For the past three weeks or so, we’ve been tracking the odds that the Kentucky Wildcats can pull off a truly remarkable feat: becoming the first men’s NCAA Division I basketball team to finish a season undefeated since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers did so in 1976. Since the Wildcats just beat the Florida Gators in their SEC Tournament matchup on Friday, we thought we’d update the odds1As a refresher, to compute these probabilities we plug Ken Pomeroy’s Pythagorean power ratings into the Log 5 formula, then simulate both the SEC Tournament and the most likely NCAA Tournament bracket (seeded according to the aggregate bracket projection found at BracketMatrix.com) 10,000 times apiece. to reflect their 32-0 record.Kentucky’s chances of going undefeated still aren’t quite 40 percent, much less 50-50. The Wildcats did enter the Final Four undefeated in about 66 percent of our simulations, but the biggest obstacles to their undefeated bid will likely await them in Indianapolis. Even if they make it to that point unscathed, their probability of joining the Hoosiers among the ranks of the unbeaten would be just a shade over 56 percent.Kentucky may be a mere eight wins away from immortality, but they still have a lot of work left to do.
VANCOUVER — After 16 years, the U.S. women’s national team is again the world champion. On a sunny late afternoon here, the U.S. defeated reigning world champs Japan 5-2 and became the first country to win three Women’s World Cup titles.The Americans didn’t waste any time getting there, either, scoring four goals in less than 20 minutes — scoring those four goals faster than any one goal had ever been scored in a Women’s World Cup final. Carli Lloyd was deservedly tonight’s player of the match, scoring the first-ever hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final (only England’s Geoff Hurst has done it in a men’s final, in 1966) and also the earliest-ever hat trick; all three of her goals came in the first 16 minutes. Lloyd’s goals were representative of the U.S. team’s play; as soon as the whistle blew, the U.S. pressured Japan all over the field, not allowing the Japanese to settle the ball and play the technical soccer they prefer.But just when it looked like it might be another blowout like the Germany vs. Brazil match we saw last year at the men’s World Cup, Japan was on the board in the 27th minute with a nice turn and shot by Yuki Ogimi.Just after halftime, Japan scored again, and the 4-2 scoreline made it look like a game again. But the U.S. didn’t let up, and Tobin Heath’s goal (the U.S.’s fifth) in the 54th minute became the last of the highest-scoring Women’s World Cup final ever.Soccer is boring, right? No one ever scores?
In July, I wrote a piece titled “The Rate of Domestic Violence Arrests Among NFL Players,” which has been getting a lot of attention recently — some of it missing the point.I based the analysis in my article on USA Today’s NFL Arrests Database, combined with data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest Data Analysis Tool and some historical data gleaned from the National Incident-Based Reporting System and a variety of BJS reports on domestic violence. The main points I made were:For most crimes, NFL players have extremely low arrest rates relative to national averages.Their relative arrest rate for domestic violence is much higher than for other crimes.Although the arrest rate for domestic violence may appear low relative to the national average for 25- to 29-year-old men, it is probably high relative to NFL players’ income level (more than $75,000 per year) and poverty rate (0 percent).But the article has been cited by a number of people to support the proposition that the NFL does not have an unusually high domestic violence rate. While I think this is a fair characterization of my intermediate results — the arrest rate I noted was 55.4 percent of the national average for 25- to 29-year-old men as suggested by the USA Today arrest data and rough number of players in the NFL — it’s misleading when taken out of context.Let’s be more explicit about the different assumptions that can affect that bottom-line comparison. For that analysis, I generally tried to lean toward assumptions favorable to the NFL, with the intention of showing that, even under those assumptions, the NFL appeared to have a “downright extraordinary” arrest rate for domestic violence.But there are still a lot of unknowns in the data and lot of choices to be made about what exactly we’re comparing to what.Reliability of arrest dataA lot of readers, commenters, emailers, tweeters, media, etc., have questioned the USA Today NFL arrest data. They’re right to be skeptical. There’s a good chance the arrest data is incomplete — particularly when it comes to marginal players who are only attached to the NFL briefly.When I wrote that piece, I was concerned about both over- and under-inclusion: The pool of NFL players who would pop up in the database might be even larger than the estimate based on roster limits (because some players come and go, and players are frequently dropped and replaced throughout the year), but it might also miss some players whose arrests flew under