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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Luke Fickell to coach Ohio State football in Jim Tressel's absence

By Marla Published: March 30, 2011

Ohio State cleared up the question over who would be in charge during football coach Jim Tressel's five-game suspension to start the season Wednesday by promoting Luke Fickell to assistant head coach.

Fickell, the linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator, is in his 10th year on the staff. Last season he was selected assistant coach of the year for FBS schools by the American Football Coaches Association. Football Scoop named him linebacker coach of the year.

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Did Cavaliers' victory over Miami Heat feel like beating Michigan?

By Marla Published: March 29, 2011

In Ohio State country, it's always been presumed that a lackluster season could be saved by a victory over Michigan.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came up with a triumph Tuesday night that meant as much to the downtrodden faithful in Northeast Ohio when they beat the Miami Heat 102-90 in Quicken Loans Arena.

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Geno Ford's departure a big loss for Kent State basketball

By Marla Published: March 28, 2011

A week ago, Kent State basketball coach Geno Ford was taking the Golden Flashes to Colorado as part of their amazing three-game, cross-country excursion in the NIT.

This afternoon he's being introduced as the head coach at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. At a press conference that is being held on the court at the Renaissance Coliseum and is open to the public, no less.

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MLS tryout by Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Ochocinco intriguing

By Marla Published: March 25, 2011

While Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and at least one fellow NFL player think wide receiver Chad Ochocinco's tryout this week with Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer is a mere publicity stunt, I find myself rooting for him to make it, at least as a practice player.

According to ESPN.com, the six-time Pro Bowler has been invited to play in Sporting Kansas City's reserve game on Monday against a local minor league team.

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If the Cleveland Browns were fined for meeting with players, so what?

By Marla Published: March 24, 2011

Speculation continues over the five teams fined by the NFL for violating the since-expired Collective Bargaining Agreement by meeting with players after the season ended.

Some  who have been mentioned in Internet reports as possibilities are the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns. The issue arose again at this week's NFL meetings in New Orleans, but the league has not revealed the offenders.

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Carter shines at Syracuse pro day

By Marla Published: March 23, 2011

Syracuse strength and conditioning coach Will Hicks praised running back Delone Carter, the Copley High School product, for his performance at the Orange's pro day Wednesday.

"Delone did exceptionally well today," Hicks said on the university's web site. "He upped his numbers (from the combine) and did well in the position work.''

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OSU's Heyward part of online draft series

By Marla Published: March 23, 2011

Ohio State defensive tackle Cameron Heyward is among 14 players participating in an NFL.com web series called "Everything to Prove.''

Being produced by NFL Films and Gatorade, the series will follow the behind-the-scenes drama involving pro prospects for the April 28-30 draft. It will include looks at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, draft day, workouts, weighth room sessions and moving to a new city.

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Sabathia to appear on Letterman

By Marla Published: March 22, 2011

Pitcher C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees will make his first appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman'' Wed., March 30 (11:35 p.m.), according to a press release from CBS.

The product of the Cleveland Indians farm system is expected to be the Yankees' opening day starter against Detroit on March 31. Sabathia was 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA last season.

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Game at Purdue inspired Craft

By Marla Published: March 22, 2011

Ohio State freshman point guard Aaron Craft committed six turnovers in a 76-63 loss at Purdue on Feb. 20. In the nine games since that defeat -- which was OSU's last -- Craft has totalled 11 turnovers while handing out 55 assists.

In NCAA Tournament victories over UT-San Antonio and George Mason, Craft  had 22 assists and five turnovers. His 15 assists against the Patriots were the fourth-most in NCAA Tournament history.

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OSU relies on Florida experiences

By Marla Published: March 21, 2011

While top-seeded Ohio State had a relatively easy road in its first two games in the NCAA East Regional, the pressure mounts with Friday's 9:45 p.m. matchup against Kentucky in Newark, N.J.

