Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talks on his headset during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh-area volunteer fire chief has lost his post after using a racial slur to describe Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.Paul Smith of the Muse fire company in Cecil Township wrote on Facebook that he added Tomlin to a list of “no-good” people he describes with the slur. Smith says he was upset that Tomlin had instructed his team to stay in a stadium tunnel instead of standing on the field for the national anthem ahead of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.The Cecil Township Board of Supervisors says on its website Tuesday that Smith “is no longer the volunteer fire chief.”The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2hujHlO ) Smith resigned. He tells the newspaper he’s “not the racist the media portrays me as.”He adds he “posted in anger.”
“Let me apologize to you. If I hurt you. That we haven’t been together.”#PlayersOnlyMonthly pic.twitter.com/nDpfDfZek8— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 20, 2017The 25-year-old feud between Hall of Famers Irvin “Magic” Johnson and Isiah Thomas has come to an end. The pair appeared on NBATV’s special, “Players Only Monthly” Tuesday, Dec. 19 and the reunion was an emotional one.Johnson and Thomas’ strife began after the 1988 and 1989 NBA Finals where the Los Angeles Lakers faced the Detroit Pistons. By the time the 1992 Olympic Games rolled around, things had truly fallen apart. Johnson admitted in the 2009 book, “When the Game Was Ours” that he helped keep Thomas off the legendary Dream Team. Why? He believed Thomas was instrumental in spreading rumors that Johnson’s was gay or bisexual.Today, things have changed and the two tearfully hugged it out on-air.“You are my brother,” Johnson says. “Let me apologize if I hurt you, that we haven’t been together and God is good to bring us back together.”News About Magic JohnsonMagic Johnson Praises LaVar Ball for Being Involved with Basketball Star SonsHow Did Samuel L. Jackson and Magic Johnson Get Mistaken for Italian Migrants?Magic Johnson Brings Smiles to Over 12,000 Michigan Residents with Clothes, Food and Other GiftsThe emotions were high both on screen and off, as viewers tweeted about how the reunion affected them.Magic Johnson and Isaiah ThomasI’m not crying … you’re crying 😢(H/T @NBATV) pic.twitter.com/aTaV32iIit— Troy Hughes™ (@TommySledge) December 20, 2017 Just saw the clip of @MagicJohnson & @iamisiahthomas WOW! Them BROTHERS NEEDED THAT MOMENT! Isiah told us stories. And he really missed having Magic in his life. So happy for them FOR REAL.— al harrington (@cheddahcheese7) December 20, 2017 This may be the Greatest NBA … NO let me rephrase, TV specials I’ve ever seen. In this crazy world, to see a relationship healed and to see a man say “I’m sorry”. The world needs more. Thank You @MagicJohnson and @isaiahthomas is for letting world see what’s possible.— Chris Tabb (@christabbshow) December 20, 2017Whew that Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas sit down interview where Magic apologized after all them years of not talking😩. Had my eyes sweating and that pollen floating around HEAVY after that😩— MSU 8-4 ~ CANES 10-2 (@heen_Doggish) December 20, 2017 seeing someone own up to their actions and just simply apologizing for doing what they did could really go a long way.— Brehanna Daniels (@Mindless_BMD) December 20, 2017Spots stars chimed in with their thoughts, too.Grown men stuff right here https://t.co/c3xZLCdeGD— DWade (@DwyaneWade) December 20, 2017 The Magic/Zeke interview on NBA TV was awesome..2 of my heros..When the game stops, we should all cherish the friendships that we built..forever..— Chauncey Billups (@1MrBigShot) December 20, 2017
gfoster (Geoff Foster, sports editor): Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s Final Four chat! After the chalk prevailed in the first weekend, the second weekend finally provided some upsets. In the Elite Eight, three of four underdogs won outright, and the fourth, Purdue, probably should have won — but Virginia’s last-second heroics and overtime win make the Cavs the lone No. 1 seed left in the tournament. What was the biggest surprise of the weekend?jplanos (Josh Planos, contributor): I think we should just cede the floor to Neil, who can discuss his perfect Final Four choices: neil: (And we can really talk savvy when we discuss Auburn’s Jared Harper…)jakelourim: Mike Krzyzewski talked all weekend about how minor injuries disrupted the continuity of his freshman-led team, and I could feel eyes rolling out of heads. But does a freshman core that’s only played a handful of games together have the ability to do that? I’m not sure.neil: Right. It seems like a big legacy of this one-and-done era will be of mostly unmet expectations for these freshman-star-laden teams.gfoster: We joke about how boring the Cavs are (and make no mistake, they are mostly drying paint basketball), but the Purdue-Virginia game might have been my favorite of the tournament. Before overtime, Carsen Edwards’s game was unreal. It must be discouraging to get that type of performance from your star in the Elite Eight and still lose.jplanos: Edwards was a one-man wrecking ball the entire tourney and, frankly, it feels unfair that he had to lose. I think there’s a sound argument to be made that it’s less than optimal to have one player responsible for nearly all of your offensive production, but man was it entertaining.In arguably the two biggest games of his life, Edwards put up 71 points on 47 percent shooting from the field and went 15-33 from 3-point land. The degree of difficulty on most of those shots was superhuman.Also, long live Ryan Cline. That performance against Tennessee will get washed over because of Carsen and the excitement of the Elite Eight slate, but man…jakelourim: It really was unfortunate that one of those teams had to lose. Because on the other side, you have Tony Bennett trying to exorcise his Final Four demons and erase the memory of last year. He has made a tremendously successful career out of coaching the pack-line defense and forcing opponents to take shots like the ones Purdue took Saturday night. And then Carsen Edwards goes and does that.gfoster: Kyle Guy stepped up. If he doesn’t repeatedly answer Edwards’s threes with ones of his own, UVA is gone.neil: It was unfortunate that