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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    The two sides agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $44.8 million shortly before the 6 p.m. deadline on Monday night.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Two days before opening the regular season, the Cleveland Cavaliers accomplished one of their primary goals, keeping Larry Nance Jr. in Cleveland for the long haul. 

    The two sides agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $44.8 million shortly before the 6 p.m. deadline on Monday night.

    "We are extremely excited to have Larry in a Cavaliers uniform long-term," general manager Koby Altman said in a press release. "His athleticism is off the charts and his positive attitude, work ethic and most importantly, his desire to be in Cleveland embodies all that we want out of our players both on and off the court.

    "We look forward to watching his continued development and feel strongly that Larry can be a special player in this league for many years to come." 

    The Cavs have put an emphasis on solidifying their new core with players that truly want to be with the team and are willing to show that commitment.

    Kevin Love first did that with his summer extension, accepting the immense responsibility of navigating the Cavaliers through the post-LeBron years. Nance has followed suit, reaffirming his love for the city and what the organization is trying to build. 

    League sources told cleveland.com that Nance -- an Akron-native who grew up rooting for the Cavs -- worked with the organization so his salary declines as the deal goes along and the team can maintain cap flexibility.

    That's always been important for the Cavs, allowing them to get back in the free agency mix at some point in the future when they are able to move on from some hefty contracts currently weighing them down.

    The first year of Nance's contract is expected to be worth $12.7 million. He is set to make around $9.6 million in the final year. There are no options included in the contract and he will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2023 season. 

    "I'm actually at a loss for words right now," said Nance. "To continue playing basketball for a franchise I grew up with and watched as my father starred here is truly a blessing. I'm extremely happy to be a Cavalier and I can now begin to establish my own long-term legacy in this community. I want to thank Dan (Gilbert), Koby and our coaching staff for believing in me and my potential. This is truly a dream come true."

    The deal was announced and signed inside The Q in front of Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena staff members. Nance wore a black T-shirt with "HOME" spelled out in bright orange letters trimmed in blue across the front.

    "I'm one of you guys. I'm a Cleveland guy at heart," he said. "There's no place I would rather be."  


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    A couple third- and fourth-down stops have received a lot of attention. But the numbers tell a different story.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's short-yardage failures leap to mind because when you convert a third-and-2 and keep a drive alive, everyone moves onto the next thing.

    No one stops and says, "Great 4-yard play when you needed 2. Truly, pure genius."

    But if you need 2 yards and get 1, or need 1 yard and get zero, and a drive does stop, then everyone remembers that. And then you wonder what went wrong.

    Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has talked a lot the last couple weeks about short-yardage issues for the Buckeyes. Checking the numbers leads to a clear question.

    Are we sure Ohio State actually has a short-yardage problem?

    Defining short-yardage as 3 yards or fewer, in the last three weeks, here are the Buckeyes overall conversion rates:

    3rd-and-short: 8 of 11 (72.7 percent)

    4th-and-short: 6 of 9 (66.7 percent)

    On the year, according to stats compiled by SBNation, the Buckeyes are converting 87.5 percent of third-and-shorts. That ranks 20th in the nation.

    Here are the top 10 teams in the AP poll and their third-and-short success rates, with their overall national ranking in that area.

    1. Alabama, 83.3 percent, (39)

    2. Ohio State, 87.5 percent (20)

    3. Clemson, 63.6 perent, (99)

    4. Notre Dame, 83.3 percent (39)

    5. LSU, 93.3 percent (14)

    6. Michigan, 76.2 percent (65)

    7. Texas, 85.7 percent (29)

    8. Georgia, 83.3 (39)

    9. Oklahoma, 66.7 (92)

    10. Central Florida, 83.3 (39)

    So the Buckeyes short-yardage issues ... have them ranked as the second-most successful top-10 team on third-and-short.

    And while the Buckeyes were slightly more successful in the first four games than they have been in the last three, the small sample sizes quickly change the stats.

    Regardless, it's not a desperate situation.

    As for fourth-down, overall, the Buckeyes are 9 for 13 on the season. I don't have the fourth-and-short stats, but most fourth downs are short.

    That ranks Ohio State tied for 22nd in the country and second in the Big Ten, behind only Wisconsin, which is 5 for 6 and also lost to BYU, so their season-long stats are invalid for comparisons, because it doesn't matter all that much what the No. 23 team in the country is doing.

    Here's the problem. You remember those fourth-down stops.

    The awkward Dwayne Haskins fourth-and-1 zone-read keep at Penn State that had no chance. J.K. Dobbins getting stuffed against Indiana. Dobbins getting gang-tackled in the backfield in a fourth-and-1 red-zone try against Minnesota.

    No one wants to accept turning the ball over on downs. But although Meyer is quick and confident on fourth-and-short decisions, it's not a sure thing. It's usually a smart risk, one that often pays off, but it's not a guarantee.

    Every team gets stopped on critical short-yardage plays at times. But Ohio State's failures have become something of an obsession lately, and count me among those thinking they've been worse on short-yardage than the stats show.

    Meyer was asked about short-yardage Monday.

    "They're loading the boxes," Meyer said. "We're not going to run the quarterback. So those are all things we're looking at."

    Missing the OSU quarterback as a run-threat has changed everything about the offense this season, but mostly for the good (see 333 yards per game passing average from Haskins).

    A question last week on whether the Buckeyes were actually more comfortable on third-and-7 than third-and-1 put a fine point on the issue, and drew Meyer's praise. He called it a great question.

    "Third and one is tough right now. That's another weakness. So a weakness right now is balance on offense and those short yardage," Meyer said.

    This was after the Buckeyes were a combined 5 for 7 on short-yardage on third- and fourth-down against Indiana. Meyer, like everyone, remembered the failures, as Dobbins was stopped on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 on consecutive plays to end a third-quarter drive.

    He, like everyone, forgot the five other short-yardage conversions that day, even if a couple barely picked up the necessary yards.

    "Used to be, when the dual-threat stuff, I don't want to say it was automatic, but it was pretty good," Meyer said.

    Let's take a quick look at the Buckeyes on fourth down in the Meyer era, with the first six years primarily populated by running QBs.

    2012: 7 of 9 (78 percent)

    2013: 14 of 22 (64 percent)

    2014: 13 of 22 (59 percent)

    2015: 11 of 19 (58 percent)

    2016: 13 of 21 (62 percent)

    2017: 15 of 22 (68 percent)

    2018: 9 of 13  (69 percent)

    So the Buckeyes have, in fact, been stopped on fourth down in the past. 

    The undefeated No. 2 team in the country does have things to improve. There are some fundamentals on defense, some red-zone play-calling, the run game consistency.

    But just because we all remember a few stops doesn't mean that short-yardage is actually one of their problems. Maybe we just forget when it works.