With the Newark qualifiers also including North Carolina and Marquette, there will be no home-court advantage as there was for the Buckeyes in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. But OSU coach Thad Matta said he learned a lot about his team's ability to handle hostile environments during December road trips to Florida and Florida State.

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Craft dazzles, and NCAA musings

By Marla Published: March 20, 2011

I had the perfect view for perhaps the best assist I've ever seen in 34 years as a sportswriter during Ohio State's 98-66 victory over George Mason Sunday in the third round of the NCAA East Regional at Quicken Loans Arena.

It came with 8:24 left in the first half and was one of an OSU NCAA tournament record of 15 by freshman point guard Aaron Craft. Surrounded by two George Mason defenders and with his view seemingly obstructed, Craft somehow got the ball to freshman center Jared Sullinger, who laid it in and was fouled. Sullinger made the free throw for a four-point play and a 29-22 lead. 

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OSU players receive degrees at the Q

By Marla Published: March 20, 2011

Six hours before facing George Mason in the third round of the NCAA East Regional, four Ohio State players received their undergraduate degrees in a ceremony at Quicken Loans Arena.

David Lighty (family resource management), Jon Diebler (marketing), Dallas Lauderdale (communication) and Nikola Kecman (aviation) each were awarded their diplomas by senior associate athletics director Miechelle Willis.

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Will Lauderdale dunk make SportsCenter?

By Marla Published: March 18, 2011

Ohio State's 75-46 victory over UT-San Antonio at Quicken Loans Arena was especially fun for senior Dallas Lauderdale, who may have found the top dunk for his personal highlight reel.

"It's supposed to be a two-handed dunk, but he threw it super high,'' Lauderdale said of freshman point guard Aaron Craft. "It felt good and after they showed the replay, the crowd erupted again.

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Scenes from press row

By Marla Published: March 18, 2011

Villanova's pep band leader has the nickname of "Iditarod"' on the back of his jersey. George Mason's band director looks like he stepped out of the closet of former Browns offensive lineman Tony Jones. Doc Nix, in his fifth year, is wearing a bright yellow suit he said he bought in the Washington, D.C. area.

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Best of both worlds at NCAAs

By Marla Published: March 18, 2011

For a college basketball fan like myself, it doesn't get any better than this. Sitting near midcourt watching George Mason-Villanova at Quicken Loans Arena and watching Akron-Notre Dame live on cbssports.com.

When the Zips' score was just announced several OSU fans applauded, but the reaction wasn't nearly as strong as after the announcement that Michigan had defeated Tennessee by 30. Will that be just another reason for UT to fire coach Bruce Pearl?

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Lighty still loves his Cavs

By Marla Published: March 18, 2011

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio State senior David Lighty said he would attend one or two Cavaliers games a year dating back to the days Terrell Brandon and Bob Sura raced up and down the court at Gund (now Quicken Loans) Arena.

He even shot a free throw as a youngster when a few fans were invited onto the court after a Cavs game.

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Tressel increases his suspension to 5 games

By Marla Published: March 17, 2011

When it comes to Tattoogate, someone at Ohio State has finally done the right thing.

Or as close to the right thing as can be expected until the NCAA investigation has concluded.

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Matta nearly part of a 1-16 upset

By Marla Published: March 17, 2011

No No. 1 seed has ever lost to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but Ohio State coach Thad Matta nearly saw it happen. He was an assistant on a Western Carolina team in 1995-96 that lost to top-seeded Purdue 73-71.

"None of us never knew about it until he mentioned it a couple nights ago,'' OSU senior Jon Diebler said.

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Matta says seed bulls-eye not as big as ranking

By Marla Published: March 17, 2011

Being the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament doesn't bring as much pressure as the regular-season's No.1 ranking, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.

As Ohio State (32-2) prepares to open NCAA Tournament play Friday against Texas-San Antonio at Quicken Loans Arena, Matta said the Buckeyes are wearing a different target than they did during the regular season.

