The soon-to-implode Georgia Dome was site of rough memories for area teams

Published: Saturday, November 18, 2017 @ 4:13 PM

Ohio State guard Daequan Cook, left and teammate Greg Oden congratulate Florida's Taurean Green, second left and Al Horford following Florida's 84-75 victory in the Final Four basketball championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Monday, April 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash
Ohio State guard Daequan Cook, left and teammate Greg Oden congratulate Florida's Taurean Green, second left and Al Horford following Florida's 84-75 victory in the Final Four basketball championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Monday, April 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash)

The Georgia Dome is set to implode Monday after 25 years of hosting the Atlanta Falcons, the Peach Bowl, Georgia State and three NCAA Final Fours. It hasn’t been a pleasant place to visit for local teams. Here’s a quick summary.

- Ohio State’s Thad Five made it to the NCAA men’s basketball title game at the Georgia Dome in 2007, the heralded first recruiting class of Thad Matta. The Buckeye youngsters unfortunately went against a veteran Billy Donovan coached Florida team that included Joakim Noah and a host of others that had won the national title the previous season.

Florida edged Ohio State in Gainesville early in the season 86-80, and with the Buckeyes getting a regular season and postseason run under their belt, Ohio State felt good about its chances. 

But Florida’s veteran squad took an early lead, led 40-29 at halftime and won 84-75. While Greg Oden had a good game for Ohio State in the paint, Florida shut down the rest of Ohio State’s offense.

To make matters worse, Florida also beat Ohio State a few months earlier in the BCS National Title game in football. Florida became the first school to hold both basketball and football national titles in the same calendar year.

The 2007 tournament was the coming out party for then VCU coach and current Dayton coach Anthony Grant, which shocked Duke with a 79-77 win in the first round of the tournament. 

- While the Bengals played the Falcons seven times in the preseason since 1992, when the Georgia Dome opened, the two only played in the Georgia Dome twice in the regular season.

Atlanta drubbed the Bengals 30-2 in 2002 during the third game of the season. It was the last year for Dick LeBeau, who would go back to Pittsburgh and helm the defense for the Steelers during two Super Bowls. 

Meanwhile a tough Falcons defense held the Bengals to 191 total yards and forced interceptions from quarterbacks John Kitna and Gus Frerotte. Michael Vick threw for two touchdowns and rushed for 56 yards while Warrick Dunn rushed for a touchdown.

The Bengals finished the season 2-14 and had the first pick in the draft. They picked USC quarterback Carson Palmer and in the offseason hired head coach Marvin Lewis, who turned the team around immediately, going 8-8 in back to back years before making the playoffs in 2005 and winning the division title. It was the Bengals first playoff appearance since 15 years. 

- The Bengals second trip to the Georgia Dome was more competitive, but came during a rebuilding year. 

The Falcons led 24-3 at halftime until the Bengals scored 22 unanswered points in the third quarter. Carson Palmer threw touchdown passes to Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley while Adam Jones returned a fumble 59 yards for a touchdown. 

Unfortunately the Falcons got it together in the fourth quarter. Matt Ryan threw a touchdown pass and and Michael Turner rushed three yards for a touchdown to retake the lead. Chad Johnson and Palmer put the Bengals back within seveb late in the fourth with an 8-yard touchdown pass, but by then it was too late. 

- The Cleveland Browns Georgia Dome history is friendlier. The Browns are 11-3 historically against Atlanta. Cleveland lost its first game in the Georgia Dome 17-14 during the 1993 season.

The Browns won there in 2006 17-13, intercepting Atlanta three times and recovering a fumble. Cleveland won again in 2014 beating the Falcons 26-24, giving the Browns a 7-4 record, but Cleveland lost its next five games and missed the playoffs. Brian Hoyer was 23-of-40 passing for 322 yards but threw three interceptions. Isaiah Crowell rushed 12 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns wile Terrance West rushed 14 times for 62 yards. Josh Gordon had eight catches for 120 yards. 

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Ending one-and-done rule one of recommendations of NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 9:21 AM

UCLA practices Monday, March 12, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/STAFF
Contributing Writer
UCLA practices Monday, March 12, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/STAFF(Contributing Writer)

The NCAA’s Independent Commission on College Basketball recommends ending the one-and-done rule and making high school players eligible for the NBA Draft again. That was one of the findings in its report released Wednesday morning.

Under the current rule, top high school recruits have to spend at least one season in college basketball before being for the NBA Draft.

The commission, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, was established in October in response to the recruiting scandal that dominated the headlines last fall. Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith is also part of the commission.

Here’s a quick glance at some of the recommendations:

1. One-and-done rule: “The Commission calls on the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) again to make 18-year-olds eligible for the NBA draft, so that high school players who are drafted may proceed to the NBA. The NCAA lacks the legal power to change one-and-done on its own; the power to make this change lies exclusively with the NBA and the NBPA.”

