Why Alabama Is Terrible On Third Down

As you might expect, this isn’t Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry’s fault. When the running back’s number is called on third down, he converts more than 50 percent of the time. He rushes mainly on short third downs, which helps keep that number high, but on all third-down carries with fewer than 10 yards to go, he converts 61.1 percent of the time. The other ’Bama running backs aren’t as impressive, converting their carries at 41.9 percent from all distances. Still, that’s higher than the national average of 40 percent — and not too far off from ’Bama rushing attacks of the past. (Clemson, meanwhile, is really, really good at running on third down, converting 49.5 percent of the time.) Predictably, the Crimson Tide’s trouble comes with the pass — just not in the way you might think.Like most schools, Alabama passes more often than it runs on third down. (The national average is 59.1 percent; ’Bama throws it 56.3 percent of the time.) It’s not that quarterback Jake Coker panics in these situations. He completes 58.8 percent of his third-down throws, better than celebrated Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, who completes only 52.9 percent of his throws in the same situation. But when Watson throws, he gets a first down 42.3 percent of the time. Coker gets a first down only 30.9 percent of the time. The split is even more pronounced in third-and-long situations. Coker gets more accurate; completing 59.6 percent of his throws. Watson falls to 43.8 percent. But Watson still gets more first downs from his throws in those situations: 31.3 percent to 22.8 percent. The last seven years of Alabama teams have looked a lot alike. They’ve had a dominant defense, a dominant running attack, the occasional dominant wideout and a quarterback who doesn’t screw things up. ’Bama has finished in the top 10 of the final AP poll in each of those seven seasons and on Monday will play for its fourth national title in that period. It’s been a nice little run. But this Alabama team has one major weakness that its predecessors didn’t: It sucks at converting on third down.If you watched Alabama thrash Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, this may be about the only weakness that showed through the beating, a small consideration within the more global Brute Squad performance. Look a little closer, though, and one small crack can tell you quite a bit about this year’s Crimson Tide.Last year, Alabama converted 51.3 percent of its third downs, good for fifth among FBS schools. This year’s team converts 36.2 percent, good for 96th. There are only 128 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, so this is not an encouraging figure. Meanwhile, Clemson is 13th, converting 47.7 percent of its third downs. The average conversion rate for FBS teams is just less than 40 percent. Alabama faces, on average, 14 third downs each game. Last year’s team would have converted seven of them; this year’s converts only five. Considering that this year’s team is also far worse at converting on fourth down (12 of 24 compared with 10 of 13 last year), that means ’Bama’s offense is losing at least two drives a game because of this regression in third-down efficiency. What gives?Cautious play-calling. Without the protective blanket of Amari Cooper, the all-world receiver who bettered Alabama’s single-season receiving yards record by more than 50 percent last year, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has resorted to the conservative play-calling that defined his ill-fated tenure at USC. (Seriously, Google “Kiffin bubble screen” to get a taste of how the Trojan fan base felt about his play-calling when he was the head coach there.) With relatively untested Coker under center, Kiffin will all too often call for quick throws out near the sideline to receivers Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart, who then proceed to get tackled before crossing the sticks. I call these wasted completions, though of course that’s oversimplifying things. By moving the ball down the field even a little bit, ’Bama sets itself up for a better punt, field-goal attempt or even fourth-down try. (Although as noted above, the latter doesn’t really help.) Most of the time, the receivers stay inbounds, so it also wastes time. That’s generally OK, too, because most ’Bama games turn into a slow march to drain the clock. But still, a first down is always better than a fourth down, and Alabama would be extending its drives significantly more often if the team simply ran plays that allowed receivers to catch the ball beyond the yellow line. That’s a play-calling problem, exacerbated by a personnel problem, and one that could come back to haunt the Tide in the national championship game.Of course, with Alabama’s incredibly efficient defense picking up the slack, it may not. Did you notice the team going 1-12 on third down while it was dismantling Georgia 38-10 earlier this season? Or 4-12 while squeezing the life out of Michigan State in the semifinals? If you’re a spoiled ’Bama fan (like me), you probably did. Otherwise you simply watched the Tide roll. read more

