Madden ratings are, of course, subjective at their core, which makes them a matter of fierce debate each year — as you would expect to be the case when fans’ favorite players are put on trial using an arbitrary scoring system. By contrast, 40 times are objective and allow for absolute comparisons (mostly), but the only publicly available versions come from a player’s rookie year, which doesn’t necessarily offer a snapshot of how fast a player is later in his career.In other words, there’s no perfect way to measure team speed. But there is a mild correlation, -0.31, between the Madden method and Barnwell’s process (the correlation is negative because Barnwell summed all the players’ 40 times, meaning higher is slower). And the two approaches share conclusions. Like Barnwell hinted at in his piece, speed isn’t necessarily associated with good offenses. I found a negative correlation between a team’s “Madden speed” and its offensive Simple Rating System (SRS) score from last season. (If you’re curious, defense had a very slight positive correlation with speed.)And here’s the twist: In terms of overall team quality (as measured by winning percentage, where the correlation to speed was a paltry -0.056, or SRS, where it was -0.082), how good a team was bore essentially no relationship to how fast its players were. For instance, while the league’s three fastest rosters — Kansas City, Philadelphia and Seattle — had good seasons in 2013, Nos. 4 and 5 on the speed list — Washington and Houston — each won fewer than 20 percent of their games.Looking at the whole league, it appears Al Davis’s all-consuming obsession with team speed was misguided. In 2013 at least, the speed of a roster was completely incidental to how well a team performed. Last week, Grantland’s Bill Barnwell put together a method to determine the fastest (and slowest) teams in the NFL, aggregating the combine and pro day 40-yard dash times for each team’s starting offensive skill players and secondary. It’s a clever way to address the nebulous question of “team speed,” but it made me wonder about alternative ways to quantify which teams are the fastest.My idea? Use the player “speed” ratings from EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 15” video game and compute the team average for every 2013 NFL roster, weighted by each individual player’s Approximate Value (Pro-Football-Reference’s attempt to generate a single numerical value representing the quality of any player’s season, regardless of position).By that method of computation, here were the fastest and slowest teams from a year ago:
Robert Griffin III joked about the $10,000 fine he received from the NFL for wearing unauthorized apparel before a Monday night preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.The laughter came at the Redskins’ annual Welcome Home Luncheon after an auction for the charity ended. Griffin was speaking because he had just been named 2012 Offensive Player of the Year by the alumni.He opened by saying, “Those auctioneers did a good job. I would’ve given them 10 grand, but the NFL took it away from me this week.”Griffin’s remark drew laughter from the crowd, according to reports.Griffin was punished after wearing his “Operation Patience” T-shirt before the Steelers game. The shirt was an expression of Griffin’s own recovery process, coming back from his knee surgery and eager to play.This isn’t the first time Griffin has been penalized over apparel. He was fined $10,000 for wearing Adidas clothing to a post-game news conference against Cleveland last December. The NFL has a sponsorship deal with Nike.
Late last month, NCAA officials met with some of basketball’s most prominent analytics experts to remake the way they select teams for the men’s NCAA tournament. Until now, they’ve used the ratings percentage index (RPI) to help guide their decisions, but that stat has become antiquated as far more advanced ranking systems have been developed. Efforts to replace the RPI, though, raise a lot of tricky questions.According to multiple people I spoke to who were at the meeting, the NCAA is not interested in generating a completely new metric from scratch. Instead, officials favored using multiple ranking systems to create a composite index that would be a resource on selection Sunday. But as the many controversies around college football’s Bowl Championship Series showed, developing a new rating, even one made up of accepted metrics, is full of twists and turns, roadblocks and landmines. Finding the right formula will require asking deep philosophical questions about what a ranking system should try to achieve — and whether certain statistical compromises are even possible.What’s so wrong with the RPI?Until the NCAA adopts a new metric, the committee is stuck with the RPI. Developed in 1980 by statistician Jim Van Valkenburg, the RPI was originally intended to adjust a team’s record for its strength of schedule, a noble cause in a sport where 351 teams face opponents of wildly dissimilar quality. Critics of the RPI — and there are many — are less concerned about its goal and than its execution. It’s an arbitrary formula that mashes together a team’s winning percentage with those of its opponents (and opponents’ opponents), and as a result, it amplifies the importance of a strong schedule at the expense of everything else. At-large bids.89.72 All years.95.91 It’s (philosophically) complicatedBut beyond the practical concerns of sportsmanship, the scoring-margin debate also speaks to a deeper philosophical question at the core of any ranking system: Should the NCAA’s new metric reward the best teams or the most accomplished ones?The selection committee is only starting to wrap its head around the subtle distinction between the two categories. Due to luck, underperformance and other circumstantial factors, it’s very possible for the most talented team in the country to not have the most impressive record in the country. Since things like point differential are more predictive