CLOSINGS AND DELAYS:

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Sports Today: Where did it go wrong with Bengals, Marvin Lewis? 

Published: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 10:02 AM

Marvin Lewis at Combine

The Cincinnati Bengals limped into Minnesota yesterday and absorbed pretty much exactly the type of beating that was to be expected. 

My main takeaway from this entirely forgettable game: Andy Dalton stunk again. 

He set the tone for another blowout with a terrible pick-6 that was vintage Rookie Dalton (or perhaps worse) and ended up with a QB rating of 27.3. 

RELATED: Bengals crushed by Vikings

In 14 games this season, he’s been pretty good in seven (if games against the Browns count) and below average or a lot worse in the other seven. 

I don’t care about what type of support he is getting — there is no excuse for a veteran player being that inconsistent. 

Anyway, of course the bigger news revolved around Marvin Lewis

One way or another, it’s inconceivable he’ll be back as the Bengals coach in 2018

RELATED: Lewis denies report he has decided not to return

I can’t imagine either side wanting this to continue. 

Unless Mike Brown suddenly decided he hates selling tickets, he isn’t very likely to want Lewis back even if Lewis wants to return…

Jack Brennan, a former Bengals beat writer who more recently was the team’s PR director until retiring last year, has an interesting take on the Lewis situation

He goes back farther than I expected to pinpoint the time it all starting going wrong for Lewis and the Bengals: A playoff loss to the Jets in January 2010. 

I find that choice a little odd considering they ended up building a better overall team a few years later, but it is interesting insight from a true insider who confirms Lewis wasn’t tough enough on some key players.

PHOTOS: The Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati

I don’t doubt that winning that playoff game against an underwhelming Jets team would have changed some perceptions going forward. That might have helped them avoid so many disappointing performances later, but to me the biggest failure was the 2013 home playoff loss to the Chargers. 

That was a total team loss, and with a better all-around team than the outfit playing with Carson Palmer, Dalton shrank to the occasion (three turnovers) in his first chance on a big stage at home. 

Turns out that’s who he is, I guess, but I admit that’s hindsight. 

Making a change then would have seemed pretty reactionary, but maybe it would have been the right move. 

At any rate, there’s no doubt about what needs to happen now. 

Once the Bengals and Browns got done stinking up the early window of games, the Patriots and Steelers put on a great show of football for the late-afternoon crowd. 

Then the NFL ruined it by applying it’s terrible catch rules again. 

I figured out as the game was coming down to the wire I still dislike the Steelers more than the Patriots, but Pittsburgh clearly got a raw deal here. Not because the call was wrong —it was, by rule, correct — but because the rule is terrible. 

Like many things in Roger Goodell’s NFL, the catch rule is idiotic, unnecessary and has no upside. 

Former NFL official Mike Pereira has explained the catch rule was made overly complicated because they wanted to avoid too many fumbles immediately after catches, which is truly mystifying. 

I guess I missed the great fumbles crisis gripping the league before the rules began being screwed with. 

However many people a few more fumbles might bother, it’s certainly dwarfed by the number who feel their fan experienced is marred by seeing plays like that one in Pittsburgh overturned when any degree of common sense indicates that should have counted. 

Before the Lewis reports consumed Sunday, the weekend went pretty well for just about any college basketball team anyone in Southwest Ohio might care about. 

Dayton, Wright State, Miami, Ohio State, Xavier and Cincinnati all won. 

For the Flyers, beating Georgia State 88-83 was not only key to keep the season from feeling like it might go off the rails but also because it had a lot of positive indicators. 

Veterans Josh Cunningham and Darrell Davis led the way, combining for 51 points, while point guard John Crosby added 11 points and seven assists without a turnover. 

That’s a pretty good baseline to start any Dayton game this season, and it sets the stage for one or more of the youngsters to provide the spark to get the Flyers over the top. 

Saturday, that was Jordan Davis and Trey Landers. 

Freshman Davis tallied 12 points while sophomore Landers added 10. 

As expected, new coach Anthony Grant has a lot to work with, and watching how it fits together from night to night is pretty interesting. 

Georgia State coach Ron Hunter said that was the best game Dayton has played this season, and I don’t think that was coach-speak. 

