SMU And Louisville Are Two Of The Best Teams Ever Banned From

2016Louisville238+19.65 YEARTEAMWINSLOSSESRATING 2003Georgia198+18.94 2016SMU255+19.65 SMU and Louisville are among the best teams to be banned 1992UNLV262+20.74 Any shining moments for Louisville and Southern Methodist will come and go before the NCAA Tournament begins. Although the Cardinals and Mustangs each rank among the nation’s top 20 teams according to Ken Pomeroy and others, both were barred from the 2016 postseason amid scandal.(SMU’s ban, for academic fraud, came from the NCAA; Louisville banned itself in an attempt to avoid harsher sentencing when the NCAA finishes investigating allegations that the team used strippers and prostitutes in its recruiting efforts.)By the numbers, these are two of the best teams ever to be banished from postseason play. Since the NCAA tourney expanded its field to 64 teams in 1984-85, only one banned team has had a better statistical profile, the 1991-92 Runnin’ Rebels from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. (We used adjusted differential between offensive and defensive Pomeroy ratings for seasons since 2001 and estimated the differential for earlier teams using Daniel Myers’s research on schedule-adjusted historical team ratings.) 1991Kentucky226+18.87 Sources: Kenpom.com, Daniel Myers, Sports Reference That UNLV squad wasn’t at quite the same level as the version that went 69-6 over the previous two years under the leadership of future NBA talent such as Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony. But its best player was J.R. Rider, a future NBA 20 PPG scorer,1Granted, also a chucker and anti-glue guy. and a few of his teammates had brief stints in the pros. Louisville and SMU, by contrast, each carry only one top-100 NBA prospect apiece — Chinanu Onuaku (No. 56) and Shake Milton (No. 87), respectively — and even those guys are at the fringes of the mock draft universe. (The Cardinals’ fifth-year senior transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis may eventually get a shot at the NBA but are by no means locks.) Rick Pitino and Larry Brown can punch weight with the towel-chomping Jerry Tarkanian, but in terms of record, efficiency and roster, the ’92 Rebels were probably the best of the three.Still, it’s a relatively close contest. And let’s emphasize again that two of the top three banned squads in recent memory both hail from the 2015-16 season. In what seems destined to be a wide-open NCAA field this year, the Mustangs and Cardinals could have seized upon that opportunity and produced deep tournament runs. But by running afoul of the NCAA, they’re here instead, hypothetically runnin’ with the ’92 Rebels rather than taking the court against present-day teams in the real-life tourney. read more

The Broncos And Chiefs Are Still Running The AFC West

How will your favorite NFL team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016 season » Kansas City ChiefsYou know what else Elo doesn’t know? The crushing, numbing experience of an Andy Reid playoff meltdown. Three seasons ago, Reid’s Chiefs blew a 28-point lead to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round. After going 9-7 in 2014, the Chiefs sprang to life in the second half of 2015 and entered the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league. With their win in the wild-card round, their Elo rating spiked to 1699, the highest it’s been since they beat the Vikings in the 1970 Super Bowl. And then, of course, disaster. Trailing the New England Patriots 27-13 with six and a half minutes remaining, the Kansas City offense snapped off a five minute, 16 second 16-play drive to get within one score. It was astonishing and horrifying to watch it play out in real time, and all too familiar to anyone who’d watched Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles over the years.It’s conventional nerd wisdom that results in close games are a matter of luck, not skill, but that refers to the generic scoreline — “games decided by 7 or fewer points” or whatever cutoff you like. There are, in fact, diagnosable maladies for teams, such as having difficulty stringing two scoring drives together in a short period of time. For teams with such issues, the saving grace has been the corresponding maxim: Good teams don’t play close games; good teams win in blowouts. But what comfort is that to a fan base that was only just recovering from somehow losing a playoff game it had been winning by four touchdowns? To Elo, the Chiefs lost two close playoff games to two very good teams and come into 2016 as the fourth-strongest team in the league. This is a good team with a very good chance of making the playoffs. If they do, we’ll know a good bit more than Elo does about what’s waiting in store.San Diego ChargersThe Chargers were bad last season. The team went 4-12, ranked 24th in overall team Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and 28th in defensive DVOA, and finished the season with its lowest Elo rating since the 2004 draft in which it acquired Philip Rivers. The Chargers haven’t bought themselves much leeway off the field. After holding fans hostage all of last season, playing what many thought would be their final game in San Diego, they ended up in a madcap push to drum up support for a hugely unpopular $1.8 billion stadium/convention center proposal. If (when) the vote fails, the Chargers will have to decide by January if they’ll move to Los Angeles. In the meantime, the team chased off Eric Weddle, one of its best defensive players, and turned the good fortune of getting Joey Bosa — by many accounts the best player in the draft — into a sideshow. The Chargers engaged in an all-out assault on Bosa over contract provisions that are standard practice with every other team, which resulted in a 31-day holdout by Bosa.Elo predicts that the Chargers will see six to seven wins this season. That’s a little ungenerous, considering the number of injuries the Chargers have had the past few seasons (and with the re-addition of Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator potentially jazzing up the passing game), but generosity is hard to come by after an offseason like San Diego’s.Oakland RaidersThe other team trying to pack up and leave town is, shockingly, in considerably better condition than San Diego. With Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, the Raiders have a proven backbone of a functional offense for the first time in a decade. And the defense, which finished the season in the bottom half of DVOA, came on late, with negative ratings (on defense, that’s good) for the final six games of the season. Things are looking up for the Raiders.Unfortunately, they’re looking even upper for the rest of the division. The AFC West is stacked, and Elo gives Oakland just a 19 percent chance of making the playoffs, with 6.8 projected wins. And that seems about right in the cadence of the NFL — it’s the inverse of the Broncos, in a way. The foundational elements of a good team are all here, but it takes a long time to stock a roster with the talent needed to contend at the highest rungs.VIDEO: How one spurned Rams fan found a new team To go with our 2016 NFL predictions, FiveThirtyEight is previewing each division. Denver BroncosThere are a lot of things Elo doesn’t know. Coming into the season, it didn’t know that the Broncos lost their Hall of Fame quarterback and replaced him with the most deliberately uncertain QB situation we’ve seen on a contender in recent years. After Thursday night, it didn’t know that Denver escaped with its Week 1 win thanks to a missed kick in the waning moments and a night of Panthers QB Cam Newton taking illegal hits that pretty clearly sapped the life out of him in the second half. It just knows that the Broncos were a fabulously good team last season, and they beat a very good team in Week 1. And actually, that might be all it needs to know.The Broncos had a lively offseason. They let last season’s backup quarterback, Brock Osweiler, abscond to Houston, drafted Paxton Lynch out of Memphis in the first round, brought in Mark Sanchez to compete for the job, and eventually gave the Week 1 starting job to Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round pick in 2015. They lost standout defensive end Malik Jackson to Jacksonville, and Von Miller took his sweet time signing his contract. But in the end, the defense is mostly intact. And to hear the Broncos tell it, that’s all that really matters:“We feel like we don’t care if George Bush was playing quarterback — we’re going to win because you can’t score,” says safety T.J. Ward. “You can’t score, you can’t win. That’s our mentality.“So, you want to come play quarterback for the Denver Broncos? That’s how we feel — it doesn’t matter who’s back there. We’re going to carry this team, and we’re going to get it done like we did last year.”This would obviously be a different story if Peyton Manning had provided more production last season, but he was terrible, so Elo’s blind spot was mostly about whether Siemian could hang against a good NFL defense. A lot of things go into an NFL team’s fortunes, enough that outside of a seismic catastrophe at the quarterback position, there’s a good chance a team’s fundamental level will carry over from year to year, with less regard to offseason moves than fans might think. Now that we know Siemian isn’t a lump, we have a pretty good idea what the Broncos are as well: the same terrifying defensive team as last year, just with George Bush lining up under center. read more

