Teams from the South of England are currently dominating the Premier League.London-based Chelsea is in first place, and is a prohibitive favorite to win the title. Southampton — the southernmost team in the league — currently sits second. Both teams won their games last weekend, beating teams from the North and Midlands. West Ham, also based in London, is in fourth.While the North (working class, the Beatles) dominated the league for decades, the South (London, the Rolling Stones) has slowly been gaining ground. This process has been driven by culture, politics and the economy.Using the mammoth football data set compiled by one of this article’s authors (James),1We’ve previously explored scoring trends and home-field advantage. we can quantify, and map, the migration of power in the world’s top soccer league over the past 126 years.England has always had strong regional identities and overt class distinctions. The biggest of these is between North and South. The most obvious differences between these regions are in dialect, culture, politics and economy, but there also exists a North-South football divide. Indeed, the story of the origins of English football is about tensions between working-class Northerners and upper-class Southerners.Here is the geography of English top-tier football league champions:Dots show the location of teams that have won the league championship, with the size representing the number of titles. The line is a 20-year moving average of the latitudes and longitudes of winners of the top tier — the center of gravity.2Before World War I, thanks to successes of teams from the North, the center hovered around the Lancashire-Yorkshire border. After 1930, Southern teams enjoyed more title success and the center began a march southeast through the Peak District, reaching as far as the town of Rugby (that sport’s eponym) following Chelsea’s first win in 1955. With the emergence of powerful Manchester United and later the Liverpool dynasty, the center moved back toward Lancashire. Recently, due to Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s titles, the center has once more moved southeast, and currently resides just outside Burton-upon-Trent (a small town which notably has had four Football League teams in its history). Our colleagues performed a similar calculation with winners of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup. That center of gravity is somewhere in Lake Huron.The rules of modern soccer were developed in England in 1863 when the representatives of 11 London clubs and elite private schools (in the South) convened at the Freemasons’ Tavern to establish what would become the Football Association, the game’s governing body. The rules were further modified in 1869 — when handballs were outlawed — leading to more or less the game we know today.Amateur teams, composed of upper class gentlemen from the South of England, enjoyed early success in the first major national competition — the FA Cup — which began in 1871. However, teams from the North and Midlands quickly sprang up out of religious community organizations, schools and trade unions. Football, an accessible, democratic game, caught fire in the North.By the mid-1880s, talented players from these areas and Scotland started to be paid for their services in the increasingly competitive North. This led to several years of bitter arguments between the Northern clubs and the powerful, and Southern-founded, Football Association. Central to this dispute were the original men in blazers — two of the earliest presidents of the FA, Colonel Sir Francis Marindin and Lord Kinnaird, established members of the Southern upper crust, and avowed amateur footballers.3The phrase “men in blazers” has often been used in England to derisively refer to ineffectual and out-of-touch committee members of the FA.Professional working-class Northern teams rapidly overtook their gentlemen Southerner counterparts in ability. The amateurs’ death knell tolled in 1883 when the professional Blackburn Olympic side — featuring weavers, plumbers, dental assistants and iron-foundry workers — beat the epitome of English privilege, the amateur Old Etonians, for the FA Cup title.4Eton College is the most elite private school in England. It is also the traditional alma mater of male members of the Royal Family, including Prince William and Prince Harry. Old Etonians is the collective name for former pupils.Wanting to capitalize on the huge popularity of football among working-class fans, Northern teams formed their own professional league, demanding that the FA accept their will. In 1888, the Football League was founded — six teams from the North and six from the Midlands. It was an immediate success. More teams from the North and Midlands were added and a second division was established in 1892.The early decades of the Football League were dominated by these Northern and Midland teams. Notably, Aston Villa and Sunderland won six and five titles, respectively, before World War I. It wasn’t until 1931 that a Southern team (Arsenal) was crowned league champion. Indeed, until