Tyrann Mathieu, the former star cornerback for the LSU Tigers, attended the Senior Bowl practice on Monday as a spectator, with aspirations of speaking with NFL teams to convince them he is a changed person.Mathieu was dismissed from the Tigers football program by coach Les Miles last August after failing a drug test. He was arrested in late October along with three other former LSU players, including quarterback Jordan Jefferson, after police discovered marijuana in Mathieu’s apartment.The 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist understands that some NFL teams will be highly cautious about drafting him due to his off-the-field incidents, but is understanding of their wariness.“I’m not really looking forward to people trusting me today or tomorrow,” Mathieu said to The Associated Press. “Trust takes time, especially when you’ve done a lot of things for people not to be able to trust you. It may take two years. It may take five years, it may take until I’m 30 years old for people to start trusting Tyrann again. But the truth is, I’m doing the right things and just looking forward to being a football player.”Mathieu has been training for the NFL combine with former LSU cornerback and now Arizona Cardinals conerback Patrick Peterson. Before training with Peterson in Arizona, he was working out in south Florida and living with Peterson’s family.“I took a few days off from training just to come here and meet with a few coaches and just be back around football again,” Mathieu said.But he didn’t arrive with any meeting set up, so if he is able to meet with coaches he knows this will be his last chance to show that he has transformed into a different person.“You’ve got to learn when to do things and when not to do things, when to party and when not to party,” Mathieu said. “Every day is football. That’s the biggest thing I got out of it. I’m just ready to live a football life.”One of the steps that Mathieu took to transform his life was eliminate the people who he thought were negative influences and replace them with positive influences. He admitted that being surrounded by people with positive perspective about life has allowed him to keep a smile on his face.Despite the adversities that Mathieu has been through the past several months, there are children who still idolize him as the Honey Badger and have given him an added boost of inspiration.“I think in my career at LSU, the Honey Badger kind of just came to an abrupt end,” Mathieu said. “I’m going to give these kids something to look forward to growing up.”
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from previous articles about how our March Madness predictions work.We’ve been issuing probabilistic March Madness forecasts in some form since 2011, when FiveThirtyEight was just a couple of people writing for The New York Times. Initially, we focused on the men’s NCAA Tournament, publishing a table that gave each team’s probability of advancing deep (or not-so-deep) into the tournament. Over the years, we expanded to forecasting the women’s tournament as well. And since 2016, our forecasts have updated live, as games are played. Below are the details on each step that we take — including calculating power ratings for teams, win probabilities for each game and the chance that each remaining team will make it to any given stage of the bracket. Men’s team ratings We calculate power ratings for the women’s tournament in much the same way as we do for the men’s. However, because of the relative lack of data for women’s college basketball — a persistent problem when it comes to women’s sports — the process has a few differences:Three of the six power ratings that we use for the men’s tournament aren’t available for women. Fortunately, that means three of them are: Sagarin’s “predictor” ratings, Sokol’s LRMC ratings and Moore’s ratings. We also use a fourth system, the Massey Ratings.The NCAA doesn’t publish the 68-team S-curve data for the women. So we use the teams’ seeds instead, with the exception of the four No. 1 seeds, which the selection committee does list in order.For the women’s tournament, there isn’t much in the way of injury reports or advanced individual statistics, so we don’t include injury adjustments.Turning power ratings into a forecastOnce we have power ratings for every team, we need to turn them into a forecast — that is, the chance of every team reaching any round of the tournament.Most of our sports forecasts rely on Monte Carlo simulations, but March Madness is different; because the structure of the tournament is a single-elimination bracket, we’re able to directly calculate the chance of teams advancing to a given round.We calculate the chance of any team beating another with the following Elo-derived formula, which is based on the difference between the two teams’ travel-adjusted power ratings:1.01.0+10−travel_adjusted_power_rating_diff∗30.464/4001.01.0+10−travel_adjusted_power_rating_diff∗30.464/400Because a team needs to win only a single game to advance, this formula gives us the chance of a team reaching the next round in the bracket. The probability of a team reaching a future round in the bracket is based on a system of conditional probabilities. In other words, the chance of a team reaching a given round is the chance they reach the previous round, multiplied by their chance of beating any possible opponent in the previous round, weighted by their likelihood of meeting each of those opponents.Live win probabilitiesWhile games are being played, our interactive graphic displays a box for each one that shows updating win probabilities for both teams, as well as the score and the time remaining. These probabilities are derived using logistic regression analysis, which lets us plug the current state of a game into a model to produce the probability that either team will win the game. Specifically, we used play-by-play data from the past five seasons of Division I NCAA basketball to