Sports Today: NFL draft day thoughts on the Bengals, Browns and Buckeyes 

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 9:55 AM

090316 Atlanta: North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws as Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Davin Bellamy leaps over a defender during the second half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome Saturday September 3, 2016. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Brant Sanderlin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
090316 Atlanta: North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws as Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Davin Bellamy leaps over a defender during the second half of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome Saturday September 3, 2016. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM(Brant Sanderlin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Welcome to NFL draft day! 

The league’s nefarious plot to make us care about football year round continues to be a success, and no, I’m not complaining. 

The first draft item to run across my feed this morning was about the Cleveland Browns considering taking second-round talent Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 overall pick. 

Will Less-Experienced Andy Dalton pan out for the Orange and Brown or be the newest mistake by the lake? Only time will tell! 

As we discussed on our Facebook Live last night, I think Trubisky would be a reach at 12 (where the Browns are currently scheduled to pick again), but if they snag the consensus top player in the draft (Myles Garrett) to open things up, the rest of the first round they are more or less playing with house money... 

And what about the Cincinnati Bengals? 

They are sitting pretty at No. 9 with at least a half-dozen prospects they could really use there. 

I am warming to the idea of O.J. Howard even though I will be saying the defense needs a talent upgrade until I see an improvement on the field. 

Questions about Tyler Eifert’s durability are definitely legitimate, and having two tight ends too good to keep off the field is a nice problem to have. 

RELATED: Where the Bengals should be looking if they draft offense

It’s probably not worth much, but I have seen recent projections with Malik Hooker sliding past them. I would take him before anyone who could realistically be available except for Jonathan Allen (who may not realistically be available). 

Given his adventurous path to the draft, the most likely pick might be Rueben Foster, though. 

Here are Jay Morrison’s five players the Bengals are most likely to draft in the first round… 

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Tight end O.J. Howard #88 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs to the end zone after making a 68-yard touchdown reception during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)(Staff Writer)

What of the Ohio State Buckeyes? 

Everyone agrees Hooker and Marshon Lattimore will be gone early tonight, but Gareon Conley continues to twist in the wind. 

Conley released a statement yesterday insisting he is innocent and noting charges have not been filed against him at this point. 

TMZ then released a video showing Conley and his accuser interacting at a bar before the alleged incident. 

Why is that significant? 

The video is critical because it appears to contradict what the accuser told police -- that she first met Conley in an elevator at the Westin hotel around 2:45 AM. 

The accuser’s lawyer responded by telling TMZ an “incomplete” police report was released to the public. 

The biggest development from the NBA playoffs last night was the Boston Celtics beating the Chicago Bulls to take a three games to two lead in their series. 

Boston, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, has won three in a row after looking fairly lost in the first two games. 

The Bulls have badly missed former Celtic Rajon Rondo, who is out with a hand injury. 

The other game last night saw the Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks to take a 3-2 series lead as well… 

The Reds lost to the Brewers again. 

They got a terrible start from a young pitcher, but Joey Votto, Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler hit home runs. 

In other words, it was basically the same game they have already played about a dozen times this year. 

If anything changes (other than Devin Mesoraco coming back Friday), we’ll let you know… 

In keeping our streak of covering college basketball in this column alive, Ohio State lost a verbal commitment from Darius Bazley yesterday. 

The Cincinnati Princeton junior shared later in the same day he got an offer from Xavier. 

If that doesn’t tell you a lot about the current states of Thad Matta’s current program and his previous one, I don’t know what does (aside from actually making the NCAA tournament and winning tourney games, of course). 

I saw Bazley play in Kettering in January, and his potential was obvious even though he was rusty from sitting out the first half of the season. 

After the Vikings were run off the floor by a team from Georgia, Bazley said he has hopes of being the next Evan Turner for the Buckeyes — a do-it-all wing. 

Princeton guard talks about first game with the Vikings and looking forward to playing at Ohio State.

Lastly, my column about the decline of ESPN has gotten a lot of attention, including a couple of people pointing out cord-cutting is also a major issue for the network. 

This is true, and falling revenues are no doubt a factor in to their deciding to cut costs by trimming payroll. 

However, my focus was more on what the personnel decisions they made tell us. 