Edwards started to run out of gas at the end of OT. He missed a heat check late — which he’d earned the right to take, given the previous bombs — and had a tough turnover on a pass out of bounds in the final seconds. He’d been so brilliant that you expected him to keep making the superhuman look routine.jplanos: I usually abide by a never-trust-a-man-with-two-first-names mantra, but I’m willing to make an exception for Kyle Guy.No other Boilermaker had more than 7 points in that game. Yikes.jakelourim: Good point, Josh. Nobody else even took more than seven shots! And that’s including five extra OT minutes.neil: Edwards personally scored 56 percent of Purdue’s total — which was the second-most points UVA gave up in a game all season.jakelourim: He also scored more points than Coppin State and William & Mary did as TEAMS against Virginia.gfoster: The last team in the Final Four is Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers, who are the lowest remaining seed. A lot of people wrote off their chances of beating UK when Chuma Okeke when down. How do you think they will fare against UVA?jplanos: I’d like to take this time to apologize for openly scoffing at Geoff picking Auburn to advance out of the Sweet 16. I even wrote it down in my diary and laughed!jakelourim: This thought stuck in my head all of Friday night and Sunday afternoon: Remember how much of a spectacular mess Auburn was in the final seconds of its first-round game against New Mexico State? I did not watch that team and think, “Yeah, they’ll probably get to the Final Four.”jplanos: This weekend was a big one for the EVERYBODY COUNTED US OUT crowd. I count all four teams citing it, which means, yep, that slogan remains undefeated.jakelourim: Yes, we’re deep into “Why Not Us?” season.neil: To your question Geoff, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper are going to have to keep scoring! The backcourt duo combined for 50 points against UK, with each taking turns taking over the game.Special props to Auburn, btw, for avenging its 27-point loss at Kentucky from a few weeks earlier.jplanos: I love that Virginia has to go through Auburn, a team with a style that must be anathema to the Hoos.gfoster: Also this game served as a PSA against making banners where you openly mock injuries.jplanos: If only we had known beforehand that Kentucky’s fan base has no limits…jakelourim: Enjoyed that Bruce Pearl actually admitted to the popular strategy of “We’re going to get the ball to Jared and Bryce, and everyone else get the fuck out of the way.”neil: It made sense. I am totally enamored with Harper in particular. He just has a sense of where everyone is on the court and what is the right play to make. Such a smart player.jplanos: I think I fell in love with Auburn’s style this weekend. There was a slow-motion replay in the second half that captured an Auburn player swatting a Kentucky player’s shot at the rim while clearly mouthing “GIVE ME THAT SHIT,” and it was wonderful and emblematic of how the Tigers approach the game on both ends. Every play is a highlight to be made.jakelourim: I also think this draw continues to favor Virginia. I don’t think Auburn is going to be the team to speed up Virginia in the semifinals, and in the final, neither Michigan State nor Texas Tech is going to bombard Virginia with unmatched athleticism, as Duke did in both of their regular-season meetings.gfoster: So is that your prediction Jake?jakelourim: Yes, my champion pick is still alive, so I’m sticking with Virginia.jplanos: I like Virginia to advance and play Texas Tech, which will be … a game of basketball.neil: I must keep my original predictions, so I’m taking UVA and MSU, with the Cavs winning it all.gfoster: I’m riding Auburn!!!!! … for one more game. I think they do shoot their way past Virginia’s defense. And then lose to Michigan State in the final. And we all get our dream fulfilled of seeing more Tom Izzo dancing videos like this: gfoster: MSU tends to struggle in the third weekend: eight Final Fours now but just one title for Tom Izzo. Is Michigan State essentially the 1990s Atlanta Braves? Loads of playoff success and the one token title to ward off Geoff making Buffalo Bills comparisons.^ Third-person alert.neil: I think Izzo was motivated to take back the “best performance vs. seed expectations” crown from Jim Boeheim.Izzo’s teams have a long history of exceeding expectations en route to the Final Four, but maybe that’s why they don’t win titles. Overachieving can only get you so far.jakelourim: It has always seemed to me that the talent differential has caught up to Michigan State in some of those Final Fours. I thought it was interesting that Tom Izzo said privately before the 2009 title game that if the Tyler Hansbrough/Ty Lawson UNC team played well, Michigan State would lose. “There’s just more talent there,” Izzo said. (And MSU did lose.) But if the talent didn’t catch up to the Spartans against Duke, when will it happen?jplanos: Zion was clearly gassed, but he also was unquestionably the team’s best option on offense. And then he … stopped getting the ball. I was surprised that Coach K didn’t dial up any isolations for him over the final possessions or demand some sort of clear-out.gfoster: At least Duke has Zion and Barrett for three more years where they can continue to grow as upperclassmen and take home multiple championships…….neil: LOLjplanos: My question is: Can we still get a Zion cam? Can we watch the kid ink his shoe deal during the Final Four?gfoster: It is frustrating we don’t get more college Zion. He’s so entertaining.jakelourim: It’s fair to wonder if/when we’ll ever see another college player like him again, right, with the NBA apparently set to change the one-and-done rule in 2022?jplanos: I can’t remember seeing a team win an Elite Eight game (or any NCAA Tournament game) having made just two free throws, like Michigan State did. **cue Sports-Reference search**neil: It’s actually astonishing when you look at the stats of that game in general that MSU won.Duke shot better on FGs, 3Ps and FTs and had more rebounds. The turnovers were the only main category where Duke lost, and they lost big.jplanos: Full transparency: I was ready to call curtains when the Blue Devils had that 21-5 run in the opening half.jakelourim: What was stunning to me was that Duke turned the ball over 17 times. (Back to the point of “If they play well, they’ll