Stephen A. Smith, perhaps the most provocative voice on ESPN, was suspended for a week from appearing on the network for comments deemed insensitive following Baltimore Raven Ray Rice’s two-game suspension for knocking his now-wife unconscious during a confrontation on an elevator on Valentine’s Day.Meanwhile, it was reported by the New York Daily News that Smith had already planned to leave the ESPN radio job he had for his own show on SiriusXM. Presumably, Smith will return to First Take and other responsibilities on ESPN next week.Smith said, among other things on the air last week: “What I’ve tried to employ [with] the female members of my family — some of who you all met and talked to and what have you — is that … let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come — or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know — if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you.”His comments, even though he vehemently denounced a man hitting a woman, started a deluge of outrage that eventually ESPN succumbed to with this suspension–which came after Smith made countless attempts on Twitter to explain himself and offered an on-air apology for his remarks.Smith tweeted, among other things: “But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them? In no way was I accusing women of being wrong. I was simply saying what that preventive measures always need to be addressed because there’s only but so much that can be done after the fact … once the damage is already done.”He apologized on television: “On Friday, speaking right here on ‘First Take’ on the subject of domestic violence, I made what can only amount to the most egregious error of my career,” Smith said. “My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say.”ESPN released a statement from its president, John Skipper, who said the suspension came as a result of speaking to the women employees resource group at his network: “As many of you know, there has been substantial news coverage in the past few days related to comments Stephen A. made last Friday in the wake of the NFL’s decision to suspend Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following charges of assaulting his then fiancée, now wife, a few months ago.“We’ve said publicly and in this space that those remarks did not reflect our company’s point of view, or our values. They certainly don’t reflect my personal beliefs.”The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg, among others, agreed with Smith’s take, and many have considered ESPN’s suspension a sad indictment on the NFL and its perceived insensitivity toward women. To wit: Rice knocked out the woman in his life and received just a two-game suspension; Smith did not abuse anyone and received a seven-day ban.Smith, the Daily News reported, will soon leave ESPN-98.7 FM and join SXM’s Mad Dog Radio, where he will host his own show. Smith currently co-hosts a 1p.m. to 3p.m. program with Ryan Ruocco that airs in New York.
It’s a refrain almost as common as “Merry Christmas” this time of year: There are too many bowl games. While hardcore college football fans don’t mind watching, say, the Miami Beach Bowl on a Monday afternoon a full 10 days before the traditional bowlfest of New Year’s Day (guilty!), there’s also the sense that the bloated bowl season has taken away much of the meaning that used to be associated with playing in college football’s postseason.How much expansion has there been? This season will see a record 39 bowl games played, from the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl to the College Football Playoff National Championship. Compare that to 1968, when there were 11 bowls, or even 1984, when there were 18 — a total that would remain more or less static for more than a decade. But in the late 1990s (perhaps not coincidentally, when the Bowl Championship Series began), the bowl field began expanding rapidly, reaching 20 games in 1997, 25 in 2000 and 32 in 2006.In the chart below you can see the proliferation of the bowl field since 1982, the year cable television money and the departure of the Ivy League from Division I-A ushered in college football’s truly modern era:Some of the bloat is associated with an increase in the number of Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS) football teams, to 128 this season from 113 in 1982. (A chunk of these new additions have come in just the past few seasons, as part of what FiveThirtyEight contributor David Goldenberg calls a “recent trend of universities starting football programs from scratch with the plan to get to Division I as soon as possible, and reap the PR and financial benefits that come with a major football program.”)But the growth of the FBS only explains a small portion of the bowl explosion. Even as a percentage of all FBS schools, almost twice as many teams will go bowling this season as did in 1996:Economically, there are pros and cons to the inflated bowl field. And these games do matter football-wise, especially to a certain subset of mid-major programs looking for exposure any way they can find it. But, as a natural byproduct of expansion, the caliber of teams in bowls has plummeted over the past three decades.Using an Elo-like estimated version of ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) pre-bowl ratings, here is the progression of the average, worst, and 25th-percentile teams in the bowl field for each season since 1982:The average rating for bowl-bound teams is barely lower now than it was in 1982, and the fact that it crested in 1996 — right before the bowl boom — suggests that there were enough good teams to support some type of expansion in the late 1990s. (Why this change took place is up for debate, though it could point to the origins of today’s ongoing trend of reduced parity between college football’s haves and have-nots.)However, the trend lines describing the dregs of the bowl field (the minimum and 25th-percentile ratings) show how much the bar for bowl entry has been lowered since that time. Bad teams occasionally made their way into bowls before 1997, but that’s now commonplace, particularly since the number of bowl entrants has grown by 39 percent since 2005.Monday’s Miami Beach Bowl thriller, between Memphis and Brigham Young, showed that less prestigious bowl games can still provide excitement for fans that bother to tune in. But it’s also fair to question whether we really need to see FPI No. 95 South Alabama and No. 97 Bowling Green (both considered to be in excess of 8 points per game worse than an average FBS team) face off in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl — as happened on Saturday. Like so much in college football, the bowls are an as yet incomplete experiment in where to find a happy medium between tradition, money-making and the role of academic institutions in the world of high-profile sports.