the radar.I hand-sampled a number of cases and found that they appeared to include many marginal players with minimal attachment to the league. With the NFL being so intensely followed, I thought the USA Today data set was probably pretty comprehensive.But some readers have made some good cases for why the arrest count the database produces could be low.On the pure data-collection level, I’ve corresponded with an enterprising reader who compared the frequency of arrests in the USA Today data for players with more games played vs. those with few games played. He found the first group had a much higher arrest rate. From this, he concluded that the database was probably missing arrests for lesser-known players, and he determined that basing the arrest rate on an assumption of 53 players per team (rather than the 80 players per team I used) was the most accurate approach (only coincidentally corresponding to the number of players on the roster during the year).His case seemed strong to me but not conclusive: It’s possible that marginally attached players are arrested at a lower rate. For example, marginally attached players may be younger (unsigned rookies) or older (borderline veterans) than typical players, and thus less likely to have families (younger) or be aged out of the most likely group to commit domestic violence (older). Additionally, we don’t know what’s driving the NFL’s overall domestic violence arrest rate, and I can imagine plausible scenarios in which regular players are more likely to commit and/or get arrested for the offense.Another potential problem, as several readers pointed out, is that virtually any NFL arrest data may understate the equivalent arrest rate in a less privileged population. In other words, NFL players who are involved in domestic violence incidents could be better at avoiding arrests than the general public. Relatedly, it’s possible there have been arrests that were either avoided or kept off the media’s radar because of team and/or league machinations.Whether any of those possibilities are likely or not, we should be explicit as to how our position on them affects our results.An appropriate pool for comparisonIf we want a bottom-line NFL vs. X number, the pool you use for X is obviously quite meaningful. But it’s difficult to figure out which pool we should be comparing to, and even if we do know what pool we want to use, figuring out their arrest rate (especially for domestic violence crimes) can be quite difficult.In my article, I primarily compare NFL arrest rates to arrest rates for 25- to 29-year-old men, and then I compared their arrest rate for domestic violence to their arrest rates for other crimes (it’s about four times higher). While we don’t have arrest data broken down by income, we do have such breakdowns for victimization rates (based on BJS survey data). I compared the relative domestic violence victimization rate for people from households making $75,000 or more to both the overall domestic violence victimization rate (it’s 39 percent as high) and rate for ages 20 to 34 (20 percent as high). It’s impossible to compare this directly to the relative NFL arrest rates with precision, but at least it gives us some benchmark for how income level may affect domestic violence incidents.In addition to inherent murkiness of trying to compare across different types of data, there are a few other possible problems with the $75,000 or more per year comparison.First, NFL players have a number of advantages that your typical member of a household making $75,000 and up each year may not. That’s the highest income group I had data for, but NFL players are typically wealthier than that. NFL players spend a good portion of the year in an extremely structured environment. They have extremely low rates of drug and alcohol abuse (especially relative to arrest rates for drug and alcohol-related crimes), and alcohol and drugs tend to be big risk factors for domestic violence.On the other hand, NFL players didn’t necessarily have the advantages that a lot of $75,000-and-up earners do. NFL players may be more likely than those earners to have come from difficult backgrounds, or to have experienced or observed abuse in their families, and in general to have missed out on the privileges associated with coming from a wealthier background.Finally, there are some differences in the data that we don’t know enough about to say what their effect might be, such as:Are victims from higher-income households more or less likely to make police reports that lead to arrests?How does the extreme wealth disparity between NFL players and their domestic partners affect the power dynamics that may lead to more or fewer arrests?Note: None of this has to be the case, and I haven’t studied these factors or their effects on criminality. But they are questions that affect our assumptions, and affect what type of comparison we should be making and how we should interpret it.Even if we could settle on a perfectly representative pool for comparison, getting even approximate figures for each group is extremely difficult. For example, as I noted in the original article, the BJS’s Intimate Partner Violence reports don’t include breakdowns