The average team wins at home 63 percent of the time and on the road just 37 percent of the time. But the differential is much smaller for France and even smaller for Switzerland. In fact, France lost the past two finals it hosted, in 1999 and 2002.Andrew Flowers contributed to the analysis of data supplied by the International Tennis Federation. This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Nov. 24 The State of Football Issue. The farther Cup teams have to travel, the worse they perform (though traveling between 501 and 1,000 miles seems particularly tough). Luckily for Roger & Co.: Lille is just 325 miles from the Swiss capital of Bern, minimizing the French advantage. Roger Federer holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles, but there’s one trophy he’s still itching to lift: the Davis Cup. Starting Friday, he gets his best chance yet. In his first Davis Cup final, the 33-year-old ace and his Swiss teammates will battle the French in Lille, France.Yes, playing away from home significantly diminishes the win probability for the Swiss. And because Davis Cup rules dictate that the host country gets to choose the playing surface, Federer will be forced to compete on clay, his least favorite type of court — without much practice, after a back problem kept him sidelined until a short session Wednesday.But the good news for Federer is that Lille is a lot closer to home than Melbourne, where he lost to the Australians in 2003, the only other time he made a Cup semifinal. Plus, Switzerland is one of a handful of major teams to maintain a winning Cup road record since the modern era began in 1972.Of course, the second-ranked Federer is simply better most days than any of his Lille opponents. (France is led by No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.) And he’s so popular globally that he takes home-court advantage with him when he travels. Consider Roland Garros. “When he plays a French player,” says France’s Gilles Simon, “[the crowd] is 50-50, and I’m like, ‘Guys, what’s going on?’ ”The Swiss aren’t likely to feel that much love in Lille. But they still have plenty on their side to get the job done. Here’s a closer look at the factors in their favor. Federer’s 37–7 Davis Cup singles record is even more impressive when you consider that he’s been even better on the road than at home—especially in Europe, where he’s won his past 15 matches.
Seung-hwan OhSTL1944+1.3 Dario AlvarezTEX201+0.3 Robby ScottBOS228-0.4 Tanner ScheppersTEX101+0.2 Hansel RoblesNYM422-0.2 Tony WatsonPIT1664+0.1 Jason GrilliTOR332-0.6 Alex Colome23259105 Alex ColomeTB2352+1.7 Anthony SwarzakCHW1000+1.5 Mychal GivensBAL1223+1.2 Gabriel YnoaBAL001+0.0 Rubby De La RosaARI011-0.4 Addison Reed2115568 Source: Baseball-REFERENCE.COM Neftali FelizMIL850-0.7 Daniel CoulombeOAK123-0.6 Sergio RomoLAD230-0.8 Boone LoganCLE003+0.0 Greg Hollland1828141 Casey LawrenceTOR010-0.4 Wade DavisCHC1501+2.2 Johnny BarbatoPIT010-0.4 Brandon KintzlerMIN1932+1.8 Tony CingraniCIN423-0.2 Raisel Iglesias21161065 Asher WojciechowskiCIN100+0.1 Brad PeacockHOU101+0.2 Darren O’DayBAL832+0.2 Brandon Maurer1519246 James PazosSEA924+0.6 Brad Hand232131510 Chad QuallsCOL210+0.0 Rafael MonteroNYM131-1.0 Miguel CastroBAL101+0.2 Will HarrisHOU1630+1.3 Tyler PillNYM010-0.4 Cody AllenCLE1242+0.5 Domingo GermanNYY010-0.4 Edwin Diaz2113668 Jumbo DiazTB643-0.6 Ryne StanekTB013-0.4 Chad BellDET001+0.0 Jorge De La RosaARI1041+0.1 Hector RondonCHC721+0.3 Stefan CrichtonBAL010-0.4 Yusmeiro PetitLAA1012+1.2 Aroldis ChapmanNYY602+1.0 Brett CecilSTL1322+1.1 Joakim SoriaKC1942+1.5 Peter MoylanKC403+0.6 Ryan DullOAK422-0.1 Jonathan BroxtonSTL120-0.6 Mike MontgomeryCHC1211+1.4 Jeurys FamiliaNYM412+0.2 Keone KelaTEX831+0.2 Jacob BarnesMIL1843+1.2 Blaine HardyDET121-0.6 Adam ConleyMIA010-0.4 Erasmo RamirezTB712+0.7 Source: Baseball-REFERENCE.COM Jose AlvarezLAA553-1.1 Alex ClaudioTEX625+0.2 Chris DevenskiHOU1663+0.2 Craig KimbrelBOS1920+2.3 Trevor RosenthalSTL1661+0.1 Luke GregersonHOU632-0.2 Nick WittgrenMIA611+0.5 Jandel GustaveHOU010-0.4 Warwick SaupoldDET012-0.4 Austin BriceCIN300+0.4 Juan NicasioPIT846-0.3 Justin GrimmCHC201+0.3 Scott ObergCOL613+0.6 Roberto Osuna1622033 Emilio PaganSEA110-0.2 Felipe RiveroPIT2722+3.2 J. C. RamirezLAA020-0.7 Enny RomeroWSH1336+0.8 Kirby YatesLAA/SD321-0.3 Fernando SalasNYM554-1.2 Daniel HudsonPIT444-0.9 Nick VincentSEA1214+1.5 Kenley