Alabama vs. Auburn, Florida vs. Florida State, Michigan vs. Ohio State. Those are the types of college football rivalries from which sports legends are made. This weekend on the northern tip of Manhattan in New York City (known for having the lowest percentage of college football fans in the nation), a different type of history will be produced. The 0-8 Cornell Big Red will visit the 0-8 Columbia Lions. It’s a game sure to be memorable not because the two teams are so good, but because both of them are so bad.I’m a Columbia Lions football fan. I listen to their games on WKCR-FM. I’m attending Saturday’s game against Cornell. I went to every home game from 1994 to 2000, and I treasure an autographed photo with then-Lions and later NFL star Marcellus Wiley.But Columbia enters the game with statistics that resemble those of a peewee football team dropped into the NFL. Columbia has scored more than seven points in only one game this season. Last week against Harvard, the Lions suffered the ultimate embarrassment: getting shut out 45-0.The away team hasn’t been much better. Only against Princeton has Cornell put up more than 16 points in a game, and the Big Red still managed to score fewer points in that game, 27, than Columbia’s highest point total this year (28). Last week, Cornell went down 42-7 against Dartmouth, and that wasn’t even their worst defeat of the season so far.Not surprisingly, of the 121 teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly known as Division I-AA) for which the NCAA provides statistics, Columbia is dead last in offensive points per game at 8.6. Cornell is not far behind, at No. 113, scoring only 12.9 points per game. In point differential (points scored minus points allowed), Columbia ranks No. 118 with -31.2. Cornell is ranked No. 114 with -21.5.The wretchedness goes beyond the scoreboard, though. In each facet of the game, these two teams have been exceptionally awful.The Lions rank last in the FCS with 51.3 rushing yards per game (YPG). Cornell comes in at No. 117 with 88 YPG.When it comes to passing, Columbia and Cornell are deceptively bad. Columbia has passed for 221.6 YPG (good for a rank of No. 52), while Cornell has passed for 179.3 YPG (good for No. 88). Of course, both teams have almost always been behind, so they have to pass in an effort to catch up. Passer efficiency, which takes into account pass attempts, completions, interceptions, touchdowns and yards, places Columbia No. 120 out of 121 and Cornell just slightly better at No. 103.The defenses aren’t much better. Columbia has given up 273.8 YPG on the ground (No. 120). Cornell has done better, at 189.1 YPG, but that still ranks only 84th. In passing defense, Columbia ranks No. 100 with 246.9 YPG, and Cornell lags at No. 106 with 262 YPG. In passer efficiency defense, Columbia comes in at No. 100 and Cornell at No. 118.Finally, there’s special teams. Both teams have made only two field goals all year, and both of those came in the same game for each team. Columbia and Cornell rank No. 111 and No. 112, respectively, with just 16.96 and 16.91 yards per kickoff return. In yards per punt return, Columbia ranks No. 75 with 6.80, and Cornell ranks a pathetic No. 118 with just 2.29.All hope is not lost, however. The two teams excel in one notable category: punting. Columbia has punted an amazingly high 7.25 times per game, and Cornell has done so 6.63 times per game. Those are good enough to rank No. 6 and No. 16, respectively! And perhaps because they have gotten so much practice, Columbia has averaged 34.83 yards per punt, and Cornell 36.34. Those averages rank in the top half of the FCS, at Nos. 60 and 25.So, if you live in the New York metro area, are a big fan of punting and want to see two teams that cannot score or stop anyone else from scoring, you’re in luck. It’s sure to be a riveting affair in a city that just doesn’t care.
The Phoenix Suns are in a bit of a bind. The NBA’s trade deadline is 3 p.m. Thursday (Eastern time), so Suns general manager Ryan McDonough must quickly pursue trades that would send 2014 All-NBA guard — and potential free-agent-to-be1Goran Dragic has the option to extend his deal with Phoenix for the 2015-16 season at a price of $7.5 million, but he can also opt out in search of a longer-term contract. — Goran Dragic to a team he’s interested in for the long haul, lest Dragic walk away in the summer without Phoenix receiving any reimbursement. (Dragic reportedly told the Suns on Tuesday that he does not plan to re-sign with the club after the season.)How did things reach this point? Dragic was once looked to as the Suns’ franchise player.People close to the situation told USA Today’s Sam Amick that Dragic has chafed under the three-guard system created when the Suns executed a sign-and-trade deal for Isaiah Thomas last summer. Thomas was brought to Phoenix, in part, as insurance against the departure of Eric Bledsoe, whose restricted free agency hung over the team all summer. But the Suns found themselves with three top-flight (ball-dominant) guards once the Bledsoe drama was resolved in September. Naturally, sacrifices have been required: Dragic’s usage rate this season is the lowest it’s been since 2009-10, his second year in the NBA.The hope would be that, as a player bears less responsibility in his team’s offense, he would be freed up to perform with greater efficiency. This idea of a trade-off between usage rate and efficiency was advanced by Dean Oliver (the current Sacramento Kings director of player personnel and analytics), who called it the “skill curve” effect more than a decade ago. And it has been demonstrated empirically across the entire population of NBA players. However, the devil is always in the details, and those details are why Dragic’s wins above replacement (WAR) tally has fallen; it was 8.8 a season ago but is on pace for 3.72Pro-rated to 82 team games. this year.Although a general trade-off might hold for the average player, changes in a player’s efficiency also depend heavily on his teammates and overall style of play. When Dragic was at his best — he ranked as the NBA’s ninth-best guard by value over replacement player (VORP) between 2011-12 and 2013-14 — he had the ball in his hands a lot, penetrating and dishing. But a full season alongside Bledsoe (the duo only suited up for 38 games together in 2013-14) and the addition of Thomas have taken a toll on Dragic’s stats. His assist percentage is 19.5 percent this season, down from 28.1 percent a season ago and a high of 35.7 percent in 2012-13; his free-throw attempt rate is down to .191 from .381 last year; his true shooting percentage is down to .573 from .604 last season.Using the player-tracking numbers at NBA.com, we see that Dragic’s touches per 36 minutes are down to 67.3 from 80.1 last season, and his drives per 36 minutes are down to 7.8 from 9.8 a year ago. Perhaps most telling, Dragic is only creating 10.3 points per 36 minutes with his passing, down from 15.1 last season. And according to Synergy numbers, isolations and pick-and-roll plays went from composing 49.4 percent of Dragic’s offensive game a year ago to 34.2 percent this season. Although skill curve theory might predict an uptick in efficiency with such a change, the reality is that Dragic’s effectiveness has cratered on the plays that were once his bread-and-butter. In 2013-14, he ranked in Synergy’s 91st percentile on pick-and-rolls and isolations; this season he ranks in the 43rd percentile.In retrospect, there were signs that Dragic would need to adapt his playing style even if Thomas hadn’t joined the fold. Looking at his numbers with and without Bledsoe last season, Dragic’s usage rate, assist percentage, shooting efficiency and fouls drawn per possession were significantly higher when he wasn’t sharing the floor — and the ball — with Bledsoe. It was possible that some degree of regression in Dragic’s numbers was inevitable.(And for what it’s worth, Thomas is still working out his place in the Suns’ puzzle. His offensive box plus/minus and assist percentage are down from a year ago, although he’s retained his shooting efficiency and even improved his foul-drawing numbers.)An overlooked aspect of NBA perimeter play is whether a player can function with the ball in his hands or, conversely, whether he can adapt to contribute without constant touches. Most players’ skills are better suited to one category or the other, and a player will naturally be less effective when asked to play outside that role. Something to watch this week will be whether Dragic’s possible trade destinations would allow him to play on-ball the way the Suns did before this season, when he was at peak production.