win” — they did not play well.) Michigan State is 342nd in defensive turnover rate at 15 percent, according to Ken Pomeroy, and that’s counting Sunday’s game.neil: Which just lent more credence to the idea that the only team talented enough to beat Duke was … Duke.gfoster: Let’s talk about what’s not as entertaining: Texas Tech’s defensive domination. The Red Raiders made Michigan shoot like my JV basketball team when the bench had been emptied in the final minutes. Then did a similar suffocation of Gonzaga, holding the Bulldogs and the nation’s most efficient offense to just 69 points.jplanos: The Red Raiders indeed smothered Michigan and then turned the second half of their win over Gonzaga into a rock fight. To see the nation’s most efficient offense reduced to 32 second-half points and 16 total turnovers was really something.neil: According to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Texas Tech is the nation’s best defensive team. The Red Raiders certainly played like it.jplanos: If you had told me that Texas Tech would advance to the Final Four on a terrible Jarrett Culver shooting performance (5-of-19 from the field, 2-of-8 from three), I would have laughed in your face.neil: Or that they would win despite Rui Hachimura having a pretty good game (22 points).jplanos: It really seemed like the Zags missed the part of the game plan detailing turnovers. Texas Tech ranks 11th in opponent turnover percentage, according to KenPom, and lives by the deflection, especially on entry passes. It seemed like there were 10 bounce passes into the post that were immediate turnovers. YOU CAN’T POCKET PASS THIS TEAM.jakelourim: (Just finished that sports-reference search, Josh: No team has won an Elite Eight game with two free throws or fewer since at least 2011.)jplanos: You know who didn’t show up for the Wolverines? Two upperclassmen: Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson.Simpson finished 0-5 against Texas Tech with one assist and four turnovers. Not exactly what you’re expecting from a second-team all-conference player. And in the final game of his college career, Matthews had a team-high five turnovers and finished 3-9 from the field and 0-4 from 3-point land.gfoster: Let’s put it this way and move on: Michigan’s performance in the Sweet 16 was the worst I’ve ever seen a basketball team play.jplanos: LOLneil: And you watched that UConn-Butler final from a few years back.gfoster: I generally don’t like to talk about blown calls. But the Tariq Owens block play against Gonzaga was a pretty bad one to miss at a key moment: Check out our latest March Madness predictions. jakelourim: Michigan’s loss to Texas Tech generated the Wolverines’ seventh-worst offensive efficiency rating of the KenPom era and fourth-worst under John Beilein.jplanos: I don’t know what being put in a straightjacket feels like, but I imagine it’s similar to playing the Red Raiders.gfoster: Virginia is now the betting favorite in the tournament at 3-2. Would you have guessed that the Hoos would be the lone ACC No. 1 seed to make it through? It wasn’t long ago when I was momentarily planning how FiveThirtyEight would react to a UVA loss to Gardner-Webb.jplanos: I certainly wouldn’t have. If we get a Virginia-Texas Tech national title game, will next year’s NCAA Tournament even be televised? And will it set back college basketball 15 years?gfoster: First one to 50 points wins!neil: I think Virginia also benefited from a relatively easy path to Minneapolis. According to our power ratings, the rest of the South contained the eighth, 10th and 16th best teams in the Sweet 16.jplanos: Considering the moment, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more impressive baseball-style pass than the one Kihei Clark (A FRESHMAN) beamed to Mamadi Diakite for Virginia’s buzzer-beater against Purdue. That was a rocket. jakelourim (Jake Lourim, contributor): If you look at last week’s chat, that makes Neil Captain Obvious, right?neil (Neil Paine, senior sports writer): I wish I could say I had a fancy analytical model to make these picks, but I spent an entire podcast segment saying I was selectively ignoring stats and picking with my gut. The most anti-FiveThirtyEight way to get a perfect Final Four possible.jplanos: I think the big winner is Under Armour getting two Final Four teams, but Duke (the top overall seed) falling probably takes the cake.neil: Yeah, Duke losing before the Final Four has to be the headline surprise, I think.Although one could make an easy case that the Blue Devils were lucky to even make it as far as they did…gfoster: Were you that surprised by Duke losing? That game had the smallest spread of the last four, and Duke had aggressively flirted with death against Virginia Tech and UCF.jplanos: I wasn’t because Michael Avenatti called it, but the Blue Devils were the Icarus of the tournament. It felt like they trailed at halftime of nearly every game.neil: This Duke team was fascinating because, in terms of talent, nobody can match that group. And when Zion was taking over, it was difficult to envision how they could lose. Yet they did not consistently play to their abilities, particularly in this tournament. Even in those close wins, they left you wanting more.jplanos: Shoutout to Alex O’Connell getting the start and finishing with three total minutes. When was the last time a starter finished with less than five minutes played and wasn’t injured or ejected?gfoster: The story before the tournament was that Michigan State got handed an awful draw because the Spartans won the Big Ten tourney and still got put in Duke’s region. Now I wonder whether it was Duke that got the bad draw.Can Cassius Winston one-man-army his way to a title? We’ve seen versatile point guards do this before in March Madness.jplanos: He’s this season’s Kemba Walker. He started off pretty tepid against Duke and then exploded for 20 points and 10 assists, with four steals and one turnover, which, when you consider the ball is effectively always in his hands and he was lined up against an on-ball hound in Tre Jones, is absurd. I came away extremely impressed.neil: Winston also got some help when he needed it late against Duke. Xavier Tillman had 19 in the game, and Kenny Goins overcame a horrendous shooting game to make a huge shot in the final minute.jakelourim: Winston really can do it all. He’s had to do so much since Michigan State lost Joshua Langford in December, and