Oprah Next Chapter For LeBron James Dwyane Wade Chris

The new kings of the court will meet the long-time queen of talk.Yes, newly crowned NBA champions LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh play to sit down with none other than Oprah Winfrey.Winfrey will interview Miami’s Big 3 “about the challenges leading up to their historic win, their friendships on and off the court and the women in their lives,” according to a press release.The interview will air Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on the Oprah Winfrey Network.The Heat stars are busy talking about their title this week. James sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and will do David Letterman’s show. The team held its championship parade today in Miami and Chris Bosh will appear on “LIVE! with Kelly” on Tuesday, among other media obligations.

NBA Free Agency Diary The Nets Got Their Stars But Will They

Joe Harris07180025+0.8-1.5-0.6 Dear NBA Diary, it’s been two days since the Brooklyn Nets hauled in three of the biggest free agents on the market (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan), and I’m still adjusting to the reality of those stars suiting up for the franchise that used to call the swamps of New Jersey home.But once we all get used to the idea of KD and Kyrie in Brooklyn black-and-white, their team will actually have to take the court (well, sans Durant for likely all of 2019-20). And how good will they be? According to our metrics, Brooklyn’s work has just begun. A preliminary version of our 2019-20 CARMELO depth chart projections thinks the Nets will have the NBA’s 10th-best offense but its sixth-worst defense, which adds up to a 1497 CARMELO rating (or roughly 40.2 wins of talent). Caris LeVert00210021+0.0-0.9-0.9 Dzanan Musa020507-1.3-0.5-1.8 PLAYERPGSGSFPFCTOTALOFF. +/-DEF. +/-TOT. +/- Team total Garrett Temple01360019-2.1+0.0-2.1 Kyrie Irving35000035+4.2-0.93.3 DeAndre Jordan00062228-1.0+2.01.0 Keep track of the chaotic NBA offseason with our Free Agency Diary. Rodions Kurucs01211014-1.2-0.2-1.4 EXPECTED MINUTES PER GAMEPLAYER RATING Nicolas Claxton000011-3.0+0.8-2.2 CARMELO team rating:1497 Jarrett Allen00002525-0.9+1.40.5 Alan Williams000404-2.3+1.2-1.0 Taurean Prince00122023-0.4-0.9-1.3 Spencer Dinwiddie42500029+1.6-1.40.2 How good are the new-look Nets?Projected opening-night depth chart for the 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets, based on CARMELO plus/minus ratings 240+1.2-1.5-0.2 Jaylen Hands900009-1.8-1.6-3.4 Expected wins:40.2 That’s … probably not the projection you might expect after the free-agent coups the Nets pulled off over the weekend. But truth be told, our model never liked Brooklyn much last season, either: Even as the Nets were making the playoffs (as the No. 6 seed!), we never once rated them as a league-average team. If Coach of the Year candidate Kenny Atkinson had them overachieving with less talent than they will have next season, then maybe he can squeeze more wins — and better defense — out of this roster than our numbers would predict.Plus, it’s important to remember that this is the version of the Nets without Durant. The version with him won’t take the court until the following season, most likely. If KD were to be on the Nets’ opening-day roster, though, our algorithm would give Brooklyn the NBA’s second-best offense and an improved (but still below-average) defense. That team would have a CARMELO rating of 1583 (49.1 wins of talent), which probably still sounds low given the Nets’ newfound star power.One note: Some of you noticed that my depth chart for the Sixers on Monday contained a player (Jonathon Simmons) who was, um, no longer on the Sixers. Sorry about that! As we rebuild our team depth charts over the summer, we’re trying to cobble things together across multiple sources of contracts and rosters, but it’s still a work in progress. Please let us know if you see a player who should be on a different team. read more

What Would Happen If The English Premier League Had Playoffs

Wimbledon00.00.0 Leicester City10.20.1 CHANCES OF … TEAMACTUALEXPECTED UNDERPLAYOFF SYSTEMEXPECTED UNDERXG SIMULATIONS Manchester United137.5-5.5 West Ham United00.00.0 Newcastle00.9+0.9 SEEDTEAMMAKING SEMISMAKING FINALWINNING FINAL Tottenham Hotspur00.6+0.6 Queens Park Rangers00.00.0 Aston Villa00.4+0.4 Southampton00.1+0.1 The final weekend of the English Premier League is upon us and the league has scheduled all 10 matches simultaneously on Sunday in order to maximize excitement. The problem is that there’s not much excitement left — and there hasn’t been for awhile. Chelsea has been the runaway favorite to win the title for a few months now, and the team officially clinched a week ago. This isn’t uncommon. Even Leicester City’s shocking run to a league title last year, one of the most exciting outcomes in league history, was clinched two weeks before the end of the season. And in the 2014-15 season Chelsea clinched the title a full three weeks before their final match. Awarding the EPL trophy to the team atop the table at season’s end eliminates most of the debate about England’s best team, but it also can eliminate fun.It doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine for a moment that after this weekend’s mostly meaningless matches,1 we were headed for the inaugural round of Premier League playoffs to decide the league champion. What would happen if more than a century of English soccer tradition was thrown out in favor of a shamelessly Americanized format?As an experiment, I set up a mock six-team playoff for the Premier League and forecasted the results using our SPI ratings. There are a variety of playoff formats that could be used, but six teams feels right; it’s a small enough number that teams would have to compete to get in, but big enough that it would widen the pool of potential champions. Also, to reward teams that do well during the regular season, the top two teams in the table would be awarded byes. The next four teams would be seeded and would play one other team in a home-and-home aggregate, similar to the Champions League. From there the semifinals would follow the same format. Also similar to the Champions League, the final would be played as a single match at a neutral site such as Wembley.If you applied that playoff set-up to this season’s standings, the playoffs would give us two more Manchester Derbies in the first-round and would pit Liverpool against Arsenal. Chelsea and Tottenham would be waiting to play the winners.Chelsea would still be favored to win the playoffs — their first round bye and top seed helps quite a bit — but every team would have a reasonable shot at the title. Here’s how it would look: Ipswich Town00.00.0 Arsenal01.11.4 TEAMACTUALEXPECTED UNDER PLAYOFF SYSTEMCHANGE Liverpool00.40.6 Nottingham Forest00.1+0.1 Chelsea54.4-0.6 Bolton00.00.0 Arsenal34.8+1.8 6Manchester United36146 Leeds United00.6+0.6 Impact of playoff system on league titles, 1992-93 through 2016-17 TITLES Assumes the order of the top six teams will not change during the final weekend of matches. This playoff structure has six teams, with the top two seeds receiving byes. Tottenham Hotspur00.50.3 Newcastle00.00.0 Expected titles under playoff system vs. xG simulations, 2010-11 through 2016-17 Southampton00.10.1 1Chelsea✓70%38% NUMBER OF TITLES 4Liverpool58198 5Arsenal42114 Chelsea21.51.3 Includes all teams that would have qualified for the playoffs since 1992-93. This playoff structure has six teams, with the top two seeds receiving byes.Sources: ESPN, James Curley 2Tottenham Hotspur✓5226 Manchester City22.1+0.1 3Manchester City64%3418 Everton00.2+0.2 Liverpool02.6+2.6 Norwich City00.00.0 Manchester City22.02.6 Mock 2016-17 Premier League playoff forecast Blackburn10.5-0.5 Leicester City10.2-0.8 Everton00.10.0 Chelsea’s chances of winning the league would drop from 100 percent to 38 percent, and the five other teams that have been eliminated from the title race would still have hope.I also set up playoff forecasts to see how our system might have affected the number of titles won by each Premier League club since 1992-93. Liverpool and Arsenal would likely have benefitted the most, while Manchester United likely would have won fewer than their league-leading 13 titles in that time span. Includes all teams that would have qualified for the playoffs since 2010-11.This playoff structure has six teams, with the top two seeds receiving byes.Sources: ESPN, Opta Manchester United21.20.7 Playoffs, of course, inject luck into a championship but there are indications that a team still needs a significant amount of luck to win the league outright.You can see how luck infiltrates league titles by looking at teams’ goal tallies. Goals scored and conceded will get a team to the top of the standings but they aren’t necessarily the best indicator of a team’s underlying talent, nor are they the most predictive of future performance. Expected goals, a metric we use in our SPI ratings, are a better gauge of each team’s quality of play. We can also use expected goals to approximate how likely each team was to win the league based on the shots it took over the course of the entire season.2These expected goal simulations indicate that Manchester City have been unlucky not to win the title this year; if we rerun the season thousands of times, they win the league 61 percent of the time given the shots they took and conceded. Last year’s Leicester City team was fortunate to win the league according to these simulations; they only had a 9 percent chance of winning the league based on their expected goal numbers.Finally, if we look at the projected number of titles won over the past seven seasons3 based on these expected goal simulations, the number of titles each team is projected to have won is quite similar to the number of titles we expect them to have won if the league had playoffs. In other words, this implies that there may be just as much luck involved in winning the league outright as there would be in a playoff system. Players have incredibly busy schedules already with some juggling league and cup play, the Champions League and their international team responsibilities, so any playoff system probably shouldn’t add more matches to their already packed schedules. Perhaps the size of the league could be reduced by a team or two, or some regular season matchups could be a single match on neutral ground rather than home-and-away to allow for the extra playoff matches.I don’t know if playoffs are the right thing for the Premier League. I do know that I haven’t watched many matches during the second half of the season, but I’d watch these playoffs.Check out our latest soccer predictions. read more