measures, they give us a better read on a team’s underlying talent (the “best” team), while a metric like strength of record is more retrospective (the “most deserving” team). Because there will always be incongruities between the two types of rankings, a good ranking system will explicitly decide beforehand whether it’s measuring talent for the future or rewarding accomplishment in the past — or, if it’s somewhere in between, what the intended mix is.In the past, the NCAA has sent conflicting messages about whether its selection and seeding process is fundamentally a forward-looking endeavor or a backward-looking one. “In terms of the how the committee should select teams, it actually says in [the NCAA guidelines] that they need to select the best 36 at-large teams — based on results,” Pomeroy said. “Best” and “based on results” don’t always line up,, though. “It’s like a contradiction right in that sentence.”The distinction may not lend itself to a tidy resolution. The coaches want the committee to be armed with better metrics, but they don’t want them to consider scoring margin because it affects in-game decision-making. The committee wants to reward a team’s entire body of work, but will also drop teams when they suffer a key injury on the eve of the selection. And whatever compromise the NCAA settles on will be served up for hungry fans and members of the media to instantly pick apart.Still, the move toward a more modernized NCAA tournament selection system is an encouraging sign. Hancock told me that NCAA officials held a similar meeting during the 1990s — complete with some of the same ratings gurus — but nothing ever came of it. Although there are no guarantees that anything will change this time around, either, the climate seems more friendly to reform in 2017 than it has been in a long time.2I spoke with Terry Gawlik, chair of the NCAA Division-I Women’s Basketball Committee, and she said the women’s tournament would probably have a similar discussion about metrics during its summer meeting. The NCAA’s next statistical guide may not be perfect, but any revisions it contains would represent four decades of progress and would likely serve as an official endorsement of metrics that the hoops cognoscenti have relied on to pick their own brackets for a long time. Related: Hot Takedown 2014.97.90 2015.94.93 2012.94.87 CORRELATION WITH COMMITTEE RANK Who’s Going Where As The NBA Trade Deadline Approaches? YEARRPI RANKKENPOM RANK 2016.95.91 A value closer to 1 indicates a higher correlation.Source: KenPom.com, Teamrankings.com, Wikipedia 2013.94.91 The amount of sway the RPI still holds over the selection process in 2017 is a matter of debate. Officially, the NCAA maintains that the RPI is just one of many tools at the committee’s disposal, and the organization takes pains to show just how little influence the metric has whenever media members are invited to attend mock selection exercises. Bill Hancock, who spent 13 years as director of the men’s basketball tournament before moving on to lead the BCS and College Football Playoff, told me that the RPI’s clout with the committee has been waning for years. “In the first couple years I was there, it carried more weight,” Hancock recalled of the late 1980s, when he first joined the NCAA’s staff. “But by the time I left [in 2005], it really was just another factor — nothing more.” He said the tournament had tweaked the RPI formula “a time or two” during his tenure, and that it had even made a concerted effort to reduce the stat’s influence during the 1990s.Even so, Ken Pomeroy, dean of college basketball statheads and one of the people invited to the NCAA meeting, thinks it’s impossible not to be affected by the omnipresence of RPI-related data points in the committee room. “In discussions with other committee members, they always stress to me, ‘Hey, we’re not just relying on the RPI, we’re allowed to use whatever we want,’” Pomeroy said. “But obviously it’s much more convenient to use the RPI, because the RPI is on their computer screen, in front of their face.”Pomeroy himself helped intensify the public’s desire for something better than the RPI when he launched his tempo-free ratings at KenPom.com in 2004. In the ensuing 13 years, Pomeroy’s numbers have become the de facto industry standard for public-facing college basketball statistics; in turn, their increased popularity has driven fans and the media to pore over selections and seedings using tools far more advanced than the nearly four-decades-old RPI.Coaches, too, know that the RPI isn’t up to snuff. The National Association of Basketball Coaches raised concerns last May about the metrics being used to evaluate their teams, and David Worlock, the NCAA’s director of media coordination and statistics, told me the organization pushed for the inclusion of more up-to-date stats in the selection process.In a statement, the NABC said, “The NABC ad hoc group never had specific concerns about a single metric or metrics being included in a potential composite ranking. The coaches in the group simply expressed interest in utilizing both predictive and results-based metrics. The only concern expressed was that the coaches didn’t want to completely move away from using metrics that still factor in wins and losses.”Worlock is spearheading the new-metrics initiative. “It’s important to stay relevant; it’s just as important to have justification and rationale for every decision that gets made during selection week,” he told me via email. “We recognize the flaws in the RPI, and while there isn’t a perfect metric or combination of metrics, we owe it to ourselves and to the committee to use additional data that exists so that we are not overly relying on the RPI to measure teams and sort data.”A few easy solutionsThe analytics meeting in Indianapolis was broad and open-ended, Pomeroy said, much more the beginning of a conversation than a definitive conclusion. The hope was that the league could find a way to take most of the committee’s