There are many ways they could have reduced expenses, and the one they chose was to remove the salaries of people who gather news while keeping many “opinionists” who I’m sure in some (perhaps many) cases make more money than the people they let go. 

Recruiting: Early signing period coming to college football, ready or not

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 4:16 PM

Urban Meyer on Wayne's Robert Landers

On Dec. 20, high school football seniors will be able to do something they never were allowed to before: Sign a letter of intent with the college of their choice before Christmas. 

Their counterparts in basketball have had two signing periods — one in November, one in April — for years, but for at least as long as more than a few diehards have cared about recruiting, football players weren’t allowed to sign until early February. 

RELATED: Which area players are planning to sign early?

The path for that to change was cleared last spring when the NCAA Division I council passed several changes to college football’s recruiting model. 

Since then, people in and around the industry have wondered what effects might be wrought. 

With the big day finally near, one thing looks to be clear: Almost everyone is going to take advantage

Colleges are making plans to welcome recruits’ signatures on Dec. 20 as if it were the old February date, and nearly every player in the area who has verbally committed to a school has indicated an intent to sign rather than wait. 

The alternative would be to hold off until February to see what options remain — and some recruits who are undecided appear ready to do just that — but signing in late December may just become the new normal. 

RELATED: Checking where classes for Ohio State, Miami and Cincinnati rank in mid-December

An early signing period was discussed from time to time over the years with the date of it fluctuating with various proposals. 

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer spoke out against a potential summer date multiple times but said he could live with the December date after it became the new law of the land in May. 

“I was really opposed to a (signing day in) June and August,” Meyer told WSYX TV in Columbus. “I think December is OK.” 

Along with the new signing date will come a change in when players are allowed to make official visits, too. 

Class of 2018 prospects still had to wait until the beginning of their senior year to take official visits, which are paid for by the school. Many also make unofficial visits, but the prospect has to pay for those on their own. 

Beginning next year, juniors are eligible to take official visits as early as April 1. 

Meyer is happy about that but expressed concern about moving up the recruiting calendar. 

However, in many ways the new dates for visits and signing reflect changes that already occurred. 

Recruits of every pedigree — from five-star blue chips to lightly recruited three-star prospects — have been making unofficial visits as underclassmen and issuing verbal commitments earlier and earlier for a decade or more. 

Filling nearly every slot in a recruiting class by the end of the summer has gone from unheard of to the norm at many schools, including Ohio State, so letting players go ahead and put pen to paper made a certain amount of sense. 

Miami University coach Chuck Martin said in July he would prefer to see an even more drastic change. 

“It should be before the senior year,” Martin told this news organization at MAC football media days in July. "That's an early signing period. All these kids are committed now. How many kids in America that are juniors are committed right now? Why don't we have them sign? Because a few of the big boys don't want them to sign so they can poach them. No one wants to say it, but it's a fact.”

Not that the former Notre Dame assistant blames the big schools for throwing their weight around when they need to. 

“And if I was at Alabama, I wouldn't want an early signing period either,” Martin said. “I would want to be able on Jan. 28 to go steal somebody. If we're trying to teach kids what commitment is and what your word is, it makes no sense.” 

He also noted another unfortunate reality of recruiting: Sometimes schools pull offers, even from players who have been committed for months. 

“There are teams in our league that have dropped guys in January,” he said. "I'm not going to name names, but I know who they are. They just dropped them. Well, if they had signed, it protects the high school kid. It makes, no one has ever given me a compelling argument why we don't have one, but we still don't have it, so go figure."  

FLASHBACK: How last year’s classes ended up for the Buckeyes, Bearcats and RedHawks

If the new early signing period is an improvement —giving players who sign some piece of mind six weeks early — in some ways, it’s still far from perfect. 

Meyer lamented in late November being unsure how many players he can or needs to sign this recruiting cycle because he has an untold number of players with eligibility remaining who could enter the NFL draft early. 

They don’t have to make that decision until the middle of January, so his roster might have a different look than expected less than a month after the early signing period. 

“The other thing you’re going to see is the guy you keep on the back burner and try to flip him at the end, he signs on (Dec.) 20th, you don’t have those guys either,” Meyer said Nov. 13. “So it’s going to be an interesting year.”

