Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chardon graduate Katie Collins and Edinboro teammates honor Chardon community

A moment of silence is a sacred time when a group of people is asked to reflect on a tragic event.
Tuesday night at Edinboro University, Chardon graduate Katie Collins and her teammates took several minutes to remember Chardon and all that had happened over the past few days.
It was a touching day for the women’s basketball team which proceeded to beat California, Pa., 77-58. Junior Samantha Blazetic (North) finished with 21 points.
I think the gesture is an important one that should be observed in gyms in Northeast Ohio in the final games of the postseason.
What better way for high school athletes to remember the Chardon community and all it has been through?
Please considering a moment of silence at your upcoming event.
It's a small, but powerful gesture.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia

Monday, February 27, 2012

A time to reflect

I've tried - and been beat up pretty good - in the past to put high school sports in perspective, but if the events of Monday morning at Chardon doesn't do that, nothing will.

On Monday morning, shots were fired reportedly by a lone gunman at Chardon High School and five students were shot - one was confirmed as a fatality, and possibly a second one as of this evening. Wednesday, the Hilltoppers will try to play a sectional semifinal game against Madison at the Division I Euclid District.

Could anything be less important than a basketball game 48 hours away from such a tragedy?

My heart goes out to the players, coaches, students, administrators, teachers and the entire Chardon community in such a horrific, inexplicable time. I just hope if there is a game Wednesday between Madison and Chardon that fans and every one on hand at Euclid High School is respectful to the situation and the participants.

I am usually excited about covering postseason basketball games. This one is a little different for all the wrong reasons.

Prayers for Chardon. Keep everything in perspective, folks.


Ursuline stacking up for D2 in women's golf

Kevin Alcox, women's golf coach at Ursuline College, is ready for his team to make a big splash in NCAA Division II.

He is counting on a trio of area youngsters to help him in his quest.

Alcox has already signed Talia Trovato (NDCL) and Ashley Rideout (Perry). Chasey Rotondo, a district qualifier from Wickliffe, has given her verbal commitment to Alcox's program and will sign in April.

"We are a young program and these three are teaming together with my top recruit from Ireland and another recruit from western Ohio to really come in as a group of freshman and take control of this team," Alcox said.

Trovato, Rideout and Rotondo are three of the best girls golfers in the News-Herald area and have been for a number of years. Their addition to the Ursuline program could not only lead to great things for the team, but also open a pipeline of area talent to the program.

Ursuline, located in Pepper Pike, is in ground-breaking territory. Just weeks ago, the school's new conference - The Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) received notice that the NCAA Division II Membership Committee has approved the G-MAC as a member conference of NCAA Division II effective Sept. 1, 2012.

As a member conference, the G-MAC will now enter an educational assessment program for the 2012-13 academic year with the goal of beginning competition as the 24th active NCAA Division II member conference effective Sept. 1, 2013. Charter members of the G-MAC include Cedarville University, Central State University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Trevecca Nazarene University, Urbana University , and Ursuline College.
Alcox, who is also the schools director of sports information, is shooting high, particularly for his golf team, led by the three area standouts.

"I have almost no doubt that we will be the conference's first tournament champion next year with these three leading the way," Alcox said.

- John Kampf

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The legend of Carl A. Squires

A little high school football talk never hurt anybody in February, so ...

One area notation in the OHSAA state record book has always carried a bit of fascination.

The second-most points ever scored in Ohio by one player in a single game is 64 by University's Carl A. Squires way back on Oct. 20, 1894. Let's do something about unraveling that mystery.

This week while updating my state high school swimming reference, I discovered the Cuyahoga County Public Library has put all of its Plain Dealer microfilm page archives online. For my reference purposes, I can't tell you how happy I am about that.

Don't get me wrong - when needed, I like my own paper's microfilm, as well as that of the Painesville Telegraph. But for broader Greater Cleveland purposes from, say, before 1950, the PD is the way to go.

Especially with assistance on Carl A. Squires.

For obvious reasons, I can't show you the Oct. 21, 1894 edition of the Plain Dealer for copyright reasons. All I can do as a professional is quote what I found.

US played Cleveland South in what was reported to be the first game of the season in the Cleveland School Association and won, 100-0. The PD story explains the reason for this lopsided encounter was US had been practicing for six weeks, while Cleveland South had only been organized for two weeks. They played uneven halves - the first half was 35 minutes and the second 25 minutes.