Former NFL cornerback Wade Davis played for three teams in his four-year NFL career. He did not make much of an impact on the field, however after coming out as gay, he has been quite productive off the field.Davis’ work with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or questioning youth has helped him find an avenue to make a much larger influence than he ever made as a player.“I started to realize that — you know what? — there’s an opportunity here for me to really make and effect change, not only within myself but in the world.” Davis told SBNation’s Amy Nelson.“I think, subconsciously, I understood that being gay . . . the way I was raised. . . was wrong, and there was no way that my family, at least in my mind, would accept me. And also that my football family would [not] accept me, just because of the perception of being gay meant that you’re less masculine.”Davis, who played for the Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks, said sharing a locker room with heterosexual players was not a treat. “I never even remotely got aroused in the locker room,” he said. “You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family. Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family.”While Davis is comfortable with his sexuality, he still showed some hesitation when asked if a non-star NFL player could ever come out as gay. Davis said, “I’ll be flat-out honest with you, it probably shouldn’t be if he wants to keep his job. If he’s a free agent who’s fighting for his job, maybe he shouldn’t. I don’t want to tell someone to give up their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.”Davis suddenly changed his mind. “You know what?” he said. “Yes, it should be. Screw it. I don’t want to be in the business of telling anybody they cant live their life authentically.”He works now as a staff member at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ youth in New York City. “It’s a one-stop shop for not only gay and lesbian youth, but also non-conforming youth, to find really great services and a sense of family, if they don’t have that,” he said. “I tell people often that I’m living my second dream, because I get to do a job every day that really changes lives.”
“I deserved the T,” Jason Kidd declared, after the former basketball player turned head coach walked onto the court to argue with the referee.Kidd, the new Brooklyn Nets head coach, made a rookie mistake during a Summer League game when he marched out of the coaching box and was punished immediately.“I’ve seen some of these coaches be all the way down on the other end, so I can’t follow their lead in that aspect,” said Kidd, “I learned real quickly where the box is.”
The NCAA has ended its contract with EA Sports and will no longer allow the gaming company to use its logo and name in their video games. The college sports organization is currently involved in a lawsuit where they’re being accused of owing billions of dollars to former NCAA players for allowing their images and likenesses to be used by the gaming company.“We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games,” the NCAA said in its statement. “But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interest of the NCAA. The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes.”NCAA Football 2014 will be the last EA Sports game with the NCAA. The NCAA said their current contract, which expires June 2014, will be the last agreement.“Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game,” the NCAA said in a statement. “They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future.”
If you thought Kentucky’s chances looked good over in the men’s tournament, it’s time to bet your house on the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team. The nine-time national champions return to the NCAA tournament this year looking for their second three-peat in school history, and our first-ever go at March Madness predictions for the women’s tournament gives the Huskies a really, really good chance of doing just that.Next to Connecticut, things look bleak even for the other No. 1 seeds in the tournament: Maryland has only a 2 percent chance of winning it all, while steering clear of the Albany region gives South Carolina and Notre Dame a 10 percent and 9 percent chance, respectively, of dethroning Connecticut.We’re thrilled to be forecasting the women’s NCAA tournament and look forward to seeing how our model performs given what little data we have to work with. Below, we break down the strengths and weaknesses of each region.AlbanyAlbany has rightfully been labeled the “regional destination of doom” because of the Huskies, who are so dominant this year that their opponents’ odds seem laughable: St. Francis College, their first-round matchup, has about a 1 in 7,000 chance of beating them. Our model all but guarantees that UConn will make an appearance in the Elite Eight — a 98 percent chance — and the likelihood of the team heading to the Final Four isn’t much lower, at 96 percent. With these odds, UConn seems to be a surefire winner, barring something like a teamwide food poisoning epidemic or a player strike against Geno.UConn is led by junior Breanna Stewart, who scored double figures in all but three of the team’s games this season and senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who is the school’s all-time career leader in 3-point field goals, with 341.But the near-perfect Huskies are just that: near perfect. They lost once this season, to Stanford (a No. 4 seed) 88-86 in overtime back in November, and finished the season with a 32-1 record.And even though we give No. 2 seed Kentucky just a 1 percent chance of making it out on top of the Albany region, remember that the Wildcats were eliminated from the tournament by UConn in two of the past three years and may have a thirst for vengeance.Oklahoma CityLast year’s runner-up, Notre Dame, is the No. 1 seed over in the Oklahoma City region, coming off a fresh ACC championship and looking for its fifth consecutive appearance in the Final Four (we think the team has a 58 percent chance). The Irish are led by standout shooting guard and ACC Player of the Year Jewell Loyd, who averaged 20.5 points, 3.