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Sports Today: Super Bowl edition

Published: Friday, February 02, 2018 @ 10:06 AM

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles intercepts a pass intended for Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots and returns it for a touchdown during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles intercepts a pass intended for Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots and returns it for a touchdown during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

So, who’s gonna win the Super Bowl? 

I am going with the Eagles over the Patriots. 

Is that to go against the grain? 

Maybe a little bit, but this feels like it is leading up to a classic upset in the making. 

Obviously, New England has the best coach in NFL history and the ultimate trump card in Tom Brady. 

They proved again last season they can overcome almost anything. They aren’t infallible, either, as two Super Bowl losses to inferior Giants teams prove. 

We’ve also seen Brady — whose pick-six in last year’s Super Bowl likely would have gone down as one of the key reasons New England lost if Atlanta hadn’t mismanaged the lead in the second half — get knocked around at times in big games during his career. As recently as last week, Jacksonville gave the future hall of famer and his offense troubles for most of a game. The Jaguars just didn’t have enough offense to make it count. 

RELATED: Local connections to this year’s Super Bowl

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is universally regarded as a very strong all-around team and has the underdog angle working for it. Time and again we’ve seen that motivation factor play a role in surprising results. 

Maybe Nick Foles won’t be as hot as he was when we last saw him (against the Vikings), but he shouldn’t have to be. 

RELATED: Comparing Andy Dalton and Nick Foles 

The Eagles have the defense to get after Brady, and the offense to shorten the game. 

Philadelphia also has one of the most versatile defenders in the NFL in Malcolm Jenkins, who can play tackle and cover as a linebacker or safety. 

Doug Pederson’s Eagles offense is also wonderfully diverse, so Belichick’s usual advantage in game-planning could be neutralized or at least less significant. 

Add it all up? 

I’m saying Eagles 24, Patriots 21 with Jenkins as your MVP. 

From a local standpoint, that would make Alter product Joe Thuney and Trotwood-Madison graduate Nicholas Grigsby, both of whom play for New England... 

Speaking of Ohio State, it’s never to early to wonder what the Buckeyes offense might look like next season. 

I had a little fun with Land of 10’s Austin Ward when he posed such a question on Twitter. 

Lo and behold, Austin gave a thoughtful answer

He might be more optimistic than I am, but this is a good summation of the situation. 

While everyone knows  the full house (Woody’s favorite formation even after he was convinced to install the I in 1968) is the answer to everything when it comes to football, I don’t think we’re going to see too many three-back sets from Ohio State any time soon. 

My guess is we will see a further commitment to zone schemes and tempo with Ryan Day continuing to make the passing game more varied rather than mixing in more run schemes, but we’ll see... 

Wright State absorbed a terrible loss last night at Cleveland State. 

The Vikings entered the game in last place and knocked the Raiders into a tie for first with a 77-74 upset

Scott Nagy’s team played from behind most of the night, trailing by as many as 15 points. 

The Raiders led briefly in the second half before ceding control of the game back to the Vikings, who dodged a potential game-tying 3-point attempt at the buzzer. 

Was this another learning experience for a WSU squad that wasn’t expected to be where it is? 

Well, hopefully, but Nagy noted the same thing happened when the Raiders lost to Milwaukee less than two weeks ago. 

“Trying to be a champion is hard,” Nagy said. ” It’s every day, every moment. Because as soon as you let down, just like we did, this is what happens.”… 

The bad news: Wright State fell into a tie with Northern Kentucky atop the Horizon League standings. 

The good news: The Raiders still get another chance to beat the Norse (again) two weeks from tonight. 

And anyway: No bad loss in the regular season is going to cost them an NCAA tournament bid because they are going to have to win the league tournament to get an invite to the Big Dance anyway. However, a 13 or 14 seed looks a lot better than a 15 or 16, so resume does matter to some extent… 

We got a chance to talk to Dayton coach Anthony Grant and a pair of Flyers yesterday as they prepare to take on Massachusetts this weekend, but it wasn’t real enlightening. 

Interesting, yes, but we didn’t learn much about why this team can’t figure out how to get out of its season-long funk. 

The answer continues to be, well, play better. Or at least play better more often and for longer. 

Dayton has played a tough schedule, but some of the Flyers’ losses are to fairly bad opponents. 

Case in point: UMass, which won at UD Arena earlier this season despite missing some key players. 

Dayton still has a chance to go on a run (that’s technically true until they lose in March), but more important in these last nine games of the regular season is finding some things to build on for next year. 

Can they? 

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There’s no easy fix for college basketball troubles

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 9:07 AM

The events of Friday morning in the college basketball world had been building for some time. Yet when the report by Yahoo’s Pat Forde and Pete Thamel named players — past and current — who allegedly received benefits from agent Andy Miller, his associate Christian Dawkins, and ASM Sports, there wasn’t much outrage.

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Tennessee coach Rick Barnes denies any involvement with Texas players named in Yahoo! Sports report

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 8:47 AM

Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes has said that he and his staff had nothing to do with any alleged payments made to any players they recruited while at the University of Texas.

A report from Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde and Pete Thamel Friday morning named more than two dozen college basketball players who allegedly received impermissible payments and benefits from agents either before or during their college careers.

According to a report from 247Sports’ Wes Rucker, Barnes stated that any potential payments to those players occurred after he left to become the coach at Tennessee.

