CLOSINGS AND DELAYS:

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WWE’s Vince McMahon to give football another shot, may bring back XFL

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 12:01 AM

Vince McMahon, owner and creative head of World Wrestling Entertainment, is preparing a new professional football league.

McMahon started the XFL in 2001, splitting ownership with NBC. The league debuted to massive ratings and hype, with commercials promising a harder hitting brand of football and sexier cheerleaders. But the quality of play suffered greatly from the lack of preparation time for players, as well as the lack of big name players from the NFL or college, led to the league lasting only one season.

The story was broke first by writer Brad Shepard on Twitter. Wrestling writer David Bixenspan later contacted WWE, which confirmed McMahon has established a new corporation called Alpha Entertainment. 

Bixenspan also reported McMahon had reacquired trademarks for the XFL shortly after ESPN aired a documentary on the league earlier in 2017. Whether McMahon’s league would be called the XFL is unknown.

The Washington Post wrote McMahon’s interest in a return to football was fueled by his participation in the ESPN documentary. Despite the league costing NBC and WWE $35 million in 2001, McMahon tried to find another channel for the league after NBC canceled it and only shut the league down after he was unable to find a television deal.

The XFL branded itself as a harder hitting and sexier version of pro football, and the NFL had become less physical. The marketing campaign behind the league’s debut was one of the most hyped in history and included professional wrestlers from WWE. 

The timing of McMahon opening a new league could be due to NFL’s ratings struggles and complaints about the league’s style of play after new rules have restricted how players tackle. The National Anthem protests by players in the NFL have been controversial. Media outlets have differed on if the protests have affected ratings. 

Players and owners were also targeted by President Donald Trump while he was campaigning during the Alabama Senate race. Vince McMahon’s wife Linda, a former WWE president, is a member of President Trump’s cabinet and head of the Small Business Administration. 

Virginia Tech losing key defensive pieces, but enough talent remains to win ACC Coastal division

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 7:15 AM

In Justin Fuente’s first season a year ago, Virginia Tech made a surprise run to the ACC Championship Game and remarkably kept the matchup close against the eventual national champion Clemson Tigers.

But Virginia Tech wasn’t able to win the Coastal division again in 2017. Then, the Hokies lost three key defensive players to the NFL draft last week. Meanwhile, Clemson will bring back eight starters from the No. 2 scoring defense in the country, and Miami, who did win the Coastal this past season, will deliver a top 10 recruiting class.

On paper, the gap is growing between the ACC elite and Virginia Tech.

But games aren’t won on paper — there’s still plenty of talent for the Hokies strong coaching staff to work with as they build back towards winning the Coastal division.

Those three key defensive departures for Virginia Tech are none other than the Edmunds brothers — Terrell and Tremaine — and defensive tackle Tim Settle. With Terrell a safety and Tremaine a linebacker, the Hokies are losing a key member in all three levels of the defense.

Despite that, ESPN remains confident that Virginia Tech will be a Top 15 team when the preseason polls come out in August. On the original Way-Too-Early 2018 rankings from “The Worldwide Leader”, the Hokies sat at No. 14. Then after the NFL draft decision deadline, which of course included the Virginia Tech departures, the Hokies only fell one spot to No. 15.

That speaks volumes to the confidence the ESPN experts have in Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. The 58-year-old coach has served as Hokies defensive coordinator since 1995 and has routinely produced top defenses. In his 23 seasons in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech has finished first in its conference in scoring defense nine times and first in total defense on eight occasions. Foster has led the Hokies to the No. 1 conference ranking in both scoring and total defense in the same season six times too.

In today’s modern era of college football where more kids are leaving early than ever before, you can’t continuously produce top of the line defenses without quickly rebuilding the unit when kids departure for the draft. And the good news is the potential replacements for the Edmunds brothers and Settle have already shown promise.

Virginia Tech rotated quite a few players at outside linebacker this season, so while none of them will be able to individually replace All-America linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, there’s plenty of depth. At safety, freshman Khalil Ladler and sophomore Divine Deablo played well in limited opportunities too. The Hokies could also find playing time for incoming 4-star freshman safety Chamarri Conner.

Interestingly, Foster’s biggest hole may very well be the one Settle leaves behind on the defensive line. His departure caught the Hokies a bit more by surprise. His likely replacement was also a freshman – Jarrod Hewitt, who posted 13.0 tackles, including 2.0 for a loss, in 10 games last season.

Those players are talented enough that Virginia Tech has a chance to be great on defense again. Just as important, the Hokies should be much better on offense.

Sophomore-to-be quarterback Josh Jackson had a great first year, but he struggled in November. That’s ultimately why Virginia Tech lost three of its final five games. With his improvement, along with the emergence of the weapons around him, and the Hokies could have an offense that finally resembles one of a Fuente-led team.