Arsenal’s FA Cup win in 1930, Northern and Midland teams had also won every single FA Cup since 1883, except for London’s Tottenham Hotspur in 1901. Even that team started five Scots, three Northerners, two Welshman and an Irishman.The following chart shows the cumulative top-flight league titles won by individual teams, colored by the team’s region.The Football League became truly national at the start of the 1920-21 season when a third division, composed entirely of teams from the South of England, was created. Over the following decades more Southern teams — Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic, Fulham — gradually rose through successive promotions to find a place in the top tier.While the league creeped south, it retained its strong Northern flavor. The continued domination of the North is best seen by examining the number of championships piled up by teams from this region between 1920 and 1980. Only Arsenal from the South provided anything like competition for Northern teams such as Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United, all of which won multiple titles.The fabric of English society changed dramatically during the 1980s. The force that was Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative government’s right-wing policies led to a boom in the prosperity of the City of London and the South in general, while left-wing trade union power waned.Unemployment in the United Kingdom rose from 5.7 percent in 1979, the year Thatcher took office, to 13 percent in 1983. This aggravated the economic inequality between North and South, and many Northern cities and people suffered financially. These wider economic and political changes were mirrored by shifts in the representation of Northern and Southern soccer teams in England’s top division.Here are the average latitudes of all teams in the top division of English football, by season:Only seven times in history has the average latitude of England’s top-flight soccer teams dipped beneath Birmingham — often called England’s “second city” and considered to be a marker of the middle of the country. The first was in 1982, three years after Thatcher became prime minister. The last was in 1991, one year after Thatcher left Downing Street.Smaller Southern teams — Watford, Wimbledon, Millwall and Oxford United (bankrolled by the business tycoon Robert Maxwell) — made the top tier for the first time during this decade, while others such as Charlton Athletic and Luton Town returned after long absences. The most Southern-skewed season was 1987-88. Although the top four teams all came from the North and Midlands — Manchester United, Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Everton — 13 of the remaining 17 sides were Southern.Meanwhile, many former great Northern and Midland teams suffered. Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Preston North End and Wolverhampton Wanderers, all founding members of the Football League, were relegated to the fourth tier during the 1980s.The nature of English soccer changed forever with the formation of the Premier League in 1992, the huge influx of money and the globalization of the game.In the early years of the EPL, there was a brief mini-revival for several historically strong Northern teams, like Middlesbrough, Leicester City, Bolton, Sunderland and Nottingham Forest, that had suffered during the 1980s. Each was promoted back to the top tier during the mid-1990s. Most notably, Blackburn Rovers, bankrolled by local businessman Jack Walker, won the Premier League in 1995.But these teams have all since struggled to consistently retain their places in the EPL, as survival and success are determined more and more by financial muscle. Footprints of the old historical North-South divide are still evident in the composition of teams in England’s top tier but, in order to compete, EPL teams have increasingly become global franchises, taken over by uber-wealthy foreign owners, many of whom have preferred to invest in teams near London, the nation’s capital.English football in the 19th and 20th centuries was fueled by the fanaticism of working-class fans, going to watch their local heroes play for their hometown team. The connection between fans and their clubs was built upon these regional and local ties. In the 21st century, the super-successful, globalized EPL has seen the diminishment of some of these strong regional identities that had mattered so much.
Sharapova tops Errani to win French Open, completes career Grand SlamAs they gazed at each other across the net before their French Open final, 24 cms in height separated Maria Sharapova from Sara Errani – when the action began it was a country mile as the Russian won the title and completed the career grand slam.The statuesque Sharapova is tennis royalty and her 6-3 6-2 win on Saturday over the 21st seed, who is diminutive in stature and in status, was less a contest and more a coronation.It was all over in a flash: 89 minutes, five breaks of serve followed by a victory speech in four different languages.Congratulations Maria Sharapova!