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game, and ACC Freshman of the Year Brianna Turner, a forward who averaged 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.Notre Dame will have to get past strong teams like No. 2 seed Baylor and No. 4 seed Stanford, two programs that are used to Final Four appearances, and some dark-horse contenders in Minnesota and Oklahoma. The Golden Gophers have stellar sophomore center Amanda Zahui B., who averaged 18.6 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, with an incredible 39-point game thrown in there, too. We give her team a less than 1 percent chance of getting past the Irish, but maybe not if she has anything to say about it.SpokaneThe No.1 seed in the Spokane region is Maryland, which swept through its Big 10 season and tournament undefeated and has only two losses on the season. The team has one of the most potent offenses in the country, but a pedestrian defense. And the Terrapins have a tough road ahead. Our model rates them as the weakest No. 1 seed by far, with only a 37 percent chance of winning their region. While they hope to win the program’s second national championship, after beating Duke in a thrilling overtime game in 2006, we give them only a 2 percent chance of winning this year (not helped by likely facing UConn in the Final Four).But first they must get out of the region. And Maryland might face No. 2 seed Tennessee. The Lady Vols, who haven’t made a Final Four appearance since 2008, have a 33 percent chance of making it out of the Spokane region this year, the most likely No. 2 seed to advance.Even before that, Maryland’s second-round opponent might be the only undefeated team in the tournament: No. 8 seed Princeton, which is 30-0. Some projected the Tigers to get a No. 5 seed, but the committee obviously saw their Ivy League schedule as unimpressive. Still, scrappy Princeton has the third-toughest defense in the country, and our model has it as the fifth most likely team to win the region and the 17th most likely team in the entire bracket to win the championship.Also in the Terrapins way: Oregon State, with its 3-point happy offense, is the most likely No. 3 seed to advance to the Final Four by our model’s estimates. And Duke is also impressive, with a scoring margin of nearly 12 points per game.For an upset sleeper, don’t count out No. 6 seed George Washington, which despite losing to Maryland by 10 points in November has the 15th-highest scoring margin in the country — albeit achieved by tearing through the relatively weak Atlantic 10 conference.GreensboroTo the extent that UConn faces a threat, it comes from the Greensboro region, where South Carolina is the No. 1 seed. By our model, South Carolina has the second-highest probability of winning it all, at 10 percent. If the Gamecocks do face the Huskies, it won’t be the first time — UConn throttled South Carolina by 25 points last month, one of the Gamecocks’ two losses on the season. But the Gamecocks have a stout defense, ranked eighth nationally. Their interior defense is especially impressive, as they block 6.5 shots per game, and overall, the team holds opponents to fewer than 53 points per game.To get to the Final Four, South Carolina must fight through several obstacles. It might encounter No. 5 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16 and thus have to contain freshman superstar Kelsey Mitchell, who leads the nation in scoring, at 25.0 points per game. North Carolina, the No. 4 seed, knocked off the Gamecocks in the regional semifinals last year and is the third most likely team to get out of the region — ahead of No. 3 seed Arizona State.But most of all, South Carolina must get past No. 2 seed Florida State, which boasts the eighth-highest scoring margin in the country. Our model gives FSU a 17 percent chance of winning the region.Regardless, the main story lines to watch this year are whether mighty UConn can fulfill statistical destiny and storm through the tournament like the dominant program our model expects it to be and whether Princeton takes its insulting seed as motivation and sustains its unbeaten, dream season.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.CORRECTION (March 19, 12:00 p.m.): Because of an error in data reported by ESPN, an earlier version of this article gave incorrect team scoring margins for Duke, George Washington and Florida State. We’ve updated those figures with the correct data.
The outcome didn’t reflect the run of play: The U.S. outshot Sweden 26 to 3 and completed more than twice as many passes. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said after the match that the U.S. had played “a bunch of cowards,” a reference to Sweden’s defensive tactics. Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, who used to coach the U.S., responded, “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”Even if the American women had escaped Friday’s shootout with a win, they’d have had their work cut out for them, with just a 36 percent chance of winning their fourth straight gold medal, according to our Women’s Soccer Power Index projections.U.S. fans spoiled by all the team’s recent success — the 2015 Women’s World Cup title, the 2012 Olympic gold — might have forgotten that past performance is no guarantee of future results. But those wins were hard-earned and never guaranteed. The Americans reached the 2012 gold-medal match after barely avoiding the lottery that is a penalty shootout in their semifinal against Canada, with an Alex Morgan goal at just about the last possible moment. And last summer in Canada, the team went scoreless in the first half of its first three knockout games before getting second-half goals. Just because the U.S. women sometimes made it look easy — like when they romped over Japan in the World Cup final — doesn’t mean it was.In these Olympics, even while the U.S. women were going undefeated in their first three games and winning their group, their chance of winning the gold medal, counterintuitively, was declining, to 31 percent from 38 percent before the tournament. That was partly because the quarterfinal field was so stacked: All of the eight best teams coming into the tournament advanced from the group stage. Also, the U.S. showed some weakness in the group stage, including yielding a 90th-minute goal to Colombia that led to a disappointing 2-2 draw. The team’s rating declined slightly during the group stage from the start of the tournament. Sweden’s did, too, but the Swedes remained a tough opponent, with a 21 percent chance of beating the U.S. before Friday’s match — about the chance the Cleveland Cavaliers had of beating the Golden State Warriors when trailing 3-2 in this year’s NBA Finals. Upsets happen to favorites all the time. On Friday, one happened, finally, to the U.S. women at the Olympics.Additional research by Jay Boice. Tournament favorites usually don’t win — even big ones like the U.S. women’s soccer team. Too many things can go wrong, as they did in the penalty shootout of the USWNT’s quarterfinal loss against Sweden in the Rio Olympics on Friday. A goalkeeper guesses the right way, a usually reliable shooter sends a penalty kick over the crossbar, and suddenly the team is out of the tournament. It was the USWNT’s earliest-ever exit from an Olympics or World Cup. With the Americans eliminated, the draw has opened up for new favorite Germany, which advanced to the semifinals later Friday, and host Brazil, which plays its quarterfinal against Australia on Friday night. (If Brazil wins, it could overtake Germany as the favorite, depending on the scores of its quarterfinal and Friday night’s other match, between Canada and France.)
