Thursday, June 30, 2011

Coming soon: All-decade high school football team

So, did you think The News-Herald Senior Bowl on June 25 was the end of high school football in the summer?

It was not.

The News-Herald will take one last look at the previous decade by unveiling its all-decade high school football team prior to the start of the 2011 season in August. Sure, we're late with the all-decade team, but we spent 2010 unveiling our players of the decades for all high school sports. This time, we will spotlight an entire football team.

Competition for spots will be fierce. Arguments will ensue. Readers will surely chime in. The best from 2000 to 2009 in area high school football is coming your way in a true sense.

One quarterback, two running backs, five offensive lineman, a tight end, etc., is on tap.

At quarterback, will it be Bart Tanski, Ricky Stanzi, Thom Abbott, Patrick Nicely or Mark Petruziello?

At running back, will it be Eric Kettani, Michael Hanhouser, Richie Sanders or Tim Wetzel?

At kicker, will it be Kevin Harper or Carey Spear?

Questions will be answered. The News-Herald all-decade team is on its way.

- Mark Podolski


Sunday, June 26, 2011

U.S. faces dilemma going forward

The United States' 4-2 loss to Mexico on Saturday night in the Gold Cup final, before a crowd of around 90,000 mostly pro-Mexican fans, speaks to peaks and valleys with Sam's Army. The peak was a 2-0 early lead, despite El Tri being more dynamic in the offensive third from the start. Then came the valleys, and in turn the questions.

<a href="" target="_new" title="">Studio Wrap: USA/Mexico</a>

Is Bob Bradley the right man to lead this team through another World Cup cycle? And if not, who's a better fit?

Where will the defense get more pace (especially out wide) so it won't be eaten alive by the dynamic quick midfielders of the world, which is what happened Saturday?

And what is going on in central midfield? Jermaine Jones is a nice addition, and Michael Bradley has been very good at times, but is that combination the true answer?

Beyond all that, there's one glaring issue that seems to be good for archrival Mexico and bad for us. They have depth in dynamic young world-class stars. The harsh truth is we can't necessarily claim that as well.

Mexico is in a good place. Just look at the attack. Striker Javier Hernandez, more commonly known by his nickname Chicarito, is a beast. He scored 20 goals in all competitions this year for Manchester United, and he's 23.

<a href='' target='_new' title='PL Highlights: Man Utd/Everton' >Video: PL Highlights: Man Utd/Everton</a>

Giovani dos Santos is creative and electric out wide, and he's 22. Andres Guardado is an underrated but undeniably world-class left-sided midfielder, and he's 24.

We have quality young potential stars - Jozy Altidore (21) and Juan Agudelo (18) could be the striking tandem for years to come on the USMNT as an example. But truly upper-echelon world-class talent? That's hard to say right now for a wealth of players in the national pool.

Star midfielders Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, naturals in their attacking third roles supporting the midfield but not necessarily playing up top, will be in their early 30s once the 2014 World Cup rolls around. Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo, fixtures in the back for the United States, are not getting any younger either.

Therein lies the problem.

The loss to Mexico, broken down beautifully by's Jonathan Wilson, should be a wakeup call. The players are saying all the right things.

Our archrival has an attack that will be a thorn deep into this decade and for two World Cup cycles at least.

The U.S. is a team in transition, begging for more quality in defense after getting run ragged in that third Saturday and at this point seemingly in need of a spark. But where does it come from?

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, June 24, 2011

It should be safe to buy a Kyrie Irving jersey

For the past year, about the only jerseys a Cleveland sports fan was safe picking up were Shin-Soo Choo's No. 17 and Asdrubal Cabrera's No. 13.

It appears safe that a wine-and-gold Kyrie Irving model will be in style for at least three years.

Before last July, Grady Sizemore or LeBron James editions could be found by the closet-full. But Sizemore was injured and James bolted, leaving Northeast Ohioans in a sports fashion quandary.

- Browns players: Forget it. The roster turns over every 18 months. Joe Haden would be your best bet now. I wouldn't include Colt McCoy or Peyton Hillis. Either could be a perennial Pro Bowler for the next five years. They could also be the next Brady Quinn/Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis/Reuben Droughns. Perhaps Joe Thomas, but I don't see a lot of people sporting offensive linemen jerseys.