by income anymore. So we have to make reasonable estimates based on several related numbers. This process has a lot of wiggle room in it as well, so we should be clear to look at what kinds of proxies lead to what kinds of results.Different combinations of assumptionsWith so much murkiness in both our data and our aims, the best thing to do is to look at a range of assumptions and see whether there are patterns that are apparent independent of such choices.Let’s first combine the possible issues with the USA Today data and represent them as a single number — which we’ll call “percentage of arrests captured by USA Today data” — representing its completeness with regards to actual arrests, as well as arrests that were otherwise avoided.Likewise, let’s combine the issues about comparison groups into a single percentage representing the bottom-line arrest rate of our comparable population (whatever it might be) relative to our 25- to 29-year-old average. In other words, we’re using one metric to represent each group by our best estimate for its relative arrest rate (which we can compare to benchmarks).Then we combine these two metrics with the information we have (NFL Arrest Rates in USA Today database, approximate number of NFL players and arrest rates for the general population), like so:We calculate the known NFL arrest rate and scale it to per 100,000 by taking the NFL arrests per year in the database, multiplied by 100,000, and divided by the number of NFL players per year (approximately 2,560).We divide this by the “percentage of arrests captured by USA Today data” (by assumption, per above).We gather data on the known national arrest rate for 25- to 29- year-olds, which is per 100,000.We divide this by our estimated relative arrest rate of a comparable population (by assumption, per above).Finally, we calculate the ratio between 2) and 4) and subtract 100 percent — this tells us how our estimated NFL arrest rate compares to the rate we estimate for a comparable population.Now we can chart the result of this calculation for given values of A and B as heat maps. Even if we assume extremely incomplete arrest data, the NFL’s overall arrest rate is still very low relative to the national average for its age range. But if we hold the NFL to an extremely high standard, we can still find its arrest rate to be subpar.I’ve used the same color scheme for both of these (100 percent = white). So it should be obvious that the NFL’s doing much worse with domestic violence arrests than with arrests overall.Note that the difference between assumptions can be an order of magnitude or more. Under a favorable set of assumptions, the NFL looks better than average; under an unfavorable set of assumptions, it’s doing terribly.For example, if you compare NFL players only to the national average for 25- to 29-year-old men, and you assume that the USA Today database is pretty much complete, you arrive at the 55.4 percent figure.On the other hand, if you assume that the NFL’s domestic violence arrest rate should be proportional to the overall arrest rate, you can see that the NFL has a “domestic violence problem,” whether the USA Today data is complete or not. This was essentially the scenario I was leading to in my initial article.
Excludes plays that are obvious passing or rushing situations: when a team is down by at least two scores, is in a short-yardage situation, is at the goal line or is showing three or more WRs; or when the game is in the final six minutes.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Tennessee3.931.0239 Indianapolis3.620.02727 Cleveland4.123.21022 New Orleans5.121.5%125 San Francisco4.127.31316 LA Rams4.522.6324 Atlanta4.217.3732 New England4.427.7515 Carolina3.642.0282 Denver4.021.21826 Arizona3.444.0301 NY Giants4.033.9168 TeamYards/Rush8+ Box RateYards/Rush8+ Box Oakland4.137.5113 Philadelphia4.534.547 Detroit3.318.03131 Chicago4.119.51429 Washington3.627.92614 Minnesota4.028.31912 NY Jets4.030.52010 Kansas City4.722.9223 Dallas4.336.665 Pittsburgh4.037.2174 LA Chargers3.924.12221 RANK Teams don’t crowd the line to stop New OrleansNFL teams by rushing yards from running backs in 2017, with how often each offense faced at least eight defenders in the box Cincinnati3.719.62528 Tampa Bay3.525.22918 Jacksonville4.236.296 Buffalo4.028.92111 Seattle3.318.23230 Miami4.128.01513 Baltimore4.227.0817 Green Bay4.124.61220 Houston3.824.82419 After more than a decade of tearing teams to shreds through the air, the New Orleans Saints made a stunning change this season to their offense: They grounded their arsenal. The 2017 Saints are the most dominant rushing team in football, comfortably leading the league in yards gained by running backs. So the obvious solution for the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s wild-card game is to stack the box with too many defenders for the Saints offensive line to block.But this won’t happen. And here’s what makes the New Orleans offense something that previously existed only in a defensive coordinator’s night terror: Drew Brees is still one of the NFL’s most effective passers, even when he’s leading the game’s best rushing attack. To put it another way, the Saints are winning because of