RELATED: 5 takeaways from Dayton’s win

Next up is a big test: At St. Mary’s, the No. 39 team on KenPom as this week begins. 

Dayton is No. 124. 

Wright State won its third in a row, this one a 77-69 at Toledo. 

Justin Mitchell led four Raiders in double figures, and WSU held the Rockets to 40.6-percent shooting from the floor (26 for 44). 

The Raiders are one of three Horizon League teams with seven wins so far, joining Milwaukee and Northern Kentucky. 

Then there is Ohio State. 

Chris Holtmann’s crew is 48th in KenPom and an NCAA tournament bid seems realistic again after four straight wins. 

They will probably get crushed by North Carolina on Saturday, but they can go back into Big Ten play with 11 wins if they beat The Citadel and Miami University in games that sandwich the showdown with the defending national champion-Tar Heels. 

The RedHawks are 7-4 under first-year coach Jack Owens, a former Purdue assistant. 

They blew out NAIA Division II Rio Grand on Sunday

‘Momentum’ isn’t real, but Arkansas has played quality basketball lately

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 1:00 AM

Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

First thing that came to mind after Arkansas beat Georgia in double overtime Tuesday night was the cinematic masterpiece Major League II. Yes, a mediocre-but-comical baseball movie about the Cleveland Indians from 1994 popped into my head after a college basketball game involving Arkansas in 2018.

The Indians had been down on their luck (go figure, right?) during a particular scene when manager Lou Brown tries to pep up his lads, lift their spirits.

“We won a game yesterday; if we win one today,  that’s two in a row. If we win one tomorrow,  that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before, ” Brown said.

This is Arkansas basketball right now. That quote is: The victory over Georgia gave the Razorbacks their second straight win. First time that’s happened since Dec. 27 and 30 against Cal State Bakersfield and Tennessee. Almost a month ago.

As such, like those Wahoo faithful Harry Doyle loves, so too were the members of Razorbacks’ nation not feeling so hot about their team. After a couple of sloppy — but important — wins, things are finally looking up. What’s more is that Arkansas’ schedule is about to get a lot easier than it’s been recently, too.

Who knows, maybe the Hogs go on a Tribe-like run to make the pennant, er, NCAA Tournament, in a runaway.

So, what comes next for Arkansas?

Soon relating to next season. Not “soon” relating to coming weeks. In fact, the Razorbacks face a lighter load in their schedule over the next two weeks or so. Better take advantage of it.

No, this soon is referring to the 2018-19 season. A reader asked earlier this week, ostensibly, whether Arkansas big man Daniel Gafford would be back next year. It’s a reasonable question given Gafford’s burst onto NBA draft boards over the last several weeks (His Georgia performance Tuesday notwithstanding).

Let’s put it this way, though: If the Razorbacks want to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament next year, he better. Arkansas is simply losing too many players — and, yes, I realize its incoming recruiting class is top notch — to expect grand things without his talent and experience.

A lot is going to depend on how he develops over the final six or so weeks of the regular season and into the SEC Tournament and Big Dance, if Arkansas makes it that far. There are aspects of his game that are not yet ready for the NBA, certainly. But the league is no longer one that requires, or necessarily expects, its players to be immediate forces.

Arkansas needs to pass rush better

John Chavis thinks his defense can, too. The last four years under Bret Bielema, Arknsas’ defense finished 11th, 10th, eighth and 14th in the SEC in total sacks. That’s with Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise — the two defensive ends for the New England Patriots — on the roster, too.

Arkansas will go back to a four-man front, ditching the 3-4 that didn’t quite have the success the previous coaching staff envisioned in 2017. Chavis, Arkansas’ new defensive coordinator, has had tons of pass-rushing success with such a front. As our Trent Shadid pointed out, Texas A&M — where Chavis spent 2017 — led the SEC in sacks.

Shadid provided an interesting-and- insightful look at some of the bodies who can best help the Razorbacks leave the cellar in that stat.