mechanisms that are currently underpinned by RPI — like the so-called “nitty-gritty report,” which breaks down a team’s records against opponents from different ranking tiers — and replace them with similar mechanisms based on a blend of more modern metrics.Everyone I talked to agreed that one of the most important (and easiest) reforms would be to find a better method of balancing the quality of a team’s home and away records. The committee’s current system emphasizes a team’s record, but makes no distinction between a close loss on the road and a close win at home. (The former could be more suggestive of a good team.) As of now, a home win against a top-25 team is considered better than a road win versus a top-50 team, though both of those wins could be equally difficult.Every state-of-the-art power rating now makes a home-court adjustment, so a new, composite ranking could easily calibrate the strength of a team’s opponent to include a difficulty boost if the game was played on the road and a downgrade if it came at home. This kind of modification would instantly affect which bubble teams make it into the tournament and could even change schools’ scheduling habits in future seasons.When the discussion turned to whether scoring margin should be considered by the metrics that feed the new rankings, however, the questions got more complex. On the one hand, research shows that a team’s point differential is more predictive of future outcomes than its win-loss record.1That’s true in the absence of a large sample of games, at least. On the other hand, the inclusion of victory margin could encourage coaches to run up the score or, less nefariously, could lead the metric to misconstrue how dominant a team was over an entire game by focusing only on the final tally.“If a team is up 20, do they keep the starters in for the final 90 seconds to keep the lead at 20,” Worlock wonders, “or do they risk winning by ‘only’ 14 because the walk-ons allowed a couple of three-pointers? [And] are there injury risks if the decision to play the starters longer is the direction a coach chooses to go?”For veterans of the college-sports ranking business, college basketball’s debate echoes what college football went through many years ago. After complaints that excessive score-padding carried potentially undeserving teams to the national title game in 2000 (Florida State) and 2001 (Nebraska), the BCS asked its computer systems to begin disregarding point differentials in the 2002 season. The change led to a mini-revolt among number-crunchers, several of whom recused themselves from the process rather than alter their formulas to remove what they saw as vital information about teams’ quality.Today’s statisticians downplay such an uncompromising approach, however, pointing to such solutions as game control, which measures dominance through a team’s average in-game win probability rather than the final score, and strength of record, which measures how difficult it would be for a generic “good team” to earn a specific team’s record, given its opponents. Both use a mix of metrics that measure how dominant a team was without explicitly accounting for a team’s margin in a way that coaches could manipulate during garbage time. The committee leans on the RPI when choosing teams
PlayoffsWith Pachulia or McGee733852.1 Without Pachulia or McGee561933.9 ATTEMPTEDMADEPCT. It’s no secret that the Warriors’ shooting was down this season. After shooting 41.6 percent from 3 as a team last season, they put up 38.3 percent this season. A lot of that is tied to Curry reverting to merely great shooting from the heights of his MVP form, along with a down year from Green and the Warriors simply having fewer above-average shooters this season. But those downturns weren’t just random variance — they seemed to coincide with when Pachulia and McGee weren’t on the floor.Among all Golden State lineups that played at least 50 minutes, six shot 40 percent or better from 3. Five of them included Pachulia or McGee, and the sixth was a bench unit with David West playing center. The difference in the postseason has been even more stark: Of lineups that have played at least 15 minutes, only two are better than 35 percent: the starters at 51.7 percent, and a McGee lineup at 53.8.If we look at just the core four players — again, Curry, Durant, Thompson and Green — the effect appears to be even larger. When Pachulia was on the floor with those four during the regular season, they shot 43.7 percent from 3; when they played with any other player, they shot 39.1 percent. In the playoffs, that gap has increased to 51.7 percent when playing with Pachulia and 37.7 when playing with anyone else. For McGee, the regular season saw the core four shoot 49.5 percent from deep with him and 40.4 without him. In the playoffs, those numbers got further apart, at 53.8 percent and 43.1. The postseason sample sizes may not be huge, but the trend is consistent.So why do two players who don’t shoot 3s have such a profound effect on the Warriors’ outside shooting? Mostly it’s the screening. The Warriors set a massive number of screens away from the ball to free up shooters. Having dedicated screeners like Pachulia or McGee (or, last season, Bogut) helps keep things flowing; it helps doubly when the screeners care more about impeding the defender than they do about obeying the letter of the league’s illegal screen laws (Pachulia ranked third in the league this season in offensive fouls per minute). But that’s not the only way to affect shot quality.You’ll recognize the first play above, in which Pachulia uses first an extended leg and then his extended hindquarters to slow the defender long enough for Durant to get off a clean look.The effect is more subtle in the second play, where Pachulia runs a quick screen with Curry as they cross half court. Damian Lillard goes with Pachulia in the open court, because trying to chase Curry over a screen in semi-transition is pointless. Al-Farouq Aminu rotates to help