Jansen25211089 Scott AlexanderKC320-0.3 Ryan MadsonOAK1231+0.7 Frankie MontasOAK110-0.2 Andrew MillerCLE2531+3.0 Taylor RogersMIN1323+1.3 Marc RzepczynskiSEA404+0.6 Craig Kimbrel1923566 Brad BrachBAL2130+2.2 Pedro StropCHC1113+1.2 Bryan ShawCLE1122+1.1 Casey FienSEA/PHI320-0.3 J. J. HooverARI622+0.2 Vidal NunoBAL010-0.4 Oliver DrakeMIL421-0.2 Tommy KahnleCHW1171-0.9 Grant DaytonLAD112-0.2 Joe SmithTOR1411+1.8 Fernando RodneyARI1943+1.4 Cam BedrosianLAA613+0.5 Shane GreeneDET1033+0.4 Blake ParkerLAA1031+0.4 Matt AlbersWSH924+0.6 Luke JacksonATL100+0.1 Ryan BuchterSD1252-0.1 Felipe Rivero276111312 Danny FarquharTB832+0.1 Derek LawSF1131+0.5 Chase WhitleyTB641-0.6 Chasen ShreveNYY622+0.2 Bryan MorrisSF300+0.4 Greg HollandCOL1820+2.2 Brandon MaurerSD1570-0.5 Kevin SiegristSTL811+0.8 Chris RusinCOL823+0.6 Ben HellerNYY001+0.0 Josh CollmenterATL020-0.7 FIREMAN APPEARANCES Jake McGeeCOL832+0.2 Matt BarnesBOS1053-0.2 Steve CishekSEA211-0.1 Sam DysonTEX/SF1271-0.8 Richard BleierBAL311+0.1 Wade LeBlancPIT132-1.0 Zach PutnamCHW200+0.3 Jhan MarinezMIL/PIT320-0.3 The Dodgers have managed Jansen’s opportunities smartly, but he also deserves credit for making the most of every one of them — literally. Jansen has 25 goose eggs on the season, but no broken eggs, our term for when a pitcher enters the game with an opportunity to earn a goose egg but is charged with at least one earned run instead.1Jansen does have one “meh,” which is when a pitcher enters the game in a goose situation but is awarded neither a goose egg nor a broken egg because a run was scored yet not charged to the reliever. The record for most goose eggs in a season without a broken egg is held by Brad Lidge, who had 34 goose eggs and no broken eggs in 2008.As a result of this perfect conversion rate, Jansen leads baseball with 3.6 goose wins above replacement (GWAR) and is on pace for 6.5 GWAR, which would make for one of the top half-dozen relief pitching seasons of all time. Rivero and Miller are second and third in GWAR this season. You can find goose-egg statistics for these and all other relief pitchers in the sortable table below. Wandy PeraltaCIN1020+0.7 Dustin McGowanMIA201+0.3 AJ RamosMIA1132+0.4 Cory GearrinSF721+0.3 Corey Knebel2614698 Addison ReedNYM2143+1.5 Chase De JongSEA010-0.4 Deolis GuerraLAA720+0.3 Mike DunnCOL602+1.0 Arodys VizcainoATL1652+0.5 Tony ZychSEA432-0.5 Jose TorresSD231-0.8 John BrebbiaSTL001+0.0 Luis GarciaPHI611+0.5 Steven OkertSF637-0.3 Tyler ClippardNYY486-2.3 Austin PruittTB300+0.5 Liam HendriksOAK731+0.0 Kyle BarracloughMIA1031+0.3 Oliver PerezWSH514+0.4 Joe BiaginiTOR432-0.5 Shawn KelleyWSH620+0.1 Josh OsichSF224-0.5 Pat NeshekPHI1613+2.0 Jordan LylesCOL210+0.0 Brandon Kintzler1924222 Josh SmokerNYM722+0.3 Tom WilhelmsenARI112-0.2 Ross StriplingLAD641-0.6 George KontosSF743-0.5 Randall DelgadoARI500+0.8 Dominic LeoneTOR323-0.3 Brian DuensingCHC300+0.4 Fernando Rodney1922035 Junichi TazawaMIA220-0.5 Adam WarrenNYY521+0.1 Joely RodriguezPHI524+0.0 PITCHERGOOSE EGGSSAVESMULTI-INNINGRUNNERS ONTIE GAMES Rob ScahillMIL110-0.2 Roberto OsunaTOR1641+1.1 Danny BarnesTOR621+0.2 Evan ScribnerSEA020-0.7 Justin WilsonDET1940+1.5 Diego MorenoTB010-0.4 Parker BridwellLAA001+0.0 FIREMAN APPEARANCES Mike MinorKC1621+1.8 Matt GraceWSH112-0.2 Drew StorenCIN322-0.3 Joaquin BenoitPHI1370-0.7 Aaron LoupTOR326-0.3 Jerry BlevinsNYM1246+0.2 Jared HughesMIL811+0.8 Tyler DuffeyMIN811+0.9 Dellin BetancesNYY1341+0.6 Fernando AbadBOS500+0.8 Carlos EstevezCOL100+0.2 John AxfordOAK120-0.6 Sammy SolisWSH120-0.6 Sean DoolittleOAK823+0.5 Corey KnebelMIL2652+2.0 Ryan TeperaTOR1420+1.5 Blaine BoyerBOS310+0.1 Edwin DiazSEA2141+1.7 Andrew Miller25214128 Donnie HartBAL313+0.1 Jeremy JeffressTEX131-0.9 Tyler WilsonBAL111-0.2 Jose AlvaradoTB743-0.4 Nate JonesCHW410+0.2 Brad ZieglerMIA412+0.2 Save leaders avoid many clutch pitching opportunitiesTop save pitchers through 2017 All-Star break Blake WoodCIN231-0.8 J. P. HowellTOR010-0.4 Joe BlantonWSH320-0.3 Bud NorrisLAA1160-0.5 Josh FieldsLAD321-0.3 Travis WoodKC331-0.6 We shouldn’t get too carried away here. With the possible exception of the Astros’ Chris Devenski — who leads the majors with 52.2 relief innings but whose effectiveness has diminished as the season has worn on — none of these pitchers are being used in the Goose Gossage mold of the 1970s, when star relievers often threw 100 or more innings in a season. This is