their running game, and the Saints running game is winning because of Brees.Despite racking up more than 2,000 rushing yards by mostly Mark Ingram (1,124) and Alvin Kamara (728), the running backs and the team’s offensive line rarely had to account for eight or more defenders near the line of scrimmage. Saints’ opponents have been unwilling to commit to stopping the run — which is what you generally do against great running teams. To measure this fairly across the league, we first need to get rid of all the obvious pass or run scenarios based on down and distance or game situation.1We threw out any play where there were more than two wide receivers in the formation or an offense was down two or more scores because this suggests to a defense that a pass is coming. We also dumped all short-yardage plays (1 yard from a first down) and goal-line situations (3 or fewer yards from the end zone). Lastly, we ignored the final six minutes of the game because an offense’s intentions here are frequently obvious — whether it’s to play catch-up (pass) or to kill clock (run). Looking at what’s left, the Saints faced stacked fronts of eight or more defenders on just 37 of their 172 rushing plays, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group — a rate of 21.5 percent that’s 25th in the league. The average for all NFL teams is 28 percent. The Saints weren’t the only team that seemed to be preventing defenses from loading the box, but they had by far the most running success. Like the Saints, the Chiefs and Falcons ranked in the top five in yards per pass, which was enough to keep defenses from committing to stopping the run. While the Rams appear to fit this profile too, they played so many three-plus WR sets that teams simply could not commit that many defenders to the line of scrimmage.Playing against conventional fronts even when employing run-friendly personnel (no more than two WRs) is the key to the Saints’ success in generating yards before contact. Their running backs led the NFL in 2.85 yards on average before encountering a defender. Yes, a lot of this is good vision by the backs and effective offensive line blocking. But the fact that there weren’t often too many defenders at the line of scrimmage was Kamara and Ingram’s secret weapon.On paper, Brees’s role in the offense seems more minimized than ever: 23 touchdown passes after nine straight years of 30 or more, just 536 pass attempts after averaging 656 the prior seven seasons, and a Saints career low of 4,334 yards. But this isn’t 2015 Peyton Manning clearly wheezing to the finish line and needing the team to dominate in other areas in order to win. Brees, 38, led the NFL this year in yards per pass attempt, and his 103.9 passer rating was his best since 2013.Look no further than the Saints’ opponent on Sunday for an example of a team that has to deal with stacked fronts because defenses don’t fear the passing game. Carolina running backs had to face at least eight defenders in the box on 42 percent of the rushing plays in our sample, the second-highest rate in the league. And why not? Cam Newton ranks 21st in passing yards per attempt and 24th in passer rating, and he’s more a threat when he’s running himself.But even Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers (37.2 percent) and Tom Brady’s Patriots (27.7 percent) were forced to send running backs into defenses with extra run-stoppers at the line of scrimmage far more often than the Saints. Maybe defenses have been slow to adjust to the Saints’ new offensive model, but Brees’s presence helping the running game find room is no recent phenomenon. Since 2010, the Saints’ average of 4.5 yards per rush by their running backs is the third-best rate in football.The even worse news for Carolina on Sunday is that perhaps no team has been more flustered by the multidimensional Saints than these Panthers. In their two prior meetings, both Saints wins, Carolina allowed 149 and 148 rushing yards. Those are the two worst performances by the Panthers’ run defense all year. And it’s not like they’re stopping Brees either: The future Hall of Famer posted a 117.8 passer rating with four TD passes in those two contests. The Panthers seem to have been caught in between the new Saints and the old-model Saints — and able to stop neither.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
The Ohio State women’s track and field team won their conference championship for the second year in a row on Sunday, successfully defending their title at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. The championships were held in Madison, Wis., on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. OSU was victorious on the women’s side, scoring 117 points. On the men’s side, the Wisconsin Badgers were winners on their home track, with OSU finishing 35 points back in fourth place. The OSU women stood in sixth place following two days of competition, but they made a Sunday surge to come back to win the meet with a seven-point advantage. Nebraska and Illinois tied for second place with 110 points each. Coach Karen Dennis told The Lantern the slow start in scoring points did not concern her because of how many OSU women qualified for the finals