because Pachulia-on-Lillard is too big a size mismatch to ignore, especially if Zaza is plodding toward the block. In turn, this leaves Green wide open for a 3.True, the Warriors could have created a similar shot with Iguodala on the court, but the thing that’s remarkable about this play is how natural it is. The space created isn’t a result of cutting or screening but simply standing where it makes sense to stand and letting the defense react. Having the true big on the court doesn’t just make getting the shot possible, it makes it simple.It could be that this is all arguing that drawing a distinction between Golden State’s best and second-best lineups isn’t particularly useful, that the Warriors are so talented that even their less-effective versions can overcome the Cavaliers. But if the series tightens up, and a moment comes when Golden State needs to summon its very best, don’t be surprised if the five guys on the court include the kind of center that past Warriors teams seemed intent on destroying. Because this season, that’s who’s brought out their best. 3-POINT SHOTS For lineups that include Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond GreenSource: nba.com Without Pachulia or McGee2277934.8 The Warriors’ core four shoot best with a true center The space between the Golden State Warriors team of last season and the one running through teams this postseason may seem to cover the 1,600 miles of I-40 that separate Oklahoma City from Oakland. But slotting former Thunder star Kevin Durant into a 73-win team suited to his precise talents has done more than simply stack talent on talent, emphasizing the Warriors’ zippy, speedy style. It has also fundamentally altered the best version of the best team in the league.A season ago, the Warriors’ final form was the Death Lineup, the unstoppable regiment that put Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor with their sixth man Andre Iguodala, a shooter/defender in Harrison Barnes, and a 6-foot-7 Swiss Army knife center in Draymond Green. The Death Lineup played fast, moved the ball and rained fire from 3-point range. During the regular season, it outscored opponents by a colossal 47 points per 100 possessions (in 172 minutes), setting a totally absurd standard of play. The starting lineup, which had Andrew Bogut at center, outscored opponents by “only” 13.2 points per 100. For a variety of reasons, the league caught up to that version of the Warriors in the playoffs, but the thought coming into this season was that the soul of those Warriors would remain about the same — that they’d thrive most while running and gunning in the newly formed Megadeath Lineup, which replaced Barnes with Durant.Durant has delivered on the hype: The Warriors have trounced the league with him in the lineup (and, when they’ve had to, without him), and Durant’s personal stats are among the best in his career. He posted career bests in rebound rate and true shooting percentage this year, and he has played the sort of defense we only ever saw in flashes when he was with the Thunder. But what often goes unnoticed is the fact that the most successful lineups the Warriors run out are no longer groups of small-ball kneebreakers, but ones that feature traditional centers doing traditional center things.Golden State’s Megadeath Lineup has played well — if not as effectively as last year’s small-ball configuration — but it hasn’t been the team’s best lineup, in either the regular season or the playoffs. Instead, the Warriors seem to be at their best when their four best players are joined by a big, either starter Zaza Pachulia or backup center JaVale McGee. Despite his smaller role, McGee was part of one of the two five-man lineups that played at least 50 minutes in the regular season and outperformed the Megadeath Lineup.1The Megadeath Lineup posted a net rating of 23.9 in 224 minutes and was outperformed by lineups featuring the four core guys plus McGee (32.1 net rating in 126 minutes) and the starting lineup with Iguodala in place of Durant (36.3 net rating in 54 minutes).The same has more or less held true in the postseason, with the starters playing extremely well (32.6 net rating) and the lineup featuring McGee continuing to outpace the small-ball crew by about a point and a half (22.7 net rating vs. 21.1). This has little to do with the scoring or even defending contributions of Pachulia and McGee; rather, it’s that these two seem to improve the team’s play by bolstering the core element of the Warriors’ offense: 3-point shooting. Regular seasonWith Pachulia or McGee47521344.8%
U.S midfielder Clint Dempsey (8) attempts a shot on goal during a FIFA World Cup match against Portugal June 22. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Credit: Courtesy of MCTLike so many things in my life, it comes back to the Mighty Ducks.In the final film of the trilogy, D3, the Ducks are competing as a prep school JV team, and in their first game of the season they take a nine-goal lead only to completely fall apart, surrendering a last second goal to tie the game, 9-9.Their old coach and mentor Gordon Bombay has moved on and they haven’t yet gained the respect of the new head coach, Ted Orion. After the game, Orion furiously storms into the locker room where the players are arguing over who should take blame for the collapse.“How long does it take to score a goal?” he screams before hurling a puck at the board on the far wall, forcing each and every petrified player to dive out of his way.