The mystery deepens because, according to the PD story, his name was Squire, not Squires, and the box score lists him, the starting fullback, for nine touchdowns and 14 "goals" - I assume extra points of the era. Squire didn't even score US' first two touchdowns - its captain and left halfback, Harvey, did.

It was 54-0 at the half, which consisted of a 10-minute rest period, and then Squire scored four of his team's next five touchdowns.  "From this out," the PD writes, "the Universitys were trying to make 100 points, and they only had eight minutes to do it." So they did with - who else - Squire scoring his last touchdown and kicking a goal with a minute left to hit the century mark.

While this football thing was working so well at University, it wasn't elsewhere. In the column next to the US game story, it was reported "professional football drops out after today. This decision has been reached at a meeting of all the clubs. The experiment has not been successful in arousing public interest."

Hmmm ... I wonder how that experiment is going these days?

But there you have it - the legend of Carl A. Squires (or Squire apparently) lives on.

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, February 24, 2012

Talented teams at "Solon Regional" need to be spread out

Here is a list of Division I boys basketball teams, not picked at random: Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Garfield Heights and St. Ignatius.

This is not a list of the top contenders to win the Cleveland State Regional, although all four would be included in such a group. These are seeds one through four at the Solon District. Even with a season-ending injury to Cleveland Heights' best player, this bracket is so loaded that Senate champion JFK is the fifth seed and 19-1 Kenston is sixth.

I wouldn't blame any of the middle seeds at Solon if they looked at the Euclid District wondered "what if." The balance of power in the East Side Division I districts is heavily in favor of Solon, so much so that an idea to fix the problem was floated.

In the beginning of 2010-11 season, the Northeast District board planned to combine its six Division I districts into three "super districts." For example, the teams assigned to Solon and Euclid would be combined into one pool and seeded one through 24. Teams would then pick which site they want to play at, and two district champions would feed into the CSU Regional.

The plan was abandoned after some coaches objected because the change happened with little notice and without their voices heard. However, the problem still exists.

The board should revisit the issue to avoid the concentration of top-flight teams at the "Solon Regional."

If this year's seeding meeting had been held under the super district plan, the only Euclid District teams to crack the top top tier would have been Mentor and Brush. At the time the seed voting -- Feb. 12 -- the Cardinals most likely would have been the No. 1 seed. The rest of that group would have included Cleveland Heights, Shaker, Garfield Heights, St. Ignatius, JFK, the Arcs and Kenston.

After that, it's possible that North would be the only other team originally assigned to the Euclid District to break the top 10 of a Euclid-Solon super district vote. The Rangers, who are the No. 3 seed at Euclid this year, lost at home to Solon's No. 8, Maple Heights, 57-54, and play Solon’s No. 7, Bedford, on Saturday.

Based on historical performance, there is no indication Euclid will supplant Solon as a better district in the future. The saying, "you're going to have to play them all at some point" does not apply here because the tournament uses a seeding process, thereby giving better teams a reward for a good season. That can't be done if most of those teams are in the same district.

The talented teams at Solon need to be spread out, and the super district is the way to do it.

This opportunity is unique to Division I because the geography would allow this to happen without forcing teams to travel great distances if they end up in a different bracket.

Let’s hope the Northeast District board revisits the issue.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back to the mat

February and March are two of my favorite months of the year for high school sports.

It's the time of year when I return to one of my favorite high school sports: wrestling.

This year, I'll be at the final day of the Division I Mentor District on Saturday covering the tournament for The News-Herald and it should be fun. The pressure these wrestlers face to qualify for the state tournament in Columbus is enormous, which only adds to the drama.

For me, covering wrestling brings back plenty of memories. I covered Mentor coach Ken Skilton's first dual match (remember those?) against Kenston back in the late 1990s. Skilton always reminds me of that when I see him during the wrestling postseason.

Then there's Madison coach Ryan Wirtzberger, who was an excellent wrestler for the Blue Streaks in the late 90s. He wrestled one of the finest state tournaments I've ever watched in 1998 in Dayton, reaching a state final before losing a tight match. Madison is still searching for its first state champion in wrestling.

Under then coach Gary Fortuna, I thought it was only a matter of time the Blue Streaks produced a champion, but it hasn't happened. That's what makes wrestling such a difficult sport. A kid could work the hardest and be the most talented, yet nothing is guaranteed. Wrestling is that difficult.