particularly true for Jansen, whose workload has always been managed carefully. (He’s on pace for only 68 innings this year.) But if teams are still using pitchers such as Jansen, Rivero and the Indians’ Andrew Miller for only 60 to 80 innings a season, they’re increasingly picking the right innings for them to pitch. By contrast, closers such as the Rockies’ Greg Holland and the Twins’ Brandon Kintzler have rarely made fireman appearances but have often been used to close out big, relatively safe leads. Although they have more saves than pitchers like Jansen and Rivero, Holland and Kintzler have fewer goose eggs and have provided less overall value to their clubs. Dan AltavillaSEA331-0.6 Francisco RodriguezDET382-2.5 Jonathan HolderNYY311+0.1 Michael FelizHOU110-0.2 Dan JenningsCHW024-0.7 Koda GloverWSH822+0.4 Edubray RamosPHI2110-3.8 Miguel DiazSD010-0.4 Tyler LyonsSTL011-0.4 Jarlin GarciaMIA002+0.0 Santiago CasillaOAK1452+0.3 Kyle RyanDET210-0.1 Craig BreslowMIN010-0.4 Raisel IglesiasCIN2110+2.7 Eric O’FlahertyATL211-0.1 David RobertsonCHW1631+1.3 Daniel StumpfDET212-0.1 Justin HaleyMIN110-0.2 Josh EdginNYM525+0.0 Bryan MitchellNYY010-0.4 Tony SippHOU100+0.2 Phil MatonSD211-0.1 Kenley JansenLAD2501+3.6 Matt StrahmKC231-0.8 Miguel SocolovichSTL101+0.1 Matthew BowmanSTL1544+0.7 Carlos TorresMIL642-0.6 Andrew ChafinARI146-1.3 Jayson AquinoBAL010-0.4 Robbie RossBOS100+0.2 Brock StewartLAD200+0.3 Jason MotteATL212-0.1 Chris YoungKC100+0.2 Blake TreinenWSH441-0.9 Jeff BeliveauTOR100+0.2 Ty BlachSF101+0.1 Jacob TurnerWSH520+0.0 Logan VerrettBAL400+0.6 Brooks PoundersLAA100+0.2 Dodger closer Kenley Jansen has had a lights-out first half with a 4-0 record, a 0.96 ERA, 57 strikeouts and just two walks allowed in 37.2 innings pitched.He also has only 21 saves, which ranks seventh in the league through the All-Star break. But Jansen has been considerably more valuable to the Dodgers than those save numbers imply. That’s because Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has been deploying Jansen in high-leverage situations that other managers often shield their closers from. Jansen has made 10 multi-inning appearances so far this year. He’s been brought into the game with runners on base nine times. And he’s entered in tied games in eight appearances. l call all of these “firemen appearances” because they resemble how teams used their top relievers in the era a few decades ago when the best relievers were referred to as “firemen” instead of closers.These firemen appearances have not necessarily helped Jansen earn saves; a pitcher can’t earn a save when he enters in a tied game, for instance. But they do provide opportunities for him to earn goose eggs, the new relief-pitcher statistic that we developed this spring. (The short version: A pitcher gets a goose egg for a clutch, scoreless relief inning, including in a tied game.) Jansen has 25 goose eggs, which ties him for third this season. He and his fellow goose-egg leaders — including the Pirates’ Felipe Rivero, who leads MLB with 27 — are routinely making firemen appearances: Chad GreenNYY022-0.7 Ian KrolATL623+0.1 Adam OttavinoCOL1372-0.4 Alex WilsonDET1064-0.7 Matt BushTEX1561+0.2 Kenley Jansen25211089 PITCHER▲▼TEAM▲▼GOOSE EGGS▲▼BROKEN EGGS▲▼MEHS▲▼GWAR▲▼ David HernandezLAA811+0.9 Pedro BaezLAD734-0.1 Jose RamirezATL1241+0.3 Kevin QuackenbushSD110-0.2 PITCHERGOOSE EGGSSAVESMULTI-INNINGRUNNERS ONTIE GAMES James HoytHOU110-0.2 Matt BelisleMIN1333+0.9 Robert GsellmanNYM210-0.1 Ernesto FrieriTEX010-0.4 Sam FreemanATL502+0.7 Zach BrittonBAL600+0.9 Josh HaderMIL100+0.1 Jake JunisKC100+0.2 Giovanny GallegosNYY010-0.4 Jim JohnsonATL1761+0.3 Chris HatcherLAD121-0.6 Xavier CedenoTB013-0.4 Paul SewaldNYM122-0.6 Alec AsherBAL311+0.1 Alex WoodLAD301+0.4 Robert StephensonCIN220-0.4 Neil RamirezNYM012-0.4 Kelvin Herrera1619025 Ken Giles919151 Brent SuterMIL001+0.0 Check out our latest MLB predictions. Luis AvilanLAD222-0.5 Chris BeckCHW002+0.0 Mike MorinLAA101+0.2 Sam TuivailalaSTL320-0.3 Jake PetrickaCHW001+0.0 Hector NerisPHI1542+0.7 Jim Johnson1719206 Wily PeraltaMIL120-0.6 Alex Colome23259105 Ronald HerreraNYY010-0.4 Jose LeclercTEX522+0.1 2017 goose stats through All-Star break Al AlburquerqueKC010-0.4 Mark MelanconSF940-0.2 Carl EdwardsCHC1233+0.6 Brad HandSD2345+1.8 Heath HembreeBOS724+0.4 David PhelpsMIA1171-1.1 Kenyan MiddletonLAA210-0.1 Bruce RondonDET210-0.1 Archie