in their events on Saturday. “We’ve been there before,” Dennis said. “We qualified 14 people, and that’s what made the difference.” Dennis said she felt the experienced team members led the way with their performances. “The keys were the seniors,” Dennis said. “They brought us here, they stepped up and deserved to take the trophy home.” OSU’s contingent of 100-meter dash runners played a major role in the victory. The Buckeyes took four of the top five places in that event, with senior Christina Manning winning in 11.49 seconds. Senior Madison McNary finished second (11.71), junior Christienne Linton (11.72) was third and sophomore Chesna Sykes came in fifth (11.80). Manning, McNary, Linton and Sykes also teamed up to win the 4×100-meter relay, setting a school and meet record with a time of 43.70. Manning also won the 100-meter hurdles (12.71) and finished second in the 200-meter dash (23.30 seconds). Junior Alexis Thomas was also an individual winner in the hammer throw. She set Big Ten meet and OSU school records in the event with a winning throw of 64.62 meters. Thomas told The Lantern she felt fortunate that her performance helped lead her team to a championship. “It’s amazing (to win the Big Ten championship),” Thomas said. “It’s a great feeling.” OSU men’s track and field was unable to match the success of its female counterparts. They finished the meet with 86 points. Wisconsin led the way with 121 points, while Nebraska (115.5 points) edged Indiana (115) for second place. Men’s interim coach Ed Beathea did not respond to The Lantern’s request for comment. The Buckeye men only had one individual event winner. That was senior Michael Hartfield, who won the individual Big Ten title in the long jump for the second consecutive year with a jump of 7.96 meters. Hartfield said in a press release that winning his event was “a blessing”. “It feels good especially after getting your behind kicked all year,” Hartfield said. “To come back at Big Tens and really make a statement, you know it feels good.” Redshirt junior distance runner Cory Leslie was a double runner-up. He finished second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase; he surpassed the previous meet record with a time of 8:32.48 but finished second to Michigan’s Craig Forys. He also finished second in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 3:42.03. The OSU track and field teams will compete next at the NCAA East Prelims, which will be held in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 24-26.
In what might stand as one the biggest games of the year, the No. 20 Ohio State women’s volleyball team came out swinging in front of its home crowd Wednesday evening at St. John arena against the No. 1 team in the country, Penn State. It wasn’t good enough to topple the Nittany Lions, though, as the Buckeyes fell to their conference rival, 3-0. While the game went back and forth, PSU’s play in the contest’s most critical moments dropped the Buckeyes to 14-7 overall record. Early in the second set of the game, the Nittany Lions roared out to a commanding 7-0 lead. Ensuing pressure forced coach OSU Geoff Carlston to call a timeout. “After that timeout, we just brought it in on the court and decided that we know what we need to do,” said senior setter Amanda Peterson. “It’s us on the court, we know exactly what to do; let’s just do it. We made a collective decision that we’re not going to go down like this, we’re going to go down swinging.” With a new rekindled energy, the Buckeyes started their comeback with a 6-0 run and evaporated PSU’s lead to one. Although the Buckeyes stepped up as a team, senior outside hitter Emily Danks lauded one particular teammate. “Davionna (DiSalvatore), our libero, she played lights out,” Danks said. “She covered so many balls, dug so many balls up and when things looked hopeless, here she comes out of nowhere. She played awesome, and I’m so proud of her. I think everyone just had enough and stepped up at that point.” The Buckeyes eventually lost the second and third set 25-19 and 25-22, respectively. “I think the toughest thing about really close matches just all the time is that you were so close,” Peterson said. “It was just those couple of mistakes that you can think of that you’re like, ‘If I didn’t do this, we could’ve won.’ It’s those few couple of points that are just weighing on your brain. If you can fix those things, we could’ve won.” Inconsistency and making better defensive plays, specifically second reads and balls, were things Carlston said his team needs to get better at. The most frustrating thing to him, however, was the fact that his team hung tough with the top team in the country before falling in the end. “Well, I think we were right there,” Carlston said. “We talk about it a lot, practice it a lot and, you know, after the 18, 19, 20 points, that’s when … if you’re going to win, if you’re going to beat the No. 1 team in the country, that’s when you need to be at your best and we weren’t tonight, we made too many mistakes. Hats off to Penn State, they did what they do a lot, they played best at the end, and you know, it’s frustrating because I think we were right there.” Consistency, as in staying aggressive, is