi Trophy. The NHL has had 22 teams (73 percent) face off for a title, with 15 different franchises (50 percent) hoisting the Cup. And MLB — the least payroll-balanced of the four major leagues — has had 25 teams play in the World Series (83 percent) with 18 different victors (60 percent).”

Of course the Cavaliers figure prominently in any discussion of the topic. They tanked once and hit the jackpot in the lottery by getting LBJ. Then there is the recent history. Think of what the Cavs could have done with a couple high draft picks right after drafting LeBron. Imagine getting LaMarcus Aldridge or Brandon Roy to pair with James. The 2005 draft could have brought the point guard the Cavs needed in Chris Paul or Derron Williams.

Sigh.

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No thanks, I’m not hungry now. Not that I was ever a big Skyline Chili fan before (sorry, that isn’t chili, it’s coney sauce on spaghetti) but this is just gross. Skylines in Louisville, Kentucky are dyeing their spag red and blue for the UK-UL sweet 16 match-up. Click at your own risk. It isn’t pretty.

Can you spot the problem with this Ohio State basketball jersey?

Hmmm…. something seems off. This gives all new meaning to the term “March Madness.”

Honestly, it took me a second to see it. I wonder if it’s just one or if there are racks and racks of these that look just like this?

March Madness 2014 – Dayton takes down Syracuse, Justin Masterson and Alex Mack – WFNY Podcast – 2014-03-23

WFNY Podcast LogoIt has been far too long since I talked to Jacob and now that his Dayton Flyers have taken down Syracuse, we decided to chat.

We also talked about Justin Masterson and his contract situation with the Indians as well as Alex Mack and his contract situation with the Browns.

Check out this episode!

Imperfect finish to an imperfect season: Bucks fall to Dayton

craftmissIt was the opener to the wall of games yesterday afternoon. In the in-state matchup that doesn’t happen very often, “little brother” Dayton had nothing to lose against the Buckeyes, and they played like it. The Ohio State Buckeyes showed their warts as they have all season long, and they went down just as they have in nearly every loss this season, looking like a team without a leading scorer. Former Buckeye Jordan Sibert and the Flyers provided the first upset of the tourney with a 60-59 stunner as Vee Sanford provided the game-winner with 3.8 seconds remaining, sandwiched between would-be game-winners from Buckeye heart and soul Aaron Craft. One unbelievable make and one heart-wrenching miss. The Buckeyes end the season 25-10, a far cry from many of the early season expectations. Now, they have to say goodbye to one of the most polarizing figures to don the scarlet and gray in the last half century.

The same things that plagued Ohio State all season long manifested again today: their lack of consistent play from the center position, the uneven shooting of their two leading scorers LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr., the lack of outside shooting from Shannon Scott, and turnovers. But, the things that kept giving you hope all season long that they could turn it around were on display too: a surprise performance from one of those inconsistent players (Sam Thompson), clutch and gritty play from Aaron Craft, and tenacious defense that racked up stop after stop after stop. [Read more...]

NCAA tourney, Indians pitching rotation and more with TD – WFNY Podcast – 2014-03-20

WFNY Podcast LogoFirst things first, please go vote for WFNY as a website and the WFNY podcast at Cleveland Scene Magazine’s awards.

Secondly, it’s been a bit, but it’s good to be back. I had no voice for about a week thanks to a surgical procedure, but thankfully the voice came back. With today being the start of the NCAA tourney, I just had to get resident tourney nut TD on to talk about that, plus the Tribe. Here’s some other stuff we talked about.

The first day of the NCAA tourney and Ohio State vs. Dayton

The Indians pitching rotation

The Justin Masterson contract proposal to the Tribe

Cincinnati vs. Harvard

Oregon vs. BYU

Deadspin article about oddsmakers vs. NCAA bracket builders

TD is to Kansas as Kirk Herbstreit is to Ohio State

Check out this episode!