Ah, yes, there is that issue Martin mentioned, too: Wooing players who are committed elsewhere. 

Meyer speaks often of saving a few spots for late-bloomers, those who might grow into high-level prospects only as seniors. 

Everyone does it, but Meyer more than most coaches has a reputation for flipping players who are committed to other schools, sometimes shortly before the old February signing day. 

Among the many players he lured away from previous commitments is Dwayne Haskins, his likely starting quarterback for next season. 

Two weeks before signing day in 2016, he decided to be a Buckeye rather than play for his home-state school, Maryland. 

Current Buckeye defensive tackle Robert Landers, a Wayne graduate, was going to West Virginia before his senior season convinced Meyer to offer him an OSU scholarship in December 2014. 

Wayne grad Robert Landers is one of Ohio State's key defensive linemen and one of the best interviews on the team. His mom made sure of the second one while he was growing up, and he explained how.

That is just two examples, but they serve as a reminder everyone has a unique situation. 

So while there is no doubt recruiting has entered a new world, just what consequences — intended or not — will come remains to be seen. 

Only time will tell — and it’s almost time to start finding out. 

Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® – Beer Cheese Top for Brats

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 4:16 PM

Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® – Beer Cheese Top for Brats
Find all the delicious tailgating recipes that you’ll need for your Saturday tailgate. Each week Texas Pete’s Flavor of Football will highlight a new recipe that is sure to be a hit at your tailgate.
Check out this week’s tailgating recipe:
 
Ingredients:
6-8 bratwurst links, fresh (about 2 1/1 lbs.)
6-8 of your favorite bun
Condiments; whole grain mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup
Beer Cheese
 
1 (12 oz.) lager, dark beer
4 C Monterey Jack Cheese, (set aside ½ cup for topping), shredded
4 (oz.) cream cheese, cubed
1-2 Tbsp. Texas Pete® Extra Mild Wing Sauce
Directions:
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add beer and bring to simmer.
2. Add cream cheese, whisking till melted.
3. Turn heat to low and add shredded cheese to the beer mixture, slowly stirring until the cheese melts and is smooth.
4. Stir in Texas Pete® Extra Mild Wing Sauce, combining completely.
5. Serve hot or can be refrigerated over night. Reheat before servicing.
For more delicious recipes visit TexasPete.com.

The post Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® – Beer Cheese Top for Brats appeared first on SEC Country.

Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® – Pepper Relish Top for Brats

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 4:15 PM

 
Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® –  Pepper Relish Top for Brats
 
Find all the delicious tailgating recipes that you’ll need for your Saturday tailgate. Each week Texas Pete’s Flavor of Football will highlight a new recipe that is sure to be a hit at your tailgate.
Check out this week’s tailgating recipe:
 
Ingredients:
6-8 bratwurst links, fresh (about 2 1/1 lbs.)
6-8 of your favorite bun
Condiments; whole grain mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup
 
Pepper Relish
 
1 (12 oz.) jar of Sweet Bell Pepper Relish
½ C Texas Pete® Sautéed Garlic Flavor Hot Sauce
 
Directions:
1. Mix together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For more delicious recipes visit TexasPete.com.

The post Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® – Pepper Relish Top for Brats appeared first on Diehards.

Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® – Pepper Relish Top for Brats

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 4:06 PM

Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® –  Pepper Relish Top for Brats
 
Find all the delicious tailgating recipes that you’ll need for your Saturday tailgate. Each week Texas Pete’s Flavor of Football will highlight a new recipe that is sure to be a hit at your tailgate.
Check out this week’s tailgating recipe:
 
Ingredients:
6-8 bratwurst links, fresh (about 2 1/1 lbs.)
6-8 of your favorite bun
Condiments; whole grain mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup
 
Pepper Relish
 
1 (12 oz.) jar of Sweet Bell Pepper Relish
½ C Texas Pete® Sautéed Garlic Flavor Hot Sauce
 
Directions:
1. Mix together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For more delicious recipes visit TexasPete.com.

The post Tailgating Recipes in The Flavor of Football Presented by Texas Pete® – Pepper Relish Top for Brats appeared first on SEC Country.