something Carlston has emphasized throughout the year, and once again he pointed out this is something his team needs to continue to get better at. “You can’t make so many mistakes, and we got to play aggressive all the time,” Carlston said. “We can’t play aggressive 80 percent of the time; we can’t play great at 80 percent of the time because that gets you losing by three or four points. You know, you got to put your foot on the gas and keep doing it … We just didn’t do it tonight at all.” Danks said she understands what separates mediocre teams from the good teams, and knows the things that her team needs to work on to become one of the elite teams. “We have the talent, we have the manpower, it’s just a matter about being mentally tough and being aggressive.” Even though the tough loss resonated with the players, Peterson stayed positive and reflected on what this game showed her about the team. “I think something that’s important for us to take away from this match is that they’re the No. 1 team in the nation right now, and we were right with them the whole time,” Peterson said. “That just tells us that we can hang with them. We can do some pretty cool things this year.” Regardless of the outcome, Danks said she was proud of her team. “A lot of teams, especially against such a talented team like Penn State, once you get to game three and you lost two, they kind of give up hope,” Danks said. “I was really proud of our team for coming out just totally believing, swinging away, making big plays and we were just right there.” The Buckeyes travel to East Lansing, Mich., to play against Michigan State on Saturday, and Danks said this loss did not put a damper on their confidence. “We’ve shown that we can hang with some very talented teams, so I think our confidence is up,” she said, “and it’s just a matter of making those plays at the end of the games and we will be fine.”
The Ohio State football team remained at No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings which were announced Tuesday evening.Staying at No. 6 marked the first time the Buckeyes did not jump in the rankings since they opened up the inaugural CFP rankings at No. 16 after a 31-24 double overtime win against Penn State Oct. 25.OSU remains the highest ranked team in the Big Ten as Wisconsin fell in at No. 14 after escaping Iowa 26-24 while the Michigan State Spartans came in at No. 10 after routing Rutgers 45-3. The Minnesota Golden Gophers rounded out the Big Ten teams in the rankings coming in at No. 18.The Badgers and Golden Gophers are set to play each other Saturday to determine who will take on the Buckeyes in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game.Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State rounded out the top four for the second straight week.The College Football Playoff rankings were decided by a panel of 12 members, including Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In total, the panel is set to consist of 13 members, but former Mississippi and NFL quarterback Archie Manning is taking a leave of absence because of health concerns.OSU is scheduled to return to action Saturday against Michigan at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.Complete rankings:1. Alabama2. Oregon3. Florida State4. Mississippi State5. Texas Christian University6. Ohio State7. Baylor8. UCLA9. Georgia10. Michigan State11. Arizona12. Kansas State13. Arizona State14. Wisconsin15. Auburn16. Georgia Tech17. Missouri18. Minnesota19. Mississippi20. Oklahoma21. Clemson22. Louisville23. Boise State24. Marshall25. Utah
Former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore addresses the media during the 2017 NFL Combine in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Sports DirectorINDIANAPOLIS — Marshon Lattimore has come a long way from Glenville High School in Cleveland. From a receiving a devastating hamstring injury that nearly ruined his chances of playing football to becoming the No. 1 ranked cornerback in the 2017 NFL Draft, Lattimore has found a way to keep his dreams of playing in the NFL alive.His opening statement in the Indiana Convention Center on Sunday during the NFL combine reflected just that.“It’s just a blessing to be in the position I am today,” he said. “Because, I didn’t even know if I was going to play or not. If I was going to be healthy enough to play.”Lattimore had problems with his hamstring in both 2014 and 2015, and was kept off the field for essentially the entirety of both seasons. But, after a long rehab process and a few more gray hairs for his coaching staff watching anxiously to see if his legs would hold up in 2016, Lattimore will likely hear his name called in the top half of the first round of the NFL draft.NFL teams erred on the side of caution with the speedy cornerback, and wasted no time getting right to the point about his pesky hamstrings. Lattimore laughed when asked about how teams addressed his previous injury, and said it was the first question asked by many.Whether Lattimore can remain healthy remains to be seen, but the numbers he put up in 2016 paired with a clean bill of health following the end of the season should bode well for the Ohio native.With four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and nine pass deflections, along with stellar lateral quickness and top-end speed, his designation as the draft’s best cornerback is all too obvious.With OSU quickly becoming a haven for top secondary talent, Lattimore was around more than a few current NFL cornerbacks in his time with the Buckeyes. The most notable of those players,Lattimore said, have been New York Giant Eli Apple, Denver Bronco Bradley Roby and fellow 2017 NFL Draft prospect Gareon Conley.