fit a model that incorporates:Time remaining in the gameScore differencePregame win probabilitiesWhich team has possession, with a special adjustment if the team is shooting free throwsThe model doesn’t account for everything, however. If a key player has fouled out of a game, for example, the model doesn’t know, and his or her team’s win probability is probably a bit lower than what we have listed. There are also a few places where the model experiences momentary uncertainty: In the handful of seconds between the moment when a player is fouled and the free throws that follow, for example, we use the team’s average free-throw percentage to adjust its win probability. Still, these probabilities ought to do a reasonably good job of showing which games are competitive and which are essentially over.Also displayed in the box for each game is our “excitement index” (check out the lower-right corner) — that number also updates throughout a game and can give you a sense of when it’ll be most fun to tune in. Loosely based on Brian Burke’s NFL work, the index is a measure of how much each team’s chances of winning have changed over the course of the game.The calculation behind this feature is the average change in win probability per basket scored, weighted by the amount of time remaining in the game. This means that a basket made late in the game has more influence on a game’s excitement index than a basket made near the start of the game. We give additional weight to changes in win probability in overtime. Values range from 0 to 10, although they can exceed 10 in extreme cases.FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratingsIf you’ve been a FiveThirtyEight reader for really any length of time, you probably know that we’re big fans of Elo ratings. We’ve introduced versions for the NBA and the NFL, among other sports. Using game data from ESPN, Sports-Reference.com and other sources, we’ve also calculated Elo ratings for men’s college basketball teams dating back to the 1950s. Our Elo ratings are one of the six computer rating systems used in each team’s pre-tournament rating.Our methodology for calculating these Elo ratings is very similar to the one we use for the NBA. Elo is a measure of a team’s strength that is based on game-by-game results. The information that Elo relies on to adjust a team’s rating after every game is relatively simple — including the final score and the location of the game. (As we noted earlier, college basketball teams perform significantly worse when they travel a long distance to play a game.)It also takes into account whether the game was played in the NCAA Tournament. We’ve found that historically, there are actually fewer upsets in the tournament than you’d expect from the difference in teams’ Elo ratings, perhaps because the games are played under better and fairer conditions in the tournament than in the regular season. Our Elo ratings account for this and weight tournament games slightly higher than regular-season ones.Because Elo is a running assessment of a team’s talent, at the beginning of each season, a team gets to keep its rating from the end of the previous one, except that we also revert it to the mean. The wrinkle here, compared with our NFL Elo ratings, is that we revert college basketball team ratings to the mean of the conference.And that’s about it! (Congratulations if you made it this far.) While we make no guarantee that you’ll win your pool if you use our system, we think it’s done a pretty good job over the years. Hopefully, you’ll have fun using it to make your picks, and it will add to your enjoyment of both NCAA tournaments. Our men’s model is principally based on a composite of six computer power ratings:Ken Pomeroy’s ratingsJeff Sagarin’s “predictor” ratingsSonny Moore’s ratingsJoel Sokol’s LRMC ratingsESPN’s Basketball Power IndexFiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings (described below)Each of these ratings has a strong track record in picking tournament games. We shouldn’t make too much of the differences among them: They are all based on the same basic information — wins and losses, strength of schedule, margin of victory — computed in slightly different ways. We use six systems instead of one, however, because each system has different features and bugs, and blending them helps to smooth out any rough edges. (Those rough edges matter because even small differences can compound over the course of a single-elimination tournament that requires six or seven games to win.)To produce a pre-tournament rating for each team, we combine those computer ratings with a couple of human rankings:The NCAA selection committee’s 68-team “S-curve”Preseason rankings from The Associated Press and the coachesThese rankings have some predictive power — if used in moderation. They make up one-fourth of the rating for each team; the computer systems are three-fourths.It’s not a typo, by the way, to say that we look at preseason rankings. The reason is that a 30- to 35-game regular season isn’t all that large a sample. Preseason rankings provide some estimate of each team’s underlying player and coaching talent. It’s a subjective estimate, but it nevertheless adds some value, based on our research. If a team wasn’t ranked in either the Associated Press or Coaches polls, we estimate its strength using the previous season’s final Sagarin rating, reverted to the mean.To arrive at our FiveThirtyEight power ratings, which are a measure of teams’ current strength on a neutral court and are displayed on our March Madness predictions interactive graphic, we make two adjustments to our pre-tournament ratings.The first is for injuries and player suspensions. We review injury reports and deduct points from teams that have key players out of the lineup. This process might sound arbitrary, but it isn’t: The adjustment is based on Sports-Reference.com’s Win Shares, which estimates the contribution of each player to his team’s record