Your 2014 (Offseason) Champion Cleveland Browns: While We’re Waiting

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Tell me how my Ben Tate: So how about these free-spendin’ Browns? While some national types will want to parse apart the $7 million given to Ben Tate this past weekend  (Phil Dawson money!), Cleveland locked up a 25-year-old without much in the way of mileage on his tires. Sure, those tires have had trouble staying affixed for the last few years, but we’re talking about a guy who thrived in a zone blocking scheme in Houston, who will now be given feature-back carries in a similar offense with chip on his shoulder and a chance to prove his worth. Plus, HE’S ONE OF US.

Sign me up.

Speaking of, this may deserve more in the way of an in-depth discussion, but there’s something to be said about the front-loaded nature of these Browns free agent deals. The bulk of Karlos Dansby’s money is up front; Donte Whitner’s appears to be relatively similar. Same can be said for the two-year deal given to Isaiah Trufant and the four-year deal offered to Andrew Hawkins where $10.8 million (of the $13.6 million) will be provided to him in the first two seasons. I don’t have the energy or desire to analyze what the Browns’ situation looks like beyond 2016, but things appear to be mighty flexible. I would imagine this means good things for the Josh Gordons and Joe Haden’s of the world.

Ouch: Talk about a bi-polar road trip. While you were counting sheep, the Cavaliers were shocking the world on a West Coast swing, coming up with wins against the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately for Cleveland and any remote playoff hopes, not only did they fall victim to the always dangerous Los Angeles Clippers, Kyrie Irving may be done for the season with a biceps injury. Brother left Staples Center on Sunday night with his left arm in a sling. Also not helping matters: This week’s schedule brings both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder to The Q.1 Enjoy the road show, folks.

Ohio State: I’ll obviously be pulling for the Buckeyes this weekend when they look to escape the first two rounds (Yes, they’re the first two rounds—nothing the NCAA will change what normal—read: non-paid individuals—call them), but it will certainly be a tough road. If they can scrape past the Dayton Flyers, they’ll be forced to tackle the zone defense of Syracuse. They may not score 40 points. Someone has to provide the Scarlet and Grey with a consistent scoring option—you can only live on Aaron Craft’s defense for so long. The missed free throws certainly will not help. Here’s a March Madness prediction: Several shades of red emanating from Thad Matta’s high-definition face this weekend. Book it.

And just because… Cricket: A sport Brandon Weeden could actually be good at.

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Footnotes:

  1. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Tristan Thompson who bottomed out in Sunday’s loss, scoring just two points on 1-of-6 shooting with one rebound and three personal fouls in 20 minutes of action. Over the past four games, shooting 8-of-28 from the field with more fouls (12) than combined assists, steals and blocks (nine). Come celebrate his birthday this Thursday! []

Buckeyes land a No. 6 seed for 2014 Men’s NCAA Tournament

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Though things have seemingly been a nightmare since our own TD proclaimed Ohio State as a National Championship contender, the Buckeyes were made aware of their fate on Sunday night as they were handed a six-seed in this year’s NCAA men’s tournament.

Ohio State meets 11th-seeded Dayton in the “second round” of the NCAA tournament’s South Region as the teams meet Thursday in Buffalo, NY.

The Buckeyes (25-9) have been one of the most up-and-down teams in the field, rising to No. 3 nationally after a 15-0 start only to lose five of six and fall out of the Top 25 all together. Their Big Ten Tournament run came to an end on Saturday afternoon when they fell to the Michigan Wolverines in what many would call a “nail-biter.”

From ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan:

Aaron Craft is a smart dude with enough perspective to be able to laugh at something as visually hilarious as a high-level college basketball player missing a last-second 3 because the ball goofily slips out of his hands. The gifs won’t haunt him. But Craft’s slip in the final Big Ten game of his career Saturday was revealing about the Buckeyes as a whole. Thad Matta’s team defends like crazy, but it doesn’t score like crazy. There is no go-to finisher on call. That’s why Craft has to hoist the unlikely last-second 3-pointer in close games and why it’s hard to trust the Buckeyes with one of your bracket’s precious Elite Eight spots.

The Flyers (23-10) lost in the Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals to keep them on the NCAA bubble. Dayton last made the tournament in 2009. For either team to make it to the Final Four, they will have to also take on the Syracuse Orangemen, Kansas Jayhawks and top-ranked Florida Gators. Just a few days before we find out which team will have the chance to wear the ever-coveted glass slipper.