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    The Cleveland Browns 38-14 loss to the L.A. Chargers was -- by far -- the worst defeat of the season for Coach Hue Jackson. How does he deal with his team's fragile confidence? Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio  -- Same Old Browns?

    Coach Hue Jackson has to make sure that doesn't become the theme for this season.

    How will the team react after a spanking like Sunday's 38-14 verdict to the L.A. Chargers?

    The Browns are 2-3-1, but this was their first dismal performance. Their other losses were by three points.

    "This felt worse," said Jackson at his Monday press conference. "We were ready to make another jump . . . a chance at home to win a second game in a row at home.

    "Our fans were there and they were into it. We didn't give the fans back what they gave us."

    From the moment last season ended, Jackson's theme was this is a new team. This is a new year.

    All of that is true.

    But in some ways, everyone on the Browns inherits the 1-31 record of the last two years.

    It's not a team and coaching staff that can draw on success from the past. The last winning season was 2007. The record is 6-47-1 since opening day of 2015.

    Jackson's coaching staff is so new.

    Gregg Williams and most of his defensive coaches are in their second season with the Browns.

    Offensive coordinator Todd Haley and most of his coaches are in their first season with the Browns.

    Same for new special teams coach Amos Jones and his staff.

    How will these guys and the players work together when under pressure? We'll find out.

    HOW DOES IT START?

    In the spring, the Browns had commercials with Jackson telling the team, "Winning starts here."

    Other clips had him saying, "Winning starts now."

    The challenge for Jackson is to show he is the coach who can make that happen.

    A large segment of the fan base -- and even several NFL executives I've spoken to -- are amazed Jackson survived a 1-31 record to have a third season running the Browns.

    The Haslam ownership believes in Jackson. One of the requirements for John Dorsey taking the job was that the new general manager accept Jackson as coach.

    So far, it seems the two football men are working together well.

    I was in training camp when Jimmy Haslam told the media: "I think we'll see the real Hue Jackson. He's got good quarterbacks. He has some skill players...three really good backs...a good defense."

    Or "real players," as Dorsey promised to find Jackson.

    The idea was to give Jackson a fresh and fair start to show what he can do as a head coach.

    THE CHALLENGE

    The Browns play at Tampa Bay this weekend, where the Bucs just fired Mike Smith, their defensive coordinator. The Bucs have lost three in a row and have the NFL's lowest ranked defense.

    This is a chance for the Browns to get well. But after six games, injuries are starting to hit the Browns hard.

    Pro Bowler Joe Schobert has a hamstring problem. Gregg Williams calls Schobert "the quarterback of the defense."

    If he's out this week, it's a huge loss.

    The receivers are dealing with several injuries.

    Jackson said quarterback Baker Mayfield "is fine" after suffering a mild ankle injury in Sunday's loss.

    Most of all, the team's fragile confidence took a hit.

    Somehow, the coaching staff has to pull the team together so that losing doesn't take hold as it has in the past.


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    Weekly update of Dwayne Haskins pace to break every major Ohio State single-season passing record.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins is on pace to match the school single-season passing record in Week 10, on Nov. 10 against Michigan State.

    Haskins has passed for 2,331 yards through seven games. At his current pace - 333 yards per game - Haskins would tie Joe Germaine's school record of 3,330 yards in the 10th game and break the mark the following week against Maryland.

    Nationally, Haskins ranks first for touchdown passes, third for passing yards and third for passing efficiency.

    Here's our weekly update on where Haskins stands in chasing school passing records for a season:

    Passer rating: J.T. Barrett holds the school record with a 169.8 rating in 2014; Haskins' rating is 188.1.

    Completion percentage: Troy Smith holds the record of 65.3 percent (203 of 311) in 2006; Haskins is completing 72.3 percent (175 of 242).

    Touchdown passes: Barrett holds the record with 35 TD passes in 2017; Haskins has 28 TD passes through seven games, with six to eight games to go.

    Passing yards per game: Joe Germaine holds the record with 277.5 yards per game in 1998; Haskins is averaging 333 yards per game.

    Passing yards: Germaine holds the record of 3,330 yards, set in 1998; Haskins, with 2,331 yards already, is on pace for 4,329 yards if he plays in 13 games, 4,662 over a potential 14-game season and 4,995 yards over a potential 15-game season.

    Scroll over the lines on the graphics below for more details and comparisons to the top four passing seasons before this year. This will be updated weekly.


    Some mobile users may need to use this link instead.

    Rich Exner, data analysis editor for cleveland.com, writes about numbers on a variety of topics. Follow on Twitter @RichExner.

    OSU starting QBs and hometowns, since 1968


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    More context on a major change for the Ohio State offense this year.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Dwayne Haskins rushed the ball 20 times for 95 yards in Saturday's win over Minnesota.

    That's not what the stats will show you about Ohio State's quarterback. But if you're worried about the run game, thinking about it this way may help you.

    Short passes are a major chunk of the Buckeyes run game this year, and Urban Meyer admitted Monday that's how they think about short throws, especially in the RPO game. The Run-Pass Options (RPO) give Haskins a choice in a play - stick the ball in the gut of a running back, or pull the ball out and throw it.

    J.T. Barrett's choice for four years was give the ball to the running back or pull it out and run it himself.

    It's the same option, just a different end result for the quarterback based on their skills. But if the idea is to threaten a defense and go at its weakness by adjusting in the middle of the play, the thought and the outcome is the same.

    The stats are just different.

    Meyer said there were about 10 plays Saturday that were RPOs that Haskins, usually making the right read, chose to pass. 

    "We're flipping the ball out there and making plays with it," Meyer said. "And that's kind of what Dwayne gives you. Maybe J.T. gave you something else, where it was more of a run-run option. This is a run-pass option."

    In the boxscore, Haskins on Saturday was credited with six rushing yards on nine carries, gaining 25 positive yards and suffering 19 negative yards, since the NCAA counts sacks as rushing plays.

    But he also executed 11 RPO throws for 89 yards, completing 9 of 11 passes.

    Run plays at heart. Pass plays in the stats.

    "I don't want to give you a number, but there's some pass yards that are run plays," Meyer said.

    I rewatched the game looking for the indication of an RPO - all or most of the offensive line run blocking as the QB fakes to the running back and throws it. It's easy to see when you're looking for it. But it's harder to account for as it relates to balance in the OSU offense.

    Ohio State has thrown the ball 270 times and run it 290 times this season.

    The Buckeyes have gained 2,600 yards in the air and 1,298 yards on the ground, meaning 67 percent of the offensive production is throwing. 

    According to some interesting stats you'll see later this week complied by our Rich Exner, that's the lowest percent of offensive production from the run game in Meyer's coaching career - by far.

    When coaches and fans worry about the run game, what people often mean is the tailback run game. They want J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber to get the ball more.

    Through seven games last year, Dobbins and Weber combined for 148 carries.