The Chicago Bulls have announced that point guard Derrick Rose is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing knee surgery to repair his MCL Monday.Dr. Brian Cole operated on Rose’s medial meniscus in his right knee at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Cole is the same doctor who performed the ACL surgery on Rose’s left knee in May 2012.Rose’s team has expressed disappointment from within the Bulls’ locker room since his new injury Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the team are trying the be positive.“I texted him,” Thibodeau said of his communication with Rose. “The surgery was a success. So he obviously has to focus in on the rehab. And our team, we have to lock into our improvement and getting wins. The big thing for him is he just has to focus in on his rehab. The fact that he’s already done it once, he has great mental toughness, he’ll be fine. This will be another bump in the road, he’ll get past it. We expect him to make a full recovery.”Thibodeau is confident that his squad will be fine without Rose since they did good without him last season when he suffered from his ACL injury.“It’s the nature of the NBA,” Thibodeau said. “It’s constant change, there’s always things being thrown at you and it’s how quickly you can adapt to those changes. So that’s the challenge that we’re faced with right now. The games are coming, we have to be ready, we have to come out with the right mindset and we have to go after people.”
Now that Adrian Peterson is back in the NFL fold—finally—the questions are: What took so long and where will he play next season?The game’s most explosive running back had been suspended since November 4 because of a misdemeanor reckless injury charge resulting from an incident where he created bruises on the body of his young son.The reinstatement goes into effect on Friday, which means it took five months to get Peterson’s case finally resolved. Which is a long time. Consider that Ray Rice’s case—caught on tape when he knocked out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City hotel elevator—was resolved fast enough for him to be reinstated and signed by an NFL team, although no club picked him up.Peterson had to be relieved when commissioner Roger Goodell sent the Minnesota Viking a letter advising him of his reinstatement, ending the controversy and finally allowing him to resume his luminous career.Goodell reminded Peterson in the letter that will have to fulfill all the obligations of his plea deal with authorities, including participating in counseling, and that any other violations of the personal conduct policy by Peterson would result in additional discipline, including possible suspension without pay or banishment from the NFL.Peterson met with Goodell earlier this month regarding his reinstatement, the first time they had spoken since the child abuse case arose last September. Peterson told ESPN on Feb. 19 that he had been following the NFL’s requirements for reinstatement, adding he had met with Dr. April Kuchuk—the New York University psychiatry instructor Goodell had assigned to Peterson’s case—to set up a counseling and treatment plan.The Vikings acknowledged they received word from Goodell’s office that Peterson was reinstated and “We look forward to Adrian re-joining the Vikings” the team said in a statement.It does not appear Peterson wants any parts of the Vikings, however. The team starts offseason workouts on Monday and hold their first mandatory minicamp in June. No one can say for sure if Peterson will show up for any of the team’s offseason program.He told ESPN in February he believed the team had not shown sufficient support for him in the wake of his indictment in September and called the decision to put him on the exempt list an “ambush.”Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, Peterson wants out and has visited with teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, according to reports. The Vikings have said repeatedly they want Peterson back and have no plan to trade him. Peterson’s contract calls for a $12.75 million salary this season and doesn’t expire for another three years.It’s understandable that the Vikings would want to keep Peterson. He’s the best in the business. But when he needed support, the team abandoned him, taking advice from some “Olivia Pope” type to distance themselves from the beleaguered star. So now that the case is over, that Peterson has endured and is eligible to play, the team wants its prized commodity.Peterson said he is not falling for the okey-doke. He’d like a trade, but certainly cannot force one. Saying he wants out should be enough for Minnesota to unload him for something of value to truly put this saga behind, as with Peterson around, it will be a distraction all season.But if the Vikings truly are intent on keeping Peterson, they have to make him feel their commitment to him, kiss his proverbial ring, so to speak.Peterson deserved the drama he had to endure. Now he deserves a team that will apologize for abandoning him and give him the support any player needs. Whether that’s the Vikings or not is in question.
