Related: Hot Takedown Even so, my findings suggest that a Rooney Rule-style policy could help increase the diversity of congressional staff hires, particularly if Congress has the means and the will to enforce it. In addition to his efforts to require his colleagues to interview at least one nonwhite candidate for any staff vacancy, then, Schumer should also consider urging them to make two further commitments — to provide a fair and equitable evaluation process for these candidates, and to publicly report the demographics of their staffers.3Perhaps he could even move beyond “urging” and build a bipartisan effort to formalize such a rule and its accompanying enforcement mechanisms. With this trio of policies in place, Congressional staffs might finally begin to match the diversity of the lawmakers they work for, and — more importantly — the people they represent.CORRECTION (March 15, 11:30 a.m.): An earlier version of the chart in this article incorrectly described the types of NFL coaches shown. The chart shows head coaches and coordinators, not head coaches and assistants. Although the new 115th Congress is the most racially diverse on record, its staff remains overwhelmingly white.1Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but according to a report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, there were 336 top Senate staffers (chiefs of staff, legislative directors, communications directors, and staff directors) in December 2015, only 24 of whom were people of color: 12 Asian-Americans, 7 Latinos, 3 African-Americans, and 2 Native Americans. As The Washington Post recently reported, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is trying to change that — and he’s using the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” as a model for addressing the imbalance.Established in 2003, the Rooney Rule requires NFL teams to interview at least one nonwhite candidate for any head coaching vacancy. It is an example of a “soft” affirmative action policy — that is, one that is designed to change the composition of the candidate pool, rather than change the criteria used in the hiring process. In this spirit, Schumer has urged his colleagues to ensure that at least one nonwhite applicant is considered for any open position. And if the NFL’s version is any guide, the policy should indeed help improve Congress’s hiring record.In a recent study I published in the American Law and Economics Review, I found that the NFL has hired notably more nonwhite head coaches in the years since the Rooney Rule went into effect. Of course, that increase could reflect the influence of other social, cultural or institutional changes, rather than the impact of the rule itself. So to account for this possibility, I compared the change in hiring trends among NFL head coaches (who became subject to the Rooney Rule) with the change in hiring trends among similar groups that were not affected by the policy, such as NFL coordinators and NCAA head coaches. Those comparison groups show us what the NFL might look like without the Rooney Rule, since they’re affected by the same hard-to-observe forces that may have influenced hiring decisions both before and after the Rooney Rule took effect.Using this technique, I found that a nonwhite candidate is about 20 percent more likely to fill an NFL head coaching vacancy during the Rooney era than before it, even after taking into account the general trend toward hiring more nonwhite candidates at all levels of coaching. In other words, the change can be traced directly to the Rooney Rule itself. Although there are plenty of differences between hiring congressional staffers and hiring NFL head coaches, the two processes share some similarities. Both are influenced by capacity constraints, meaning that NFL franchises and congressional offices can only interview a certain number of candidates because they are working under a limited hiring timeline. Additionally, there is a large amount of “noise” during the candidate-selection process in both fields, since there are no agreed-upon criteria for choosing candidates and it’s impossible to determine the true quality of a given candidate.2The Rooney Rule helps reduce this noise by requiring the franchise to take race into consideration when choosing candidates. These similarities suggest that a Rooney Rule-style policy may work in other organizations. (In fact, Facebook recently implemented its own version of the rule in certain departments, suggesting that the company has hopes for its ability to translate to another industry.)However, the Rooney Rule’s success is likely due in part to the fact that the NFL has been able to closely enforce it. For example, in 2003 the Detroit Lions’ then-president, Matt Millen, was fined $200,000 for failure to interview a nonwhite candidate for the team’s head-coaching vacancy. But when it comes to congressional staffing, there is currently no way for Schumer to force his colleagues to adopt and stick to a Rooney Rule-style hiring policy. The rule also cannot work unless nonwhite candidates are getting fair consideration and going through the same process as white candidates. The NFL has had to continually address teams’ temptation to fulfill the Rooney Rule’s requirements by conducting sham interviews instead of really searching for qualified nonwhite candidates. Finally, the hiring of an NFL head coach is a very public event that will be watched and commented on by reporters and fans alike, which helps maintain pressure to comply with the rule. Congressional offices, on the other hand, are not even required to publicly report the demographics of their staffs. So the positive effects of the Rooney Rule may not fully transfer to organizations that lack enforcement mechanisms. Hot Takedown’s March Madness Special