While Y’all Are Waiting: A Jeremiad of Sorts

[Editor's Note: With Craig being out today, we thought it would be awesome to have Denny Mayo return and do WWW today in Craig's place. For those who are new to the site and may not know who Denny is, he was one of the original weekend editors at WFNY and he gave this site a unique and interesting voice that we lacked before and have never quite been able to replace. But a lot has changed in Denny's life in recent years since he left WFNY to focus on his doctorate. Because he's touching on some hot button topics below, we are of course obligated to say that his opinions are his own. There is no unified stance from WFNY, as we are made up of many different voices and opinions. Some of us stand with Denny, while others disagree. But no matter where you stand, whether you agree or disagree with his opinions, this piece is incredibly well thought out and well written and, well, it's just awesome to have Denny back at WFNY, even if it is only for one day and for one piece. -- Andrew Schnitkey]

Dr StrangeloveGood morning. Craig is out today; the inmates have offered to run the asylum in his absence. Management acquiesced to our request.

It has been 1344 days since I last wrote words here. It’s nice to see you all. Things have changed, but you haven’t aged a day. When I decided to stop writing here to focus on graduate school, the NBA had just died a young death, never to rise from its ashes. Craig and I have talked about this on the podcast, but as I’m growing older, I’m finding it difficult to enjoy sports as much as I used to. At this point, I very well may like making esoteric jokes about sports more than I actually like sports. So it goes.

There are a number of reasons why I’m not digging on sports so hard anymore, and I’m writing whatever I want to write, so let’s get into them:

1) It really bothers me that Chief Wahoo is still a thing. Not the ‘debate’ about Chief Wahoo, mind you, but that the actual logo is still in use—and that any semblance of a ‘debate’ among the Cleveland fan base continues. The logo is racist dreck from a (mostly) bygone era and is generally condemned by the National Congress of American Indians. Yet we annually drudge up a ‘debate’ that begins and ends up with mouth-breathing talk radio hosts denying any evidence that Native Americans oppose the use of Native American likenesses as athletic logos, in order to get radio listeners to call in to their show so that they can convince advertisers to keep paying them. This debate is an auroboros of stupid.

I know that this topic is 1) stale and 2) not a lot of fun to discuss, but this is not an issue where there is much nuance, yet it is treated as such by many who cover it in order to frame the ‘two sides of the debate’ with a wonderful veneer of false equivalence, as though there should be equal weight given to each side. The AV Club review of the excellent series premiere of Neil Degrasse-Tyson’s COSMOS reboot (which you should be watching this show, by the way, because science is wonderful) gets to the heart of the matter of the show, but also the issue at hand here as well:

“The show is also unabashed in its commitment to truth—it matter-of-factly presents what we know about the universe, what we’re pretty sure about, and what we don’t know yet. Cosmos doesn’t hedge: You won’t hear the narrator, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, neuter any of his statements with a gratuitous “some people believe…” counterpoint. … In a media environment where truth has to compete with a “balance” designed to prevent hurt feelings, Cosmos’ straightforward tack is quaint—laudably so.”

There are facts about the history of America’s treatment of American Indians that are not pretty and that are not touched on during our primary education (probably because they are not pretty!). But they are facts, and they are ever-relevant when discussing the ongoing plight of the American Indian.

Sports should be fun, harmless, and inclusive. Chief Wahoo is none of these things—enough so that I refuse to put onesies with Chief Wahoo on my infant daughter that were given to us as gifts. To gloss over the nasty nature of the logo because [a largely non-Native American base of] fans want to keep using a Samboface logo because it reminds the fans of the halcyon days of their youth, or because the logo is ’tradition’, or because ‘only whiny white people don’t like the logo’, or because ‘it doesn’t matter because it’s only a logo’ are reasons that are at best selfish and juvenile and at worst come from a place far, far more pernicious.

