I made my first pilgrimage to the Circleville Pumpkin Show last night and folks, I've been doing October wrong all these years.
I consumed pumpkin pizza courtesy of the Heritage Nazarene Church, had some pumpkin waffles and saw some legendary fellow on rollerblades rocking green socks, an orange shirt and helmet going by the name of Pumpkin Man and I can only assume he is the benevolent monarch of that pleasant town.
Folks, the pumpkin show is very good, and if they're not careful, they'll get more of me on Saturday before I have to return to my attic dwelling to blog about The Local Team's inevitable triumph over the train builders to the west.
- Could Ohio State win a national championship with a pass-first offense and a struggling running game?
- Adjust your fantasy lineups accordingly, Blake Haubeil will start at kicker on Saturday.
- Purdue beat writer Mike Carmin speaks to us about the Boilermakers.
- House Money: Our weekly picks against the spread.
- Ohio State football mid-week notebook.
- Five things to know about Purdue.
- Get hype for Dubgate 8 on Nov. 3: Sponsors include Buffalo Wild Wings, Land Grant Brewing, Dirty Frank's Hot Dogs, Yuengling and Jack Daniels. Don't forget to vote in the Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Tournament.
Word of the Day: Morosoph.
STILL A LOCK. Before the season, Nick Bosa was a lock to be a top-five pick in the draft, and I'm happy to report that's still the case.
From Kayln Kahler of SI.com:
The consensus among NFL scouts is that Nick Bosa’s decision to leave Ohio State will not affect his draft stock. “He’s a top-five guy,” says one scout. “He’s too good for it to matter.”
Maybe Bosa would have been 90% by Dec. 1, when Ohio State is expected to play in the Big Ten title game with a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line. The team would obviously have encouraged him to play, while Bosa and his family would be concerned with the risk of aggravating the injury, or suffering a different one. By leaving campus now, the Bosas avoid the potential for that kind of uncomfortable situation, one that could have damaged Nick’s reputation as a competitor in the eyes of some NFL teams. The only harm the decision to withdraw now might have done to Nick’s draft stock is calling attention to the Bosa family’s injury history. Joey has yet to play in 2018 while dealing with a bone briuse in his foot, and John, the No. 16 pick of the 1987 draft to the Miami Dolphins, had his NFL career cut short due to injuries.
Nick can expect to field several questions about his decision from teams at the combine. “Somebody will try to bust his chops about it, for sure,” a veteran scout says. “Some of it may just be to test him to see how reacts. But at the end of the day, this won’t affect how teams evaluate him. He’s damn good.”
The biggest downside to this whole situation, as the article notes, isn't Bosa's decision to shut it down or necessarily even his own injury. The issue is that it brings to mind the family's shared injury history. John Bosa's NFL career ended after two knee injuries, Joey has yet to play a game this season due to an injury, and now Nick's battling a season-ending injury before he's even in the league.
But I think it's fair to say they're worth it, even if there is some injury risk.
WHEN WINNING EVERYTHING ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH. Kyle Snyder reached the pinnacle of his sport before he could legally drink, and shortly after that he beat a dude nicknamed The Russian Tank who hadn't lost a match in five years.
He's too damn good. Seriously, it's getting to the point that Snyder's greatness is hard to even encapsulate in terms of wins and losses, because it just doesn't do him justice. And that's exactly how he wants it.
From Dennis Young of VictoryJournal.com:
The second is more elliptic: He wants to move beyond wins and losses and become the perfect wrestler. It’s not that Snyder lacks a competitive streak. He sheepishly tells a story of when he lost a beach volleyball tournament to his father’s team on a family vacation. Apparently, it was one aunt’s fault, and Kyle told her that she “sucked” and that her effort was poor. But Snyder finds pursuing gold medals fundamentally boring. “Winning what I’ve won at a young age helped me realize that that doesn’t completely fulfill you,” Snyder says. “I always dreamed of being an Olympic champion, and then when I won the Olympics I woke up the next morning and I didn’t feel any different.” Kyle’s younger brother, Kevin, also a wrestler on the Ohio State team, says, “If you want to win all the time, that’s just a hard life to live. It’s almost like when you win, it’s a sense of relief. . . . Wrestling is a martial art, and martial arts, there are always the masters. In a kung fu movie, there’s one guy who’s the greatest, and that’s who Kyle wants to be.”
Because of this, there’s a philosophical bent to the way Snyder trains. Ohio Regional Training Center head and OSU assistant Tervel Dlagnev, a two-time world bronze medalist whom Ryan calls the “Yoda of wrestling,” is most deeply involved with Snyder’s coaching. The 32-year-old Dlagnev, who can still hold his own against his charges on the mat, hates “suffer now and become a champion later” rhetoric. “I don’t want him to look back on his career and say, ‘I was legendary, but it sucked. I had no friends, I was miserable, but I did it.’ That’s such a clichéd story that’s not conducive to real life,” says Dlagnev. “I want him to love his time in the sport.”