- Indians: Choo and Cabrera appear as if they'll be around for a while. Probably Chris Perez and Carlos Santana, too. Other than that, you're gambling or buying a jersey of someone who doesn't reach the top of the star totem pole.

- Cavaliers: Name a player besides Irving and Tristan Thompson who will definitely be on the team past next year.

Factor in that the Cavs introduced new jerseys last year, and you should be safe with an Irving No. 15 for a few years to come.

- Howard Primer

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quickies from N-H Senior Bowl Practice Day 4

n The players all seem ready to get after it for real. Practice has been good for the most part for the past four days, but it is safe to say that everyone - including the coaches - are ready to go against someone in a different color jersey.

n Speaking of colors, it can't be easy to be a QB in practice for an all-star game. Every player wears different helmets and jerseys and some teammates practice on the opposite side of the ball, so when a QB throws a ball down the field, if you aren't paying attention at the snap, it's hard to tell who is the receiver and who is the DB.

n Advance ticket sales have been better than expected and we are expecting a good size crowd Saturday night. The weather is supposed to cooperate and we are hoping for a few thousand people to be at the JTO. We suggest if you are going to get there early and not try to show up at 5:45 p.m. and expect to find a parking spot next to the stadium and get in without waiting in line for a ticket.

n A raffle will be held on NH Senior Bowl night with the winner receiving a Tony Fisher-autographed jersey. Your yellow game tickets have a serial number on it, and that number will serve as your chance at the commemorative piece of memorabilia.

n NH Senior Bowl T-shirts will be on sale for $7 on game day. Players will be available after the game to sign autographs for kids - or fans - who request them. The shirts are white with a black logo on the front.

- Bill Tilton

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quickies from N-H Senior Bowl Practice Day 3

* Wednesday was jersey day for the N-H Senior Bowl players. There was some very minimal grumbling from those that didn't get the number they wanted (multiple requests, sizes, etc., played a role in that), but overall, the process was smooth and everyone seemed to be excited.

* The weather was ideal for both practices. Mid-70s, no humidity, little breeze. If we get that weather Saturday, we will be extremely fortunate. Perfect weather for football in June.

* The teams started putting in more plays and began working on down-and-distance situations a little more seriously and even some hurry-up offense. The beauty of this game is while it should be a lot of fun, we have about 70 players who have graduated from high school, but come Saturday night will be serious about winning.

* There have been some changes to the roster of both teams from what was originally announced. Make sure you pick up a program Saturday to follow your favorite player.

* The big hit of the day belonged to Brush defensive back Denzel Harris, who drew oohs and aahs from teammates and coaches with a tackle in the second practice session of Wednesday night. It seems as if both defenses are slightly ahead of the offenses, which is not surprising. But don't count on a low-scoring game Saturday night. There is plenty of offensive firepower.

- Bill Tilton

A week away from sports puts things in perspective

Today is my first day back from vacation after being away for one week.
I spent my time on Sanibel Island in Florida in a condo just a few feet from the Gulf of Mexico.
Every morning I sipped my coffee on a balcony overlooking the beach. It was a beautiful way to start every day.
After breakfast, my husband and I took long walks on the beach. When we returned to the condo, we would pack our bags and head back to the beach. We spent our days swimming, laying out, jet skiing, fishing and parasailing. What could be better?
For the entire week I was away, I did not read a newspaper. I did not surf the Internet or watch Sports Center.
For one week, I took a break from all sports.
It was nice, but I missed it. I especially missed Cleveland sports.
It's funny when you follow a team to go cold turkey for one week. When you get back, it seems like so much has gone on. Injuries, transactions, winning streaks, losing streaks, all in just seven days.
At the same time, the break was much needed and it made me appreciate what I do for a living that much more.
Sports is fun. It's who won and who lost. It's not life or death. Work may not be a day at the beach, but at times it feels close to it.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quickies from N-H Senior Bowl Practice Day 2

* Football players can really plow through chicken wings. Glory Daze Bar and Grille in Wickliffe donated almost 500 wings for the two practices, and approximately 45 minutes after the White team wrapped up the second practice of the night, not one wing was left. In fact, the Blue team ripped through their 200-plus wings before the coaches got any. Sorry, guys.