through the Big Ten season, Big Ten tournament and then this weekend, I kept waiting for the Spartans to run out of magic. But they haven’t. It seemed throughout Sunday that Winston always knew the right play to make, and Duke didn’t. What was up with Zion not taking the last shot(s) in the final minute?jplanos: The RJ Barrett Show seemed like a suboptimal approach down the stretch.neil: People were really killing Barrett for taking so many of Duke’s final shots.jakelourim: I did think that Michigan State had the best game plan (outside of Syracuse and the 2-3 zone, which is unique) for slowing down Zion. Tillman was outstanding on defense and made himself a lot of money on Sunday.neil: Barrett also missed the free throw he was supposed to make, and made the one he was supposed to miss.Sheesh. It was frustrating that it was never reviewed. Isn’t this exactly what replay in basketball is for?jplanos: Not a great tournament across the board for officiating out-of-bounds calls. From ABC News: jakelourim: Virginia hasn’t been particularly impressive in any of its four games — not like the Hoos were during the regular season — but it does seem like experience and chemistry won out in the regionals after a chalk-filled first weekend. I keep thinking about the moment at the end of the Michigan State-Duke game when Xavier Tillman motioned for Cassius Winston to hurry down the floor and run out the clock. That’s a savvy move.
FiveThirtyEight Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Feb. 14, 2017), we’re joined by FiveThirtyEight’s Kyle Wagner, who helps us break down the latest trades in the NBA as the February 23rd deadline approaches. Next, Neil Paine takes us inside the collapse of the Detroit Red Wings’ dynastic greatness. Finally, we look forward to baseball season and ponder what the increase in home runs means for the sport. Plus, a significant digit on a streak.Links to what we discussed: ESPN is keeping track of the latest NBA trade news as the deadline approaches.The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor took a look at a trade that gave the Blazers their third first-round draft pick.You can read more of Kyle Wagner’s work here.Last week, Neil Paine explained why the Red Wings’ empire is crumbling.We explored the history of American hockey’s use of players from the Soviet Union — and the Red Wings’ role in bringing them to the States — in this episode of Ahead of Their Time.There are now more MLB players who hit 20 or more home runs in a season than there have been at any time in 50 years, writes Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post.Significant Digit: 4. On Monday night, the UConn women’s basketball team won their 100th consecutive game. Since their initial hot streak began on March 13, 2013, the Huskies have won four NCAA Championships and lost only one game of any kind. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code
5/11/69Qualifier1455Haiti1453✓64.3 The worst USMNT World Cup losses everMatches for which the U.S. men’s soccer team had the highest probability of winning (according to Elo ratings) but ultimately lost, 1885-2017 Only includes matches that were at the World Cup or World Cup qualifying level (i.e., excludes continental championships, friendlies and minor tournaments). Games played in neutral locations denoted with a dash.Source: eloratings.net 9/1/01Qualifier1791Honduras1734✓71.2 6/22/06World Cup1797Ghana1682—66.0 5/31/85Qualifier1558Costa Rica1505✓70.7 All newsletters 10/15/08Qualifier1813Trinidad & Tobago153373.8 DATESTAGEU.S. ELOOPPONENTOPP. ELOHOME?WIN PROB. 9/1/17Qualifier1789Costa Rica1741✓70.1 3/25/16Qualifier1749Guatemala146074.8 6/14/02World Cup1832Poland1653—73.7 7/23/00Qualifier1799Costa Rica157167.6 Before coach Bruce Arena gets too much of the blame, it’s important to remember that it was the failures of the team under his predecessor, Jurgen Klinsmann, that put the Americans in this position in the first place. The team lost to Mexico and Costa Rica last November in this qualifying cycle, which led to Klinsmann’s ouster. And, ultimately, losing those points made what should have been a meaningless game against Trinidad a must-win. Earlier last year, the same Klinsmann team also inexplicably dropped a game to Guatemala in the group stage of qualifying, the second-worst loss by Elo.The advantages the U.S. squandered are many. America finally has a legitimate men’s soccer superstar in Christian Pulisic, but he alone could not score two goals for the team. (He got one.) And it’s not just a question of talent: The U.S. towers over these CONCACAF opponents when it comes to resources. Trinidad and Tobago, after all, has a population of 1.2 million — or roughly the size of the greater Hartford metro area. Here is how the 12 countries that made the group stage of the 2018 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying compare in gross domestic product and population — it probably won’t be hard to spot the U.S. 10/10/17Qualifier1761Trinidad & Tobago138982.7% A chart of the U.S. team’s Elo rating over the past two decades shows not so much steady growth but a series of peaks and valleys with, at the moment, no overall progress to speak of. No one still believes that we will win.On Tuesday night, it all fell apart for the U.S. men’s national soccer team. A seven tournament, 24-year streak of consecutive World Cup berths was snapped in cartoonishly heartbreaking fashion.Coming into the match, American fans were rightfully confident. All it would take to qualify for the World Cup was a win or a tie against Trinidad and Tobago, a team that had nothing to play for but pride and only one win in nine matches in the final qualifying group. And even if somehow the U.S. lost, Honduras and Panama would both need victories over the top two teams in the group, Mexico and Costa Rica, to complete the elimination. If the USMNT lost and only one of Honduras or Panama won, the US would be headed for a playoff against Australia. By ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, the United States had a 93 percent chance of reaching its eighth consecutive World Cup.Then the U.S. conceded two goals in the first half — first an own goal and then a blistering 35-yard strike — despite giving up little in the way of high-quality chances. And despite a halftime switch to bring on Clint Dempsey and line up two attackers behind strikers Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore, the