The only other past superstars who’ve played in a higher percentage of their teams’ total games are Karl Malone and John Stockton. (It’s fitting that a player nicknamed “The Mailman” appeared in 100 percent of potential games 10 different times in his career.) But even they had their injuries. In Malone’s case, he tweaked his right knee in his final season and missed nearly half of the regular season. (To be fair to Malone, he was eight years older than James and five seasons deeper into his career.) Meanwhile, Stockton injured his MCL in 1997, forcing him to sit out the first 18 games of that year.4Stockton was three years older than James at the time, but he was at the same point in his career — the 14th season.He’s been equally great when compared to the five other active players with the highest career win share. For all the many things LeBron James is praised for, from his ability to set up his teammates to his capacity to take over a game, his most underappreciated quality may be his most obvious: He’s always there.Since entering the league in 2003, James has never sat out for more than 15 percent of a season (regular and playoffs combined). Among players of his caliber, past and present, that’s unprecedented. Stephen Curry had ankle issues at the start of his career; both Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant experienced late-season injuries that forced them to miss the playoffs in, respectively, 2000 and 20131Duncan, however, was incredibly healthy most of the time — he still ranks No. 3 among the retired greats we looked at.; and Michael Jordan broke his foot in his sophomore season. Then there’s James. He’s never missed a playoff game, and even though he has the sixth-most regular-season minutes of all time among players at the same point in their careers (within their first 14 years in the league), the most severe injuries he’s incurred are a sore back and knee and some untimely cramps.Quantifying a player’s durability is a bit tricky because the NBA doesn’t keep track of games missed due to injury, which leaves us no way to distinguish physical issues from other reasons for missing games, such as paternity leave or regular rest. The best we can do, then, is to look at the number of games a player appeared in as a portion of the number of games they could have appeared in. The higher the percentage of possible games played, the more durable the player is.2Keep in mind that is only a rough measure, and there’s no way to adjust it for changes in the way the game is played. James has missed more games for rest than players did in the past, which deflates his durability percentage somewhat relative to theirs. On the other hand, getting that rest may have made him more able to avoid injury than those past players, which would inflate his numbers.This year, James appeared in 74 out of a possible 82 games during the regular season and has played in all 12 of the Cavaliers’ playoff games — that’s a 91 percent appearance rate. By itself, that statistic is unremarkable. But when you put it in context — James has played in at least 85 percent of his teams’ games in every season of his career — you see something special.Here’s James compared to the five inactive players with the highest career win share since 1980.3We’re only counting win shares earned after the 1980 cutoff point, which is why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time leader in win shares, is not on the list even though he played part of his career in the ’80s. Truth is, James has been even healthier than those numbers would suggest, because potential games played is a conservative estimate of durability. Some of the games James missed weren’t because he was injured, but rather because a coach decided to rest him for meaningless games at the end of a regular season. (A philosophy that Malone is happy to remind people didn’t exist in his day.)All this is even more impressive considering the bruising style of basketball James is known for. Among active players, no one has gone to the free-throw line more than James. It’s almost unbelievable that a player who plays such physical ball has stayed so healthy since, as we’ve seen in this year’s playoffs with Blake Griffin, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Isaiah Thomas, it only takes one misstep to end someone’s season.