sara.ziegler: LOLThe Yankees look like they’ll be starting with J.A. Happ in Game 1.travis.sawchik: “Bullpen Game”sara.ziegler: Aaron Boone is all talk on bullpen games. He says he’s open to them, but I doubt he’ll actually go through with it — particularly in light of how it worked out for Oakland on Wednesday.travis.sawchik: Happ has been excellent in New York: 7-0, 2.69 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 11 starts. The Yankees have a real shot … but the Red Sox have Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinezneil: And for the Red Sox, I’ve seen a lot of worry that the 108-win season will all be for naught. Maybe that’s New England pessimism talking, but I think they also probably played a bit above their heads this year. Either way, a 100-win team will be going home, which is kind of sad this early in the postseason.gfoster: Why is New England pessimistic? Are they disappointed by two decades of NONSTOP TITLES?neil: LOL. Old habits with the Red Sox, I think.sara.ziegler: The Red Sox have to have the edge in batting, right? Because of the aforementioned Betts and Martinez?travis.sawchik: I think the Yankees and Red Sox are pretty similar in terms of overall offensive production. Two elite lineups. FanGraphs has Yankees with a 111 wRC+, Red Sox 110 wRC+.neil: Yeah, relative to park, the Sox only scored about 14 more runs than the Yankees. (They allowed 37 fewer.)travis.sawchik: Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers has done a good job with getting even more out of Betts, who has worked with Hyers and Martinez on increasing his power profile.The Yankees are all about launching baseballs into the air … and bullpenning … and throwing a lot of breaking balls. Modern baseball will be on display.gfoster: Sara, I also wonder if we have not seen the full potential of the Yankees lineup, even despite all those wins. Aaron Judge has been injured, Gary Sanchez has been awful, Giancarlo Stanton started slow. They were never at full capacity it seemed; Didi Gregorius basically carried them for a month early on.travis.sawchik: And Aaron Hicks!gfoster: Aaron Hicks is going into monument park.travis.sawchik: Hahasara.ziegler: Hicks has been great, I’ve heard.travis.sawchik: Yeah, read that somewhere …sara.ziegler: I’m having a hard time getting excited about either of these teams, since this series seems to have been written in stone for a while. That’s part of the problem with the AL.gfoster: Let’s go to the National League. The first series up this afternoon is Colorado vs. Milwaukee, which carries less cachet and less breathless announcer speak but is interesting nonetheless.neil: Well, I for one am curious about how a pitching-centric team like Colorado will perform.gfoster: Travis, you were doubting that Colorado would make it; are you surprised they are here, or have you come around on the Rox?travis.sawchik: The Rockies are such a weird team. They are a pitching-first team with one of the worst offenses (25th in majors in wRC+) and outfield defenses in baseball, and they make their home in the most offensive environment in baseball, with one of the largest outfields. They committed $106 million to free agent relievers, but Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw (two of those high-priced investments) have been poor, while a reliever left off last season’s postseason roster, Adam Ottavino, has been amazing. I like the Brewers in this series given the strength of their lineup and bullpen. The Brewers seem like the rare team that won the offseason — Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Jhoulys Chacin were all key offseason additions — and its division.neil: They’re also the spitting image — in many ways — of a world champion: The 2015 K.C. Royals. So clearly, Milwaukee will storm through the postseason.sara.ziegler: And win the World Series against a team from New York, Neil?😉neil: I’d be happier with that this time around.sara.ziegler: The Rockies will have played three games in three different cities in four days. And one of those was in 13 innings.travis.sawchik: Brutal schedule stretch for the Rockies, for sure. At least they could just bus up I-94 after the wild-card game.sara.ziegler: I wonder if they got stuck in traffic in Kenosha. As one does.gfoster: It’s just ridiculous that these series are five games. And that the schedule is so condensed. Why are they even playing today? Give them another day!! In the NBA, the playoffs last five months and no one seems to be bothered.travis.sawchik: This is strange to say, but the Rockies actually hold a starting pitching edge in a postseason series.neil: Well, hasn’t that usually been the case with the Rockies’ best teams after adjusting for park? We think of the Rockies as an offensive powerhouse, but they never can hit away from Coors. Even this year, they had a .665 road OPS.travis.sawchik: Yeah, the Rockies’ best teams have typically had above-average starting pitching when adjusting for park and run environment. By ERA-minus, this is second best pitching staff in Rockies’ history.I’m not sure many people realize how good German Marquez and Kyle Freeland have been for Rockies in second half. Only Jacob deGrom has been more productive than Marquez in the second half as an MLB starting pitcher.neil: One other thing about the Rockies: By run differential during the regular season, they were really only about an 85-win team. So I think there’s a case for them being the worst team in the field. (Then again, ask the Cubs how facing them worked out.)sara.ziegler: Meanwhile, the Brewers didn’t get here with their starters, obviously. But the bullpen is just outstanding. Can it hold up under the pressure of the postseason?gfoster: OK, let’s shift back to the AL. Indians-Astros is really the ALCS we were all expecting last year, as both teams were 100-plus game winners. Are these teams better or worse than their 2017 versions?travis.sawchik: The Indians are weaker than they were a year ago when they entered the postseason with the game’s best run differential and the to-be-named AL Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber. They’re dealing with a significant injury as Trevor Bauer suffered a fractured ankle in August, and his velo was down in his brief return. Their top starter in the regular season going into August, Bauer will begin the series in the bullpen.The Indians’ bullpen, once a strength, was the weakest in the playoff field in the regular season. Though a healthy Andrew Miller could change that.neil: The Astros might actually somehow be better. Hot take: They’re the best team in MLB, despite an inferior record to the Red Sox. (At least, that’s what our Elo model thinks.) They had 109 Pythagorean wins! Who does that??sara.ziegler: The Astros are so weird. Their biggest names weren’t that good! And yet here they are, better than last year. They have Alex Bregman to thank, I guess.neil: It helps to have that ridiculous pitching staff, too.sara.ziegler: So true.neil: They had the best FIP in the league by a mile (3.23; next best were the Dodgers at 3.60).travis.sawchik: The Astros are so talented. The defending World Champs basically added an ace — Gerrit Cole — and an MVP candidate (Bregman breakout) since we last saw them in October.gfoster: I’m interested in how big a role Josh Donaldson plays for Cleveland. He seems healthy finally.travis.sawchik: The Indians needed another bat, and Donaldson has looked like his old self in a brief sample. He’s a wild card this postseasonsara.ziegler: He better perform offensively, given that his presence has messed with Cleveland’s defense — pushing people into different positions.gfoster: I love that the lineup that has Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Brantley “needed another bat.”travis.sawchik: Well, another bat relative to the lineups they are facing in the AL field. The Indians rank last in remaining AL teams in wRC+, third in runs.neil: There are some real question marks surrounding Cleveland’s bullpen, though. They finished 26th in relief WAR this season.(Which is surprising since they are the O.G. of playoff bullpenning.)gfoster: Even with Brad Hand?neil: Hand has definitely stabilized things some, and Andrew Miller is back after missing a huge chunk of the reg season. But Cody Allen was pretty mediocre this year (93 ERA-plus).travis.sawchik: The Indians thought their bullpen was such a problem that they traded their top position player prospect, Francisco Mejia, at the deadline. Trading a consensus top 50 prospect for a reliever is apparently the thing to do at the deadline nowadays.sara.ziegler: Miller does seem to be healthy again — which is huge for the Indians. (An end-of-season blowup against the Royals notwithstanding.)travis.sawchik: One concern with the Indians is some of their players are trending down at the wrong time again. Jose Ramirez, an MVP candidate (favorite?) at the All-Star break, hit .223 in the second half. Ramirez has really struggled with breaking pitches. I’ll be interested to see how many fastballs he sees in series against an elite fastball team in the Astros. Could be a fascinating strength on strength: One of the game’s best fastball hitters (Ramirez) vs. the elite four-seamers of Justin Verlander and Cole.gfoster: OK, let’s talk about the last series, and then I’m going to ask for predictions. The Braves return to the postseason, perhaps a little earlier than some expected, and will take on the Dodgers, which was the last team they actually played in October in the NLDS in 2013. I literally have zero memory of that.sara.ziegler: That was 10 lifetimes ago, Geoff.travis.sawchik: That happened?neil: Was that one of those random Dan Uggla 30-homer seasons for Atlanta? (Edit: No, he hit .179 that year. LOL.)gfoster: Those Braves had Uggla, Kimbrel, Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, Andrelton Simmons and two Uptons (B.J. and Justin). The only guys of note still there are Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran.sara.ziegler: Two Uptons!neil: As far as five-year rebuild plans go, that’s pretty impressive to fully tear down and build back by now.travis.sawchik: Only the Yankees have a younger group of positional players than the Braves in the playoffs, with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies and maybe Dansby Swanson. It’s a pretty strong under-25 core. Atlanta is ahead of schedule and trending up.sara.ziegler: And on the other side, remember a month ago, when we thought the Dodgers might not make the playoffs? On Sept. 6, our model gave L.A. a 55 percent chance of getting here.neil: That remains incredible, given that they finished with 102 Pythagorean wins.travis.sawchik: The Dodgers are the most talented NL team in the field. They lead baseball in position player WAR and are fifth in pitching WAR. And it feels like the Dodgers have never been right all season with injuries to key stars like Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager. L.A.’s Walker Buehler looked like an ace in Game 163 vs. Rockies. He’s another wild card in the postseason. Big time young talent.gfoster: I was just going to say that I wouldn’t be surprised if Buehler is one of these young pitchers who makes his name with a great October, much like Madison Bumgarner did a few years ago.neil: All of that is why the Dodgers have a 45 percent chance (!) to make the World Series according to our model. That’s easily the highest pennant probability of any team. (It also says a lot about the rest of the NL.)sara.ziegler: Max Muncy finally has a chance to make his name nationally, too. (No one on this chat has ever referred to him as “Matt Muncy,” that’s for sure.)neil: Sara, you were an early adopter on Muncy in fantasy.sara.ziegler: I was! Before I could remember his first name.travis.sawchik: Muncy has been an amazing breakout story.sara.ziegler: The Dodgers had a hard time finding a consistent spot for him during the season. They shouldn’t make that mistake in the postseason.gfoster: I’m interested to see which Kershaw we see: the one who has been the best pitcher in baseball for a decade or the one who has been one of the most disappointing playoff pitchers over the past decade.travis.sawchik: Kershaw has suffered a loss in velocity and overall swing-and-miss capability. In 2015, his fastball averaged over 94 mph; this year, it was 90 mph.gfoster: Is he throwing the breaking stuff more? Making his metamorphosis into a crafty old lefty?travis.sawchik: Kershaw has had a curious spike in spin rate on his fastball, which is highly unusual to accompany a velocity decline.neil: But enough about the Dodgers! The Braves are good, too.travis.sawchik: Acuna is somethingneil: Yes, he is quite good! In fact, the Braves have a ton of position-player talent. They were seventh in WAR from batters this year. But eight of their top 10 most valuable players were position players. Pitching-wise, there are questions.sara.ziegler: Don’t forget Mike Foltynewicz, though! I love pitchers like that who come out of