Social media reacts to Marvin Lewis contract extension

Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 7:44 PM

Marvin’s back for 2 more years

The Cincinnati Bengals on Monday announced a two-year extension for head coach Marvin Lewis.

»RELATED: Lewis make first comments since announcement

Lewis is coming off back-to-back losing seasons and has no playoff wins in 15 seasons with Cincinnati.

Here’s a sampling of reaction to the news on Twitter:

3 members of USA Gymnastics board of governors resign

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 2:17 PM

Larry Nassar, right, listens to a victim impact statement from Tiffany Lopez during his sentencing hearing after being accused of molesting more than 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Larry Nassar, right, listens to a victim impact statement from Tiffany Lopez during his sentencing hearing after being accused of molesting more than 100 girls while he was a physician for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Three members of the board of directors for USA Gymnastics resigned Monday as criticism increased over the organization’s handling of a sex-abuse scandal that involved former team doctor Larry Nassar, NBC News reported.

>> Read more trending news

Board Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley announced they were resigning, a move that was supported by Kerry Perry, the organization’s president and CEO.

"We support their decisions to resign at this time," Perry said. “We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization.

"As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve.”

USA Gymnastics, based in Indianapolis, trains Olympians, including nearly 100 competitors who said that Nassar sexually assaulted them, NBC News reported. Monday was the fifth day in which victim impact statements were given in Nassar’s sentencing, the New York Post reported.

>> USA Gymnastics doctor sentenced to 60-year prison term

Nassar, who spent more than 20 years working at Michigan State University and as a physician for USA Gymnastics, has admitted to sexually assaulting gymnasts, ESPN reported. In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on charges of child pornography. 

Monday was the fifth day of victim impact statements in Nassar’s sentencing.

USA Gymnastics has been criticized by Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Jordyn Weiber -- all of whom allege Nassar molested them.

Baker Mayfield, Joel Lanning named finalists for Lombardi Award

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 9:12 AM

Baker Mayfield and Joel Lanning have been named finalists for the Lombardi Award, according to a press release from the award’s committee.

The other finalists include Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Stanford’s Bryce Love, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, and UCF’s Shaquem Griffin.

The Big 12 is the only conference with two representatives. The list was cut from 21 finalists to seven finalists on Monday.

“The Houston-based Lombardi Foundation is proud to announce seven finalists for the 2017 Lombardi Award, to be presented to an NCAA Division I player, regardless of position, based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency,” read a release from the Lombardi Award.

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award last year.

Mayfield threw for 12,292 yards and 119 touchdowns at Oklahoma. His senior season ended with a heartbreaking loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Lanning switched positions from quarterback to linebacker in the offseason, and excelled by all standards, posting 51 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, and six sacks. He also returned to the quarterback position in special packages, and completed 75 percent of his passes and had a touchdown.

Why January is a good time for Iowa to offer 2020 and 2021 prospects

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 9:10 AM

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe arrived at Bellevue (Neb.) West High School on Jan. 12 ready to evaluate Zavier Betts.

The duo came away impressed with the wide receiver. He looks like a Big Ten receiver at 6-foot-2, 189 pounds and is soft-spoken and as quick as any skill player they’ll recruit.

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes would be in touch. Three nights later, defensive line coach Reese Morgan called the Bellevue West football staff to set up a visit for the next day.

“It was insane,” Bellevue West football coach Michael Huffman said. “I didn’t expect it.”

The Hawkeyes moved fast on Betts and extended an offer to the 16-year-old prospect. Yes, 16.

Thanks to a change in the recruiting calendar, Iowa isn’t using the January recruiting period to finish off its incoming freshman class. It’s using this month to look further down the road, offering high school underclassmen.

“This is the future,” Huffman said, “especially at places like Iowa where they basically have the whole class done.”

Why the change?

In years past, January was as much about babysitting committed players as filling out a recruiting class. Outside of some early enrollees, everyone signed in February.

The early signing period in December changed everything. Iowa landed nearly its entire class before the new year began. Only a couple of scholarships, left open on purpose, remain.

There isn’t much for the Hawkeyes to do with the 2018 class, outside of securing preferred walk-on commitments.

That forces teams to use the recruiting window before the signing period in February to evaluate more younger players than ever before.