* One of the neat things about the N-H Senior Bowl is to see how many assistant coaches are coming out to practice to help. Initially, it was going to be Mike Bell and Matt Duffy and four assistants per team. A few extra bodies are visible coaching the players and running individual positions, and it is great to see the dedication of the guys during the summer.

* The heavy rain from the morning on Tuesday didn't reappear in the afternoon, but it was a steamy day on the turf at the JTO. The coaches did a good job of keeping everyone hydrated and safe.

* Both teams looked better Tuesday than Monday, which is no big surprise, but it now looks like the offenses finally are gaining some rhythm. By Saturday, there should be some chemistry. It seems like the players are getting comfortable with each other.

- Bill Tilton

Monday, June 20, 2011

Quickies from NH Senior Bowl Practice Day 1

* The weather delayed the start of practice by 20 minutes at 5 p.m., but the Blue team led by Coach Matt Duffy used it wisely to sit in the locker room and go over some basic plays, alignment and terminology. I was very impressed at the organization of both teams, considering all the new faces.

* Seemed like the defense was ahead of the offense during both the Blue and the White team's practices. To be expected when you consider most of the defense is just reacting and the offense is a lot of learning.

* Hats off to the players for staying in such great shape and almost looking football ready in many situations. There is a lot of talent in this game and nobody looked completely out of shape or ready to hang 'em up halfway through practice.

* The Hooley House was a big hit as they provided wraps, chips and water for the players. By the time the White practice ended after 9 p.m. in a steady drizzle, there was a lot of grumbling for food and the presenting sponsor of the game did not disappoint.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Road to Brazil off to rough start

As hard as it is to believe, the road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has already begun.

This week marked the first qualification match, as Belize took on Montserrat. Belize is a tiny coastal nation in Central America popular among tourists. Montserrat is a Caribbean island that languishes in the bottom five of the FIFA world rankings, in large part because most of the island was devastated by a volcano in 1995 so they have more important things to worry about than soccer.

Belize won the match, 5-2, getting a hat trick from Deon MacCauly. It was played at a neutral site in Trinidad because Montserrat doesn't have a stadium that meets FIFA standards.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for controversy to strike. The second leg of the home-and-home series has been postponed after Belize's soccer federation and government couldn't see eye to eye.

After the FIFA embarrassment the last few months with bribery charges and the like, is it really that difficult to keep the seedy underbelly of the sport away from its grandest stage? Apparently it is.

Hopefully this can get resolved and we can get back to the games being the focus sooner rather than later.

It seems only 150 people attended this first qualification match. If I had the means, I personally would have enjoyed being there. Neutral site or not, lack of fans or not, there's nothing quite like that World Cup implication.

So while 2014 may be far down the road for pretty much all of us, in a sense it's really not.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hillis keeping himself grounded

The Vikings' Adrian Peterson? The Titans' Chris Johnson?

Those elite NFL running backs have nothing on the Browns' Peyton Hillis. I know, let's not get carried away, but who would have predicted Hillis gracing the cover of a Madden video game before the likes of Peterson and Johnson?

Certainly not Hillis, who's not about to put himself in the class of what many consider the top two running backs in the NFL.

"I would never look at myself like that to tell you the truth." Hillis said in a phone interview with The News-Herald. "Even if I had 20 1,000-yard seasons, I would not think of myself as one of the greats. That's just not how I was raised. 

"I always felt, just go out and do my best, stay level-headed and stay humbled. Those guys are great football players and when I look at myself, I think of myself as just being good and I've got to get better. I think that's the mindset a guy like me needs if I want to stay around for a long time."

The Madden 12 video game with Hillis on the cover hits stores on Aug. 30.

- Mark Podolski

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Boo birds out for Bettman

Fans have their reasons for booing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman when he walks out for the trophy ceremony after the Stanley Cup has been won.

For some, it's the movement of Canadian teams. For others, it's the national TV deal.

As a non-hockey diehard, I'm beginning to wonder if booing Bettman has become a tradition, regardless of how he's doing. Kind of like how everyone yells "Looooouuuu" when someone by that name does well. After a while, it might start becoming a compliment - hey, they care!