U.S. could not create the chances to level the score. USMNT fans could only watch in horror, and Panama and Honduras both clawed back first-half deficits to knock the U.S. out of World Cup qualification.U.S. men’s soccer is obviously no stranger to embarrassment and heartbreak on the international stage. In the 1998 World Cup and the 2006 World Cup — the last two on European soil — it combined for one tie and five losses. In 2015, the team was stunned at home in the Gold Cup semifinal by Jamaica, which at the time was ranked 76th in the world by FIFA. But what happened Tuesday night may stand alone.Looking only at World Cup matches and qualifiers, it was the worst loss in USMNT’s history based on the Elo rating system. Going into the game, Elo gave the U.S. an 83 percent chance of beating Trinidad and Tobago, making the Americans huge favorites even after accounting for the fact that they were playing on the road. Going back to 1885, the American men had never lost a match at that level when they had such a high probability of winning. And it came with all the chips on the table. You cannot blame U.S. soccer fans for being a little woozy this morning. For every step taken, there’s been a step back — no matter who has been the coach. The team made a breakthrough in 1994 when it reached the knockout stage for the first time in the expanded World Cup era.1It was expanded to 24 teams in 1982 and to 32 teams in 1998. It followed that by crashing out in 1998. The Americans stunned Portugal in the group stage in 2002 and made its first modern-era quarterfinals with a win over Mexico in the round of 16. It followed that by being a complete also-ran in 2006. So if the heroics in 2010 and 2014 — when the team fought through tough groups to survive and advance in dramatic fashion — gave the U.S. any confidence, it has just been completely wiped out. This is not to say that money and size are everything in international soccer. The two biggest countries in the world by population — China and India — have made the World Cup just once (China in 2002), whereas Iceland, a country of just 340,000, will play in its first next summer. But the U.S is different. It has spent the last decade talking about long-term plans for soccer development. The U.S. Soccer Federation increased its staffing and pay for national team coaches and introduced new youth initiatives to build a better team from the ground up. It is hard to see the results of these ambitions on the field. We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe
Step 8: If no QBs are left, the RB wins. If a QB remains, he wins.Players eliminated: 10Players clinched: 12Players remaining: 0Who it knocks out this year: Nobody.Who it clinches the Heisman for this year: Baker Mayfield, OklahomaThe final step is a little chaotic. First, you check if any quarterbacks are left after pruning down the list based on statistics and team losses. If there’s a QB who survived all of the checkpoints above, that player wins the Heisman. (Congrats to Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, tonight’s likely winner!) If there is no QB left over, the trophy goes to the running back who cleared all of the statistical benchmarks from Step 7. The one exception: If the remaining QB had fewer than 4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes, and a surviving RB eclipsed 2,200 yards from scrimmage on a team with zero or one losses, the Heisman goes to the running back. (This gets us Reggie Bush over Brady Quinn in 2005 and Derrick Henry over Mayfield in 2015 but preserves Carson Palmer’s win over Larry Johnson in 2002.)12Penn State had 3 losses heading into its bowl game that year. For running backs, you gotta be in peak form to knock off a qualified QB. And that’s all there is to it! It’s just that simple. Follow the eight steps above, and you’re guaranteed to be holding the Heisman on a December night in New York City. (Until something unexpected happens — in which case we’ll tweak the rules to make it fit. Science!) It’s Heisman Trophy time! In advance of the upcoming announcement, we wanted to scientifically determine how the voters choose the winner. Using our combined expertise in analytics — one of us has a Ph.D. in political science (with a focus on complex systems) and the other was a stats consultant for a professional team — we discovered an amazingly simple formula for becoming a Heisman Trophy winner. We couldn’t keep this newfound knowledge to ourselves, so we thought we’d share our findings with all the college football players out there so they can plan accordingly. Step 3: Be on a team that has three or fewer losses.Players eliminated: 21Players remaining: 108Who it knocks out this year: Bryce Love, Stanford; Lamar Jackson, Louisville; Khalil Tate, ArizonaUnfortunately, winning the Heisman isn’t just about individual excellence. The award disproportionately goes to players on the top teams in the country. Since 1998, 32 percent of Heisman winners have been on a team that was undefeated going into its bowl game, and 26 percent were from a team with just one loss. Meanwhile, no player on a team with more than three losses has won the award. That’s bad news for two of this season’s finalists — Stanford’s Bryce Love and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, each of whom plays for a four-loss squad. The good news, Bryce and Lamar, is you can tell your grandkids it wasn’t your fault. Step 7: Meet some not-so-basic statistical thresholds (if you’re an RB).Players eliminated: 15Players remaining: 22Who it knocks out this year: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin; Saquon Barkley, Penn State; Kerryon Johnson, AuburnEven though they do win sometimes, Heisman life is hard for running backs. Because voters want so desperately to give the award to a QB, the statistical bar a ball carrier needs to clear in order to qualify for the award is pretty high. In our sample of seasons since 1998, no RB won the Heisman with fewer than:1,980 yards from scrimmage16 rushing TDsThose are extremely lofty standards that few running backs can match. None of our remaining running backs met those requirements this season,11Bryce Love is currently only 7 yards shy of this requirement and is likely to hit this in his bowl game. But we eliminated him back in Step 3. which leaves us with only one clear Heisman favorite for 2017. Step 5: Meet some