OSU junior forward Nate Kohl (27) heads the ball in the second half against SIU-Edwardsville at Jesse Owns Memorial Stadium on Sept. 28. Credit: Michelle McDonnell | Lantern PhotographerFor the Ohio State men’s soccer team, home field has provided a much needed advantage.Coming into Wednesday’s game, OSU was riding a three-game home winning streak, averaging 2.67 goals per game while only allowing 0.67 goals per game over that stretch.The home cooking would sizzle out as the Buckeyes lost a back-and-forth contest against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 3-2, the first loss in their last four matches at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.“It was a hard night,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “SIUE is struggling a little bit like we are so they were hungry to get a win. It felt like we were playing against 12 guys tonight.”The momentum was hard to grasp in the first period, as both teams seemed to score at will.Just eight minutes into the match, sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed floated a cross from the right side of the net to the left that allowed senior forward Danny Jensen to slide in and bury just past the goalkeeper, giving the Buckeyes an early 1-0 lead.It was the fourth goal of the season for Jensen, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.The teams traded goals right up to the whistle. As the Buckeyes looked to take a 2-1 lead into halftime, the Cougars continued to fight and were rewarded for their efforts.In the last 10 seconds of the period, SIUE senior midfielder Gabe Christianson was able to get a header to fall off a corner kick from senior defender Andrew Kendall-Moullin, tying the game up at two a piece just before the break. The score would remain at 2-2 for most of the second period, but the Cougars would deal the final blow.With just two minutes remaining, SIUE junior forward Devyn Jambga took a heel-kick pass at the top of the box and launched the ball into the back right corner, handing the Buckeyes their first home loss since Aug. 28.The Cougars brought a couple familiar faces to Columbus.Head coach Mario Sanchez played under Bluem when the two were at Fresno State.“[Sanchez] was one of the best players I have ever had and I have been coaching Division I soccer for a long time,” Bluem said. “When he played for me he was a coach on the field and he is a very good coach now. I have a ton of respect for him.”Along with Sanchez, the Cougars brought to town a transfer from Ohio State, sophomore midfielder Greg Solawa. Solawa made five starts for the Buckeyes a year ago, appearing in 11 games.“It’s always fun coming into the game knowing that you’re going to play against a guy you used to play with,” said Austin Bergstrom, OSU senior defender. “You always want to be the one on top when the last whistle blows. Unfortunately, he got the best of us tonight.”Solawa recorded one assist in the game against OSU.Despite scoring both of their goals in the first period, the Buckeyes were statistically better in the second period, outshooting the Cougars 7-4 after getting outshot 7-3 in the first period.“I was happy that we did create more opportunities in the second half,” Bluem said. “I think we were hurt by some critical mistakes and that has kind of been the story of the season this year. We punish ourselves by making stupid mistakes.”The Buckeyes will have to find a way to fix their mistakes before Sunday, when they take on Big Ten foe Michigan State at home. While just 3-7 overall on the season, the Scarlet and Gray could advance to 3-1 in conference play with a win over the Spartans.“We learn the most from our losses,” Bergstrom said. “I think we just got to come out on Sunday and know that we can’t have any letdowns. We’ve got to go forward having our heads up.”
Former OSU quarterback Cardale Jones chats with Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Michael Brantley and pitcher Josh Tomlin before the start of the Buckeyes game against Nebraska on Nov. 5. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor The Ohio State Buckeyes took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a Big 10 match-up on Nov. 5. The Buckeyes came away with a 62-3 win.
In 2002, it took Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel 14 games to complete his only undefeated season at the school. OSU basketball coach Thad Matta has kept his team undefeated through its first 22 games this season, and is now finding himself jealous of the length of his football counterpart’s season. “Coach Tressel and I were texting, I don’t know, a week or so ago,” Matta said. “I said, ‘Be thankful you only have 13 of these as opposed to them coming at you like this.’” With their 22-0 record, Matta’s Buckeyes are the only undefeated team remaining in college basketball this season, an accomplishment that was reflected in Monday’s polls — OSU was a unanimous first-place selection in both The Associated Press’ Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Though the Buckeyes still have half of their conference schedule ahead of them, as well as the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Matta said remaining undefeated at this point in the season is an accomplishment in and of itself. “We’re the only team that’s still undefeated,” Matta said. “It’s such a long season, and I think that’s one of the great challenges.” OSU junior guard William Buford agreed with Matta that remaining unbeaten can be viewed as an achievement, as well as a vindication for preparation both before and during the season. “It’s kind of amazing,” Buford said. “It lets us know that all the hard work has paid off.” Buford said the key to the Buckeyes’ undefeated streak has been ignoring the big picture, and focusing on each task at hand. “We just take one game at a time,” he said. “We try to get better and better, day by day.” Matta said the Buckeyes have remained so focused on each step ahead of them that he doesn’t think they know how many games they’ve won this season. As for the team knowing how many losses they have — that’s a different story. “They do know that; I know that for sure,” Matta said. “I mean, you have six freshmen who have never lost a college game.” One of those freshmen is forward Deshaun Thomas, who said he doesn’t get as excited after a win as he did earlier in the season. “I used to get all hyped ’cause I was a freshman, but now it’s just on to the next one,” Thomas said. “It’s not over; we still got a long season.” The second half of the Big Ten schedule isn’t likely to be any easier than the first was for the Buckeyes. They still have road games against ranked Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as a home game against Illinois, which led OSU by as many as eight points in the second half of their Jan. 22 matchup. Matta said he knows it’s going to take the Buckeyes’ best effort each night for them to remain undefeated. “I think our guys understand now that this is for real,” Matta said. “On any given night, if we don’t play well, we’re not going to like the outcome.” OSU will look to advance to 23-0 on Thursday when it hosts Michigan, which the Buckeyes beat, 68-64, on Jan. 12 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
CHICAGO – Throughout the regular season, the Big Ten was considered the nation’s best conference. With its teams on display this weekend at the conference tournament in Chicago, the Big Ten didn’t disappoint. Ohio State won its fourth tournament championship Sunday, beating Wisconsin, 50-43. There were plenty of highlights though, from the tournament’s start on Thursday afternoon through the finale. Best game: No. 2 seed OSU 61, No. 3 seed Michigan State 58, Saturday, semifinal round The Buckeyes and Spartans had two close battles in the regular season, and the third matchup of the season between the two teams was no different. Behind a 20-point outburst from junior guard Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes overcame big games from Spartan junior forward Adreian Payne and junior point guard Keith Appling. Best player: Craft The rosy-cheeked fan favorite was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and rightfully so. Craft had what was potentially the best game of any player in the tournament in OSU’s semifinal win against MSU. He scored 20 points, 18 in the second half, while adding nine assists, four steals and three rebounds. On the tournament, Craft averaged 12 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals a game. Best crowd: MSU vs. No. 6 seed Iowa, Friday, quarterfinal round The Spartans and Hawkeyes both had large groups of fans in Chicago, and their close battle in the quarterfinal round proved it. MSU overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to overtake Iowa, 59-56, after a 3-point attempt from the Hawkeyes in the closing seconds was off. The crowd’s energy had a lot to do with questionable calls from the referees, too, as Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey said after the game his players deserved a “better fate.” Best shot: Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul’s buzzer beater against Minnesota, Thursday, first round With the game tied, Paul got the ball at the top of the key with the seconds ticking down. He waited until about the six-second mark to make his move. Paul dribbled hard to the left elbow, crossed over, stepped back, and hit a fadeaway jumper that flushed through the net to give the Illini a 51-49 victory. Biggest surprise: Indiana not making the tournament final The Hoosiers were widely considered the conference’s most talented team throughout the season. Indiana has experienced skill, too, with its best players nearly all having big-time roles last year. They came into Chicago as the No. 1 seed, but Wisconsin best the Hoosiers, 68-56, behind 16 points from senior forward Ryan Evans.