It would probably be better if he was known for something other than getting jeered during what's supposed to be the most joyous moment of the season. But at least people know him for something.

- Howard Primer

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The circus has left town

The NBA season is over.


Not that I'm the biggest NBA fan anyway. Even when LeBron James was donning the Wine and Gold, I was rather apathetic about the NBA.

The season is just too drawn out. I know the big reason the playoffs are strewn about like toys in a 5-year-old's play room are because of television ratings. Every night has a game on it - not two or three, like there should be.

Therefore, a seven-game series can take up to 2-plus weeks because of all the travel days.

Unless a fan has a team involved, it's easy to lose interest.

The sun comes out in June. The temperatures rise. Outdoor activities increase.

The only remnant of winter is the NBA.

Maybe I'll react different when or if the Cavaliers return to the postseason or *gasp* the NBA Finals.

But the past two weeks, I had better things to do with my sunny evenings when the sun doesn't go down until 9 p.m. than sit in front of the TV and watch the NBA Finals.

The NBA should tighten up the playoffs - but it won't. There's just too much money to be made in primetime TV packages.

But that doesn't mean we have to sit inside on a gorgeous night to watch LeBron James do what he does best - fall apart in crunch time.

No thanks.

- John Kampf

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fans and media need to take a deep breath and calm down

Overreacting is part of life, and it is certainly part of watching or talking about sports. But over the last month or so, it has been taken to a whole new level by the media and by fans.

In just the past few weeks, not an entire calendar year, here are some of the gems that I have heard uttered either on TV, radio or in general conversation.

- Following Miami's win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals ... "The Mavericks are done. It's over, it's not worth a debate. In fact, the Heat might sweep." Dallas wins series, 4-2.

- At 30-15 on May 23, the Indians were shocking the baseball world with a 7-game lead in the AL Central ... "Start printing playoff tickets. The AL Central stinks and not even the Tribe could lose this lead." Cleveland and Detroit nearly tied atop division less than three weeks later.

- After Tiger Woods made a charge at the Masters, only to come up short, and now will miss the upcoming US Open because of injury, the golf experts came up with this ... "Tiger Woods will never win another major." Maybe, maybe not. But doesn't that seem like a major reach just considering he is only 35.

The worst ever. The best ever. I guess we are guilty of overreacting at some point, but the sports world has really gotten us all - in and out of the media - a little bit to absolute in our opinions recently. Take a deep breath, drink decaf coffee and calm down.

Skip Useless and Colin Coward on ESPN are probably the biggest offenders of this, but it happens on the local level just as often. There are gray areas in everything. The Indians aren't as bad as they are now and probably were never as good as 30-15. The Heat wins one game at home and tombstones are being erected for Dirk Nowitzki and crew. Tiger has gone ... wait for it ... three whole years without a major, and he might as well join a Sunday men's league in Boca Raton, Florida, because his career is over.

Throttle it back people. It's not always all or nothing.

Reacting to sports is fine, even enjoyable or therapeutic. Overreacting isn't good for anybody.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Does ESPN coverage have Heat slant?

To be fair, ESPN is not in front of my face 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. But the last month or so, as the NBA playoffs have gone along, I've grown more and more disgusted with the "Worldwide Leader".

In journalism, one of the harshest charges you can claim is bias, and I don't throw it out there easily based on one particular incident. It has to be more than a coincidence. It has to be a pattern.

That said, if we have learned anything recently, it's hard not to call out ESPN for a perceived slant toward the Heat. In all likelihood, it's not intended. There's not some ESPN executive sitting in an office in Bristol, Conn., ordering their network to slant coverage.

Yes, I'm in Cleveland. No, I wasn't happy with the way LeBron James left. But there comes a time when we have to move on. And James or no James, it doesn't matter.

It's obvious in subtle ways, like "The Lead" items on the Bottom Line that sound like this - "Heat looks to get back on track vs. Mavs", "LeBron's fourth-quarter struggles doom Heat" and so on. It's obvious when an intro video for any game in this NBA Finals series has more Heat highlights. It's obvious in the amount of attention devoted on "SportsCenter" and on to what Miami is doing and not doing regardless of the outcome. It's obvious on ESPN Radio when the lead subject on, say, "Mike and Mike in the Morning" after Game 5 was how much James is struggling in the last five minutes of a game.

