Sports Today: The Bengals did what now?

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 9:38 AM

Marvin’s back for 2 more years

Back in the saddle today after nearly two weeks of nearly not working at all. Did I miss anything? 

I logged back in 12 hours or so early to weigh in on the stunning announcement Marvin Lewis and the Bengals will be staying together for at least another year or two

This is inexplicable from both sides. 

RELATED: Bringing back Marvin Lewis boggles the mind

I’m usually not one who favors change for the sake of change, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. 

I might be more surprised Lewis wanted to keep working for the Bengals than that the Bengals wanted to keep him in their employ. 

He’s obviously an accomplished coach who has done plenty of good for the organization, but he seemed pretty worn down most of this year. 

Beyond that, there are the frequent questions about who is really running things from a football standpoint. They boil down to this: How often is he saddled with people he doesn’t want on his team or coaching staff, and how much does that affect the ups and downs of the Bengals under his watch? 

When things go wrong, oftentimes there’s an implication the guilty party isn’t one of Marvin’s guys, though that is always open to interpretation. 

There was speculation he would only stay if he got more control (which might be better than a new coach having even less, I admit, but that’s pretty far out there in the speculation weeds), but Lewis indicated to the team website that isn’t the case. 

In providing the team’s second surprising finish in 48 hours, Brown and Lewis stayed together after hammering out what appeared to be primarily coaching personnel. Issues such as roster control and salaries for assistants apparently weren’t part of the discussion.

“(Brown) has his input that he feels in some ways strong about,” Lewis said. “He has those prerogatives encouraging me certain ways. But he doesn’t interfere with me coaching the team.”

So, what gives? 

Well I don’t think Adam Schefter just made up that report about Lewis’ intentions a few weeks ago. He might have been misled by a usually reliable source, but I suspect there was at least a lot of truth to it at the time. 

As I mentioned then, the trouble with breaking news is it sometimes meants reporting something before it’s officially official and things change on the way to the finish line. 

Maybe Lewis really was intent on leaving and had started assessing his other options. 

Maybe he didn’t find anything more appealing than his current job — and maybe winning those last two games really made him (and/or Mike Brown) more optimistic about the future down on the Ohio River so one or both sides were more willing to talk reunion than they thought they would be in early December. 

Or maybe Brown really does just love continuity that much more than winning and selling tickets… 

Let’s not be all gloom and doom here, though. 

Once we get over the shock of this decision and the disappointment of not being able to find out what the Bengals would look like under new management, let’s remember this is a roster with a lot to like. 

They’re stuck with an inconsistent quarterback, but the skill positions look loaded — especially if John Ross actually plays next season 

The defense had another solid year, but some more pieces are still needed over there — namely another corner, a play-making safety and more athleticism at linebacker. 

The biggest question coming out of 2017 is the same as it was going in: What are they going to do with the offensive line? 

A new-look lineup, assembled out of desperation, actually looked pretty good the last two weeks. Was the fool’s gold? We’ll have to wait and see… 

  

Meanwhile, Ohio State beat USC in a Cotton Bowl that meant nothing and did pretty poorly in the ratings. 

It was a pretty terrible game that provided a reminder just how talented the Buckeyes are on defense and how clueless they were on offense more often than not. 

The first year of the Kevin Wilson experiment was pretty much a failure, though I am more than willing to place all of the coaching blame on Urban Meyer for this. At least it exonerates Ed Warinner and Tim Beck to a certain extent, so they’ve got that going for them. 

I say this because the problems from day one of the Meyer era in Columbus have been the same: Meyer’s version of the spread offense is outdated and works only thanks to the talent advantage he almost always enjoys over the team on the other sideline (and sometimes not even then). 

RELATED: Urban Meyer says program has momentum after Cotton Bowl win

Of course, J.T. Barrett could have done Meyer a solid and repaid the coach’s loyalty by being a more consistent passer or dynamic runner, but that ended up not being in the cards. 

The Texan is still one of the all-time greats at Ohio State who I’m sure will be remembered more fondly in the future by some fans than he is now (which is not to say most aren’t already appreciative of what they just watched), but it’s fair to be excited about what the offense will look next year with a new quarterback since there’s no reason to think the offense will change. 

READ MORE: 7 things to know about Ohio State’s QB history

Dwayne Haskins, who might have to try hard to lose the starting job in the spring if anyone else is going to be QB1 next fall, is more talented than Barrett and might be able to get the ball to those talented guys in more advantageous spots, so the offense could become more dangerous simply via his arm, but time will tell… 

The College Football Playoff semifinals gave us a thrilling game and a dud, as expected. 

I thought Oklahoma would be too much for Georgia, but kudos to the Bulldogs for hanging in there after (probably) breaking Baker Mayfield’s ribs. 