ICYMI

  • Former Arkansas wide receivers coach Michael Smith retweeted SEC Country’s story about him taking the same gig at Kentucky. So, even though his Twitter bio doesn’t reference it, Smith will be on the Wildcats’ sideline after spending last season with the Razorbacks.
  • It was a busy two days for Arkansas in the recruiting realm. With National Signing Day just around the corner, coach Chad Morris and his staff are making inroads.
  • Arkansas soccer has hired a new assistant coach. Chris Neal is joining the staff.
  • Baseball America has put Arkansas baseball inside its preseason top 5 in the nation. That’s four polls now that the Diamond Hogs have made the top 10 and three in the top 5. The season starts Feb. 16 against Bucknell.

Tweets and the like

• This is rather impressive. CBS Sports called Hjalte Froholdt one of the 25 best returning players in college football. Between him and Frank Ragnow, who was called the best center in the country by Pro Football Reference, they make one stop and think, “Man, how bad was the rest of the line, then?”

• Former Arkansas and NBA basketball Ronnie Brewer knows a thing or two about ugly play. He was a great player with one of the most … unique releases in school history.

• This is something, I guess. Not sure it means anything … actually; positive it doesn’t mean anything. But it’s something. Some Bielema defense fuel, anyway.

• Arkansas baseball is excited about its fourth top 10 ranking in the preseason polls.

 

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.

Florida teammates react to news that Gators RB Jordan Scarlett has been reinstated from his suspension

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 1:00 AM

Florida football-Florida Gators-Jordan Scarlett-reinstated

Florida Gators football is the No. 1 topic in Good Morning, Gators every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Gators sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Florida football, recruiting, basketball and more.

Jordan Scarlett, 3 fellow Gators cleared to return from indefinite suspensions

After months of speculation, uncertainty and countless questions about Florida’s suspended football players, the matter reached a final resolution Tuesday.

SEC Country and other outlets reported that star running back Jordan Scarlett, wide receiver Rick Wells and linebackers Ventrell Miller and James Houston had been cleared to return to team activities and would join the Gators’ offseason strength and conditioning program Wednesday.

They were four of the nine Gators suspended indefinitely last August amidst an investigation into credit card fraud that later brought recommended third-degree felony charges for all involved.

Of the nine players who used stolen credit card information from victims across the country to obtain electronics and other unauthorized purchases, seven received pre-trial intervention that would lead to the charges ultimately being dropped if they met requirements set forth by the State Attorney’s Office.

The two who did not receive that opportunity, offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort and defensive lineman Jordan Smith, faced too many charges and ultimately announced plans to transfer out of Florida. Defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones also transferred, while former star wide receiver Antonio Callaway declared for the NFL draft.

And the rest waited. In addition to the four players reinstated, defensive end Keivonnis Davis is continuing to rehab from a non-football injury sustained in a scooter accident last fall and his football future is unclear.

The biggest name left in limbo, though, was Scarlett, who led Florida in rushing in 2016 with 899 yards and 6 touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry.

After missing all of last season, his return adds to an already deep Gators backfield. Rising junior Lamical Perine led Florida with 562 rushing yards and 8 TDs last fall, while high-upside sophomore Adarius Lemons and highly-touted freshmen early enrollees Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement will also be competing for carries.

Eventually, so too will Malik Davis, who replaced Scarlett as the Gators’ star rusher in his first season, piling up 526 yards on 6.7 YPC before a serious knee injury cut his breakout campaign short. It’s not clear when he’ll be able to return to the field.

With all the options Florida has at running back, Scarlett might find it hard to regain as big a role as he was expected to have last fall. But at the same time, it’s hard to see a healthy and motivated Scarlett overshadowed. He showed tremendous ability to create yards after contact as a sophomore and likely would have been preparing for the NFL draft right about now if not for his off-the-field transgression and subsequent suspension.

Scarlett tweeted his reaction to the news Tuesday night:

Meanwhile, Perine, Lemons and Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland shared their reactions as well.

Florida coach Dan Mullen, who worked with athletic director Scott Stricklin to make the final decision to reinstate the four players, released a brief statement after the news broke.

“All of our players understand the standards and expectations we have of them to be members of the Florida football program,” he said.

Mullen, who is on the road recruiting, won’t be available to face questions from reporters on the matter until National Signing Day in two weeks.

Opinions will vary on the merits of giving the players a second chance with strong thoughts on each side, but from a football standpoint the situation is a little more clear.

Florida should have one of the best running back groups in the SEC next fall however the carries are divided.