OSU freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) dribbles the ball up the floor during a game against James Madison on Nov. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 73-56.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / For The LanternAfter securing five double-digit victories at home to begin the season, the No. 14 Ohio State men’s basketball team is set to hit the road to take on a top-five opponent.OSU (5-0) will look to pass a major test against No. 5 Louisville (5-0) in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday.For the four freshmen in OSU’s rotation, including guard D’Angelo Russell, the game will mark the first on the road in their collegiate careers.“I’m definitely looking forward to the atmosphere,” Russell said.However, senior guard Shannon Scott said he has been stressing to the younger players to not think too much of Tuesday’s challenge.“It’s another game, really. At the end of the day, somebody’s going to have a win and somebody’s going to have a loss,” Scott said. “It’s not really a special game where we have to feel like if we lose this game we can’t play no more basketball for the rest of our lives.”Despite being an away game for OSU, the game will be played at home for Russell.Russell is a Louisville native, though he played his final three years of high school basketball at Montverde Academy outside Orlando, Fla.The freshman said he has had the game circled on his calendar all year, and is looking forward to playing in his hometown.“It’s definitely a dream come true, to either play with them or play against them,” Russell said.Russell, the leading scorer for the Buckeyes this season, said Louisville offered him a scholarship, but he preferred the “vibe” he felt when he visited OSU.OSU coach Thad Matta said Russell’s hometown school did not present a large obstacle in landing the 2014 McDonald’s All-American.“I don’t honestly remember Louisville being hot and heavy after him,” he said.Russell said he has played with several players on the Cardinals’ roster, including his former Louisville Magic AAU teammate and freshman guard Quentin Snider.Louisville comes into the game ranked fifth in the country in rebounding margin at +13.6 per game, while OSU ranks 64th.Scott said avoiding that trend would be a key for the Buckeyes.“We know Louisville’s one of the best, if not the best, rebounding team in the country, so we know we’re going to have to find a way to keep them off the boards,” he said.Matta agreed with his point guard’s assessment that a major key to the game will be the battle on the glass.“I think that they do a tremendous job of getting on the glass and not only getting put-backs but keeping the ball alive, knocking them out, those types of things. And they’re big. They have a very unique team in terms of how they play,” Matta said.Louisville has four players averaging more than 11 points per game, led by forward Montrezl Harrell.Matta had high praise for the junior, who is leading the team in points and rebounds per game.“He’s special,” Matta said. “He plays at a high level, a high motor, very energetic. He’s got a lot of different ways that he scores.”The coach had additional levels of praise for Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a two-time national champion.“I view coach Pitino as one of the all-time greats in this profession,” Matta said.However, despite the respect he has for the opponent, Matta said that the unselfishness coming from his starting backcourt of Scott and Russell has given him confidence that OSU can come out of Kentucky with a victory.“I love the fact that both D’Angelo and Shannon have had great command of our offense, and in a game like tomorrow night, they’re going to have to be able to do it,” he said. “They’re going to have to make quick reads and good decisions, and I feel pretty comfortable with their ability to do that.”Russell leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 18 points per game and has added 5.4 assists per contest, while Scott leads the nation in assists with 10.4 per game.Louisville and OSU each rank in the top-10 for longest active NCAA Tournament appearance streaks, at eight and six years, respectively. The Cardinals cut down the nets in 2013 after defeating Michigan in the championship game.Regardless of the result Tuesday night, Matta said that both playing on the road for the first time and facing an opponent as strong as Louisville will give him insight into his team moving forward.“Tomorrow night, at the conclusion of the game, we’ll know a little bit more about our team and we’ll be a better team coming out of it,” he said.Tip is set for 9:30 p.m.
The former FIGC President Carlo Tavecchio has admitted he made the biggest mistake of his tenure by not giving Antonio Conte the pay-rise he wanted and deserved.The current Chelsea boss guided the Azzurri to their quarter-finals of Euro 2016 before leaving to take over the Blues. Later, he was replaced by Giampiero Ventura, but the Nazionale could not qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.“My biggest error was not giving Conte the €2.5m more that he wanted,” Tavecchio, who resigned following Italy’s play-off defeat to Sweden last November, told Gazzetta dello Sport via Football Italia.“I would have got it back in three friendlies. Antonio was earning €4m and was asking for €6.5m.“He would have stayed with the Azzurri and today we would be in Russia, for sure.Chelsea hat-trick hero Tammy Abraham hopes for more Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Tammy Abraham hopes this season will be his big breakthrough at Chelsea after firing his first hat-trick for the club in Saturday’s 5-2 win at Wolves.“But is it right to give what we were investing in the youth sector to one man?”Italy took their time to appoint a successor to Ventura, but Tavecchio believes they have found the right man in Roberto Mancini.“Immediately after the defeat to Sweden, I contacted Sacchi in order to convince Ancelotti.“I was convinced that he would accept the role as our saviour, but he cost too much.“At that point, I would also have chosen Mancini.”