Astros158699.291.621.12.2 Diamondbacks153287.347.5%4.7%1.2 Giants1498220.127.116.11.1 Royals141461.00.00.00.0 Major League Baseball’s annual trade deadline — this year’s version of which falls at 4 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday — is an annual chance for teams to take stock of their short- and long-term future plans. As our research has shown in the past, World Series front-runners should generally be willing to give up quite a large bushel of future assets in exchange for talent that might bring them a ring in the here and now. Meanwhile, teams on the fringe of the playoffs should be relatively indifferent between playing for the future or the present, and bottom-feeders should frantically sell everything they can.Those guidelines become apparent when we run our “Doyle Number” statistic for this season’s teams. As a quick refresher, the Doyle Number1Named after the infamous 1987 trade in which the Detroit Tigers sent future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, then a 20-year-old prospect, to the Atlanta Braves for 36-year-old Doyle Alexander. represents how many future wins of talent a team should be willing to part with to acquire 1 extra win of rental talent over the remainder of this season (including the playoffs).So the Boston Red Sox, who have the highest Doyle Number in baseball, should be willing to trade away up to 2.2 wins of future talent in exchange for every 1 win of talent they acquire for this year’s stretch run — they’re clear deadline buyers. By contrast, teams with Doyle numbers around zero are obvious sellers — they have no reason to give up future talent to acquire extra wins this season. Finally, a Doyle of 1.0 means a team could swing either way between buying and selling.Here are this year’s Doyle Numbers (as of July 30): Yankees158398.677.517.22.1 Red Sox1591100.296.7%23.8%2.2 Rangers148276.10.00.00.0 Reds147975.40.20.00.0 Cubs155692.479.311.71.9 Indians155291.795.313.31.9 Braves150781.534.92.00.8 Tigers144968.70.20.00.0 Athletics153218.104.22.168.8 SellersElo RatingExp. Wins per 162 gamesDiv. Series OddsWorld Series OddsDoyle Number Marlins145068.90.10.00.0 Brewers152285.051.94.21.2 Mariners151984.422.214.171.124 Dodgers156494.265.611.01.8 Rockies151583.3126.96.36.199 Although the share of prospects in the hands of top teams isn’t a perfect predictor of how many deadline deals will go down,3Since 2009, its correlation with the share of all trades that happened at the deadline was 0.36. it does speak broadly to the ability of contenders to act on the advice that their Doyle Number would recommend. In 2016, for instance, the Cubs’ surplus of top prospects — and urgency to win a World Series after a 108-year dry spell — led Chicago to trade a number of gifted farmhands (headlined by stellar 2018 rookie Gleyber Torres) to the Yankees for a few months’ rental of closer Aroldis Chapman.It wasn’t the first time that future talent was pawned off for an immediate payoff, and it was far from the last. Because of their low pay and endless promise, minor leaguers serve as the ultimate grease in the wheels of the trade-deadline machine. And they may yet help smooth along another blockbuster in the next few hours, perhaps one including Bryce Harper, Jacob deGrom, J.T. Realmuto or Chris Archer. But if the deadline does end up feeling a little slower than we’d expect from the buyer/seller profiles implied by this year’s standings, it could just be because most of the buyers have already bought and the sellers have already sold.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Rays150581.20.60.00.0 Mets147073.40.10.00.0 Padres143966.60.00.00.0 Pirates150080.08.00.40.2 Blue Jays148576.70.00.00.0 Where each team stands at the 2018 deadlineTeams ranked by Doyle Number — how many future wins of talent a team should trade away to acquire 1 win this season Expected wins are derived from the team’s current Elo rating.Source: FanGraphs.com Cautious BuyersElo RatingExp. Wins per 162 gamesDiv. Series OddsWorld Series OddsDoyle Number Twins149679.14.00.20.1 Orioles143265.00.00.00.0 Angels1517188.8.131.52.0 This year’s crop of buyers is unusually robust — three teams have Doyle Numbers north of 2.0 (most recent years have usually had only one or two) and six teams are at or above a Doyle of 1.8 (when the typical year has two or three in that range). At the same time, 12 teams have Doyle Numbers that round to 0.0, compared with an average of nine in the previous three years we’ve been calculating the metric.It’s all a consequence of this supremely stratified, tank-tastic MLB season. On the one hand, you might imagine that such a surplus of buyers and sellers would pave the way for more trades than usual, since a lot of teams have their motivations aligned for deal-making. And there have been some notable moves made thus far: Manny Machado to the Dodgers, Cole Hamels to the Cubs, Ian Kinsler to the Red Sox, Mike Moustakas to the Brewers, J.A. Happ to the Yankees and so forth. But the particulars of this year’s market could also play some tricks with what we think of as ordinary deadline business, when we consider who has how much of which asset — long-term vs. short, young talent vs. established stars. Elite teams can only swap with rebuilding ones if they have the right prospects to send away, and there’s evidence that many of the best youngsters have already flowed from the contenders to the tankers before anybody had a chance to do their deadline shopping.To see this, we can look at how many members of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects are in the farm systems of top teams, as opposed to everybody else. For each full season since 1990,2So, excluding partial seasons in 1994 and 1995. I gathered the list of top prospects and assigned each ranking slot its average future value, according to my research here. To focus on prospects that haven’t yet made a dent in the big leagues — i.e., the kind more likely to be thrown into deadline trades — I filtered out players who exhausted their rookie eligibility during the season in question (or, for this year, players who are on pace to do so). Finally, I calculated the percentage of leaguewide prospect value that belonged to teams in the top third of all MLB teams by projected end-of-season record (using our Elo ratings, as of July 30 each season). And this year, only 27.5 percent of prospect value is in the systems of top-tier teams, the lowest such mark in any full season since 1991. White Sox143766.00.00.00.0 Cardinals151383.06.60.40.2 Nationals152284.99.1%0.7%0.3 Solid BuyersElo RatingExp. Wins per 162 gamesDiv. Series OddsWorld Series OddsDoyle Number Phillies150681.551.53.01.0
With a powerful group of veteran leaders and a super sophomore class, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team looks to start its season with a victory tonight against Detroit (0-1). OSU coach Nick Myers said the Buckeyes’ leadership comes from a group of 14 seniors — four of whom are captains — and junior captain Brock Sorensen. “You have got to look to those seniors for leadership first and foremost,” he said. “They have really stepped out and taken charge of this team and made it clear that it’s an effort every day that we pay attention to detail.” Two of the Buckeye captains, midfielders Scott Lathrop and Jarred Bowman, agreed. “There is going to be adversity throughout the year,” Bowman said. “As long as we stay together and really focus on having each other’s backs and being there for everybody, we will be fine.” Although the leadership comes from the senior class, a large part of the scoring for OSU comes from a duo of sophomores. At attack, Logan Schuss and Jeff Tundo return to the Buckeyes after being the top two scorers for the team during their freshman seasons. Schuss finished the 2010 campaign with a team-high 56 points with 31 goals for the Buckeyes, and Tundo added 35 points with 20 goals. Although those two attackers are only sophomores, Myers said he holds them to the same standards as he does the team’s veterans. “A lot of those sophomores that play for us, we’re treating those guys like veterans,” Myers said. “We want them to play like veterans as second-year guys, and that’s a big strength for us.” A challenge for the Buckeyes this season will be the difficulty of their non-conference schedule, which includes No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 North Carolina and No. 10 Notre Dame. “We probably have the toughest non-conference schedule we’ve ever faced,” Myers said. “We understand it’s going to be one game at a time.” On Saturday, OSU had two scrimmages — one against defending National Champion No. 5 Duke and another against Division III power Salisbury. But the Buckeyes are anxious to get on the field for a regular season game. “We have been practicing against each other for a month now as well as all of fall,” Lathrop said. “We got some scrimmage time last week but it’s not the same as a regular game. I think everyone is just real excited to play another team in a real-game situation.” Last year, the Buckeyes went 7-8 and finished No. 33. Their last meeting with Detroit was Feb. 27, 2010. Behind a team-high six points from Schuss, OSU came away with a 16-7 victory. The Titans fell to No. 17 Delaware, 13-5, in their season opener Saturday. OSU kicks off its regular season at 7 p.m. tonight at Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
As the football program’s annual Spring Game inches closer, the two sides of the ball could not be farther apart, in both play and identity. Take Saturday’s scrimmage for example. In 17 possessions, the offense managed just three Drew Basil field goals. The four quarterbacks taking snaps in place of injured starter Terrelle Pryor looked mundane at best. Taylor Graham was the only one without a turnover. That’s not exactly vintage “Tressel Ball.” The receivers helped account for some of those turnovers, dropping passes that turned into picks. The discrepancy between returning starter DeVier Posey and the rest of the receiving corps appears to be wide. Now, the offense does have a handful of legitimate reasons for its struggles on Saturday: Pryor’s injury, starting right tackle J.B. Shugarts’ absence because of a shoulder injury, two new starting guards and too many new faces catching the ball. But