nowhere.travis.sawchik: I’m pretty bullish on the Braves’ future, but there are questions on the pitching end, as Neil said, and the Dodgers seem like the NL’s only “super team,” whereas there are three or four in AL field.gfoster: OK, let’s get the World Series prediction. I want to see winner, number of games, MVP. And you will all be judged on these for 12 months.sara.ziegler: LOLneil: No pressure… 😬travis.sawchik: 😮sara.ziegler: I’m gonna go with my ❤️. Brewers over Astros in seven, Christian Yelich MVP.gfoster: I like it.travis.sawchik: I think we’re headed for an Astros-Dodgers WS rematch. Houston over L.A. in six. Bregman MVP.neil: Our model says Astros over Dodgers again, too, but that’s boring. (Also, Travis already took it, haha.)gfoster: Yankees over Dodgers in five, Gleyber Torres MVP.sara.ziegler: Wow.travis.sawchik: !!!sara.ziegler: I mean, at least go Luke Voit as MVP.gfoster: I was considering Voit. It won’t be Judge or Stanton; if the Yankees win, they will get an incredible hot streak from someone less expected. I do feel like the Yankees haven’t experienced a true Stanton home run barrage like he had for the Marlins several times last season, so maybe that’s due?neil: What the hell, I’m gonna go Red Sox over Braves in six. Betts MVP. Boston’s current team over its former team. (For old timers from, like, the 1940s.)travis.sawchik: I guess the model and I are in this together.neil: It’s generally better to be on the model’s side, I’ve found.gfoster: No love for the Indians here.neil: I couldn’t pull the trigger with that Astros matchup.travis.sawchik: Too many questions for Cleveland, IMO.gfoster: OK, thank you all. Enjoy the baseball!Check out our latest MLB predictions. gfoster (Geoff Foster, sports editor): Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s postseason MLB chat. We are done with the one-game wild-card playoffs. We are done with the one-game playoffs to figure out who would play in the one-game playoffs. And the Oakland Athletics and the Chicago Cubs are the first casualties of October. I think Oakland has to be pleased they made it that far with their ragtag team of relievers and .247 hitters, while the Cubs probably had higher hopes for 2018. They now have a two-year World Series drought in the works. But on to the division series!Here’s how the eight remaining teams stack up in terms of wins above replacement1Averaging together the versions found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. during the regular season to get a sense of where each team’s strengths and weaknesses lie:We are going to go through all four matchups. Let’s start with America’s two most lovable teams: the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, who are playing each other for the first time in the postseason since 2004. This was inevitable wasn’t it? Boston gets to potentially start Chris Sale twice in five games; does that give them the edge?sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, general editor): I’m just happy last night’s game didn’t go to 13 innings. 😴travis.sawchik (Travis Sawchik, baseball writer): Assuming Sale is 100 percent, starting arguably the most talented pitcher in the AL potentially twice is a huge edge. But Sale landed on the DL twice in the second half (left shoulder inflammation), and his velocity has trended down, which is a troubling indicator.neil (Neil Paine, senior sports writer): And that’s kind of concerning if he doesn’t live up to his usual expectations. Our model gives the Sox a 57 percent chance of winning the series, but that’s partly a function of the large pitcher adjustment it gives Sale. With Sale at home in Game 1, we give Boston a 65 percent chance of winning that game; with a generic pitcher in the same situation, Boston would only have a 57 percent chance of winning.gfoster: David Price has to be a concern for Boston. He’s really been terrible in the postseason, after those early heroics as a relief pitcher for Tampa. He’s also gotten bombed by the Yankees this year.travis.sawchik: David Price career postseason: 2-8, 5.03 ERA. David Price career vs. Yankees: 15-14, 4.90 ERA. Price is fatigued from discussing his issues in postseason and vs. the Yankees, but they have to be a concern for the Red Sox. And the Red Sox bullpen is arguably only stronger than Cleveland’s in the AL field. That makes Sale so important for Boston.sara.ziegler: The Red Sox bullpen is obviously an issue — at least getting to Craig Kimbrel.gfoster: The Yankees’ Game 1 starter is pretty intimidating:
After the Cornhuskers made the Big 12 a smaller 11, the Pac-10 snagged Colorado, leaving the Big 12 at 10 teams. Many anticipated more action from the Pac-10, expecting the conference to attempt to rival the Big Ten by expanding to as many as 16 schools. But after swiping Utah from the Mountain West, the Pac-10, now with 12 teams, appears satisfied. Utah will join the Pac-10 in 2011, Colorado in 2012. “I expected that to happen — new commissioner in the Pac-10, new television agreement coming up,” Smith said. “It made sense for them, so I knew the Pac-10 was going to go that way, and I knew that it would affect the Big 12, but I just didn’t know how. When television contracts are getting ready to come up and people see the changing landscape in television, people start adding inventory.” The shakeups left the Big 12 on life support, with just 10 teams and its moneymaker, Texas, contemplating a switch itself. Texas A&M even received an invitation to join the SEC. But a new TV deal, set up to make Texas the main attraction, got all teams on board, saving the Big 12 as a league with 10 schools. But plates continued to shift and movement persisted. Boise State, a perennial BCS bowl-game contender in the last decade, parted ways with loads of inferior competition in the WAC to join the Mountain West Conference. Fresno State and Nevada also will join the MWC in 2012, while Boise will enroll in 2011. One of the signature programs of the MWC, however, isn’t sticking around to face the newcomers. Brigham Young will become an independent in football in 2011, a title only Notre Dame, Army and Navy claim in Division I. For all other sports, BYU will join the West Coast Conference. “We’ve long sought broad, nationwide access to our games for our fans and