Smith walks away from Bengals to join Browns

Published: Thursday, November 09, 2017 @ 11:08 AM


            DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 18: Derron Smith #31 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes the pickoff of the pass from Dan Orlovsky (not in photo) and runs for a second quarter touchdown during the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 18, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 18: Derron Smith #31 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes the pickoff of the pass from Dan Orlovsky (not in photo) and runs for a second quarter touchdown during the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 18, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

On Saturday the Cincinnati Bengals cut safety Derron Smith. On Thursday, he walked away on his own, terminating his contract with the team to sign with the Cleveland Browns.

›› Lewis divulges nature of Fisher illness that ended his season

The Bengals cut Smith to make room for kicker Marshall Koehn when Randy Bullock was unable to kick due to a back injury. After Smith cleared waivers, the Bengals brought him back on the practice squad Tuesday.

Smith practiced with the team Wednesday, but Thursday he signed with Cleveland, whom the Bengals play in Week 12.

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A sixth-round draft pick out of Fresno State in 2015, Smith appeared in 31 games, including three this season.

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Jim Harbaugh Fatigue looks real, and for Michigan fans, it’s been anything but spectacular

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 8:28 AM

Michigan-football-Jim Harbaugh-Wolverines-Big Ten

FADE IN

INT. MICHIGAN FOOTBALL OFFICES

Two men. Two smiles. One warm handshake.

JIM HARBAUGH

Welcome aboard, Jim!

JIM McELWAIN

Thanks! Wait. What’s this?

HARBAUGH

It’s a name tag, champ. You’re going to need it.

__________________

If we count Dan Enos (do we?) and Kevin Tolbert, the exit count is nine Michigan assistant coaches in over three seasons and change.

Accent on the change, kids.

“Unless you have a bad staff, which I don’t think they do, you really don’t welcome turnover in staff,” Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo says. “A little bit of turnover is OK, because you get new ideas and fresh ideas and all that.

“I don’t think a lot of turnover is ever very good. I haven’t followed all their turnover all that [closely]. It’s hard to get information out of there; you really never know what’s going on … if you have a really good staff, you’re going to lose guys for head-coaching jobs, that kind of thing. From an outsider’s point of view, it doesn’t look good. It looks a little unsettling.”

From the outside, it looks a little like fatigue. A relationship that’s white-hot at the beginning, passions raging at full-tilt, then, from out of the blue, it turns supernova and … dies. Kaput. A burned-out cinder. Which begs the question:

Harbaugh Fatigue — myth or mess?

Wally Richardson, the former Penn State and NFL quarterback, offered up a particularly candid take on that point as part of a convo with veteran PennLive.com scribe Dave Jones last week. It paints a picture, the kind that makes Wolverines fans want to take a pair of thinning shears to the canvas:

He was a backup QB, first behind former Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde in 1997. And then, behind Jim Harbaugh in 1998.

When Richardson mentioned that up during a Wednesday phone interview, I couldn’t help asking: What sort of guy was Harbaugh? Just as strange as he is now?

Richardson paused a moment, then admitted:

“Yeah, he was.”

Laughter from both of us. Then Richardson clarified:

“I like Jim. He was a good teammate. But I think his personality just kind of wears on people.”

Richardson is not the first to make that observation. Assistants have come and gone like deliverymen in his college tenures at FCS San Diego, Stanford and now Michigan.

Richardson continued about his experience with Harbaugh in 1998 with the Ravens:

“Our quarterback coach was Don Strock who was Dan Marino’s [and Bob Griese’s] backup for a long time. Don was a great coach.

“Jim was on the last legs of his career then and his arm wasn’t as strong as it used to be. I remember going through about half of that season and Don was trying to coach Jim and tell him different things. And sometimes Jim would do his own thing.

“By the time we got to Week 9 or 10, it was kind of a toxic relationship. I saw it happen right before my own eyes.”

I mentioned then that the only assistant who’s figured out how to tolerate Harbaugh more than a handful of years – and it seems a matter of mutual loyalty that trumps even the current dysfunction of Michigan’s offense – is current coordinator Tim Drevno.

“Yeah, I can believe that. And I understand it.”

When Shemy Schembechler raised an eyebrow about Michigan’s staff continuity last month with Land of 10’s Rachel Lenzi, ya know what? The man might’ve had a point. And a good one at that.

In Harbaugh’s defense, you’re damned down either path. After an 8-5 mark in 2017 and with an un-Michigan-like 9-8 record over your last 17 contests, if you don’t shake the box, the natives get restless. If you do, it gets slapped by skeptics as rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.

Certain levels of consistent attrition — when rising stars such as D.J. Durkin are taking other head coaching gigs or promotions elsewhere — can be a good sign, the nature of the beast. But when the moves appear somewhat superficially lateral — John Baxter hopping from Michigan special teams coach to USC special teams coach, for example — and the pace of the exits starts to quicken, questions are inevitable.

And so are the presumptions of a pattern.

Harbaugh Fatigue — heresy or headache?

“I’m sure the rah-rah thing gets old with anybody,” college football coaching analyst Adam McClintock notes. “It probably plays a little bit better in the college game than in the NFL, especially. They’re grown men supporting their families.