“Less than a second!”It’s hard see United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s laid-back demeanor producing a coaching style like that of Orion’s, but it must have been a sentiment he was feeling as well. His U.S. team were a whisker away from not only a win, but a ticket the World Cup knockout stage, only to concede a late equalizer against Portugal.Instead of being able to take it easy in their final group game against world powerhouse Germany, the Americans have everything to play for.When I sat down to put the draw in context, I felt slightly better about the disappointment of coming so close to pulling out the win. We could be in Ghana or Portugal’s position. But the fact is, the U.S. weren’t just seconds away from a great win, they were seconds away from a seismic victory in the game’s history in this country.The U.S. responded brilliantly to the going behind six minutes in, taking the game to Portugal in a way we didn’t see at all during the Ghana game. After continually knocking on the door, the U.S. got not only an equalizer, but also a go-ahead goal from Clint Dempsey with less than ten minutes to play.The records were about to be broken. Never before had a U.S. team conceded the first goal and gone on to win a World Cup game. Never before had Portugal scored the game’s first goal and gone on to lose. And not since 1930 had the U.S. team won both of their first two group matches.So what could I think about instead, to not only make me feel better but to also give me belief for the Americans’ final game? The Mighty Ducks might’ve been a personally easy decision, but as I thought about it more I began to see some similarities.When it comes to drama the Ducks, nicknamed the Minnesota Miracle Men, always had a way of ending things with flair. Even when history and their opponents seemed to be getting the better of them, they simply never quit.On Sunday, those Hollywood endings were about to be usurped by the Manaus Miracle Men. Dempsey’s goal to give the U.S. the lead wasn’t quite a “knucklepuck” by a disguised Kenan Thompson, but it was probably the most dramatic turn of events in the real world. It all made sense.That’s when Orion’s aphorism came into play. What you do for 94 minutes is great, but if you choose to switch off for the last play, you will be punished.There are other ways this U.S. squad reflects some of aspects of that fictional team.Those Ducks of Orion’s early days weren’t unlike the Americans of just over a year ago. In the wake of a World Cup qualifying defeat to Honduras, the Sporting News ran a story detailing how many of the U.S. players were not exactly jiving with Klinsmann’s message.Orion unsettled his players in search of a singular goal: to take a talented team and attempt to remove the complacency they had begun to have. Klinsmann was trying to do the exact same thing.The Ducks and Orion became one cohesive unit once they saw him as something other than a heartless manipulator on an ego trip. For the U.S. team, their perception of Klinsmann changed when the wins started piling up. Immediately after the article was published the team went on an unprecedented winning run, qualifying for the World Cup and playing some terrific soccer along the way.Now they’ve come to the World Cup. Their opening win against Ghana showed they have the grit, determination, and undying appetite to succeed at this level. The Portugal match saw them display the very same qualities, only to fall into an easy trap just before the job was finished.So it comes down to a do-or-die match against Klinsmann’s native Germany on Thursday. A point is all the U.S. need to advance, but it’ll take another gargantuan effort to get there.In D3’s finale the Ducks face off against their tormentors, the Eden Hall varsity squad. Ever since the Ducks enrolled, the varsity had constantly belittled their achievements. Spurred on by that disrespect, they manage to pull off a victory, confirming their status as a team of the highest order.If the U.S. are to do the same – as they almost did against Portugal – they’ll need that same spirit to overcome the team that denied them a World Cup semi final place just 12 years ago.You always knew the Ducks would get it done when they needed to, now can the U.S.?We’ve all believed before, we might as well continue to. Quack, quack, quack.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett prepares for a play in the first half of Ohio State’s game against Indiana on Aug. 31. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorFour days after Ohio State defeated Indiana 49-21 in its season opener on Aug. 31, coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and a group of players addressed the media. Here are some of our takeaways.J.T. Barrett, inaccurate?In the postgame press conference after his team’s 49-21 loss to Ohio State, Indiana coach Tom Allen created a stir when he described quarterback JT Barrett as inaccurate.“We try to do quite a bit of dropping where we covered with eight, just because that’s something that I feel like with the quarterback like that that’s not an accurate quarterback, that’s what you try to do,” Allen said.Barrett admitted he had heard Allen’s comments.Senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) warms up prior to the season opener against Indiana. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor“Everybody has their opinion. But I think I’m an accurate quarterback,” Barrett said. “I think I displayed that on Thursday. And just trying to keep on getting better in that aspect because I could always get better.”Barrett, who was named Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Week, struggled in the first half as Ohio State’s offense tallied just 13 points at halftime. But the Buckeyes scored on three of the first four possessions in the second half, breaking the game open. Barrett completed 20 of 35 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.Center Billy Price and H-back Parris Campbell said they also heard Allen’s comments. Campbell called Barrett the best quarterback in the nation.