The NBAs Southeast Division Is Historically Awful

2013-14AtlanticRaptors0.585 12014-15Atlantic-3.6-3.924 The worst division ‘winners’NBA division winners (or leaders for the 2018-19 season) with a win percentage of less than 0.600, since the league expanded in 2004 32005-06Northwest-3.4-3.134 92005-06Atlantic-2.3-2.382 72015-16Atlantic-2.5-2.572 72013-14Atlantic0.422 62004-05Southeast-2.4-2.646 There are also signs that this year’s Southeast might be among the worst overall divisions we’ve seen during the 30-team era. The current combined record of the Hornets, Heat, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks is just 119-159. That works out to a 0.428 combined winning percentage — worse than all but eight other divisions since the 2004-05 season. So in terms of the ability of its teams to actually win basketball games, the 2018-19 Southeast ranks among the bottom 10 percent of all divisions since the most recent league expansion. 52004-05Southeast0.417 2005-06NorthwestNuggets0.537 For the most part, divisions in the NBA have become more a formality than anything else. It’s been four years since the league last guaranteed division winners home-court advantage during their first-round playoff series, and it’s been 12 years since division winners were guaranteed a top-three seed regardless of their record.1A division winner was still guaranteed at least a No. 4 seed until the 2016 playoffs. These days, the top team in a division is not guaranteed to make the playoffs at all — the top eight teams from each conference advance to the postseason regardless of division alignment.If we’re being completely honest, it sure seems like the only real use the league has for divisions these days is scheduling.2The NBA schedule works the same way every season: Each NBA team plays each of the 15 teams from the opposite conference twice a year, the four other teams from its own division four times a year, and the 10 teams from the two remaining divisions in its conference either three or four times in a given season, with the determination being made seemingly at random, though it is in actuality largely based on arena availability. The only other benefit appears to be the occasional excuse to make fun of the lonely division winner banners that hang in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.But this season, one of the league’s six divisions really stands out — and not for a good reason. Not a single one of the teams in the Southeast is above .500, with the Charlotte Hornets sitting in first place at 27-28.No division winner has finished below .500 under the NBA’s current alignment, which was established in 2004 when the league expanded to 30 teams and split them into six divisions to accommodate the then-expansion Charlotte Bobcats. Since Charlotte re-entered the league, the worst division winners were the 2005-06 Denver Nuggets, the 2006-07 Miami Heat and the Southeast’s winner from a year ago, the 2017-18 Heat, which each finished with 44 wins and a 0.537 winning percentage.Only 14 division winners (including this year’s Hornets and Houston Rockets, who are leading their divisions) since 2004 have finished with a winning percentage south of 0.600 — otherwise known as the teams that won fewer than 50 games (or the lockout-shortened season equivalent) and still managed to win their division. 12009-10Atlantic0.385 2016-17SoutheastWizards0.598 32015-16Atlantic0.407 Source: Basketball-Reference.com 52004-05AtlanticCeltics0.549 102013-14Central0.0-2.314 12018-19SoutheastHornets0.491 2006-07SoutheastHeat0.537 Top 10 worst collective records among NBA divisions since the league expanded in 2004 82005-06Northwest0.424 92018-19Southeast0.428 The Southeast is even worse when you account for scheduleThe worst NBA divisions by Simple Rating System and point differential since the league expanded in 2004 62017-18Southeast0.420 Source: Basketball-Reference.com Despite the truly historic nature of the Southeast’s horribleness, the division is pretty much guaranteed to get at least one playoff team this season, sparing it the ignominy of being the first NBA division in history to entirely miss the postseason. The dreadful Bulls, Cavaliers and Knicks will surely finish with the three worst records in the conference, which means the worst the Southeast champ can do is finish eighth in the East and earn the right to be smoked by the Bucks or Raptors in the first round of the postseason. (Even with the newly flattened lottery odds, those three awful teams also have a considerably better chance to land the No. 1 pick and the right to select Duke superstar Zion Williamson, while the Hawks, Magic and Wizards will more likely be left picking in the mid-to-late lottery, possibly dooming the Southeast to even more mediocrity in the future.)Meanwhile, only one of the Clippers, Kings and Lakers is likely to be headed to the postseason in the West, despite all three teams being projected to finish with better records than every single team in the Southeast. If the season ends with the 38-win Hornets in the playoffs and, say, the 41-win Lakers staying home, perhaps the NBA will finally decide to move to an open-seeded playoff system — with the best 16 teams making it to the dance regardless of conference alignment.Check out our latest NBA predictions. 82015-16SoutheastHeat0.585 2005-06AtlanticNets0.598 RANKSeasonDIVISIONWIN pct. 62006-07AtlanticRaptors0.573 72018-19SouthwestRockets0.582 22013-14Atlantic-2.7-3.212 102011-12AtlanticCeltics0.591 RANKSeasonDIVISIONPt Diff.SRS 102008-09Pacific0.429 112017-18NorthwestTrail Blazers0.598 22017-18SoutheastHeat0.537 42009-10Atlantic-3.0-3.066 52018-19Southeast-2.6-3.050 42005-06Atlantic0.415 22014-15Atlantic0.395 82008-09Pacific-2.3-2.428 The season isn’t over yet, though, which means there’s still time for the Southeast to get even worse. Washington just traded away Otto Porter and Markieff Morris at the deadline after its star, John Wall, suffered a torn Achilles tendon that will keep him out for at least a year. Miami, likewise, shipped away rotation player Tyler Johnson and received very little on-court help in return. The Hornets did not add Marc Gasol, as had been heavily rumored, while the Hawks are finalizing a buyout with Jeremy Lin, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and could potentially do the same with Dewayne Dedmon. The Magic added former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz but dealt away Jonathon Simmons to do it, and Fultz is more of a future asset than a present one, anyway.Accordingly, the FiveThirtyEight NBA predictions expect this division to fall off slightly: The division’s combined projected winning percentage is just 0.420, which would rank sixth-worst among the group of 10 teams listed above. Additionally, the Hornets are projected to win the division with a record of just 38-44, which would fall an incredible six wins short of the 44-win 2018 and 2007 Heat and 2006 Nuggets.What’s remarkable about the Southeast, though, is that each one of these teams has managed to post a losing record despite the opportunity to rack up wins against other Southeast teams. As a result, the win-loss records might actually undersell how bad the division really is. Consider two more reliable indicators of team quality: point differential and Basketball-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS). Point differential has been shown time and again to be more predictive of a team’s future performance than actual win-loss record, while SRS takes point differential and adjusts for strength of schedule, then scales that adjustment so the league average is 0 and every point represents one point above or below average.The 2018-19 Southeast division has the fifth-worst combined per-game point differential of the 30-team era. And when you adjust for those five teams’ relatively soft schedules, they’ve actually been outscored by 3.050 points per game, seemingly confirming this as the fifth-worst division (out of 90) since the then-Bobcats and now-Hornets came into the league. And given the aforementioned roster realities, it’s not at all difficult to see the Southeast sinking further into the depths of despair. Source: Basketball-Reference.com RANKSeasonDIVISIONWinnerWIN pct. 2014-15AtlanticRaptors0.598 read more