China Is Splurging On BigName Soccer Talent

In the past few weeks, the Chinese Football Association Super League — the country’s premier professional soccer league — has been on a shopping spree. By the close of the January transfer window, the Chinese Super League had outspent England’s Premier League in the transfer market; the CSL made five of the six largest transfer signings in the 2015-16 window.The biggest splash came when the Jiangsu Suning shelled out $55 million to acquire Alex Teixeira, a star Brazilian midfielder playing in Ukraine, who was hotly pursued by Liverpool. Teixeira’s signing gives the CSL the 70th most valuable player in the world.By attracting big-name talent, CSL clubs are signaling the rise of Chinese soccer power — at least financially. (The value of the signings to club owners likely has as much to do with marketability of the players for product endorsement purposes as it does with improving the team.) This power has grown in lockstep with the league’s attendance and revenue. Since the league was founded in 2004, total CSL attendance has surged from 1.4 million to more than 5 million in 2015; per-game attendance has more than doubled as the league has grown from 12 to 16 teams.As Chinese soccer has grown domestically, the league has begun to throw around its financial weight in the international transfer market, thus boosting the total market value of CSL players. The league’s total value, according to Transfermarkt estimates of its players’ transfer market values (as opposed to aggregate transfer buys) has risen to about $380 million. Teixeira’s transfer fee alone accounts for 15 percent of that. That’s humongous. Gareth Bale’s record-breaking (unless you ask Ronaldo) transfer fee to Real Madrid in 2013 came in north of $100 million, yet represented a mere 3 percent of the more than $3.4 billion estimated market value of La Liga’s players in 2013.Although the CSL is making international news with a few big-ticket signings, as a whole, the league is still small. The league’s total estimated market value is still half as big as even Portugal’s national league, and it pales in comparison to England’s Premier League, which is valued at $4.7 billion. In fact, the total market value of all 16 CSL teams is still less than that of just Liverpool. Thus, a transfer fee comparable to the one between the CSL and Teixeira would be about $700 million (!).(As CSL teams make it rain, it’s worth noting that this cash isn’t being evenly distributed. Foreign players make far more than Chinese players. CSL teams must abide by a strict cap of no more than four overseas players, plus one from another country in the Asian Football Confederation. And according to 2012 data, these foreign players pulled in earnings more than five times larger than those of their Chinese teammates. The disparity has probably only grown as the CSL hunts for pricier international stars.)In some ways, the CSL has taken Major League Soccer’s model and supercharged it. MLS has tried — with debatable success — to gin up fan interest by splurging on a few big-name, often well-aged, international players. David Beckham joining the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 on a (comically inaccurate) “$250 million” deal comes to mind. By the 2008 season, the entire MLS had an estimated market value of about $157 million; with more than $10 million of that being Beckham. Today, that number has crept up to $314 million — exponential growth, but well behind the pace being set in China. So the CSL is following the MLS script, to a degree, only with players in their primes instead of broken-down warhorses like Frank Lampard.Some macroeconomic context helps, too. Although there are signs that China’s economy is slowing, and its stock market has been a disaster over the past year, the appetite of Chinese sports fans doesn’t seem to be lagging. The slowdown within the Chinese economy seems to be focused on real estate, state-owned enterprises and the stock market. Although growing indebtedness is an issue, Chinese consumers are better positioned than other parts of the Chinese economy. So expect demand for — and spending from — Chinese Super League teams to keep growing. China has a very long way to go before it’s a top player in international club soccer, but if consumer interest grows at the pace it’s set, the CSL might just continue to draw stars anyway.CORRECTION (Feb. 19, 2 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the basis for determining the monetary valuation of players in soccer teams and leagues. That valuation is measured by a Transfermarkt calculation of overall player market values, not just salaries. Transfermarkt makes the calculation based on the estimated value of the player in the transfer market. References in the article to how much teams and leagues have spent on salaries have been changed to the market values of their players. read more