Looking forward to Saturday at the Meatgrinder.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Monday, February 20, 2012

ANYTHING is possible in Cleveland sports, I guess

These past few weeks have been tough when it comes to listening to sports talk radio in Cleveland, and I have many friends that I greatly respect in the business. The constant jabbering about who the Browns will draft or not draft, sign or not sign, and who will play quarterback in 2012 are certainly hot-button issues. I get that, and don't fault hosts for stirring the pot on what is always a water-cooler topic in this town. RGIII, Matt Flynn, Jason Campbell, Colt McCoy. Who knows, but I am sure it will continue to be over-dissected from now until April 26. The one that has my ears bleeding is all the talk about LeBron James coming back to play for the Cavs. A long shot at best, a hypothetical at worst, and no guarantees Dan Gilbert ever wants to sign another check for King James nor is there any for-sures if he miraculously landed in the city that he stabbed so coldly in the heart a few summers ago. To listen to callers, you would think if 30-year old LBJ came back, it would guarantee a championship - something a 20-year old in-his-prime James couldn't do. Not to mention, if he wins a few titles with the Heat, do you think he would walk away to come back to a city he blatantly does not call home because he is from Akron?? Is it worth a conversation? Yes. Is it worth hours of Fantasyland assumptions and arguing back and forth with the squawk box? No.
LeBron back in a Cavs uniform that many fans burned a few months ago?
It's Cleveland, I guess anything is possible.
However, it is time to listen to NPR or the local polka station just for a break.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stubbornness gets in way of common sense

Some segments of the high school sports fan base will never be accused of having a wealth of patience for any reason, and Friday during the Division I district swimming meet at Cleveland State was a perfect example of that.

The meet was delayed for about a half-hour as officials tried to enforce fire marshal code at Busbey Natatorium. The Viking Invitational and the district meets for both divisions normally bring a ton of people to Busbey, and the problem is some of them try to squeeze in by leaning against the railings or sitting in the aisles. By fire code, both are big no-nos.

Officials followed through on a promise to stop the meet and not restart it until the issues were resolved. They weren't - for a half-hour - because some people wouldn't do what they were asked.

It's fine to be stubborn for what you believe in, but is it possibly that difficult to move over in the bleachers and make room? Did it really need to become a half-hour process in which the police had to intervene?

It was surreal.

The ones who were affected the most, of course, were the swimmers - standing around waiting for the meet to commence again. I found that galling enough as the crowd got more testy with the fire code, but what was really sad was booing when it was announced the swimmers would get a 10-minute warmup because of the delay.

Of course the delay was annoying for all, but meet officials did the right thing. What if, heaven forbid, there were some sort of emergency, and the facility couldn't be evacuated quickly enough because the exits weren't clear?

It wasn't everybody that was causing an issue, but it was a shame one of the sport's postseason steps had to be stopped for a while out of nothing more than some people's unwillingness to do what was right.

- Chris Lillstrung

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's so great about Pembroke, Ontario, anyway?

This is a letter to the editor in this week's Sports Illustrated, responding to a story that had some unflattering descriptions of Winnipeg:

"I was shocked that you aimed disparaging commentary at the city of Winnipeg ("Everybody Loves Winnipeg," Jan. 30). Pride in one's hometown is a sentiment that should always be encouraged. I've been to Winnipeg, and I think it's a fine place. Granted, it doesn't have the notoriety of New York City or even Toronto, but it's not exactly Cleveland either.
Ken Shier, Pembroke, Ont."

An unnecessary and unwarranted shot at Cleveland, what's that all aboot? 

Yeah, well, I won't be visiting Pembroke, Ontario, anytime soon, either. Bunch of hosers.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sports reality TV show wish list

ShowTime will be tracking the 2012 Miami Marlins in the upcoming cable network's baseball reality show, "The Franchise," to which I saw, where's a time machine when you need one?

Going behind the scenes with the Marlins might be interesting. It might not. The beauty of such an idea is predicting what's interesting and what team makes for must-see TV.

Here's one man's wish list (in no particular order) of past teams that would have made for great reality TV:

1980 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team: We saw what this could have been like in the 2004 movie, "Miracle," starring Kurt Russell as Coach Herb Brooks. Considering the tough love Brooks showed his players and how engaging most hockey players are in general, this would have been a ratings home run.