NCAA Michigan football out of compliance

The NCAA has determined that the Michigan football program was out of compliance with practice time rules under coach Rich Rodriguez, who incoming athletic director David Brandon declared would remain the school’s coach.Brandon announced the NCAA’s findings Tuesday, but stated that there were “no surprises,” despite the fact that the report stated that the Michigan athletic department failed to ensure that the program was complying with NCAA regulations.The university has 90 days to respond to the results and will appear at an NCAA hearing in August.The NCAA has been investigating allegations that Michigan players exceeded NCAA limits with practice time or other football-related activities.The allegations came about after the Detroit Free Press reported the claims of a handful of Michigan players who said the players exceeded the limits during practices and workouts in 2008 and 2009.The university conducted an internal investigation and is looking into self-imposed sanctions. The internal audit revealed that Rodriguez and his staff failed to file forms that kept logs on the amount of time players spent on football.Michigan’s report did not find issues of noncompliance. Brandon attributed the dicey situation to a “breakdown of communication.”Michigan has finished 3-9 and 5-7 in Rodriguez’s two seasons at the helm. read more

Commentary Buckeye pride survives winters cold at Frozen Diamond Faceoff

Ohio State’s alma mater “Carmen Ohio” states that the bond between Buckeyes and this university lasts through “summer’s heat or winter’s cold.” Never has this been more true than at Sunday’s Frozen Diamond Faceoff. OSU fans have been known to travel to support their team, but rarely does such travel involve braving frigid temperatures for hours at a time. Yet temperatures in the mid-20s didn’t deter Buckeye fans from traveling to Cleveland from across the state and beyond to cheer on the OSU men’s hockey team as they took on Michigan in Ohio’s first-ever outdoor college hockey game. Even as the Wolverines cooled the Buckeyes off on the ice, 4-1, fans stayed put through wind and cold at Progressive Field. And it wasn’t just the fans who showed their dedication to the team. The OSU athletic band performed throughout the game, even performing “Script Ohio” on ice. Though they faced some challenges playing their instruments in freezing temperatures, their enthusiasm never deflated as they performed OSU staples throughout the game. Some band members even opted to keep their mouthpieces in their pockets to keep them warm when they weren’t playing, but when I spoke with them, there were no complaints about the cold. There was only excitement to be playing at such a historic event. The cheerleaders, likewise, trudged through a snow-covered baseball diamond to lead cheers and keep the crowd engaged as the sun set and temperatures continued to drop. The game itself was a spectacle unlike any other I’ve experienced during my time at OSU. The players, it seemed, were in awe of the experience, but their play didn’t have the same fire that many OSU hockey fans have come to expect from the No. 2-ranked team this season. But what the team lacked, the crowd made up for. As Michigan answered OSU’s only goal with two goals of its own in a 28-second period to cap the scoring, the crowd stayed put even though OSU’s hopes for a win had deflated. The final buzzer signaled an OSU fan’s worst nightmare ­— a Michigan victory, but the band still sounded the starting notes of “Carmen Ohio.” In perhaps the only appropriate finale to such an event, the team, the cheerleaders, the band and the fans linked together and sang out the words to the alma mater that they had lived out firsthand. OSU fans have proven their loyalty through “summer’s heat” time and time again. But Sunday, despite a loss to an archenemy, despite the fact that their mouths froze to their instruments and despite the fact that many probably couldn’t feel their toes, OSU fans proved their loyalty through “winter’s cold.” read more

Last OSU womens lacrosse player set to leave hospital

The last of six Ohio State women’s lacrosse players hospitalized for a rare but potentially dangerous muscle disorder is set to be released from the hospital at noon Wednesday, Christopher Kaeding, the head team physician for OSU’s athletic department, told The Lantern in an email.  OSU assistant director of athletic communication Alissa Clendenen was not sure whether the six athletes would play in the team’s next game, scheduled for Sunday, but she did say in an email, “once released, players are not expected to miss any time because of their condition.”  On Friday, six OSU women’s lacrosse players were admitted to the Wexner Medical Center at OSU to be evaluated after showing symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, OSU assistant director of athletics communication Alissa Clendenen confirmed to The Lantern. Rhabdomyolysis, a muscle disorder that causes a breakdown of muscle fibers and releases a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream, can cause kidney damage and in extreme cases, kidney failure. Trainers evaluated the team for symptoms after one athlete complained of not feeling well, according to the release. None has kidney damage, according to media reports. The names of the six players have not been released. In January 2011, 13 football players at the University of Iowa developed the disorder after overexertion during a squat-lifting workout. A report cleared coaches, players, physicians and trainers for wrongdoing but recommended the strenuous workout that contributed to the hospitalizations be dropped from training. All 13 players made full recoveries. The women’s lacrosse team did not have games this past weekend. They next play at Canisius in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday at 1 p.m. read more