“I don’t necessarily agree with [Allen’s perspective] because this is a guy that I’m practicing with, you know, four times a week and I’m going into a game,” Campbell said. “I have to utmost confidence in J.T. and he has the utmost confidence in himself and he has the utmost confidence in his team. He’s a hell of a quarterback.”Eric Glover-Williams: “School conduct issue”Eric Glover-Williams could not find a position at which he best fit in his first two years on campus. And since it was reported that he will no longer be on Ohio State’s roster, he will never have that opportunity.On Monday, Meyer said Glover-Williams would no longer be with the team due to a “school-conduct issue.”Ohio State junior H-back Eric Glover-Williams stretches at fall camp on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.This is an unfortunate end to the former four-star prospect’s career at Ohio State. The Canton, Ohio, native entered the program as the 101st-ranked player in the country and the fourth-best in the state in the 2015 class, according to 247Sports composite rankings.The 5-foot-9, 180-pound athlete played in 20 games in his two seasons, but spent most of his time on special teams. Glover-Williams played safety before transitioning to receiver in the spring.Entire offensive line: “Champions” vs. IndianaThough Meyer said the offensive line didn’t get the desired push early in the season opener, he and the coaching staff graded all five starting linemen — left tackle Jamarco Jones, left guard Michael Jordan, center Billy Price, right guard Branden Bowen and right tackle Isaiah Prince — as “champions.”Ohio State players are graded by the coaching staff and if they give exceptional effort, are honored as “champions”Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett prepares for a play in the first half of Ohio State’s game against Indiana on Aug. 31. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThough the line didn’t have much of a challenge pass blocking, due to a three-man rush from Indiana, the unit was tasked with opening holes for freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, who was starting his first college game. The five linemen helped open enough holes for Dobbins to run for the most rushing yards of any freshman making his debut in Ohio State history.Four of the linemen who graded out as champions returned this season as starters, but Bowen was making his first career start. Price, a first-team All-American who played right guard last season, said he took Bowen under his wing. “The stars have aligned and things are going great for him right now,” Price said. “Really, really, really, really proud of that kid.”Things didn’t begin smoothly against Indiana for Bowen, but he settled in as time passed.“He, in the first quarter, had a couple struggles,” Price said. “But that’s the great thing about Branden and players who are developing to be great, they can take those changes, take those adjustments and really start to develop in the second half, you see a whole other player.”Chase Young: Future No. 1 overall pick?Towering at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, defensive end Chase Young could be mistaken for an NFL player. In reality, he’s just an 18-year-old freshman at Ohio State, and not even one who played meaningful snaps against Indiana due to the Buckeyes’ foursome of starting defensive ends.Ohio State freshman defensive end Chase Young hits a pad at fall camp on Aug. 5. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor.But defensive end Jalyn Holmes believes the young lineman has the ability to be the best player in his future draft class.“If he sticks to the plan that we have here for him, he will be the first pick,” Holmes said.No, he didn’t mean that Young will be a first-round pick. He meant the freshman could develop into the top pick in the NFL draft, something Ohio State hasn’t had since offensive tackle Orlando Pace was selected by the St. Louis Rams first overall in the 1997 draft. “He’s got a real competitive edge,” Holmes said. “You can have his speed and length and all that, but if you’re not a competitor, it really doesn’t matter. Chase Young has that competitive edge.”When asked whether Young could be like Myles Garrett, the top pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Holmes said he could be better. With Holmes and Tyquan Lewis graduating and Sam Hubbard possibly entering the draft after this season, Young could be in a position to start on the line opposite Nick Bosa.Tate Martell: Baker Mayfield 2.0 on the scout team?Lewis said walk-on linebacker Jared Drake, who was a first-team All-Ohio quarterback at Westerville Central, mimicked Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield on the scout team during Monday’s practice. But he and Meyer mentioned freshman Tate Martell would likely help the defense prepare for Mayfield Tuesday.Freshman quarterback Tate Martell (10) warms up prior to the 2017 season opener against Indiana. Credit: Jack Westerhide | Photo Editor“They’re twins,” Holmes said in regard to Mayfield’s and Martell’s similarities. “I mean, both of them have great moves. They’re elusive. They’re hard to tackle because you want to tackle them so bad and they take advantage of it. I don’t know how they do it.”In high school, Martell relied on improvisation and athleticism. As a senior, the Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) quarterback threw for 2,362 yards and rushed for 1,257 yards.Though that athleticism and mid-play creativity is, at least in part, what led Martell to being such a highly regarded prospect — he was the 56th-best overall player and the second-best dual threat quarterback in his class, according to 247Sports composite rankings — Barrett said Ohio State’s coaches have tried to temper the freshman’s propensity to scramble.“So it’s like we’re trying to keep Tate in the pocket and get him to distribute the ball from the pocket,” Barrett said. “There’s a time for [risks and improvisation], absolutely. Since he’s been here, it’s like kind of controlled.”Barrett said when he entered the program, he tried to improvise and escape the pocket, but soon learned it’s not as easy in college as it was in high school. The fifth-year senior said Martell learned a similar lesson.“[Martell] was fast in high school, but now you’re not so fast,” Barrett said. “That’s part of it as well. That’s why you try to control it as much as you can.”