basic statistical thresholds (if you’re a QB).Players eliminated: 28Players remaining: 50Who it knocks out this year: Nobody.Although a player’s statistics aren’t perfectly correlated with his chances of winning the Heisman, there is a bare minimum level of output you have to meet in order to seriously contend for the award. For quarterbacks, those numbers are mostly associated with passing (surprise!), but they can be augmented slightly with rushing. No QB left in our sample won the award with worse stats than:30 passing TDs1 rushing TD11 interceptionsThese qualifications cull the list of historical hopefuls considerably, narrowing it down to quarterbacks who were highly productive rather than marginal candidates who survived the previous cuts by being on a good team from a big conference. All of 2017’s remaining QB contenders passed those benchmarks with flying colors, though, so, sadly, this step doesn’t help us zero in on a winner for this year. Step 6: If you’re a QB, have fewer team losses than the other QBs.Players clinched: 1Players eliminated: 12Players remaining: 37Who it knocks out this year: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State; J.T. Barrett, Ohio StateAs we mentioned earlier, Heisman voters are all about QBs who just win, baby. So at this stage, we reshuffle every signal-caller who hasn’t yet been eliminated and keep only the passer whose team lost the fewest games heading into its bowl (using total touchdowns as the tiebreaker). There is one exception to this rule: If a QB with more losses registered 5,000 or more yards of total offense in a season when no other passer cracked 4,000, that quarterback leapfrogs everyone to win the Heisman.9Obviously. But it’s a rare exception, invoked only once in our sample: When Robert Griffin III (whose Baylor Bears lost three games) got the hardware over Andrew Luck (one loss). Talk about tough Luck.10RGIII’s win here also eliminates RBs Montee Ball, Trent Richardson and LaMichael James Step 4: Run for 15 or more touchdowns (if you’re a QB).Players clinched: 6Players eliminated: 24Players remaining: 78Who it knocks out this year: Nobody.The Heisman loves quarterbacks — they’ve won 14 of the 19 trophies handed out since 1998 — but not always for their passing skills. When a running QB has an especially great season, the voters are quick to show him some love: Of the seven historical QBs with 15 or more rushing TDs (among those we haven’t already eliminated), six — Marcus Mariota, Eric Crouch, Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson, Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow — ended up winning the Heisman. And the seventh — Kansas State’s Collin Klein — had the bad fortune to produce his season the same year Manziel pulled off the feat with better overall numbers.6Manziel crushed Klein in terms of total offense, with 5,116 yards to 3,561. We’ve avoided the guideline this year, though; no remaining QB on our list came close to 15 scores on the ground, since Lamar Jackson was eliminated in Step 2.7The Heisman world is a harsh world. But the broader life lesson remains: It isn’t about personal accomplishment, it’s about how good you are compared with everyone else.(Note: The statistics we used for historical candidates were through the end of the bowls, which isn’t ideal — but hey, you work with what you’ve got.8You might even call it the ol’ “college football try.” But because we believe in fairness, we prorated this year’s candidates’ stats for an extra game going forward. You’re welcome!) Using the top 10 in the voting each year since 1998,1We chose 1998 as our starting point because that was the first season of the Bowl Championship Series, when college football’s true modern era began. (And not at all because the 1997 Heisman race is difficult to model.) we analyzed 191 Heisman nominees to figure out what tends to separate the winner from the rest. Then, we applied it to this year’s likely hopefuls to see how they’d fare.2Thanks to a 10th place tie last year, we have an odd number in our sample.Here’s our foolproof plan for Heisman glory:(Note: We intentionally jury-rigged some of these rules and thresholds to perfectly explain the past winners in our sample. We know, we know: It’s not exactly statistically kosher for making future “out of sample” predictions — and may or may not violate rules of “basic scientific inference.” But it’s fun! And regardless of our playful cherry-picking, we still might learn something about the selection process along the way, in spite of ourselves.)Step 1: Be a QB or an RB.Players eliminated: 35Players remaining: 156Who it knocks out this year: Ed Oliver, HoustonWe found that only eight positions have ever been among the top 10 nominees for a Heisman, and only two — quarterback and running back — have won since 1998. (The others to make a top 10 all-time are DB, DL, LB, TE and WR,3Which were called “ends” in ye olden days of football. plus exactly one OL.) Voters’ hard-and-fast dedication to QBs and RBs hasn’t always been as rigid; several receivers and tight ends won the award in previous eras, and Charles Woodson won as a defensive player in 1997.4Woodson also returned kicks, though, and occasionally played receiver on offense. But for the most part, you aren’t winning the Heisman unless you’re a QB or an RB, particularly in recent seasons. (Sorry if rushing or passing just isn’t your thing.) Step 2: Be part of a Power Five conference (or Notre Dame).Players eliminated: 27Players remaining: 129Who it knocks out this year: McKenzie Milton, UCF; Rashaad Penny, San Diego StateOf the 11 conferences represented among our 191 players, only five — not coincidentally, the current Power Five conferences of 2017 (so, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) — plus Notre Dame5Which is independent but gets the same treatment as a power-conference school, because, well, it’s Notre Dame. were actually home to a Heisman winner. In order to find a Heisman recipient from a non-power conference, you’d have to go back to 1990, when Ty Detmer of Brigham Young (which played in the WAC) took home the award. Although some minor-conference stars have come vaguely close over the past decade — in our sample, Northern Illinois’s Jordan Lynch and Hawaii’s Colt Brennan each finished third — it’s extremely unlikely that one would have a season spectacular enough to offset the voters’ preference for big-program stars.