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2. Testing pro prospects: “The Commission recommends that high school and college players who declare for the draft and are not drafted remain eligible for college basketball unless and until they sign a professional contract. Specifically, players who are not drafted should be permitted to change their minds and attend college or return to college, provided they remain academically and otherwise eligible.”

3. Earlier professional assessment: “The Commission recommends that the NCAA and its member institutions develop strict standards for certifying agents and allow NCAA-certified agents to engage with student-athletes at an appropriate point in their high school careers to be determined by the NCAA.”

4. More resources for education: “The Commission recommends that the NCAA immediately establish a substantial fund and commit to paying for the degree completion of student-athletes with athletic scholarships who leave member institutions after progress of at least two years towards a degree. Colleges and universities must fulfll their commitments to student-athletes to provide not just a venue for athletic competition, but also an education.

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5. Independent investigations: “The Commission recommends that the NCAA create independent investigative and adjudicative arms to address and resolve complex and serious cases (hereafter “complex cases”) involving violations of NCAA rules.

6. Harsher penalties: Among the changes the commission recommends is a five-year postseason ban for serious infractions and the loss of all revenue sharing from the NCAA tournament during the ban.

7. Reforming non-scholastic basketball: The commission addressed the influence of AAU basketball and other events recruits play in away from school.

“Virtually all of the top recruits for each collegiate recruiting class participate in non-scholastic basketball,” the report stated. “The Commission recommends that the NCAA take short and long-term actions to reform non-scholastic basketball and disassociate the NCAA and its member institutions from the aspects of non-scholastic basketball where transparency and ethical behavior cannot be assured.”

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5 things to know about the Cincinnati Bengals draft

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 11:26 AM

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 25: Billy Price #54 of the Ohio State Buckeyes blocks during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 25, 2014 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 25: Billy Price #54 of the Ohio State Buckeyes blocks during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 25, 2014 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

One year after drafting one of the least productive first-round picks in franchise history, the Cincinnati Bengals will be back on the clock Thursday night when the NFL Draft gets underway in Dallas.

Last year’s first-found pick, wide receiver John Ross, was injured most of the year and ended up playing 17 snaps with no catches, one rush and one lost fumble as the Bengals posted a second-consecutive losing season.

Whomever the team selects with its first pick Thursday night will be expected to have a much bigger role, possibly as a starter depending which position the Bengals target.

›› Jay Morrison’s 7-round mock draft for the Bengals

Here are five things to know about the 2018 Bengals draft.

Clock check

Teams have 10 minutes to make a pick in the first round, and many of them will use the full allotment as they listen to trade offers from clubs wanting to move up.

If a trade is made, the clock resets to 10 minutes, but usually the pick comes in short time later because when a team trades up it knows who it wants.

Using past drafts as a guide, the 21st selection in 2017 came at 10:40 p.m. In 2016, it was 10:33 p.m. And in 2015, when the Bengals took Cedric Ogbuehi 21st, the pick was at 10:27 p.m.

21 again

In addition to Ogbuehi in 2015, the Bengals also picked 21st in 2013 (Tyler Eifert), 2010 (Jermaine Gresham) and 1986 (Tim McGee).

McGee was the team’s second pick in the first round in 1986, after Joe Kelly at 11.

If they hang on to the 21st pick Thursday night, it will become the most common first-round draft slot in team history.

The other first-round spots the Bengals have picked four times are third (Akili Smith, 1999; Anthony Munoz, 1980; Jack Thompson, 1979; Eddie Edwards, 1977) and 17th (Dre Kirkpatrick, 2012; David Pollack, 2005; Brian Simmons, 1998; Jason Buck, 1987).

The only spots where the Bengals have never picked are 19th, 20th, 29th, 30th, 31st and 32nd.

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Plenty of picks

After making a single pick Thursday, barring a trade, the Bengals will be busy making 10 more picks Friday and Saturday.

Only the Green Bay Packers (12) have more picks than the Bengals’ 11.

If the Bengals don’t trade for or trade away any picks, it will be the second year in a row they’ve had 11, equaling the team’s most since the NFL reduced the draft to seven rounds in 1994.

The Bengals have one pick in the first and second rounds, two in the third, one in the fourth, three in the fifth and three in the seventh.

›› Bengals RB Mixon hoping Browns don’t draft Baker Mayfield

Offense vs. defense

The last time the Bengals used their first pick to take players on the same side of the ball in back-to-back years was 2010 (Gresham) and 2011 (wide receiver Andy Dalton).

If the trend continues this year, the Bengals will be selecting a defensive player after taking Ross No. 9 overall in 2017.

The offensive-defensive breakdown since the roster reboot in 2011 looks like this:

2017: 6 offense, 4 defense, 1 special teams

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2016: 3 offense, 4 defense

2015: 5 offense, 4 defense

2014: 4 offense, 4 defense

2013: 7 offense, 3 defense

2012: 5 offense, 5 defense

2011: 5 offense, 3 defense

BENGALS DRAFT POSITION PREVIEWS

Position preference

In the 15 previous drafts of the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals have taken a cornerback with their first pick five times.