The Ohio State women’s basketball team celebrates its Big Ten championship win. It defeated Maryland 79-69 on March 4, 2018 in Indianapolis. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorFor the 12th time in 14 years, the Ohio State women’s basketball team will compete in the NCAA tournament for a shot at a national title.The Buckeyes will be the No. 3 seed in the Spokane regional and will face No. 14 George Washington in the first round of the tournament at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Columbus. No. 1 Notre Dame is the top seed in the regional.If Ohio State is able to get past the Colonials, it will face the winner of the first-round matchup between No. 6 LSU and No. 11 Central Michigan in the second round. The Buckeyes will host both games at the Schottenstein Center.This is the third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance for Ohio State under fourth-year head coach Kevin McGuff. His team has never lost in the first round of the tournament, but also has yet to advance past the Sweet Sixteen. After winning both the outright Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, the Buckeyes will be looking to lock down the elusive national championship that has evaded the program throughout its history.With four seniors in its starting lineup — including guard Kelsey Mitchell, the third-leading scorer in women’s basketball history — all graduating after the end of this season, the Buckeyes’ window for claiming that title appears to be closing. Though they bring in four-star guard Janai Crooms, three-star forward Aaliyah Patty and four-star guard Dorka Juhasz, the Buckeyes will lose five current members of its roster. Of the returners, only redshirt juniors Makayla Waterman and Sierra Calhoun averaged double-digit minutes per game in the 2017-18 season.These games will be the final ones in Mitchell’s historic collegiate career. She is currently 30 points from tying former Southwest Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles for second on the all-time scoring list and is 164 points shy of former Washington guard Kelsey Plum. If the Buckeyes are able to advance to the final four or go as far as the finals, they will return home to Columbus for the two games in Nationwide Arena.
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. All elite universities are set to introduce higher fees from next year, new data from the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) revealed as it emerged nearly every institution in England is expected to follow suit.The data showed 121 out of 123 universities with full-time undergraduates plan to charge £9,250 for some of their courses and 36 institutions plan to charge the higher fee on all their subjects.It is understood the increases could impact current students and the rises will take place following parliamentary scrutiny as new law is likely to be in place.The new data emerged as OFFA predicted an increase of over 10 per cent (£833.5 million) of future investment widen participation of minority students – much of which is being funded by the increase in fees.OFFA expected the investment in widening access to under-represented groups of students – including the disabled and ethnic minorities – to remain in proportion to the rise in fees.However, the universities are set to spend around 30 per cent of their higher fee income in broadening access with Oxford (41.3 per cent), Cambridge (31.2 per cent), London School of Economics (49.9 per cent) and Imperial (35 per cent) – all above the average.Russell Group universities – particularly Oxford – have been under a lot of pressure to accept more minority students in their ranks following calls from former prime minister, David Cameron, to take more ethnic minority students. Cambridge drops from top spotCambridge has dropped to fourth place for the first time in the QS World University Rankings as the US dominated the top three positions for the first time since the league tables began in 2004.However, the UK retained its status as the world’s second-best higher education nation with the same number of top-400, top-100, and top-50 universities as last year.Drop out rates remain highNew research by the Social Market Foundation, a think tank, showed one in ten students are dropping out of higher education after one year in 20 universities.The research emerged as the think tank revealed “no significant progress” has been made on improving retention rates in England since 2009.The research also revealed there are close to 50 institutions that are either making no progress or going backwards on continuation rates.