“I played with Eli, so I learned a lot from him,” he said. “Learned a lot from Bradley Roby. I wasn’t there when he was there so I just talked to him. I asked him about certains things, certain techniques and they give me feedback all the time. Even with Gareon, because he started a year before I even started, so I look at all of them for help.”The New York Jets seem like the most likely landing spot for Lattimore barring any unforeseen issues ahead of the draft. A team that is struggling to defend the pass and just released arguably its best cornerback could use the services of a cornerback with the skill level of Lattimore.However, the Jets might be interested in Leonard Fournette, would would essentially guarantee Lattimore to drop to the eighth pick and make him a Carolina Panther.And if he is picked in the top 10, he knows exactly who to thank.“At Ohio State, the prepare you the best, I feel like,” Lattimore said. “We perform in college, and then we perform in the league. Me, Gareon … all eight players in the draft just trying to continue that.”The combine concludes on Monday, and the 2017 NFL Draft kicks off on April 27 in Philadelphia.
My overriding concern is to see the mission of the Church of England effectively discharged: the partnerships to do that are not possible between churches which promote ambiguity about teaching on sexualityRev Dr Peter Sanlon Archbishop Welby meets African LGBT campaigners in Canterbury in JanuaryCredit:PA The new alliance will be viewed as a “church within a church” but founders have not ruled out full separation if, for example, the Church of England offers blessing-style services for same-sex unions – a move expected to be considered by bishops in the next few months.Differences over sexuality have already triggered a major rift in the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion and formal splits in the US and Canada after the ordination of openly gay bishops, which traditionalists say goes against the teaching of the Bible. Congregations from three dioceses – Rochester, Canterbury and Chichester – are to become founder members of the new grouping, which does not yet have a name, but they expect others to join.They claim the Church of England’s leadership is progressively “watering down” centuries-old teaching, not just over the issue of sexuality but many core beliefs including the authority of the Bible. He added: “I am not leaving the Church of England – but in order to stay, I need new partnerships and structures to discharge the mission of the Church of England, which is to bring the message of Christ to every postcode in England.“We have set these structures up in a very small embryonic form across three dioceses.“My only problem now is coping with the number of clergy contacting me wanting to know how they can join in.”The Telegraph understands that so far 11 local Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) have scheduled debates on a motion upholding a traditionalist creed-like statement known as the “Jerusalem Statement” and taken part in a new “Anglican synod of churches” committed to upholding it.Of those, five have passed the motion, and six others are due to. Top of their agenda will be discussing founding new “Anglican” congregations in England – with or without the blessing of the Church’s hierarchy.Crucially, they may decide to withhold money from the offering plates in their dioceses, instead channelling funds towards finding their own “missionary” plans. And they are likely to consider joining forces with an existing network of congregations outside the Church of England with links to a powerful alliance of Anglican bishops overseas, particularly in Africa. It came as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby spoke of being “constantly consumed with horror” at the Church of England’s treatment of gay and lesbian people.During a session at the Greenbelt Christian festival over the weekend, a gay audience member asked the Archbishop when, if ever, the church would be in a position to bless their civil partnership. He replied “I don’t have a good answer to it,” but admitted the issue kept him awake at night. Leaders of the ‘Gafcon’ network of Anglican primates which has links to English ‘Anglican’ churches outside the CofECredit:The Rev. Canon Andrew K. Gross/Anglican Church in North America Dr Sanlon, one of the key organisers of the new ‘synod’Credit:Fiona Hanson The Rev Dr Peter Sanlon, Vicar of St Mark’s Church in Tunbridge Wells, who is hosting this week’s meeting, said: “If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality, then this synod could easily evolve in to a new Anglican jurisdiction in England.