increased visibility among those who may be less familiar with our university and athletic programs,” BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson said in a press release. “We’ve also been looking for ways to take better advantage of our own unique broadcasting resources.” After the dust settled, there were more rumblings than actual quakes. There was never that one tremor that affected the entire nation, which many expected and some feared. Instead, we’re left with minor face lifts to several conferences, and we’re left with more questions about potential future shakeups. “I’m watching everybody else,” Smith said. “We’re (the Big Ten) basically done for now. I don’t know if we’ll expand anymore, I really don’t. It’s a possibility, but what’s interesting is watching the rest of the landscape.” The rumbling started last winter, when the Big Ten announced its intentions to explore conference expansion. It culminated months later in significant, nationwide shifts. The first tremor shook the Midwest, when Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten. The reshuffling set off a series of quakes felt all around the country, from the Pac-10 to the Big 12 to the Mountain West. In the end, if we have reached the end, the landscape of college football changed, though not as dramatically as the initial quivers suggested. But have these relocations been the result of a routine shakeup, or is this the start of a major restructuring? Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the transformation results from changing revenue streams. “If you look back over the history of college sports, the one thing that’s constant is change,” Smith said. “One of the largest areas of revenue for all of us is television money. People don’t want to talk about it, but it’s true. The reality is, as television changes, and all the mediums change for communication, the conferences have to shift in order to maximize revenue opportunities off of them.” Initial rumors suggested college football could be transitioning to feature four “super-conferences,” each equipped with 12 to 16 teams — enough power and revenue to bury non-BCS leagues in the sand. “I think it’s possible because the thought is there,” Smith said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get to a playoff like the public wants. I see a lot of challenges with that on a lot of different levels. But do I see playoffs within a conference that could lead to something like that on a smaller scale? Yeah. So, when you get to those 16, you get to two or four conferences with 16 teams, divisions, that type of stuff. I can see that down the road.” The notion of super-conferences stemmed from indications that the Big Ten was prepared to expand to 14 or 16 teams, adding from the likes of Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, Texas and Missouri to stretch its reach across more of the country. Plucking programs from other conferences would force those battered leagues to fuse together to match the Big Ten’s muscle. “People use the term ‘arms race,’ which I really don’t think is it,” Smith said. “We’re like any restaurateur, we’re like the college of business, we’re like the college of engineering. We’re like everybody else that aspires to be No. 1. Yes, you can use the term ‘arms race,’ but frankly, we’re just strengthening the business.” The super-conference idea hasn’t panned out just yet. Instead, a series of aftershocks sent a handful of teams in and out of new conferences.
If the tenor set by Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer on the first day of preseason practice is any indication about what the coming season holds, the 2012 campaign will be an intense one. Meyer led veteran OSU players in an early-morning workout at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that included stretching, running and drill work, according to an OSU release. Freshmen and upperclassmen walk-on players took part in their first fall practice under Meyer at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Meyer, who was hired Nov. 29, begins preparations for his first season with OSU after stints at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. Meyer was not made available following his first-ever preseason practice at OSU, but sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby confirmed the arrival of a new era in OSU football from players’ perspectives when he said the morning session was more intense than what the team had experienced under former head coaches Jim Tressel and current OSU defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. “You can tell just by practice. It was totally different than coach Tressel,” Roby said. “Just the whole intensity of practice – It’s more urgent, more intensity. Not more competitive, but (coaches) stress the competitiveness so that brings out more.” Roby, who also called the Friday practice high-paced and crisp, said it was Meyer’s newly assembled coaching staff “being on you more” that brought the intense showing from players. Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, appearing less camera-shy and open to discussion with the media, said that his teammates came together during the summer. Miller, who rushed for 715 yard and seven touchdown while passing for 1,159 yards and 13 touchdowns during his freshman campaign, also credited the coaching staff for changes in his physique. “I feel a lot (different). My body’s changing, my attitude,” he said. “I had a talk with the coaches about, like, ‘how can I be a better leader?” In keeping with the theme of intensity, Miller also said he had some words of encouragement for his teammates before the early-morning practice. “Let’s go man,” Miller said. “We’re not here to lounge around.” New Season, New Numbers Three players, including Roby, are wearing new numbers this fall. Roby, who sported the No. 25 jersey last year, is wearing No. 1 for the 2012 season. Additionally, senior linebacker Ross Oltorik is wearing the No. 20 jersey and freshman defensive lineman Se’von Pittman will sport the No. 95 jersey. OSU begins its 2012 season Sept. 1 against Miami (Ohio) at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff, set for 29 days from Friday, is scheduled for noon. Patrick Maks contributed to this story.
Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. (32) drives to the basket during a game against Delaware Dec. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 76-64.Credit: Mark Batke / For The LanternAaron Craft. LaQuinton Ross. Amir Williams.These are the names that come to mind first when most people think about the No. 3-ranked Ohio State men’s basketball team (15-0, 2-0).Someone that doesn’t often make the headlines is senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr.Smith Jr., the team’s lone senior aside from Craft, has been huge for the Buckeyes all season.Currently second on the team in scoring with an average 12.7 points per game, and third on the team in both rebounding and assists with 4.9 and 1.6 respectively, Smith Jr. should be one of the stars of the team.And yet he is less talked about then certain bench players like athletic junior forward Sam Thompson and sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle.The respect that Smith Jr. garners is not befitting of someone as vital as he is to the Buckeyes’ chances to success. He has scored in double figures in 11 of OSU’s 15 games this year, including a season high 20 in a 65-50 win against Wyoming Nov. 25.But perhaps Smith Jr.’s best performance of the season came when he was at his worst.Against Notre Dame Dec. 21, the Buckeyes were in danger of losing for the first time this season. Trailing by eight points with less than a minute remaining, OSU needed something to change to keep their unbeaten run alive.That change came in the form of Smith Jr.Failing to score up to that point in the game, Smith Jr. was struggling to make an impact. But in the final 50 seconds, he scored nine points and helped the Buckeyes go on a 14-3 run to win the game.Even though the final box score reads only nine points, Smith Jr.’s contribution was the difference in the final stretch.Players like Craft and Ross deserve their recognition, both are fantastic players, but the shadow they cast should not completely hide the work Smith Jr. has been doing for OSU.He is third on the team in minutes, just behind Craft and junior guard Shannon Scott, with an average of 27 a game. He is also third on the team in field goal percentage, behind only the teams two centers, and second in 3-point percentage.Although the season is not yet half over, the Buckeyes will need Smith Jr. to continue his stellar play if they hope to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.Maybe then the senior guard not named Craft will be recognized by Buckeye fans for everything he has done.
Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. (32) passes the ball during a game against Illinois Jan. 23 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 62-55.Credit: Kaily Cunningham / Multimedia editorAt any level of basketball, shooters go through slumps — it’s part of the game.Ohio State senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. was no different in his team’s four games prior to Thursday’s 62-55 win against Illinois.But one shot — that’s all it took for Smith Jr. to get back to where he needed to be and to help get his squad going the right way again.“Lenzelle’s shot at the end of the half, he let that thing go and I’m like, ‘Come on, one time,’” said coach Thad Matta after the win, referring to a 3-pointer the senior buried that gave the Buckeyes a one-point lead with less than a minute left in the first half.It is no surprise that the Buckeyes lost those four games when Smith Jr. shot a combined 13-39 from the field, including just 4-17 from beyond the arc.But against Illinois, he rediscovered the shooting touch that helped his team start the season 15-0 — when he shot 39 percent from deep — pouring in 16 points and matching the number of 3-pointers he had made during those four losses. Smith Jr. said just seeing the ball go through the net was huge for his confidence, and a little bit of extra push from his teammates to keep shooting.“It’s a mental thing,” Smith Jr. said after the win. “Sometimes I get in a state of mind of, ‘Ah, you missed a shot, maybe you should try to get in the paint now and get a layup.’ Or just tonight, I missed a few shots and (senior guard Aaron Craft and junior forward LaQuinton Ross) specifically said, ‘Shoot the ball!’ They were yelling at me, ‘Why are you not shooting the ball?’ And that kind of gave me that extra motivation of well, they want me to shoot then that’s my job on this team, and I’m (going to) shoot and luckily down the stretch, it came through for us.”The play down the stretch against the Fighting Illini came with just 1:16 left on the clock when his team was clinging to a five-point lead, needing a score to put the game on ice.With the shot clock winding down, the senior from Zion, Ill., found the ball in his hands on the right wing with no choice but to fire. The ball swished through the net, the crowd erupted, and Illinois’ ship sank.The big play came on the heels of a three-point play by Ross and a turnover by Illinois, plays that Fighting Illini coach John Groce said were the difference in the outcome.“Give them a lot of credit,” Groce said after the game. “I thought that Ross’ and-one was huge. I thought that Smith’s three was huge. I thought those were two big plays.”The man who found Smith Jr. for the dagger 3-pointer was none other than Craft himself, on one of his team-leading five assists. Craft said he and Smith Jr. felt more responsibility than usual to help put an end to the losing skid.“I think Lenzelle and I, both being seniors, we wanted to take it upon ourselves,” Craft said. “We didn’t do anything special, we didn’t say anything that was Earth-shattering or anything. We have a group of guys that’s been through the battles and knows what it takes … It’s about being tough down the stretch and finding whatever we have to do. And that’s what we did today and that’s what it’s about.”A relieved Matta joked that Smith Jr.’s 4-8 shooting performance from three “probably takes him out to about six percent” shooting in Big Ten play, but couldn’t be more proud of his performance Thursday.“Honestly, I’m happy for Lenzelle because he’s been very diligent last few days of in there working and trying to get everything right,” Matta said. “You see that, and that’s what excites you as a coach and you’re happy for him when it goes in.”Though OSU (16-4, 3-4) might be back on track, it still sits in a tie for sixth place in the Big Ten with last-place Penn State (10-10, 1-6) set to visit the Schottenstein Center Wednesday at 7 p.m.But putting a halt to the losing streak — the program’s longest since February 2008 — puts the Buckeyes near where they need to be come season’s end.“It’s very important, obviously,” Smith Jr. said on ending the losing skid. “I don’t think anybody here or in this team signed up to lose games, so I mean obviously guys are feeling a little bit better now. Obviously we know that we haven’t done what we wanted to do, or we got done what we think we should get done but it’s definitely a step closer and it feels good.”