Big changes to Big Ten divisions

The Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines, two of college football’s fiercest rivals, could meet one another in the Big Ten Football Championship Game at the conclusion of the 2013 regular season. That will no longer be a possibility in 2014, when OSU and Michigan will be realigned to the same division of the Big Ten, according to a report from ESPN. ESPN reported that the conference plans to vote this week to approve a new divisional alignment when the conference expands to 14 teams from 12 in 2014, along with new division names and an expansion of the conference schedule. Under the reported alignment, the often-criticized Legends and Leaders division names will be replaced by geographic designations East and West. OSU and Michigan will both be placed in the East division along with Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana and the conference’s two new additions, Maryland and Rutgers. The West division will consist of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin, according to the report. Brett McMurphy, one of the reporters who broke the story for ESPN, told The Lantern in an email that “it’s not surprising” the conference plans to change the names of its divisions because of negative feedback to those names. “(With) the fact you could split the league in half geographically, it was a fairly easy decision,” McMurphy said. “I think it’s a great long-term decision to split the divisions into East and West.” McMurphy said he does not believe rivalries or competitive balance played a role in the restructuring of the Big Ten but was simply based upon geography. “Some would argue that East is much stronger than West (in college football), but in all conferences one division is usually stronger than the other,” McMurphy said. During a February interview with The Lantern, OSU athletic director Gene Smith said there was a “real lean toward geography” in realigning the conference for 14 teams but added that both he and Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon thought it would be “beneficial to the conference” to have both teams in the same division. The Big Ten did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment. OSU football historian Jack Park said in February he thought it would be a positive for the Big Ten to have OSU and Michigan in the same division. “I really think it would be good to do that,” Park said. “I think you’re going to have enough balance with the other good teams that wouldn’t be a problem, although maybe some of the other teams that are in that particular division wouldn’t like that (playing in the same division as both OSU and Michigan).” Not all fans are in favor of OSU and Michigan being on the same side of the conference. “If we (OSU) had a chance to be in a (Big Ten) championship game against them, that would be probably the ultimate game,” said Alex Davidson, a second-year in agricultural engineering. ESPN also reports that the Big Ten plans to expand its conference football game schedule to nine games from eight, which would allow each team to play all six teams in its division plus three from the opposite division each year. Smith said in February that the conference was considering expansion to either a nine- or 10-game conference schedule, but a nine-game schedule was more realistic for the purposes of scheduling stronger non-conference opponents. “We have to have seven home games for our local budget, so there’s a management issue there if you go to 10,” Smith said. “Nine gives us that flexibility to do that, and schedule up, which is what we were doing. Under the proposed schedule expansion, Big Ten teams would alternate between playing five conference games at home and four conference games on the road, and five on the road and four at home, each year. By limiting the schedule expansion to only nine games, Big Ten teams can still schedule a non-conference game on the road in years when they have five conference games and still have seven home games. read more

Ohio State baseball takes 2 of 3 in weekend series against Penn

Redshirt-junior 1st baseman Josh Dezse celebrates with teammates after scoring a run during a game against Penn State April 12 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won, 7-0. Credit: Lauren Weitz / Lantern photographerThe Ohio State baseball team (21-15, 4-8) got back on track with a weekend series victory at home against Penn State.The bats woke up in a big way for the final two games of the three-game series — both victories for OSU — and coach Greg Beals credited the lineup change and the wind for helping out the offense.“When the wind is blowing, it really helps the mentality of the hitters,” Beals said. “And we’ve been talking mentality and maybe it took the wind blowing to get them going a little bit and get that mentality at game time to attack.”Sunday’s game began with the Buckeyes jumping all over the Nittany Lions’ sophomore pitcher Nick Hedge.After scoring a run in the first on an RBI single from sophomore second baseman Troy Kuhn, redshirt-junior first baseman Josh Dezse led off the second with a deep home run to straightaway center to put the Buckeyes up two.Sophomore third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic followed with a single and junior catcher Connor Sabanosh brought him home with a stand-up triple to center.With no outs in the inning and Sabanosh on third, the Nittany Lion coaching staff had seen enough and pulled Hedge in favor of senior Ian Parvin before Hedge could allow any more damage.The pitching change didn’t stop redshirt-sophomore shortstop Nick Sergakis from scoring Sabanosh with a sacrifice fly to center.Dezse continued his onslaught on the Nittany Lion pitching staff with another bomb to center in the third to put the Buckeyes up by five.“I’ve always thought I’ve had a good swing. I just think that circumstances are starting to line up. Couple sliders, wind was blowing out and was just able to square a couple up,” Dezse said Sunday. “I’ve always known that I got a decent swing if I make contact. I’m just not really thinking too much. Just going up and see ball, hit ball.”The Nittany Lions began mounting a comeback and tied things up by scoring two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth.The Buckeyes took the lead right back in the bottom half of the fifth, though, on a bases-loaded ground ball from Bosiokovic.They broke it open again in the seventh with four runs, including RBIs from Sergakis and Dezse, giving them a total of five and seven, respectively, for the weekend.“It’s really been the same approach that I’ve had all year. It’s just falling in my favor lately,” Sergakis said. “Every at-bat I go up there and I try and fight the pitcher. I don’t want him to beat me on a pitch and I want to put my best swing on it.”The Nittany Lions got one run back in the eighth, but the Buckeyes got two more in the bottom half to end the scoring and give them the series-clinching 12-6 win.Sophomore pitcher Jake Post earned the win and redshirt-senior reliever Tyler Giannonatti came on in the sixth to allow only the one run in the eighth before freshman Travis Lakins came in to close it out.Saturday’s tilt was all Buckeyes as senior pitcher Greg Greve threw a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits and walking just two.Despite his strong performance, Greve said it was just another game for him.“I try to approach the game the same each way. I want to go out there and give my team a chance to win,” Greve said afterward. “You try to do too much as an individual player, that’s when you start getting in trouble. Win as a team, lose as a team. Defense made some great plays for me and the offense really came alive, so that made my job easier.”Offensively, home runs by Dezse and Sergakis and three errors by the Nittany Lions gave the Buckeyes a much-needed 7-0 win.“This was very important for us after losing seven straight conference games,” Beals said. “We need to get back in good ways and Greve, our senior co-captain, grabbed the bull by the horns and shut them out today.”Friday night, the Nittany Lions took the lead early and pulled out a 5-4 win.The Buckeyes are next scheduled to play on the road against West Virginia in Morgantown, W. Va., Tuesday at 6 p.m. read more