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In other Florida football news

Recruiting roundup

  • SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi updates Florida’s recruitment of Class of 2018 tight end Glenn Beal, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound 3-star prospect from New Orleans. Beal is ranked the No. 29 tight end in this class, according to the 247Sports composite. TE has already become a very deep position for the Gators.
  • Caleb Tannor, a 4-star Class of 2018 linebacker from Lithonia, Ga., shared his thoughts on his official visit to Florida last weekend. Tannor is highly ranked on the 247Sports composite as a defensive end, but he prefers to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and he would get that opportunity with the Gators.
  • In the latest edition of the Chomp Chat podcast, Abolverdi and Florida broadcaster Jeff Cardozo discuss the strong transition recruiting class Mullen is putting together in short time.
  • Jalen Catalon, a 4-star Class of 2019 safety from Mansfield, Texas, received an offer from the Gators. He is ranked the No. 8 safety in his recruiting class by the 247Sports composite and also has offers from programs like Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio State and Clemson.
  • Taurean Carter, a Class of 2019 defensive end also from Mansfield, Texas, also tweeted about receiving an offer from Florida. He is rated a 3-star prospect on the 247Sports composite.
  • Along with a third high school teammate, Enoch Jackson, a Class of 2019 defensive tackle.
  • NaNa Osafo-Mensah, a 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker in the Class of 2019, received an offer from the Gators. Osafo-Mensah, from Forth Worth, Texas, is ranked the No. 6 weakside defensive end in his class by the 247Sports composite.
  • As did Joseph Ngata, a 4-star Class of 2019 “athlete” from Folsom, Calif.
  • And Diwun Black, a Class of 2019 “athlete” from Forest, Miss.
  • As well as Julius Buelow, a 6-foot-7, 292-pound offensive tackle in the Class of 2019 from Hawaii. He is ranked the No. 18 OT in his class by the 247Sports composite.
  • And Class of 2020 wide receiver/cornerback Zeriah Beason, from Dallas.

On the hardwood

  • Florida basketball coach Mike White gave a very candid response when asked about senior center John Egbunu’s expected return from a torn ACL. “I don’t even think it’s a foregone deal that he’s going to be back,” White said Tuesday. He later clarified that he doesn’t believe Egbunu has had a setback, necessarily, but the rehabbing big man simply is not ready to return to action and White isn’t sure when that will change. Read his full comments here.
  • The No. 20 Gators (14-5, 6-1 SEC) host South Carolina (12-7, 3-4) on Wednesday night inside Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center. It’s the first meeting between the programs since the Gamecocks defeated Florida in the Elite 8 last year at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Another No. 1 ranking for Florida baseball

Elsewhere around campus

  • The Florida men’s tennis team was picked second in the SEC preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s coaches. The Gators went 9-3 last season and placed third in the conference while making their 27th straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Gators opened the season Monday with a 6-1 win over UCF.
  • Florida’s Jan Switkowski earned his third SEC Swimmer of the Week award this season, and Michael Taylor was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. Switkowski led the Gators’ men’s team with four wins against Auburn, while Taylor added both a relay win and an individual win.

Want to keep the conversation going? Hop over to our free Florida message board. Sign up now and join the discussion here.

What they’re saying on Twitter

Florida defensive end Zachary Carter responded to a question on Twitter about how he’s liking new Gators’ director of strength and conditioning Nick Savage:

Freshman running back Iverson Clement chimed in on the topic as well:

New Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes was one of several players to tweet out this photo from The Swamp:

Florida co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach John Hevesy tweeted a photo from a recruiting visit to Hawaii:

Injured Florida left guard Brett Heggie tweeted an encouraging message about his recovery from the knee injury that ended his 2017 season:

SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears is expecting big things from Florida defensive standout CeCe Jefferson after he passed on declaring for the NFL draft:

Florida basketball coach Mike White congratulated a pair of former Gators on their selection to the NBA All-Star Game:

Malik Langham, a 3-star defensive end the Gators are targeting in this class, shared a photo from his home visit with Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and defensive line coach Sal Sunseri:

Miss a previous edition of Good Morning, Gators? Get caught up here.

The post Florida teammates react to news that Gators RB Jordan Scarlett has been reinstated from his suspension appeared first on SEC Country.