For the Hawkeyes, that means more time spent with the 2020 and 2021 classes. They have extended 10 offers to players in those classes. Five came this month.

Name Pos. State Class
Zavier Betts WR Neb. 2020
Jaylan Knighton RB Fla. 2020
Deajaun McDougle WR Fla. 2020
Jonathan Mann WR Minn. 2020
JC Latham DE Wis. 2021

The changes with the recruiting calendar all but ensure the recruiting is going to speed up. Recruiting already moves at a lightning pace, with offers coming earlier and recruits picking schools before they become upperclassmen. Heck, Illinois offered a 10-year-old last year.

“It’s trending that way,” Iowa director of scouting Tyler Barnes told Land of 10 in December. “It’s probably going to go in that direction.”

Huffman doesn’t think recruiting will extend too far beyond where it already sits. Most programs won’t offer recruits unless they possess traits that will help them succeed at the college level. For Betts, it’s his height and athleticism, which are on display in his Hudl highlights.

“They have to have a certain body size to play at that level, and I think that is what everyone forgets,” Huffman said.

The benefit for Iowa

For Iowa, the move to identifying 2020 prospects in January is a smart one. It’s the best option for a team to secure a commitment from someone of Betts’ caliber, who is a potential 4-star player. Being in early on prospects helped Iowa land its first four commitments for 2019, including in-state 4-star offensive lineman Tyler Endres and Ezra Miller.

The Hawkeyes are treating these early offers like they do everything else on the recruiting trail. They’re being thorough and aren’t throwing scholarships at just anyone. Iowa takes its time evaluating prospects, looking the type of player Ferentz believes thrives in his program.

Betts is what the Hawkeyes want. They are his fifth offer. Time will tell if it’s enough to land a commitment. For now, it’s enough for him to celebrate an offer by running around his house and telling his mom.

But truth be told, Betts isn’t sure what he’s looking for in a college. There is a long way to go before he selects a program and he is more interested in the video game Destiny 2 than recruiting.

“I like being able to do what I want when I want instead of being able to stick to a storyline,” Betts said. “I can travel and go wherever I want.”

The Hawkeyes’ recruiting path is changing. For it to pay off, they may want to start talking Destiny 2 with Betts.

Tennessee football podcast: Eric Berry and Phillip Fulmer good JumboTron choices

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 9:09 AM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — One of the more talked about items at Tennessee has been the three pictures that are on the back of the Neyland Stadium JumboTron, and who should be on it.

Currently, Gen. Robert Neyland, defensive line legend Reggie White and former Coach Butch Jones are the images featured.

Jones’ will obviously come down, but then what?

A good guess would be Tennessee using images that provide a lift in recruiting and honor the current state of the program.

Gen. Robert Neyland has his name on the stadium, so a picture of him on the JumboTron doesn’t seem as necessary and wouldn’t seem to add any current recruiting value.

Instead, the Vols might want to put up images that the current crop of 16 to 18 year olds prospects could relate to and associate with.

Phillip Fulmer is a national championship coach, a College Football Hall of Famer and also the current athletic director and ultimate overseer of football and all Tennessee sports.

One of the other JumboTron spots should be used to feature a current NFL star, perhaps a sure-fire hall of famer like 29-year-old Eric Berry.

Berry has a family legacy at Tennessee, and he would also represent Tennessee’s rich tradition of recruiting great football players from the Atlanta area.

The third  spot could go to another former great Tennessee player, perhaps even a current player who has been recruited from in state, like FWAA Freshman All-American Trey Smith.

There are plenty of arguments to be made for others, most notably the Vols’ greatest football players of all time, names like Johnny Majors, Peyton Manning, Reggie White and Jason Witten.  Then there’s Al Wilson and Tee Martin,  the leaders of the perfect 1998 season. Martin never lost a home start in his two years as the Vols’ starting quarterback, joining Bobby Scott as the only Tennessee QB with that distinction.

And, what about current coach Jeremy Pruitt? A JumboTron spot would certainly boost his credibility with recruits and honor the job he has done as a coordinator on five national championship teams.

Who would you want up there?

SEC Country’s Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss the JumboTron controversy as well as putting a wrap on Tennessee’s fast-rising men’s basketball program.

Tennessee football podcast