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Many unhappy OSU can go 12-0 but still stay home

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Many unhappy OSU can go 12-0 but still stay home

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Any other year Ohio State is unbeaten and ranked No. 4 coming into its annual rivalry game with Michigan, its fans would be trolling the internet for the best airfares to the BCS title game.

Not this time.

Due to NCAA sanctions, Ohio State is banned from playing for the Big Ten championship next week and going to a bowl, and isn't a factor in the national title picture.

So a wondrous and surprising season - 11-0 heading into Saturday's home game with the 20th-ranked Wolverines - will come to an abrupt and premature end on Saturday.

Many of the faithful blame athletic director Gene Smith, who gambled and lost that the NCAA wouldn't levy a bowl ban.

Letters to the editor in the local newspaper, calls to sports talk shows and posts on fan websites all spew vitriol at Smith, who had served on the NCAA's committee on infractions and believed the penalties he and Ohio State's administrators had proposed would be sufficient to appease the ruling body of intercollegiate sports.

``At the time we made the decision we felt confident that we would not receive the bowl ban,'' Smith said on Tuesday. ``Obviously, when we received it we were shocked and devastated.''

The sanctions stem from former coach Jim Tressel learning in April 2010 that several players had likely received free tattoos and cash from the subject of a federal drug investigation. NCAA rules require coaches to notify the association or their superiors when they have any information that violations may have taken place, including improper benefits to athletes. Also, Tressel's contract clearly specified that he was required to report any hint of wrongdoing.

Yet he didn't tell anyone. It was only after the Buckeyes had completed a 12-1 record, won the Big Ten and the Sugar Bowl, that investigators looking into another matter came across incriminating emails which proved that Tressel had knowledge of potential violations.

Tressel was forced to resign in late May 2011. Ohio State officials worked closely with the NCAA in a lengthy investigation that also turned up evidence of other violations.

In July, roughly a month before Ohio State's hearing before the NCAA's committee on infractions, Smith said he believed the self-imposed sanctions, which included vacating the 2010 season, returning bowl money, five-game suspensions for several players, NCAA probation and recruiting limitations, would be enough to mollify the NCAA.

He said there would be no bowl ban ``unless something new arises.''

That proved to be prophetic. On the eve of the opening game of the 2011 season, with defensive assistant Luke Fickell taking over as interim coach, three players were suspended for each accepting $200 in cash from a booster at a charity event.

Midway through the season, several more players were found to have been paid too much for summer jobs. Starting wide receiver DeVier Posey would end up sitting out 10 games due to violations.

By late October of a mediocre season, Ohio State taking itself out of a bowl wouldn't have carried a whole lot of weight with the NCAA.

When final sanctions were announced shortly before Christmas, a month after Urban Meyer had been hired as coach, they included the 2012 bowl ban.

``All I know is a lot of the seniors were pretty bummed out,'' defensive lineman Garrett Goebel said. ``A lot of the guys were pretty disappointed.''

The NCAA does not explain its rulings. But it stands to reason that the violations which came to light after Ohio State's hearing may have resulted in stiffer penalties.

``I don't know what (the NCAA was) thinking. I appreciate the question, but you're asking me to project what they were thinking. And I can't,'' Smith said. ``I still don't think our case overall deserved the bowl ban.

``I've accepted that. I've moved on.''

Meyer and the Buckeyes had some fits and starts but have won every game this season. Should they beat Michigan, it would mark only the sixth unbeaten and untied season in Ohio State's 123 years of football.

Fans look at the Buckeyes' trip a year ago to the Gator Bowl - where they lost to Florida, 24-17, to complete a dreary 6-7 season - and wish Smith and Ohio State would have sacrificed that postseason trip to prevent losing the one this year.

Now, one of only two unbeaten teams left in all of major-college football, Ohio State is resigned to sitting at home after its last regular-season game.

Jim Lachey, an All-American lineman for the Buckeyes 1981-84, is now a radio analyst of Ohio State games.

``I don't know if anybody ever in the modern era of football dreams about going undefeated and not going somewhere. But that's the price we pay,'' he said. ``It's going to be weird after that Michigan game.''

A large segment of fans remain angry at Smith, who declined to reveal how much negative feedback he has received.

``I know it's difficult to move on when we're having so much success, but the reality is that there's nothing at this point in time that anyone at this institution can do about that,'' he said.

Ohio State will be commemorating the 10th anniversary of its 2002 national championship team during Saturday's game.

The coach of that team was Tressel. Almost everyone expects him to receive a cordial welcome from a crowd of more than 105,000 - even though he is the principal culprit in why the current team cannot also play for a national title.

Smith, who is 56 and has been at Ohio State since 2005, said he is not contemplating retirement. He still enjoys the job and believes he is making a difference.

Ohio State, although not listed in the BCS rankings because of its NCAA sanctions, is a long shot to still win an Associated Press national title if it is the nation's only unbeaten team.

If the Buckeyes can't win it all, Smith will quietly pull for his alma mater. He was a four-year letterman as a defensive end for Notre Dame when it won the 1973 AP national championship.

Smith has no regrets about decisions that were made during the NCAA deliberations. He stressed again that he has moved on.

``There's no doubt that people should have the feelings that they have relative to the bowl ban,'' he said. ``Of course. But there's other people who understand the reality of what we're dealing with and that we have to focus on what is in front of us. There's certain things that we can't change.

``That's where we are.''