Nothing was predictable at Buckeye Field House Wednesday night as the No. 19 Ohio State (31-12) softball team faced the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines for a doubleheader.The Buckeyes split the series with the Wolverines.The Buckeyes took game one, 5-3, and fell to the Wolverines in game two, 4-3.This was the first win for the Buckeyes against the Wolverines since 2003.“We had no fear. We were determined to go in there and battle and compete to show the country who we are as a program,” senior captain Sam Marder said. “We’ll take a split against the Number two team in the country.”The Scarlet and Gray squad did everything right offensively and defensively against the No. 2 team, as they had 6 hits over Michigan’s 4 in game one.Pitching was key for the Buckeyes, but fell short of the Wolverine’s.Michigan’s two pitchers, Jordan Taylor and Nikki Nemitz, have the first and second best ERA in the conference, with OSU’s Melanie Nichols in third.In the first inning, OSU right fielder Courtney Pruner proved it was no mistake putting her to bat fourth in the line up as she hit a first-pitch homer with two on base, putting the Buckeyes on the board 3-0.Rebecca Schultz came through in the fourth inning for the Buckeyes with a RBI home run, putting the Buckeyes up 5-1.Michigan had a late rally in the bottom of the seventh pulling in two more runs, but OSU’s Nichols came away with the 5-3 win.“When she executes, she’s really good. She’s just going to get better and better in her career,” coach Linda Kalafatis said of Nichols.In the second game, the Wolverines must have realized they just suffered their first conference loss as they wasted no time posting a run in the first inning.The Wolverines continued on a hot streak as a three run homerun put the Wolverines ahead of the Buckeyes, 4-0.In the fourth inning, the Buckeyes finally made a mark on the scoreboard as Lead Ledford’s double scored Rebecca Schultz.OSU shortstop Alicia Herron made the gap even smaller when her 2 RBI triple put the Buckeyes at three runs.The final score remained in favor of Michigan, 4-3.“This [series split] proves to our kids that that we can play with anybody. These are the kinds of games we’re going to have to play if we want to reach our ultimate goal of getting to the College World Series,” coach Kalafatis said.The Buckeyes will travel to Iowa City, Iowa this weekend to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in a two-game series.
Ohio State football’s senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said after the team’s spring practice Thursday that the Buckeye offense has the potential to be the top-ranked unit in the country. “When we get clicking there’s nobody that can stop us,” Brown said. “That’s guaranteed.” OSU wide receivers coach Zach Smith called Brown, who led the team with 60 receptions last season, a guy that the Buckeyes were able to count on. But the unit as a whole, Smith said, is in the process of improving. He said that the understanding of the offense itself is what was keeping the receivers from making more plays. “This offense is a very different offense for the wide receiver position than most,” Smith said. “What we ask (the receivers) to know and do is very NFL-like. The biggest improvement is their understanding of their role and what they need to do to be successful in this offense.” At times last year, the receiving corps of Brown, junior Devin Smith, sophomore Michael Thomas, junior Evan Spencer and senior Chris Fields was referred to as a “clown show.” Zach Smith said that was not a proud moment for him as a coach, but he did use to motivate the group. “It’s definitely motivating. I could just put quotes from newspapers on the wall and just hang them there,” Zach Smith said. “I didn’t even have to refer to them. It was motivating and it helped us improve as much as we did and also see what we needed to do last year that we are doing this year.” Devin Smith, who led the team with six touchdown receptions last year, said that the work the offense did in the winter has helped them during spring practice. “I think everybody’s comfortable with the system. The work that we did in the winter has really helped us this spring,” Devin Smith said. “We are all coming together as a unit, and are just getting better.” Zach Smith called what Devin Smith’s spring practice “up and down,” but said he has seen things from him now that he did not see last season. “He’s done well at times, he just needs to work on consistency,” Zach Smith said. “That’s the next step – things that he didn’t do last year he has done this spring, but not everyday.” After struggling most of last season to get to the level that they were expected to, Zach Smith said that the receivers knew what they needed to do to improve once the season ended and have done well so far in the offseason. “We were not near as good as what we needed to be, so they knew coming into this winter what they had to do. There was not a lot of explaining, planning or motivating because they knew what they had to do,” Zach Smith said. “They have to finish out the rest of the spring strong, and then this summer has to be the best summer in the history of Ohio State football for my group.” Spencer said he and the rest of the receivers are working at constant improvement each practice. Spencer’s 12 receptions last season were fourth-best on the team, and he is looking to having more of a role. “We’re out to strive to be the best receiving group as a whole in the country and I just want to be a part of it,” Spencer said. “If you’re out there making plays then they’re going to let you play.” Spencer said playing the spring game in Cincinnati instead of Columbus is going to be an interesting environment and that he is looking forward to showing OSU fans what the group has been working on. “I can’t