the defense, which is replacing seven starters, sure wasn’t offering any excuses. Its play did the talking from the first snap, when the offense started from its own three-yard line. At the snap, defensive linemen John Simon and Johnathan Hankins slammed through the point of attack and stopped running back Dan Herron in the end zone. The “Silver Bullets” weren’t finished causing havoc quite yet. Cornerback Bradley Roby had two interceptions. Running back Jaamal Berry was crushed by cornerback Dionte Allen on a bubble screen. And on a single play, Simon sacked quarterback Kenny Guiton, forced him to fumble and then recovered the ball for a triple crown of sorts. The defense even appears to have found its director in Etienne Sabino, who seems to have finally seized the opportunity. “(Sabino) is definitely our leader right now in the middle of the field,” cornerback Travis Howard said. “He’s the guy calling all the plays and making all the checks.” Not all is lost for the offense. It appears to have a three-headed monster of running backs up to the challenge, each of whom brings something different to the table. Berry has the speed, Jordan Hall has the shiftiness and Rod Smith packs the Beanie Wells-like power. It’s no secret that the program has been engulfed in a storm of controversy during the offseason. Heck, it couldn’t even finish the scrimmage because a howling thunderstorm showed up in the ‘Shoe. So, whether it’s the offense finding its identity or the defense continuing to assert its own, it’s clear the team has a long road ahead. Lucky for the Buckeyes, it’s spring, not autumn, so they have plenty of time to weather the storm.
The numbers aren’t adding up for sophomore Corey Brown, junior running back Jordan Hall and defensive back Travis Howard, who each received $200 at a charity event and will now miss their second consecutive game for Ohio State. The source of the money received by the three players remains unclear, according to documents that were released by the athletic department on Thursday evening. One former member of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions declined to comment on the specifics of OSU’s recent suspensions, but did say that similar circumstances could lead to a new NCAA investigation. Brown, Hall and Howard’s name are redacted in the NCAA and university documents that were released, but the documents did say that interviews with current student-athletes revealed that they were invited to attend the charity event by former student-athletes whose names are also redacted. There are also discrepancies among the players regarding who they received money from and why they were receiving it. Two players said believed they were receiving money for working the event while the third player said he was receiving money from a former student athlete, according to the documents. In a letter dated Sept. 1, Doug Archie, OSU’s associate athletic director for compliance, said to Jennifer Henderson, the NCAA’s director of student-athlete reinstatement: “All of the current student-athletes incorrectly believed that their participation in the event had been approved by the OSU compliance office. The OSU compliance office did not approve participation in the… 2011 event, but did approve the same event (in 2007 and 2010). “Please note that there was nothing impermissible about the event.” At least two parties also indicated that one party involved in the money exchange was seen carrying several envelopes during the charity event. Josephine Potuto, a University of Nebraska professor in constitutional law, served on the NCAA Committee on Infractions from 2006–08 and chaired the committee in 2007 and 2008. Potuto would not comment on any specific facet of OSU’s recent suspensions, but did say that, generally, it was unlikely that the NCAA would admit further evidence against a university after a hearing has been held. OSU held its hearing with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12 and is still awaiting the committee’s final ruling. “Any violation committed by an individual student-athlete is also an institutional matter because institutions only deal through people,” Potuto said. “So, another investigation could be opened. Generally, the NCAA and the Committee on Infractions won’t re-open a case after it has held a hearing with the institution. “ Mike Doss, a safety for the Buckeyes from 1999-2002 and member of OSU’s 2002 consensus national championship team, was preparing for his Friday induction into the university’s athletics hall of fame moments before the athletic department announced the continuation of the three players’ suspensions. Doss said he wished the current OSU squad well despite its recent troubles. “I hope they do great,” he said. “I hope they win them all and knock them down and show the country that, no matter who’s the head coach, there’s still great football in Columbus, Ohio.” From from his Twitter account, @Jordan_Hall7, Hall said at approximately 8:30p.m. Friday, “Killin’ me not to be out there ..good luck to all my homies tho.” The Buckeyes continue their season on Saturday with a noon game against Toledo at Ohio Stadium.