    Through seven games this year, Dobbins and Weber combined for 196 carries.

    So the tailbacks are getting more chances. Dobbins is getting about the same load, while Weber, hurt early last season, has more carries this season.

    OK, so the carries are the same, but what about the production. What about the explosion?

    That, from the tailbacks, is down pretty significantly.

    A year ago, those 148 carries led to 1,002 yards through seven games, a 6.8 yard average.

    This season, the 196 carries have led to 968 yards, a 4.9 yard average.

    Opponents really are stepping up to stop the run, as Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck divulged after Saturday's game. Ohio State's right side of the line struggled against the Gophers, but there were also plays when there weren't enough blockers to account for defenders attacking the run. Dobbins and Weber were hit in the backfield a few times by linebackers bursting through holes, when the line couldn't stop them.

    That might be a formula for future opponents - Haskins is going to get you anyway, so admit that and make the Buckeyes one-dimensional. This is what you are seeing, and that coaches are seeing, and it is an issue. There's not enough push. The holes aren't big enough. Everyone can see a tailback run game that clearly doesn't look as sharp.

    The Buckeyes can and should be better there. 

    But don't forget all this context.

    It's a matter of whether you really consider the Buckeyes one-dimensional. Or, is an Ohio State offense executing effective pass plays, and then executing effective RPOs that lead to pass plays when runs are an option, actually maintaining balance in an unfamiliar way?

    If the defenses eventually change how they play, then the rushing attempts and totals will increase. But really, will anything have changed? It's just the option in the middle of the play will have shifted, based on what is there.

    For the last two years, opponents in the read-option game often tried to force Barrett to keep the ball, believing the tailback was the more dangerous option. So Barrett ran, gaining 1,643 yards in 2016 and 2017, while averaging just 4.4 yards per carry.

    That was what defenses wanted - let Barrett run.

    Now, defenses are taking away the tailbacks in the RPO. Their production is down, at 4.9 yards per carry instead of 6.8 a year ago.

    But look at the RPO throws from Saturday - 11 passes for 89 yards. That's an 8.1 yard average. If Haskins was running for 8.1 yards on those plays, you'd think he was a game-changing run threat. But throwing for those yards moves the ball the same way.

    This can be confusing, so let's wrap up with six main points.

    1. Defenses are trying to stop the run and letting the Buckeyes throw. That's part of why the tailback yards per carry has dropped from 6.8 to 4.9.

    2. Last year, defenses forced the quarterback to run. Barrett averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 2017.

    3. This year, defenses are still forcing the quarterback to keep it, but Haskins is throwing instead of running, and he averaged 8.1 yards on those plays Saturday.

    4. So the running back stats are down. But the quarterback stats when he keeps it are up.

    5. The run game stats are going to look much lower this season compared to the rest of Meyer's career. But understand that with the way the game has evolved, some of those passes are like a run, and they're working and providing balance in their own way just as well.

    6. The boxscore doesn't tell the whole story.


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    After originally listing his Westlake home for $1.699 million more than a year ago following his trade to Celtics, Irving recently sold the 5,800-sq. ft. home for well below asking price and below what he paid for it.

    WESTLAKE, Ohio -- As anybody who's ever sold a house knows, sometimes you have to take a loss. It helps, though, if you make $21 million a year.

    That's the situation former Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving finds himself in.

    After originally listing his Westlake home for nearly $1.7 million more than a year ago following his trade to Celtics, Irving recently sold the 5,500-sq. ft. home for well below asking price and below what he paid for it.

    According to records on realtor.com, the home sold in early October for $755,000-- substantially under the re-listed price of $1,175,000 and less than the home's county appraised value of $800,000.

    Irving bought the house for $800,000 in 2014 from former Cavaliers teammate Daniel "Boobie" Gibson and his former wife, singer Keyshia Cole.

    The four-bedroom, six-bathroom home was built in 2007 with features fit for an NBA lifestyle such as tall ceilings, a living room with basketball hoop, spacious master suite with huge walk-in dressing room, recording studio, movie theater, home gym and another hoop outside.

    Irving is currently living in Boston, though he is a free agent at the end of the season. He recently stated his intention to re-sign with the Celtics. 


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    Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell raised some eyebrows when he took hard-throwing Josh Hader out of the game after the eighth inning in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, but the move worked out in the end.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Nothing against Craig Counsell, manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. Yes, he kept the Indians from winning the 1997 World Series, not once, but twice in Game 7. First there was the game-tying sacrifice fly in the ninth inning off Jose Mesa. Then he scored the series-winning run when Edgar Renteria's soft single  barely cleared Charlie Nagy's glove on its way to center field in the 11th inning.

    It does the soul little good, however, to dwell too long on such memories. Let bygones be bygones.

    Still, I wondered what Counsell was doing in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. He had a 4-0 lead with one out in the eighth inning when he called lefty Josh Hader out of the bullpen. Hader struck out David Freese and Matt Kemp on eight pitches that rubbed shoulders with 100 mph.

    For most of the world it appeared Hader was in the game to get the last five outs. A 4-0 lead isn't a save situation, but managers such as Terry Francona will often commit to their closers in the late innings with such a lead. The thinking being --- why not let your closer start with a clean inning because if someone gets on base, you're going to use him anyway.

    But after dispatching Freese and Kemp, Counsell gave Hader the rest of the night off and called for Jeremy Jeffress to start the ninth. Jeffress, like Hader, had a great regular season. But he lost Game 2 of the NLCS when he gave up two runs on three hits in the seventh inning.

    What could have prompted Counsell to make that move? Hader had thrown three innings in Milwaukee's Game 1 win, just the second time he's done that this year, a year which saw him go 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA with 143 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.

    Counsell was obviously thinking about Games 4 and 5 against the Dodgers. He wanted to Hader available, but don't you have to win the game at hand? If you look too far down the road in the postseason, sometimes you end up going home before you get there.

    Jeffress loaded the bases with one out in the ninth before striking out Yasmani Grandall and Brian Dozier to end it. During the inning Counsell made at least two calls to the bullpen while pacing the dugout like a man who had just out thought himself.

    I'm still not convinced Jeffress for Hader was the right move, but it was the move that worked for the Brewers. They're up 2-1 because of it.


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    The WWE Evolution is about to give fans a first look at an all-women's pay-per-view event. Watch video

    The WWE Evolution is about to give fans a first look at an all-women's pay-per-view event. Headlining the event is a title match between superstars Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella. The former UFC star was double-crossed by the Bella Twins and revenge will fuel her victory. However, Nikki Bella thrives as a heel and will do anything to hurt Rousey. She knows what it takes to win. What do you think?

    PERSPECTIVES

    Ronda Rousey showed what happens to people who make her angry (i.e. Stephanie McMahon). What she does to double-crossers has got to be worse. The UFC Hall of Famer has risen up the WWE ladder, winning the Raw Women's title just months after her debut. She has become a crowd favorite, and she will crush Nikki Bella with her powerful punches.

