NCAA

Lions hoping for better offseason than in 2012

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Lions hoping for better offseason than in 2012

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) In 2011, Detroit players held well-attended workouts during the lockout. They entered the season focused, and after a 5-0 start, the Lions made the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years.

The next offseason wasn't nearly as positive. A number of arrests and off-field problems put the Lions on the defensive. What followed was a 4-12 collapse for what was supposed to be one of the league's top young teams.

``Any time that you take focus away from the game that's coming up, or the process of OTAs, or the process of training camp and the urgency to improve and you divide players' attention, I think it can have an effect. The biggest thing is that it affected the image of the team,'' coach Jim Schwartz said. ``That dye was cast, and it became an item with players and dealing with the media and everything else. That's the unfortunate thing - it just divided the focus of the team.''

Schwartz met with reporters for about a half-hour Monday, a day after his team finished the season on an eight-game losing streak. Detroit still has a trio of young stars that could make any team envious: quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. But the Lions fell apart down the stretch.

The team did not announce any immediate changes, but running backs coach Sam Gash and wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson told The Associated Press on Monday night they would not be back with the staff next season. Gash said he enjoyed his time with the Lions, but that his contract was up and he was ready to move on. Jefferson, whose contract was also up, said he was looking forward to the next stage in his life.

``I was able to coach the best wide receiver in the league,'' Jefferson said.

Among the players, the focus is on a better offseason.

``You hope that guys learned,'' wide receiver Nate Burleson said. ``Understand that the distractions that followed us into training camp hurt us a little bit, and if you're going to be that guy, you most likely won't be putting on a Lions jersey in 2013.''

Detroit finished third in total offense and second in passing, but yards didn't always equal points. The Lions finished with a minus-16 turnover differential; it was plus-11 the previous season. Detroit also allowed 10 touchdowns on interception, fumble, kickoff and punt returns.

Mistakes like that can make all the difference in a close contest, and the Lions lost nine games by eight points or fewer.

Detroit's running game remained hampered by the absence of Jahvid Best, whose status is uncertain after he missed the whole season with concussion problems. The receiving corps was also banged-up. Burleson and Ryan Broyles went down with knee injuries, and Titus Young was exiled for what Schwartz said were behavior problems.

``He's still on our roster and everybody that's on our roster is still on our roster for a reason,'' Schwartz said. ``He's a very talented player. Obviously he made a difference when he was on the field.''

Johnson finished with a record 1,964 yards receiving, but he didn't have much help and faced all sorts of defensive looks designed to prevent him from getting open.

``We started to get a clear understanding that teams are playing us a lot differently,'' Burleson said. ``This isn't 2011, where teams kind of let us run around. They were bold enough to give us one-on-one coverage, and run in between zones. They didn't do that coming into this year.''

Defensively, Suh made an impact again. Tackle Nick Fairley began to show his potential after offseason run-ins with law enforcement. End Cliff Avril had 9 1/2 sacks, but he can't be sure what his future holds. He signed a one-year franchise tender before the season.

``I would love to be here, but I know how this thing shakes out. I know how this works,'' he said. ``Just take it in stride.''

Burleson also says he'd like to be back, and his value may have increased because of Broyles' injury and Young's problems.

``I love this team, and I feel like this is my best chance to win a Super Bowl,'' Burleson said. ``Even after 4-12.''

Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

After speculation and uncertainty surrounding the college football season grew in recent days, the Big Ten Conference has announced that it is canceling its football season for the fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."

In the release, the Big Ten announced it will "continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring."

News from the Big Ten differs from speculation and reports coming out of the ACC which state that the conference is set on making the season work in the coming months.

The Mountain West Conference announced it would be canceling its fall season as well on Monday, with hopes to play in the spring instead. 

The Big Ten decision does not come as much of a surprise. It was reported that the Big Ten was going to call the season off on Tuesday. Dan Patrick reported that news and said that the conference had an internal meeting on Sunday resulting in a 12-2 vote to not play a college football season this fall. Nebraska and Iowa were the two conference programs to vote in favor of playing this season.

Additionally, signs of hesitation were shown in the days leading up to the announcement. The Big Ten recently postponed its ramping-up period that included full-pad practices. The Big Ten did, however, recently unveil its 2020 conference-only schedule, leading to confusion in terms of what its stance was on playing football in 2020. Now, there is no more speculation. 

The Pac-12 Conference is reportedly expected to make the same choice as the Big Ten, but has yet to make an official decision. 

While it's understandable that the conference is prioritizing the health and safety of its players amid a pandemic that continues to impact thousands on a daily basis, the news is sure to upset players and coaches around the college football world. Big names such as Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, among others, have been campaigning to continue the season with the #WeWantToPlay movement on social media.

With players from all Power 5 conference uniting, they have asked for universal health and safety protocols, opt-outs for athletes that want them, guaranteed eligibility and voices from all conferences to be included in the decision. President Donald Trump also weighed in, supporting the call to play football in the fall on Monday and reiterating that in statements on Tuesday.

Despite the large faction that was on board with the status quo for now, the Big Ten will not be part of a potential college football season in the coming months. There is a chance that the season is played in the spring. Reports indicated that Warren and leaders around the conference preferred that idea, but no decision has been made at this time.

The Big Ten has now spoken, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow suit soon. With two of the five major conferences backing out, it will be up to the SEC, Big 12 and ACC to dictate the future of a 2020 college football season. 

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Reports: Big Ten to cancel fall football season, hopes to play in spring

Reports: Big Ten to cancel fall football season, hopes to play in spring

The Big Ten is canceling the 2020 fall football season and will attempt to play in the spring, according to multiple reports. Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports was first to break the news.

The decision does not come as much of a surprise.

On Sunday, the commissioners of the Power Five conferences had an emergency meeting to discuss the outlook of playing this fall, and the large majority of Big Ten presidents want to postpone the season due to concerns amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Big Ten is the first Power Five conference to postpone its season. The league had postponed padded practices earlier this week until more protocols were put in place. Earlier this month, the Big Ten announced it would conduct a revised, conference-only schedule in 2020.

Several college football stars, including Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields, have advocated for playing this fall. Players across the country have attempted to unionize in one last effort to save the season, too.

President Donald Trump has also sided with the players, saying the players have worked too hard for their season to be canceled.

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