1980 Browns: The Kardiac Kids, Brian Sipe, Sam Rutigliano, Thom Darden, Clay Matthews, Lyle Alzado, even Bill Cowher was a linebacker on that team. Yeah, that would work.

1980 Kansas City Royals: George Brett is my favorite baseball player of the all-time, and in '80 he was making his famous push to hit .400. He finished at .390, but the attention that season, especially the final two months, had to be off the hook, even in the pre-Internet/social media age.

1976 Oakland Raiders: Serve up Al Davis and John Madden and you've got TV gold. Throw the rest of the Silver and Black misfits in the mix and you've got Emmy written all over that trainwreck.

1986 Miami Hurricanes football: Two games would have been enough tape for a season worth of episodes. The regular-season win over Oklahoma, a 1 vs. 2 matchup, featured knucklehead Sooners linebacker Brian Bosworth, the modern era's version of, say, James Harrison, and the stunning loss to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. The '86 season was the year the U's "outlaw" image really began to grow. With the likes of Michael Irvin and Jerome Brown we're talking TV hysterics at its best.

1995 Indians: Who in this town wouldn't revel in the behind-the-scene antics of Mike Hargrove managing the egos of Albert Belle, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez and Co? It probably would have been right up there with watching the team putting up a 100-44 mark during that strike-shortened season.

1996-96 Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan and the Bulls were 72-10 and won the NBA title that year, but who cares? All I want to know is what exactly were "The Jordan Rules?"

1995 Browns: On Nov. 6, then-owner Art Modell announced the team was moving the Baltimore. Yikes.

1974 Oakland A's: That season, the A's won the last of their three straight World Series. The better story was many of the players reportedly did not get along and there was plenty of clubhouse fighting. Perfect.

Any Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl team from the 90s: Google "Dallas Cowboys White House."

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Postseason isn't nearly as important as the ups and downs of the regular season

The winter postseason is about to start for high school sports and all I can think about are the losing teams. How is a team with a losing record going to feel when it bows out of the first round of the sectional basketball tournament? How is a kid who went to state last year in wrestling going to feel when he loses his opening match? How is the gymnast who worked all year long to recover from an injury going to feel when she falls during her routine? It's going to happen. It always does. I have no idea who it will happen to. I have no idea which teams will be upset, but I know it will hurt. There is just so much importance placed on the postseason, how can a loss not hurt? It hurts more than it does during the regular season because the year is over. But I think the games during the regular season leading up to the postseason are just as important. Especially in high school. Sure winning is fun and it's everyone's goal to get as far as possible during the postseason. Coaches and players will tell you, "it's a new season," and I believe it's true. But I also believe the hard work learned in a hot sweaty gym at the start of the season is just as important, if not more important. That hard work will help later in life when a former athlete doesn't feeling like waking up and going to work one day. The long practices will remind a former athlete that nothing comes easy. They must work hard for what they want. So here's to the losing teams. Hopefully, athletes remember that they aren't losers. They won throughout the regular season just by showing up. Sometimes, that's what matters most. -Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Kate Upton lends helping hand

Kate Upton, Sports Illustrated's newest swimsuit issue cover blonde bombshell, is here to save to day for video gamers. She has a great tip on how to master the baseball video game, MLB 2K12. Check out the video:

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How long will Lin-sanity last?

OK, I'll admit it - the hysteria around the emergence of Jeremy Lin is impressive. It's taken on a life of its own, much like that of Tim Tebow this past NFL season. Let's see how good the 6-foot-3 guard from Harvard, who has taken the NBA and the New York Knicks by storm, does on the second go-around. The guess here is things might be different. In his first few weeks as the savoir of the Knicks, Lin has been amazing. He has diced through defenses for layups, dishing to open teammates when the defense collapses on him on occasion. He has played better than average defense. And when he is left open on the outside, he has knocked down clutch 3-pointers. He has been everything the Knicks - and NBA - has needed. It will be interesting to see how Lin does when all these teams get another chance playing against him. In baseball, rookies and newcomers often have success early on because the opposition doesn't have any scouting report on them. Once teams get a look at them, find their tendencies and strengths, they can formulate a game plan against them. Jeremy Lin HAD no scouting report since he had been strapped to the end of the bench for nearly two years. Now that he has shown some exemplary skills and has given teams some film to work with, the opposition is going to game-plan for him the next time they play the Knicks. THEN it will be Lin's turn to make an adjustment to the adjustments made by the opposing teams. If Jeremy Lin does that and is a sensation on the next go-around against teams he decimated the first time around, then I'll be impressed. Until then, he's just a temporary feel-good story who is subject to the shoe-dropping, just like many others who went from superstar to flash-in-the-pan overnight. - John Kampf