Sergio Aguero can beat Alan Shearer’s Premier League goals record, says Manchester City team-mate Bernardo SilvaThe Argentine striker netted his 148th goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.But Aguero still has a long way to go before he can match Newcastle legend Shearer’s tally of 260 goals.However, Silva believes that Aguero does have the potential to reach the milestone.“I think he can reach it,” said Silva on Goal. “He’s got the potential.“Every season he keeps scoring more and more. We hope he can keep helping us win more titles in Manchester.”Virgil van Dijk praises Roberto Firmino after Liverpool’s win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Virgil van Dijk hailed team-mate Roberto Firmino after coming off the bench to inspire Liverpool to a 3-1 comeback win against Newcastle United.“Sergio is the best scorer in Manchester City’s history,” added Silva.“He’s a legend not only for Manchester City but also for the Premier League, if not the best striker in the world then one of the best.“You have to admire players that score 30 goals and next season they don’t rest, they want to score 30 or 40 again. We have to admire that and be happy to have him and enjoy it.“If he reaches that level it will be even better because everyone knows how important Alan Shearer was for English football and for the Premier League.”Aguero has scored five goals in seven Premier League appearances and recently extended his contract at City until 2021.
Spanish striker David Villa, explained the reason behind his decision to leave New York City FC and sign a new contract for Vissel Kobe.You may have already found out about the new destination that striker David Villa chose to continue his career, the Spaniard just announced that he wouldn’t be returning to the MLS and he announced that he will play in Japanese club Vissel Kobe.But we still hadn’t heard any details from the man himself after the announcement, he just offered a press conference in which he explained why he chose Vissel Kobe to continue his retirement years.To those who are not aware, David Villa is set to join Andres Iniesta and Lukas Podolski in the Japanese club that is putting together a very ambitious project under Spanish manager Luis Manuel Lillo.Villa is already in Japan where he already gave a press conference as a player for his new club, he was very clear about his reason behind the new adventure he is undertaking and revealed that he is very happy to join former teammates Andres Iniesta in the club.Both Spaniards made history with the Spanish National Team between 2008 and 2012, they also shared a dressing room at FC Barcelona under Pep Guardiola during the same period of time.My new club.https://t.co/jC8UcI6ZjI— David Villa (@Guaje7Villa) December 1, 2018“In my years as a professional footballer, I have had to make many important decisions. For an athlete, the ones made off the field are the hardest, and I find myself in another one of those moments now,” Villa said via Goal.“Throughout my career, I have always listened to my body, people around me, and my instinct most of all.”“In those moments of doubt, I hope that a sign, a detail or something gives me clarity. A new challenge awaits, Asia.”“I take care when making such big career decisions, I need to know a club really wants me,” he added.“I love to feel welcome and I felt that from Vissel Kobe. That’s a big reason. “When I got the offer from Vissel I called Iniesta and my wife called Andres’ wife.”“The city of Kobe, the wonderful times with family, hearing about the club’s togetherness and their project – I got a good impression of the club from Andres.”“He was my team-mate as well as my friend for many years. It’s great that I can challenge myself in a new project with him,” he concluded.Ronaldo Nazario came to Real Madrid 17 years ago today Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 2, 2019 It is time to remember the time when Ronaldo Nazario was presented as a Real Madrid player, it was 17 years ago to this…Bienvenido a @vissel_kobe, Guaje! Feliz de volver a compartir vestuario contigo 😉😊 💪🏻 @Guaje7VillaWelcome to @vissel_kobe Guaje! Happy to play with you again 😉😊 💪🏻 @Guaje7Villa pic.twitter.com/a8iBwE3z8U— Andrés Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) December 1, 2018In his time alongside Andres Iniesta, David Villa has won a combined two European Championships (2008 and 2012), a World Cup in 2010, the 2011 Champions League, as well as two La Liga trophies amongst other titles alongside Andres.Villa was able to develop a unique attacking relationship and an understanding that is very rare in football, these details are what made his decision to play for Vissel Kobe all that much easier.David is about to turn 37 years old next Monday, a fitting age for a retiree to play one last season before hanging up his boots.But even if he is already a seasoned veteran in football, we can be certain that he will deliver many goals for Vissel Kobe because he still is at a very high level of performance.The 80 goals he scored for New York City FC, as a testament of what David Villa is still capable of doing.From the very start of his career with the Japanese club, Vissel Kobe can already be considered a title contender due to the impressive attacking trio they have with both Spaniards and German forward Lukas Podolski.El equipo que está armando Vissel Kobe 🇯🇵3 campeones del mundo🏆Andrés Iniesta 🏆David Villa 🏆Lukas Podolskihttps://t.co/E8Iz18eTaJ pic.twitter.com/ZTk9fFKIlq— Futbol Picante (@futpicante) December 1, 2018How many goals will David Villa score for Vissel Kobe? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.