2) It’s increasingly difficult to enjoy tackle football in its current incarnation. I’ve never been a huge Browns fan (cf.), but the NFL’s—and Roger Goodell’s—staggering ability to whistle past the graveyard and spread false information regarding the effects of brain injury does not sit particularly well with me. The tried-and-true delay tactics of pointing out that ‘the science is not conclusive’ and ‘more studies are needed before taking action’ are especially pernicious when you realize that every season that involves a delay in instituting some sort of acknowledgment and subsequent change to the game is another season in which 1) the powers-that-be profit wildly at the expense of other humans’ lives, while marketing their business as safe and humane and 2) another cohort of impressionable (and brain-capable!) children put on their Pop Warner helmets and start crashing into each other.

3) Add the labor issues involved in collegiate athletics on top of brain injury seriousness, and it’s even becoming hard to enjoy my beloved Ohio State Football Team. This does not mean that I do not watch, nor does it mean that I do not cheer for my team. But a lot of the fun is gone knowing that every time the crowd is cheering a big hit, the man who made the hit likely did so at the expense of a part of his life—and that he will go pro in something other than sports™ after being subject to the capricious gaze of the “Non-Profit” Arbiters of Amateurism.

4) Sports franchises aggressively hold their host cities hostage for absurd tax breaks in order to renovate perfectly good (yet highly land-inefficient) facilities, and will move if their deal isn’t sweet enough. This is no different from plenty of other businesses, except that sports teams are viewed as some sort of public trust—that just happen to be banned by law from being publicly-owned. And the leagues are non-profit entities.

So what we end up with are carpet-bagging team owners who come in, run roughshod over any semblance of tradition that the fan base is proud of, and then contribute little, if any, to the actual community where they make their sportsball happen. Immediately upon purchasing the team, we are inundated with PR blasts that tell us how we’ve turned a corner and that Everything is now Coming Up Cleveland, and This Owner Totally Gets It!

And then down the line these owners whose arrival and general existence has been lauded at every opportunity may even decide to build a casino and have their sportsmen happily remind stadium-goers to remember to vote for the casino referendum. And then after that, a land bridge to hermetically seal the casino-goers from the public. But if you hesitate to give them everything they want in terms of land and infrastructure, you’d better watch it—they’ll be gone before you know it.

5) That sports fandom seems to requires some caveman-like viewpoint of masculinity. This doesn’t manifest so much in dealing with actual sports, but often creeps in when sports and culture collide such as to allow the real men in the crowd to step forward and assert KNOWN KNOWNS, such as: the inability for a grown human adult to effectively play sportsball because of who they happen to be romantically involved with; that using statistics as a lens through which one can evaluate sports is invalid; or that Richie Incognito is anything but a racist bully.

Many of these collisions involve spectacular non-sequiturs, such as but not limited to: ‘WHY IS THIS NEWS?!’; or ‘I JUST KNOW A GOOD PLAYER WHEN I SEE ONE’; or ‘WHY CAN BLACK PEOPLE USE THE N-WORD BUT WHITE PEOPLE CANNOT?’ (For answers to these questions, you could do far worse than reading Ta-Nehisi Coates on two of these topics. Seriously, go do so. I’ll wait.) These questions reek of desperation and deflection from the issue at hand: that it is indeed possible that people of differing backgrounds can all participate in sport effectively, and that masculinity and personal background have little to do with it.

It’s also increasingly difficult for me to stomach the ‘suck it up and play’ aspect of fan culture. This is particularly bad with respect to hockey fans but happens across all fanbases. It’s not our place to demand injury upon others, or that someone over-expose themselves to the risk of further injury because we want their team to win at a sports.

Sports are an extension of humanity. It’d be nice if fandom were more humane.

6) I don’t like that I don’t like sports as much because of these reasons. This is much more inward-gazing and meta, but even with all of these issues I still do like sports. I enjoy going to Nationals games and DC United games, and I’m ecstatic that the Buckeyes will be playing in Baltimore and College Park this fall and I’ll be able to take a short train ride to go see my alma mater play tackle football. But I don’t view sports fandom as a very significant facet of my life at this point, and that’s weird and off-putting because it’s a pretty big shift relative to the majority of my life. It’s going to take a long time to come to grips with this, and I’ve only recently begun to really acknowledge it.