The chase is on for the Ohio State football team, and it’s clear the Buckeyes are the hunters, not the prey. OSU held its first of 15 spring practices Tuesday indoors at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, which houses a full indoor football field. At the south end of the facility hangs a new banner with two big words adorned on the scarlet background. “The Chase,” it reads. What exactly is the chase? Coach Urban Meyer said it’s different for everyone. “We’re all chasing something,” Meyer said. “We’re 15 practices behind every team that played in a bowl game last year, so the chase is on. Some guys are chasing starting positions, some guys are chasing bowl games, some guys are chasing NFL contracts.” But though Meyer acknowledges every individual’s pursuit has a different path, it seems clear that they all are aiming to intersect at the same place: the top of the college football world. It’s no secret what Meyer and his staff are chasing. On the team schedule listed in the media room, all the regular season games are listed. Then there’s the Rose Bowl. Then there’s BCS National Championship. That’s the prey, and everything – even the stretching and calisthenics during the very first spring practice – is designed to track it down. The expectations for this OSU team could not be higher. Rising junior quarterback Braxton Miller graced the cover of the latest “Sports Illustrated,” most preseason rankings have the Buckeyes somewhere in the top three and with nine returning starters on offense, nothing short of a championship will be viewed as a success. A perfect 12-0 season during a year with a postseason ban was enough to quench the fans’ thirst during year one of the Meyer era, but with one conquest comes higher goals. The Buckeyes’ first spring practice was open to the media, and it was clear what type of operation Meyer was running. Fast. Intense. Efficient. When he huddled the team briefly before breaking out into position drills, the only audible phrases from the sideline were “as fast as you can, go for four to six seconds” and “relentless.” There were no lengthy water breaks or team meetings, and there was no time to dwell on a failed rep. Everything was under the microscope. When a long, blond-haired kicker (who was not listed on the preseason roster) dared to take a swig of water during calisthenics, it was noticed. “What, do you need water, sunshine?” defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs yelled. “We’re stretching and you’re a kicker.” He wasn’t alone. No less than a half dozen assistant coaches were roaming up and down the field yapping at players for not running in a straight line or not going fast enough. “What are you chasing?” Coombs yelled at no one in particular. “What are you chasing today? Who are you chasing today? Let’s get to work. “Today’s not a good day, not a great day. It’s toughness Tuesday.” The transition between drills was a sprint, with the veterans going first, and the newbies waiting their turns so as not to waste time with lengthy drill instructions. The whole operation was a hyper-organized chaos and that seemed to be precisely how Meyer wanted it. Meyer praised Miller afterward, who looked about as good as a quarterback with no pads and no pressure can. “I thought Braxton Miller had a heck of a day,” Meyer said. “Fundamentally, his footwork was not very good last year. I thought it was outstanding today.” He also singled out rising senior Jordan Hall, who moved to a H-back position after a 2012 season riddled with injuries. Overall the second-year coach was pleased with what he saw. His team is in much better shape than it was at this point last year, something probably best illustrated by the fact that the third question of Meyer’s press conference was about the punting situation. But if Day 1 is any indication, there will be no resting on laurels. Meyer is constantly looking toward – chasing – the future. “Who’s going to be the (former offensive lineman Reid) Fragel?” Meyer said. “We’re going to call that the Fragel award, who was a very below average football player who turned out to be a very good football player for Ohio State University. “Who’s going to be that guy that’s coming out of nowhere?” OSU won’t be a team that comes out of nowhere this season. Everyone knows about the Buckeyes and everyone knows where they want to go. Will they get there? The chase continues.