while also adjusting for a team’s strength of schedule. So our program won’t assume a player was a monster just because he was scoring 20 points a game against the likes of Abilene Christian and Austin Peay. The injury adjustment also works in reverse: We review each team to see which are healthier going into the tournament than they were during the regular season.The second adjustment takes place only once the tournament is underway. The FiveThirtyEight model gives a bonus to teams’ ratings as they win games, based on the score of each game and the quality of their opponent. A No. 12 seed that waltzes through its play-in game and then crushes a No. 5 seed may be much more dangerous than it initially appeared; our model accounts for this. On the flip side, a highly rated team that wins but looks wobbly against a lower seed often struggles in the next round, we’ve found.When we forecast individual games, we apply a third and final adjustment to our ratings, for travel distance. Are you not at your best when you fly in from LAX to take an 8 a.m. meeting in Boston? The same is true of college basketball players. In extreme cases (a team playing very near its campus or traveling across the country to play a game), the effect of travel can be tantamount to playing a home or road game, despite being on an ostensibly neutral court. This final adjustment gives us a team’s travel-adjusted power rating, which is then used to calculate their chance of winning that game.Women’s team ratings March Madness Predictions: FiveThirtyEight’s men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament forecasting models calculate the chance of each team reaching each round. See our predictions for 2018 »
Klay Thompson+11+10%+3.5 Shaun Livingston+31+17%+24.1 Stephen Curry+12-1%+4.3 Iguodala leads in plus/minus, and is the choice of some to repeat as MVP. But Livingston holds his own in those much more volatile stats while dominating the tracking metrics. And Curry trails across the board.Of course, the player-tracking doesn’t capture all value contributed, nor does MVP voting hew perfectly to value. If Curry puts up big numbers in a Game 5 victory, he will almost certainly win the award; the same may be true of virtually anyone with the race seeming so wide open. But at this moment, the balance of evidence suggests that Curry’s mid-range-shooting backup has been the most on fire so far. After beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 on Friday night, the Golden State Warriors are one win away from their second consecutive NBA championship. Moreover, regular-season MVP Stephen Curry finally had a big game, going seven for 13 on 3-pointers and scoring 38 points. In a series with few breakout performances, this may be enough to regain Curry the inside lane on the Finals MVP should the Warriors win in the days ahead.Now, don’t get me wrong: I think Curry is the most valuable player on the Warriors, and would be no matter what. But if there’s going to be a silly award for contributing “value” over a small number of games — and we’re willing to give that award to the Andre Iguodalas of the sport when they step up — Curry’s uneven performance so far still puts him in a pretty sizable hole, especially relative to his backup, Shaun Livingston.Granted, Livingston has averaged 10 points per game (compared with Curry’s 21.5), but he has done it on 16 of 25 shots, for an effective field goal percentage of 64 percent (the highest on the Warriors of anyone with more than 20 shots).More importantly, in his 89 minutes of play (Curry has 131), Livingston has also been an extremely effective defender, with his opponents’ effective shooting coming in at a team-low 28 percent.Livingston has been involved in fewer plays than many of his teammates, but his per-play contribution has more than made up for that deficit. Using qSI (amount scored above/below expectation for each shot) for shots taken and defended, we can sum up the total number of points added by each player on each side of the ball: SHOOTER+/-WPACOMBINED POINTS ADDED Andre Iguodala+54+19%+3.2 Warriors averaging at least 15+ minutes per Finals game.Source: NBA PLAYER-TRACKING DATA, espn, Inpredictable For all of his supposed offensive woes, Curry has a slight edge on total offensive contribution. But Steph has had an abnormally poor defensive outing. Thus, on a combined points-contributed basis, we can see that Livingston pretty much dwarfs the competition as it stands, having contributed 24.1 points to Steph’s 4.3 and Klay Thompson’s 3.5. Here’s a table with the combined points added for all the Warriors players who have averaged 15-plus minutes in the series, as well as their plus/minuses (from ESPN) and WPAs (per inPredict): Who’s done the most for the Warriors? Harrison Barnes0+18%-2.3 Draymond Green+36+11%+1.6
EFF. FG %turnover %OFF. REB. %FT % We’re in a golden age for NBA offense. Teams are scoring 110.1 points per 100 possessions during the 2018-19 season, according to Basketball-Reference.com — a full 1.3 points per 100 possessions more than the previous high of 108.8, which was set two years ago.This is largely — and rightly — credited to the boom in 3-point attempts. While the 3-point line was instituted all the way back in 1979, it took the league nearly four decades to realize that 3 was worth more than 2.1Just four years ago, the league as a whole scored 105.6 points per 100 possessions, nearly the same figure as was recorded during the first year of the 3-point era, when teams scored 105.3 points per 100 possessions. The threes have also been complemented by other leaguewide changes, all of which have been widely recognized as contributing factors in the age of offense: a dramatic shift toward “Moreyball” shot distribution that limits inefficient shots like long twos; several waves of rule changes that opened up the floor and allowed for more freedom of movement; the increase in pace; and the sheer unstoppability of the league’s