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Fans force Herbstreit to leave Ohio

By Marla Published: March 15, 2011

Ohio State alum Kirk Herbstreit has moved his family from Columbus to Nashville last week because of  rabid' OSU fans who don't like what he says about the school on ESPN's ''College GameDay.''

The former Buckeye quarterback told Columbus Dispatch columnist Bob Hunter that he and his family moved to Tennessee on Thursday because of a ''vocal minority'' of ''relentless'' fans who don't understand he must be objective on the air.

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Answer on OSU's appeal may be coming soon

By Marla Published: March 15, 2011

Speaking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club Monday in Canton, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel hinted that the university may soon get an answer on its appeal of five-game suspensions for five players.

Found to have received improper benefits in December, the NCAA suspended quarterback Terrelle Pryor, receiver DeVier Posey, running back Dan Herron, left tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas for the first five games next season.

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Tressel apologizes at first public appearance since suspension

By Marla Published: March 14, 2011

Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel issued an apology at his first public appearance since the announcement of his tw0-game suspension and fine for covering up knowledge of improper benefits received by his players.

Tressel arrived just before noon Monday for what was at least his 25th annual appearance at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club at Tozzi's on 12th, a Canton restaurant. He was greeted with a standing ovation and polite applause from the crowd of nearly 400, but the reception was less enthusiastic than in past years.

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Northwestern gives OSU's NCAA foes a blueprint

By Marla Published: March 11, 2011

Ohio State just survived its first game in the Big Ten Tournament, defeating Northwestern 67-61 in overtime. But the Wildcats used a masterful game plan to frustrate the Buckeyes most of the afternoon, one that might be copied by OSU foes in the NCAA Tournament.

Northwestern, perhaps headed to the NIT, slowed down the pace, taking Ohio State out of its rhythm. Several times in the second half and in the extra period, Northwestern put up a shot as the shot clock sounded.

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Mood at CBS was surprising

By Marla Published: March 11, 2011

I flew to New York City on Tuesday for the CBS-TNT March Madness media day and was surprised by the mood of CBS Sports employees regarding a possible NFL lockout.

When I departed and said to members of the CBS media relations staff that I hoped to see them in August for their annual NFL media day, most responded with something along the lines of "If there's football.''

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Scandal 'scares' one of Tressel's biggest fans

By Marla Published: March 10, 2011

Akron resident Bebe Webner, aka ''Buckeye Bebe,''  wore scarlet and gray Wednesday. She said she'll probably be wearing Ohio State colors for at least three days.

But Webner, who considers Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel practically one of her sons, is worried about the scandal involving Tressel that resulted in his suspension for the first two games of the 2011 season and drew a $250,000 fine from the university.

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Two games not enough for Tressel

By Marla Published: March 9, 2011

The five players who were found to have accepted the most money in their sale of Ohio State memorabilia  to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor  were suspended by the NCAA for five games in 2011.

The coach who knew about their transgressions and repeatedly covered them up until he was caught was suspended by the university for two games in 2011. Sorry Mid-American Conference, but for two games against Akron and Toledo, which the Buckeyes could win in their sleep even if Jim Tressel is banned from the Woody Hayes Center for the entire 14-day span.

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Hazell supports Tressel in crisis

By Marla Published: March 9, 2011

New Kent State football coach Darrell Hazell said he exchanged texts with his former boss, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel Tuesday night.

That was presumably after Ohio State's 7 p.m. press conference in which the university announced it will suspend Tressel for two games in 2011 and fine him $250,000 for not notifying the compliance office of NCAA rules violations by his players when he learned of them in April, 2010. Tressel received two e-mails from an unnamed attorney that warned him that players were selling jerseys and memorabilia to the owner of a Columbus tattoo parlor who was also under federal investigation for drug trafficking. Five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron and receiver DeVier Posey, were suspended by the NCAA for five games next season and a sixth for one game, but were allowed to play in OSU's Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas.