Can The Packers Keep Winning Without Jordy Nelson

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers ended the New York Giants’ season with a 38-13 blowout on Sunday. As long as one looks no deeper than the final score, one might be tempted to consider the Packers the new NFC favorites.But the wiseguys in Las Vegas aren’t fooled: They watched the game more closely, and made the Packers four-point underdogs at Dallas next weekend. What did they see that the box score didn’t?For one, they saw Packers receiver Jordy Nelson carted off the field with a rib injury: “That’d be a huge loss for us,” Rodgers admitted in his postgame press conference, when asked about Nelson’s potential absence at Dallas. Nelson’s ability to get open and draw coverage sparked a midseason explosion in the Packers’ offensive effectiveness. Without a fully healthy Nelson, the Packers’ second game against the Cowboys this season might go the way their first did, in Week 6 — when according to Football Outsiders, the Packers’ offense posted their second-worst single-game offensive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) of the season (-25.1 percent).But the concerns run even deeper than the Packers’ receiver depth: For much of the game, Rodgers and company struggled mightily to score. Before a short punt let them start a drive on the Giants’ 38-yard line with less than four minutes left in the first half, the Packers had been shut out entirely.Rodgers registered the fifth-longest average time to throw of any quarterback in the NFL, per NFL.com this season, and while he was also pressured on 29 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information, he adapted in the pocket and got his throws off. For the season, he had a QBR of 71.8 when pressured — the league average for such plays is 31.5 — with 10 touchdowns and 1 interception.The hard-to-contain combination of top-notch pass protection and elite pocket movement was on display against the Giants, as Rodgers extended plays as long as he needed to to make offense happen: But the mother of invention is necessity, and it quickly became clear Rodgers would have to wait ages for his receivers to get open against the Giants’ excellent secondary — too long, in fact, as Rodgers was sacked five times and forced into an intentional grounding penalty over the course of the game.But after the field-position gift that turned into the Davante Adams touchdown above, and a Hail Mary pass somehow found its way to Packers wideout Randall Cobb 132 seconds later, putting the Packers up 14-6. Before those two drives, the Giants had outgained the Packers 194-7. After halftime, Eli Manning and the Giants were the first to score. With less than 18 minutes left in the game, the Packers led by only one point.Of course, 20 minutes and nine seconds later, the Packers had outgained the Giants 406-365, and outscored them 38-13. Part of that production came from Cobb, who caught five passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns, including that Hail Mary. It was Cobb’s return from two missed games with an ankle injury, it was Cobb’s best statistical game of 2016, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.But the reality of the Packers’ path to the Super Bowl is inescapable: They have to go from Lambeau Field, where the Cowboys already beat them 30-16, to the toasty indoor track of AT&T Stadium. Should they win there, they’ll either have to win a shootout with the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome, or a slugfest with the Seattle Seahawks in CenturyLink Field.Without Nelson it’s hard to see how the Packers win one, let alone both, of their subsequent contests. Rodgers will need open options against the Cowboys defense — whose fifth-ranked scoring defense allowed just 1.38 more points per game in 2016 than the Giants’ second-ranked scoring defense.Of course, the Packers won’t roll over and forfeit if Nelson isn’t fit to play. But the impression a casual fan might get from the box score is that the Packers are ready to roll over the rest of the NFL — and unless Nelson is healthy enough for defenses to respect, that’s just not true. read more