Both Snyder and Dlagnev agree that to master the sport, he needs to be more open, fluid, and aggressive. Dlagnev explains that maybe the biggest obstacle to Snyder becoming the perfect wrestler is that up to this point, his otherworldly combination of power and endurance has mostly led to winning. Snyder has more moves in his repertoire, but wrestling fans haven’t seen them yet because he hasn’t exactly needed them. During his freshman season, Snyder lost in the Big Ten final to Morgan McIntosh of Penn State. Shortly after that loss, Snyder came to Dlagnev and said he woke up in a panic after a dream where he had finished his wrestling career and realized that he had never touched his potential. Not that he had a dream where he didn’t win the Olympics, or the NCAA meet, but that he, as Dlagnev puts it, “didn’t see all of me.”
Snyder doesn't want to be limited by accomplishments or by the level of competition currently available to him, he wants to absolutely master, perfect and dominate the entire sport of wrestling.
That's an absolutely terrifying mentality.
CAN'T GUARD MIKE. Speaking of absolutely dominating a sport, Michael Thomas has been almost unrealistically good to start the season to the point that NFL.com used a statistical approach to rank the most impactful receivers in the league.
Thomas topped the table.
From Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com:
No receiver has had a greater combined on- and off-ball impact so far this season than No. 13. In his third year, defenses have ramped up the attention they pay to Thomas, with their best secondary players and multiple defenders accounting for him in the red zone. He's also creating more separation outside of the red zone than he has in years past. Thus, among the players on this list, Thomas boasts the biggest total-impact rating gap between himself and the next closest receiver on his team. In his first three games, he hauled in 38 of 40 targets -- including eight of his nine red-zone receptions -- and he earned (by breaking tackles, earning yards after contact and catching contested passes) all three of his TDs. Thomas' traditional on-ball stat line looked less dominating in his fourth and fifth games (he's now caught 46 of 49 targets, which still makes for a 93.9 percent catch rate), but don't be tricked. His off-ball work in Weeks 4 and 5 helped fortify big wins for New Orleans.
2018 traditional stats: 5 games | 49 targets | 46 rec | 519 rec yds | 11.3 ypc | 3 rec TDs
I said after week two that we'd probably start to see his production level out eventually, but I might be wrong. Maybe he'll just keep getting exponentially better until we just don't have to have football anymore because he's done it all.
NEW OPTION FOR ONE-AND-DONES. It looks like the NBA is developing an answer for the NCAA's one-and-done problem.
From Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com:
In a move that could challenge the NCAA's monopoly on elite talent, the NBA's G League is creating a new venture as an alternative to the one-and-done route for the best American basketball prospects, it was announced Thursday.
As part of a newly formed professional path starting in the summer of 2019, the G League will offer "Select Contracts" worth $125,000 to elite prospects who are at least 18 years old but not yet eligible for the NBA draft.
The G League will target recent or would-be high school graduates who otherwise would have likely spent just one season playing college basketball, enticing them not only with a six-figure salary but also the opportunity to benefit from NBA infrastructure, as well as a bevy of off-court development programs "geared toward facilitating and accelerating their transition to the pro game," league president Malcolm Turner told ESPN.
Here's the thing, this sounds great and all, but I'm not sure the G-League, as it exists now, is truly that alluring of an option compared to high-level college basketball or even playing overseas.
I have doubts about how many top players will go this route. Some, yes. But G-League is full of early connecting flights, long bus rides, small gyms. It isn't glamorous. Big-time NCAA ball still has the trappings of exposure, packed houses, private jets. You'll get paid there too
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2018
I love how he just tucks in a casual "You'll get paid there too" at the end there, but he ain't wrong. Hell, if money is the issue for the kids, they might even be taking a pay cut by going to the G-League over Division I college basketball.
"THAT'S NOT WHAT'S HAPPENING." Speaking of "you'll get paid there too," on Monday, Duke hoops coach Mike Krzyzewski called reports of paid players at the college level a "blip," saying "that's not what's happening."
The very next day, one of his current freshmen was named in the federal basketball corruption trial.
From Pat Forde and Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports:
The wiretap transcript read aloud in the federal basketball corruption trial on Tuesday was a bombshell. The intercepted conversation between Adidas consultant Merl Code Jr. and Kansas assistant basketball coach Kurtis Townsend centered on five-star recruit Zion Williamson. Specifically, they were discussing what it would take for Williamson to become a Jayhawk — and the asking price was high.
“[Williamson’s stepfather] is asking for opportunities from an occupational perspective, he’s asking for cash in the pocket and he’s asking for housing for him and his family,” Code said, according to the transcript.
Townsend’s response: “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way because if that’s what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.”
And with that revelation, Zion Williamson potentially becomes college basketball’s new Cam Newton — a megastar recruit implicated in a pay-for-play scheme allegedly orchestrated by a family member. As with Newton, two schools are involved — one linked to a potential money deal, and one that actually signed the player. Also similar to Newton is the profile — Williamson has 1.7 million Instagram followers and is the Rivals.com No. 5 recruit in the country — and importance to a national championship contender.
This is exactly what I meant when I called Krzyzewski's comments "suspicious as hell."
I don't know if Duke paid Zion Williamson or his father anything – though if Kansas felt they had to in order to get his services, that makes me fairly suspicious.
What I do know is if Krzyzewski wasn't at least aware that Williamson's father was seeking compensation from other schools, or that this happens all the time with high-level recruits, he'd be without doubt the most out-of-touch coach in Division I basketball. And I just have a hard time believing that's the case.
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