“I don’t know if it has anything, if there’s any correlation of him running people off or not … I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. But if there’s smoke, there’s fire. If he rubs people the wrong way enough, and people go on record saying he does, I don’t know if there’s any correlation or not.”

Wisconsin’s run through three different defensive coordinators — Dave Aranda to Justin Wilcox to Jim Leonhard — over three straight seasons (2015-17) and hasn’t missed so much as a beat on that side of the ball. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has seen off six assistants over the past three years. During his first three Buckeyes campaigns, Meyer had to replace only one coordinator —  former co-defensive boss Everett Withers, who, in December 2013, took the head football job at James Madison.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘If Harbaugh would’ve had similar success to what Meyer had, then would you be seeing this turnover?’” McClintock continues. “Is it [that] these guys are getting tired of Harbaugh and moving on? Or is it Harbaugh scrambling a little bit to get the correct puzzle pieces that will make this thing work?

“There are two ways to look at this as well. It could be a little bit of his brashness running people off. But it could be, a little bit, him just scrambling [in] trying to get this thing going to everybody’s expectations of everyone thought this was going to be. So far, it’s been underwhelming. Michigan fans have seen this song and dance before. A couple good recruiting classes and, ‘Hey, where did Michigan go?’

“It’s like the party’s over. It’s died down. It’s become a little laborious here, a little more labor intensive than the glitz and glamor of the first two years, for sure.”

Winter 2016: Say, have you met my pal Derek Jeter?

Winter 2018: So is that M-A-C or M-C on ‘McElwain?’

Harbaugh Fatigue — narrative or nothingburger?

‘It’s gone from one extreme [in February] to the next. There’s no middle ground. I don’t think it’s financial. I think this is Jim — he’s kind of all over the map. He’s unpredictable.’

— BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo on Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh

“I get the feeling that [the Wolverines] are almost grasping for straws, scrambling for answers,” McClintock says. “Defensively, they’ve been fine. Offensively, they’ve got to find some consistency on that side of the ball. That’s a result of the quarterback position being in flux.

“Name one quarterback [since 2015] who’s been average or above average? [Harbaugh has] been working with other people’s parts or flawed parts.”

With McElwain now in the picture, we’re assuming the chess pieces on the coaching side for 2018 are finally lined up on the board.

Then again, if we’ve learned anything at this point, it’s to assume at your peril.

“It’s hard to figure out what’s going on at Michigan; we’re all just guessing,” DiNardo says. “I think the only thing we can know is that it’s going to be unpredictable. It’s hard to tell.

“It’s gone from one extreme [in February] to the next. There’s no middle ground. I don’t think it’s financial. I think this is Jim — he’s kind of all over the map. He’s unpredictable. [He] works usually to extreme ends and not in the middle. So he could go back to making [recruiting] a big production next year. You just don’t know. Nothing will surprise me.”

The post Jim Harbaugh Fatigue looks real, and for Michigan fans, it’s been anything but spectacular appeared first on Land of 10.

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Former LSU guard Tim Quarterman named in Yahoo! Sports report of players allegedly paid by agents

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 6:18 AM

Tim Quarterman, who played for LSU for three seasons from 2013-16, allegedly received payment from an agent during his career in Baton Rouge, according to a major report published Friday morning by Pat Forde and Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports.

Quarterman is one of multiple current and former SEC players named in the report, including a trio from Kentucky, Collin Sexton from Alabama, and P.J. Dozier from South Carolina.

Forde and Thamel report that a balance sheet from sports agency ASM shows that Quarterman “at the time a junior at LSU, received at least $16,000.”

RELATED: NCAA issues statement on bombshell Yahoo! Sports report

In that season for the Tigers, Quarterman played in 33 games and averaged 11.2 points, 3.6 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game.

While meeting with an agent is legal under NCAA rules, accepting money and other benefits from them is not. If Quarterman is found to have accepted money, he would be ruled ineligible for that time period, which could force LSU to vacate games it won while fielding an ineligible player.

He signed with the Portland Trailblazers after going undrafted and played in 16 games last season. The Houston Rockets acquired Quarterman in a trade and then waived him. He is currently in the NBA G League.

RELATED: Father of Kentucky’s Kevin Knox denies report of agent meeting

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Statistical proof that Alabama’s dynasty is the best in college football history

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 6:17 AM

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily  Alabama Crimson Tide podcast  with Ryan Fowler. In this edition, we talk with SEC Country’s, Christopher Walsh about the current Alabama football dynasty and how the statistics compare to other football dynasties. Interview with Burton Burns about coaching at Alabama. 

Topics discussed:

  • Update on the latest coaching changes announced on Thursday afternoon
  • SEC Country’s Christopher Walsh discusses an article he wrote titled Alabama’s decade of dominance was even more jaw-dropping after 2017 national title that explains the dynasty from a numbers perspective
  • Walsh discusses in more detail what he wrote about in the above article and compares these numbers to other great runs in college football history
  • One number that Christopher Walsh shares that was the most eye opening for him
  • Coach Burton Burns visited with us at a media availability event prior to the National Championship game in Atlanta. We discussed several things including his relationship with the players that he has coached over his 11 years at Alabama.
  • Coach Burton Burns is moving to an off field role for Nick Saban and Alabama
  • Burton Burns talks about his father figure role for the running backs that have played for him at Alabama. Burns has helped produce 2 Heisman trophy winners and 7 running backs that have played in the NFL during his 11 years.