    Rousey may have had a meteoric rise in the WWE, but she hasn't had a rival quite like Nikki Bella. The last time she turned heel, she put her sister through hell. Imagine was she's going to do to someone who isn't her blood. 

    Bella will score a win by any means necessary. If that means a chair to the head or using Brie to her advantage, she will be victorious.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

     

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    Let us know how far you think Ohio State will go this season now that Nick Bosa will not come back.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State has played most of its 2018 season without Nick Bosa, who suffered an abdominal injury in Week 3 vs. TCU.

    He won't be coming back after he announced on Tuesday that he will withdraw from the school in order to get healthy for the 2019 NFL Draft.

    Bosa was the team's only returning All-American, and he is a contender to be the No. 1 pick in April's draft.

    As for his former team, Ohio State is 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in the latest AP poll. The Buckeyes are trying to make the College Football Playoff for the third time and win a second national championship in the playoff era.

    But without its best player, Ohio State's road to a title gets much, much tougher.

    So how far do you think Ohio State can go without him?

    Will the Buckeyes win the national title? Can OSU still defend its Big Ten championship?

    Let us know what you think in the poll and comments below.


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    Smith, who missed practice Tuesday afternoon -- the final one before the team leaves for Toronto -- was diagnosed with elbow soreness. The MRI showed no structural damage.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard JR Smith underwent an MRI on his achy right elbow Monday, making him doubtful for the regular season opener against the Toronto Raptors.

    Smith, who missed practice Tuesday afternoon -- the final one before the team was scheduled to leave for Toronto -- was diagnosed with elbow soreness. The MRI showed no structural damage.

    The veteran had been wearing a wrap around his right elbow recently and did not participate in the preseason finale this past Friday night.

    When approached by cleveland.com about the injury while the team was at Michigan State University, Smith joked, "Too much shooting, not enough passing."

    It's the second injury setback for Smith, who has had a bumpy few weeks ahead of the 2018-19 regular season.

    He was held out of the annual Wine and Gold Scrimmage in Dayton as well as the exhibition opener against Boston because of hip soreness. When he finally returned to the court for the second matchup against the Celtics, Smith got into a scuffle with Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart, leading to a $15,000 fine. 

    His absence for some of the preseason, combined with a logjam on the wing, has led to Smith having an uncertain role. When listing off primary reserves, head coach Tyronn Lue didn't include Smith's name, indicating that the three-year starter hasn't been able to carve out a specific role.

    The five reserves -- at least ones with solidified spots going into Wednesday's matchup against the Raptors -- are Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver, Sam Dekker and Larry Nance Jr. 


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    What the Buckeyes will do without their best defensive player, and what Bosa was hoping for this season.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nick Bosa's college career is over, his core muscle injury suffered against TCU, and subsequent surgery, leading Bosa to decide to focus on rehab and getting ready for the NFL Draft, rather than trying to return to college football season. Here's what it means for Bosa and the Buckeyes.

    1. Some fans will hate this decision. Some fans will hate what this says about college football. No one is trying to change anyone's minds about how to feel on what's obviously a disappointing day for the Buckeyes.

    2. The Buckeyes can't replace him. But they'll have to go all-in on new solutions now. The plan at the start of the year was a three-man rotation between two defensive end spots with Bosa, Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper. Cooper was also out against Minnesota but will be back this week.

    I think Young has worn down a bit since Bosa's injury. He's playing a lot as a true sophomore, and he's a huge talent. But the Buckeyes have to find ways to give him some breaks during games, or he won't be himself by Michigan.

    Freshman Tyreke Smith, who plays on passing downs, may need more snaps on other downs. Jashon Cornell must play more. Maybe freshman Tyler Friday will play more.

    But I thought the Buckeyes handled Bosa's loss early and have missed him more lately. Young is a top-end rusher, but the Buckeyes can't lean on him too hard. 

    And they may have to back off on coverage more often, because the pass rush isn't going to get there as often as it did with Bosa. 

    No player can fill the hole left by Bosa. So it'll be smart personnel usage, and maybe a nod to backing off a bit on man coverage at all times, that might help the Buckeyes find a way without him.

    3. Can Ohio State win a national title without him? Yes. But he also was the player most likely to make a game-changing play on defense, like he did with his strip sack against TCU. Without that, the Buckeyes will have to take fewer risks on defense, because there will be fewer rewards. And the offense will have to carry them. But I don't think this rules out a title.

    4. I'll just tell you what I think I know about Nick Bosa. He was obsessed with winning a national title this year. He made it clear how much he wanted what his brother had attained as a Buckeye. When I talked and wrote this season about the new group of Buckeyes who had been waiting their turn and were eager to lead after the departure of so many veterans from last season, Bosa was at the forefront of that. 

    He has a natural confidence he never tries to hide. Bosa doesn't worry about his words, because he knows his play backs it up. He wanted to wreck opponents this year. He wanted 50 sacks. He wanted to be the No. 1 pick. 

    But most of all, truly, he wanted a national championship. He wasn't a guy treading water and only thinking about personal goals. He was invested in this.

    5. Bosa was healthy last season and he rotated in the four-man defensive end position share with Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes. They were a second-round, a third-round and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    Bosa was better than all of them. He rotated because that was the plan. But he really, really wanted to play a bunch of snaps this season. The abdominal muscle injury suffered against TCU already robbed Bosa and the fans of that. This decision is the final part of a season Ohio State fans will always wonder about.

    6. The Bosas are more educated about this decision than most families. They are NFL smart, with Joey in the league and John Bosa, the father, having played in the NFL. So this is a thorough decision with Nick's best interests in mind.

    7. The Bosas love Ohio State. They love Larry Johnson, the defensive line coach. They legitimately trusted their sons to Urban Meyer and this staff. They weren't a family with one foot out the door. So there was no plan to bail on the Buckeyes. However, both Joey and Nick were acutely aware of their talents and their plans. They were three seasons and done since the moment they faxed in their papers on National Signing Day. And there were right about that.

    8. Some people were mad when Denzel Ward didn't play in the bowl game. Some people will be mad an injured player isn't risking something that could alter his NFL hopes. I'll always remember Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith shredding his knee in the Fiesta Bowl three years ago after getting blocked by Taylor Decker. That play cost Smith millions.

    This doesn't mean Smith should have sat out, just like it doesn't mean Ward or Bosa should have played. It means every player and family should make the best decision for them. It would be nice if no one got too angry about that, but such is life.

    9. Do moves like this signal the death of old-time amateur football when guys just played for the love of the game? You mean back when Ohio State didn't play three road night games a year? And when the Big Ten didn't have a fake team in the New York area for TV reasons? And when there was no true national champion in an outdated bowl system? 

    Yeah, the game has changed. Players thinking about their futures isn't what changed it.


