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Sports Today: Who wants to be a quarterback, anyway?

Published: Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 9:46 AM

Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton was asked about criticism of his play during the team's 0-2 start, and coach Marvin Lewis talked about his job security.

OK, so football turned out a little better in The Heart of It All this weekend, but not by much. 

Especially if you’re a quarterback. 

Andy Dalton kicked things off by getting outplayed on his home field by a rookie making his first start Thursday night. 

J.T. Barrett went next, playing a key role in Ohio State’s 38-7 win over Army on Saturday. The Buckeyes won comfortably — and Barrett was a big reason why — but that wasn't enough for everybody. Others were more enthralled by Dwayne Haskins’ four-pass debut than Barrett’s 302-total-yard, three-touchdown day. 

RELATED: 5 reasons to be encouraged and one for concern about Ohio State’s offense

Sunday it was DeShone Kizer’s turn. The Browns rookie quarterback completed less than 50 percent of his passes and was intercepted three times in a 24-10 loss to the Ravens in Cleveland. 

Of the three, Kizer would still seem to have the brightest future… but then again that might be mostly because we’ve seen the least of him. 

I wish that were a joke, but there’s undeniably some truth in it. 

Nobody knows if Kizer will ever accomplish what Dalton has (his college career was nothing compared to Barrett’s), but hope is a powerful thing. 

Barrett and Dalton enjoyed their time as the cool new guy, and they have suffered slings and arrows that go with fame since. (As Braxton Miller and Carson Palmer did before them.) 

Now both are in the odd situation of having strong resumes but uncertain futures. 

If Dalton and Barrett were stocks, the public would sell on both, but that’s not really how this works, at least for the people in those locker rooms who have to juggle competing interests. 

RELATED: What’s next for the Bengals after 0-2 start? | How was Marvin Lewis part of ESPN College GameDay?

Pro Football Talk reported “the leash isn’t quote so long” for Dalton and some Bengals players are interested in seeing the team sign Colin Kaepernick. 

The Kaepernick note should be taken with a grain of salt because PFT has been among the most egregious of his water carriers in the national media over the past year and there’s no indication how big a percentage “some” players might be. 

The suggestion Dalton is losing the locker room is noteworthy as benching him and replacing him with his younger, cheaper, perhaps more confident version wouldn’t be nearly as complicated as bringing in a guy who would necessitate changing the offense, turn off some fans and still might not be any better than what they’ve got. 

READ MORE: What’s next for Bengals, Dalton after another disappointing performance?

I’m inclined to think both Dalton and Barrett have carried their teams about as far as they can go. 

I’m less certain with Barrett, though neither of them have played their best recently. 

I think the ceiling is higher for the Ohio State offense with Dwayne Haskins or Joe Burrow at the controls, but the floor is lower, too. 

Which one is more preferable? 

On one hand, winning the national championship has become the only acceptable goal for a large swath of fandom ever since the BCS came into existence. 

On the other…. well maybe there’s not another. 

Meyer is in a tough spot because he no doubt wants to show loyalty to Barrett, the ultimate team guy who has had some big moments at important times, but he also owes the rest of the locker room the best chance to succeed. 

That might still be Barrett, of course. 

Either way, I guess that’s why the head coach gets the big bucks. 

The Ohio State offense still needs to do a better job adjusting to the style of quarterback they have in the game, but they’ve been stuck in between doing things to complement each, so they need to commit one way or another regardless of who is calling the signals. 

RELATED: Ohio State offense must decide what it wants to be to take next step

Were the Bengals to swap McCarron for Dalton, it would be more about restoring what has worked over the past six years and the possibility a different personality could provide a spark. 

As for Kizer? I love him as a prospect, and there’s not much worry about actually winning now in Cleveland, so it would stand to reason they will be plenty patient with him. 

There’s no sure thing in the NFL, but he’s got the ability to play the position and some swagger, too. 

Scott Frost’s Year 1 goal: Don’t just bring wins back to Nebraska — bring pride back, too

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:06 AM

Scott Frost’s résumé says .500 feels like a bit of a low bar for 2018, all things considered, Bristol be damned. Although if you want to splash cold water on that endorphin high you’ve been on since the first week of December, take a gander at the roadies on Nebraska’s dance card this fall:

Sept. 22: at Michigan

Oct. 6: at Wisconsin

Nov. 3: at Ohio State

Nov. 4: at Iowa

Fun, right? It’s the first time as a member of The Delany 12 14 that the Cornhuskers have been handed visits to Ann Arbor and Columbus in the same itinerary. Throw in joyrides to Madison and Iowa City, plus Colorado (Sept. 8) and Michigan State (Nov. 17) at home, and, yes, Virginia — 13-0 right out of the chute looks like a bit of a reach.

So where do we draw a fair line or Scott Frost, Year 1, given that what’s old is new, and what’s new is everywhere — coach, staff, system, philosophy, quarterback, the lot? 7-5? 8-4? Does ESPN have it right at 6-6?

“I don’t put a number on it,” former Huskers rush end Chad Kelsay, a 1998 co-captain, a former Frost teammate and member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017, told Land of 10 this week.

“You have a lot of people talk about it. I think, just from a perspective of a former player, [Frost’s] focus, at least through all the talk and interviews since he’s been there, since it was announced he’d been hired, is that it’s getting back to the culture and what Nebraska is all about,” Kelsay said. “If you can do all that and get it back, from that perspective, the wins and losses take care of themselves.

“I’m pretty excited that all the focus has been, ‘Hey, we’re going to get back to working hard and outworking your competition.’ And those things are exciting to hear. That’s how we did it. We also had some great talent, but we also had a lot of guys — I’d put myself in that boat — that if you worked hard, good things were going to happen. Obviously, you’ve got to have your game-changers, but you also have to have a lot of guys who are busting their butts.”

