Farmers’ core panel backs Maratha rally on August 9

first_imgPune: The farmers’ sukanu or core committee, spearheading the farmers’ agitation across the State, has lent its support to the silent rally to be held by the Maratha community in Mumbai on August 9.Committee members had organised a gathering in Pune on Sunday to review the situation on the farmers’ demands.The rally, organised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha to demand reservation in government jobs and education for members of the Maratha community, is expected to see massive participation. The leaders of the core committee said that in support of the Maratha agitation, they will stage sit-ins and rasta roko protests on August 14 and 15, and aim to prevent guardian ministers across Maharashtra from conducting the flag hoisting ceremony on Independence Day. Swabhimani Paksha riftMeanwhile, committee members said there were no differences between Swabhimani Paksha head Raju Shetti and Minister of Agriculture for State Sadabhau Khot, Mr. Shetti’s number two aide in the party. Speaking in Solapur district, Mr. Shetti, in a gesture of rapprochement, expressed confidence that Mr. Khot would not leave the party. “Some people may not be able to stomach the stern discipline necessitated by our [farmers’] movement. But I do not think Sadabhau Khot will exit the party,” he said. He refuted rumours that the Swabhimani Paksha was planning to exit the State government. Relations between the two farmer leaders have been strained for a few months. Mr. Khot, last week, had said he would not appear before any internal party committees, after he was grilled by the party’s core working committee for alleged anti-party activities.last_img read more

Election Commission monitoring happenings on the border: Ashok Lavasa

first_imgThe Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday said it is keeping an eye on developments along the India-Pakistan border, while being “constitutionally bound to perform its duties”.“The ECI is well aware of happenings on the border and we are keeping an eye on every activity. At the same time we are constitutionally bound to perform our duties,” said Ashok Lavasa, Election Commissioner of India. He was addressing a press conference in Mumbai after a two-day visit to Maharashtra to assess the preparedness of the State to conduct the forthcoming general elections. He was responding to whether Tuesday’s air strike in Pakistan and further developments will affect the schedule of the Lok Sabha elections. The ECI team held meetings with political parties, police officials, senior bureaucrats, heads of nodal agencies, railways and postal officials to take stock of the situation. Taking stock “We are happy with the State’s preparations for the polls,” said Mr. Lavasa. The ECI announced that the State, for the first time, will have Voter-verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines at all polling stations. “It was used in the bye-elections that took place in the State, but this time, 100% polling stations in the State will have VVPAT machines,” he announced. Asked about the complaint of inclusion of 44 lakh bogus voters in the electoral list submitted by Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr. Lavasa said he will be replying to the complainant with ‘action taken’ within 15 days. As per the final publication of electoral rolls on January 31, 2019, the State has 8,73,30,484 voters, of whom 4,57,02,579 are male and 4,16,25,819 female. The State has 2,086 third-gender voters. “The ECI is also considering the option of applying a 48-hour silence period, before the voting day, to the print media,” he said, when asked whether the ECI is contemplating a ban on political advertisements in newspapers on voting day. “That issue has been pending,” he said. During the forthcoming elections, for the first time, accessibility observers will be appointed. At least one polling station managed by women will be in each Assembly segment in the State.Maharashtra has 95,473 polling stations at 49,284 polling locations. The Income Tax Department will deploy quick-response teams throughout the State. In addition, 942 flying squads, 1,013 static surveillance teams, 705 video surveillance teams and 288 video viewing teams are being formed.last_img read more