wait,” Spencer said. “It’ll be a lot of fun but at the same time we just need to go out and execute and just do what we do.” The Buckeyes will practice again Saturday, with the practice being the program’s second annual Student Appreciation Day, which is open to students and begins at 11 a.m. OSU has four more spring practices between this week and next week leading up to the LiFESports Spring Game, which will be played April 13 at 1 p.m. in Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Ohio State freshman opposite hitter Vanja Bukilic attempts a shot against Northwestern on Nov. 4 at St. John Arena. Ohio State lost to Northwestern in four sets. Credit: Colin Gay | Sports EditorWhile individual players had record-breaking games, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team fell to Michigan State in four sets (25-18, 24-26, 25-19, 25-10) on Wednesday night. The Buckeyes came out at 12-15 overall and 3-12 in the Big Ten while the Spartans improve to 16-12 overall and 4-11 in conference action.Freshman opposite hitter Vanja Bukilić broke personal and team records with a team-high 17 kills, a career-high 21 points and four service aces. Back-to-back kills by Bukilić led Ohio State to a 26-24 win in the second set.The Buckeyes got off to a 8-3 lead in the third set, but Michigan State bounced back to tie the game at 17, finishing with a 25-19 win. Ohio State sophomore setter Becca Mauer had a career-high 15 digs and junior defensive specialist Camry Halm had nine.Michigan State redshirt senior outside hitter Maddie Haggerty had 18 kills and freshman setter Elena Shklyar had five service aces. Ohio State more than doubled Michigan State in errors, with the Buckeyes recording 29 compared to the Spartans’ 13.Ohio State will head back home to face Maryland at the St. John Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Emma Norton, legal director of rights organisation Liberty and solicitor for Mr Benton’s family, said: “Just as with the Hillsborough families, the parents of Cheryl James and so many others, the Bentons’ perfectly reasonable questions about their son’s death were met with decades of stonewalling, silence and suspicion.”Just as in those cases, it was only the Human Rights Act – the law our Government remains determined to repeal – that enabled the family to access information to which they had every right.”Sean Benton was young and vulnerable. He deserved so much better. We are hopeful his family can now finally have their questions answered and that lessons are learnt so young recruits like Sean are better protected in future.”A date for the fresh inquest has yet to be set.Pte Benton was the first of four young soldiers to die at the barracks between 1995 and 2002.Private Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, North Wales, shot herself in November 1995, according to a second inquest into her death which concluded in June.Private Geoff Gray, 17, from Hackney, east London, was found dead with two gunshot wounds to his head on September 17 2001, and Private James Collinson, 17, from Perth, was found dead with a single gunshot wound through his chin on March 23 2002. (Clockwise from left to right) Private James Collinson, 17, from Perth, Private Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, North Wales, Private Sean Benton from Hastings, East Sussex and Private Geoff Gray, 17, from Hackney, east London, who all died at Deepcut army barracks in SurreyCredit: PA The entrance to Deepcut BarracksCredit:Tim Ockenden/PA Wire 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. A judge has given the go-ahead for a fresh inquest into the death of a young soldier at Deepcut barracks 21 years ago.Private Sean Benton, from Hastings, East Sussex, was found with five bullet wounds to his chest in June 1995 while undergoing training at the Surrey base.His twin, Tony Benton, and sister, Tracy Lewis, went to London’s High Court after they were given permission by the Attorney General to apply for a new hearing.On Friday, Mr Justice Collins said there had been a consent order which meant there would be a fresh inquest. Mr Benton and Mrs Lewis wept and said: “We are just happy and relieved. It’s been too long.”The new hearing was made possible by Private Benton’s mother Linda who, before her death last year, used the Human Rights Act to access evidence held by Surrey Police.The original inquest, which the 20-year-old’s family said took less than two hours and heard evidence from six people, recorded a verdict of suicide, and a criminal investigation seven years later found no evidence of third-party involvement.Pte Benton’s medical and mental health records were not obtained and no evidence was sought or given about his experiences at Deepcut.The family, who are represented by human rights organisation Liberty, believe he was subjected to severe bullying. Mr Justice Collins said that a considerable amount of fresh evidence had come to light which cast “some doubt” on the correctness of the original finding and there was also material which concerned the care which was afforded to Private Benton by the Army at the relevant time.Mrs Lewis said: “Our family had just 20 years with Sean. It has taken us another 21 to secure the thorough, independent inquiry we should have seen immediately after his death. For that reason, our parents are not here with us to see this day.”For two decades, our family has been tormented by questions about what Sean went through at Deepcut. If his death had been properly investigated in 1995, we would have been spared years of uncertainty and pain.”It should be a source of huge shame to the Ministry of Defence and Surrey Police that our mother had to fight for so long – far longer than she should have had to – to force the authorities to answer basic questions. We look forward to finally discovering the truth.”