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    Angel Gray is replacing Allie Clifton as sideline reporter.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- There will be a new face alongside Fred McLeod and Austin Carr on Fox Sports Ohio's broadcasts of Cavaliers games this season.

    Angel Gray is joining the on-air team as sideline reporter. She replaces Allie Clifton, who left over the summer after six seasons to join Spectrum SportsNet in Los Angeles.

    Gray brings over eight years experience as an analyst and reporter to the job. She  most recently served as play-by-play announcer for WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks games on cable. She has also worked as a sideline reporter for the WNBA's Atlanta Dream and analyst on ESPN broadcasts of women's college basketball games. Like her predecessor, Gray, a Florida State University graduate, played four years of Div. I college basketball.

    The other new addition to FSO's Cavs broadcast team is Cayleigh Griffin, who will serve as host on the network's digital platforms and feature reporter for "Cavs HQ" and "In The Paint." She comes over from FOX Sports Southwest where she covered the San Antonio Spurs.

    "Angel and Cayleigh will be great additions to our existing broadcast team," Fox Sports Ohio senior VP and GM Francois McGillicuddy said in a statement. "They bring to us a combination of basketball knowledge and storytelling skills that will enable us to expand our coverage of Cavaliers basketball at an exciting time in the franchise's history."

    The Cavaliers tip off the season Wednesday in Toronto. Pre-game coverage on FSO starts at 7 p.m.


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    The All-American will no longer play college football after suffering an abdominal injury against TCU in week three. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa will no longer play for the Buckeyes, as the junior defensive end announced Tuesday that he will focus on recovering from an abdominal injury and preparing for the NFL Draft.

    The All-American was injured in week three against TCU and has missed the last four weeks. He was scheduled for a checkup on his injury on Tuesday, and the news about his decision was announced by Ohio State on Tuesday.

    Bosa is a candidate to go as the overall No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and is viewed by almost all draft analysts as a sure top-five pick.

    His older brother Joey, also an All-American defensive end with the Buckeyes, was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

    John Bosa, their father, was also a No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft at end, as was their uncle, former Ohio State defensive end Eric Kumerow.

    So the Bosas know the NFL. And they have decided to be cautious with the career of a player who was viewed as maybe the best defensive player in college football this year.

    "I was hopeful that Nick would be able to return to play again for us," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said in a statement Tuesday. "I know this was an extremely difficult and emotional decision for Nick and his family, and I wish him well as he moves on to get himself 100 percent healthy and ready for his next chapter.

    "I want to thank Nick for the remarkable efforts he gave for this program. He is a first-class young man who we have been honored to coach." 

    Bosa had surgery for his injury on Sept. 20, and Meyer said the next day that the Buckeyes were hopeful he'd be back. An outside surgeon told cleveland.com at the time that a recovery time for core muscle surgery could be as short four to six weeks. That would have put Bosa in range to return in the next few games.

    But John Bosa made it clear several days later that there was no timeframe for his son's return. Each injury is different, and the Bosas said they would have no clear idea on Nick's path until his surgeon saw him again. 

    The Bosa family is very close with Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and when asked two weeks ago what his role in this decision was, Johnson said he was just listening.

    "I'm going to listen to the father and the mom," Johnson said. "I'm going to listen to them. We're going to talk somewhere down the road, but right now I'm going to let them make the decision on what they want to do. I'm just an ear listening, giving my opinion. But I'm certainly not going to be the guy who makes the decision on what he does with his future. That's up the family."

    The decision has been made now, and the Buckeyes will chase a national championship without their best player. 

    Bosa finishes his Ohio State career with 17.5 sacks in 29 games. That includes four sacks in three games this season.


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    There wasn't much reaction by the Buckeyes to a situation that no one wanted. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nick Bosa will meet with his surgeon in Philadelphia on Wednesday and by Friday he should be in Los Angeles, rehabbing and preparing for what's next when he's healthy.

    He'll train for the NFL combine in Los Angeles, with his older brother, Joey, the third-year, and currently injured, member of the Los Angeles Chargers. 

    What was the reaction to that reality on Tuesday night after Ohio State's practice, as the Buckeyes spoke for the first time since the news broke earlier in the day that Bosa, Ohio State's best football player, would not play football for them again?

    Honestly, the best description was there was no reaction.

    A few players answered with short, clearly coached-up answers, because what are they supposed to say? He's their teammate and they support him, but this whole thing stinks, and how can anyone begrudge Bosa for a decision that makes total sense, but that honestly, no one wanted him to make?

    Nick Bosa's career over

    Can Buckeyes win without him?

    Bosa's father, John, spoke to cleveland.com by phone Tuesday and his explanation was that Nick's recovery time from his week three injury against TCU on Sept. 15 would be 10 to 12 weeks to really be himself, to allow for the torque and strain that a dominant pass rusher puts on his body sliding around and through offensive tackles.

    Ten weeks from his Sept. 20 surgery date would have him ready for the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 1. Twelve weeks was mid-December, with a chance at limited practice for a bowl or playoff game in late December or early January.

    So to leave Columbus now and ready himself for a very real shot at emerging as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, that makes sense. It's a tough family decision in a lousy situation, and how can a future star not think about the future?

    "That's my brother," safety Jordan Fuller said. "That's still our captain. He just made the best decision for him and I'm proud of him for making it. It's definitely not easy.

    "When you talk about generational wealth, being a top draft pick, anything you can do to keep that solidified, I think you've got to take care of. So I think he made the best decision for him."

    While some fans ask questions about loyalty and brotherhood, the reality in the locker room is that amateur players understand intuitively the idea of looking out for yourself. Not at the expense of the team, but in a real, fundamental way, because if you don't think about your future, no one else is going to.

    There are NFL dreams everywhere in that football building, dreams realized by past Buckeyes, dreams pursued by current Buckeyes, dreams imagined by future Buckeyes. In those dreams, sometimes there are no-win decisions. But for those dreaming them, protecting your future is inherently understood.

    Even if it stinks.

    "This is incredibly disappointing for him," John Bosa said. "He had set his goals and he wanted to have a national championship like his brother, and he really was on a path to having a historic season."

    The program's single-season sack record is 14 by Vernon Gholston in 2007. Bosa had four sacks in 2.5 games, his career ending one minute into the third quarter of the third game. That's a pace for well over 20 sacks.

    Bosa wanted his name on the top of that sack list. An innocuous play against the Horned Frogs ended that hope, and that's part of this reaction as well. 

    That was it? That ended a career? A pass rush, Bosa awkwardly knocked to the ground, a landing that pulled his abdominal muscle away from his pelvic bone, a tear on both the left and right sides - from that?

     

    via GIPHY

    He was a giant felled by a fluke. John Bosa said when the injury was repaired, the surgeon saw fraying that indicated Nick had been playing through an injury.