How Injuries To Steph Curry And Chris Paul Affect The Playoffs

It’s been a bad couple of days for MVP-caliber point guards.On Monday afternoon, Warriors fans waiting for the results of the MRI on Stephen Curry’s right knee got their answer: Curry will miss at least two weeks with a Grade 1 MCL sprain, according to the Warriors’ PR Twitter account. CLE233525+2 HOU000— Regardless of how long Curry is out, the biggest beneficiaries of his injury are obviously the San Antonio Spurs. Their title odds jump by about 23 percentage points if Curry doesn’t play from here on out and 6 percentage points even if he is back in action after the conference semifinals. One reason is simple: The Curry-less Warriors pose far less of a threat to the Spurs than the 73-win superteam San Antonio battled all season. But the Spurs also benefit disproportionately from an increased chance, however small, that Golden State could be knocked out before ever facing San Antonio.Before Paul’s injury, the Clippers were in position to profit from Curry’s absence. If Curry missed the entire second round and CP3 had been healthy, LA’s chances of winning the title would have roughly quadrupled. But without Paul, the Clippers have very little chance of going all the way, regardless of Curry’s status — the latest in a string of missed opportunities for the franchise over the past few seasons.Finally, it’s worth noting that the second-biggest leap in title probability if Curry is absent for the rest of the playoffs belongs to the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose chances of winning the championship go up 12 percentage points even though they couldn’t be affected by the injury until the NBA Finals. (For those curious, the plus-minus-based system I used in this article is higher on the Cavs than something like our Elo ratings, because plus-minus thinks Cleveland is more talented than how it’s played the past few seasons.)Of course, all these calculations can change if Curry is able to return — and play like himself — at some point in the Warriors’ playoff run. The sheer gravity of Golden State’s presence in the bracket has been enough to derail the Spurs’ and Cavs’ claims to favorite status all season long. So best-case, the Warriors weather the second round against the Blazers or depleted Clippers and then pick up where they left off with Curry back for the conference finals. But if his return is delayed or scrubbed entirely, the Warriors’ chances of defending their title will look more fragile than Curry’s knee. ATL122+1 OKC5149+4 CHA011+1 GS52538-14 BOS000— TEAMFULL CURRYNO CURRYCURRY OUT 2 WKSDIFF., 2 WEEKS AND FULL TOR233+1 POR000— Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Clippers were hit with even worse injury news Monday night. Chris Paul broke his hand and will likely miss the remainder of the postseason.The good news for Golden State is that Curry hasn’t been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, particularly if the Warriors advance beyond the second round. The bad news is that he’s out for the time being. So for each team still active in the playoffs, let’s game out the chances they’ll win the title depending on various (hypothetical) levels of Curry participation over the rest of the playoffs.For this exercise, I’m going to use the plus-minus metric that drives our CARMELO projections1Specifically, I’m using a 50-50 blend of ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus and Basketball-Reference.com’s Box Plus/Minus, according to research by FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver. to generate Pythagorean ratings for the Warriors based on Curry’s availability. With Curry in the lineup, for instance, the metric says the Warriors possess roughly 67-win true talent (per 82 games) based on plus-minus; with Curry absent, that number falls to 53 wins. Those numbers can then be used to generate expected probabilities of advancing in the playoffs, all the way up to winning the NBA title.(Obviously this ignores all the ways in which matchups matter, as well as the dynamic effect of teammates’ playing together that isn’t captured by plus-minus. But as a rough cut, this method ought to do the trick.)Here’s how each team’s title odds would change if Curry played at full strength and had never been injured (specifically, logging 81 percent of the Warriors’ available minutes — the rate at which he played in last year’s playoffs), if he misses “two weeks” (which we’ll define here as being out until the conference finals), and if he doesn’t play at all: IND000— LAC000— Source: ESPN, Basketball-Reference.com Which teams benefit from Curry’s absence? ODDS OF WINNING TITLE WITH … SA16%39%22%+6 MIA000— VIDEO: Neil Paine on the Warriors’ and Spurs’ title chancesCheck out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 NBA Playoff Predictions. read more

Ohio State enters its bye week going up after 497 win over

Ohio State redshirt junior receiver Michael Thomas (3) shakes off Rutgers redshirt freshman cornerback Isaiah Wharton (11) during OSU’s 49-7 win on Oct. 24.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorIt would be hard for the Ohio State football team to script a better way to begin its lone bye week of the 2015 season.Its first eight weeks of the season had been littered with lackluster outings, despite emerging victorious in every outing.But now, a nearly unblemished performance against Rutgers on Saturday in Piscataway, New Jersey, presides as the backdrop for the Buckeyes as their Week 9 rest gets underway.“It’s definitely what we’ve been waiting for,” junior running back Ezekiel Elliott said following the win. “Coach (Urban) Meyer has been talking about cracking the rock, kind of playing at the potential that we should be playing at.”The Buckeyes, who maintained their No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll and picked up 11 new first-place votes, did not just crack the rock: They broke it to bits.OSU controlled the game from the opening whistle until the clock showed 00:00, blasting the Scarlet Knights 49-7 behind the arm and legs of newly minted starting quarterback J.T. Barrett. The redshirt sophomore threw for 223 yards and three scores while tacking on two more touchdowns and 101 yards on the ground. Elliott added 142 rushing yards and two scores to go along with redshirt junior wide receiver Michael Thomas, who hauled in five passes for 103 yards and a dazzling 55-yard touchdown catch-and-run.The defense dominated, holding Rutgers to just 293 yards, its fewest number of yards gained all season long. The “Silver Bullets” nearly tossed a shutout had it not been for a 10-play, 90-yard touchdown drive with all second-string players on the turf. Even with the garbage time score, the defense looked like the stifling unit it was against Hawaii and Western Michigan.“I think this performance tonight showed not only what our offense is supposed to do but what our whole team is supposed to do,” senior left tackle and captain Taylor Decker said after Saturday’s win. “(I) felt like it was a really complete game.”Stringing together a complete game had eluded OSU up to Saturday’s kickoff. Whether it be the quarterback carousel and a soft run defense or the bevy of turnovers and penalties, something was always missing for the Scarlet and Gray. That trend, however, appears to have been reversed against the Scarlet Knights.The Buckeyes found their guy behind center in Barrett, whose performance led to him being named co-offensive player of the week in the Big Ten, and limited Rutgers to just 104 yards on the ground. The turnovers and penalty woes went by the wayside, too.OSU had just one turnover — an opening-drive fumble from Barrett after he accidentally collided with Thomas as the Buckeyes were nearing the red zone. But “the most impressive thing,” Meyer said, was that OSU was not penalized once during the 60 minutes of action.“That’s definitely a big step for us because if you look at all the games up to here, we had a lot of penalties, a lot of false starts … all that,” Elliott said. “Playing a clean game is great. Those penalties and turnovers kind of hurt our momentum, so when we are able to have our momentum and a roll, it’s a freight train.”Now, the freight train that is the Buckeyes is heading smoothly down the tracks, full of momentum, looking like the team that steamrolled everything in its way during the final games of 2014.“It’s that time of the year where teams either go up or they go down, and we needed to start going up,” redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “It gives us a great feeling to get our bodies and minds right going into the bye weekend.”With no game on the docket, OSU will take advantage of a light practice schedule to get players back to full strength, as games against Big Ten heavyweights Minnesota, Michigan State and  Michigan loom on the horizon. Last season, OSU had two open weeks — the first was on Sept. 20, just three games into the year, while the second was on Oct. 11. But in 2015, the Buckeyes have played in eight straight weeks, which begins to take a toll. “It’s huge,” Decker said of the bye week, noting that starters have played a majority of the reps in most games. “There are some guys dinged up, just some little things here and there. Those just start to add up on you, a bunch of little things.” When the Buckeyes return, closer to full strength, they know the meat of the schedule awaits. But before the more competitive conference clashes begin, OSU will just savor its time off, especially knowing the team turned in its most complete performance of the season. “It will be nice just to get a little rest, get a little time away, just to kind of take a deep breath and then come back locked and loaded ready to go,” Decker said.  OSU is scheduled to resume action on Nov. 7 at Ohio Stadium against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. read more