very best offenses.In all those explanations, though, one factor has gone wildly underdiscussed: Teams just don’t turn the ball over all that much anymore. In addition to being the best overall shooting season of the 3-point era, the 2018-19 campaign also has seen teams commit turnovers at the lowest rate they ever have, as just 12.6 percent of possessions leaguewide have ended with the offense giving the ball away to the defense in one manner or another. This is down from a high of 15.8 percent during the 1982-83 season.But while the genesis of the other offensive changes can be neatly traced, the decline in turnovers is a bit more puzzling. In my search for an explanation, I figured it was best to ask a person whose teams have mastered the art of avoiding turnovers: Gregg Popovich, whose San Antonio Spurs own the lowest turnover rate in the NBA this season (which doubles as the fifth-lowest rate since the league began tracking turnovers) and have finished with a better-than-average turnover rate in 14 of the past 15 seasons — a time during which they have the league’s fourth-lowest turnover rate overall. Popovich, though, was also stumped (or perhaps just characteristically cagey). He didn’t really have any idea why his teams have avoided turnovers so consistently, nor why the league has done a better job in recent seasons.“I’m not even sure I know the answer to that, to tell you the truth,” Popovich said. “We don’t do any ‘don’t turn it over’ drills or anything like that. We talk a lot about decision-making and time and score on the clock, understanding your role, staying within your abilities, all those sorts of things. So, I think over time people realize how valuable the basketball is, and we just go from there.”There are many potential explanations for the drop in turnover rate, all of which may be working in concert. The increasing prevalence of pull-up three-pointers limits opportunities for players to cough up the ball — if the ball never passes the three-point line, a turnover is far less likely as most turnovers tend to happen in more crowded areas of the floor. Switch-heavy defenses have resulted in more isolation plays, and isolations are often the play-call of choice in close and late situations because they are less likely to result in turnovers.Regardless of why, the impact of turnovers cannot be undersold. Popovich is onto something when it comes to the value of the basketball. It makes intuitive sense: You can’t score if you don’t have the ball.To gauge the impact of turnover rate on NBA offense, let’s look at how it’s changed compared to the other so-called Four Factors of Basketball Success popularized by noted basketball statistician Dean Oliver in his seminal book, “Basketball on Paper”: effective field-goal percentage, offensive rebound rate and free-throw rate. When looking at each of the Four Factors year over year, we can see just how stark the drop-off in turnovers has been over the years and how it compares with the changes in the other factors, all of which have followed similarly consistent trend lines. The weights represent the amount of variance in offensive efficiency each stat explains based on Evan Zamir’s variation on Oliver’s analysis; field-goal percentage at 54 percent, turnover rate at 22 percent, offensive rebounding rate at 15 percent and free-throw rate at 10 percent.Source: basketball-reference.com Weighted+4.1-4.1-4.7-1.5 Percentage change+7.6%-18.7%-31.3%-14.9% The respective declines in turnovers and offensive rebounding are nearly even, while the bump in shooting efficiency far outweighs the decline in free-throw rate. Add it all up, and you’ve got a leaguewide offensive rating that is 4.6 percent better in 2018-19 than it was during the 1979-80 season (110.1 points per 100 possessions compared with 105.3 per 100).Shooting (and shot distribution) have been talked about ad nauseam over the years, while numerous observers have noted that teams are increasingly prioritizing getting back in transition defense over chasing offensive rebounds. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe explained in 2016, the Spurs were among the first teams to deprioritize offensive rebounds, with former Spurs assistant and current 76ers head coach Brett Brown once noting that Popovich did not care if a player didn’t grab a single offensive rebound during his entire career. Pop’s lead was followed by coaches like Doc Rivers, Erik Spoelstra, Stan Van Gundy and Rick Carlisle, and with those coaches’ assistants now all over the league like Popovich’s are, it’s perhaps not surprising that offensive rebounding is down all over the place. Without the decline in turnovers offsetting that prioritization, though, we likely would not be living in the best offensive environment in the modern history of the NBA.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Turnover decline is even bigger than it seemsThe percentage change of Dean Oliver’s Four Factors weighted by their impact on the game, 1980-2019 During the 3-point era, only offensive rebounding has experienced a larger percentage change, with the rate of boards offensive teams have grabbed off their own misses falling from 33.5 percent 40 years ago all the way to 22.9 percent this season. Oliver pegged turnover rate as being responsible for 25 percent of the variance in offensive efficiency and offensive rebounding for 20 percent, though subsequent detailed analyses have typically settled somewhere around 22 percent or 23 percent for turnovers and 15 to 18 percent for rebounds. So given that avoiding a turnover is considered more valuable than grabbing an offensive rebound, it could be argued that the change in turnover rate has fully canceled out the decline in offensive rebound rate. We can see this more clearly when we weight each percentage change by the amount ascribed to each of the Four Factors by Evan Zamir’s 2010 analysis that updated the weight each factor had been assigned by Oliver.