Former OSU football coach Jim Tressel speaks to the media before the Athletics Hall of Fame banquet on Sept. 18.Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis / Lantern reporterThe Ohio State football team will try to add to its role in school history when it takes the field against Northern Illinois on Saturday, but halftime will honor those who have already cemented their place in it.The OSU Athletics Hall of Fame inducted 14 new members at a banquet Friday night. Included among the inductees were 12 former student athletes and two coaches.The 2015 class is headlined by former football head coach Jim Tressel, who coached the team from 2001-2010. In his time as coach, Tressel accumulated a 106-22 record and won a national championship in 2002.Tressel said he views his induction as a coach as something bigger than himself.“When there’s a coach in the Hall of Fame, it’s totally different than a participant. You reflect about all 10 teams and all the people who make up the entire fabric of what Ohio State is about,” he said. “This is just thousands of people being recognized for the 10 years they spent together.”Tressel’s time at OSU ended in controversy, but he said he is proud of what the team accomplished over his tenure and is honored that it is being recognized.“Our 10-year block in the extraordinary structure of Ohio State athletics and Ohio State football I’m very proud of,” he said. “It’s humbling that the Varsity O and the Hall of Fame felt that this era should be recognized.”Now the president of Youngstown State University, Tressel said the most important lesson he’s applied from his time as a coach is the understanding that every position is important.“Until you know that you are insignificant without every single other person, you can’t reach your potential. Those are great lessons you learn in sports,” the former coach said.Two other inductees were part of OSU football; defensive back Tim Anderson, who was with the team from 1968-1970, and wide receiver Joey Galloway. Galloway played 15 years in the NFL and is currently an analyst for ESPN.Former OSU basketball player Terence Dials speaks before the 2015 Athletics Hall of Fame banquet.Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis / Lantern reporterFormer basketball captain Terence Dials was also among the inductees. At only 32 years old, he said he was surprised but grateful to be inducted so young.“It was very shocking to get the call, something I didn’t expect,” he said. “I definitely didn’t play basketball for this; I played it because I love the game. Everything that comes with it is just a bonus.”Dials attributes much of his success to current basketball coach Thad Matta. “If he didn’t come, we probably wouldn’t be looked at the same,” Dials said. “People come up to me and they thank me for the last couple of big years that we had at Ohio State, and it wouldn’t have been able to happen without coach Matta.”Within the class of 2015, two members are still active within the university. Women’s golf coach Therese Hession has been with the team for 24 years. She is the seventh coach of a women’s team to be inducted.Current wrestling assistant coach J Jaggers was also inducted for his time as a student athlete from 2006-2009.Only six years removed from graduation, Jaggers is the youngest member of the 2015 class.“It’s an honor that I’d be considered that quickly. I was very blessed to have the career that I had and the support that I had from my coaches and my family,” he said. “Maybe if I thought about this day, I’d be a bit older, but I welcome it and it’s fun.”Jaggers is one of four Buckeyes to win multiple NCAA wrestling championship titles. Also among the four is Logan Stieber, who Jaggers coached.Jaggers said that the emotions following a win are alike whether he’s a student-athlete or a coach.“The feelings are very similar. Watching somebody seize their dream, and to even be just the smallest part of it is pretty special,” he said.The other members of the class of 2015 are Justin Cook (men’s soccer), Lara Dickenmann (women’s soccer), Natalia Diea (women’s diving), Annabelle Fago (rowing), Perry Martter (wrestling), Teresa Meyer (pistol), Dan Seimetz (baseball) and Paul Tilley (men’s hockey).The OSU Athletics Hall of Fame can be viewed inside of the Schottenstein Center.