When it comes to Year 1, to those that know, to those that care, it’s not just about the number.

It’s about the pride.

Enough pride to wipe that silly grin off PJ Fleck’s mug.

Enough pride not to let Ohio State walk in your house and treat your secondary the way a boot treats a doormat.

Enough pride to protect your face, or what’s left of it, when Wisconsin slips on the gloves and goes into Rocky Balboa ’80s montage mode:

“They basically did to us what we were used to doing to people throughout so many years, when Nebraska had so many strong teams — you beat them down,” Kelsay sighed, the bruises still fresh from the Badgers’ 38-17 win at Memorial Stadium last Oct. 7, a night in which Bucky rolled up 353 rushing yards.

“You’d start the game and maybe it would be back and forth, and once you get to the third and fourth quarter, those 3- and 4-yard runs turn into 8- and 9-yard runs. And the same thing with the defense — it would be able to take a stranglehold to the other team and pretty much dominate as the game went on. And that’s what [Wisconsin] did to us. It was a little sick to watch the roles reversed.”

Enough pride to try and stop the bleeding, once the wound opens up.

Over the last 15 years, the Big Red has been handed a defeat of 21 points or more 25 times — or an average of 1.67 times per season, almost two clock-cleanings per campaign. Since joining the Big Ten, it’s been 12 poundings in seven seasons.

For perspective, that’s more than twice the beatdowns suffered by Iowa, and more than three times what’s been handed to Wisconsin over that same stretch:

“We’d get a game of a little bit bigger stature,” Kelsay said, “and you’d watch us get whipped up on.”

Ohio State 118, Huskers 17.

Iowa 96, Huskers 24.

“To some extent, to see some of those blowouts we had, it’s like, ‘Hey guys, don’t you have a little bit of pride?’ ” Kelsay asked.

“You’re not going to say that somebody’s quitting. But there’s a time where you’re still going out there every play and you have to say, ‘Suck it up.’ ”

Of those 25 routs, six of them — nearly a quarter of the carnage — stem from the last 18 months.

It starts there.

It has to end there, too.

Miami Hurricanes release 2018 ACC conference schedule

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:05 AM

The ACC announced on Wednesday the dates for its conference games for the 2018 season.

Miami’s ACC opener will be a Thursday home game against North Carolina on Sept. 27.

Miami’s crossover matchup will be at ACC Atlantic foe Boston College on Friday Oct. 26.

Coming off ending the overall seven-year drought last season in Tallahassee, Miami will now aim for their first home win against Florida State since 2004 when the in-state rivals square off on Oct. 6.

Here’s the fully released ACC schedule for Miami:

Sept. 27 vs. North Carolina

Oct. 6 vs. Florida State

Oct. 13 at Virginia

Oct. 26 at Boston College

Nov. 3 vs. Duke

Nov. 10 at Georgia Tech

Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech

Nov. 24 vs. Pitt

Miami will begin the season with a matchup against LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 2, followed by games against Savannah State, at Toledo and vs. FIU.

Florida State football: Dates released for 2018 ACC matchups

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:07 AM

Florida State fans already knew that when the Seminoles take the field for the first time under new head coach Willie Taggart, the team will host Virginia Tech on September 3. Aside from that matchup, the team’s 2018 ACC schedule has remained a mystery.

Wednesday, the dates of Florida State’s remaining seven ACC games were revealed.

After hosting Virginia Tech, the Seminoles will face their first conference road test at Syracuse on Sept. 15. After a non-conference matchup with Northern Illinois, Florida State will travel for two more matchups, at Louisville and at rival Miami. The Seminoles’ bye week will follow on Oct. 13.

After the off week, Florida State will host Wake Forest on Oct. 20. The following Saturday, Atlantic Division rival Clemson will come to Tallahassee in what will likely be the biggest game of the year in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Florida State will finish ACC play by traveling to N.C. State on Nov. 3 and hosting Boston College on Nov. 17.

In their non-conference slate, the Seminoles will face Samford in on Sept. 8 and Northern Illinois on Sept. 22. As usual, Florida State will close the season against rival Florida. Plus, this year, Florida State will travel to South Bend for a highly anticipated matchup against Notre Dame on Nov. 10.

Below is the Seminoles’ 2018 schedule in its entirety.

Coaching rumors: Lincoln Riley could hire brother as final Oklahoma assistant

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:05 AM

Oklahoma football has one more assistant coach position to fill this offseason, and Lincoln Riley might be considering his brother for the role.

Programs across the country are hiring or promoting coaches to fill the new 10th on-field assistant role allowed by the NCAA starting this year. According to Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett, there is “chatter” in the industry that Riley’s brother Garrett could fill that position for the Sooners.

Prior to a new NCAA rule that went into effect January 2018, college football programs were allowed nine on-field assistants. Any additional coaches on staff have to work as analysts or graduate assistants, limiting what they can do on game days and in recruiting.

Programs throughout the Big 12 and around the country are making hires now that the new rule is in effect. Texas officially hired Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand as its 10th assistant this week. Elsewhere, Baylor promoted Director of Player Personnel Evan Cooper to fill out its staff.

Garrett Riley has served as the quarterbacks coach at Kansas since 2016. He previously was on staff at East Carolina from 2013-2014 while Lincoln was the offensive coordinator for the Pirates.

Other than adding the 10th assistant, Oklahoma isn’t making any changes to its on-field coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops isn’t going anywhere, despite the wishes of some fans. The Sooners did have to hire a new strength coach in Bennie Wylie after long-time strength coach Jerry Schmidt  left for Texas A&M.