OSU freshman wide receiver Binjimen Victor (9) has the ball swatted away by Rutgers redshirt sophomore defensive back Isaiah Wharton (11) during the first half of the Buckeyes game against Rutgers on Oct. 1. The Buckeyes won 58-0. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorNo. 2 Ohio State kicked off conference play by dismantling Rutgers in true blowout fashion. From producing nearly six times as many offensive yards as the Scarlet Knights, to grinding out 410 yards on the ground, OSU proved just how tough it is.With momentum for the remaining eight Big Ten games, the Buckeyes are rolling. Here are five takeaways from their emphatic victory over Rutgers.Barrett one of the best in OSU’s historyIt doesn’t take a master’s degree in statistics to understand just how successful redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett has been in his career. Tossing 59 touchdowns through less than three years of action with the Buckeyes sums up his time with OSU quite nicely.Barrett’s performance against Rutgers moved him into 10th place all time for career passing yards. Although he usually doesn’t light up the scoreboard with passing yards, he has accomplished these totals while starting in just 21 games.This year, players from both sides of the ball have talked about Barrett’s ability to lead the team and be the go-to player a quarterback needs to be. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Terry McLaurin summed things up almost perfectly.“When J.T. talks, everybody listens,” McLaurin said.With at least eight games left in the season, Barrett is certain to keep smashing records and earning victories as the unquestioned leader of the team.Robert Landers is making a name for himselfBackup defensive linemen rarely make a name for themselves as athletic and agile playmakers. Redshirt freshman Robert Landers just might be breaking that mold.Picking up six tackles through the first three game, Landers broke into the backfield twice against Rutgers, picking up a tackle for loss and a sack. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 285 pounds, he is slightly undersized for his position.Undersized, but incredibly strong and quick in his movements. Junior defensive end Jalyn Holmes even has his own special nickname for Landers because of those traits.“He just get off (blocks) so fast, man,” Holmes said. “I call him Black Mamba.”The loss of redshirt junior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle hurt the Buckeyes, but Landers has played well enough to prevent any drop off.The Big Ten is a tale of two ends of the spectrum againExpanding the Big Ten has led to a longer conference schedule and exciting action for college football fans. Unfortunately, that expansion has also led to a wide gap between teams.While Maryland is recovering from last season’s 3-9 overall and 1-7 conference performance by winning its first three games, Rutgers has remained near the bottom so far this year, losing its opening Big Ten test against the Buckeyes.In the top half of the conference, teams like OSU, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska have shown the pedigree of each program. In the other half, teams like Rutgers, Illinois, Penn State and Purdue are sputtering to stay afloat early in the year.While all teams have respective glory days in the respective histories of each program, the Big Ten has its own history of the conference race having a few elite teams near the top, and the others fighting for national relevance.Once again, college football fans are getting a taste of what happens with Big Ten football. The rich get richer each year.Wide receiver depth is deeper than initially thoughtThe OSU coaching staff knew near the end of spring camp they had a multitude of wide receivers that can contribute. Buckeyes fans got a taste of how many of those players can contribute. Eight receivers caught passes against Rutgers, including the first career receptions for redshirt freshman Alex Stump, freshman Austin Mack and freshman Binjimen Victor. Seeing extended time compared to the others, even receiving a target from Barrett in the end zone, Victor saw the field on multiple occasions.Sure, the pass was incomplete. But OSU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said Victor earned his playing time this week.“Ben got more and more reps in the two weeks leading up to this game, and each rep, each day he kept getting better and better,” Warriner said.Although the wide receivers failed to haul in a touchdown, and redshirt sophomore Noah Brown was only targeted twice, OSU showed they can spread the wealth to names deeper on the depth chart. Even if the completions are only for 7 yards a piece.OSU’s offense turns Ash’s defense to dustAll week long, sports reporters from across the state and the nation asked Meyer and OSU players how they would approach a defensive attack they were familiar with in Chris Ash’s scheme. Buckeyes fans got their answer quickly Saturday.A defense that allowed just three completions and 116 yards paired with an offense that rushed for over 400 yards and threw for four touchdowns is nearly unbeatable.Rutgers had a decent first quarter in terms of stifling OSU, and even picked off Barrett once. Completely outmatched throughout the game, it should be no surprise that the score ended up 58-0.Ash’s defense may have brought success to OSU when he arrived in Columbus, but the same production has not been found in New Jersey for the former Buckeyes offensive coordinator.