Junior corner back Denzel Ward (12) tackles Taivon Jacobs of Maryland during the Ohio State game on Oct. 7 at Ohio Stadium. Ward was ejected immediately after for targeting. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterOhio State cornerback Denzel Ward’s strong start to the season has put his name among the semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, an award bestowed upon the nation’s best defensive back.The junior has stood out in the conference as he is tied for second in the Big Ten with 10 passes defended. He also has nine pass break-ups and an interception. Ward is one of three defensive backs in the Big Ten on the list of 13 semifinalists, which was released Monday. The other two are both members of the team Ohio State will play this weekend as Penn State safety Marcus Allen and cornerback Grant Haley were both named to the list. The two played a prominent role in the Nittany Lions’ victory last season against Ohio State. Allen blocked a kick which Haley subsequently returned 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown. It was the first time in Penn State history a blocked kick had been returned for a touchdown.The trio of defensive backs will square off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws a pass in the fourth quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe score was 35-20, and there was just 13:13 left in the game. At seemingly the worst time, quarterback J.T. Barrett fumbled the football. It was an unlucky play at an unlucky time that nearly resulted in the game-sealing drive as Penn State began its drive with the ball at the Ohio State 42-yard line. Then something happened.Barrett was handed the football trailing by five points after leading his team on back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. After four plays and with 1:48 remaining in the game, he found redshirt senior Marcus Baugh open in the end zone and hit him with a perfect pass over leaping linebackers Manny Bowen and Jason Cabinda to put Ohio State on top 39-38.Ohio State senior tight end Marcus Baugh (85) catches a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that would put Ohio State over Penn State in the game on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn 12 minutes, Barrett went from being the goat of the game to having his Heisman-candidate moment and leading the Buckeyes to a miraculous comeback victory.And as head coach Urban Meyer stood answering questions at his postgame press conference with fans chanting “O-H,” “I-O” in the background as they exited the stadium, Meyer had nothing but the highest praise to levy on his three-time captain.“I don’t know if I’ve ever had more respect for a human being and as a person, because you earn respect and you witness people in very dire straits at times, tough situations,” he said. “I’ve never had a kid play perfect, but damn, he was close tonight.”The fourth quarter proved a tumultuous one for the Ohio State quarterback. In an attempt to hand the football off to freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, Barrett mishandled the snap, losing his grip on the football and costing his team possession. The fumble could have changed the narrative of this story entirely. Penn State could have capitalized on the opportunity, scoring a touchdown to make the game 42-27 and putting Ohio State’s championship hopes in the rearview mirror. “It’s one of those things, like, really J.T.? Right now? That’s not the best timing,” Barrett said after the game.At that moment, doubt began to creep into Meyer’s mind as the game was getting late and the Buckeyes were still down two scores.“The one fumble, I kind of thought, ‘uh-oh,’” Meyer said. That moment could have defined Barrett’s performance in one of the most important games of his career. He did not let that happen.Just after fumbling the football, Barrett was aided by Ohio State’s special teams, as cornerback Denzel Ward blocked a punt and linebacker Dante Booker recovered it at the Penn State 41-yard line. One play later, Barrett turned the excellent field position into seven points with a 38-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon.The next Penn State drive saw the Nittany Lions march 64 yards down the field before being held to a field goal. Barrett responded by leading his team down the field for a 76-yard drive that resulted in seven points. A three-and-out by Penn State forced a punt, setting Barrett up for his game-winning drive.On the play, Baugh found himself wide open in the end zone with only a linebacker several yards away standing between him and his quarterback. Barrett delivered a perfect pass just over the leaping hands of the defenders to find his man and redefine his performance in the game.Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws a pass in the fourth quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor“I was like, ‘Just put it over the linebacker and we score.’ And so I was able to do that,” Barrett said.Barrett made it sound easy, and throughout the game, he made his success look easy. He completed 33-of-39 passes, threw for 328 yards — including four touchdowns — and had rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries against a defense Meyer called, “the No. 1 defense in America.”Though the fourth quarter was Barrett’s shining moment, his teammates saw the same player all throughout the game — a leader, just as calm and composed trailing by 14 as he was ahead by one.