Monday, February 13, 2012

Groundhog Day for Browns fans

If it's the week after the Super Bowl, then it means it is Christmas for Browns fans because it is time to talk about the upcoming NFL Draft.

Actually, it is more like Groundhog's Day because it is the same thing year after year after year.

Go after RGII? Trade up? Trade back? Trent Richardson at No. 4? Defense or offense?

Stop the madness. One year, just once, wouldn't it be nice to bask in the glow of a Super Bowl title in February, or at the very least, an appearance in the big game to talk about for a while? Does everything in this town have to revolve around the draft?

Oh, and if I hear one more talking head on radio or TV utter the phrase "It's the most important draft in team history" I am jumping into heavy traffic. I have heard that each year for the past decade. The draft is always important when it is all you look forward to 12 months a year. This one is MORE important because of Robert Griffin III available or might the Browns finally get a receiver?

I really don't get into it as much as others, although I will be interested in late April for sure. But it is so sad to have to go through this 2-month march toward the Draft every year with nothing to show for it the following fall.

One day, maybe we will talk about who is on the current roster of the Browns rather than always focusing on the college players that aren't here.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sunday really unlike any other

It's the second Sunday in February, and I'm sitting at home. For most people, that's not unusual at all.

It feels extremely unusual for me.

The second Sunday in February usually means driving down Ridge Road, making a left onto Memphis Avenue and pulling into the Brooklyn Recreation Center for the Baron Cup finals.

Unfortunately, for the first time since 2005, it won't be happening this year.

For the first time in seven years and only the second time in 12 years on the high school hockey beat, the second Sunday in February won't be spent in any form at Brooklyn because The News-Herald coverage area is not represented in any of the three Baron Cup championship games.

St. Ignatius vs. Shaker Heights in Baron Cup I? Tempting, but not my area.

Amherst Steele vs. Solon in Baron Cup II? Nope.

Cleveland Heights vs. Midview in Baron Cup III? Not quite.

I won't be turning toward the flag for the national anthem, trying to keep my balance on the bleachers. I won't hear the familiar tone of the PA announcer with "man advantage" and "icing" - if you know the sport locally, you understand. I won't be covering as many as three games in one day, and enjoying every minute of it.

Not this time.

Now, my wife actually likes having me home, and yes it is nice to be home on a Sunday.

But boy, does this one Sunday in particular feel odd.

It's days like this I'm reminded just how fortunate we've been in the Baron Cup over the years - University's dominance, Mayfield and Chagrin Falls winning Baron Cups, Lake Catholic's runs.

Not bad at all.

When the day is done, I'll check in and see how it went - yet without as much of a vested interest as normal.

- Chris Lillstrung

Best national anthem rendition ever

It's been a while a long time since I've heard the late Whitney Houston sing the national anthem at the Super BowlXXV..

Wow, is all I can say. What a voice. God bless the person who ever outdoes Houston when it comes to the anthem. This one is by far the best. Check it out below:

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Looking at the Buckeyes' big picture

Ohio State's loss to Michigan State in Columbus on Saturday was costly for the Buckeyes.

With a difficult schedule remaining, OSU probably needed a win on Saturday to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and claim the Big Ten title. Now, it will take a huge effort to knock off the Spartans and Coach Tom Izzo, but does it really matter?

I say no. Last season, the Buckeyes were the conference champs in the regular season and the Big Ten tournament and the No. 1 overall seed heading into March Madness. That didn't mean much when Kentucky upset OSU in the round of 16.

Barring a big collapse, Coach Thad Matta's club should be no worse than a No. 2 seed in the NCAAs, and that's not a bad thing. The pressure of being a top seed certainly would not be there, and it might allow the Buckeyes an opportunity to peak during March Madness, and not in a conference tournament that means absolutely nothing in terms of the big picture.