Senior guard Aaron Craft (4) looks for an opening during an exhibition game against Walsh Nov. 3 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 93-63.Credit: Kelly Roderick / For The LanternThe 2013-14 basketball season is under way for the Ohio State Buckeyes.No. 11 OSU beat Walsh University in an exhibition game, 93-63, Sunday in the team’s first action of the season.Walsh sophomore guard Jesse Hardin scored a game-high 18 points. OSU senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. and junior forward LaQuinton Ross each poured in 15 to lead a balanced attack for the Buckeyes, who had five players score in double figures.After leading 49-26 at the half, OSU was slow out of the gate in the second half. Each of the Buckeyes’ first three offensive possessions ended with a turnover, two of which were committed by junior center Amir Williams.Walsh was able to get the margin down to 19 with a 3-pointer by senior forward Hrvoje Vucic with 17:04 remaining. But an 11-2 OSU run, capitalized by an inbound pass alley-oop from senior guard Aaron Craft to junior forward Sam Thompson, put the game out of reach.OSU coach Thad Matta said although Walsh played well on defense, his team did not capitalize on what mistakes their opponent did make.“We didn’t take good care of (the basketball), especially in the second half,” Matta said.The Cavaliers scored 12 points off of OSU’s 18 turnovers.OSU didn’t begin the game particularly strongly, either.“To start the game, we missed three or four lay-ups there. We didn’t have the flow we were looking for offensively,” Matta said. “We were holding the ball a little bit too long.”Williams missed a shot from close range on the Buckeyes’ second trip down the court and was substituted out shortly thereafter, but said he didn’t let the miss affect the way he played.Williams said OSU associate head coach Dave Dickerson told him in the team’s shoot-around, “Don’t let your first and second shot determine the outcome of how you play the rest of the game.”Williams would finish the game with eight points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and three steals over 19 minutes of action.The Buckeyes and Cavaliers exchanged the lead four times in the opening minutes before Thompson put his team ahead for good with a free throw at the 15:13 mark.OSU made half of its 60 shots from the floor, including four of nine from behind the arc.The Buckeyes made 19 of 24 (79 percent) free throws, while Walsh only attempted two free throws in the first half, making one.OSU is set to tip-off its regular season Nov. 9 against Morgan State at noon in Schottenstein Center.
Binghamton junior forward Alex Varkatzas (9) slides into OSU senior midfielder Kyle Culbertson (3) for the ball during an August 30. match at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU lost 0-1. Photo Credit: Muyao Shen / Assist. Photo EditorThe Ohio State men’s soccer team is prepared to open Big Ten play in the third game of its four-game road trip at Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire.The Buckeyes are scheduled to face the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday in Bridgeview, Illinois, at 8 p.m.OSU (1-3-0) is coming off a two-game weekend road trip in which it suffered losses against No.17 University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Navy.The Buckeyes outplayed their opponent in the first half of the game against UMBC, but the Retrievers fought back in the second half.OSU fought hard to try and sustain the momentum it had going to get a victory, but UMBC proved to be the better team at the end of the game with a 1-0 victory over the Scarlet and Gray.“Against UMBC, we definitely should have won,” junior defender and co-captain Tyler Kidwell said. “I thought we had some chances and they had a few chances, but they put them away and that kind of was the difference.”The Buckeyes looked as if the first loss of the weekend had affected them mentally going into Sunday’s match against Navy. The Buckeyes struggled to compete with the Midshipmen, as they were shutout, 3-0.“I think maybe we were down from the tough loss Friday, and from the get-go, Navy gave a great effort and were all over us,” Buckeyes senior midfielder and co-captain Zach Mason said.Kidwell said that despite the two losses, the team will continue to work hard to get a win.“We have an extremely talented team, probably one of the most talented teams since I’ve been here,” Kidwell said. “We’ve just got to keep going and grinding it out.”Mason also said that the team is confident and will be fine as long as the players and coaches stick to everything they know.“We have all the pieces to win games and we have the philosophy so I think that as long as we stick to what we know and execute our game plans, we’ll be fine,” Mason said. “It’s a confident bunch, it’s just a bit of a hardship, but we’ll bounce back.”CLASS actMason was announced as a candidate for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award on Thursday. To be eligible for the award, a student athlete must show achievements in the following four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.“It is truly an honor to be nominated for the Senior CLASS award,” Mason said in an online release from OSU. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a student athlete at Ohio State and extremely humbled to be considered for such a great honor.”A committee will select the top ten finalists from a list of 30 candidates in October. Those finalists will then be placed on a ballot for a nationwide vote. One male and one female will be selected for the award and those winners will be announced at the 2015 NCAA Men’s and Women’s College Cup championships in December.Last season, former OSU goalkeeper Alex Ivanov won the award, joining linebacker James Laurinaitis in 2008 as the two Buckeyes to win for their respective sports.Looking aheadFollowing Friday’s action, the OSU men’s soccer team is scheduled to travel to Akron, Ohio, to face the Akron Zips on Sept. 16.