Hang on a second. Call me crazy, but isn't there another team in this series? Going into Game 6, wasn't said team one win away from a championship?

Without stretching this topic any further than necessary, just watch or listen. Pay close attention to ESPN and all of its platforms and ask yourself, "Are the two teams in this NBA Finals getting equal attention?"

From this corner, the answer is obvious, and it's embarrassing to a media entity who should know better.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Daddy, play Rocky again"

One of the best (or worst) things about owning an iphone is the device's ability to do so many things, sometimes at once.

For my 2 1/2-year-old son, he loves my iphone (which means I need to start saving now) especially when daddy plays Samson's favorite song ... over and over and over again. Then, over and and over and over and over and over and over again.

Get the picture?

On Saturday, it was different. The greatest thing about being a dad is watching your child grow up right before your eyes. In my case, one day my son can't do this, the next he does that. So it was on this day, very different.

He didn't want to hear his favorite "kids" song. It was, "Daddy play Rocky," as in the theme song from the iconic boxing film. I played it for him once a few weeks ago, and thought nothing of it.

As a passionate fan of the films, hearing those words made me so happy.

Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah ...

"Daddy, play Rocky again."

Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah ...

"Daddy, play Rocky again."

Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah ...

"Daddy, play Rocky again."

It went on for the entire drive, and so did his shadow boxing while the song "Gonna Fly Now" continued to play. Watch out, Sam has a pretty good right.

Ever wonder why Rocky movies never get old?

"Daddy, play Rocky again."

And why I love being a father?

"Daddy, play Rocky again."

- Mark Podolski


Friday, June 10, 2011

Terrelle, Terelle, Terrell

Within minutes of the story breaking early Tuesday night, news of Terrelle Pryor was all over the Internet. By the end of the night, Pryor's name had been trending on Twitter twice, both times misspelled and in different ways.

Both say a lot about how information travels these days.

Pryor announced through his lawyer that he was leaving the Ohio State football team. I first saw it on Twitter a little after 6 p.m. via a retweet from my colleague Dominic Anselmo. The race was on for our whole department - getting a story up on our web site, digging up photos, getting a hold of writers, putting together a depth chart of the remaining quarterbacks and keeping an eye out for other developments.

We posted updates throughout the night. Chasing the story and seeing readers' reactions on our web site was exciting. Seeing Pryor's first name misspelled two ways in Twitter's trending topics wasn't. That tells me that for some people, it's more about winning the race than being right.

- Howard Primer

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Terrelle Pryor won't go away

I'm sure Terrelle Pryor wouldn't mind hiding out for a few days to get away from scrutiny, controversy and criticism, but the onslaught of college football preseason magazines hitting the stands won't allow that, from a figurative standpoint.

I picked up one of my favorite preseason mags, the Sporting News, the other day and guess who's on the cover? TP!

I'm sure there are plenty more ready to hit the shelves with Pryor on the cover. Unless a few magazines are oozing cash, it's doubtful any of these preseason mags are going back to the printers.

Unless you're related to the Pryor family or are the president of TP's fan club, most Ohio college football fans won't have much of a choice when prepping for the college football season. Pryor is gracing the cover of a boatload of mags.

For the Pryor haters out there, TP will be around in Ohio a bit longer. For those unfortunate souls, that saying of there's no such thing as bad publicity doesn't apply here.

- Mark Podolski


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NDCL set itself apart this year

Now that the high school softball season has run its course, some thoughts come to mind as I close the book on the season and wrap up the News-Herald all-star list:

- It was a brutal season in that Mother Nature never really took her foot off our throats until the season was, for all intents and purposes, over. Most teams never got into a groove by playing consistently. Because of that, many teams never got to realize their full potential.

- Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin doesn't fall into that list, though. Well, they sort of do, but for a different reason. The Lions (23-3) got most, if not all, of their games in - though many were played after their Division II district semifinal loss to Poland.