BradleyARI2023+2.3 Brad BoxbergerTB100+0.2 T. J. McFarlandARI501+0.8 Hector SantiagoMIN010-0.4 Koji UeharaCHC1443+0.5 Jesse ChavezLAA010-0.4 Adam KolarekTB010-0.4 Goose-egg leaders pitch in clutch situations, but that doesn’t help earn savesTop goose-egg pitchers through 2017 All-Star break PITCHER▲▼TEAM▲▼GOOSE EGGS▲▼BROKEN EGGS▲▼MEHS▲▼GWAR▲▼ Brad Brach2115236 Antonio BastardoPIT010-0.4 Tommy HunterTB621+0.2 Tony BarnetteTEX630-0.1 Ben TaylorBOS101+0.2 Michael LorenzenCIN1931+1.7 Ken GilesHOU933+0.2 Brandon MorrowLAD010-0.4 Drew SteckenriderMIA010-0.4 Jeanmar GomezPHI721+0.3 Ryan PresslyMIN420-0.1 Jean MachiSEA101+0.2 Kelvin HerreraKC1642+1.1 Joe KellyBOS724+0.4 Ryan GartonTB030-1.1 Hunter StricklandSF1130+0.5 Source: Seamheads.com
Devin Smith might be the best wide receiver Ohio State has. The sophomore playmaker has looked the part through the first three games of the season, catching 13 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He had a one-handed touchdown grab against Miami (Ohio) that will be played on highlight reels for years to come and the game-winning score against California last Saturday. The statistics and big plays might speak for themselves, but they don’t have to anymore. “(Tuesday) at practice, coach Meyer was talking to the team, and he told me that he feels I’m the best receiver in the unit,” Smith said, as he cracked in to a smile. Smith’s quarterback, sophomore Braxton Miller, said he agrees with Meyer. What separates Smith from his teammates, Miller said, is a little bit of everything. “First of all is his speed. He has great hands. I’d say his routes too, the way he gets open, he gets open really fast,” Miller said. Smith’s attributes have certainly been on display during OSU’s first three games this season. What has possibly stood out most, though, has been his ability to go up and pluck balls out of the air. That skill is what allowed Smith to make his one-handed catch against the RedHawks, and it is the cause for one of his two touchdowns last Saturday against the Golden Bears. The skill is not just something Smith possesses; it is something that is preached to all of the OSU wide receivers every day at practice by wide receivers coach Zach Smith, but the sophomore wide receiver probably does it best. “Whenever the ball is in the air, it’s yours. That’s our mentality with this group,” Zach Smith said. “Every time the ball is thrown to us we have to go get it.” Devin Smith has had a few low moments so far this season too, including two dropped passes last Saturday against California. His hands are something he said he works on heavily. “My hands are pretty good. I work on them every single day. Those two drops in the game, it happens. You got to bounce back and my teammates did a great job keeping my head up,” Devin Smith said. While Devin Smith has received a good amount of praise recently from his coaches and teammates, the positive reinforcement has not always been there. Outside of a game-winning catch against Wisconsin, Devin Smith’s 2011 freshman season was fairly unmemorable. He had 14 catches, one more than this year’s total three games into the season, and 294 yards, a mark only 61 yards higher than his current output this season. Meyer said he was not extremely impressed with Devin Smith when he first arrived at OSU. “I did compliment him (Tuesday) because he’s a different guy. He was nothing like this in spring ball,” Meyer said. Devin Smith has come a long way since the spring, and even since the beginning of the season, according to Meyer. “He had a good week. He’s one of … I just hate to say this because they turn backwards sometimes, but he’s really done a nice job. He’s a pleasant guy to be around,” Meyer said. The high praise given to Devin Smith by Meyer this week has made the sophomore wide receiver hungrier for more success. “Ever since (Tuesday), I’ve approached the game differently, now that (Meyer) feels I’m the best receiver on this team,” Devin Smith said. His approach to the game now centers on what he can do to help the team apart from just catching passes. “Just making sure I’m doing everything I can for this football team, no matter what it is – blocking, running routes, whatever it is I can do for this team,” Devin Smith said. Smith’s approach to the game is set to be on display Saturday against Alabama Birmingham. Kickoff is scheduled for noon at Ohio Stadium.