Miss a previous edition? Find every episode of SEC Country’s daily Alabama Crimson Tide podcast  right here .

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Nebraska spring game more expensive than regular-season game tickets at 22 Power 5 programs

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 8:30 AM

Nebraska-football-Memorial Stadium-sellout-Cornhuskers-football

There are rock stars, and then there are Nebraska rock stars. Billy Joel is pulling as much as $590 per ticket this month at Madison Square Garden; Tim McGraw’s return to his Louisiana roots this summer will set you back up to $628 a seat.

Scott Frost’s first Nebraska show is going for $657.

In a game that doesn’t even freaking count.

There’s love, and there’s Cornhuskers love. According to TicketCity.com, the asking price for the most expensive seat at Nebraska’s Red-White spring game on April 21 is $657. That means Frost’s first exhibition appearance as the Big Red’s coach is pricier than the most expensive regular-season football seat for 22 out of 64 — more than a third — of all Power 5 schools this fall:

__________________

1. Georgia: $5,070

1t. Iowa: $5,070

3. Oregon State: $3,346

4. Notre Dame: $2,365

5. Ohio State: $2,276

6. Michigan: $2,027

7. Alabama: $1,817

8. LSU: $1,799

9. Texas A&M: $1,622

10. USC: $1,521

11. Penn State: $1,447

12. Texas: $1,422

13. Miami: $1,277

14. Florida: $1,188

15. Oklahoma: $1,171

16. Mississippi: $1,068

17t. California: $1,013

17t. Michigan State: $1,013

17t. Mississippi State: $1,013

17t. NEBRASKA: $1,013

17t. Purdue: $1,013

17t. TCU: $1,013

17t. UCLA: $1,013

17t. Virginia: $1,013

25. Texas Tech: $966

26. Florida State: $960

27. South Carolina: $957

28t. North Carolina State: $929

28t. Washington: $929

30t. Auburn: $920

30t. Baylor: $920

30t. Utah: $920

33. Oregon: $901

34. Virginia Tech: $865

35. Clemson: $835

36. Tennessee: $828

37. Georgia Tech: $781

38. Arkansas: $751

39. Northwestern: $743

40. Maryland: $723

41. Wake Forest: $690

42. NEBRASKA SPRING GAME: $657

43. Washington State: $589

44. Pittsburgh: $588

45. West Virginia: $559

46. Oklahoma State: $558

47. Kentucky: $496

48. Missouri: $470

49. Syracuse: $461

50. Boston College: $430

51t. Arizona: $410

51t. Louisville: $410

53. Minnesota: $373

54. Kansas State: $346

55. Iowa State: $342

56. Vanderbilt: $335

57. Rutgers: $298

58. Stanford: $279

59. Colorado: $269

60. Illinois: $206

61. North Carolina: $148

62. Indiana: $136

63. Kansas: $97

64. Duke: $46

Arizona State: N/A

____________________

 

“Nebraska fans have been through the whole run — the good, the bad and the ugly,” Cornhuskers icon and former interim athletic director Dave Rimington told Land of 10 recently. “Nebraska fans — you can’t beat people like that anywhere. We’ve just got people [where] they love Nebraska, almost to a fault, where they just love it and they back them if they’re a .500 team or a great team.”

Now not everybody loves the price point, mind you. Or how we got there …

Despise it or dig it — and both takes are more than justified — the whole thing’s been a head-scratcher for the TicketCity folks, who don’t usually expect such a crush on seats for a spring game. Nebraska’s sold out in less than two days, which went a long way toward making it the site’s most expensive college football spring game seat, on average, over the last three seasons, at $142.65 — topping the $132.07 average price of the Ohio State’s spring exhibition in 2017.

Source: TicketCity.com

 

… and the Cornhuskers’ $124.09 average price from 2016:

Source: TicketCity.com

 

If you’re curious, here was how prices for the six FBS spring games available at the TicketCity.com database compared as of early Tuesday morning, as ranked by minimum cost:

  1. Nebraska: $32/$657 max
  2. Ohio State: $8/$402 max
  3. Boise State: $20/$73 max
  4. Florida State: $13/$23 max
  5. Kentucky: $20/$22 max
  6. Charlotte: $12/$12 max

The record for attendance at the Cornhuskers’ spring game is 80,149, set in 2008, during Bo Pelini’s first season. It’s got about eight weeks left, you figure, to hang on to the top spot:

“Nebraskans deserve a medal,” Rimington said, “for what they’ve been through.”

And when it comes to supply and demand right now, Big Red Nation is making a killer run for the gold.

The post Nebraska spring game more expensive than regular-season game tickets at 22 Power 5 programs appeared first on Land of 10.

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