live video

President Trump addresses UN delegates

Sports Today: Bengals, Browns enter free agency with wildly different agendas

The NFL’s 2018 league year begins today. 

The Cleveland Browns have already been busy, and the Cincinnati Bengals made a big move Monday to address their biggest need. 

What’s next? 

RELATED: Browns reportedly sign defender away from Bengals

Well, the world seems to be Cleveland’s oyster, as it usually is in the offseason before games come back around to get in the way. 

The Bengals are probably back in conservative mode after spending some money and a little draft capital to acquire Cordy Glenn to play offensive tackle. 

RELATED: Bengals open critical week with strong move

That’s a good thing overall even if it would be more fun for media and fans to see them make another splash or two this month. 

If a team is being conservative, that means it has a lot of things to like on its roster. 

Sometimes that team is wrong, and the last two years in Cincinnati are an example of that. 

The Bengals’ having consecutive losing seasons is almost entirely a result of trusting in some draft picks who didn’t work out. 

If they had a better coach or quarterback, they probably would have won a few more games, but the rest of the roster still would not have been good enough to get it done in January. 

I believe as we sit here today there is a chance it will be a lot better this fall, but obviously that depends heavily on how they do in the draft. 

READ MORE: Marvin Lewis talks about new assistants, their backup QB dilemma and more

The development of youngsters such as Joe Mixon, Andrew Billings, Carl Lawson, Williams Jackson III and Nick Vigil will be crucial, too, but those guys have already shown more promise than the ones who let them down over the last two years. 

Actually getting something out of John Ross or Cedric Ogbuehi wouldn’t hurt, either…


The NCAA tournament started last night with the first night of the First Four

Yes, I count these as NCAA tournament games even if they aren’t the same as playing in the round of 64. 

The goal has been to make the teams who are in Dayton to start the week feel like they are at one of those weekend sites, and by most accounts that has been met if not exceeded. 

RELATED: ‘This is what March Madness is all about’

The original play-in game was a dumb concept. 

Having four of the No. 16s who already won automatic bids have to play an extra game before two of them lose to a No. 1 seed is still dumb for multiple reasons, but last night was a reminder teams like Radford really do value the ability to win an “NCAA tournament game.” 

St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt seemed to feel the same way after his team beat UCLA as he got a bit emotional on the postgame interview with Turner Sports. 

So the First Four has morphed into a pretty cool event. 

It would be even better if all eight teams playing Tuesday or Wednesday at UD Arena were at-large teams who only marginally deserved to make the field anyway, a move that I don’t understand not being made since that would probably also increase television ratings because it would involve more teams with big names and larger fan bases. 

That said, the smaller schools getting invited also give the two days in Dayton a little more of that all-around tournament feel because they would be part of the action at a traditional regional, too. 

RELATED: 5 things to know about Wednesday’s First Four games

Part of the fun last year for me was hearing North Carolina Central’s pep band rock out and Mount St. Mary’s mascot Emmit S. Burg own a dance-off with the New Orleans Privateer. 

NCCU coach LeVelle Morton’s majestic sport coat was also as memorable as his confirmation the experience, environment and opportunity were great for his team. 

“It was tremendous,” Moton said of the atmosphere after his team lost to fellow No. 16 seed UC Davis. “The fans and the energy, and you could feel the tension in the air.

“And I think it’s some neutral fans here, probably just Dayton fans who just love basketball, and I think after a while they just chose a side.“That’s what March Madness is about.” 

Morton and the Eagles are back in Dayton tonight to take on Texas Southern, a matchup that is a little controversial as it involves the only two historically black colleges or universities in the field. 

“I hate it,” Moton said. “I hate that it has to be two HBCUs clashing, because I have the ultimate respect for (Mike Davis’) program. And truth be told we’ve kind of been the representation of each league, and I wanted the world to be able to see what each league can offer. It’s unfortunate, but it’s best to be on this side of the coin than on the other side not getting a bid at all and not having to play anyone and having your season be over with.”

The nightcap will pit Arizona State against Syracuse in the absolute epitome what a First Four matchup should be.

Both of those teams have 20 wins, but they would have had no legitimate complaints if they were left out entirely… 

Sticking with college basketball, there is a report out there that Thad Matta could be the next coach at Georgia. 

I understand the former Ohio State coach wanting to give it another go, but I’m not sure this is a great idea for either side. 

I suspect Georgia’s expectations for basketball are similar to Ohio State’s — just high enough to get you fired if you’re not great

That can be a problem if the institution is also, while certainly interested in being good at basketball, most deeply committed to football. 

Matta was a great coach for many years at Ohio State, but basically everything about his program had gone into decline by the time he was finished. 

If there was still anything exceptional being done, he would probably still be in charge in Columbus. 

RELATED: Pulling plug on Matta era tough-but-correct call

Lots of attention has gone to his recruiting, especially with more people being made aware of the seedy underbelly of talent acquisition and claims Matta’s unwillingness to take part cost him players.

But that was far from the only problem in Columbus the last few years. 

He was bringing in good enough players to continue to be an NCAA tournament team at the worst, one that would make noise in the Big Ten race at least from time to time. 

That much was proven by this season. 

The lack of ability to develop skill or chemistry, whether that was more on Matta or the staff he hired, was what sealed his fate. 

Maybe the magic will be rekindled at a new place, but I won’t believe it until I see it. 

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

HS Roundup 9/24: Brown breaks 24-year-old record in Milton-Union win

Olivia Brown broke the school record for career digs during Milton-Union’s 3-0 win over Ansonia in girls volleyball on Monday. The record Brown passed, set by Jessica Herkins Brumbaugh, had stood since 1994. Milton-Union improved to 12-4 overall with the victory. Boys Soccer Bellefontaine 7, Graham 1: Daunte George poured in three goals and Dominik...
HS Scores 9/24: Tecumseh girls shut out Xenia, KR/Urbana draw

Boys Soccer Monday’s Results Bellefontaine 7, Graham 1 Benjamin Logan 4, London 1 New Knoxville 3, Allen East 2 Northwestern 2, Jonathan Alder 1 Ottoville 2, Temple Christian 1 OSSCA State Poll Division I 1. St. Ignatius, 8-0-1, 100; 2. Moeller, 7-0-1, 89; 3. Medina, 8-0-2, 74; 4. Olentangy Liberty, 9-1-0, 69; 5. St. Johns Jesuit, 10-0-1, 56...
High School Football State Poll: Which area teams are ranked?
High School Football State Poll: Which area teams are ranked?

How a state panel of sports writers and broadcasters rates Ohio high school football teams in the weekly Associated Press poll of 2018. Teams are ranked by OHSAA divisions, with won-lost record and total points (first-place votes in parentheses): 1. Cin. Colerain (9) 5-0 217 2. Mentor (8) 5-0 214 3. Pickerington Central (6) 5-0 208 4. Reynoldsburg...
Ohio State QB Haskins wins Big Ten Player of the Week award for second time in four weeks
Ohio State QB Haskins wins Big Ten Player of the Week award for second time in four weeks

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award Monday for the second time in four weeks. Haskins shared the award with Penn State running back Miles Sanders. The No. 4 Buckeyes and No. 9 Nittany Lions play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in State College, Pa. In a 49-6 victory against Tulane, Haskins completed...
Report: Bengals lose defensive lineman to season-ending injury
Report: Bengals lose defensive lineman to season-ending injury

Bengals defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss to Carolina, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Rapoport said Glasgow, a second-year player from the University of Michigan, suffered a torn ACL. Glasgow, a key reserve, played in all three games this season and appeared in all 16 games as...
More Stories