University of Michigan officials deny multiple reports that the university fired head football coach Rich Rodriguez today after his third season with the program. “This is media speculation at this point,” Michigan officials told ESPN today. “The definitive voice on this matter is (Athletic Director) Dave Brandon and he has not, and will not, speak publicly until a final decision has been made.” Brandon told ESPN’s Desmond Howard that the university had not yet made a decision on the matter. Brandon met with Rodriguez for more than three hours this afternoon. These reports come on the heels of the Wolverine’s 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl on Saturday. Rodriguez described his mood as “disappointed and frustrated” in his postgame press conference Saturday, but said that he was confident that he and his staff had given their best effort to the university. “One thing I’m proud of the players and the staff is we have not cheated the University of Michigan a day of work,” Rodriguez said during the press conference. “I wouldn’t allow it and I wouldn’t let our staff allow it.” In his three seasons as Michigan’s coach, Rodriguez compiled a 15-22 record, including a school-record nine losses in his first season, 2008. The Wolverines never defeated rivals Ohio State and Michigan State under Rodriguez, and his teams went 6-18 in Big Ten play. In 2010, Michigan’s defense ranked 108th in the country in points against, giving up an average of 35.2 points per game. Rodriguez’s time as Michigan’s coach has seen plenty of controversy, including the transfers of quarterback Ryan Mallett and offensive lineman Justin Boren. Mallett is the starting quarterback for Arkansas, OSU’s Sugar Bowl opponent. After transferring, Boren said in a statement that Michigan’s “family values have eroded” under Rodriguez. Before the start of the 2010 season, Michigan was put on three years of probation after being found guilty of practice and training violations. The violations marked the first time the Michigan program had ever been put on probation. Potential replacements for Rodriguez include former Michigan quarterback and current Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, former Michigan offensive lineman and current LSU coach Les Miles and San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, according to recent reports.
Redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee (43) blocks for senior linebacker Curtis Grant (14) after Grant made an interception during a game against Illinois on Nov. 1 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 55-14.Credit: Ben Jackson / For The LanternWhen a football team finds itself trying not to look past its current opponent and onto a more important date in the future, it usually doesn’t come during a prime-time home game with an 89-year-old trophy at stake.But that’s exactly what the No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes had before them on Saturday evening, as the Big Ten cellar-dwelling Illinois Fighting Illini came to Columbus. Even with the prospect of a showdown with No. 7 Michigan State coming the following week, coach Urban Meyer’s team collected its focus to execute a dominant 55-14 victory. “I think we have a good bunch of players that care about each other and get ready for a big week,” Meyer said after the game. “I thought our defense came out and played well.”As has been the case so many times this season, his defensive unit has held its opponent to a small output as redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett and the Buckeye offense lit up the scoreboard. Meyer’s singling out of the defense was telling, however. The group that struggled mightily toward the end of last season produced another steady performance on Saturday. The Buckeyes held their opponents to less than 250 total yards for the second consecutive week, and set the tone for the game by forcing three Fighting Illini turnovers in the first half. It began on the visitors’ first drive. With a first-and-10 at the OSU 39-yard line, Illinois senior quarterback Reilly O’Toole put a pass right onto the fingertips of his senior tight end Matt LaCosse. LaCosse couldn’t corral it, however, and the ball instead fell into the arms of redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee. The pick was Lee’s second of the season, and he credited the mentality of the coaching staff for the interception. “What our coaches push us to do is not only execute, but execute and try to make a play. We try to force turnovers literally every play and every call that we get,” Lee said. “Even if it’s a simple run play that they’re running, we’re trying to knock the ball out. “That’s our mindset now, now that everybody’s starting to get really comfortable with what they’re doing. Now it’s time to go make plays when that comes to you and it’s our job to make those plays.”That mindset was evident on Illinois’ last drive of the first quarter. Redshirt-junior running back Josh Ferguson looked like he had burst through a hole in the OSU defense for a solid gain. But just as Lee was dragging him to the ground, redshirt-sophomore safety Tyvis Powell arrived on the scene and dislodged ball from Ferguson’s grasp, allowing junior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington to recover the fumble. Powell also had five total tackles, including one tackle for loss, to go along with his impact play. Sophomore Vonn Bell started at the other safety position, and he said the combination between him and Powell is built on familiarity. “It is trust. It’s like a brotherhood, that’s like my brother across the field,” Bell said. “We can’t let each other down. That’s at all costs.”Up front, the Buckeyes rode another standout performance by sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa, who had a team-leading two sacks. But it wasn’t just Bosa who was giving the Illini something to think about. Senior defensive lineman Steve Miller, who has kept his starting spot since sophomore Noah Spence reportedly failed a second drug test before the game against Kent State earlier in the season, chalked up his third-straight four-tackle game and forced a second-half fumble. For the veteran Miller, he knows the part he has to play, and he said he gives his maximum effort in order to help him teammates succeed.