Manchester City player Fernandinho has hailed teammate Bernardo Silva’s brilliance at the Etihad stadium after they defeated League leaders Liverpool on Thursday night.The Portuguese midfielder was all over the pitch as he covered 13.7km, the highest any player has covered in the English premier league thi season and his teammate Fernandinho was full of admiration for him after the match.“I think he showed his class,” Fernandinho told the club’s official website.“He has shown his technique so many times, but today he was so aggressive, recovered so many balls and he proved he is very good – one of the best players in our team.“He is so important for us.”Fernandinho added that the club has picked up from the ruins of the recent matches while acknowledging the efforts of the fans in providing a superb atmosphere.Cristiano Ronaldo makes European history for Portugal Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 10, 2019 With all the arsenal on the pitch for Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo reached another all-time record in European football against Lithuania.The Portugal National Team made…“We had a chance and opportunity to show our quality after a couple of bad results,” he said.“The team has been playing good games and this is the most important for us. If you play bad you can win the games, but you have to play good and get the three points.“It was a nice game for everybody and of course for the fans. They were so excited, and I am happy for them.“I think all the big games are like this [tense]. You cannot blink. You get punished, all the games are high tension, so you have to be careful all the time and everyone who was involved had the same feeling, the same sensation.“We had to play our football and try to defend as well as we did, not concede goals.”
Elseid Hysaj’s agent claims the player could have completed a switch to Chelsea and could still secure a move away from Napoli if he fails to become a regular.The Albanian full-back has fallen down Ancelotti’s pecking order and his representative is unhappy given he could have left last summer.“He could have gone with [Maurizio] Sarri to Chelsea, but Ancelotti blocked everything,” Mario Giuffredi fumed in a quote cited on Football Italia.“He even publicly said recently that he was counting on him for this last period, but the facts say that in the last four games, Hysaj has only played one.Top 5 Serie A players to watch for next weekend’s activity Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 11, 2019 With the international activity cooling down for the next month, we go back to the Top 5 players to watch in Serie A next…“Therefore that probably means he’s not too important for the Coach. If Ancelotti no longer considers him a starter, and wants to remove the disturbance, we’ll do it.“Hysaj doesn’t deserve this bad treatment, considering how much he’s given Napoli in the last three years, and also because it’s professionally correct to be clear in life.“Maybe it’s just a transitional phase, but every Coach makes his choices and it’s right that’s the case. So if Hysaj has become the fourth choice it’s only right they communicate that to us.“If this is a transitional phase we’ll soon see Hysaj as a starter again, or at the very least playing more consistently, but if Hysaj is no longer valued by the Coach we’ll ask for a transfer in January.”
The former TSG 1899 Hoffenheim footballer feels like at home with his new German Bundesliga club and hopes to show good quality football.A week after leaving German Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for VfB Stuttgart, Steven Zuber talked to the press for the first time.“Stuttgart are a big club who obviously shouldn’t be in the position they’re in at the moment. Their current position in the table is of no great importance to me,” he told the club’s official website.“Being near the top or further down the table doesn’t affect my personal approach. I always look at things on a game-by-game basis and want to win every single one.”Crouch: Liverpool could beat Man United to Jadon Sancho Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Peter Crouch wouldn’t be surprised to see Jadon Sancho end up at Liverpool one day instead of his long-term pursuers Manchester United.“You start from scratch every matchday, and each time there are three more points up for grabs. The discussions with Michael Reschke and Markus Weinzierl were much more important [in persuading me to join the club]. They totally convinced me,” he explained.“I’ve already looked at a couple of flats here in Stuttgart and think I’ll move into one of them soon. I think I’ll feel at home quickly.”“I’m also on the right track in sporting terms after my ankle injury. I was able to participate in parts of training yesterday and hope to be able to train normally again this afternoon,” he added.“I obviously want to settle in quickly and give my all right away, but I need to wait for permission from the doctors and physios, who need to keep my enthusiasm under control.”