This isn't college football. Everything OSU wants to accomplish is without question still in front of it, even with Saturday's loss to Sparty.

Now, it's up to Matta to build the Buckeyes back up and have his team ready for when the real season starts.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Friday, February 10, 2012

When points are scored after the clock hits zero

Every once in a while, we get a high school or small-college basketball report with the game-winning points being scored on free throws with no time on the clock.

I've always wondered how that can be. The foul had to have come before the clock hit zero, otherwise it would have occurred after the game was over. Putting a couple tenths of a second back on the clock might seem inconsequential. But it's when the foul occurred, not what happens after.

The answer, courtesy of college basketball statistical expert Ken Pomeroy, who has officiated games, involves courtside TV monitors for referee reviews -- or the lack of them in non-televised games:

"Yes, you can have free throws with no time left. It doesn't happen in games with a monitor any more, but in old times and in high school there is allowance given for the reaction time of the person running the clock, so a whistle blown right before the buzzer will result in free throws administered with 0:00 left."

I don't know why I didn't think of that, because it also happens in televised games in which officiating crews don't use automatic timers to stop the clock. But now I know.

- Howard Primer

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SEC football in the elements is wishful thinking

The Big Ten Conference is reportedly pushing for change in college football.

If Big Ten head honchos have it their way, the four-team playoff scenario that's being talked about will include the two semifinals games being played at the home field of the top two seeds.

Great idea. Love it, and for this reason: Just once, I would love to watch an SEC school play in the wind, rain, mud, cold, sleet or snow of a Big Ten stadium. Or Notre Dame. Or Pittsburgh. Any school in the Midwest, where the elements are a concern when playing most football games in December or January.

It's difficult enough traveling to another team's stadium, but dealing with bad weather makes it that much more difficult. I'm a realist, and it's obvious the SEC is the class of college football right now. There's no dispute from this corner.

Any Big Ten school, Notre Dame, etc., would be the longest of longshots to win a national semifinal game at the site of an SEC school, but turn the tables and it will be interesting to watch. We'll get that somewhat next season  (Michigan plays Alabama on a neutral field at Cowboys Stadium in both team's opener) but it won't be the same.

The last time I can remember a southern school playing a huge game in the elements in the Midwest was in 1993, when Florida State and Notre Dame faced off in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game. The Fighting Irish won, 31-24. In 2005, No. 1 USC survived a game at Notre Dame, but the Irish weren't in contention for the national title. A facet of each games that made it so interesting was the teams (FSU and USC) being completely out of their element. One (the Trojans) fared well, the other (the Seminoles) did not.

The guess here is SEC dominance would continue under any playoff scenario, but wouldn't it be interesting to watch an SEC football team maneuver through the snow?  

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

High school athletes should take responsibility for themselves

This year I've noticed a disturbing trend that seems to be getting out of hand.
The trend is over-protective parents who are overstepping their boundaries.
It's parents who are getting in the way of coaches who are trying to coach their kids.
It's parents who think their kids are good enough to play in college when really, they can barely come off the bench and play in a varsity game.
If your high school athlete is good enough, coaches will find them and they will come knocking.
If college coaches aren't knocking, your child is not good enough.
It's simply reality.
There are more important things to focus on rather than whether or not your child is getting enough playing time in a varsity game.
What about your child's grades? How are those? What is your child doing in their free time? What kind of person is your child? Who are they hanging out with? What college are they going to?
These are the more important questions.
This girls basketball season, I've heard of a few parents telling off their child's respective coach.
Do the parents realize what these coaches are going through?
Some of them take lots of time out of their personal life for kids who aren't even their own.
Do they really deserve the grief that is coming their way?
No they don't.
High school kids need to take responsibility for themselves.
It's the only way they will learn later in life things won't be handed to them. They must work for it.
Parents don't usually call the bosses of their children to complain about work assignments, lack of promotions or poor pay.
Parents let their kids handle it.
They should do the same thing when it comes to high school sports. They should let their kids fight their own battles.
It's the only way a child will learn to be strong later in life.

-Theresa Neuhoff Audia


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prisoner of the Manning Moment

Congratulations to Eli Manning for leading the New York Giants to their second Super Bowl win in the past five seasons.

But let's not forget that his older brother Peyton is pretty good, too.