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. Referring to the group, the prosecutor said that Mr Izzard had said: “This is the face of Brexit: masked and dangerous.”Speaking of Czerwonko, she added: “He approached Mr Izzard, reached out to him and grabbed at the pink beret he was wearing at the time.”Czerwonko, of Brentford, west London, pleaded guilty to theft at Westminster magistrates’ court on Monday. Tobi Olu-Iyiola, defending, said the 26-year-old did not know that the man with the pink beret was Izzard and did not attend the march with the intention of causing trouble.She said: “He saw a gentlemen who he did not know. He did not know who Eddie Izzard was, he just noticed a pink beret and grabbed it and ran off with it.”He said it was an instinctive and silly reaction… something he won’t be repeating.” Eddie Izzard’s pink beret is stolen at the march for Europe protestCredit: Justin Ng/Retna Pictures A Brexit supporter has admitted stealing Eddie Izzard’s pink beret during a pro-EU rally – but apparently did not recognise the famous comedian.David Czerwonko, 26, admitted snatching the hat off the comedian’s head during the march down Whitehall on September 3.Izzard was forced to give chase in high heels after Czerwonko, who was dressed in black and had a bandana covering half his face, took the hat.As officers pinned the man to the floor, Izzard retrieved the hat and replaced it on his head. It was later taken away by police as evidence. Eddie Izzard stands alongside pro-Europe protesters as they take part in the marchCredit:Chris Radburn/PA The march was one of a series of march for Europe rallies across the country on the anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, demanding a pause in the Brexit process.Robin Westlake, chairman of the bench, acknowledged that “there was not a great deal of planning, it was a fairly spontaneous reaction and the beret was recovered”.The chef, who has lived in the UK for two and a half years, was fined £185, and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £85 court costs. Prosecutor Amanda McCabe said the pink beret, which had UK and EU badges pinned to it, was of sentimental value to Izzard.She said: “The march was well-attended, there were thousands of other people taking part.”Mr Izzard was at the head of the march. A group of four masked men stood in front of the march with a large banner supporting the Brexit campaign.”The banner halted the march, blocking their path as they approached the cenotaph in Whitehall, she added. He saw a gentlemen who he did not know. He just noticed a pink beret and grabbed it and ran off with itTobi Olu-Iyiola, defending
Knightley, who married musician James Righton in 2013, said her husband is “incredibly supportive”, with their toddler daughter now displaying the energy of a “ballistic missile”.The actress is to be honoured with a Theatre Icon award at the Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Awards in London on Monday evening.In an interview to accompany it, Knightley took the opportunity to rail against the issues facing working mothers across the country.“One of the things that is so shocking in this country is that childcare is unbelievably expensive. The December edition is out now Keira Knightley arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 “And actually, when you’re thinking about an employer looking at a man and a woman thinking, ‘Well, at some point you could take nine months or however long off, and the guy doesn’t have to.’ “Don’t tell me that that doesn’t come into it!“You need to be a family unit, not just have the guy there for two weeks and then go back to work and the mother left desperately trying to figure it out.“I think it’s archaic that there aren’t better options.” The actress, who rose to fame in Bend It Like Beckham before taking roles in Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess and Never Let Me Go, has recently taken her first role on Broadway in Thérèse Raquin.“I’m very ambitious and totally ambivalent at exactly the same time,” she told the magazine. “I do periods where I work a lot and then…it has to go to absolute nothingness.”The full interview is published in the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar, on sale November 1. Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Allen Leech star in The Imitation Game Knightley speaks out about the cost of childcareCredit:Harpers Bazaar “I think that’s the same for most women. And I think that’s really hard.”When asked about her “post-baby body”, Knightley said she decided to reject the narrative of celebrity mothers spring “back into shape” immediately.“I actually went completely the opposite,” she said. “I went, ‘f—that, I’m not putting that pressure on myself in any way.’“So it’s taken me a long time to get back into my jeans. I’m nearly there.” 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. Knightley and Righton at their wedding in 2013 Admitting she has the wealth and privilege to access “really good childcare”, Knightley said she would otherwise have had to take four years out of a career just to get by.She has now called for change to make paternity leave equal to maternity, as she warns employers are still likely to discriminate against women.In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the actress said: “I think paternity leave should be the same as maternity leave.“It’s shocking. Because you need that option. “I wouldn’t be able to get back to where I’d been if I’d taken four years out. Keira Knightley, the actress, has attacked Britain’s “archaic” maternity laws, saying the “shocking” cost of childcare means women are struggling to return to work.Knightley, who welcomed her first daughter Edie in 2015, said she had become “unbelievably aware” of the difficulties faced by women who want to return to their careers after childbirth.The actress, star of Love Actually, Atonement and The Imitation Game, said mothers are too often left “desperately trying to figure it out” when it comes to childcare, arguing it is time for the laws to change. “It should be, it’s an amazing thing if you’re good at it. It’s incredibly difficult, it should be well paid.“But there is no option for a woman to go back to work unless she’s being paid really, really well and can afford full-time care before [her child can] get into nursery.”She said of her own experience of motherhood: “I think I’ve become unbelievably aware of that and how lucky I’ve been to be able to afford really good childcare, because otherwise it would be at least four years out of my career. The actress said she is fortunate to be able to return to workCredit:Harpers Bazaar