Ohio State redshirt junior cornerback Denzel Ward prepares for a play during the Buckeyes’ season-opening 49-21 win over Indiana on Aug. 31 in Bloomington, Indiana. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIndiana quarterback Richard Lagow made it clear early that the Hoosiers’ offensive game plan was to attack an Ohio State secondary that lost both starting cornerbacks and a starting safety from a season ago.For the most part, that plan proved effective as Lagow finished the game 40-for-65 in pass attempts with 410 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, even though Indiana lost 49-21.“Our defense was exposed big time in the first half. Our pass defense was awful,” Meyer said Thursday. “It was not complicated, they were just picking on the corners.”Playing against a quarterback in Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma on Saturday, Ohio State’s secondary is going to be in for another major challenge. Mayfield finished his team’s season opener 19-for-20 with 329 passing yards and three touchdown passes en route to a 56-7 beatdown of University of Texas-El Paso.Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said Monday that defending against an athlete like Mayfield could provide his secondary with issues, if it doesn’t step up its game from this past weekend.“[Mayfield]’s got incredible arm strength, and when I say incredible, he can really throw the ball down the field,” Schiano said. “He is most anxious when he has a little bit of space and he can let receivers down the field because he has a strong-enough arm to go roll over there and throw it all the way back over there. And you saw it in our game, he had a touchdown on us last year.”In its matchup against another gifted quarterback in Lagow, Ohio State seemed to get off to a slow start.Through the first half of the game, Lagow showed no hesitation, frequently passing into what had been a hyped up secondary for Ohio State. He targeted Denzel Ward — the third man in the three-man cornerback rotation last season — 10 times during the half and managed to complete three of those passes for a total of 29 yards and a touchdown, the first Ward had ever surrendered.By the time the half was over, Indiana gained at least 15 passing yards on eight occasions. Of those, five were allowed by the fresh-faced cornerbacks.“We gave up three plays of plus-25 yards or more. You can’t do that,” Schiano said. “They made some plays on us. In looking at it, it was a group of guys that have played some, but haven’t started, haven’t been in that role.”But the inexperience was not the only cause for struggles among the corners.Indiana’s leading receiver for the game, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Simmie Cobbs, trounced all over Ward and Kendall Sheffield — his two primary defenders — in the first half. He had no trouble leaping over the 5-foot-10 Ward and six-foot Sheffield, making acrobatic catches and back-shoulder fades as though it were nothing more than practice on his way to 98 receiving yards and a touchdown on just seven first-half receptions. He finished the game with 149 receiving yards with 11 receptions.Meyer said the difference in height can put a corner at a disadvantage, but that the gap should not be enough of an obstacle to allow for blown coverage.“Everyone wants a 6-foot-1 corner. There’s not many of them out there. We had Eli [Apple], Marshon [Lattimore] and Gareon [Conley] were all the long corners. Denzel, he’s not that small, but you have to be exceptional in technique,” Meyer said. “Obviously the vertical jump, to be able to knock a ball out, we practice the heck out of that. That’s much more difficult. Can be done, though.”And it seemed that in the second half, the gap in height seemed to have much less of an impact on the corners. With 10:11 remaining in the game, Lagow again looked Ward’s way to another 6-foot-4 receiver, Donovan Hale, and attempted to complete what would have been a 20-yard pass. But this time, Ward won the battle and came down with an interception.The improved play in the second half came not just from Ward, but also from the rest of the secondary. The unit held Lagow to just 151 second-half passing yards and one touchdown after he tallied 286 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air in the first half.“I was concerned a little bit during the first half, but I was pleased the way they rebounded in the second half,” Schiano said. “Hopefully they’ve got some experience under their belt now and we can move forward.”Schiano added that with the pressure of the position of cornerback, the unit will need to continue to exhibit a similar performance level moving forward if it is going to live up to the lofty standard set at Ohio State.“Around here, the standard is you don’t allow catches,” Schiano said. “When you play corner, it’s not the five you made that stick out, it’s the two you missed. And that’s the position. If you don’t like it, go play something else.”
Two pilots were left stunned when their passenger jet was involved in a near-miss with a large drone.They spotted the gadget, which had multiple arms and up to eight rotors, on the approach to Heathrow Airport in west London, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) said.They both exclaimed: “Was that a drone? At 10,000 feet!”There was “no time to react” as they watched the flying object for around five seconds as it passed down the right side of the plane, according to the report. File photo dated 01/07/15 of a plane taking off at Heathrow airportCredit:PA Show more Police officers at the airport were alerted to the near-miss, but the drone operator could not be traced.The pilots estimated the separation between the aircraft and the drone to be 100 feet (30 metres) vertically and 200 metres (656 feet) horizontally.The UKAB concluded that “safety was not assured” during the incident on November 11 last year, and determined the risk to be the second most serious category.It was one of four near-misses between aircraft and drones in the latest monthly UKAB report, bringing the total over the past 12 months to 59.Civil Aviation Authority rules state that drones must not be flown above 400 feet or near airports or airfields.In November it launched a website to publish its revised code of conduct for drones, called the dronecode.Ministers are considering mandatory registration for new drones to crack down on reckless users.The proposal is part of a Department for Transport consultation on improving drone safety. It is hoped the scheme could help authorities identify the owners of drones being flown illegally. 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.