- Where the Lions didn't get a chance to realize their full potential is the fault of postseason tournament placement. NDCL was again sent out to the Jefferson District, which meant the Lions again drove past the Painesville District to get to the one in Jefferson. Doesn't make any sense at all, especially considering the Lions USED to play in the Painesville District and are now part of the overloaded Jefferson tournament.

- NDCL lost three games this year and two of them - Poland and North Canton Hoover - went on to win the Division II and I state championships, respectively. If that doesn't constitute a great year, I'm not sure what does. With all due respect to all the teams in the Painesville District, if the Lions hadn't been needlessly and senselessly moved to Jefferson, they would have played Poland in a regional final - NOT a district semifinal. Keep in mind, the team who came out of the Painesville District - Lake Catholic - lost twice to NDCL by a combined score of 24-0.

- Coach Jack McParland's team is the best team I have ever covered, and that includes Conneaut, which I covered when it won the Division II state championship in 2000. It might be a while before I see another team like the Lions had this year. The team had a lockdown pitcher in Jill Hetki (22-3, 1.23 ERA, 171 strikeouts, 80 hits all year), a punishing offense (team average of .448 with 248 runs scored in 26 games) and the best defense I have seen, both in the infield and outfield.

- The top five batters in NDCL's lineup (Dani Ramos, Alex Cribari, Erin Ruff, Rachael Ratcliffe and Jenny Raguz) combined to hit .559 with 184 runs, 181 RBI and 101 extra-base hits. Against a schedule that included Poland, Hoover, Massillon Perry, South, Lake Catholic and others, those numbers are an absolute freak show.

- The scary part for the rest of the area is this: NDCL's cupboard is not bare. Hetki, Ruff and Raguz all return next year. It should be another amazing year for the Lions - with another inevitable meeting with junior-laden Poland in the district tournament.

- John Kampf

Monday, June 6, 2011

Behind the mike at Hooley

It's always a bit of a gamble doing a live show, even when you have been doing them as long as we have at Hooley House for NH Chalk Talk.

Does the sound work, does the internet work, are the hosts good that night. You just never know.

The last two Mondays had a few blips, which is why we always suggest you come out live to get your fill of high school sports talk. But we will have the kinks ironed out for our big kickoff show on June 13 when we preview the News-Herald Senior Bowl.

So thanks for being loyal followers of NH Chalk Talk on the Web and in person. The show started out as a little idea, a hobby, a goof on a Monday night and has really blossomed and that is because of the players, coaches and fans.

Just bear with some of the technical issues, and we will keep on bringing you the prep best each Monday night in person and on line.

- Bill Tilton

Sunday, June 5, 2011

MLS vs. European soccer

With major European club soccer coming to a close last week with Barcelona beating Manchester United in the Champions League final, the offseason has started there.

In the United States, the summer means we're in the heart of Major League Soccer season. As much of a soccer fan as I am, I have to admit I'm slightly indifferent to the whole thing.

It's hard to put my finger on why. There's a theory about fans who are "Euro snobs" - in other words, they insist on watching Euro leagues and turn their nose up at MLS. I honestly don't think I fit in that category.

It's great to see the league succeed. It's great to have big names such as David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez plying their trade in the U.S. MLS should get more credit for its quality for play.

With all that said, I'm just not fired up to find an MLS match on TV this summer and watch.

That's part of the issue with MLS - galvanizing U.S. soccer fans beyond its current loyal fan base. You have the extreme of the Euro snobs who would rather run full-speed from a television than watch MLS, and then you have soccer fans like me who want to care but for some reason difficult to verbalize are simply indifferent.

It doesn't mean I won't watch. It's just that, chances are, I'll spend my time watching the U.S. in the Gold Cup than I will watching MLS. Hopefully this will change sooner rather than later, but I have a feeling I'm not the only one.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pay college athletes? Not in a million years

You know what really grinds my gears (as the great Peter Griffin once said on "Family Guy")?

When I hear someone say college athletes should be paid on top of his or her athletic scholarship.

I am disgusted every time I hear someone say an athletic scholarship isn't enough.

When I graduated from Ohio State in the early 1990s, yearly tuition (from what I remember) was in the ballpark of $6,000. I might be wrong, but I'm sure the figure was close.

