The Big Ten football season comes to a close this weekend with a full slate of exciting rivalry games. Four of the conference’s historic trophies will be on the line and the only non-trophy game will be the annual showdown between Ohio State and Michigan.”This is a great week for college football,” Northwestern head coach Randy Walker said. “There are a lot of great rivalries, especially in the Big Ten.”Northwestern travels to Champaign to face Illinois and compete for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy. The Wildcats are looking to beat the Illini for the third year in a row.Iowa hosts Minnesota in a battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.”It’s one of the great things we have going in our conference,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It makes these games more interesting.”Purdue starts their “bucket week” preparation as they will travel to Indiana to play for the Old Oaken Bucket.”It’s exciting, it’s a lot of fun and it’s something we look forward to every year,” Purdue head coach Joe Tiller said.Penn State and Michigan State will play for the Land Grant trophy, one of the newest trophies in the conference, in East Lansing. A little more is on the line for the Nittany Lions, though, as they can clinch the Big Ten title and an automatic berth in the BCS with a win.Showdown in Ann Arbor: Ohio State and Michigan meet in the Big House Saturday with huge bowl implications on the line.If Penn State loses at Michigan State, then the winner of the match-up in Ann Arbor will represent the Big Ten in the BCS. Ohio State can still win a share of the Big Ten title with a win if Penn State beats Michigan State.”This is the most exciting weekend in Big Ten football,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “Michigan will be a tremendous challenge for us.”Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr knows his team’s biggest task will be stopping Ohio State’s high-powered offense, something they failed to do in last year’s loss.”We’re looking forward to hosting an outstanding Ohio State team,” Carr said. “They have great balance [offensively] and any time you have great balance it makes you tougher to defend.”Carr also knows just how important a win against the Buckeyes would be.”If you win you can look at it as an excellent season,” Carr said. “If you lose it can look like a disappointing one.”Another Legend Calls it Quits: Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder announced his retirement Tuesday, sending shockwaves through the Big Ten coaching ranks. Prior to taking the top job in Manhattan, Kan., Snyder served as Iowa’s offensive coordinator from 1979 to 1988.”I’m sorry to see Bill go,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. “He’s been a great, great coach.”Snyder turned around one of the worst college football programs in history when he arrived in Manhattan in 1989. Before he took over, Kansas State was the only major college football program with over 500 losses and had only been to one bowl game.After his arrival, the Wildcats went to 11 straight bowl games starting in 1993. In 17 years Snyder compiled a record of 135-68-1.”What a great football coach,” Ferentz said. “We all thought he was crazy for going there, but he’s had a fantastic run.”
The announcement wasn’t all that surprising considering the crappy teams the Pelicans had put around Davis, but what followed further soured his public image. Paul released a short list of teams with which Davis would re-sign that included the Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks before Davis made a confusing TV appearance during All-Star Weekend announcing all 29 other teams were on his list. That didn’t sit well with Pelicans fans and gave the public the idea that Davis was sending out mixed signals. Davis has been a fascinating case study in how the public views uber-talented players. He started out as a darling of all, the indisputable first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft who went to New Orleans and immediately dominated, putting up statistics that were unprecedented for players his age. His 30.81 Player Efficiency Rating in 2014-15 is the 13th best of all time and by far the best mark ever for a 21-year-old. “We’re talking and trying to help each other out,” Davis said after the game of his relationship with James, according to ESPN. “The more we can do that, the easier the game will be for us and our teammates.” Davis has made only two postseason appearances but was brilliant in both. He averaged 31.5 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game while being swept by the Golden State Warriors in 2015 and absolutely dismantled the No. 3 seed Portland Trail Blazers before bowing out to the Warriors again in the second round in 2018. The polarized discourse around how good Davis really was intensified. He could never quite seem to put it all together from both a team and an individual standpoint. But I keep thinking about that old saying: Be careful what you wish for. The pressure is now on Davis in a way it never has been at any other time in his career. He’s on a better team, yes, but that means the excuses are gone and the expectations are higher. The spotlight in L.A. is a different animal from New Orleans, one of the NBA’s most apathetic fanbases. The Lakers have won the second-most championships of all time and have upheld a tradition of excellence that fans and the organization alike are desperate to return to this season. Then came Davis’ 2018-19 season, one of the strangest for a star in recent memory. On Jan. 26, the Pelicans lost to the Spurs 128-112, moving the team to a disappointing 22-28 record following the success of the previous season. Two days later, Davis’ agent Rich Paul — who represents his good friend LeBron James and runs the Klutch Sports Group, in which James is heavily involved — announced that Davis was requesting a