Launceston College in CornwallCredit:Wessex news agency The Facebook post on Launceston Notice Board prompted a furious reaction with many people condemning the college.There were also hundreds of offers of support for his charity fundraising and Taylor has now set up a JustGiving page to raise more money for Cancer Research UK.Jobi Hovis Hold wrote: “Absolutely horrified reading this! Shame on you Launceston College……..I suppose you’d put a student having gone through chemo in isolation too for not having hair! Disgraceful.”Stephanie Barret said it was “absolutely shameful” of the college, adding: “You should be making a positive example of this young man’s achievement.”Launceston College said Taylor would be having individual specialist tuition for the four days.Principal Bryan Maywood told the BBC: “After this period his hair will no longer be considered an extreme hairstyle; he will return to normal lessons.””Launceston College respects Taylor’s impressive collection made for Cancer Research but unfortunately it was not planned with College expectations in mind... The ‘Brave the Shave’ Macmillan Cancer Support website is very clear about procedures for undertaking these charity events and stresses the need to seek permission from school.” A teenager who shaved his unruly hair to raise hundreds of pounds for a cancer charity has been put in isolation on his return to school.Taylor Jones, 15, lost his locks in a sponsored trim at the weekend and raised £850 for Cancer Research.But when he went back to Launceston College in Cornwall he was ordered straight into isolation because of his “extreme haircut”. His father added: “I’m very angry about it. Taylor has been made very upset, I’ve persuaded him to go back in tomorrow.”He’s nearly 16 so trying to dictate what length his hair should be is a bit ridiculous. They’re basically saying if you’re bald that’s not an acceptable look.”The deputy principal spoke to me and said they were trying to teach children there are rules to follow.”It sounds like a dictatorship to me. It is petty red tape and it’s not helping anybody.”We’ve been bowled over by the support he’s got.”A friend posted on Facebook: “We thought our school wouldn’t mind what he had done as it was for a good cause, apparently the fact that he’d raised over £850 pounds wasn’t good enough and before he had even gotten to his first lesson they put him in isolation labeling it an “extreme haircut”, telling him that he’s not able to return to normal lessons until his hair grows back to a more a more suitable length.”This is not only bad because of the fact it was for cancer but also that his GCSEs are coming up and they’re making him miss out on vital lessons that could boost his chances of being successful in them (not really what you’d expect from a place that’s supposed to be setting up children for the future).”Personally I don’t think it’s fair to punish a student for trying to do something that should be celebrated just because our school is so caught up in its own image.” Taylor, who is due to take his GCSEs in less than a month, has been told he cannot return to lessons until his hair grows back to a more suitable length.But as a result of the row more people have donated to his fundraising drive and boosted his effort.His dad Nick Jones accused the school of acting like a “dictatorship”.He said his son was so upset after his first day in isolation he had to persuade him to go into school the next day.He said: “He has been growing it for a while and it had got very unruly and most people said his previous hairstyle was more of an extreme haircut than this is. “We did try to get him to do it in the first week of the holidays, but unfortunately the people who were going to cut his hair weren’t available, so he decided he would take the consequences and do it on Saturday.”Taylor returned to school after the Easter holidays and was almost immediately put in the Internal Exclusion Room.He was told he would be forced to spend break times, lunchtimes and lessons there until his hair grew back. Taylor Jones’s “extreme” haircut 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.
Posters and appeals for the missing have been put up in streets around Grenfell Tower, following the devastating blazeCredit:Nick Edwards 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. Maria Jafari cannot forgive herself for leaving her father Ali behind to investigate the commotion she heard as the fire at Grenfell Tower began.By the time she realised the severity of the situation firefighters refused to let her go back into the burning building for her own safety.Now her father is among those feared killed after the blaze consumed the 23-storey tower in west London.By a miracle her sister Nadia survived the blaze after she managed to stumble out of the building.Last night Maria said: “I wish I could have saved my father. But I didn’t know. If I’d known the fire was this big I would have taken him with me. But I thought he’d be safe. I just closed the window and let him sleep.”Hers is one one of dozens of heartrending stories to emerge from this national tragedy. For the Jafari family it began when Maria noticed something was happening below their 11th floor flat in the early hours of Wednesday morning.She told The Telegraph: “I saw the shadow of the fire on the street, and police and people running. I said to my mother ‘let’s go downstairs to see what’s going on’. My father – he was sleeping; I didn’t want to disturb him.” “Ernie was staying with his mother, they were on the 16th floor,” said Ms Delson, 45, who lives near to the tower. “We’ve been to all the hospitals to look for them. Marjorie has been living in the flat almost since it was built. She moved over here from Dominica when she was a girl. She is well known in the community.”Ms Delson said that her own children were classmates at Kensington Academy with several children from Grenfell Tower. “My children have lost a lot of their friends,” she said.In the meantime more than 50,000 people have signed a petition to bring the parents of a Syrian refugee killed in the fire to the UK for his funeral.Mohammed Alhajali, a 23-year old Syrian refugee, was the first confirmed victim of the blaze, while his older brother Omar – who was with him in the flat – survived after they were separated on the way out. What happened next is unclear, but it is believed Nadia was rescued by a firefighter, while her father lost consciousness in the lift or a few paces from it.“They couldn’t breath,” said Maria. “If normal people couldn’t breath, how could my father – he’s a heart patient?”Fighting against the choking smoke Nadia managed to stumble out of the building, but her father, has not been seen since.Around five or ten harrowing minutes later Maria was reunited with Nadia, as she stumbled clear of the tower, coughing and with a blackened face.She managed to splutter just seven words: “I lost my father in the lift.”Nadia was treated in hospital but has since been discharged.Maria yesterday condemned what she said was the shoddy way Grenfell Tower had been repaired and refurbished.“We are really angry. There was no fire alarm. No water. They don’t think about our safety,” she said, criticising the building’s management, KCTMO, for “buying cheap material” with which to clad the building. “Money is not important. Life is important. No one can bring the life back.”The were growing fears last night that the flames that claimed Maria’s father may have also killed as many as 15 children who attended a nursery on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower. Marjorie Vital and her son Ernie, feared dead in the Grenfell Tower fireCredit:Family poster Grenfell Creche Under Threes Centre confirmed several young children who attend the creche and live in the block were unaccounted for, but would not say how many.Nursery manager Shirley Sylvester said: “We’re completely devastated.”Ish Murray, 35, whose sister works at the nursery, said: “These are babies and three year-olds. It’s tragic.”Mimi Delson last night told how she feared her 67-year-old aunt Marjorie Vital and her cousin Ernie, 43, had also been killed in the fire. Ms Jafari shut the windows in the flat and, with her mother, descended to the ground floor in the lift which just seconds later would become a death trap.“When I went downstairs I looked up and saw the fire on the tenth floor,” she said. “I thought it’s going to go to my floor. I called my sister – I wanted to say “come out, there’s a fire”, but the phone didn’t work.“I was shouting “I’m going back to take my father out”, but they [firefighters] said ‘you can’t go back upstairs’.”Ms Jafari told the emergency crews her 82-year-old father was a heart patient and gave them the keys to her flat.In the meantime, upstairs, Mr Jafari and 27-year-old Nadia were struggling the escape the growing inferno.Shortly after Maria had left the flat, Nadia realised she had to get her father out so took him into the corridor.The elderly man was so terrified of the naked gas pipes in the stairwells he tried to escape with his daughter by using the lift, but after descending just one floor it filled with choking smoke.“They both said let’s go in the lift, it will go quickly. Because on the stairs they put the pipes for us; they were planning for our death,” said a traumatised Maria. His family said: “Mohammad was a very amazing and kind person. He gave love to everyone. He came to the UK because he had ambitions and aims for his life and for his family. Our whole family will miss Mohammad dearly and he will never be forgotten. To God we belong and to him we return.”Mirna Suleiman, 26, a family friend, launched the petition because of the difficulties faced by Syrians in travelling to Britain.”I’ve tried to apply for a visa for my nan in Syria – appealed and appealed and got no response,” she said.The percentage of rejected visa applications for visits from Syria has soared after the country’s devastating civil war began in 2011. The Home Office has indicated that it will allow Mr Alhajali’s family to come to the UK on compassionate grounds.