Falling out of love with sports has been a change that has been slowly developing, the sort of thing that’s been hard to track the evolution of. It’s been like watching a puppy grow, where suddenly three years later you look back at a picture and realize ‘wow, our St Bernard used to be tiny‘. The changes have been incremental and additive, and now I’m to a point nearly four years removed from writing about sports frequently where I can’t imagine trying to write about sports with any sort of frequency. Though I’m firm on the points above, please don’t read them as value judgements—not long ago I cared a whole lot about Cleveland sports, and I may care about them again at some point. Most of my good friends love them some sports, and I continue to make good friends with whom sports fandom (or, maybe more accurately, making sports jokes) is our initial common thread. I want to love sports again. I really do.

But part of growing up is realizing that life doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to view sports in a vacuum anymore. So it goes.

So rather than link to actual sports things that are happening as is customary in these pieces, I thought I’d point out some cool stuff that I’ve been learning about in lieu of learning about sports rosters and statistics (and if you guys have other fun things to talk about, bring them up, because quite honestly the community aspect of sports fandom is like its most positive aspect and why I still do hang around from time to time).

*One place I make time to visit every time I’m visiting family in Canton is the I-76 Antique Mall. It is wonderful. I am not joking.

*Cooking is something that I’ve been trying to learn more about. This came up somewhat frequently in discussions with Craig when we were doing the Casual Friday podcast, but I thought I’d point out some things that I’ve taken to recently:

*I’ve read Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue twice and started reading Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio. Serious BBQ is a hefty book with a whole lot of recipes, but it lays out some broadly useful stuff at the front end and includes a lot of tips that are quite interesting (like using an herb bundle to butter-baste meats during cooking). Ratio strips back recipes to their foundational bases, based solely on ingredient ratios and the order of ingredient addition. For me, this is hugely useful, because it’s easy to follow a recipe, but far more difficult to be able to grab a bunch of things off of a shelf and throw together a meal. Both books are super, super insightful and I recommend both if BBQ/cooking are things you like.

*The tri-tip is a fantastic cut of beef that I’ve recently gotten familiar with. So is eye round. Pork shoulder remains the meat of the gods. Bourbon is still king of spirits (I’ve recently been enjoying Weller Reserve).

*Internet Friend Sarah Sprague’s 2014 Chili Roundup is well worth your time. In brief: never, ever use store-bought chili powder in any dish ever again. But you already knew this, you smart devil, you.

*You should be reading everything that Kenji Lopez-Alt writes at The Food Lab. The chocolate chip cookie recipe is sublime (sea salt on cookies = advanced move) and the tacos al pastor recipe is absolutely worth the work (I made this last Friday and used leftover meat for nachos).

*Successfully growing vegetables and herbs is not trivial.

*Freshly-roasted coffee is sublime and remarkably inexpensive.

*If you want to find old pictures to make prints, the Library of Congress’ website is amazing. For instance: this old picture of Municipal Stadium during construction is incredible, and is free for download. Seriously. I printed, matted and framed a copy for my father-in-law this year for Christmas. There are lots of pictures of Olde Cleveland (and old WPA posters as well). Use this information to your advantage.

*As I haven’t been in Ohio this calendar year, I thought I’d ask a friend who has been to Cleveland this year about his experience. His response:

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – I’m assuming it’s named for Sir Anthony – is entirely successful from a functional perspective: planes land there, and then they take off again. It gets a solid A for Being An Airport, and that shouldn’t be ignored; there are still delayed flights from 1994 in Dallas-Fort Worth, for instance. Beyond that? It’s the airport you would design if you were too cheap to pay for an architect and just downloaded the first “airport_plans_eminem_freestyle.jpg” file you found on LimeWire, a choice reinforced by the fact that the dining/shopping options are places you think you’ve heard of maybe once. Look: the Chili’s Too people wanted a crazy franchise fee. You’ll eat at Burgers of Calais and like it. (Burgers of Calais is not actually a restaurant in Cleveland Airport, and if you steal that name I’ll sue.) This is an airport designed to be forgotten quickly. I was there six weeks ago and already it feels like a particularly unremarkable dream.

That friend is Celebrity Hot Tub, and he was stuck in Hopkins for something like 22 hours. It sounds like y’all wow’d him.