    All that torque. All those pass rushes.

    So John Bosa told Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaches on Sunday that Nick's college career was over. His season ended on that block.

    "That's the reality and then it sinks in and then you have to disappoint people," John Bosa said. "But the coaches were wonderful and understanding. It's hard for them, too, but the support we've had has been fantastic."

    John Bosa emphasized several times that Nick will return to full health.

    "He'll be absolutely perfect," John Bosa said. "But he'll be absolutely perfect for March."

    That's a month before the NFL Draft, and two months after the end of the college football season.

    But of course, if they could, the Buckeyes would take Bosa for one game in the playoff or a bowl, one half, one quarter, one snap. They would take anything they could get, because he is that good and this team is that good and that makes Bosa even more important.

    Pass rush Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa on a single third down in the fourth quarter of the National Championship? The Buckeyes would take it. But Bosa can't offer that.

    So defensive coordinator Greg Schiano seemed a bit stunned Tuesday night while offering his full support.

    "There's decisions that are made," Schiano said. "Everyone has to make decisions that are the best decision for them. And I don't think it's anything new. We've seen it happen in the last few years, and it won't be the last time we'll see it happen.

    "But Nick, I love him, I loved coaching him, fantastic player, one of the best I've ever coached, and he's going to heal up and be a great player at the next level."

    Meyer, on the Big Ten coaches call Tuesday, offered similar stunned support.

    "I was hopeful, like all of us were," Meyer said, "but I can't say I was that surprised."

    You can know something might be coming and still not quite believe it happened, just like you can support a decision while wishing it never had to be made.

    All-American Nick Bosa got blocked on third-and-6 against TCU. 

    And then he never played college football again.


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    The Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night, Oct. 16, in the opener of the NBA 2018-19 season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 105-87, Tuesday night in Boston in the first game of an NBA 2018-19 Opening Night doubleheader. The Golden State Warriors turned back the Oklahoma City Thunder, 108-100, in Oakland, Calif., in the second game.

    Jayson Tatum scored 23 in 29 minutes for the Celtics.

    Steph Curry scored 32 for the Warriors. The Thunder was without Russell Westbrook (knee).


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    But this playoff battle cry is about so much more than research projects and ancillary perks. It's about Cleveland's promising young core.

    TORONTO -- Tristan Thompson has been through this before.

    He was younger back then, a baby-faced 20-year-old rookie trying to find his place in the NBA. It was before he became a full-time starter, NBA champion and consecutive-games ironman. Before he identified his dominant hand and added muscle to a once-wiry frame.

    Of the 15 players on this Cleveland Cavaliers roster, Thompson's the only one with experience in a post-LeBron James universe.

    It can be gloomy. It can be challenging. The constant losing that typically follows can test mental fortitude.

    "My first year, when me and Kyrie (Irving) came to the team, if you looked at the roster, there were guys that were borderline pros," Thompson told cleveland.com. "And the team was kind of in the still-building mode with me and Kyrie."

    That was 2011, one year after LeBron left Cleveland the first time, sending the franchise tumbling down a dark hole.

    When Thompson arrived alongside Irving -- two of the top four picks in the draft and new beacons of hope -- the Cavs had just suffered through a miserable season, complete with a humiliating 26-game losing streak and one embarrassing game where they failed to reach the 60-point mark. An old and nearly-broken-down Antawn Jamison was the team's best player. Christian Eyenga's athleticism had fans excited. Byron Scott, who signed up to work with LeBron, was the head coach.

    That's the hellish environment Thompson and Irving walked into.

    The Cavs didn't have a plan. They were blindsided by LeBron's decision and hadn't yet come to grips with what the future would look like. Eventually, they felt there was only one option: tanking.

    So the two newest Cavaliers came to a team that was openly trying to lose. Lottery picks were the goal, hoping lucky bowties would yield the right four-digit combination. That's how they were going to build the foundation, believing the draft would bring salvation.

    "It was f------ miserable," said one executive who was with the Cavs at the time.

    Flash forward to now and it's fair to call that a lesson learned.

    Many continue to ask the same question: Why are the Cavs so determined to compete for a playoff spot when history says James' departure makes it unlikely?

    Technically, the planning for this LeBronless era began all the way back in the summer of 2017, as the Cavs made a draft pick the centerpiece of the Irving blockbuster. Then at the February trade deadline, the idea was pushed forward again. Sure, the Cavs needed a roster overhaul to keep the ship from sinking. They needed James to believe once again. But with his free agency a few months away, the Cavs knew they needed youth so they acquired Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. -- three players in their 20s -- along with George Hill.

    It was obvious the Cavs wanted the roster in better shape than when James bolted for Miami in 2010.

    No, not everyone that's decided on the anti-tanking approach was here seven years ago, a time when two promising youngsters learned nothing but losing and bad habits for a three-year stretch. But that experience was certainly discussed.

    Each team enters a new season with unshakeable belief. Everyone has the same playoff goal. The Cavs are no different.

    They'd love to become the first team to make the playoffs in the inaugural LeBronless season. They'd be thrilled to get the extra revenue and bragging rights that come with a postseason trip. They wouldn't mind losing their draft pick if it means getting to celebrate another postseason appearance. They'd like to believe that being out of James' orbit doesn't have to be crippling. 

    Earlier this summer, the Cavs studied at least 10 other franchises that historically faced similar situations and ultimately chose the competitive path. They looked at the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets, a pair that refused to tank and instead built from the middle. They also looked at teams that blew up their rosters and recognized the danger in going down that road. 

    But this playoff battle cry is about so much more than research projects and ancillary perks. It's about Cleveland's promising young core.

    "I think the key for us, and this is really important for the season, is player development through playing in meaningful games," general manager Koby Altman told cleveland.com recently. "We wanted to do it by putting the guys in a competitive atmosphere.

    "What's it look like for Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr. to close out games in the fourth quarter with Kevin Love on the team and try to win that game as opposed to being down 30 and developing that way? Having Collin, Cedi and Larry play with Kevin, they are going to be infinitely better because of that. We want to develop our guys through being competitive."

    That was the Cavs' thinking when re-signing Love. That's why they kept the veterans instead of trying to unload them in the summer.

    "It's different," Thompson said when asked to compare the two situations. "We still have guys that are still playing at a high level, better players overall, and this is a team that wants to be competitive and wants to fight for a playoff spot. For Collin, it's a little different, he's going to have more help compared to what me and Kyrie had and for us it's really on myself, Kev, JR (Smith), G Hill and Kyle (Korver) to come out and be productive. I think if we play at a high level and take some of the pressure or the stress off of Collin and that's what we want."

    Sexton, Osman and Nance are key components. Clarkson and Hood will have a chance to state their case. Raising all of them in a habitat with daily competition, where winning matters, is invaluable.