NCAA Tournament expansion Why mess with a good thing

Official reports are out that the NCAA has convened with head men from conferences and university athletic departments to determine whether the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, otherwise known as the best event in sports, should be expanded.Again.Shame on them.If someone could convince me that expanding the tournament to 68 or even 96 teams wouldn’t dilute the playing field, I’d gladly go along with the concept. But the notion of increasing the field to 96 is pure poppycock.I’d argue the field may already be too large, but the present size of the tournament is perfect for the right amount of upsets. Sure, George Mason’s run to the Final Four in 2006 was mesmerizing, but did the Patriots honestly deserve to win the National Championship?I think not.Furthermore, despite the successes of teams such as George Mason and Gonzaga in years past, statistics show there are a low number of upsets.Since the tournament swelled to 64 teams in 1985, a No. 1 has never lost to a No. 16. A No. 4 beats a No. 13 seed 79 percent of the time. Despite the belief that a No. 12 beats a No. 5 each year, it has only happened in 34 percent of the games.Judging at how big the tournament has become in terms of size of the field and the arenas that host the Final Four, it’s amazing to think about how far the tournament has come.In the tournament’s first year in 1939, the field had eight teams. Forty years later, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were dazzling fans, March Madness had grown to 40. By 1985, the tournament had ballooned to 64 teams.Currently, team No. 65 is determined by the “play-in” game or what I like to call the “lose-lose” game, since the winner gets to face the No. 1 overall seed and the loser essentially got invited to the Big Dance only to get turned away at the door.Even adding a few more play-in games is an insult to the teams that win their conference tournament only to find out they’re stuck on the outside looking in on the tournament.The funny thing about tournament expansion is it’s not really about the money. Sure, the NCAA has an 11-year, $6 billion contract with CBS, but the men’s tournament is the only NCAA championship tournament that doesn’t get to keep the profits. Instead, the revenue is divvied up between the participating schools and conferences.Adding more schools means spreading the wealth. Proponents of tournament expansion want the majority of the added slots to go to teams that won their conference’s regular season championship in order to put increased value on the regular season. Thus, the “little guys” would not be seeing much of the revenue and in effect the rich get richer, as the major conferences would swoop in for more bids.Any way you look at it, expanding the tournament causes problems for everyone. Expansion would render the NIT irrelevant and cause students to miss more class time. Schools would have to dish out more money to cover team expenses.And most of all, the quality of the basketball would suffer. read more