*Home organization is an incredibly difficult and never-ending process. Case-in-point: I lined the wall under my basement stairs with pegboard and spend ten minutes or so a week wondering if I could better-arrange my tools. The same goes for kitchen organization and wall-mounting of frequently-used items. These things do not matter, yet they matter.

*Babies: really cool, and quite anxiety-inducing. I’m gonna take my kid to go meet Brendan’s kid today, which is kind of weird, but also pretty awesome. Hooray Internet.

I’ve come a long way from photoshopping Kelvin Sampson’s head onto Bruce Willis, y’all. Growing up is weird.

OK, it’s been fun. Go sports.

Buckeye Senior Day completes long strange regular season trip

craftdivesrdayBasing your analyses of the Big Ten basketball season on anything other than pure randomness has seemingly been a fruitless task. There’s no better example of this than the current campaign for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Let’s recap just a bit: Two losses to Penn State, the first two in Thad Matta’s tenure; wins at Iowa and Wisconsin, two of the biggest threats in the upcoming Big Ten conference tournament; losses at Lincoln, Minneapolis, and Bloomington. The Buckeyes won twice to open the conference slate and followed that with losses in five of six, followed by wins in six out of seven, then inexplicable losses at Penn State and Indiana. Fans of the scarlet and gray have surely been up and down the Columbus roundball roller coaster. Then, Sunday happened.

On Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr.’s Senior Day, a tall task stood in the way of a happy ending in the Michigan State Spartans. The two had squared off in a top-five showdown earlier in the season with Ohio State putting forth a miracle sprint to force overtime only to fall just short. This time, the Buckeyes used their vice-like defende to hold on for the win despite stalled offense and a parade of missed free throws in crunch time. The 69-67 Buckeye win kept the hopes of a Big Ten tourney first-round bye alive (these were ultimately dashed by the Huskers), but more importantly, it was a positive finish to a whirlwind year, sending out the seniors properly.

[Read more...]

Aaron Craft, the senior leader every team wants and only one has

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When one attempts to put into words the impact that Aaron Craft has on a basketball game, a team’s season, or a program in four short years, it proves to be an incredibly tough task. Running jokes about Craft’s tenure at Ohio State lasting the better part of a decade aside, he’s been the engine that keeps his team running, all the while saying the right things and excelling in the classroom. Ohio State basketball had seen some of its darkest days in Craft’s tenure with the team—and likely longer with losses in five out of seven January contests, including failures against bottom-dwellers Nebraska and Penn State.

[Read more...]

Down the Gopher hole: Bucks reeling after third straight loss

thompsonminnyThe Michigan State loss was an understandable loss because of the hostile Breslin Center environment against an experienced top five squad. Buckeye fans were comforted by the valiant comeback and forcing overtime, nearly pulling off the stunner. Then, there was the Iowa game Sunday. In the first major home game of the conference season, Iowa was no slouch to be certain with a large starting lineup and the fourth best offense1. The Buckeyes just don’t lose at home that often, and after sustaining early scorching of the nets by the Hawkeyes, it looked like they were poised to win the game after taking a 9-point lead about halfway through the second half. However, they unraveled due to turnovers and lost their second straight contest. With that rough week behind them, the Buckeyes headed to The Barn last night to take on the Golden Gophers. What ensued was one of the worst efforts from a Thad Matta squad in years. LaQuinton Ross was the only Buckeye consistently capable of offense, and the team’s defense and rebounding failed them due to smaller lineups and poor coaching decisions. Minnesota stunned the Bucks with a 63-53 home win, and the Buckeyes have now lost three straight for the first time in nearly five years and eviscerated any realistic chance at the conference title just five games into the gauntlet of Big Ten basketball.

It is time to slam the panic button. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. That is in terms of adjusted efficiency according to KemPom.com []

Urban Meyer strikes again as Buckeyes also add Arkansas’ Chris Ash

chris ash wisconsinWell, well, Urban Meyer. It appears you did indeed have a few tricks up your sleeve following Thursday’s sudden departure of Mike Vrabel to the NFL.

Earlier today, we shared how revered Penn State defensive lines coach Larry Johnson Sr. is rumored to join the OSU staff in the same open position. Now, Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel has the latest scoop: Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash will be taking the co-defensive coordinator role in Columbus. The team has not yet confirmed either move, but both are expected to be made official in the coming days.