trade. But as Davis’ career continued and his Pelicans teams struggled to even make the postseason, some began to question Davis for the first time. If he was so talented, why couldn’t he carry his teams to success in the sport most influenced by superstars? Aidan Berg is a junior writing about sports. He is also an associate managing editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Berg is the Word,” runs every Monday. Davis is somewhat in limbo right now, caught between the all-time great everyone wants him to be and the misplaced talent that we all saw last season. He’s got a lot riding on this campaign — not only to retain his reputation in the short term but to vault into the conversation as one of the greats. But Davis was eventually traded to the Lakers in June for a boatload of future assets. Davis got exactly what he wanted — he’s in the nation’s second biggest market, and he’s playing for perhaps the league’s signature franchise with one of the greatest players of all time in James. There’s also the fact that James is the perfect partner for Davis, or any other player for that matter. With his size, court vision and basketball IQ, he is perhaps the greatest passing forward ever. James will live to feed the Brow, and that’s been evidenced by reports from training camp that the two already have a strong connection. It was also proven by the team’s first preseason game Saturday night, where the two combined for 37 points on 14-for-26 shooting in a win over the Warriors. The Lakers desperately tried to set up a trade for Davis involving some of their promising young players, but after the deal ultimately fell through, the public nature of these negotiations contributed to these players underperforming as the Lakers sputtered to the 11th seed. Preseason excitement is great and all, but none of it matters once the regular season starts, and it damn sure doesn’t matter come playoff time. Davis is playing with one of the five greatest players ever; if he wants to take his place in basketball’s pantheon, he needs to come through this year. That means his usual stunning numbers and a case in the MVP race, but more importantly, a top three seed and a championship for the Lakers. No exceptions. Since USC football has a bye this week, this week’s column is going to focus on a topic I’ve been ruminating on for a few weeks now. As the NBA season approaches and the hype continues to build, I’m most interested to see one outcome: how Anthony Davis fares for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Then things got really ugly. Davis was held out of games by the Pelicans as trade talks continued. He only played sporadically after the trade deadline and missed the final seven games as the relationship between him and the Pelicans turned irrevocably icy. He showed up to the team’s final game wearing a “That’s all folks” shirt that, along with his unwillingness to honor his contract and the way that his agency handled the relationship with the Pelicans organization, pushed fans and media pundits alike to question Davis’ behavior and status as a true superstar. There were bad feelings all around: The Pelicans felt that Paul and the Lakers had tried to strongarm New Orleans into trading Davis to L.A. and seemed to take pleasure in denying the Lakers his services by turning down and leaking multiple trade offers.
Manchester United manager David Moyes has been handed a first match in charge at Swansea as the full 2013-14 football fixtures are announced.Jose Mourinho starts his second spell at Chelsea with a home game against newly promoted Hull on 17 August.Manuel Pellegrini’s first game in charge of Manchester City is against Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.Following their promotion from the Championship, Cardiff travel to West Ham and Crystal Palace host Tottenham.Relegated QPR start life in the Championship with a home game against Sheffield Wednesday on 3 August.In Scotland, Celtic begin their defence of their SPL title with a home game against Ross County. Rangers begin life in the Scottish Second Division at home to Brechin.Meanwhile, the FA Cup final has returned to its place at the end of the domestic season, with the match scheduled for May 17, a week after the end of the Premier League season. The 2010 season was the last time the match took this slot.New Everton boss Roberto Martinez takes his team to Norwich on the opening weekend, while Liverpool host Mark Hughes’ Stoke at Anfield.Arsenal start with a home game against Aston Villa, Sunderland host Fulham and Southampton travel to West Brom.Moyes’s first five league games17 August: Swansea (away)24 August: Chelsea (home)31 August: Liverpool (away)14 September: Crystal Palace (home) 21 September: Manchester City (away)After the game at Swansea, Moyes’s United host Chelsea at Old Trafford before the former Everton manager returns to Merseyside to face Liverpool the following weekend.City host United in the first Manchester derby of the season on the weekend of 21 September and they travel to Old Trafford for the return game on the weekend of 1 March.Cardiff’s first Premier League derby against Swansea takes place at the Cardiff City Stadium on 2 November and the Welsh sides meet again at the Liberty Stadium on 8 February.On Boxing Day, Chelsea host Swansea, Manchester United head to Hull and Manchester City face Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal entertain Cardiff on New Year’s Day, Manchester United face Tottenham at Old Trafford, Pellegrini’s City travel to Swansea and Chelsea head to Southampton.The season ends on 11 May, with Manchester United travelling to Southampton, Chelsea at Cardiff and Arsenal at Norwich, while Manchester City host West Ham.Club-by-club fixtures for the new season:Premier League: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Fulham, Hull City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United.