Alabama’s beatdown of Clemson could be seen coming from a mile away considering the Crimson Tide are probably about as good as they were last year while Clemson is definitely worse. Even with Deshaun Watson at the controls, the Tigers had to cheat to win by one point in the last seconds, so you can do that math. 

Also it probably didn’t hurt Nick Saban’s team to have a month to heal and hear about how they didn’t belong in the final four, not to mention that whole revenge factor thing… 

I could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up with some college basketball. 

The Dayton Flyers suffered a pretty bad loss at Duquesne on Dec. 30 and face red-hot St. Bonaventure tonight at home

Since an NCAA tournament at-large bid is out of the question now, there aren’t really any must-win games at this point in the season, but it would seem Anthony Grant’s team needs to get some positive momentum going sooner than later if they want to end up with a respectable record. 

The first-year Flyers coach’s substitution patterns continue to be interesting, but perhaps he is playing the long game. His way or the highway could pay off in the long run — if the majority of the guys in the gym buy in…

Meanwhile, Wright State has won three in a row and six out of its last even. 

Coach Scott Nagy’s insistence on playing his way does seem to be paying off, and so is getting his roster closer to full strength. Next up are a pair of games north of the border — at Detroit Mercy on Friday night and at Oakland on Sunday afternoon. 

Miami began play in a wide-open MAC race with a 77-72 win at Bowling Green last night. 

The 8-6 RedHawks bounced back from a 72-59 loss at Ohio State, where Chris Holtmann’s team is at least worth being interested in again after several years of blah for the Buckeye. 

TCU rebounds in style with signature upset of No. 7 West Virginia

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 8:50 PM

FORT WORTH — TCU men’s basketball suffered five of the most humbling losses one could imagine during the team’s first seven games of Big 12 play.

Monday night had a different tune for Jamie Dixon and the Horned Frogs as they stunned No. 7 West Virginia 82-73  for their first win against the Mountaineers in series history.

TCU quickly erased a 5-0 deficit out of the gate and never looked back after riding the momentum of a run in which the Horned Frogs outscored the Mountaineers 23-3. West Virginia finished the night making just 25 of 75 shot attempts from the field — a rarity for a Bob Huggins coached team.

Forty minutes later, TCU fans and students were flooding the court at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena as their team recorded its first home win against a ranked opponent in more than two years. It was the first since Dixon took over the reins of the team last season.

“I’m glad they’re happy,” Dixon said. “We’ve lost so many close games … for our guys I’m really excited, but for our fans I think I’ll be even more excited because they deserve this.”

TCU now has its first win over a ranked opponent in Big 12 play of the season, while the Mountaineers have lost for the third time in a span of four games after being ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll.

And plenty of faces rose to the challenge in handing the Horned Frogs their biggest win yet of the 2017-18 season.

Horned Frogs rebound on a national spotlight

TCU failed to make the most of home court against ranked opponents Oklahoma and Kansas in the past month, dropping both games by narrow margins. It was a different case on Monday.

Four TCU players finished with double digit points, including a game high 17 from guard Alex Robinson. The junior made a desperation shot at halftime from near half-court, but was seconds too late to count. The Horned Frogs ended the half on an 11-2 run.

Robinson said the shift in momentum in the middle stages of the game was a complete team effort.

“We just stuck together,” Robinson said. “Basketball is a game of runs. They’re a pressing team and we knew we were going to get opportunities on offense and we just needed to finish. Having faith in each other really helped us come back.”

Robinson wasn’t the only difference making scorer for TCU. Forward Kouat Noi sank 3 straight 3-point shots in the first half and scored 13 in the game.

But for all the key scoring runs, rebounding may have been the difference maker. The Horned Frogs recorded 46 rebounds — much to the delight of Dixon, who said he told his team to “win ugly.”

“We kept rebounding … we got loose balls,” Dixon said. “I thought we got the loose balls and if you can do that against West Virginia then you can do that against anybody. That’s what we had to do and it’s part of winning ugly.”

TCU finished the night with 12 offensive rebounds. Senior guard Kenrich Williams led the Horned Frogs with 14 rebounds in the game on top of 9 points.

Senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky joined Williams in showcasing his physicality, picking up 10 rebounds in addition to several key blocks.

“We had to match their physicality and I feel like we did that today,” Robinson said. “Big Monday is always tough because you only get a day to prepare after your last game and against a great team like West Virginia … but we rose to challenge, had fresh legs and we were ready to go.”

Mountaineers’ shooters go cold

After defeating Texas by 35 points on Saturday — West Virginia’s largest margin of victory in a league game since joining the Big 12 — the Mountaineers were simply unable to find the basket on Monday.

West Virginia made only a third of its 75 attempts from the field and was under 30 percent as late as the midway mark of the second half. The Mountaineers endured a stretch of more than eight minutes without a field goal into the second half.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said the shooting woes were self inflicted.