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

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USA Today Sports

Three reasons the Capitals lost to the Panthers

Friday’s game had a little bit of everything. After spotting the Florida Panthers a 4-1 lead, the Capitals furiously battled back to tie the game at 4, then tied the game at 5 with just 1:25 remaining in regulation to earn an improbable point. The comeback ultimately fell short, however, as the Panthers earned the 6-5 shootout win.

Here are three reasons the Caps lost.

Bad puck management

A disastrous first period saw the Panthers score four goals and the biggest reason for that was the Caps’ puck management. They were sloppy with the puck leading to a number of costly turnovers, and Florida took advantage.

A good illustration of this game with Washington already trailing 2-1: Jakub Vrana made a lazy pass in the defensive zone that was easily intercepted by Jonathan Huberdeau, who forced a really nice save from Braden Holtby.

Whew, bullet dodged. Actually, not so fast.

Brett Connolly won the resulting faceoff, but Michal Kempny attempted a backhanded pass behind the net that was easily stolen away by Vincent Trocheck. Florida went tic-tac-toe with Trocheck to Huberdeau to Colton Sceviour who finished off the play for the goal.

No control in front of the net

Trocheck scored a rebound goal from the slot that bounced off of Lars Eller and into the net. Evgenii Dadonov scored from the slot on the power play. Sceviour scored from the high-slot after what was a generous pass from Huberdeau who looked like he could have scored from closer in…from the slot. Jared McCann pounced on a loose puck in the slot to beat a sprawling Holtby and Huberdeau scored off a rebound right in front of Holtby.

See a pattern?

The Panthers had complete control in front of the Caps’ net and all five of their goals came from in close.

Penalties

The Caps had a pretty good start to the game, but that was derailed by a Jakub Vrana penalty just 6:10 into the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for hooking about 10 minutes later and Dadonov scored to put Florida up 2-1.

Despite the penalties and going down 4-1 in the first, the Caps battled back to a 4-4 tie in the second. Then the penalties popped up again.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad late in the period. It was a tough call as the puck as was at Ekblad’s feet, but Ovechkin made no attempt to play the loose puck at all and simply hit Ekblad, drawing an interference call. Less than a minute later, the Caps were called for too many men giving Florida 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with and Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal.

After three-straight goals, the Caps’ penalties completely derailed them and swept momentum back in the Panthers’ favor.

But wait, there’s more.

With the time ticking away on the too many men penalty, Kuznetsov was tossed out of the faceoff dot. He argued with the linesman and apparently argued a bit too hard because the linesman went to the referee and Kuznetsov was booked for unsportsmanlike conduct giving Florida another 10 seconds of 5-on-3.

Despite all of that, the Caps still managed to tie the game with just 1:25 remaining in the game. Matt Niskanen, however, took a penalty with just 23 seconds left. With a 4-on-3 power play to start overtime, 

Overall, Washington gave the Panthers seven power play opportunities including two 5-on-3s, gave up two goals on the man advantage and completely killed their own momentum.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

10.19.18 Rick Horrow sits down with Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports

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USA TODAY Sports

10.19.18 Rick Horrow sits down with Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

Top 3 sports biz items of the week:

1) The NHL’s new season has been infused with a bit of flare and fun that it is not used to. According to The Hockey News, players across the league have started to show a bit more personality on the ice, something that fans have been “begging for” for years. The highlight of the first week came during a wild 7-6 win for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Chicago Blackhawks. Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews and Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane exchanged jeers after each scored a goal within the final minutes of regulation. Meanwhile in Raleigh, the Hurricanes now have one of the league’s best post-game celebrations. After a win, the whole team applauds the crowd before “skating from their own blueline to the other end of the ice and jumping into the boards.” This playful nature is one thing that the NHL has lacked compared to its NBA and NFL counterparts. With more fun, expect more fans. And to the fun mix add Gritty, the startling new Muppet-like orange Philadelphia Flyers mascot, who calls his fans “Gritizens,” has been on with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, and after mere weeks has amassed over 136,000 Twitter followers.


2) E-commerce giant Amazon is used to disrupting industries in a quick and swift fashion, but its dive into sports broadcasting has been described as “humble.” According to SportsBusiness Journal, Amazon has been linked with some of the world’s biggest leagues and tournaments, such as the NFL and Premier League, despite not being a longtime player in the sports broadcasting industry. “There is more to come from Amazon, full stop. We are in it for the long-term, that’s for sure,” said Amazon Prime Video European Managing Director Alex Green. “We just get our heads down and try and do the best possible job. We are quite humble about it. Amazon may be a big name but in sports broadcasting we are not. Let’s face it.” Amazon recently celebrated its first exclusive sporting event broadcast when it streamed the U.S. Open to tennis fans in the U.K. as part of a $40 million, five-year deal. While that effort did not go smoothly, with thousands of fans unable to access the livestream, Amazon has assured its current and would-be broadcast partners that their humbling performance would only improve.


3) NFL owners are preparing for a big vote at their fall meeting this week regarding cross-ownership. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the decades-old rule currently prevents “owners of other big four sports teams in NFL markets from buying a football team,” while also preventing NFL owners from buying non-NFL Big Four sports teams in an existing NFL market. The ballooning of franchise valuations has led owners to reconsider the rule due to the shrinking pool of potential buyers for clubs. To illustrate this, when the Carolina Panthers came up for sale earlier this year, only three bidders emerged before David Tepper bought the team for $2.275 billion. Even that NFL record setting sale came in under expectations. However, the league has not strictly upheld the cross-ownership rule. Back in 2010, Stan Kroenke exercised an option to buy the then-St. Louis Rams despite owning the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Kroenke skirted around the rule after he handed off the Colorado teams to other family members, setting precedent and setting up the NFL for a sensible rule change.