Listening to talk radio and some of the debate shows on TV, you would think Peyton never played 14 years, won 4 league MVPs, went to two Super Bowls and won one. This isn't knocking Eli, but it seems fairly unfair to dismiss Peyton because he was out of sight and out of mind rehabilitating a neck injury.

So, most arguments pro-Eli start with "Well, Eli has two Super Bowls and Peyton only has one and he has a losing record in the postseason." True on both accounts. Here is what I would say to the "numbers" crowd.

Jim Plunkett has won 2 Super Bowls while Steve Young, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning have one. Do you lean toward Plunkett?

Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer have Super Bowl rings but Dan Marino and Dan Fouts do not. Still rely soley on keeping tally of Super Bowl wins?

All I am saying is at the end of last season, less than 12 months ago, if the question was raised would you take Peyton or Eli, there would be hysterical laughing followed by eye rolls and people walking out of the room. Don't forget how good Peyton is because he wasn't on the field this year.

And don't forget Eli - while clearly a big-game player - was booed off the field a few years ago by Giants fans and threw more than 20 interceptions in another season.

As long as he is healthy, in the battle of the Manning brothers, give me Peyton.

Eli has the Super Bowl scoreboard, but Peyton has more talent.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl: A programmer's nightmare

A passing thought early Sunday ...

While millions in this country and around the world settle down on an unofficial holiday and watch the Super Bowl, and NBC executives subsequently watch dollar bills flow into their rainy day fund, imagine being the other guy.

Granted, a lot of people won't watch the Giants-Patriots because football - Super Bowl or not - is not their thing, and that's fine.

Still, how would you like to be a programming executive that has to put something sports-related head-to-head against the Super Bowl? Seriously, a test pattern might have better luck.

It's kind of like putting a putt-putt course next to Augusta National.

With that in mind, I thought it would be funny to see what other networks are putting up against the Super Bowl, especially channels offering sports. First, here's what other broadcast networks are offering at 7 p.m. Sunday, with the Giants and Patriots well under way:

CBS: Undercover Boss
ABC: America's Funniest Home Videos
FOX: Bob's Burgers
The CW (almost forgot that was a network): 'Til Death

'Til Death, all right - of your advertising revenue.

And sports programming, you ask?

Fox Sports Ohio:
World Poker Tour
ESPN: World's Strongest Man (the Worldwide Leader knows better)
ESPN2: 2011 World Series of Poker (see above)
SportsTime Ohio: Indians Roundtable: The 1990s
Big Ten Network: College wrestling - Nebraska at Minnesota
Golf Channel: Tin Cup
ESPNU: SEC Storied: The Play That Changed College Football
ESPN Classic: Into The Cold: A Journey Of The Soul
Fox Soccer: English Premier League- Manchester United at Chelsea (if you're reading this, you know how much I love soccer. You really think I'll watch even that at 7 p.m. Sunday?)
NBA TV: Grizzlies at Celtics
NBC Sports Network: Cold War on Ice: Summit Series '72
Tennis Channel: Fed Cup - Belarus vs. United States

See what I mean?

Also on tap on basic cable according to the folks at Zap2It are Real Housewives of Atlanta, Sex and the City, Cupcake Wars, Nora Roberts' High Noon, Law and Order: SVU and Sleepless in Seattle.

There may be no turning back the Super Bowl as a ratings steamroller, and any programming executive worth their weight in Nielsens knows better than to try to stage a road block.

- Chris Lillstrung

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The return of fantasy baseball?

The year was 2001, I think. I started my fantasy baseball season a perfect 10-0, or something like that.

I was unbeatable, until I never won again that fantasy season. In a blink of an eye, my fantasy season went straight to hell.

Just like that, I was done with fantasy baseball. I haven't been back since, and because of that decision, my baseball knowledge has suffered.

Sure I keep up enough to know the mega-stars, the all-stars and most of the recognizable players in the majors. Lately, though, I'm finding out just how far behind I am in terms of fantasy baseball knowledge.

Prior to the Indians signing Casey Kotchman, I had never heard or seen him hit a baseball or field his corner at first base. Whatever he's accomplished in his major-league career, I've never knowingly seen Kotchman do any of it.

That kind of scared me when I thought about returning to fantasy baseball this season. Do I really want to re-learn baseball all over again? There's no other way to do it in the world of fantasy.

I'm thinking of getting back into it slowly, perhaps joining a free league this season, because I'm not prepared. Not by a long shot.