Sir John recalled his reaction on reading that: “You’re giving away far too much. You’re making a binding commitment by one sovereign government to another which you can’t fulfil. You’re not in a position to fulfil it. I mean he didn’t even know the legal position at that point.”Mr Blair said when the report was released that he took responsibility for shortcomings identified by Sir John’s report and felt “more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know” for the grief of those whose loved ones died.But he said he still believed he was right to remove Saddam and insisted that the inquiry’s findings should “lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit”.Blair may face private prosecutionOn Wednesday it emerged a former chief-of-staff of the Iraqi army is seeking to bring a private prosecution against Mr Blair over the war.General Abdul Wahed Shannan Al Rabbat alleges Mr Blair committed “the crime of aggression” by invading Iraq.Alongside the former PM, the general has mounted a legal fight against two other key ministers at the time, then foreign secretary Jack Straw and then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.Westminster Magistrates’ Court refused to issue summonses in November citing immunity granted to former ministers. Asked whether Mr Blair gave the fullest version of events, Sir John replied: “I think it was from his perspective and standpoint, emotionally truthful and I think that came out also in his press conference after the launch statement. A combination of still images from video shows former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking at an inquiry into Britain’s role in the Iraq WarCredit:Reuters The general has applied to the High Court in London for permission to seek judicial review of the magistrates court decision. Sir John Chilcot has said he does not believe Tony Blair was “straight with the nation” about his decisions in the run-up to the Iraq War.The chairman of the public inquiry into the 2003 conflict said the former prime minister had been “emotionally truthful” in his account of events leading up to the war.In an interview with the BBC Sir John was then asked if Mr Blair was as truthful with him and the public as he should have been during the seven-year inquiry. 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. Blair wanted to exert influence on AmericaSir John also discussed Mr Blair’s relationship with the then US president George W Bush in the build-up to the war.”Tony Blair made much of, at various points, the need to exert influence on American policy making,” he said.”To do that he said in terms at one point, ‘I have to accept their strategic objective, regime change, in order to exert influence.’ For what purpose? To get them to alter their policy? Of course not. So in effect it was a passive strategy. Just go along.” “I think he was under very great emotional pressure during those sessions… he was suffering. He was deeply engaged. Now in that state of mind and mood you fall back on your instinctive skill and reaction, I think.” “You can make an argument around that, both ethical and – well, there is an ethical argument I think,” he added.A spokesman for Mr Blair told the BBC that “all these issues” had been dealt with.The Iraq Inquiry report said that war was launched on the basis of “flawed” intelligence at a time when dictator Saddam Hussein presented “no imminent threat” and diplomatic options for containing him had not been exhausted. The report did not support claimsthat Mr Blair agreed a deal “signed in blood” to topple Saddam at a key meeting with George Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, in 2002. But it revealed that in July that year – eight months before Parliament approved military action – the PM committed himself in writing to backing the US president over Iraq, telling him: “I will be with you whatever.” He replied: “Can I slightly reword that to say I think any prime minister taking a country into war has got to be straight with the nation and carry it, so far as possible, with him or her.”I don’t believe that was the case in the Iraq instance.”Sir John said Mr Blair made the case for invasion “pinning it on my belief, not on the fact, what the assessed intelligence said.” Sir John ChilcottCredit:Reuters
MPs said the system should be urgently reformed. British Army applicants are being turned away for “very minor” or nonrecurring childhood health issues, amid a chronic shortage of personnel, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. The disclosure will add to the growing concern about the vetting process for recruits because of problems enlisting a sufficient number of personnel. Candidates have revealed that they were rejected because they suffered from childhood eczema or had previously experienced back pain, even though their doctors had provided supporting statements. As of April 2018, Armed Forces Regular strength was 136,770, six per cent below the required number – an increase on the -4.4 per…
British dignitaries may be boycotting the World Cup – but it has emerged that one UK citizen will play a leading role in the final. Natalia Vodianova, the Russian supermodel who has been the female face of Russia 2018, has disclosed she has dual Russian-British citizenship and has been given the task of bringing the World Cup trophy onto the pitch before it is handed to the winning team. Ms Vodianova wants that team to be England. “I want to give the trophy to England. I would love to,” said Ms Vodianova, 36, adding: “I want a France versus England final and I would love to see Harry Kane score the winning goal.” She bemoaned the UK Government boycott, prompted by the nerve agent attack on Salisbury…