    Nance gets to lean on Thompson, who has gone through this tough transition once already. The youngsters get to watch Love work every day, seeing what it takes to become a five-time All-Star. Sexton has already raved about Hill's tutelage and how much he's grown as a player because of their one-on-one practice matchups.

    "Going to an organization where winning means something, where you're held accountable and you have goals and things like that I think that molds you early as a player," Hill told cleveland.com. "It gives you that platform and foundation to be a professional."

    Irving and Thompson never got that. It was a mistake the Cavs were determined not to repeat.

    Because of the endless losing, the front office actually had internal debates back then about Irving's value. The talent was obvious. The accolades were piling up. But so, too, were the losses.

    Some wondered whether he could be a core piece moving forward, the right player to pull them from the rubble or just a flashy score-first offensive dynamo. Seeing him so miserable actually worked in his favor. The pouts and frowns showed that he cared deeply. It let the organization know how much he hated losing. The Cavs were able to see his insatiable desire to change the culture.

    Sexton isn't Irving. But he represents what Irving once did -- a bright light in a dim time for the franchise.

    And they want to groom him -- and the others -- properly.

    Perhaps the Cavs will change course midway through the season and try to salvage their draft pick. It's a possibility if they get off to a slow start and a playoff spot looks unattainable. Maybe they will get a wake-up call in the first few months -- all of their training camp optimism shown to be unjustified.

    But, unlike the first post-LeBron era, there's a plan this time. The Cavs are determined to see it through.

    "I think they've been writing us off since we all came together in 2014," Thompson said. "I think me, Kev, JR, we've been through this whole journey together. I think you guys enjoy writing us off and I think we take the challenge. I think T Lue takes the challenge and our front office takes the challenge, ownership takes the challenge to prove people wrong.

    "I think that's what makes this organization special and that's what builds a culture. Always being ready to stand up and fight and it kind of represents the city of Cleveland. Always being underdogs, always being written off, but always proving people wrong."


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    The Cleveland Cavaliers will open the 2018-19 regular season against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night -- a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals, with a few slight alterations.

    TORONTO -- The Cleveland Cavaliers will open the 2018-19 regular season against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night -- a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals, only with a few slight alterations. 

    When: 7:30 p.m.

    Where: Scotiabank Arena 

    TV: Fox Sports Ohio

    Radio: WTAM 1100 AM; WMMS 100.7 FM, La Mega 87.7 FM.

    Online: FoxSports Go apps

    Last meeting: The Cavs won 128-93 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. 

    Cavs minute: LeBron James -- who led the Cavs in points, assists, steals and blocks last season -- is gone. He joined the Lakers in free agency this summer. ... Cleveland is 21-7 over the last 28 matchups against Toronto (includes 2016, 2017 & 2018 playoffs), as well as 15-2 since May 25, 2016. Last season, Cleveland won two of the three regular season contests against Toronto and swept them in the conference semifinals. ... This is the Cavs' first opener on the road since the 2015-16 season. The Cavs are 4-2 in their last six openers. ... JR Smith (right elbow soreness) is doubtful after receiving an MRI on Monday. ... Over 13 regular season matchups against Toronto as a member of the Cavaliers since 2014-15, Kevin Love has averaged 19.1 points and 11.0 rebounds in 33.6 minutes, while posting eight double-doubles. In the 2018 semifinals versus the Raptors, Love put up 20.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block in 34.5 minutes per night. ... In two matchups against Toronto last season, Rodney Hood averaged 17.0 points in 32.0 minutes per game.

    Raptors minute: After being eliminated by the Cavs for the third consecutive postseason, the Raptors revamped their roster, trading for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Leonard played in three preseason games, finishing as the team's leading scorer during the exhibition season. ... This marks the ninth time in the past 10 seasons the Raptors have started the regular season at home. The Raptors have won five straight openers. ... Toronto named Nick Nurse as the team's ninth head coach in franchise history on June 14 after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach with the club. ... The Raptors reached the 50-win plateau for the third straight season in 2017-18, ending the year with a franchise record 59 victories. 

    Probable starters:

    Cavs

    F Cedi Osman 

    F Kevin Love

    C Tristan Thompson

    G Rodney Hood

    G George Hill

    Raptors

    F Kawhi Leonard

    F OG Anunonby

    C Serge Ibaka

    G Danny Green 

    G Kyle Lowry


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    Doug Lesmerises is joined by guest co-host Chad Peltier to break down the end of Bosa's career and what it means for the defense heading to Purdue this week.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nick Bosa's college career ended this week, as Bosa's family told Urban Meyer that he's focusing on rehabbing his injury, and then preparing for the NFL Draft, rather than attempting to return to Ohio State late in the season, or maybe for bowl season.

    So what now?

    On the latest episode of Buckeye Talk from cleveland.com, I am joined by guest co-host Chad Peltier to answer that question. Peltier digs in on OSU numbers when he writes about the Buckeyes for Land-Grant Holy Land and Football Outsiders, and he brought that analytical perspective to a full discussion about the Buckeyes.

    The focus early was on the Ohio State defense creating, and giving up, explosive plays, and whether that can be a winning formula. Then Chad and I took your questions and got into red zone offense, reasonable expectations for the Buckeyes, cornerback play and what's up with the run game.

    It's the Buckeye Talk you know and love with a little twist. Thanks, as always, for listening.

    You can submit questions via Twitter to the @BuckeyeTalkPod account. You can also  submit questions, comments and complaints via email to BuckeyeTalkPod@gmail.com.

    Before listening to the podcast below, make sure to subscribe to Buckeye Talk at any of these places:

    Buckeye Talk on iTunes

    Buckeye Talk on Google Play

    Buckeye Talk on Stitcher

    Buckeye Talk on Spotify

    Thank as always to ShopOhioState.com and MinuteManTickets.comfor supporting Buckeye Talk.

     


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    Despite two losses, Penn State's ranked No. 5 by the Power Index. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - The ESPN Football Power Index is an early indication of the first college football playoff standings.

    And if that's the case, the likes of Notre Dame and LSU are on the outside looking in.

    Starting on Oct. 30, the College Football Playoff committee will give us six straight weeks of projections with the final top-four teams selected on Dec. 2.  

    According to the current power index, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia are the top four teams in the country. 

    In the latest college football report, Elton Alexander and I discuss the latest power index. In our video, Alexander predicts Alabama, Notre Dame, the Michigan-Ohio State winner or LSU, followed by Clemson. And Clemson can least afford a loss, according to Alexander.

    Alexander also took a moment to apologize to Big Ten nation. Alexander did not consider the Big Ten a strong conference, but the power index says otherwise with Penn State and Michigan ranked No. 5 and 6.


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    It went right to the deadline, but the Cleveland Cavaliers and Larry Nance Jr. both got what they wanted. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Here's the story of how the Cavaliers signed Larry Nance Jr. to a 4-year, $45 million extension:

    THE TRADE

    Koby Altman has long been a fan of Larry Nance Jr.