If Foster can have the defense playing just close to where it was in 2017, Virginia Tech should make a lot of noise this fall.

Ohio State recruiting mailbag: Buckeyes pursuing strong recruiting finish

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 7:00 AM

Have Ohio State football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Ohio State recruiting mailbag. This week, we talk about a number of things, including what Ohio State could do at offensive tackle, which recruit is most likely to make an instant impact, JK Dobbins’ recruiting impact and more.

Good Wednesday afternoon, everyone.

Thanks for all your questions this week. If you didn’t get to ask a question this week, make sure to send one to me on

Twitter ( @L10Ryan) or via email (DonnellyLandof10@gmail.com).

Let’s dive in.

There’s no hard cap for Ohio State on numbers. The Buckeyes signed 22 prospects during the early signing period, but they’re still pursuing prospects at a number of remaining positions. I expect Ohio State will take one to two more defensive linemen and one offensive tackle, at a minimum. Beyond that? The Buckeyes are pursuing players at linebacker, wide receiver, defensive back and potentially even running back or H. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this class finish with as few as 24 players or as many as 27 in this recruiting class. If players like Solomon Tuliaupupu or Nicholas Petite-Frere want in the class, how could they say no?

I think this offseason will be a critical opportunity for both players. Two starters, left tackle Jamarco Jones and center Billy Price, are gone from the roster. The starting right guard, Brandon Bowen, is still recovering from a broken leg. While Isaiah Prince and Michael Jordan appear locked in at left tackle and left guard, respectively, the other three remaining spots on the offensive line will be open to competition throughout spring practice and possibly into the fall, depending on Bowen’s recovery timeline. Davis and Myers will have to compete with players such as Matthew Burrell, Brady Taylor, Thayer Munford, Joshua Alabi and Demetrius Knox to earn their positions on the two-deep. If I had to pick, I’d lean toward Davis as being the more prepared of the two to take over next season, but both have developed well since arriving on campus.

I think Austin Mack seems poised to take one of the biggest leaps next season among Zach Smith’s wide receiver corps. While Campbell is likely to be the most targeted and utilized receiver next season, I think Mack is a do-everything player that can fill a lot of roles for the coaching staff. He’s not the most explosive athlete in the group, but Mack is at or near the top in route-running, sure-handedness, ability to create separation and blocking. If I had to project next year’s receivers in order of targets, I’d expect Campbell and K.J. Hill to lead the way, followed by Mack, Binjimen Victor, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin, in that order.

To date, Ohio State hasn’t showed the same pursuit of additional offensive tackle options that they have at some of the other positions they’re recruiting. You can read into that a few different ways, but what I see is a game of wait-and-see where the Buckeyes are wanting to know where they stand with Waldorf (Md.) North Point offensive tackle Rasheed Walker, who will take an official visit to Columbus this weekend, Jan. 19. While Walker won’t announce a decision until Feb. 7, Ohio State will have a much better idea of where they stand with the Maryland native after hosting him on campus for his final official visit. I think you could see decisions made at what to do at offensive tackle after that visit. If Ohio State feels confident that they have a real chance at Walker, they may opt to not pursue new offers at offensive tackle and could pour their efforts into Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep 5-star offensive tackle Petite-Frere, who’s expected to take an official visit to Columbus on the final available weekend, Feb. 2. Apopka (Fla.) offensive tackle William Barnes appears to be a longshot, but he is the other currently offered prospect who could see more attention from the Buckeyes.

Demario McCall dealt with injuries throughout the 2017 season and was never fully healthy. A persistent groin injury led to Ohio State pursuing a medical redshirt for the 2017 season on McCall’s behalf. The opportunities coming this season will be critical for him, but he’ll have to compete for touches with a number of other standouts. Ohio State’s top-6 wide receivers — Campbell, Hill, Mack, Victor, Dixon and McLaurin — will be back on the roster and incoming freshmen like Jaelen Gill will press McCall for reps. McCall will have to earn reps at either H or running back and carve out a role, but he’s shown the ability to be an explosive playmaker with the football in his hands. Health and opportunities are the two biggest questions for McCall, not talent. He’s a gifted player who’s facing stiff competition at his position. McCall will only be a redshirt sophomore in 2018, meaning he has plenty of time to emerge and earn his spot, but the clock is ticking.

Ohio State recruiting mailbag: Buckeyes pursuing strong recruiting finish

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 7:00 AM

Have Ohio State football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Ohio State recruiting mailbag. This week, we talk about a number of things, including what Ohio State could do at offensive tackle, which recruit is most likely to make an instant impact, JK Dobbins’ recruiting impact and more.

Good Wednesday afternoon, everyone.