My Nani

first_imgWhen my sister was a little girl she asked my mother the name of a certain old lady. “Call her Nani,” my mother responded off-handedly. Hereafter, to my sister, all old ladies became “Nani.” This name was extended to my father’s mother, who was not really an old lady at that time and who is, in a strict sense, not really my “Nani” but my “Dadi.”When I learned how to talk, I also began to call my paternal grandmother Nani, despite her repeated protests. “My friends will laugh at me,” she would say. “How will I tell them that you call me Nani?”Some things never change. The name stuck. In my book, my “Dadi” is still “Nani.” I remember the Nani of my childhood – in her pastel chiffon saris and chignon buns, always at my grandfather, Dada’s, side. Dada, the man who adored his wife to no end and always wanted her beside him. Dada, cigarette hanging on the edge of his lips, the man who loved to go on long sunset drives in the small West African town of Kumasi where he lived for most of his adult life. Dada, dressed in well-pressed white and beige shirts and pants, wearing shiny, polished black shoes. Dada, hair combed back, clean-shaven and wearing his signature dark glasses.Nani had a refrigerator down the hall from the room she shared with Dada. In it, she stored all sorts of goodies. Whenever we visited, my sister and I would vanish from my mother’s watchful eye and sneak to Nani’s room. She would hold our hands and lead us to the icebox. There, she would bestow upon us a bar of dense chocolate. Locally made Golden Tree chocolate, wrapped in sparkling aluminum and tempting red paper, it tasted of freshly crushed cocoa beans picked in Asante land.Near the end of Dada’s life, my grandparents moved to India. At that time, my sister and I were living with Meme, my maternal grandmother, in Pune, where we were attending Catholic school. Nani and Dada rented an apartment below ours. In the evenings, after I had finished my homework, I would run across the street to sit in Dada’s lap.Nani would come in and feed us barbecued liver on wooden skewers and fried magaz, brain – “E be good for your blood. E go make you strong. You want to chop?” she would say – and hummus made out of channa dal, doused with olive oil and sprinkled with red pepper and emerald coriander.Some memories are so clear that you have to wonder whether you perhaps invented them.After Dada passed away, Nani – who had never liked to eat meat – turned vegetarian. She didn’t ever cook the liver or the brain for us again. What I remember after that – Nani dressed in her all-white salwar kameez, saris, and pant suits, with her still-black hair put up in a bun, making typical Sindhi sweets for us to eat.Monthal, a sweet meat made of besan (gram) flour, melted sugar, and condensed milk is her specialty and pride. Stir the dough over fire, add crushed pistachios and almonds, form into a circle or a square and there you have it. “Mint mein thay sagati,” is her motto. “I can make it in a minute.”Nani is also famous for her lolo, a bread thicker than chappatti, crisp and fried in melted sugar. Her malpuda, another sweet bread, fried until chewy, is to die for. And her satpudas, white, concentric circles of crisp, flaky dough sprinkled with crystal white sugar – they melt in your mouth.In this day of low fat and non-cholesterol regimens, Nani’s cooking does not receive the enthusiastic reception it once did. But, Nani is a woman of all ages. She too has become health conscious, squeezing her fried foods dry of excess oil. She presses her lolos against folded paper towels and holds them between her palms. “See,” she says, “So much oil e dey come out.” Her face glows with excitement. She has found a way in which she can feed her 13 grandchildren without inflating their arteries.Nowadays, Nani leads a shuttle lifestyle. She rotates abodes, alternating between the homes of her six children, traveling from Ghana to New York to Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., to Casablanca and then to India every few months. Nani has never really lived in India – she left Sindh around the 1947 Partition for Ghana as a young bride and didn’t return to India until the 1960’s. Her first language, then, is Sindhi and her second, English. Nani can read jars of condiments and medicine containers, directions of the VCR, and road signs. This winter, she even read cover-to-cover the family newsletter that my cousins and I published. You can’t get more cosmopolitan than that.But, Nani’s roots are simpler. She was born and raised in Hyderabad, Sindh. It was there, in school, that she first learned to read and write English. Nani practiced her English by speaking in broken, Ghanaian-style, pidgin English with the vegetable vendors, the cook, the housekeepers, my grandfather’s employees, and all other Ghanaians she came into contact with as a resident of Ghana between the 1940’s and the 1980’s. Somehow, when we, her grandchildren were born, this English became our primary mode of communication with her. It never occurred to anyone that Nani could teach us Sindhi.So, I lived 20 years of my life not knowing that I could communicate with Nani in any other way. Sure, I could understand Sindhi, but I never chose to extend that understanding to my speech.Many times Nani would say to me, “Talk to me in Sindhi. Otherwise how you go learn your language?” I would laugh in response.A few years ago, I spent three months working in Bombay as an intern at a local newspaper. During this time, I ended up living with my father’s aunt who was staying in the city for the summer. Aunty Sundri, as I called her, has always reminded me a great deal of Nani. Apart from the fact that they are good friends, she too has spent the larger part of her life in Ghana, she too has always spoken to me in her broken English, and she too was in many ways as cosmopolitan as my Nani. Living in close quarters with her, I decided that the time had come for me to learn how to speak my mother tongue. My impetus – here, there was nobody around to mock my mistakes, improper accent, and inconsistencies.Later that summer, when I met Nani in Pune, I told her that henceforth, I only wanted to speak to her in Sindhi. Making the transition was difficult, to say the least. Many times, my tongue would stick in my throat and lumps of “ummmm” and stones of “you know” would emerge instead of the eloquent thoughts I wanted to share with her. Often, she would respond to my pidgin Sindhi with her what-now-seemed-to-me fluent English.The comfort zone that we had established with each other over the past 20 years was not easy to break. Still, I persisted, because inside, I felt that the fruits of these attempts would be worthwhile.Nani loves to talk. On the phone, to strangers, to her children, and if possible, to her grandchildren too. Ask her one question and you can have her running for an hour, turning back the reels of time to remember the day when this or that happened, to remember so-and-so’s sister’s brother’s aunt who said this or that, to remember how on May 16, 1976, such and such took place. Nani never forgets a date, a name, or a place.Until recently, I did not know how to turn on the tap of her memory. Gradually though, I have begun to learn how to use the key of my language (that had always been at my disposal) to unlock my grandmother’s thoughts.I am continuously amazed with my discoveries.For example, I have shared a bed with Nani in the past and so, I know very well that she is an early riser – always up before sunrise. I have also been the sleepy audience of Nani’s early morning exercise routine – she lifts her legs high, spreads them, joints them together again, rotates them on an imaginary bicycle, folds her knees, lifts her arms, breathes in, breathes out. There’s more, but my mind, in its slumber, does not remember.Nani is visiting my family this summer. A few weeks ago, I was driving her to Manhattan when we got stuck in traffic on the West Side Highway. As we waited for the roads to unclog, she started to tell me all the prayers she chants every morning when she wakes up. Then, she told me how 18 years ago, soon after Dada’s passing, a whistle began to wake her up at 3 am each day. At first, she was scared by the strange sound in her ear. But, she never told anyone about it; like many of her thoughts, she kept this one to herself too. It took her some time, but at last, Nani told me, she figured out that this was her internal alarm calling her to wake up and meditate.“I don’t know how to sit there with my eyes closed and meditate,” Nani said. “So, I chant the name of all the gods – Ram, Krishna, Durga, Jagadambe, Sairam, Guru Nanak, Dada Shyam … They are all the same.”If I couldn’t speak my language, I would never have known the chain of events that led her to change her sleeping patterns.That day, Nani and I also talked about marriage, compromise, stubbornness, about issues of power and control within male-female relationships, about the need to adjust to changing times, about her philosophy on life.“All this time, I never knew what I was missing,” I find myself thinking these days, after every conversation I have with her.Nani, with her strong and independent mind and feminist streak, makes me eager to be an “old lady.” In her, I do not see old age as a fearful prospect, but as a peak toward which I must aspire. Tonight, at dinner, I asked her how old she is. I don’t know why, but I was shocked to learn that she is 75. It’s hard to guess this from looking at her or from being a witness to the energy, inner strength, resilience, and zest for life that she exhibits.Last month, I turned 25. To celebrate my birthday, my family went to dinner at a Korean restaurant. Nani came along, dressed in her white and gold embroidered satin salwar kameez, and sat next to me. In good humor, I asked her if she wanted to learn how to eat with chopsticks. Within sixty seconds, Nani had picked up the technique. She ate the rest of our four-course meal with chopsticks!I was surprised, but looking back upon this tiny incident, I tell myself now that I should have known better to expect anything less from my Nani.Originally published in Little India, July 1999. Related Itemslast_img read more

Superior USA beat India 3-0 in U-17 World Cup opener

first_img× October 06, 2017 SHARE SHARE EMAIL football COMMENT SHAREcenter_img COMMENTS India showed heart but lacked in skill and quality with a much superior United States of America handing them a sound 3-0 thrashing in the opening encounter of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, here tonight.Playing in their maiden FIFA tournament, rank outsiders India were outclassed by a side that was a few notches above the ‘Boys in Blue’ in physically as well as technically.Captain and star striker Josh Sargent gave US the lead in the 30th minute through a penalty before Chris Dunkin (51st) got a freak goal and Andrew Carleton (84th) hit on the counter after the change of ends.But for fine anticipatory skills of goalkeeper Moirangthem Deeraj Singh, who made some impressive saves, India could have conceded even more goals.As predicted by head coach Luis Norton de Matos, US made a wave attacks throughout the match and India were left to defend their citadel for the better part of the game.While the USA got several chances, India had only had a couple of clear look at the goal.Midfielder Komal Thatal, the best Indian in sight today, wasted a chance in the second half when his lob was off target while Anwar Ali’s rasping shot in the 83rd minute hit the horizontal.The sizeable crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium cheered the home players, who became the first ever national team to play in a FIFA World Cup at any level, but the gulf in the class was clearly evident.The accuracy in passes, the first touch, positional sense of the US players made it clear that it was always a catching up game for the Indian boys.India were pushed back in their own half most of the time in the face of incessant US attack.The US attacking trio of Sargent, Tim Weah and Ayo Akinola kept the Indian defence on tenterhooks.India’s Portuguese coach De Matos surprisingly named midfielder Abhijt Sarkar and Rahul Kannoly as right full back in the starting line-up with Aniket Jadhav being the lone man upfront. The ultra-defensive tactic put them under severe pressure as soon as the match started.US captain and striker Sargent, who will sign up with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen next year, found himself alone in the Indian box but his shot rebounded off the Indian custodian’s chest.Next, a 20th minute corner was punched away by goalkeeper Dheeraj.After a sustained period of US attack, Sargent was body- checked by Jitendra Singh off the ball inside the box and the referee promptly pointed to the dreaded spot at the half-hour mark.Sargent himself stepped up and converted from the spot to the dismay of the crowd.Ningthoinganba Meetei and Komal Thatal had a few good moves from the right and left flanks respectively and those were not threatening enough.Aniket had a crack at goal late in the first half but it went straight into US goalkeeper’s grasp.India had a golden chance in 49th minute but Thatal’s shot sailed over.Following a clearance by Ningthoinganba, the ball bounced past American defender Chris Durkin and Thatal was hurried into lobbing the ball way over cross piece.In the 70th minute, de Matos made to changes in search of a goal with Nongdam Naorem coming in Ningthoinganba and striker Rahim ali for Abhijit. The move gave some impetus to the Indian attack.The third goal was a classical counter-attack after US defence got hold off a crossbar rebound off Snwar Ali’s shot.They made a quick counter and the Indian defenders could didn’t have the speed to run back in time to defend.Carleton was sent in the clear and the striker with an outside dodge beat Dheeraj before easily slotting the ball home. 0 Published onlast_img read more

Since 2015, very little to choose between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma

first_imgVirat Kohli is revered as the most prolific run-getter in the one-day format currently but his deputy Rohit Sharma has been matching and sometimes even bettering the Indian skipper in 50 overs cricket in the last three years.Rohit on Wednesday smashed his third one-day double hundred, scoring an unbeaten 208 off 153 balls to guide India to a 141-run victory over Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Mohali.Rohit already holds the record for crossing 200 on more than one occasion and also holds the world record for the highest individual score in ODIs with his 264 against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens in 2014.In Rohit and Kohli, India thus, have two of the most consistent run-scorers in the ODI format.The duo is joint-second in the list of most hundreds since 2015 with 11 each, just one behind Australian opener David Warner.Rohit however, has taken just 47 matches to score 11 tons while Kohli has done it in 56 ODIs. During the same period of time Rohit has amassed 2665 runs at an average of 63.45 with 11 half-centuries while Kohli, having played 9 more ODIs than Rohit, has scored 2822 at 64.13 with 12 fifties.”This year, he’s scored as many hundreds as Virat Kohli. We keep talking about Virat Kohli and how great he is in one day cricket but look at Rohit. He is no way behind, 11 hundreds in 50 odd innings (since 2015).”I have always said that he’s a terrific batsman and a match-winner. Hopefully he can transform his renewed hunger for runs, his renewed ability to convert hundreds into double hundreds in the next 10 months. The shots he played was absolutely breathtaking,” Sourav Ganguly told India Today after the Mohali game.advertisementThis year alone the Hitman has scored 1286 runs in 20 ODIs at 75.64 and could very well surpass his captain in the final ODI against Sri Lanka at Vizag. Kohli has played six more matches than Rohit this year and scored 1460 runs at 76.84 at a strike rate of just over 99. Rohit has been getting his runs at exactly 100 runs per 100 balls.Both players occupy the top-two spots in the list of batsmen with most runs this year and are the only two players to cross 1000 runs in 2017.Rohit is 174 runs behind Kohli with one game remaining but nobody can bet against the stand-in skipper ending up with the most runs this year because of the form he is in right now and with Kohli on a break for his marriage with Anushka Sharma in Italy.Kohli is a modern-day great with the reputation of being the best chaser in cricket history. Rohit on the other hand, is at his best when India bats first because then he gets the time to pace his innings without being under too much pressure.Even at Mohali, like his other two double hundreds, Rohit started off very slowly scoring his first fifty in 65 balls. But from there on he went into beast mode smashing a run-a-ball fifty and then needed just 36 balls to score his next hundred runs in the death overs.By the end of the innings, Rohit had smashed 13 boundaries and cleared the big boundaries of the PCA stadium 12 times.Rohit beats Kohli in terms of runs scored after crossing the three-figure mark in ODIs since 2001. The Mumbai batsman has amassed 812 runs in 16 innings while Kohli has 665 runs in 32 innings.Coach Ravi Shastri and the Indian team management must be grinning from ear to ear having two of the best batsmen in world cricket in its arsenal. In Rohit, the Men in Blue have the best opener in ODI cricket and in Kohli, the best chaser in the modern game.last_img read more

India coach should be a good man-manager: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

first_imgGurpreet Singh Sandhu wants the Indian football team coach to be a good man-manager above all, as he feels that will push them to do well as a unit.”As a player, I would want someone who helps us become better players and is a good man manager. Man management is very important for a head coach of any team,” Gurpreet told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of the Red Bull Neymar Jrs Five 5v5 football tournament.India’s No.1 goalkeeper Gurpreet is a Red Bull Athlete and is in town to witness the national finals.”We have senior and junior players and he needs to make sure that everyone is happy. Someone who knows the strengths and weaknesses and can push us to play better football. We know we can play better football,” Gurpreet said.Since Stephen Constantine resigned as head coach following India’s exit from the Asian Cup, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has received more than 250 applications for the job with big names such as Raymond Domenech, former manager of the French national team and former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson also throwing their hat into the ring.After further scrutinising, eight to 10 coaches could be interviewed through long-distance calls and finally, a couple of them may be called to Delhi for personal interviews.Constantine not only helped India play the Asian Cup after a hiatus of eight years in his second stint as India coach, but also oversaw a period of resurgence in Indian football where Sunil Chhetri and Co. broke into the top 100 in FIFA rankings last year.advertisementBut his stay was sullied with rumours of senior players being unhappy with him and even asking for his removal doing the rounds.Not wanting to delve into those issues, Gurpreet said Constantine did a good job with them, and now the team needs someone who can carry forward the legacy.”He did a good job by taking us to the Asian Cup. We now need someone who can push us to play better football,” said Gurpreet who is the first Indian to play in the Europa League for Norwegian club Stabaek FC.”We need to make sure that we have a procedure where we learn and play football as the coach wants us to play,” the 27-year- old added.Gurpreet, who lifted the Indian Super League title with Bengaluru FC this year, also pitched for one league with relegation and promotion being the key, saying I-League clubs wanting to shut shop due to negligence is unfortunate and the issue should be addressed immediately.”It doesn’t matter whatever you call the league. We should have a league where you have more than 10 teams and relegation promotion. Which is the main league and all is secondary. As a player, the way forward is having relegation and promotion in a league,” he said.The Super Cup, which FC Goa won, was marred by many clubs pulling out of the competition. The likes of Minerva Punjab FC and Neroca FC have also wanted to shut shop due to the step-motherly treatment meted out to I-League clubs.”Why have a situation where clubs are thinking of shutting shop? We need to understand why is this happening. If things need to be sorted then it should be sorted. The problem gets resolved by addressing it,” said Gurpreet.India will be taking part in the Kings Cup in June ahead of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to kick-off in September. Gurpreet said the aim is to remain consistent as it’s the hardest thing to do.”The most difficult thing is to be consistent. I want to maintain that both for my club and national team.”On the Red Bull Neymar Jrs Five, Gurpreet said: “I am very happy to be part of this. They are always very enthusiastic about sports.”The 2019 World Champions will have the experience of a lifetime, with the chance to play against Neymar Jr himself in Brazil and meeting him again in Paris.Also Read | Indian or foreigner, profile of coach counts: Bhaichung Bhutialast_img read more

Top College Football Grad Transfer Announces His Commitment

first_imgAn interior view of the Florida Gators football stadium as two jets fly above.GAINESVILLE, FL – NOVEMBER 12: Two fighter jets perform a flyover before the game between the Florida Gators and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)One of the top defensive graduate transfers in college football has announced his commitment.Jonathan Greenard, a standout pass rusher at Louisville, took to Twitter to announce where he’ll be playing in 2019.The former three-star recruit has committed to Florida.“I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to still be able to play this game. I want to thank the other universities for considering me as well. With that being said, I will be continuing my collegiate career as a Graduate Student at the University of Florida,” he announced.I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to still be able to play this game. I want to thank the other universities for considering me as well. With that being said, I will be continuing my collegiate career as a Graduate Student at the University of Florida ? ? ??— Jon (@jongreenard7) January 9, 2019Greenard was a standout pass rusher for Louisville during his time with the Cardinals.The Cardinals’ pass rusher was injured for most of the 2018 season, but totaled 9.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss in the previous two seasons.Florida is expected to contend for a College Football Playoff spot in 2019.The Gators should begin the year ranked inside the top 10.last_img read more

Algoma Still Considering Alternatives for Cancelled Ships

first_imgzoomUljanik; Image Courtesy: Wikimedia / Orlovic under Creative Commons lincense Algoma Central Corporation is still examining potential alternatives to replace the cancelled shipbuilding contracts at the cash-strapped Croatian shipbuilder Uljanik.Ken Bloch Soerensen, President and Chief Executive Officer, said that the cancellations eliminated CAD 145 million (USD 110 million) of commitments and that CAD 112 million of installment refunds was expected.The company cancelled four ships at Uljanik over the past thee months as Uljanik was making very slow progress on the construction. The first contract for the construction of one Equinox self-unloader was rescinded in September. Three more cancellations of Equinox vessel contracts followed suit in October.The process has begun for reimbursement of contract installments paid to date and related interest, including issuing demands under related refund guarantees of approximately CAN 100,000.“We don’t expect to receive any refunds until early 2019,” Peter D. Winkley, Chief Financial Officer of the company, added.Soerensen pointed out that there are no intentions of shrinking the fleet in the near-term or even long term.The company is currently working on a fleet renewal plan and has retired 16 vessels since 2011. It has taken delivery of seven out of 12 Equinox vessels as part of its newbuilding plans. Eight more ships are expected to join the fleet in 2019, the company informed.Separately, during the third quarter Algoma and Nova Marine Holdings launched a new joint venture, NovaAlgoma Bulk Holdings (NABH).NABH, created in the third quarter of this year, has interests in four deep-sea bulkers operating internationally and is managed out of Lugano, Switzerland.With the latest move Algoma’s coverage of the global short sea shipping segment includes 50% interests, through joint ventures, in NovaAlgoma Cement Carriers, NovaAlgoma Short-Sea Holdings and NABH.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more

Overcast Sunday morning in Delhi light rain forecast

first_imgNew Delhi: It was an overcast Sunday morning in Delhi with the minimum temperature settling at 27.2 degrees Celsius, normal for the season. The MeT department has forecast generally cloudy skies for the day. Maximum temperature would be around 34 degrees Celsius. The city received 0.4 mm rain in the past 24 hours, said a MeT department official. Relative humidity was 85 percent, at 8.30 AM, he said. The city recorded a high of 32.9 degrees Celsius and a low of 27.4 degrees Celsius on Saturday.last_img

Computer issues temporarily shut down Air Canada checkin call centre operations

first_imgMONTREAL – Air Canada says it has resolved a computer issue that disrupted web and mobile check-ins and call centre operations, and temporarily delayed boarding on some flights.The Vancouver International Airport reported some congestion Tuesday morning due to technical issues with Air Canada’s system.Air Canada says in an email that it has fixed the computer issue, and that airport check-in and all remaining systems are now back online.The airline also says it can confirm there were no flight cancellations as a result of this, though there were some minor delays associated.Air Canada did not provide details on how many airports were affected but Toronto Pearson International Airport has not reported disruptions.last_img

Montreal police seeking to increase number of stun guns for its officers

first_imgMONTREAL – Montreal police outlined a proposal Tuesday to bring in stun guns for every two-person team by 2020.A group of senior police officers told city councillors Tuesday they’ve been impressed with the effectiveness of the controversial weapon — noting that simply displaying it is usually enough to defuse the situation in 80 to 85 per cent of cases.The presentation to the city’s public security committee focused on police use of intermediate weapons — a term for tools such as conducted energy weapons, batons and spray that are not intended to cause serious injury or death.It includes a plan to make stun guns more widespread.Officers will begin training soon — using the stun weapon requires two days of training and an annual refresher.Cmdr. Daniel Gervais said the weapon was deployed 236 times in Montreal in 2017 and made contact with a suspect just five times.“The simple act of showing the weapon to the suspect was enough to defuse the situation,” Gervais said.Montreal police deputy police chief Dominic Harvey, in charge of rank-and-file officers, told councillors about a recent high-risk intervention in a busy downtown mall that was resolved using a Taser.“They (officers) said if they didn’t have it, they would have only had their service weapon to resolve the situation,” Harvey said. “Whether it’s maintaining order in a situation like the one I described, the objective is to minimize the amount of force used.”Interim police chief Martin Prud’homme sent a memorandum to officers Monday, noting police stationed at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport as well as in the subway system will also have the weapons in addition to front-line officers.But one longtime Montreal city councillor urged caution before the city authorizes widespread use of the stun guns.“All the information shows quite clearly that Tasers are not harmless weapons,” said Marvin Rotrand.He said an increase in the number of shock weapons in the United States has resulted in far more frequent use by authorities.“What’s generally happened is that intermediate weapons have led to lazier policing,” he said.Similar debates over expanded use are taking place in other cities like Toronto and Ottawa, where police have also made the request.Montreal police subsequently added more electro-shock weapons to their arsenal following a recommendation in a 2016 coroner’s report into the death of a homeless, mentally ill man named Alain Magloire in 2014.Magloire was fatally shot by police, with the coroner finding that officers didn’t have a stun weapon available during the incident.The coroner suggested the number of stun weapons was insufficient for a city the size of Montreal and lagged behind the number in other Canadian cities like Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto.There was a call for a moratorium on stun weapons after the death of Quilem Registre in October 2007. He was shocked six times in a minute and died four days later. The coroner who investigated said it might have contributed in his death.Rotrand, who voiced his opposition following Registre’s death, again urged careful consideration.“I don’t think that this should be buffaloed through city council,” he said.Dan Philip of the Black Coalition of Quebec also called for police to take a different tact and focus on training to deal with mental health cases.“The emphasis should be on training, the emphasis should be on protecting lives,” Philip said.“A system should be in place — not to Taser people — but to give them an opportunity, to give police an opportunity, to deal with those problems.”last_img read more

Sri Lankan Defence Attachés told to serve and not be served

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana said that the prime duty of Sri Lankan Defence Attachés assigned to Sri Lanka Missions overseas is to serve the country and its people and that they should be mindful of the fact that they are ‘there to serve and not to be served’.Foreign Minister Marapana made these remarks attending as the chief guest of the certificate awarding ceremony of the Intensive Training Programme for military officers who would be assigned as Defence Attachés/ Advisors in Sri Lanka Missions overseas, organized by the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI), the training arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Ministry said today. Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, members of the Colombo-based diplomatic corps including several Ambassadors, representatives of the Army and Air Force commanders, and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the certificate awarding ceremony. (Colombo Gazette) The programme included lectures on theoretical as well as practical aspects of diplomacy, covering a wide range of topics including the history of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic relations, foreign policy of Sri Lanka since independence, bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, media relations, human rights, protocol and the role of a Defence Attaché in a Sri Lanka Mission overseas. The Intensive Training Programme, which was conducted at the BIDTI from 18 February to 07 March 2019, was attended by thirty (30) officers from the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Air Force and the Sri Lanka Navy, who would be assigned as Defence Attachés/ Advisors in Sri Lanka Missions overseas in the near future. This was the first time that the BIDTI conducted a Training Programme for prospective Defence Attachés/ Advisors of Sri Lanka.Delivering the keynote address of the ceremony, Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana further said that although these officers receive a comprehensive training in their relevant field, when serving abroad as Defence Attachés they are exposed to a new climate of work. In this context, the Minister observed, that training programmes of this nature would equip them with the broad spectrum of knowledge that is required to carry out their diplomatic assignments. The Minister further said that they should not forget the most important element of their work – that is to serve the people of Sri Lanka. Addressing the ceremony, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha paid tribute to the defence services and the Defence Attachés who served during the conflict and the immediate aftermath of the conflict. He recalled with appreciation the tremendous support and leverage that the diplomatic agents received from Defence Attachés in their battle against the LTTE in international fronts. Referring to the rising extremism in the international arena and the importance of defence cooperation in curbing it, he requested the prospective Defence Attachés to help the international community to deal with the menace of terrorism with the benefit of their lived experience of fighting one the world’s most ruthless terrorist organizations.Director General of the BIDTI Ambassador Pamela J. Deen welcomed the invitees and participants, and stated that the BIDTI was pleased to conduct this programme on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Commodore A.B. Dhanapala of the Sri Lanka Navy, on behalf of the participants, delivered the vote of thanks.This Intensive Training Programme, which aimed at helping participants understand the nature and scope of their diplomatic assignments overseas, dealt with a range of topics that are relevant to their line of work. The certificate awarding ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The participating military officers received their certificates from Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana upon successful completion of the training programme. read more

Registrar appeals to African community to support Rwanda tribunals mission

In an address to the Second Ministerial Conference on Human and People’s Rights in Africa – held from 6 to 8 May – Adama Dieng, the Tribunal’s Registrar, yesterday urged the international community to establish a special fund for victims of the genocide. He also appealed for psychological and financial assistance to these victims who, sadly, are not accommodated by the ad hoc international legal system, which delivers retributive justice.”In light of the vital importance of the ICTR’s mission…I appeal in the strongest terms to Africa to be more mindful of the existence and work of the Tribunal,” he said. The Registrar also recognized the efforts of the Rwandan Government that, despite the difficulties it faces, devotes at least 5 per cent of its national budget each year to support genocide victims. The Ministerial Conference – held under the auspices of the African Union – went on to adopt the Kigali Declaration yesterday, which in paragraph 6 reiterates the rejection of impunity by reaffirming a commitment to pursue those responsible for the genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Further, the Conference appealed to all members of the African community to cooperate fully with the ICTR, and to give it political and financial support, in particular in the areas of arrest of suspects/accused, protection of witnesses/victims, enforcement of sentences, and compensation for victims and civil litigants.During his time in Kigali, the Registrar also met with several Rwandan officials and also, took the opportunity to seek the assistance of the international community, in particular that of the Egyptian Government, in garnering the political and financial support needed to fulfil the Tribunal’s mandate. read more

Ban applauds Tunisian presidential vote as countrys democratic transition continues

“The polls, conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner, mark an important step forward for the country’s political transition process,” Mr. Ban said, in a statement issued by his spokesperson.Last January, Tunisia’s Parliament adopted a new constitution, the country’s first since massive public demonstrations ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in early 2011, the first regime to be toppled in the so-called Arab Spring. And in October, the country held legislative elections which the Secretary-General welcomed as a “crucial step for the country’s future” and a “decisive milestone in the transition to democracy.”In his statement from today, Mr. Ban commended the work of Tunisia’s High Independent Authority for Elections and reaffirmed the UN’s continued support for the consolidation of the democratic process in the North African nation. read more

Good News You Won Game 7 Bad News Youre Less Likely to

We can use this regression analysis to estimate how much this year’s first-round playoff series should affect a team’s odds for the second round. We accomplish this by computing the probability of a team winning its second-round series based on its regular-season SRS,5The calculation works by computing the probability of a team winning each game of its second-round series based on the Excel formula NORMSDIST((SRS_team-SRS_opponent+HCA)/11.3) where SRS_team is a team’s SRS, SRS_opponent is its opponent’s SRS, and HCA is home-court advantage, which takes a value of 3.2 when the team is playing at home and -3.2 for road games. Once we have an estimate of a team’s win probability for individual games, we can run through all possible sequences of wins and losses in a best-of-seven series and compute the team’s probability of winning the round. and then, alternatively, with a modified version of SRS that accounts for how many games it took to win the first round and its average margin of victory in those games.Actually … I don’t have the guts to show you those numbers. The effects are so pronounced that I don’t quite trust them; a number of other studies have documented the importance of rest to NBA teams, but they haven’t shown quite so large a magnitude. More important, if you use the same formula to compute the effect of the second round on the conference finals, for instance, or the conference finals on the NBA Finals, you don’t see anything like this. So what I’m going to show you instead are the numbers based on a toned-down version of the formula that computes the numbers-based data from all playoff rounds, and not just the first round. Perhaps there’s something unique about the first round and how a team transitions to the second round, but I’d have to be convinced. If you want to see the numbers based on that uber-aggressive version of the formula, check the footnotes.6The second-round series odds based only on the first-round regression are as follows: Washington, 65 percent likely to beat Indiana (!!); San Antonio, 60 percent against Portland; Miami, 99 percent (!) against Brooklyn; Los Angeles, 52 percent against Oklahoma City.Indiana Pacers vs. Washington WizardsOriginal SRS odds: Indiana 76 percent to win the series.Modified SRS odds: Indiana 54 percent to win the series.The formula has the Pacers going from being 3-to-1 favorites to beat Washington to about even money. This is obviously something of an extreme case of a No. 1 seed struggling and facing a No. 5 seed that played very, very well and is much better rested. I might be biased since I’ve been called a wizard, but I can buy that the series is about even given how much Indiana struggled late in the regular season.Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn NetsOriginal SRS odds: Miami 88 percent to win the series.Modified SRS odds: Miami 95 percent to win the series.Miami swept its opening-round series, while Brooklyn needed seven games to beat the Toronto Raptors. Hence, the Nets have gone from really big underdogs to really, really big underdogs.San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail BlazersOriginal SRS odds: San Antonio 78 percent to win the series.Modified SRS odds: San Antonio 69 percent to win the series.San Antonio needed seven games to beat Dallas, but Portland took six to beat Houston in a very competitive series. Part of this, however, is that the Spurs had more to lose, since they were heavily favored against Dallas while Portland wasn’t against the Rockets.Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles ClippersOriginal SRS odds: Los Angeles 51 percent to win series.Modified SRS odds: Los Angeles 52 percent to win series.SRS had this series as a toss-up before, and since both the Thunder and the Clippers took seven games to win their first-round series, nothing much has changed.The good news for the Pacers is that if these results are mostly about fatigue, they could reset the table by beating the Wizards relatively easily. The bad news is that they aren’t likely to do so: The formula gives Indiana only a 21 percent chance of beating Washington in four or five games. By contrast, it gives Miami a 33 percent chance of sweeping Brooklyn, and a 70 percent chance of winning in four or five. So the Pacers’ plodding performance is likely to catch up with them sooner or later, even if they get by Washington. A close call in the first round of the NBA playoffs doesn’t always doom a team. In 2008, the Boston Celtics, coming off a 66-16 season, needed seven games to get by an Atlanta Hawks team that had gone 37-45. But they wound up winning the NBA title.Those Celtics, however, may be more the exception than the rule. In fact, an extended first-round series is often an ominous sign for the winning team. If recent history is any guide, then this year’s Indiana Pacers, who needed seven games to defeat this year’s Hawks, may be no better than even money against the Washington Wizards, whom they begin playing Monday night.Since the NBA went to a best-of-seven first round in 2003, teams that swept their first-round series won their second-round series 76 percent of the time. Teams that needed five games to beat their first-round opponent won the next series 60 percent of the time. But those teams that needed six games to win the first round won the second round only 34 percent of the time, and those that took the full seven games did just 36 percent of the time.One may assume these results reflect selection bias: The teams that won their opening series in four or five games were presumably better, on average, than those that took longer to do so. But this is only part of the story. Suppose we look only at teams seeded No. 1 or No. 2 in their conferences. Since 2003, teams from this group that swept the first round won the second round 94 percent of the time. Those that required five games won the second around 77 percent of the time. And those that needed six games or seven games won the second round 62 percent of the time.1I’ve lumped the six- and seven-game series together in this description because the sample size is otherwise small. From 2003 to 2013, only four No. 1 or No. 2 seeds needed the full seven games to win their opening series. (These were the 2003 Detroit Pistons, the 2006 Phoenix Suns, and the 2008 and 2009 Celtics.) Three of the four (all but the 2009 Celtics) also won their second-round series. On the other hand, of the nine No. 1 and No. 2 seeds that took six games to win the first round, just five won the second round as well.Still not convinced this is a real phenomenon? We can further account for the effect of team quality by evaluating how a team performed relative to its regular-season power rating. Specifically, we can formulate a projected scoring margin for each second-round game based on each team’s SRS rating from the regular season and whether it has home-court advantage. (This is equivalent to a point spread.)2For instance, in the 2012-13 regular season, the San Antonio Spurs had an SRS rating of 6.76, while the Golden State Warriors had one of 1.32, a difference of 5.44 points. When these teams played second-round games in San Antonio last year, giving the Spurs an additional boost of 3.2 points based on the home-court advantage, this projection would have favored San Antonio by 8.64 points total.We can then average a team’s margin of victory or defeat throughout the second round and compare it to what was expected from its SRS. The advantage of this approach is that it accounts for a team’s overall strength and that of its opponent based on each team’s regular-season performance.This analysis produces some highly significant effects. On average since 2003, teams that swept their opening-round series outperformed their SRS projections by 3.0 points per game in the second round. Those that took the full seven games in the opening round did much worse than expected in the second round, by contrast, underperforming their SRS by an average of 5.7 points per game. These are enormous differences in the context of highly competitive playoff series.A more complicated version of the analysis accounts both for how many games a team took to win its opening-round series and for how well it performed relative to its SRS projections in the first round. It’s worth distinguishing these because a close call in the first round, like the one Indiana had, could lower our expectations for a team’s second-round performance for either of two reasons. First, if a team plays more games, it could be more fatigued. Second, playoff performance provides some evidence about a team’s quality under playoff conditions.3For instance, if a No. 1 seed that was favored to win each game by 10 points sweeps the opening round, but does so by winning four games at the buzzer instead, that could imply the team was overrated, even if it’s going into the second round fresh.If we put both factors into a regression analysis, where the dependent variable is a team’s performance relative to its SRS in the second round, we find that the number of games it played in the first round is by far the more important factor. In other words, the principal worry for a team that takes six or seven games to win the first round is fatigue and not necessarily poor play. In fact, the variable for a team’s margin of victory relative to its SRS in the first round is not statistically significant, although it has some interesting practical implications.4The coefficient on the first-round margin of victory variable, netsrs_rd1, is about 0.14. This implies that a team’s performance relative to its SRS in the first round of the playoffs tells us about 14 percent as much as its regular-season performance. This is a bit more than you’d expect if first-round playoff games were as important as regular-season games in predicting a team’s future performance. A team that plays 82 regular-season games will have played 5 percent and 8 percent of its overall games in the playoffs after the first round is completed, depending on how many games its opening series lasts. That the coefficient is 14 percent, rather than something in the range of 5 to 8 percent, implies that each playoff game is two or three times more important than a regular-season game in predicting a team’s future playoff course. Interestingly, this corresponds to the extra significance attached to opening-round games in the NCAA basketball tournament. However, our estimate of the coefficient is not very precise, so we should be careful of making too much of this result. read more

Umpires Are Less Blind Than They Used To Be

Umps are getting better, and they’re also remarkably consistent. An ump who makes more accurate calls in one year will likely do the same the next; an ump who misses more calls in a given season will likely be as bad the next. Umpire accuracy is more steady than a player’s batting average or a pitcher’s ERA, and as consistent as OPS (on-base plus slugging) and wins above replacement.To see how this works, look at the performance of Lance Barksdale and Tim Welke. While they both follow the league’s general trend of increased accuracy — more about that later — they have, respectively, been one of the best and one of the worst umpires over the past seven years. The difference between Barksdale and a league average ump is about five correct calls per game; the difference between Barksdale and the league’s worst umpire is closer to 10 calls a game. On average, that’s about one judgment call per inning that a good ump is getting right and a bad ump is getting wrong. That might not sound like much, but if once every six outs a batter gets another swing after a third strike that wasn’t or a pitcher strikes a hitter out on a pitch that’s actually a ball, you can start to see the impact.Given their differences, umps develop reputations. Near the end of infielder Mark DeRosa’s 16-year career, he knew what to expect from the umpire calling balls and strikes. “You gain knowledge over the course of being in the big leagues for the course of a couple of seasons,” he said. “You understand which umpires are a little bit wider in their zone, who are a little bit more north-south, who’s going to force the pitcher to come tight.”Before games, he and his teammates would even talk about what they could expect during the game: “A comment would be passed back and forth, whether we should be pulling the trigger tonight or ‘this guy is normally a hitter’s umpire and likes to force the pitcher to come back over the plate, so let’s be a little bit more picky with what you’re going to swing at.’ ”An umpire who understands what calls he is missing is an ump who can improve. “It was amazing how my perspective of the strike zone changed when I got this technology,” Dellinger said. “I thought pitches were on the plate, until you get that data back. You see that some of those pitches were not on the plate. It wasn’t something that was done intentionally. It was just your perception of the strike zone. I was able to quickly make adjustments based on having that information, which was huge to me.”Seeing the data, however, can make fans less charitable. “They see a pitch that is out of the box, and they think, ‘Aw, he’s a bad umpire,’ ” Dellinger said. “I’m thinking, ‘You should have seen it 15 or 20 years ago.’ ”He’s right — ump accuracy has improved since 2008. But it has been on only one type of pitch: strikes.While umps call balls no differently than they did seven years ago, they’re accurately gauging strikes at much higher rates. This distinction is so large that Brian Mills, a professor of tourism, recreation and sports management at the University of Florida, cites the increasing size of the strike zone as accounting for about half of the league’s 50-point drop in OPS since 2008. In other words, steroid testing isn’t the only change responsible for MLB’s drop in offensive output. It’s also more called strikes.While the league and the umpires association have access to data showing that specific umps tend to be better at calling balls and strikes, it does not appear that they use this information to reward those who are the most accurate with choice assignments, like the All-Star Game or the postseason.2MLB declined to make specific umpires available for interviews but did let Peter Woodfork, senior vice president of baseball operations, and Randy Marsh, director of major league umpires, talk.According to Peter Woodfork, senior vice president of baseball operations, balls and strikes play a role, but don’t write Lance Barksdale’s name into your World Series scorecard just yet. “Once you meet a standard, you’re in the mix,” Woodfork said, likening the selection process to that of the NCAA tournament. Assignments are doled out using a mix of analytics and judgment: “Balls and strikes is taken into account along with field work, rules, instant replay and handling situations. Professionalism also factors into grading umpires. The plate work may carry more weight in the evaluation, but they are all important.”If plate work is important, it hasn’t shown in playoff assignments. According to numbers from BaseballSavant.com, umps who were No. 70, 71 and 76 in the accuracy rankings (out of 79) called balls and strikes in the ALCS last year, with only one of the top 10 umps receiving a league championship series or World Series spot. And this more exhaustive look at umps also finds that postseason spots do not appear to be linked to regular-season performance. “Like any other profession, you can go up and go down, but the consistency over time often helps,” Woodfork said. “We don’t ignore what you’ve done in the past, but that year carries the most weight.” If that’s true, expect our old friend Barksdale to receive a high-profile opportunity, as his 90 percent accuracy rate through July 1 is far and away the best single-season number in our data.But while decisions on postseason spots won’t come for several weeks, MLB has already had one opportunity to reward an umpire for past performance, getting to pick a home plate umpire for July’s All-Star Game. It chose Tim Welke — the same Tim Welke who has consistently had one of the league’s worst rankings since 2008. Dusty Dellinger knows how difficult it is to be an umpire. “There’s an old saying that they expect you to be perfect from day one and get better,” the former Major League Baseball official said over the phone. As the director of Minor League Baseball Umpire Development and the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, he knows how elusive perfection can be.Correctly calling 140 pitches flying 90-plus mph and breaking six inches or more is a near-impossible standard. And when mistakes are made, players and managers aren’t bashful. Jonathan Papelbon said D.J. Reyburn should “go back to Triple A” after a confrontation over balls and strikes. Joe Girardi complained about inconsistency. Larry Andersen did too after he retired, labeling the men behind the plate arrogant. You don’t have to look too hard for more examples.That’s led plenty of people to wonder when robots will come for the umps’ jobs. But lost amid those blue-sky dreams is what’s happened to the way we judge the blue behind the plate. Technology has changed how we can evaluate umps. It shows that umps are getting better, that there’s a significant gap between the best and worst, and that the best umps aren’t working the biggest games.After every game, umpires receive a report from the league office that informs them about their accuracy, their correct calls, and the ones they missed. Pitchers, hitters and fans have near-instant access to information on an umpire’s accuracy, too. The chart below shows the accuracy rates for calling balls and strikes for each ump since 2008, when MLB installed the PITCHf/x tracking system in every stadium.1The data was collected from BaseballSavant.com. Umps in the data set saw at least 3,000 pitches (called balls or strikes) in each season, with a smaller restriction (1,800 pitches) for 2015. read more

Who will be next when Tressel decides to hang up the vest

When Jim Tressel was hired at Ohio State in 2001, he came to Columbus unproven at the Division I level of football. But 103 victories, six Big Ten championships and a national title later, few are second-guessing OSU’s decision to hire the former Youngstown State coach. Tressel will probably be the first coach to leave OSU on his own terms since Carroll Widdoes did in 1945. It also isn’t wild conjecture to say that he will likely leave the program stronger than it was when he replaced John Cooper. It’s still impossible to know when Tressel will leave. But at 57 and in his 10th season with the Buckeyes — and with a contract that expires in 2014 — it’s not too early, or difficult, to speculate on potential replacements. Once Tressel puts his sweater vests back in the closet for good, expect to see these four coaches (all of whom have ties to OSU) among several other potential candidates. Urban Meyer Urban Meyer will likely be the most sought-after candidate to replace Tressel, and with good reason. The Ashtabula, Ohio, native has won two national championships coaching the Florida Gators and is one of the strongest recruiters in the nation. A lifelong OSU fan, Meyer wore the No. 45 jersey in honor of Archie Griffin as a kid and got his first collegiate coaching job as a graduate assistant at OSU in 1986. He said he idolizes Woody Hayes and even carries a Buckeye in his pocket for good luck. Meyer is also someone who Tressel holds in high regard. “I think it is another thing for Ohio to brag about,” Tressel said in 2007 of Meyer’s Ohio connection. “We like to say Ohio is the birthplace of football and it is one of the great football states. Yes, we are proud (Meyer) is an Ohio guy.” But luring Meyer back to OSU is unlikely for several reasons. One is his health — chest pains caused by esophageal spasms nearly forced the 46-year-old Meyer into retirement last season. Even though he returned to Florida after only three months of absence, his coaching future remains questionable. Another issue with Meyer is whether his offensive scheme can work against Big Ten defenses. In theory, Meyer’s dynamic spread attack would be a welcome change from Tressel’s conservative and often predictable playcalling. But similiar offenses in the Big Ten have had trouble against the conference’s robust defenses. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, Illinois coach Ron Zook and former Michigan State coach John L. Smith have all tried to use spread offenses in the Big Ten, to find marginal success. It’s unclear whether Meyer would even want the OSU job if he chose to leave Florida. Although his Ohio roots run deep, his name is often linked to the Notre Dame coaching job, which he has said is his “dream job.” That might seem laughable after a comparison of recent OSU and Notre Dame football teams, but if coach Brian Kelly’s tenure with the Fighting Irish turns out to be anything like his first season with the school, Meyer might get called to Notre Dame before Tressel retires. Bo Pelini Bo Pelini is one of the rising stars in the coaching world. In only his third year with Nebraska, Pelini has brought the Cornhuskers back to relevance after years of futility. Nebraska is ranked No. 8 in the BCS standings. His teams display a power running game that, combined with an aggressive defense, seems patented for Big Ten football. His body of work has impressed Tressel. “You can see he’s done a great job of making sure that everyone understands the responsibility they have to live up to this tradition, the way that things are done in Huskerland,” Tressel told Nebraska’s Omaha World-Herald in April. “I think he’s very methodical, very prepared.” A former captain for the Buckeyes who played at OSU from 1986 to 1990, Pelini will probably hear his alma mater calling him when Tressel departs. And he’ll have to listen, even if his immediate focus is on Nebraska. “They have a great coach,” Pelini said of OSU to Cleveland’s Plain Dealer in April. “Coach Tressel will be here for a long time. They’ve got a great staff. All I worry about is what I’m doing in my current job.” Besides a likely pay increase (Tressel’s annual salary is $3.5 million, compared to Pelini’s $2.1 million), the OSU job would put him in one of the nation’s most prosperous recruiting grounds, giving him resources he doesn’t have at Nebraska. And although Pelini has revived the football culture at Nebraska, the temptation to return to his home state might be strong enough to take him from Lincoln. It remains to be seen how Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten will affect his commitment to the school. Pelini’s contract, like Tressel’s, expires in 2014. Luke Fickell Of all the assistant coaches at OSU, none has been as heavily pursued as 36-year-old Luke Fickell. A defensive lineman who started a record 50 consecutive games for OSU from 1993 to 1996, Fickell has become one of the most important assistants on Tressel’s staff, serving as the linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator for the past six seasons. Coaching one of the most heralded defenses in the nation has given Fickell plenty of attention from other schools. In 2008, Fickell was a candidate for the head coaching job at Bowling Green and in 2009 was nearly hired at Akron, although those jobs were eventually given to older coaches. “Luke was recommended as someone I should speak with during the process, and we had a productive phone conversation,” Bowling Green athletic director Greg Christopher told The Lantern. “Luke obviously has a passion for the game.” He also turned down the chance to coach Notre Dame’s defensive line in 2009. Former Buckeye linebacker James Laurinaitis cites Fickell as one of the most influential coaches on the staff and someone who challenges his players every day in practice. “I think when Coach Tressel decides to leave that Fickell is definitely someone they’re going to have to look at,” Laurinaitis said. “He’s a great leader and he’s going to be a great head coach some day, whether he’s at Ohio State or somewhere else.” Fickell hasn’t given any indication about his immediate future, which could come into question once the season is over. “To think about someplace else wouldn’t even cross my mind,” Fickell told The Lantern. “I don’t have enough time in the day.” Darrell Hazell Another assistant coach who shouldn’t be overlooked is Darrell Hazell. As the assistant head coach and receivers coach at OSU, Hazell has made his mark by taking overlooked recruits such as Santonio Holmes, Anthony Gonzalez and Brian Hartline and molding them into solid NFL receivers. Roy Hall, a former OSU receiver playing with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL, said the success of OSU receivers is a testament to Hazell’s disciplined teaching methods. “Coach Hazell is extremely detail-oriented and he brings kind of a military approach to the way he does things,” Hall said. “He demands a lot of the receivers there and he has a lot of insight on the game of football.” Hazell is also one of the team’s most effective recruiters, a desired trait for anybody aspiring to be a college coach. In addition to his coaching assets, he can reach his players on a personal level, Hall said. “He’s a mentor and he gives you a lot of insight on life as well as football,” Hall said. “He’s one of those coaches that you would invite to a wedding.” Multiple requests to speak to Hazell were declined. Though his work with receivers is well-documented, his role with the rest of the offense is somewhat mysterious. Never one to hog the spotlight, Hazell usually backs away from questions about his role in play-calling and whatever other duties he might have with the offense. That humility might exclude him from pursuing a head coaching job at OSU. However, his competitive edge might someday prove otherwise. “He’s a huge competitor and he’s just a student of the game,” Hall said. “He takes on the war approach when he goes into a game. He knows about everybody on the (other team’s) defense, not just the defensive backs. He’s a winner, and having that ‘never-give-up’ mentality would make him a great coach.” read more

Buckeye brainteasers Ohio State vs Michigan

What Michigan players could pose a threat to OSU’s defense? The key to Michigan’s offense is junior quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson is a dual-threat to run and pass the ball and has gotten better each year in the Michigan program. Robinson has passed for 1791 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year, but has also rushed for 947 yards and 14 touchdowns. Despite his success, he has shown a tendency to turn the ball over this year and has amassed 14 interceptions on the season. Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said he’s wary of the Michigan quarterback. “He poses a lot of problems,” Fickell said. “Any defensive anytime the quarterback’s got the ability to keep plays alive, running the football, it makes you struggle a little bit on defense with some things you can do and the chances you can take.” Can freshman quarterback Braxton Miller handle the “Big House?” Playing in front of 110,000 is always a daunting task, but has to be especially intimidating to a true freshman quarterback. OSU quarterback Braxton Miller has backed down from pressure all season, but Michigan Stadium will be a different test. The last Buckeye freshman quarterback to play in the OSU-Michigan didn’t seem to have any problem — former OSU signal-called Terrelle Pryor led OSU to a 42-7 victory as a freshman in 2008. Fickell said he doesn’t think Miller will have any problems. “I think that Braxton will continue to do what he’s done,” Miller said. “He’s a competitor. And sometimes the best thing you can be as a young guy and not realize exactly the magnitude of some different things.” Will the Buckeyes be at full strength Saturday? Senior linebacker Andrew Sweat missed last week’s game against Penn State with a concussion. Sweat has been ruled out for Saturday’s game due to an elbow injury he sustained during a Wednesday practice. The only other Buckeye who’s status is uncertain is sophomore defensive back Christian Bryant. Fickell also called Bryant “questionable.” Final score prediction: OSU 20, Michigan 31 Can Ohio State continue their dominance and beat Michigan? OSU has won its last seven meetings against Michigan with the last lost coming in 2003. On average the Buckeyes have won by an average of over two touchdowns as 15.7 points per game. But this year OSU comes into Ann Arbor as the unranked underdog coming off back-to-back losses. Michigan is ranked No. 15 and is coming off consecutive victories against Illinois and Nebraska. Fickell disregarded the notion of being an underdog and said that in a rivalry like this, records don’t matter. “In a rivalry like this, a lot of those things go out of the window and records go out of the window, and a lot of things are going to be scrapped,” Fickell said. “There’s going to be unbelievable passion on both sides of the football because of what this means.” Fickell will be sure his players know the importance of the game, but the OSU defense has struggled all season against teams that can run the ball on the edge, something Michigan specializes in. Expect Robinson and the Wolverines to end OSU’s winning streak. read more