    When the Cavaliers general manager was looking to trade Isaiah Thomas in February, he was talking trade with the Lakers.

    Los Angeles wanted to dump Jordan Clarkson, who still has two more years and $26 million left on his contract. Part of the reason was the Lakers were planning to clear salary cap space to sign a premier free agent such as LeBron James.

    The trade talks became complicated, especially when Altman insisted on the 6-foot-9 Nance as part of the deal.

    In the end, the Cavs traded Channing Frye, Thomas and their 2018 first round pick for Clarkson and Nance. Altman included the low first-round pick because he wanted Nance in Cleveland.

    Frye and Thomas were expiring contracts in the summer of 2018. That was the appeal to the Lakers.

    Nance was averaging 8.6 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Lakers. Modest numbers.

    But Nance is an unselfish, relentless player who values defense, hustle, rebounding and ball movement. The Cavaliers had lots of stats showing how having Nance on the court made his team's offense and defense better.

    Altman believed Nance could be very effective with James and in the playoffs. If James did leave after the season, the 25-year-old Nance could be the kind of player the Cavs needed in the post-LeBron Era.

    "His dream was always to play for the Cavaliers," said Mark Bartelstein, Nance's agent. "When he first started playing basketball, never in a million years did he dream he'd wear a Cavs jersey. That's why he was so excited about the trade."

    Nance may be the first player in NBA history who thought being traded from the Lakers to Cleveland was a great idea.

    "I still can't thank Koby and the staff enough for bringing me here," Nance told the media Tuesday.

    That's because he played at Revere High in Bath. Jaynee and Larry Nance Sr. still live in Bath.

    But the real story is Nance is the kind of player who fits with the Cavs, a "culture guy" as Altman calls him.

    Now, they wanted to find a way to keep him long term.

    A LONG RELATIONSHIP

    Immediately after the season, the Cavs opened contract extension talks with Bartelstein.

    Nance had $2.2 million left on his rookie contract, which expires in the summer of 2019. Then he'd become a restricted free agent.

    NBA rules mandated that Nance had to be signed by 6 p.m. on Oct. 15, or he'd have to wait until after the 2018-19 season.

    "We wanted to get something done and so did the Cavs," said Bartelstein. "What happens after the season is the draft, then free agency. Contract extensions get pushed back a bit."

    Bartelstein has been in the business since 1985. His first client was John "Hot Rod" Williams, who played for the Cavs. Williams and Nance Sr. were close friends.

    Bartelstein's Priority Sports is one of the biggest agencies in the country. Some of his top basketball clients include Gordon Hayward, Bradley Beal and Jabari Parker.

    His most recent client with the Cavs was guard Jose Calderon.

    Because Bartelstein and Cavs have a long relationship, they do trust and respect each other. It helped get this deal done.

    Bartelstein also knew his client wanted security.

    Nance was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in high school. He suffered a major knee injury and had ACL reconstructive surgery when playing at Wyoming. He suffered a broken thumb with the Lakers. He has dealt with hamstring, hip-pointer and ankle injuries.

    He has missed an average of 16 games in the last two seasons. Because Nance plays so hard and throws his body around the court, that leads to injuries.

    CONTRACT ISSUES

    "Larry wanted to stay with the Cavs," said Bartelstein. "But extensions are some of the hardest contracts. You are negotiating in a vacuum."

    He means no other teams can bid on the player. So the agent can't say, "Team X is offering $50 million, so that's where we are at right now."

    Furthermore, Nance is not a high scorer. So it's not like saying, "He averages 15 points a game. The typical 15-scorer gets $12 million a year."

    What was his real value in terms of dollars, cents and connection to the franchise?

    In early October, both sides had to become serious.

    Nance said the last few nights, he was waking up at 2:30 a.m. He wasn't eating.  He couldn't sleep. He wanted a contract done. But he also was trusting Bartelstein.

    "Teams tell players to sacrifice their scoring," said Bartelstein. "They tell them to do the little things - to rebound, defend, hustle. Then you go to negotiate a deal and they hold it against you because the player wasn't a high scorer."

    The Cavs were different.

    "Analytically, Larry was elite," said Bartelstein. "The stats showed he could defend (outside) and be a rim protector. Very few can do both as well as Larry. He can set picks, then dive to the rim (for lobs and dunks). He is defensive minded.

    "Most of all, he is willing to accept the less-than-glamorous roles. The Cavs appreciated that."

    There are lots of numbers, but I'll use this one. ESPN has a "real plus/minus" stat for defense: Nance was ranked No. 18 in the NBA.

    That's part of why the Cavs wanted him.

    DEADLINE APPROACHES

    On Monday morning, Bartelstein and the Cavs knew they needed to make this work. The deadline was 6 p.m.

    Owner Dan Gilbert and Altman were thrilled Nance wanted to stay. They were thinking of adding Nance to the core of Kevin Love and Collin Sexton.

    Love signed a 4-year extension early in the summer. Sexton was the team's first-round draft choice.

    Monday afternoon, Nance had his parents at his house. They were waiting for a call from Bartelstein.

    "It was a meeting of the heads," Nance said.

    My guess is talks started with Bartelstein wanting more than $50 million, the Cavs offering less than $40 million.

    The contract had to be actually signed by 6 p.m., not just agreed upon.

    As the two sides settled on a 4-year, $44.8 million compromise, Altman told Bartelstein to get Nance in a car and get him downtown quickly to sign the deal at the arena.

    Nance 'so happy to be home' in Northeast OhioLarry and Jaynee Nance are thrilled to see their son playing for the Cavaliers.  

    STAYING HOME

    Nance said when he heard the deal was done, "I've seen my parents happy before...but this was pretty awesome."

    All three of the Nance children attended Revere and played basketball. Daughter Casey was later a star at Dayton and now works for the Indians.

    Younger brother Pete is a freshman on a basketball scholarship at Northwestern.

    Nance went to Wyoming, his only major Division I basketball scholarship offer. His parents often traveled to Laramie to see the Cowboys and their son play.

    The family is extremely close.

    Nance wears his father's No. 22 -- a jersey that is a "retired" number with the Cavs. The NBA gave the son special permission to have his father's number.

    "When my mom heard it (the contract was done), she was through the roof ecstatic," he said. "I don't know who was happier, me or her."

    At Quicken Loans Arena, Nance signed the contract in front of most of the Cavs front office -- the business and basketball sides.

    It was 10 minutes before the 6 p.m. deadline.

    The 4-year extension actually means Nance is on a 5-year deal. His rookie contract stays in place. Over that period, he will be paid $47 million.

    Nance has joked he was the only guy who worked in Los Angeles (with the Lakers) and vacationed in Cleveland.

    "This is home for me," he said. "It's great to put this to rest for five more years. I feel 100 pounds lighter."



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