Junior center Amir Williams dunks the ball during a game against Iowa Jan. 12 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 84-74.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe night is darkest before the dawn, and for the No. 24-ranked Ohio State men’s basketball team (16-4, 3-4), that dawn might have arrived.After struggling through a four-game losing streak — the program’s longest since February 2008 — the Buckeyes got back on track with a 62-55 victory against Illinois last Thursday.Freshman forward Marc Loving said just getting a win helped raise spirits in the locker room.“Our moods are definitely a lot lighter than what they were during the four-game losing streak,” Loving said Tuesday. “I would say there’s been a lighter load going into the next game. I feel like a weight’s been lifted off of us, get a little monkey off our back. Going into this next game, we definitely have a mindset that we’ve got to execute and get stops defensively because that’s what we key on.”It’s been more than two weeks since OSU headed into a game off a win, and some players are hoping their problems have been fixed.Junior center Amir Williams, who saw his minutes decline during the losing streak, said a lot of time in practice has been dedicated to two things: defense and shooting.“We spent a lot of time these past few days working on our defense and a lot with our shooting,” Williams said Tuesday. “That’s mainly been a problem that we’ve had in the past, guys were just driving by us and not playing our principles on defense so we just got back to the basics and broke down what we had to do defensively to keep teams from scoring against us and just get up a lot of shots offensively. We’ve been putting a lot of time into shooting the ball.”Williams added that another four-game losing streak has to be prevented at all costs for a team with as high of goals like OSU’s.“We can’t take any team for granted,” Williams said. “This is a tough conference to play in night in and night out so we’re going to continue to build … That four-game losing streak is something that can’t happen to us again. We’re going to have losses and we’re going to win some games but we can’t just not show up to play like we did those last four games.”Next up, the Buckeyes are set to take on Penn State (10-10, 1-6) and will be hoping to contain their leading scorers, redshirt-junior guard D.J. Newbill (17.2 points per game) and graduate-senior guard Tim Frazier (16.5 points per game).OSU coach Thad Matta said despite the Nittany Lions’ record, they will not be overlooked by the Buckeyes.“You look at Penn State, they’ve been in every single game they’ve played this season and had some of the craziest losses I’ve seen in terms of the ball didn’t bounce their way,” Matta said Tuesday. “Obviously Frazier and Newbill have shown, not only this year but throughout their career, that they can go into an arena and get 30 on you … but you get a pretty good feel of who they’re trying to get shots for and we’ve got to do a pretty good job of locking those guys down the best we can.”The last time OSU lost to Penn State was Jan. 10, 2004. Tipoff is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
Thad Matta addresses the media for the final time as head coach at Ohio State on June 5, 2017. Credit: Courtesy of 97.1 The FanThad Matta was fired Monday because lately the Ohio State men’s basketball team hasn’t won enough games, and it is an honorable reason to be fired. There is no shortage of reasons why college coaches are fired, and failure to win enough games is the best of them. Just think about the last two big-time coaches fired at OSU: Jim O’Brien, who Matta succeeded, and Jim Tressel.Both were removed amid scandal. Both left behind a trail of embarrassment and NCAA sanctions. Heck, turn back the clock a little further and you can even toss beloved Woody Hayes in there, who was dismissed after punching an opposing player. Of course, most coaches in college football and basketball are not fired for scandal, covering up a scandal or assault. Most cases are similar to Matta’s, and the phrases we heard Monday during his farewell press conference have become common parlance. Time for new leadership. A change in direction. Mutually agreed upon. We’ve heard those phrases over and over, but it’s important for fans — especially OSU fans right now — to remember that a failure to win games does not automatically indicate the failure to build a successful program. That is, we cannot simply let our measure of success be banners and win percentage. They are important, but they cannot become the only thing that matters.We’ve seen the effects of that thinking already, and they look like Louisville’s Rick Pitino keeping his job despite his program reportedly hiring escorts for recruits, though he denied wrongdoing. They look like Jim Boeheim, of Syracuse, who actually received an extension in March despite having been suspended two years ago after the NCAA found he “failed to monitor his program” while it racked up violation after violation, including academic misconduct and impermissible benefits. In his 13 seasons leading the Buckeyes, Matta carried himself with grace and integrity, and he built a program with principles and decency. In this column, there is no need to list the number of Big Ten titles he won or how far he took his team in the NCAA tournament. The one stat worth mentioning, Matta brought up himself. “When I got here, we had a 20 percent graduation rate. We’re up to, I think, 88 percent right now,” he said. “To see these guys walk in here and the one-and-dones that we had and those guys fulfilling their dreams. The stories are countless and I don’t want to be up here all day, but I could tell stories that makes me feel good. Just in terms of what we’re able to accomplish, I’m very proud of it.”OSU basketball coach Thad Matta laughs as he answers a question during Media Day on Oct. 10, 2013, at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Lantern file photoMatta’s former players are proud to call him their coach, too, and many took to social media to share his impact, which speaks volumes about the who he is as a person, not only a coach. “Your enthusiasm, passion, knowledge, and humor are the reasons why I’m glad I made the decision to become a buckeye when I was 17,” wrote Evan Turner, who was the national player of the year under Matta in 2010, on Instagram. “You helped me weed thru a lot of ups and down in order to be the player and man you knew I could become. I’ll forever love you for that and you’ll always be a legend and great man in my book.” “Family aside, no one has done more for my life than Coach Matta,” tweeted Mark Titus, a former walk-on and current writer at The Ringer. “Love that man w all my heart and will forever be indebted