Ohio State womens soccer set to take on No 12 Wisconsin Minnesota

Then-freshman forward Nichelle Prince (7) dribbles the ball past an Eastern Michigan defender Aug. 25, 2013 ar Jesse Owens Stadium. OSU won, 2-1, in overtime.Credit: Lantern file photoAfter splitting its last two games, the Ohio State women’s soccer team is preparing for a pair of tough contests on the road.OSU is set to travel to face No. 12 Wisconsin and Minnesota this weekend. The Buckeyes are 5-6-0 overall and 2-3-0 in Big Ten play after suffering a loss against then-No. 19 Illinois and gaining a win against Northwestern. Coach Lori Walker said the team showed signs of improvement over the weekend but still sees consistency as an issue.“We are continuing to take steps forward, I felt that there were moments on Friday (against Illinois) where we defended really well and then there were moments where there were continual breakdowns,” Walker said. “Sunday (against Northwestern) I thought there were moments we were really strong and we did a good job of getting pressure on the ball in higher places and that prevented some of the longer services that we have been struggling with.”Walker praised the work of some of the team’s underclassmen who’ve had an impact on the season so far.“(Freshman forward) Sammy Edwards has certainly been an offensive threat, she’s been able to find the back of the net and had some assists and she’s been pretty dangerous. Freshman midfielder Nikki Walts has done a great job to help connect our team and I think she’s got one of the better final passes in the conference,” Walker said. “(Freshman midfielder) Sydney Dudley is just a workhorse; she’s kind of an engine in the midfield for us and so I think she’s done an exceptional job.Walker added that redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Megan Geldernick has also been an impressive contributor just about mid way through the Buckeyes season.Freshman forward Sammy Edwards and Geldernick have each been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week over the course of the season.OSU has struggled on the road this season, with a 1-4-0 record in away games. Junior defenser Marisa Wolf said that having confidence and focus will be important for this weekend.“If we come out with a lot of energy and we aren’t thinking that we aren’t going to win, then I think that we definitely can be successful,” Wolf said. “We have proven ourselves to the higher teams like Duke and North Carolina, and Wisconsin is just one of those teams that we can bump off their pedestal that they’re on right now.”The Buckeyes defeated then-No. 18 Duke early in the season 1-0 before dropping a game against then-No. 4 North Carolina by the same score just two days later.Sophomore forward Nichelle Prince said if OSU can channel those performances into its matchup with Wisconsin, the Buckeyes have a chance to be successful.“We just need to bring that same energy that we bring at home games. Being at home, there’s a lot of energy, a lot of students coming out to watch you play, and we have to bring that same energy when we’re away and try to get some wins in when we’re on someone else’s turf,” said sophomore forward Nichelle Prince.The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Badgers on Friday at 8 p.m. in Madison, Wis. and then face Minnesota on Sunday at 2 p.m. in Minneapolis. read more

Bake Off crisis Mel and Sue opt against going with the dough

first_imgLove Productions is understood to have accused the BBC of “ripping off” the Bake Off format to create two new shows, involving the search for the nation’s leading amateur artist and hair stylist.While the BBC has tried to portray the loss of the baking show as a purely financial matter, a source at the corporation said that there had been a “total breakdown of trust” between the broadcaster and the production company, which made it “impossible” to agree a deal.READ: 10 things every Great British Bake Off fan needs nowIt is understood that Love threatened to sue the corporation over Hair, a BBC Three programme released in early 2014 that was billed by the broadcaster as “a competition to find Britain’s best amateur hair stylist”, and was widely reported as being akin to a “Bake Off for hairdressing”. All the 2016 contestants with Mel Giedroyc, Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry and Sue PerkinsCredit:Mark Bourdillon/Love Productions The pair, whose unstoppable innuendos are a key draw for viewers, are understood to have rejected entering talks with Channel 4, and quit without inviting an offer from the broadcaster.In a statement the pair said they were “very shocked and saddened” about Bake Off “moving from its home”.They added: “We made no secret of our desire for the show to remain where it was. The BBC nurtured the show from its infancy and helped give it its distinctive warmth and charm, growing it from an audience of two million to nearly 15 at its peak. Mel and Sue with judges Berry and Hollywood “We’ve had the most amazing time on Bake Off, and have loved seeing it rise and rise like a pair of yeasted Latvian baps. We’re not going with the dough. We wish all the future bakers every success.”Channel 4 is believed to have entered formal talks with representatives of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the show’s judges. We’re not going with the doughSue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc Mel and Sue, pictured with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, have fronted the show since it first aired on BBC Two in 2010Credit:BBC All the 2016 contestants with Mel Giedroyc, Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry and Sue Perkins Channel 4 will be forced to find a new presenting team for the Great British Bake Off, after popular hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins announced they were quitting the show ahead of its move to the commercial channel.The presenting duo, who have hosted all seven series of the BBC baking show, said that they had opted against “going with the dough”, as part of the programme’s £25 million move to Channel 4, and would instead step down at the end of the current run.The announcement came as senior figures at the BBC told the Telegraph that the corporation had lost Bake Off after a “catastrophic breakdown” in its relationship with the production company behind the show. The rancour between the two organisations is said to have been heightened by the fact that the corporation insisted on classifying Bake Off as a factual, rather than entertainment, show, meaning that it attracts a far lower budget than programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, which are seen by fewer viewers.The talks were further complicated by the fact that the corporation had a high turnover of executives over the past year, with senior figures including Danny Cohen, the corporation’s one-time television chief, leaving the corporation, and Mark Linsey, his acting replacement, also moving on. By the time a final crunch meeting was scheduled, for Monday, there was little expectation on either side that a deal could be done.BBC sources say that the corporation offered Love around £15 million to keep the show, around twice what it currently pays for the full package of Bake Off-related programming, which the production company dismissed out of hand. Several hours later, Love signed a three-year deal with Channel 4.The commercial broadcaster faces a battle to replicate the success of Bake Off on the BBC, not least because of the decision of Perkins and Giedroyc to quit. A senior BBC source said Love had told the broadcaster that the programme was “staggeringly similar” to the Bake Off format, and that the corporation had agreed to a financial settlement with the production company, to prevent the case going to court.Barely a year later, the corporation was accused of attempting a similar move over the BBC One show, The Big Painting Challenge, presented by Richard Bacon and Una Stubbs.The broadcaster billed the programme as a “nationwide search for Britain’s best amateur artist”, which Love again complained bore all the hallmarks of its own baking show. The BBC is understood to have enlisted an official mediation service to try to settle the claim, with executives alleging that Bake Off itself had similarities to MasterChef, the BBC cookery contest, and that Love did not have a valid case. In the end, no settlement was reached.The negotiations between Love and the BBC for a new deal for Bake Off are believed to have started late last year, after Nadiya Hussain won the competition, in a final that was seen by 15 million viewers, the biggest television audience of 2015.The BBC’s opening offer to renew the contract is said to have equated to only an inflationary rise in the £200,000 that it currently pays for each episode of Bake Off, which was rejected out of hand by Love. Statement on Great British Bake Off: pic.twitter.com/j4D0mMoqmN— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) 12 September 2016 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.last_img read more

Company director who attacked Uber driver after night out at Raffles cries

first_imgMr Hussein, pictured, refused to take Croucher home after he became angry Credit:Central News Croucher insisted he only slapped the driver but the magistrates found he had kicked him in the head.Ms Blandford told Croucher: “The CCTV evidence was compelling. We saw the slap, and the security guards saying call the police.“We saw the urgency in which they ran over shouting no need to kick him in the head.“Your behaviour was unacceptable, we find that you did kick Mr Hussein a number of times while he was on the floor, and one of those kicks was to the head.”She added: “This is a very serious offence, only a custodial sentence can be justified.”Croucher, from Hornsey, north London, admitted assault by beating but denied kicking Mr Hussein.The businessman was jailed for 20 weeks, ordered to pay £620 costs, a £115 victim surcharge and £500 in compensation.A spokesperson for Raffles said: “Mr Croucher was refused entry to the club on the evening in question; Mr Croucher is not a member of the club, nor was he being accompanied by a member.”Furthermore Mr Croucher was heavily intoxicated when he approached the club and became aggressive and abusive towards our staff upon refusal. The club takes the upholding of the key licensing objectives very seriously and would like to praise the members of our security staff involved for their swift and decisive action.”Their actions prevented what could have amounted to a far more serious injury to a member of the public just trying to do his job and to Mr Croucher’s arrest and subsequent conviction.”Technology also played a key role as the body cameras worn and operated by our security staff incorporate audio recording, which coupled with our CCTV provided the club with necessary means to assist the police in full and to a satisfactory end.” But Ms Blandford found his behaviour was “unacceptable” and sentenced him to 20 weeks, adding: “You’ll just have to get used to his life being different.”The court heard Croucher, who is the director of a management consultancy, had been to Raffles with his partner, Briggitte Kudor.He attacked Mr Hussein when he refused to drive the couple home over concerns Croucher was angry. Speaking in court, the driver said: “I refused because I got scared because the gentlemen suddenly got angry, something happened between them and he harshly slammed the door.“I got out to open the door and then the gentlemen took the keys from through the window. He slapped me. I was begging for my keys and he suddenly pushed me on the pavement.” 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. This will destroy my life… my company would dieRobert Crouchercenter_img Mr Hussein refused to take Croucher home after he became angry  Croucher then attacked Mr Hussein, kicking his body and head. The driver later had to go to hospital and was prescribed antibiotics for the pain.Magistrates were shown footage of the incident recorded by a member of staff at Raffles, where Croucher is seen slapping Mr Hussein, insulting members of staff and then throwing the driver’s keys down the street.Kristoff Kwiecien, one of the doormen who restrained Croucher, told magistrates he had held the company director down as the kicking was “too much”.He said: “Mr Croucher put him on the floor and kicked him in the head. It was three to five times.The first kick was loud, like a clap.”Mr Kwiecien told magistrates Croucher had a conversation with the doormen before the incident and had threatened to have them fired.“He was very rude,” he said. “He said he had built four flats in Mayfair, and I could lose my job tomorrow.” A company director who attacked an Uber driver following a night out at a private members club cried as he was jailed and told: “Get used to life being different.”Robert Croucher kicked driver Mohammad Hussein’s head as he lay on the floor after he refused to take the 35-year-old home following a night at Raffles, in Chelsea, west London.During a hearing at Hammersmith Magistrates Court, Croucher begged magistrate Sandra Blandford to spare him a jail sentence, claiming: “This will destroy my life, I am the director of a company and everyone would lose their jobs. We have 1,000 clients, we have staff all around the country, and it would die.”last_img read more

Police sergeant faces misconduct hearing after allegedly calling junior officer sweetcheeks

first_imgA police sergeant faces a misconduct hearing after he allegedly called a junior officer “sweetcheeks” and asked if she was wearing a black thong during work phone calls.Jeremy Fitzgibbons will appear before a South Yorkshire Police panel next week accused of gross misconduct. If he is found to have committed gross misconduct, he could face possible dismissal.A summary of the alleged events on the force’s website says PS Fitzgibbons is said to have began acting inappropriately towards the junior colleague – referred to as officer ‘A’ – during the summer of 2015. 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. PS Fitzgibbons… would ask what she was wearing or whether or not she was wearing a black thongSouth Yorkshire Police summary of alleged eventscenter_img The description reads: “During 2015, Officer ‘A’ was employed by South Yorkshire Police and was a junior member of staff to PS Fitzgibbons.”Throughout the summer of 2015, PS Fitzgibbons began calling Officer ‘A’ ‘sweetcheeks’, would ask what she was wearing or whether or not she was wearing a black thong, during phone calls about work.”On 25th September 2015, PS Fitzgibbons sent Officer ‘A’ a text message. In that text message he made a sexual innuendo about what he did when speaking to her on the telephone.”PS Fitzgibbons’ behaviour towards Officer ‘A’ was unprofessional, inappropriate and breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour, in particular those paragraphs relating to ‘Authority, Respect and Courtesy’ and ‘Discreditable Conduct’.”The breach of the standards was so serious that it amounts to gross misconduct.”The misconduct hearing will take place at The Professional Standards Department in Sheffield next Wednesday and could last for up to three days.last_img read more

Call the Midwife confronts female genital mutilation in new series

first_imgAsked how much notice she was given, Thomas said: “I can’t say, but it was short. We were hopeful right up to the end that we could make it work, but we couldn’t.”I just rewrote the series without Miranda in it, which was sad because we would have loved having her in it. She is part of the Call The Midwife family. But (this time) it wasn’t meant to be.”Hart, who quit the show during series four because of work commitments, said that she could not return because she could not make the schedule work. While movies based on other period dramas such as Downton Abbey are said to be in the works, Thomas said she was not interested in a big-screen spin-off, saying: “It has never been discussed.”She said that she had received “expressions of interest from very senior actresses” to appear in the TV drama because of its strong roles for women.And she added of the secret to the show’s success: “Gradual, persistent change. In some long-running shows there is a pressure to keep characters going on and on with new stories, but that does not replicate life. My mantra is, ‘We are not a soap. We are a medical drama’.”The new series begins on Sunday. New @CallTheMidwife1 starts THIS WEEK! Get warmed up with series 1-5 💪 https://t.co/Kxu7Rl6kIp @helen_george pic.twitter.com/x7DtdjBMhD— BBC Store (@BBCStore) January 16, 2017 Call the Midwife Call The Midwife The new series will tackle difficult issuesCredit:Sophie Mutevelian /BBC Thomas said the new series had to be rewritten after Miranda Hart pulled out.The actress, 44, who played loveable midwife Camilla “Chummy” Browne, announced last year that she would not return to the period drama despite suggestions from producers that she would.Thomas said that she had written Hart into the sixth series, which airs later this month, but that she withdrew at “relatively short notice”.”We were thrilled when Miranda approached us, and I storylined the series for her, but at relatively short notice she had to withdraw,” she said. “I thought this would be a fascinating story, as it would be the first time our midwives would have seen this process. It would provide a very interesting crunch point between two cultures and of course it is now a very hot topic, quite rightly,” she told Radio Times.FGM is illegal in the UK, and nearly 6,000 new cases were recorded in England last year. But Thomas said her show would not make a moral judgment about the practice.“We are a medical drama, not a moral drama. We are not judging this woman,” she said. “You do have to be careful not to impose a modern mindset on the attitude of either the white characters or the Somalian women in that part of the story.” 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. Miranda Hart previously appeared in the programmeCredit:Jonathan Ford /BBC  Call The Midwife is to tackle the controversial issue of female genital mutilation, with a storyline set among the East End’s Somali community.The BBC One drama will take a sympathetic look at the plight of a young woman who has undergone the procedure.Heidi Thomas, the screenwriter, said she had wanted to include the storyline for some time but had to wait until the drama reached the early 1960s, when “appropriate cultural communities” had settled in east London. The new series of Call the Midwife is in the 1960sCredit:Sophie Mutevelian /BBC Miranda Hartlast_img read more