“I knew it was gonna be a big part for me when Noah went down. So I had to just step up real big because Noah played a big role last year and I know I had to fill his shoes,” Miller said. “The whole thing is, I just don’t want to let my brothers down, so I’m just trying to get better every week and just be consistent.”Just like he did against Penn State the week before, junior linebacker Joshua Perry led all OSU defenders in tackles with seven overall. There was also significant playing time given to players like freshman defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes and junior linebacker Cam Williams, both of whom recorded four total tackles. The depth the Buckeyes are beginning to show is something senior linebacker Curtis Grant — the other defender to intercept an Illinois pass — said helps to keep the entire unit at a high level. “With the rotation that coach has us going through, it keeps us fresh and keeps your body from being banged up so bad,” Grant said. Despite such a successful night, Bell said that immediately after the game, the team’s focus turned to next weekend’s duel with the Spartans, who boast the No. 5 scoring offense in the nation.“During this game, it started getting out of hand so we started thinking about it then. (Meyer) said something at the end of the game today,” Bell said. “This week is a big week for preparation so we’ll get it going.” Both the Buckeyes and Spartans sit atop the Big Ten East Division with identical records of 7-1 overall and 4-0 in conference. The date many college football fans had circled on their calendar from the start of the season is almost here, and Bell said the Buckeyes will enter it with tremendous confidence. “Everybody’s got each other’s back, we’re holding each other accountable,” Bell said. “We’re on a mission.”The Buckeyes and Spartans are set to face off on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
Then-junior outfielder Tre’ Gantt is greeted by teammates outside the dugout after scoring a run over the weekend in the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Surprise, Arizona. Credit: Courtesy of Press Pros MagazineJunior outfielder Tre Gantt knows who he is as a baseball player. Now, as the Ohio State baseball team continues its rigorous baseball season, he is trying to refigure his identity offensively near the top of the lineup. Since April 1, Gantt has a batting average of .192, crossing home plate only four times in those games. Losing five of their last eight games, the Buckeyes thrive when Gantt is excelling offensively, winning every game in which he has scored in during this stretch. In 29 of his 33 games starting for the Buckeyes, Gantt has hit in the No. 1 spot. Through this, the centerfielder has grasped a better idea of what the leadoff man is supposed to do for his club.“I think the main thing for a leadoff hitter is definitely getting on base,” Gantt said. “Getting on base is the most important thing and letting the guys behind you do their thing, move you over and hit you in.”Redshirt senior first baseman Zach Ratcliff is one of those middle-of-the-order hitters who reaps the benefits of having Gantt on base. “In that first inning, if we can get Tre (Gantt) on, it normally leads to good things,” Ratcliff said. “He’s really our spark plug and gets us going in games.” Coach Greg Beals said Gantt’s style of play is perfect for the top of the lineup. Beals described him as a prototypical centerfielder, relying on his speed in every part of his game. Once Gantt gets on base, his game revolves around creating havoc on the basepaths. “Once I get on base, my speed really takes over,” Gantt said. “Whether that’s going from first to third on a base hit or scoring from second.” Gantt shows his speed in multiple ways. He has seven doubles and two triples and is second on the team with 50 total bases. Gantt is also second behind senior shortstop Jalen Washington with six stolen bases on nine attempts. Sophomore catcher Jacob Barnwell usually doesn’t have to deal with Gantt on base as a catcher. However, Barnwell can see how valuable he is on the bases even from the batter’s box. “When he gets on first base, you always have to be ready for him to take second base and even take third,” Barnwell said. “As a catcher, whenever you get someone like Tre on base, it totally changes how you have to approach controlling the running game.”Struggling to get on base in these last couple of weeks, Gantt can attribute that to his“My tendency is to get a little wild with my swing and try to do too much,” Gantt said. “That’s the main thing, trying not to do too much. Just know who I am and hit the ball and play hard.” Volunteer video coordinator Matt Angle understands from past experiences what Gantt is going through. When he was an outfielder at OSU from 2005 to 2007, Angle played a very similar offensive game to Gantt, relying on on-base percentage and speed to be successful. Drawing from video he has watched of Gantt throughout the season, Angle wants him to utilize his speed and contact ability a bit more in his at bats. “Sometimes it’s just pitch selection, being a little bit more aggressive on the pitches that he wants to hit, staying in on the bunt a little bit longer,” Angle said. “Earlier in the year, he was getting out of the box a little too early and his speed is fast enough that if he just places it in the right spot in the field, it will work out down the line.”Finding an identity is something that every baseball player goes through. Gantt says it is a priority to find your niche as a player and stay with it for the success of the team. “I think everyone tries to push themselves a little too much and that’s when things start to go wrong,” Gantt said. “When everyone sticks to who they are as a player, everything will fall into place.”When Gantt embraces who he is as a ballplayer, Beals said it only helps his team.“When Tre goes, we go,” Beals said. “When he’s playing good, we are playing pretty good. He’s a key part of this ball club and we need him.”