to him.” Aaron Craft, one of the most beloved Buckeyes of the Matta era, tweeted, “Man, words can’t describe what Coach meant to me and the program! Wouldn’t have wanted to play for anyone else!”So, yeah, Matta was fired because his team didn’t win enough. His health issues appeared to play a role, and the struggles in recruiting — which tie directly to the ability to win games — were broached during the press conference. In the end, he used to win a lot of basketball games, and recently he didn’t win as many basketball games, so now he lost his job coaching basketball at OSU.Coach Thad Matta talks to his players during a game against on Minnesota Feb. 22, 2014, at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Lantern file photo“The wins, the losses, those things, they come,” Matta said. “We hit a stretch here that was probably about a five-year stretch as good as anybody in the country in terms of college basketball.” Consider this departure in an age where coaches have been fired for throwing basketballs at players, and where entire athletic departments have been plagued by questions of academic misconduct or, in the case of Baylor, covered up sexual assault allegations against its players, and where coaches have been fired after lying to the NCAA during an investigation. “And I think the last thing that I hope I’m always remembered for is that we always did it the right way,” Matta said. “That to me is something that I want to hold or hang my hat on. That this program was run the right way.” Indeed, Matta built a program the right way, and its sterling reputation remains intact as he departs in the most honorable way a dismissed coach can: because lately he didn’t win enough.
Coach Thad Matta calls to players. OSU beat Purdue, 63-61, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament March 13, 2014 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Credit: Shelby Lum | Former Photo EditorThere is never a perfect time to fire the winningest coach in a program’s history. There’s no easy way for Ohio State to move on from the man who took the Buckeyes to the brink of winning their first national championship since 1960. But, the timing of Monday’s firing of now-former coach Thad Matta is particularly bad for OSU.Teams have moved on from the 2016-17 season, are transitioning to the fall and, if necessary, they made a coaching change months ago. No head coach has been hired by a major Division 1 school since New Mexico tabbed Paul Weir as its leader on April 11.The inopportune swap is not lost on OSU Athletics Director Gene Smith, who sat next to Matta at a press conference to announce the end of the three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year’s tenure in Columbus Monday.“No time is optimal, but obviously this time is not the best,” Smith said. “So I need to be sensitive to what I’m dealing with in this window of time.”Since OSU is late to the coaching carousel, it won’t have to jockey with other schools for hot-shot up-and-comers or established coaching talent on the market.But is that a good thing, or does it mean that the coaches who check off both “talented” and “available” boxes do not exist any more? Could the Buckeyes have won over former Dayton coach Archie Miller, who decided to leave the state of Ohio to take over the Indiana program? We’ll never know because OSU’s job wasn’t open when the former Flyers coach was listening to the Hoosiers’ pitch.Established coaches and potential candidates such as Arizona’s Sean Miller, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and Virginia’s Tony Bennett are each heading successful programs and have turned down offers from major schools in the past. Given OSU’s lackluster roster and the reality that basketball will never be the university’s most important sport, a fit in Columbus for these coaches is not obvious.Exciting, young coaches such as Xavier’s Chris Mack and Butler’s Chris Holtmann could stay with their programs for another season – both of which bring back talented rosters – and hope to attract a head coach offer from a higher profile school than OSU.Whoever sits in Matta’s former chair in the fall will have a tough job. With just 10 scholarship players, including a former walk-on, and major recent roster turnover, the new head coachBut, it just takes one person to say yes. That’s where optimism should set in. Despite the recent struggles, OSU is still appealing, and there’s an obvious place to start: at the bank.Only two Big Ten coaches – Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Michigan’s John Beilein – made more than Matta in 2017. But if you thought OSU might be cash-strapped as it is buying out Matta’s next three seasons, think again.The athletic department is flush with cash. It is spending $43 million on building a student-athlete development center and $49.7 million on a wrestling facility, and will also be building an arena for volleyball, gymnastics and fencing. They are also reportedly considering building a hockey arena.If OSU thinks it can hire someone to replicate Matta’s success from his first decade as the Buckeyes coach, it would pay up to do so.At Monday’s press conference, Smith said that he didn’t intend to relieve Matta of his duties when the two met on Friday. If that’s true, the pressure is on for him to act quickly and bring in someone who can find the success on the court that has escaped the program in recent years.Only time will tell if the Buckeyes whiffed on their opportunity to find a worthy replacement for Matta in a timely matter. Perhaps Smith has a master plan to land Miller, Villanova coach Jay Wright or Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan.But, maybe he doesn’t.Sometimes, even if the correct decision is made but the window of opportunity is missed, the result is a disappointment. OSU might learn the hard way.Colin Hass-Hill: email@example.com and Twitter @chasshill