“The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that he is aware of the possibility that a significant proportion of the church will not accept a change in the church’s teaching.“This could be the beginning of that playing out.” A group of parishes is preparing what could be the first step towards a formal split in the Church of England over issues such as homosexuality, with the creation of a new “shadow synod” vowing to uphold traditional teaching.Representatives of almost a dozen congregations in the Home Counties are due to gather in a church hall in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, later this week for the first session of what they say could eventually develop into an alternative Anglican church in England.Organisers, drawn from the conservative evangelical wing of Anglicanism, say they have no immediate plans to break away – but are setting up the “embryonic” structures that could be used to do so if the established church moves further in what they see as a liberal direction. 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. Some evangelicals believe the Church is moving away from its Christian foundation itself. Eyebrows were raised earlier this year, for example, when it emerged that York Minister had introduced a Zen Buddhist meditation group.Dr Sanlon added: “Clergy like me are not going to just leave the Church of England. However, we need new structures to establish new churches to fulfil the mission that the Church of England ought to be discharging.“My overriding concern is to see the mission of the Church of England effectively discharged: the partnerships to do that are not possible between churches which promote ambiguity about teaching on sexuality.”The Rev Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden, a royal chaplain, said: “The energy behind this new jurisdiction comes from a growing perception that the CofE is so desperate to remain chaplain to a country that is turning its back on Christian ethics, that there comes a point when it fails to be faithful to Christ and in particular his teaching on marriage. “At that point, and it may already have arrived, there will be a rupture and the orthodox will make arrangements to safeguard the integrity of the Church for the future.”A spokesman for the Church of England said a recent process of “shared conversations” involving bishops, clergy and laity would lay the foundations for “further formal discussions” about sexuality in the Church of England. The ordination of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in the US triggered a splitCredit:OLI SCARFF If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality then this synod could easily evolve into a new Anglican jurisdiction in EnglandRev Dr Peter Sanlon
Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said: “When these ships near our waters we will man-mark them every step of the way. We will be watching as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe.”The Kuznetsov aircraft carrier has reportedly been operating its Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets near the Orkney Isles in recent days.Vladimir Putin’s navy is said to be carrying out the drills to prepare their pilots for combat missions in Syria. HMS Richmond (front), a Type 23 Duke Class frigate, observing aircraft carrier Admiral KuznetsovCredit:MOD/PA Two Royal Navy warships are escorting a Russian fleet steaming towards the English Channel amid simmering tensions between the two nations over Syria.Russia’s flagship, Admiral Kuznetsov, and seven additional vessels will pass the UK on their voyage to the war-torn country as Russia prepares to bomb rebel forces in Aleppo. The Royal Navy insists shadowing ships is regular business. They will continue to escort the Russian group and “provide a visible presence south” through the North Sea and English Channel as the ships conduct their passage and carry out flying operations.Commander Anthony Crabb, HMS Richmond’s Commanding Officer, said: “The Royal Navy is ready at all times to guard our waters, and we do that in all weathers and times of year.”Commander Charles Guy, HMS Duncan’s Commanding Officer said: “Our Type 45 destroyers are equipped to do this task very well as the world’s most advanced air defence destroyer.”Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone, the UK Commander of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command, said: “NATO and allied nations routinely monitor activities of interest including the presence of Russian units close to our national waters. This is in the interest of supporting our overall maritime awareness and safety of navigation in sea lanes of communication.” The Royal Navy is keeping a close watch on Russian movements HMS Richmond also escorted the group in the Norwegian Sea, further north of the UK between Iceland and Norway.Elsewhere the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon is due to sail to meet two Russian corvettes travelling north towards the UK from the direction of Portugal. In response, British defence chiefs sent destroyer HMS Duncan from Portsmouth on Tuesday to monitor the Russian group as it sailed towards the North Sea. 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.