“The first half we stopped them seven straight times and we didn’t score,” Huggins said. “It’s not like we didn’t have shots, we just didn’t make them … when you’re wide open I don’t think it’s the defense.”

Senior guard Jevon Carter scored a team-high 16 points, but was 0 for 6 from 3-point range. Daxter Miles was 1 for 8 in the same department.

The Mountaineers finished the game shooting 26 percent as a team from beyond the arc. The team also lost the battle in offensive rebounds 17-12.

West Virginia has now lost both of its road trips to the state of Texas this season. The Mountaineers were defeated by Texas Tech 72-71 in Lubbock on Jan. 13.

Up next

TCU, after falling out of the AP Top 25 rankings for the first time since November on Monday, can further boost its resume when the Horned Frogs face Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday. After that, it’s back to Big 12 play with a road trip to Oklahoma State before hosting No. 8 Texas Tech on Feb. 3.

West Virginia will look to regroup from another humbling defeat before hosting a huge nonconference game vs. No. 18 Kentucky at WVU Coliseum on Saturday. ESPN College GameDay will broadcast live from Morgantown ahead of the Big 12-SEC showdown.

Pac-12 leads Power 5 conferences with 29 players on Super Bowl rosters

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 7:59 PM

The Pac-12 has more of its players on Super Bowl 52 rosters for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots than any other Power 5 conference.

The Pac-12’s 29 players playing in Super Bowl 52 edge out the SEC’s 28. The Big Ten is second with 27.

Here’s a breakdown of all the players from Pac-12 teams heading to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl:

Arizona

Rob Gronkowski, New England

Marquis Flowers, New England

Nick Foles, Philadelphia

Arizona State

Lawrence Guy, New England

Cal

Mychal Kendricks, Philadelphia

Colorado

Nate Solder, New England

Oregon

Patrick Chung, New England

LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia

Kenjon Barner, Philadelphia

Joe Walker, Philadelphia

Oregon State

Isaac Seumalo, Philadelphia

Brandin Cooks,  New England

Stanford

Cameron Flemming, New England

Johnson Bademosi, New England

Jordan Richards, New England

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia

UCLA

 

Matthew Slater, New England

Randall Goforth, Philadelphia

USC

Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia

Everson Griffen, Minnesota

Utah

Eric Rowe, New England

Washington

Elijah Qualls, Philadelphia

Sidney Jones, Philadelphia

Washington State

Destiny Vaeao, Philadelphia

Former UCLA running back turned LAPD officer

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 7:30 PM

The  Los Angeles Times  has published a feature profiling former UCLA running back Steven Manfro, who just recently graduated the LAPD academy.

Manfro played at UCLA from 2012-15. He appeared in 23 games, racking up 172 rushing yards and 396 receiving yards with 5 total touchdowns in his modest career.

However, Manfro’s life has taken on a greater purpose since graduating from UCLA.

The son and grandson of New York City law enforcement officers, Manfro officially starts with the LAPD on Tuesday.

From the  LA Times: 

He believes playing football at Valencia High and UCLA helped prepare him for being a police officer.

“You never know what to expect,” he said of his new job. “That’s what I liked about football. There’s a lot of struggles. You’re physically fit. It’s a brotherhood, and we have each other’s backs all the time. I couldn’t imagine myself sitting at a desk doing the same over and over.”

Manfro will spend his first year on the force on probation, learning the ins and outs of becoming a patrol officer.

“I’m just open to learn,” he said. “I want to be the best police officer I can be.”

There’s also interest in joining the LAPD’s football team, the Centurions, on Manfro’s part. The former UCLA player hopes his playing days with the Bruins helps bridge the gap with the community.

“It was a great learning experience,” he said. “I think it will help because the community in Los Angeles is very diverse.”

What Bob Huggins said after West Virginia’s 82-73 loss to TCU

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 7:11 PM

FORT WORTH — West Virginia’s streak of perfection against TCU came to an end Monday night in a 82-73 loss to the Horned Frogs.

The Mountaineers made only 33.3 percent of their shots in the loss, going 25-of-75 from the field.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was a man of few words following the defeat. Here’s what he had to say on the Mountaineers’ lackluster performance in Fort Worth:

On preparations for the game:

“I watched pretty much all of their conference games and they’re well coached. Robinson is about as good as anybody else in finding open people.”

On lack of shooting success from the field:

“The first half we stopped them seven straight times and we didn’t score. It’s not like we didn’t have shots, we just didn’t make them….when you’re wide open I don’t think it’s the defense. You had wide open looks.”

On James “Beetle” Bolden injury:

“[Bolden] is beat up. I wish some of our other guys had his heart. He has a good heart.”

The sophomore point guard left the game at halftime after suffering a groin injury on the final play of the first half, but returned later on.

The Mountaineers are now 16-4 (5-3 Big 12) following the loss.