Ministers announced in May that the 11-year charter would be subject to a “health check” after five years to ensure that tougher rules are working to prevent a repeat of Jimmy Savile-style scandals, and to avert the rows over large management pay-offs that have dogged the corporation in recent years.Under the plans, this wide-ranging mid-term review would give the government the chance to intervene if the BBC is failing to deliver value for money, or if its new board members and regulators are not doing their jobs.However, officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have been holding talks with BBC executives over limiting the extent of the health check review over the summer. “This review of the BBC charter must have teeth. If the ‘health check’ finds that the BBC is not being effectively regulated or is failing to deliver value for money, or impartiality, the government will have to intervene to take remedial actionAndrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP who chairs the regulatory reform select committee, said he feared the “health check” was being watered down. He warned that the mid-term review must be backed up by the threat of government intervention.“This review of the BBC charter must have teeth,” he said.“If the ‘health check’ finds that the BBC is not being effectively regulated or is failing to deliver value for money, or impartiality, the government will have to intervene to take remedial action.“It is in the interests of the licence fee payer, the viewing public and the BBC itself to have a robust and effective governance system.”The charter would also see the BBC run by a new board from next year and regulated entirely by Ofcom for the first time.Broadcasters have also raised concerns over plans for ministers to directly appoint members of the BBC’s new governing board, claiming that the arrangement will compromise the corporation’s independence.The new board, which will replace the discredited BBC Trust, will be made up of a majority of members chosen by the BBC. However, opponents of the deal have criticised moves which would see ministers choose almost half of the board members.BBC executives have been pressing their case to limit the government’s powers in negotiations with the DCMS over the past four months. 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. Ministers are preparing to dilute plans for a crackdown on the BBC when the broadcaster’s new charter is published within days. The government is due to unveil the draft deal this month, setting out in detail how the broadcaster will be regulated, funded and run for the next 11 years.But a letter from a minister, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, suggests the government is now ready to cave in to criticism from broadcasting bosses and will move to “sensibly constrain” new rules that would put the BBC on a tighter leash. Lord Alli, a leading media industry figure who set up the television production company, Planet 24, wrote to the government about the draft charter earlier this summer, raising a series of concerns over the planned “health check” and the role of ministers choosing members of the board.The new culture minister, Lord Ashton of Hyde, tried to reassure Lord Alli, saying that he was working “extensively” with the BBC and Ofcom and that “most of the issues you raised” were “still under review and discussion”. In his reply, dated August 18, the minister said: “We are now in discussion with the BBC to determine the precise scope of the health check and how we can provide certainty to the BBC and to Parliament about what will be in and out of scope through careful drafting of the Charter.“I believe that we will be able to reassure you that a health check can be sensibly constrained and can therefore contribute to the success of the next Charter.” Mr Bridgen said he was worried that ministers were planning to limit the scope of the review. “I am concerned to hear that the minister has promised to ensure the review is ‘sensibly constrained’. This undermines the point of having such a health check in the first place.” One source said the BBC had been fighting the government’s plan to use the “health check” to review the way it’s profit-making commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, operates. Ministers had wanted to consider whether the BBC should be required to sell a stake in Worldwide if it was not delivering value for taxpayers.A white paper published in May proposed that the BBC should have a single board and be regulated by Ofcom, the media watchdog, from next year.The reforms are designed to overhaul the confused hierarchies that contributed to scandals over the BBC’s coverage of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse allegations and huge pay-offs for senior managers.A DCMS spokesman said: “Significant changes have been proposed to the BBC making it much more effective and accountable in its governance and regulation. The health check will help make sure these reforms are on the right track.”A BBC spokesperson said: “The letter makes clear that the Government has consistently stated that the health check should be merely that – a health check – and not a charter review.” Ministers announced in May that the 11-year charter would be subject to a “health check” Credit: 2016 Getty Images
Two women managed to escape from the building before emergency services arrivedCredit:Nick Ansell/PA Wire Two women managed to escape from the building before emergency services arrived and were taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.The victims were named locally as Alina Kordaszewska, 41, and her 12-year-old daughter Emilia Kordaszewska.Neighbours also named the two women who escaped the blaze as Alina’s teenage daughter Milena Kordaszewska and her mother Alicja Kordaszewska-Tom, 63.Alina’s husband and the father of Emilia and Milena is understood to be Rafal Kordaszewska, also 41. Friends have turned up at the scene to leave floral tributes.Justyna Rogulka and Rafal Bogonos had worked with Alina for eight years at CorpComms, a corporate communication centre.Mr Bogonos said: “It was a shock, a massive shock for all of us. I can’t bear it. They were just a normal family, they were very polite.”I really knew Alina because we have been working with her for eight years. She was such a lovely, bubbly person, She was always smiling. A woman and child, believed to be mother and daughter, have died in a house fire.Emergency services were called to the property in Braintree, Essex, shortly before 10.45pm on Wednesday but the pair were trapped inside and died at the scene, Essex Police said. 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. Fire ripped through a house in EssexCredit:ESSEX COUNTY FIRE & RESCUE “It is a shame, a real shame, especially before Christmas. I literally spoke to her a couple of days ago and I said how are you doing for the preparation for Christmas?”She said ‘yeah I am still far away’. They have been taken far too soon.”He added: “We have organised a mass in the church today and we hope we are going to gather together as a community and pray.”The police and fire service will carry out a joint investigation, and the road has been closed.A police helicopter, officers, the fire service and ambulance service attended the incident.Frankie Ricci, chairman of Braintree District Council, wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those caught in the South Street house fire in Braintree. Tragic beyond words.”James Cleverly, Conservative MP for Braintree, wrote on Twitter: “Shocked by the terrible news that a mother and child have died in a fire in Braintree, my thoughts are with their friends and family.”