No other position has been targeted more than twice (tackle, wide receiver, tight end, linebacker).

The team went quarterback and running back once each.

2018 NFL Draft: TV schedule, channels

Thursday, April 26

First Round

8 p.m. ET

NFL Network, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Friday, April 27

Second and Third Rounds

7 p.m. ET

NFL Network, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2

Saturday, April 28

Fourth through Seventh Rounds

12 p.m. ET

ABC, ESPN, NFL Network

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Successful Wayne offensive coordinator leaves for Greenon

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 1:29 PM


            Braxton Miller, the Wayne High School quarterback who has committed to play his college football at Ohio State, is one of the most outrageous athletic talents to come through the area in recent memory. Some services have ranked him the No. 1 overall recruit in the country. He looks at game film with offensive coordinator Brian Blevins, who is on Wayne’s staff for the first year after resigning as Fairmont High School’s head coach. Staff photo by Jim Witmer
Braxton Miller, the Wayne High School quarterback who has committed to play his college football at Ohio State, is one of the most outrageous athletic talents to come through the area in recent memory. Some services have ranked him the No. 1 overall recruit in the country. He looks at game film with offensive coordinator Brian Blevins, who is on Wayne’s staff for the first year after resigning as Fairmont High School’s head coach. Staff photo by Jim Witmer

Brian Blevins faced many high-end challenges as the offensive coordinator during Wayne’s celebrated success as a Division I state football power. And he’ll have another in helping jump-start Greenon.

Blevins has left Wayne after eight seasons as an assistant coach and will look to make similar offensive fireworks with the Knights as their offensive coordinator. He switched programs mainly for the chance to coach with his son, Matt Blevins. He’ll also reunite with a former assistant of his, Greenon head coach Josh Wooten.

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Wayne has never won a D-I state championship, but played three state title games during Blevins’ time with the Warriors, 2010 and 2014-15. In all, Wayne has played for four D-I state championships under head coach Jay Minton.

“Jay and I had some long talks,” Blevins said. “Life is short. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something with my son that I gave up to be at Wayne. Jay has always said you’ve got to put your family first.”

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Blevins is a familiar football figure in the Springfield area. He was a quarterback at Springfield South from 1983-85. His first head coach position was at Yellow Springs. He also was the head coach at Springfield North, East Palestine in northeast Ohio and for seven mostly successful years at Fairmont.

He left Fairmont to become the OC at Wayne in 2010. That coincided with Braxton Miller’s senior season. The soon-to-be Ohio State University quarterback was a key reason why Wayne played Lakewood St. Edward in the D-I state championship that year.

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After Miller, Blevins groomed in succession Wayne QBs Javon Harrison, D’Mitrik Trice, Messiah deWeaver and returning senior Rashad McKee, already a two-year starter. All were outstanding passers.

Wayne was 16-7 in the playoffs with Blevins as the offensive coordinator. In all, Wayne has made 20 big-school playoff appearances – the most of any area D-I program – and has advanced to the playoffs the past six seasons.

“I think I helped solidify some things offensively,” he said.

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In contrast, Greenon had lost 31 consecutive games and had won just twice since 2012 when Wooten was promoted from defensive coordinator prior to last season. The Knights finished 3-6, their first season in the Ohio Heritage Conference after leaving the Central Buckeye Conference.

In D-V, Region 20 last season, Greenon has never qualified for the postseason.

“I’ve been truly blessed,” Blevins said. “Greenon could have an opportunity to shock some people.”

BRIAN BLEVINS

What: Greenon offensive coordinator

Previously: OC at Wayne from 2010-17

Head coach: Fairmont, East Palestine, Springfield North, Yellow Springs

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Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber loves hitting in Ohio

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 11:01 AM

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 24:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammates after a win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 24, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cubs defeated the Indians 10-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 24: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammates after a win over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 24, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cubs defeated the Indians 10-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)(Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber clubbed two home runs as the Chicago Cubs beat the Indians 10-3 in Cleveland on Tuesday night. 

The Middletown native raised his season batting average to .302, the highest it has been since the first of the month. 

After slumping in the first week fo the season, he seems to have found his stroke, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise he would do major damage in Cleveland. 

After all, Progressive Field is the place he became a World Series hero two years ago when he came back from knee surgery to lead the Cubs to their first championship in 108 years. 

RELATED: Doubtful Cubs win World Series without Kyle Schwarber’s heroics

Last season didn’t go so swimmingly for Schwarber, who hit only .211 in 2017 and spent some time in the minors trying to find his swing. 

He always seems to have a good time hitting against teams from his home state. 

Schwarber is a .500 hitter at Progressive Field and has a .421 batting average overall against the Indians. 

He’s done even more damage against the Reds, who reportedly were set to pick him out of the University of Indiana four years ago if the Cubs hadn’t latched onto him first. 

Schwarber has batted .330 with a 1.018 OPS against the Reds. He has seven homers and 20 RBIs in 25 games against Cincinnati. 

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