“J.T. is the same all four quarters. He’s a smooth dude and he has a lot of confidence in us as playmakers and in himself,” redshirt junior wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “He’s the epitome of a leader. He never got too high, never got too low. Even when we scored a touchdown and we needed another stop to score another touchdown, it was the same demeanor from him and that’s what made him great.”This game will prompt many superlatives to be lauded on him, and early award predictions to be made. Heisman Trophy candidate was thrown out by Meyer, Barrett’s teammates and Barrett himself. Meyer went so far as to call Barrett’s performance “one of the best I’ve ever seen a quarterback play.”Quarterback J.T. Barrett celebrates with fans in Ohio Stadium after the Buckeyes beat No. 2 Penn State 39-38 on Oct. 28. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn the team’s loss Week 2 against Oklahoma, fans were calling for Barrett to be replaced and questions arose as to whether he was capable of winning a big game. Behind closed doors, there was never any doubt to the players about whom their leader was. “With all due respect, people who had that opinion, in the Woody Hayes facility there wasn’t any opinion. There was zero conversation about that topic,” Meyer said. “When I hear people say, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of people thought —’ that’s not one time I’ve walked into a staff meeting saying, what do you guys think? What do the fans and media think about J.T.? We don’t talk about that.”Seven weeks ago, those fans chanting “O-H,” “I-O” were calling for Barrett to be benched. Now those same fans might be calling for him to win the Heisman Trophy.
A gay City worker is suing his former hedge fund employer for more than £1 million over claims he suffered an “unrelenting” campaign of homophobic abuse at work.Paul Newton claimed he was mocked by staff at Balyasny Europe Asset Management as they made limp-wristed hand gestures and told him he should not drive his high-powered Aston Martin.Colleagues also openly made jokes about his sex life, claiming he wanted to have relations with multiple men, and called him “camp” and “effeminate”, treating him like a “curiosity on exhibit”, the 43-year-old alleged. …subjected to unrelenting abuse based on his sexual orientation by his colleaguesWrit Mr Newton, who joined the office in spring 2014, was reportedly fired from his role as an asset manager for poor performance and losses linked to the Brexit vote at the end of June, according to the Evening Standard.He is now suing the firm, which has offices in London, America and Hong Kong, for unfair dismissal as he believes his sacking was the culmination of two-years of abuse.In a writ seen by the paper, Mr Newton described the working environment at the firm as “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive”.He claimed he was “constantly told that he looked like a woman” because he had long hair and said his colleagues “had the unmistakable assumption that he was extremely promiscuous”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Mr Newton, whose barrister is Lawrence Jones, has since suffered depression and anxiety, and used to cry in his office over the abuse, the writ said.The Central London Employment Tribunal confirmed the dates of the hearing but would not confirm any details.The Telegraph has contacted Balyasny Europe Asset Management for comment but has not yet had a reply. In a statement issued to the Standard, the firm said it would “resist the claim vigorously” and affirmed it was “committed, by policy and ethical commitment, to a work-force free from harassment”. It added that the claims were “without merit”. The hearing is expected to take place on March 15 next year.
A spokesman for UEA said: “The Another Time series involves sculptures being placed at different focal points and sightlines, including roof level which are thought provoking and offer both spectacle and surprise.“The locations were chosen in response to the remarkable architecture of the Sir Denys Lasdun university buildings. All staff and students have been made aware of the new art installation on campus, and where the sculptures will be located.” Students have spoken out after their university placed a statue on the edge of the library roof, making it look like it is about to commit suicide.The statue, at the University of East Anglia, is by artist Antony Gormley and has reportedly been mistaken by some students for a real person.A spokesman for UEA defended the work and told the Eastern Daily Press that the statues were “thought-provoking and offer both spectacle and surprise”.One shocked student wrote on Instagram: “Is this some sort of sick joke?” A lecturer tweeted: “Love his work, & it fits with our other sculptures, but I think it’s potentially a poor choice, especially at dissertation crunch time…” UEA Graduate Kimberley Davies, 22, told the EDP: “It’s a bit tactless to put a statue on top of a building filled with people on edge during exam season.“Sombreros are a no-no, but making passers-by think someone’s about to commit suicide is art – I’m out.”Aimee tweeted: “No offence UEA, but putting a statue of a human on top of a high building is probably not a good idea??” @DrEsmee Love his work, & it fits with our other sculptures, but I think it’s potentially a poor choice, especially at dissertation crunch time…— Harry T Dyer (@HarryTDyer) April 12, 2017 Antony Gormley is a British sculptor who is best know for creating the Angel of the North. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.