Should I jump back into the world of fantasy baseball?

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kirtland's Christian Hauber has reason to smile

While putting together an interactive map of this year's area college football recruits, Community Engagement Editor Cheryl Sadler asked, "Why don't any of these guys smile for their pictures?"

This is a topic we've previously covered. Before the season started, we asked area high school players to say cheese when we stopped by practice.

If you look at the pictures accompanying the map, our request went in one ear hole and out the other. Except in one case: Kirtland's Christian Hauber smiled for his picture. Going by how his season went, he had the right idea.

Here's a recap: Hauber's team went 15-0 and won the Division V state championship -- the first football title in school history -- and on Wednesday he signed to play football at Air Force.

Is it all because he smiled when we took his picture after practice during two-a-days? No, but we'd like to think it had something to do with it.

Unfortunately, there is no indication players will stop trying to look tough and mean even though it looks like they forgot to take out their mouth guard.

As my colleague Sean Linhart said, "There's no smiling in football!"

- Howard Primer


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Weighing Tressel's hall of fame status

With the announcement of Jim Tressel's hiring as vice president of strategic engagement by the University of Akron, it appears the former Ohio State football coach's days on the gridiron are likely over.

The biggest stumbling block for Tressel landing a job as a college football coach is the five-year show cause penalty he received from the NCAA from the fallout of the Ohio State scandal. It's basically the scarlet letter for college coaches. If an institution wants to hire Tressel, it likely faces the same penalties OSU received from the NCAA.

That's the final stain left on Tresel's impressive coaching resume, one built on victories, and, before the OSU scandal, doing the right thing - at least in the eyes of the NCAA.

What about the eyes of the College Football Hall of Fame? Before the NCAA mess at Ohio State, Tressel was a shoe-in for enshrinement. Now, it's anyone's guess.

The college football hall of fame is located in South Bend, Ind., but will reportedly move its location to Atlanta in September 2013. By then, Tressel will be nearing eligibility for hall consideration.

According to the hall's rules on its website, a nominee must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of his games, and be retired from coaching for at least three years.

With well over 200 victories and five national championships (four at Youngstown State and one at Ohio State), Tressel easily meets those criteria.

The question is will his exit from OSU and fall from grace be a factor in making the hall one day? Under its criteria section, the hall states a nominee, "must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man with love of his country." A bit over the top, don't you think?

Still, the meaning I take from that statement is don't embarrass yourself, your university or college and the sport of college football. Depending on your point of view, it's worth a debate whether Tressel is a college football hall of famer.

Off strictly his coaching resume, Tressel is a slam-dunk hall-of-famer. The off-the-field NCAA mess he left behind is an entirely different matter.

No doubt, Tressel will make the hall, but it will take longer than he probably originally thought.

To read the College Football Hall of Fame's eligibility, screening and procedure for nominees, click here:

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Zack McBride signs Division I scholarship to Miami University

The running community is tight.
Just ask Riverside senior Zack McBride.
He was debating on where to go when he took a call from South High School graduate Wade Coffin. Coffin encouraged McBride to make a visit to Miami University where Coffin runs track and cross country. McBride took him up on the offer and it's paved the way to a Division I scholarship.
On Wednesday, McBride signed a letter of intent to attend Miami University in Ohio.
"This shows me all of my hard work has paid off," McBride said. "It's nice to be able to look back and know all of your hard work was worth it."
McBride's hard work has already paid off in high school.
After not running cross country his freshman year, he joined track in the spring, but was injured right before the postseason and was unable to run.
In his first year on the cross country team as a sophomore, McBride advanced to state and placed 45th in Division I (16:42). As a junior, he was the area's top Division I finisher. He took 17th (15:52). He ran a personal record at the Youngstown Regional in 15:50 to qualify for state.
In track, McBride took fifth at regionals in the 1,600 sophomore year and was 15th at state last year (4:25.32). His PR in the mile is 4:22.
McBride also considered attending West Point and Indiana University.
"I liked the coach at Miami, the program and the school," said McBride, who plans on majoring in business. "It's a perfect fit for me."
McBride is a hard-working athlete who deserves a Division I scholarship.
He is driven, motivated and fearless. All of the qualities that make a good runner.
I believe he will succeed at Miami just like he's succeeded at Riverside.