Vrabel’s position under Meyer was as defensive lines coach and co-defensive coordinator with former interim head coach Luke Fickell. Just last week, it was reported that he left to join Bill O’Brien’s staff with the Houston Texans. Now, the Bucks have seemed to replace his duties with two star-studded Big Ten staples.

Ash, 39, moved to Fayetteville along with former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. He joined Bielema’s staff initially as defensive backs coach in 2010 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2011. He previously spent 11 combined years at Iowa State and San Diego State as secondary coach, with added responsibilities as the recruiting coordinator. Wisconsin was always a tough defensive team under Bielema and Ash. In their first year with the Razorbacks, the team struggled to a 3-9 overall record and 0-8 SEC mark. This is just another huge move for Meyer, who continues to recruit well in players and coaches alike.

[Related: Rumble, Young Men, Rumble: Ohio State Season in Review]

Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Ohio State replaces Vrabel with Penn State’s Larry Johnson

After Bill O’Brien left Penn State for the NFL’s Houston Texans, assistant head coach Larry Johnson wanted to be the next head man at Happy Valley. He was passed over for Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Penn State’s loss in now Ohio State’s gain.

Larry Johnson will become the defensive line coach for the Buckeyes, and could end up the co-defensive coordinator alongside Luke Fickell as well.

Johnson spent 19 years at Penn State, and is widely regarded as an excellent recruiter, particularly on the East coast. Johnson was a well respected high school coach in the DC area and has brought in athletes such as Jared Odrick, Tamba Hali and Courtney Brown in his time at Penn State.

Vrabel’s departure was a stunner to the Buckeye community, but getting Johnson to replace him is such an Urban Meyer move.

[Related: Rumble young men, rumble]

Rumble, Young Men, Rumble: Ohio State Season in Review

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Braxton Miller and Jamal Marcus

Today we look back. Forget the star-studded 2014 recruiting class. Forget the possibility of having someone not named Luke Fickell coaching the Ohio State defense next season. Today we have but one purpose, and that is to relive the peaks and valleys, twists and turns of another Buckeyes season in the books.

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While We’re Waiting… Charting top QB draft prospects

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Phenomenal research here on the top QBs in the 2014 NFL draft class: “Most notable for Bridgewater is the lack of screens incorporated in the offense. Some have said that Bridgewater throws a high quantity of short passes, however the screens a QB normally utilizes have become short throws so that Bridgewater throws 53% of his passes in the 1-10 yard zones.” [Greg Peshek/Roto World]

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One loss….And I am officially sold

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Last night was an eye opening evening in my favorite sport. As I laid in my bed with a wicked sore throat, I had a few moments of clarity as conference play began all over the country. Iowa State, which is one of the five remaining unbeaten teams, is to me the clear front runner in the Big 12, a league that has been won by Kansas nine consecutive years. The SEC is easily the worst of the power conferences; one of their alleged better teams, LSU, was destroyed at home by Tennessee last night and looked bad doing so. But my biggest perception change for the better came from a team that lost.

I am officially sold on the Ohio State Buckeyes as a Final Four contender.

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OSU’s second miraculous comeback falls just short

lovingmsuAn outcome assured, I was armed with thoughts of disappointment. The Buckeyes, relatively untested through 15 games, headed to East Lansing for their toughest game on the regular season slate, and they didn’t look ready for it. A season-high 17 turnovers in the game’s first 32 minutes, the team’s two leading scorers in LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. a combined for 4-for-18 for 12 points, a scoreless first half from the starting backcourt of Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott, a run of 11-2 to close the first half, and falling behind by 17 points in the second half were going to be the key barbs to hammer home.

And then, sheer lunacy unfolded. The Bucks erased that 17-point hole to force overtime and nearly pulled off the stunner in the Breslin Center. Sparty on the strength of key threes from Keith Appling and Adreian Payne regrouped to hold on 72-68 in overtime, but it was the comeback and the emergence of new ready-for-primetime players that has me most intrigued moving forward.

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My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Urban Meyer

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

It took over two regular seasons for Urban Meyer to lose a football game in Columbus, Ohio.
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by an WFNY writer.
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