Calling all roundabout lovers, the long wait is finally over! The world’s best traffic island for 2016 has been crowned following months of deliberation.The winner of this year’s International Roundabout of the Year competition is a rather splendid gyratory in the city of Carmel, Indiana.Featuring an ornate three-tiered fountain and exceptional garden with manicured lawns and hedges, it beat roundabouts from countries including Iceland, Malaysia, Thailand and Germany.The winner Barcelona Iceland “The roundabout in Carmel is beautiful and unlike most towns in the US, Carmel truly embraces its roundabouts,” explained Kevin Beresford, president of the Roundabout Appreciation Society.“In fact they are currently celebrating their 100th roundabout installation and are actually throwing a party to commemorate this achievement. Australia France 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. The War of the Roses Roundabout, Tewkesbury, EnglandCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography Singapore A Thailand roundabout featuring a gold-framed portrait of the KingCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography Steel dredge buckets, used in the local tin mining industry, decorate a roundabout in MalaysiaCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson A roundabout in IstanbulCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography England “Roundabouts are not only functional for moving traffic and keeping motorists safe, but they are also opportunities to enhance the beauty of our daily drives, lift the spirits of our residents and hopefully inspire all of us to pay attention to elements of design and architecture no matter what we create.“Carmel is home to more roundabouts that any city in the United States. The city currently has 97 with a few more under construction this year. We anticipate celebrating the completion of our 100th roundabout later this year.” Scroll down for the full listThe immaculate roundabout will have the great honour of featuring on the cover of the Roundabouts of the World calendar.Some of the weird and wonderful roundabouts chosen by the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society feature Porsche cars suspended in the air, a giant gold frame portrait and painted fish on the road. The roundabout of the year winner Credit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography Malaysia “The Mayor of Carmel is thrilled to bits that UKRAS has granted his town such a prestigious Gyratory Award.”Jim Brainard, the mayor of Carmel, said the city was “very pleased” to receive the roundabout award. “We work hard in Carmel and take great pride in creating beautiful landscapes throughout our city,” he said. An impressive fountain centrepiece features on this Barcelona roundaboutCredit: Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography Fountain of Wealth Roundabout, Suntec City, SingaporeCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Earlier this year, a hellish roundabout traffic jam left these Chinese motorists with nowhere to go. A roundabout in La Haye-Fouassiere, FranceCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography MORE ROUNDABOUTS Thailand A traffic island in Brisbane, AustraliaCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography Porsche cars suspended above the ground on a roundabout in Stuttgart, GermanyCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography Painted fish on a roundabout on the Icelandic island of HeimaeyCredit:Kevin Beresford/Geoff Robinson Photography
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. She sobbed as she told the hearing: “I can only apologise that I am in this position.”I have worked for years doing my university degree and I have just destroyed it.”I completely understand the impact that this has on the force. I let myself down, if I could change anything I would.”Written mitigation detailing personal issues was provided to the hearing and her representative Pat Anstead said: “She has done nothing but apologise and been really remorseful for what has happened.”Dismissing her, Mr Edens said: “It’s simply unacceptable that a police officer cannot be trusted because of our unique role in society and we must be relied upon to tell the truth.” Finding allegations of gross misconduct proven, he said: “In your own words, you have destroyed your career and your future.”You deliberately lied to evade a fare. You were in the wrong and you knew you were in the wrong at that stage.”The hearing, at the force headquarters at Wootton Hall, heard that Pc Tilley travelled from Northampton to Castle Cary on June 22 last year.The officer, described as “diligent, professional and committed”, was travelling with friends and did not buy a ticket for the final leg of her journey. She was not in uniform.Force solicitor Elizabeth Briggs said: “She travelled from Bristol to Westbury and on to Castle Cary. At that stage, she did not have a valid ticket to travel.”There were opportunities for her to purchase a ticket. She said it was her intention to not pay a rail fare for that part of the journey.”A single off-peak ticket from Bristol Temple Meads to Castle Cary today costs £15.60 and the officer went on to pay a fine of £109.65. A police officer “destroyed” her career by trying to skip a £15.60 train fare while travelling with friends, a misconduct hearing was told.Pc Frances Tilley was sacked and admitted she had “ruined” her future after avoiding payment for a journey between Bristol Temple Meads and Castle Cary in Somerset last June.When challenged, the officer claimed she had taken a shorter journey and was “rude and abrupt” to a revenue inspector, it was said.The officer, who had served for less than two years and was still on probation, sobbed as she was dismissed from Northamptonshire Police by Chief Constable Simon Edens. In your own words, you have destroyed your career and your futureChief Constable Simon Edens