The Isle of Barra has come together as “one big family” to celebrate the life of 14-year-old Eilidh MacLeod, the “dear, beautiful” teenager who died in the Manchester bombing.Most of the 1,000-strong population turned out for the schoolgirl’s funeral at the church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, overlooking the picturesque village of Castlebay.Fr John Paul MacKinnon told mourners it was important to remember that Eilidh was the “happiest she had ever been” on her birthday treat trip to see Ariana Grande.The teenager’s coffin was led by her father Roddy as it was piped through the village. Following the service there was a procession to the teenager’s burial across the causeway to the neighbouring island of Vatersay where she grew up.The church was full for the funeral Mass, which was also relayed to a packed Castlebay Hall. Eilidh, a talented piper and popular schoolgirl, was in Manchester with her friend Laura MacIntyre, 15, who was seriously injured in the suicide bombing and is still recovering in hospital.The service began with a recording of Eilidh playing “Both Sides the Tweed” on the bagpipes.Fr MacKinnon said she had “packed a lot of life into 14 happy years”, adding: “That’s so important for us to remember today. Eilidh was a happy girl, she had 14 happy years and in the last few days of her life she was the happiest you could ever imagine. Mourners at the Church of Our lady, Star of the Sea in CastlebayCredit:PA “Even though there is a great sadness here today, there is a great thankfulness to God for blessing us with Eilidh’s life. Our loss is heaven’s gain.”Eilidh’s family were said to have been overwhelmed by the “great generosity and love” they have received since losing the teenager.The service was attended by John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and a floral tribute was sent to the Hebridean island by Andy Burnham, mayor of Manchester, and Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police. The order of service for Eilidh MacLeod’s funeralCredit:PA Businesses on the island shut as a mark of respect and to allow staff to attend the funeral. Mr and Mrs MacLeod said they had lost their “darling daughter” in the cruellest way possible and added that they wanted her funeral to be a “real celebration of her life and the wonderful person she was”.They said: “Eilidh’s infectious personality touched everyone she met and it has been a privilege and an honour to have her as our daughter. We will always remember her as a truly beautiful girl inside and out, eternally young, love by all and forever in our hearts”.Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, said before the service that everyone in Scotland would join her in “sending our heartfelt sympathy to Eilidh’s family and friends ahead of what will be the most difficult day imaginable”.She added: ”Everything that I’ve heard, seen or read about Eilidh shows that she was a vivacious, fun-loving young woman with a bright future ahead of her, and I know that the community on Barra will pay her a fitting tribute. Her family are in my thoughts.” Eilidh MacLeodCredit:PA An officer lays flowers on behalf of Andy Burnham, mayor of ManchesterCredit:PA Their message said: “We may not have known you, but you will forever be in the hearts and thoughts of all at Greater Manchester Police and the people of Manchester.”Eilidh’s body was flown home on Sunday, arriving in a small chartered plane, carrying her parents Roddy and Marion, that landed on the island’s beach runaway. “The last thing in Eilidh’s life was happiness. She had spent a wonderful weekend away from the island, going shopping, going to nice cafes, going to the cinema and then going to her pop idol’s concert, Ariana. She was the happiest she had ever been and that’s what we hold on to today, the happiness of Eilidh’s life.”Those memories of Eilidh will live on in all our hearts. Every year of her life was precious to us and we thank God for blessing us with her precious life.”He added: “Roddy and Marion were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Shona and Laura were blessed with a wonderful sister, our island was blessed to have such a young talented girl growing up on it. Barra’s community has been fundraising for the families of both victims. Money is to be donated to Eilidh’s favourite charity, Cobhair Bharraigh, a local home-based support service and day care centre.They said she was “a loving sister” who loved socialising with friends, and who had an “unsurpassed” love of music.The large procession following the hearse to Vatersay passed Eilidh’s school en route, where the island’s green and white flag was flying at half-mast. 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.