Now, according to OSU's website, in-state tuition is, on average, $19,584, and out-of-state tuition is, on average, $33,768.

Times those figures by four, sometimes five years, and we are talking figures that are hardly chump change.

Yet, so many chalk up athletic scholarship as no big deal. It's not enough, they say. Athletes, particularly football players, deserve more. To which I say, stop with the nonsense.

Every time a college football player such as Terrelle Pryor or Reggie Bush hears such talk, a light bulb surely goes off in their head.

I am not solely blaming such talk on the actions of Pryor and Bush, two high-profile examples, but the nonstop chatter only does more harm than good, because paying college athletes is never going to happen, in my opinion.

My hope is one day athletic scholarships are presented as more of a prize than how it's perceived by many - that it's just not enough. You know what some big-time college football are thinking: "Give me more." "I'm entitled." "What are you going to do for me?" It's these players who ruin it for the thousands of student-athletes adhering to the rules.

For the "regular" students out there, theirs is a struggle the public should feel for, not the big-time Division I athlete on a free ride.

If you don't believe me, talk to a friend, a co-worker, or a family member who's sending his or her kid to college and footing the bill. Better yet, talk to the student who's paying his or her own way through college. The financial strain can be unbearable.

Then talk to the student-athlete who's on a free ride. The old, "Woe is me" routine just doesn't fly when you look at it that way.

- Mark Podolski

Friday, June 3, 2011

Retweeting, the new autograph

You don't need a pen and something to sign. But there's just as much hoping and waiting involved.

Getting an athlete to reply or retweet your request on Twitter is becoming the 21st century version of snagging an autograph.

It's easy to do. Find your favorite celebrity on Twitter, then send that person a tweet. Something like "OMG! It's my birthday, can I get a retweet?" should suffice. Then hang out for a while and hope the target of your retweeting desires responds with something like "Happy birthday RT @(your handle) ..."

If you're successful, it's pretty cool that a celebrity took a moment of his or her time to communicate directly with you. For a few minutes, anyway. Still, it's your moment.

Retweeting has one advantage over autographs: You know it's authentic. That is, unless the celebrity's account was hacked. But that only happens to Congressmen.

- Howard Primer


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Former Buckeye doesn't hold back

Kudos to Buckeye great Chris Spielman, who had the guts to call it like he sees it this week when talking about Jim Tressel and Terelle Pryor.

The ex-OSU linebacker is miffed by what he believes was special treatment by Tressel, who resigned on Monday, when handling Pryor the past three seasons.

Spielman sounded off on the matter in an interview with WBNS in Columbus.

"I think (Pryor) has played his last game," he said. "I don't know if you guys have heard this. I've heard through players, former players, that (Pryor) operated and was allowed to operate by his own set of rules. Being late to meetings. Being late to practice. Not showing up for workouts. I don't know if that's true or note true. If it is I'm so disappointed in the leaders of the team that allowed that go on, that allowed a player not to show up without either confrontation, physical or verbal first, physical if necessary."

Spielman said there was an easy solution to stop Pryor's reported set of rules.

"...If he was two seconds late for a meeting, bye, bye. That's how I would operate."

- Mark Podolski

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

State track meet is a treat for everyone involved

I'm leaving for Columbus early Friday morning to cover the state track meet.
My colleague Chris Lillstrung and I will be covering numerous athletes in divisions I, II and III.
It's an exciting time of the year not just for athletes, but also their parents, coaches, media and many others.
Nothing beats the atmosphere at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. It's electric.
Even on a hot day when I'm tired from standing in the sun for hours at a time, I'm enjoying myself.
I even enjoy watching kids I don't know compete and listening to the cheers from the crowd after every event.
It's a time when anything seems possible.
At any moment, an athlete can rise to the occasion and win their first state championship. Teams can come together and score enough points to win a title.
Injuries can also happen along with dropped batons and disqualifications.
That is what makes a meet so exciting. Nothing is guaranteed.
I once covered a team that won a state championship with just two people. I covered a girl who broke her leg while long jumping at the state meet. Every athlete has their own story whether they finish first or last. They all deserve the recognition they will receive this weekend.
So here's to another successful state track meet.
Good luck area athletes.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia