Our View: For football, 8 could be more than enough – Press Herald


Many Maine high schools have too few students to justify offering what they have in the past – and not only in the classroom.

The same drop in enrollment that makes it difficult for schools to offer some elective classes has left some scrambling to fill out football rosters. In response, the Maine Principals’ Association is considering creating two divisions for eight-man football.

It’s a good solution to what will likely be in most cases a longstanding problem, if not a permanent one.

Eight-man football, which drops two linemen and a back from the usual 11-man formation, is growing in popularity, particularly in the Midwest, where rural schools are losing enrollment, just as in Maine.

Michigan had eight schools playing eight-man ball in 2009 but now has 61. In Nebraska, there are 120 eight-man high school teams. New York, the farthest state east to offer eight-man leagues, started in 2017 with six teams, a move credited with reviving football in some areas.

At least 19 states offer eight-man high school football now, with 847 teams and nearly 20,000 players.

Each school that has made the change has done so for the same reason. Falling enrollment and lower interest in football – partly because of interest in other sports and partly because of concerns over head injuries – have made it difficult to field a traditional team. Low numbers make it hard to practice and put younger, inexperienced players in positions they aren’t ready for.

However, despite good arguments in favor of it, switching to eight-man football has typically been met with skepticism by parents and fans who see it as lesser than the game they know.

These dynamics are now in play here. The number of high school players dropped 17 percent in the decade after 2008. Rosters have shrunk, and a few schools – even some with storied football programs – have been unable to field teams.

The MPA previously changed the class structure to accommodate shrinking rosters, adding the Class E developmental league for schools struggling to attract players. The organization also has encouraged co-op teams combining two schools; Deering and Portland high schools are considering such an agreement after only 14 city eighth-graders played football last year.

On Tuesday, the MPA proposed cutting 11-man football back to three classes while adding two divisions of eight-man teams. The MPA is asking schools to decide by Jan. 25 what kind of football they want to play next year.

Twenty schools have previously expressed interest in eight-man football; others that the MPA placed in those divisions aren’t so sure.

Some wary about the proposal wonder if eight-man football is football at all. But coaches and players now playing eight-man say otherwise – the field may be a little more narrow, but the action is almost the same.

“If you put a helmet on and you’re running and you’re going to be hit by someone, that’s real football,” former University of Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove told the Press Herald last year.

Some people also think the drop in players is only temporary, and that programs just have to build themselves back up.

That may be true in some cases, but overall the trend is clear. Football participation is suffering – the stark decrease in youth participation shows where this is going. However, there are still many students throughout the state who want to play football, and many fans who want to see the games on Friday night.

For those Mainers, eight-man football could be a savior.

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Manchester United news: 'Alexis Sanchez like a kid with a new football' – Chilean trying too hard but backed to come good by Andy Cole – Goal.com


The former Red Devils striker believes the Chilean has been too eager to impress at times but remains convinced that a proven performer can contribute

Alexis Sanchez has not “become a bad player overnight”, says Andy Cole, with Manchester United still expected to get value from a player who has been “like a kid with a new football” in his eagerness to impress.

The Red Devils were considered to have pulled off quite the transfer coup when taking the Chile international from Arsenal in January 2018.

Sanchez has, however, mustered just four goals across 32 appearances during his time at Old Trafford, while also struggling with a series of niggling knocks.

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Cole believes the 30-year-old forward could be accused of having tried too hard to prove himself in new surroundings, with there still every chance that he will come good now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has breathed new life into a United side which had stagnated under Jose Mourinho.

The former Red Devils striker told ESPN: “You never become a bad player overnight.

“When he left Arsenal for Man United, he joined a team which was totally different. You have to change as a player, which is difficult.

“His work ethic is the same, but while he has given the ball away too much, it has been because he’s been trying things because he wanted to produce a pass or score goals.

“He will improve because everyone else has improved since Ole took over.

“Alexis has got good pace and he never stops running or closing down. He’s like a little kid with a new football who wants to show how good he is. He was like that at Arsenal where he scored goals.”

Jesse Lingard Anthony Martial Cardiff vs Manchester United Premier League 2018-19

While backing Sanchez to rediscover his spark, Cole is also looking for the likes of Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to play at their full potential.

Both men are held in high regard, with their creative qualities considered to be key attributes for the Red Devils.

“He’s a flair player who needs to have the opportunity to express himself,” Cole said of Martial.

He added on Lingard and conversations he once had with Sir Alex Ferguson about the England international: “He would say that [Lingard] is going to be like Jean Tigana.

“Jesse was a late developer who had many loans, but he’s said himself that he plays better for England than for Manchester United.

“Maybe he was getting more freedom for England, but now under Ole Gunnar he’s getting more of that. You have to play with freedom. Manchester United have always played with freedom and creativity.”

Under Solskjaer, United have enjoyed a run of six successive victories across all competitions, with a home date against Brighton on Saturday set to present them with an opportunity to stretch that run to seven games and close further on the Premier League’s top four.



Paul Pogba absent from Manchester United training – SkySports


Alexis Sanchez back training after missing win over Tottenham

Last Updated: 16/01/19 2:06pm

Paul Pogba did not train with the rest of Manchester United's squad on Wednesday

Paul Pogba did not train with the rest of Manchester United’s squad on Wednesday

Paul Pogba was absent from Manchester United training on Wednesday, following reports his girlfriend has given birth this week.

Pogba’s form has improved since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to the club as caretaker manager and he produced another impressive display on his return from a leg injury as United beat Tottenham on Sunday.

But the 25-year-old was not part of United’s session at Carrington on Wednesday, ahead of Saturday’s game against Brighton.

0:45
Giuseppe Rossi trained with Manchester United on Wednesday – but there was no sign of Pogba

Giuseppe Rossi trained with Manchester United on Wednesday – but there was no sign of Pogba

Nemanja Matic was also missing from training after his wife gave birth earlier in the week.

Alexis Sanchez missed the victory over Spurs with a minor issue, but the forward was in action at the Aon Training Complex on Wednesday morning.

3:16
Yaya Toure feels Pogba has belief in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and wants to ‘feel the love’ from his manager

Yaya Toure feels Pogba has belief in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and wants to ‘feel the love’ from his manager

Chris Smalling has yet to return from a foot injury, while Marcos Rojo is also undergoing rehab.

Former United striker Giuseppe Rossi was part of the group as he looks to build fitness and earn a move elsewhere.

Solskjaer admitted on Tuesday that Sir Alex Ferguson, a regular visitor to Carrington in recent weeks, had been impressed with Rossi’s finishing in training.

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President Trump Feeds College Football National Champions 'Hamberders' and Twitter Can't Stomach It – TIME


The Clemson University football team was invited to the White House Monday to celebrate their College Football National Championship win in a scene that was also a feast for social media users.

The South Carolina team, which defeated the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide 44-16 on Jan. 7, was offered a candelabra-lit spread of takeout food from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Domino’s.

In a since-deleted tweet, the president boasted that the group was served 1,000 “hamberders” at the event that he paid for himself – a spelling error that immediately prompted online snickers. Meanwhile, aides said there were closer to 300 burgers at the event.

The President reportedly paid for the food himself because many of the White House staff are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told CNN in a statement.

Trump, who has claimed to be a big fan of fast food himself, told reporters before the event, “We have some very large people that like eating. So I think we’re going to have a little fun.”

Later, Twitter users had more than a little fun with the “hamberders” typo.

Some pointed out that nothing kept the fast food warm as it sat on the tables. While Trump’s critics implied that the junk food was a good metaphor for the President himself.

“This is an incredible self-own for someone who aims to be worth $10 billion,” wrote user Judd Legum.

The meal also caught the attention of former NFL running back Reggie Bush, who tweeted that the dinner was “disrespectful on so many levels.”

In a video of the event, the players seem to be enjoying the food. One player loudly says that the food is “awesome.”

“I thought it was a joke,” he adds.

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.



T.J. Hockenson plans to leave Iowa football, enter 2019 NFL Draft – Hawk Central


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Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson is a red-shirt sophomore who was recently named the Mackey Award winner. The Hawkeyes beat Mississippi State, 27-22.
Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

The decision became an agonizing one for T.J. Hockenson. But after two terrific seasons at Iowa, the second capped by winning college football’s highest honor for tight ends, Hockenson is heading to the NFL.

The Mackey Award winner announced his decision Monday via social media.

“My dream has always been to play in the NFL,” he wrote, “and I believe now is the right time.”

It seemed like the NFL writing was on the wall for a while for Hockenson, whose name has appeared in the late first round of many early mock NFL drafts for 2019. But he still waited until Monday’s deadline for draft-eligible underclassmen to announce his intentions, a sign that this was hardly a slam-dunk personal decision.

Hockenson loved being a Hawkeye, and the thought of playing another year with quarterback Nate Stanley (who announced he would return for his senior season) and chasing a Big Ten Conference title together had to be enticing.

Curt Smyser, Hockenson’s coach at Chariton High School, texted his former player Monday morning after the decision circulated. He shared how Hockenson wrestled with what to do.

“He loves the coaches. He loves everything about college football. … It was tough on him,” Smyser said. “It’s a business decision now, and he made it. It does (stink) for Iowa and T.J. I think it’s really good for T.J. It’ll be fun to watch him on Sundays, because I think the same type of things are going to happen.”

In comments he made in early December, Hockenson pointed to the idea of pushing himself as a competitor, perhaps an indicator that he was intrigued to see how he would measure up against the best football players in the world.

Now he’ll have his chance.

“I have two more years of eligibility but at the same time, money’s not an issue,” Hockenson said on Dec. 2. “It’s not something I’m chasing. It’s just more the talent level (of the NFL) and trying to push yourself to the limits. I think that’s what any competitor would tell you to do, is see what you can do as a player.”

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T.J. Hockenson’s 760 receiving yards led the Hawkeyes in 2018. Perhaps no one catch was more significant than his fourth-and-8 conversion in the final minute against Nebraska. (Photo: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

His departure means that the Hawkeyes are down both first-team all-Big Ten tight ends off the 2018 team that finished 9-4. Third-year junior Noah Fant made his NFL decision shortly after Iowa’s regular season ended, and now Hockenson, who became the youngest winner of the Mackey as a redshirt sophomore, is joining him.

WHAT’S NEXT?5 questions for Iowa football entering 2019 after early departures

Hockenson had 49 catches for 760 yards this fall, becoming the first tight end to lead Iowa in receiving yards since Alan Cross in 1992. But Hockenson was equally impressive as a blocker. Despite being a wide receiver at Chariton High School, where he was never asked to block, Hockenson built himself into a rugged 6-foot-5, 250-pound every-down tight end at Iowa — even as a red-shirt freshman, following the footsteps of predecessor George Kittle.

Coaches relied on Hockenson in the run game as much as the pass game, and his departure (especially in conjunction with Fant’s) leaves a gaping hole in the 2019 Hawkeyes’ roster.

His decision finally ends the bleeding of the Hawkeyes’ NFL Draft early entries at a record four. Fant, defensive back Amani Hooker and defensive end Anthony Nelson already had announced they’re turning pro. Those four plus James Daniels and Josh Jackson last year makes six Hawkeye early entries over the past two years — a significant roster blow for a developmental program.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz had previously commented on Fant’s departure, but he hadn’t made a statement until Monday about the other three.

“Amani, Anthony and T.J. have been outstanding members of our team, on the field and as leaders within the program,” Ferentz said. “While we are disappointed to see them leave, we recognize this is an important decision, and we wish them the very best as they pursue the draft.”

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Low income, not high debt hurts Turkish football – Hurriyet Daily News


BARÇIN YİNANÇ

Low income, not high debt hurts Turkish football

Turkish clubs need to shift their focus from spending levels to income levels in order to deal with their high debts, said an expert. The big three historic clubs could design a regional branding strategy to increase their incomes, Mete İkiz told the Daily News.

Q: Turkish Banking Association (TBB) and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) are in talks to restructure the debts of the football clubs. How bad is their situation?

A: Clubs especially their subsidiaries running the football activities are hugely indebted creating crucial financial bottlenecks.
There is an image that Turkish football is in a state of bankruptcy. I don’t agree that this is the case.

The total debt of 18 clubs competing in the first league is at around 9.5 billion Turkish Liras and 86 percent belong to the big four, according to the TFF.

So, the ones with the mounting debt are the “big four,” Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor.

But these are clubs competing for years in UEFA champion leagues; in European cups. When you look to their competitors you would see that the budget of the smallest is four or five times bigger than theirs.

In order to compete in these leagues you have to set up a strong team and that means spending. This is the rule in the world.

However, our shortcoming is this: While setting up the right team we do not generate enough the income that this team should generate.

We keep concentrating on the expenses. But no one questions why the income is not high enough. Today, instead of talking on Turkish football’s debt, we need to talk about how to increase the income.;

Looking at their history, at their past contributions to the Turkish football, it is actually very easy for them to get out from this stalemate.

Q: Do you mean to say that clubs have not made mistakes in their spending strategies?

A: Look at the world’s biggest clubs; they have made wrong transfers as well. And by mistake I mean transferring a player who has not fitted in that club’s DNA. That can happen and our clubs have the same problem. But one should not see that as reckless spending.

The rule of the game is to bring star players from abroad. Yet we need to remember to train players from the infrastructure as well. But that requires patience and that is what is lacking with Turkish football. There is no patience at the Turkish media. Once a coach whom we have written eulogies about, looses 5 or 6 games the media starts calling him to resign.

Infrastructure is very important and that starts with good coaches.

It is very rare abroad to have managers in the infrastructure to go train the main team. We do not have such distinction. So we need to train the coaches in the infrastructure. The number of coaches working with big teams in Turkey is also a handful of people; they are from the same generation and that is also a problem.

But today it is good news that out of the 18 teams in the first league, all have Turkish coaches. This is happening for the first time and that means the younger ones have a good chance for a successful career.

Q: Is the media the sole responsible for the impatience in the Turkish football?

A: Supporters are right to say; “I am spending my time and money and want my team to become champion.”

A club cannot clinch the title every year. But every club management start the season by saying “we will be champion this year.” As the club management, you have to manage expectations, explain to your supporter the basis and then to the media that you might need time to reach your target.

The problem with club management is that they are elected for two or three years. They change too quickly. In addition usually the composition of the board of directors is decided at the last minute; which means members do not know each other. They are chosen of people whom the chairperson thinks can bring votes for him to be elected. Most of the time, the chair and the board members do not even know each other well. They come together for the first time when they are elected and problems start from day one.

We need to have board of directors made of people who know each other for some time; made of people who are the best in their profession or in their expertise. The second problem is that professionals working for the clubs are not qualified enough.

At any rate once elected the management promises championship to their supporters and that’s a wrong communication strategy.

Turkish league is very competitive compared to other foreign leagues. In addition to the big four Başakşehir as well as Bursaspor is also competing for the championship. That makes one third of the teams in the first league. That’s not the case at all in Spain or Germany.

Q: So you say instead of increasing their income clubs resort to the easy way of borrowing. How can they increase their income?

A: In an effort to save the day club managements neglect long term strategies.

I have to talk about the big three which are the historic ones supported by millions and not only in Istanbul but by fans in all cities in Turkey. You don’t have this for instance in the U.K.

They need to have a regional strategy. Manchester United started a branding strategy to promote and market their name throughout the World. They started holding their training camps in the Middle East or in the Far East. They play with the local teams. They opened stores and coffee shops.

Turkey’s big three might not be global brands but they are regional brands. Turkey’s biggest advantage is for instance to have 4 million Turks living in Europe. And they have reached a certain income level. Most probably a significant number among them support one of the big three.

Q: So the clubs fail to cash in this support.

A: Galatasaray has opened a store in Azerbaijan. But it is not enough to open a store; you need a strategy to support it. Is there any plan for Galatasaray to go and play in Azerbaijan?

The same is valid for other Turkic republics like Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan. There is a high interest to football. Their teams are not that successful so when they are longing to support a team will they support a German team or Turkish team?

That can be the case for the Middle East with which we have a historical and cultural affinity. For all this you need a business plan. But we neither have a business plan nor a branding strategy.

Q: What do you think about the current talks to restructure the debts?

A: I cannot comment about the substance since the details are not clear yet.

So independent from its substance, it looks like a positive step. Clubs need some time in order to design the long term strategies I am talking about. If it will be designed for the clubs to take a breath; it is fine. But we need to look what will be asked of the clubs? Will the banking association ask to be represented in their board; what kind of a monitoring system will be foreseen; etc. All these are important. But if well designed this could be in a way the last chance, that needs to be well utilized.

Turkey, football, Federation