South Carolina freshman QB ready to lead; Gamecocks commit climbs in recruiting rankings

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 1:00 AM

South Carolina-Dakereon Joyner-Elite 11

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

‘Just be me’

South Carolina freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner is ready to “get reps” and hit the practice field in a few weeks.

The former 4-star prospect was one of 13 Class of 2018 signees to enroll at South Carolina in January.

“Just be the best I can possibly be,” Joyner said of his goals at South Carolina. “Lead by example, lead vocally and just do me. Don’t try to do some things that I’m not. Just be me.”

The standout QB from North Charleston, S.C., posted a 40-3 record as the starting signal caller and threw for nearly 10,000 yards in his time at Fort Dorchester High School. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback was named South Carolina’s Mr. Football in 2017 and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2016.

He was rated as the No. 204 overall prospect for 2018, per the 247Sports composite.

Moving on up

Class of 2018 prospect and South Carolina commit Bryce Thompson is now rated as a 4-star athlete by Rivals.

“We’ve always known Thompson was a talented player, but he took his game to another level over the past six months,” Rivals Southeast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack wrote. “He impressed while playing all over the field and leading his team to the state championship, and continued that impressive play while working at wide receiver at the Shrine Bowl.”

The Dutch Fork High School (Irmo, S.C.) standout has been committed to the Gamecocks since Dec. 13. Rivals now rates Thompson as the No. 222 overall prospect for 2018.

Coaching buzz

According to a report from ESPN’s Jake Trotter, South Carolina defensive line coach and assistant defensive head coach Lance Thompson is among the six candidates for the Oklahoma State defensive coordinator position.

Thompson has been at South Carolina for the entirety of Will Muschamp’s tenure as coach. Prior to coming to Columbia, Thompson spent time at Alabama, Georgia Tech and LSU.

Under Thompson and the Gamecocks defensive staff, South Carolina finished as the No. 6-ranked rushing defense in the SEC in 2017.

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Where in the world

Muschamp has been on the recruiting trail in Georgia this week.

On Tuesday, the South Carolina coach was at Carrollton High School to see 2020 4-star outside linebacker Kevin Swint and 2021 linebacker Chaz Chambliss. He also stopped by LaGrange and Cedartown.

The Gamecocks’ current 2018 class includes seven Peach State natives.

‘It went great’

Four-star athlete Jammie Robinson was in Columbia on Saturday for South Carolina’s junior day.

“It went great,” Robinson told SEC Country. “My mom really enjoyed it the most. I mean, I enjoyed it also, but she really enjoyed the visit. We just hung out with the coaches, then went bowling and stuff like that. And then we just talked with Muschamp, Mike P [Peterson] and T-Rob [Travaris Robinson]. It was a good time. That was pretty much it.”

The Cordele, Ga., native already boasts an impressive offer list, including Alabama, Auburn, LSU and many more. He’s tabbed as the No. 331 overall prospect for 2019 by the 247Sports composite.

Dropping in

Four-star 2018 defensive tackle Rick Sandidge received a visit from several South Carolina coaches on Tuesday night, including Thompson, defensive coordinator Robinson and running backs coach Bobby Bentley.

Sandidge is one of the Gamecocks’ top remaining targets for 2018. He’s rated as the No. 136 overall prospect in his class, per the 247Sports composite.

Turning heads

Check out former South Carolina cornerback Jamarcus King standing out at a 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl practice.

The 6-2 defensive back posted 41 tackles, 2 interceptions and 12 pass breakups in 2017.

King, along with former Gamecocks LB Skai Moore, will take the field for the all-star game this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post South Carolina freshman QB ready to lead; Gamecocks commit climbs in recruiting rankings appeared first on SEC Country.

Syracuse-Boston College basketball: Game time, TV Channel, watch online (1/24/2018)

Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 @ 1:00 AM

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team will look to notch their second straight win when they host the Boston College Eagles on Wednesday in Syracuse, NY.

Syracuse-Boston College basketball game time, information

Time: 7 p.m. ET

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 24

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY.

What TV channel is Syracuse-Boston College basketball on?

The Syracuse-Boston College basketball game will air on ESPNU.

How can I watch Syracuse-Boston College basketball online?

The Syracuse-Boston College basketball game will be streaming on  WatchESPN.