Thanks for all your questions this week. If you didn’t get to ask a question this week, make sure to send one to me on

Twitter ( @L10Ryan) or via email (DonnellyLandof10@gmail.com).

Let’s dive in.

There’s no hard cap for Ohio State on numbers. The Buckeyes signed 22 prospects during the early signing period, but they’re still pursuing prospects at a number of remaining positions. I expect Ohio State will take one to two more defensive linemen and one offensive tackle, at a minimum. Beyond that? The Buckeyes are pursuing players at linebacker, wide receiver, defensive back and potentially even running back or H. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this class finish with as few as 24 players or as many as 27 in this recruiting class. If players like Solomon Tuliaupupu or Nicholas Petite-Frere want in the class, how could they say no?

I think this offseason will be a critical opportunity for both players. Two starters, left tackle Jamarco Jones and center Billy Price, are gone from the roster. The starting right guard, Brandon Bowen, is still recovering from a broken leg. While Isaiah Prince and Michael Jordan appear locked in at left tackle and left guard, respectively, the other three remaining spots on the offensive line will be open to competition throughout spring practice and possibly into the fall, depending on Bowen’s recovery timeline. Davis and Myers will have to compete with players such as Matthew Burrell, Brady Taylor, Thayer Munford, Joshua Alabi and Demetrius Knox to earn their positions on the two-deep. If I had to pick, I’d lean toward Davis as being the more prepared of the two to take over next season, but both have developed well since arriving on campus.

I think Austin Mack seems poised to take one of the biggest leaps next season among Zach Smith’s wide receiver corps. While Campbell is likely to be the most targeted and utilized receiver next season, I think Mack is a do-everything player that can fill a lot of roles for the coaching staff. He’s not the most explosive athlete in the group, but Mack is at or near the top in route-running, sure-handedness, ability to create separation and blocking. If I had to project next year’s receivers in order of targets, I’d expect Campbell and K.J. Hill to lead the way, followed by Mack, Binjimen Victor, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin, in that order.

To date, Ohio State hasn’t showed the same pursuit of additional offensive tackle options that they have at some of the other positions they’re recruiting. You can read into that a few different ways, but what I see is a game of wait-and-see where the Buckeyes are wanting to know where they stand with Waldorf (Md.) North Point offensive tackle Rasheed Walker, who will take an official visit to Columbus this weekend, Jan. 19. While Walker won’t announce a decision until Feb. 7, Ohio State will have a much better idea of where they stand with the Maryland native after hosting him on campus for his final official visit. I think you could see decisions made at what to do at offensive tackle after that visit. If Ohio State feels confident that they have a real chance at Walker, they may opt to not pursue new offers at offensive tackle and could pour their efforts into Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep 5-star offensive tackle Petite-Frere, who’s expected to take an official visit to Columbus on the final available weekend, Feb. 2. Apopka (Fla.) offensive tackle William Barnes appears to be a longshot, but he is the other currently offered prospect who could see more attention from the Buckeyes.

Demario McCall dealt with injuries throughout the 2017 season and was never fully healthy. A persistent groin injury led to Ohio State pursuing a medical redshirt for the 2017 season on McCall’s behalf. The opportunities coming this season will be critical for him, but he’ll have to compete for touches with a number of other standouts. Ohio State’s top-6 wide receivers — Campbell, Hill, Mack, Victor, Dixon and McLaurin — will be back on the roster and incoming freshmen like Jaelen Gill will press McCall for reps. McCall will have to earn reps at either H or running back and carve out a role, but he’s shown the ability to be an explosive playmaker with the football in his hands. Health and opportunities are the two biggest questions for McCall, not talent. He’s a gifted player who’s facing stiff competition at his position. McCall will only be a redshirt sophomore in 2018, meaning he has plenty of time to emerge and earn his spot, but the clock is ticking.

LB Mekhi Brown addresses leaving Alabama after odd sideline incident

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 7:05 AM

Former Alabama linebacker Mekhi Brown has addressed his recent departure from Tuscaloosa.

On Monday, Brown announced that he was transferring to Tennessee State. The news came a week after he produced headlines for a bizarre sideline incident during the Crimson Tide’s National Championship Game victory against Georgia in which he appeared to have an altercation with an Alabama coach and had to be restrained by fellow Crimson Tide players and coaches. Fans used Twitter to express their feelings about Brown’s departure in various ways.

On Wednesday, Brown used Twitter to write that he “wasn’t kicked off the team” following the national title game. He added that Alabama coach Nick Saban “didn’t want me to leave and had no plans to kick me off the team.”

Likely, many will associate Brown with that odd sideline incident for quite awhile. Still, it’s wise of him to express his perspective after many assumed his departure from Alabama had to do with his actions during the national title game.

A new beginning at Tennessee State might prove beneficial for him.