The two Longhorns players named in the report are current player Eric Davis and former player Prince Ibeh. Davis is alleged to have received $1,500 from ASM Sports agency, while Ibeh reportedly met with and or received meals from Christian Dawkins, an associate with ASM.

Barnes coached at Texas from 1998-2015. Ibeh played with the Longhorns for four seasons from 2012-16, the first three of which came under Barnes. Davis is in his third year in Austin and has not played under Barnes.

Barnes would have recruited both players.

But based on what Barnes said according to Rucker, here’s what the timeline would look like: Any payment to Ibeh would have come during his senior year in the 2015-16 season — Texas’ first without Barnes and Ibeh’s last collegiate season before the NBA draft. Davis would have been paid after enrolling at Texas, by which time Barnes had been fired.

RELATED:

3 Kentucky players named in Yahoo! Sports report alleging agent payments

Alabama’s Collin Sexton named in Yahoo! Sports report

South Carolina’s P.J. Dozier named in Yahoo! Sports report

Former LSU guard Tim Quarterman named in Yahoo! Sports report alleging agent payments 

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Kentucky basketball: Former Bam Adebayo coach doesn’t think he took money, says Calipari ‘always on the up and up’

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 8:41 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Bam Adebayo’s high school coach finds it hard to believe the former High Point (N.C.) Christian Academy and University of Kentucky star accepted tens of thousands of dollars from an agent as alleged in a bombshell Yahoo! Sports report that implicated several powerhouse college programs and high-profile players Friday morning.

“I’m kind of surprised by it. I’ve never known Bam to take a dime from anybody. I’ve seen no evidence of that — no change of lifestyle while he was in high school or college — and he’s a good kid who wants to do things the right way,” former High Point coach Brandon Clifford told SEC Country. “When you have these big-time athletes, there’s often other people involved around them. I know Bam wasn’t running around setting up meetings with agents. I don’t know what all happened, but I know the kid and he always wants to do the right thing.

“He wouldn’t have jeopardized his future at Kentucky. I would bet there’s a lot more truth that hasn’t had a chance to come out yet.”

EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Knox Sr. denies meeting with agent

The Yahoo report, citing documents seized by federal agents from agent Andy Miller and his ASM Sports agency, revealed a spreadsheet listing a $12,000 payment to “BAM” and another that lists a $36,500 loan to Adebayo that notated with “bad loan,” presumably because he did not sign with Miller and ASM after his one season at UK.

That document is dated December 2015, which would’ve been while Adebayo was still in high school.

John Calipari —  along with Kentucky’s athletic director and president — issued a statement Friday in which the Cats’ coach said: “I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates. Neither my staff nor I utilized any agent, including Andy Miller or any of his associates, to provide any financial benefits to a current or former Kentucky student-athlete.”

Adebayo’s high school coach, who played college basketball with UK assistant coach Joel Justus, said he believes Calipari.

“From Day 1 when Cal came in, he said, ‘We’re going to do things the right way.’ They’re in a position where they don’t have to cheat,” Clifford said. “There was never anything remotely shady about how they recruited Bam. It was always on the up and up, never even a suggestion of anything. I was fairly involved in that part of the process — Bam was three hours from home and I helped him through his recruitment — and I never saw them do anything untoward.

“At a program like Kentucky, you know the microscope is huge and they’re not going to slip up. That was probably one of the biggest things that intrigued Bam about Kentucky: They were always honest with him. Cal just had to say, ‘Come with us and work hard and keep your nose clean for a year and you’ll be in the NBA.’ ”

The Miami Heat selected Adebayo 14 th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft and he’s averaging 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds as a rookie and making $2.5 million this season. He helped the Wildcats win 32 games and reach the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight last season.

“I texted him this morning,” Clifford said. “My only communication was, ‘Are you good?’ And he said yeah, he’s good. That’s all I needed to know. I haven’t talked to him about any of the specifics, so I don’t know what the plan is at this point.”

The Heat announced Friday that Adebayo will not comment on the report.

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Bam Adebayo’s high school coach: ‘He committed himself to doing things the right way’

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 8:41 AM

Former Kentucky center Bam Adebayo was named in the latest Yahoo! Sports report on the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, but so far he has denied any wrongdoing.

That, too, goes for his high school coach. Adebayo’s coach, Brandon Clifford, told the  Lexington Herald-Leader Friday that the former Wildcat never took any money from agents.

“As far as I know, Bam has never taken a dime from anybody,” Clifford said. “He committed himself to doing things the right way.”

However, Yahoo!’s Pete Thamel reported early Friday morning that Adebayo’s name is listed on documents seized from ASM, a high-profile sports management company that was raided by the FBI last year. The documents indicate he was given a loan of $12,000, and he was also referenced as a “bad loan” for 36,500. Adebayo did not sign with ASM after leaving Kentucky for the NBA.

As far as Adebayo himself goes, he has yet to comment on the situation.

The former Wildcat averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game in his only season at Kentucky. He was drafted No. 14 overall by the Miami Heat, and he’s enjoying a solid rookie season. So far, he’s averaged over 7 points and 5 rebounds in about 20 minutes of action per game.

If Adebayo is found to have taken impermissible benefits by the NCAA, it’s possible Kentucky could have to vacate wins for the 2016-17 season.

Current Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox was also implicated, but his father spoke with SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker and denied any wrongdoing.

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