Speeding fines increase majority of drivers unaware of changes

first_imgAlmost 60 per cent of drivers are unaware of the stiffer fines for speeding that came into effect on Monday.According to a poll of drivers in the UK, only 38 per cent of drivers above the age of 25 knew about the changes, while 44 per cent of drivers under the same age were aware of them. Regardless of age, 58 per cent of the 304 respondents did not know that speeding fines have significantly increased.The new fines, which apply to England and Wales, are divided into three categories. The most minor offences incur a Band A fine, which applies to those caught driving at less than 10mph over the prevailing speed limit, of 50 per cent of the driver’s weekly income.A Band B fine, between 11 and 20mph above the speed limit, is 100 per cent of the driver’s weekly income; and a Band C fine, for those caught travelling at more than 20mph over the speed limit, is up to 150 per cent of their weekly income. In addition to the greater fines, drivers still face penalty points on their licence or disqualification, depending on the severity of the offence.Before the changes, which came into effect on Monday April 24, the maximum fine for breaking the speed limit was £1,000, or £2,500 if the offence occurred on a motorway.The changes to the speeding fine system came from a Sentencing Council consultation held last year, which hoped to ensure a ‘‘clear increase in penalty as the seriousness of offending increases’’. Crispin Moger, CEO of Marmalade, the telematics insurer for young drivers, which carried out the poll, said: ‘‘Rather than increasing fines in an attempt to promote road safety, we need to work on improving and informing our drivers. Hiking up fines won’t slow people down – especially if drivers aren’t aware of the change.‘‘The good news for young drivers is that they are less likely to be affected by these changes: according to a recent Freedom of Information request, young drivers are less likely to commit a speeding offence than drivers aged 25-54, making up less than 8 percent of speeding offences.’’ Show more The poll,  conducted by Marmalade, the specialist telematics insurer for young drivers, also  For more tips and advice, visit our Advice section, or sign up to our newsletter hereA-Z Car Finder 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.last_img read more

Dangerous levels of arsenic found in baby food could stunt growth

first_img 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. Professor Andy Meharg, lead author of the study and Professor of plant and soil sciences at Queen’s, said: “This research has shown direct evidence that babies are exposed to illegal levels of arsenic despite the EU regulation to specifically address this health challenge.”Babies are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic that can prevent the healthy development of a baby’s growth, IQ and immune system to name but a few.”A Food Standards Agency spokesman said: “It is the responsibility of food manufacturers to ensure that products comply with this legislation. Local authorities enforce this legislation in the UK and report any non-compliant results to the FSA.” Rice Around half of baby rice sold in major UK supermarkets contains illegal levels of inorganic arsenic which could stunt children’s growth and intelligence, a study has found.Despite new stricter rules on how much arsenic children’s food can contain being introduced in January, researchers from Queen’s University Belfast found levels had actually risen.  Rice contains higher levels of arsenic than other food Some 50 per cent of baby rice food products contains an illegal level of inorganic arsenic, it found.In January 2016, the EU imposed a maximum limit of inorganic arsenic on manufacturers in a bid to mitigate associated health risks. Rice has, typically, ten times more inorganic arsenic than other foods and chronic exposure can cause a range of health problems including developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of arsenic that can prevent the healthy development of a baby’s growth, IQ and immune systemProfessor Andy Meharglast_img read more

Giant agave plant bursts through the roof of grade II listed greenhouse again

first_imgAugust, 2015, when the first plant erupted A rare Agave has burst through the roof of the Italianate Glasshouse in the King George VI park in Ramsgate, KentCredit:Christopher Pledger  But the couple were amazed when in 2015, one of their agaves started to soar skywards, eventually barging through the greenhouse, in a botanical outburst which was as impressive as it was costly.It took more than a year to remove the plant, and restore the greenhouse,  but on April 17 this year, a second plant started growing six inches a day, and has been shooting up ever since, finally emerging through the roof last week.”I just thought, here we go again,” said Mr Dadds who has looked after the greenhouse with his wife for 14 years.”We suspected it might go, because it had begun to emit a sugary secretion which is a sign that the spike is about to start growing.”It took a lot of effort to remove the first one. We had to scaffold up the whole greenhouse, and attach the poles to the wall behind which made the scaffolders very nervous. Then we had to take apart the agave piece by piece. August, 2015, when the first plant erupted 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. The first agave bursting through in 2015Credit: Christopher Pledger Mrs Dadds, who also runs a tea room at the site, said: “It started growing on Easter Monday, growing at least six inches a day. We had a metal worker lined up to take the glass and glazing bar out.”Interestingly, the last time this happened was a general election.”The greenhouse usually attracts around 4,000 visitors each year but the agave blooms have attracted three times as many visitors, from all over the world.The couple have commissioned a local artist to turn the spike of the original agave plant into a totem pole, and made candle holders from the excess stem, which they are hoping to sell to fund the removal of the new 30ft plant.Both plants were brought from a house in nearby Cliftonville around 1975 but have shown little signs of activity in the last four decades.It is thought to be the first time an American Agave has bloomed in Britain for 14 years. The last time it happened was at Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh in 2001. Before its final growth spurt, it stood at around 4ft in height, with large leaves spreading over a 6ft in diameter. Then it started to produce a ‘spike.The greenhouse, which was recently restored with the help of Thanet District Council and English Heritage, has stood at the site since 1832, attracts around 4,000 visitors every year has seen a surge of interest in recent months, as news of the agave’s growth spread. It was originally part of a 22 acre estate owned by Sir Moses Montefiore, a British financier and former Sheriff of London, but is now part of the King George VI Memorial Park.In 2002 the nearby stableblock was bought by Mr Dadds’ architectural company who also are responsible for the upkeep of the greenhouse. The giant American agave is native to the deserts of the Southwestern United States and Mexico and specimens can grow for between 80 and 100 years before flowering and dying shortly afterwards.For this reason, the species is commonly known as the Century Plant.It has evolved to survive in harsh, low-water environments, so the plants produce hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds, giving them the best chance that a few might actually survive. “But at least we know what to expect this time. We’ll probably leave it up for a year, like last time, to allow people to see it, and then take it out next year.”The couple had been warned that the second agave could erupt shortly afterwards because the plants were brought to the greenhouse at the same time, between 80 and 100 years ago. But it was too large to to remove the couple could only wait and watch.Curiously the original agave bloomed during the last general election campaign, while while the new plant began to erupt a day before Theresa May called the snap June election.  A rare Agave has burst through the roof of the Italianate Glasshouse in the King George VI park in Ramsgate, Kent To allow one giant agave plant to erupt through the roof of a grade II listed greenhouse might be considered unfortunate, but to let two, starts to look like carelessness.So spare a thought for custodians Phil and Janice Dadds who had just finished repairing the glass panels of their Victorian Italianate glass house in Ramsgate, Kent, when they noticed that a second agave was starting to wake up. American agave plants can live for a hundred years and bloom spectacularly just once in their lifetime, before dying, and most gardeners will never see the flowers. The first agave bursting through in 2015last_img read more