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Weekend musings

By Marla Published: March 7, 2011

CBS analyst Seth Davis predicted big things for Ohio State after the No. 1 Buckeyes' 93-65 victory over No. 10 Wisconsin Sunday at Value City Arena.

"I think they're going to win the whole thing,'' Davis said on the post-game show.

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Browns to work out Miami CB

By Marla Published: March 5, 2011

According to ProFootballTalk.com, cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke of the University of Miami will work out for the Browns in Berea this month.

At the NFL combine, VanDyke ran the fastest 40, clocking 4.28 on Tuesday. Since 2000, that time was surpassed only by East Carolina running back Chris Johnson (4.24) and Houston cornerback Stanford Routt (4.27). 

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Wright hinted at threats in November

By Marla Published: March 5, 2011

Browns cornerback Eric Wright told Cleveland.com he received death threats from fans last season, but never reported them to the team or to police.

Wright hinted about such hate mail during  a November interview for a story on his mentoring of football players at Glenville High School.

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Negotiations extended 7 more days

By Marla Published: March 4, 2011

NFL owners and the NFL Players Association have agreed to a seven-day extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would run until next Friday, NFL.com is reporting.

The two sides agreed to a 24-hour extension Thursday evening. The current CBA was to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

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Wright receives 2nd-round tender

By Marla Published: March 4, 2011

Cornerback Eric Wright received a restricted free agent second-round tender offer from the Browns Thursday, a league source confirmed.

The four-year veteran suffered a knee injury Nov. 21 at Jacksonville and sat out the next week against Carolina. Rookie Joe Haden, the Browns' first-round pick, started in his place against the Panthers and remained in the lineup.

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Browns sign Wallace to 3-year deal

By Marla Published: March 3, 2011

The Browns signed quarterback Seneca Wallace to a three-year contract Thursday night, according to a league source.

An eight-year veteran, Wallace is well versed in the West Coast offense to be installed by new coach Pat Shurmur and can also serve as a mentor to second-year quarterback Colt McCoy. Wallace played eight years in Seattle, seven of those under then-coach Mike Holmgren, now the Browns president. Wallace was traded to Cleveland last March.

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Holmgren nearly hired himself

By Marla Published: March 3, 2011

In a Thursday interview with Seattle radio station KJR, Browns president Mike Holmgren said he considered returning to the sideline after he fired coach Eric Mangini and even posed the question to his executive staff, which included general manager Tom Heckert and executive vice president Bryan Wiedmeier.

"When we were putting the list together, I said, 'I'm going to ask you a question tomorrow. Should I be a candidate for this? Be honest and if you don't think it's the right thing to do for our football team, you can say that,''' Holmgren told Dave "Softy" Mahler,who hosted Holmgren's weekly show during his 10 years in Seattle. "I came back the next day and they all thought it would be a pretty good idea. My other responsibilities, Bryan could accept some of those.

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Browns bring back Jackson

By Marla Published: March 3, 2011

Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson signed a one-year contract that could pay him just over $4.5 million including incentives, according to a league source.

A second-round pick in 2006 who was the Browns' leading tackler in 2007 and '08, Jackson missed all of last season after tearing his right pectoral on Aug. 10. He missed 10 games in 2009 after undergoing surgery on his left pectoral.

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The curious case of Vernon Gholston

By Marla Published: March 3, 2011

On Wednesday, the New York Jets released linebacker Vernon Gholston, completing one of the most puzzling sagas in recent NFL drafts.

Then-Jets coach Eric Mangini selected Ohio State defensive end Gholston with the sixth pick in the 2008 draft. Mangini wasn't the only one who was smitten with Gholston, whose 22 1/2 sacks in his sophomore and junior seasons were the most in the country in that span. He set the OSU single-game record with four sacks against Wisconsin in 2007 and his 14 sacks that year broke Mike Vrabel's single-season record of 13.

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