Whats next for Hitch

With Ken Hitchcock having been dispatched by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the question remains: What’s next for the Edmonton, Alberta native?The immediate answer is the Olympics. But as far as a future coaching position in the NHL, the answer isn’t so clear.“My focus right now is obviously on the Olympics,” Hitchcock said in a press conference last Thursday.Hitchcock will join Red Wings coach Mike Babcock’s staff coaching the Canadian team. The Olympics in Vancouver will be Hitchcock’s third stint with the Canadian team, having coached them in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2006 and Nagano, Japan, in 2002.Following the Olympics, there’s no doubt teams will be interested in Hitchcock’s services. The stoic 58-year-old has 500 career wins as an NHL coach. Hitchcock has also led three teams to the playoffs, including a Stanley Cup Championship in 1999, when he was coaching Dallas.However, Hitchcock isn’t sure he’ll jump back into coaching, as he did after being fired twice previously.After being let go by Dallas, Hitchcock immediately joined forces with the Philadelphia Flyers. And similarly, when he was cut loose by the Flyers, he was quickly picked up by the Jackets. But this time around the veteran Hitchcock says it might be different.“I’m not going to jump at the first job opportunity,” Hitchcock said. He went on to explain that he’s been in almost every coaching situation, from Stanley Cup contenders to teams building from the ground up. This time, Hitchcock says, the scenario would have to be perfect.“I think if it’s the right situation I would like to look at it,” Hitchcock said. But he also said he’s not rushing into anything, due in part to his connection to the Blue Jackets organization.“I feel a very personal obligation to the McConnell family and [Jackets president] Mike Priest,” Hitchcock said. “I have a contractual obligation, but it goes beyond that with Mike and myself. I feel like I started something here.”Hitchcock’s contract runs through 2011-2012, during which time he is due $1.33 million per year. But as he said, his ties are deeper than that. It’s believed Blue Jackets management will look to retain Hitchcock as an adviser if he doesn’t find work elsewhere this season. While that might create an awkward situation for all involved, a management position might be appealing to Hitchcock.“The next move I’d like to make is an organizational one,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t want to just be a coach. I’d like a long-term relationship.” read more

Stalker who had completely unshakeable obsession with Emily Maitlis is jailed for

first_imgA man who had a “completely unshakeable obsession” with BBC presenter Emily Maitlis has been jailed for three years for repeatedly breaching a restraining order.Edward Vines, 46, who read English at Cambridge University’s Queen’s College while Newsnight host Ms Maitlis was an undergraduate, spent 25 years bombarding her and her family with letters. He added: “You have known for 25 years that this woman wants nothing to do with you. You’ve plagued her life and the life of her family.”Jurors took less than an hour to find Vines guilty of both counts. He showed no emotion as the jury foreman returned the verdicts.In a witness statement, Ms Maitlis said she was worried for her family’s safety after receiving a letter from Vines, who she said developed an “obsession” with her when she spurned his advances at university. He was convicted of harassment in 2002 and was subsequently issued with a restraining order in 2009, but he continued to “plague” Ms Maitlis with letters, demanding to know why their friendship crumbled, months after he declared his love for her.He was found guilty at Oxford Crown Court of two counts of breaching the order, having previously pleaded guilty to two further breaches.Judge Peter Ross said: “”Putting it bluntly, you’ve never had any reasonable case to contact Ms Maitlis following the order.”You have what appears to me a completely unshakable obsession, underpinned by a couple delusion with regards to the relationship that had existed between you and Ms Maitlis.” Emily Maitlis is a BBC presenterCredit:Phil Fisk  Emily Maitlis Asked by the judge if he would stand by a commitment he made during the short trial that he would not contact the Maitlis family if convicted by a jury, Vines said: “I will not write to Emily Maitlis or her mother, most likely ever again. It’s early days, Your Honour.”Asked by the judge to clarify, Vines said: “I will never contact them again if I’m defeated rationally in court – and I cannot say I have been today.”The judge replied: “That is not the unambiguous assurance I was seeking.”center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. You have what appears to me a completely unshakable obsession, underpinned by a couple delusion with regards to the relationship that had existed between you and Ms MaitlisJudge Peter Ross Emily Maitlis Emily Maitlis received letters at the BBC Credit:John Alex Maguire /Rex Features last_img read more

Squash champ killed by stepson with single blow after telling him You cannot

first_imgHerridge, now 18 and living with his father in West Malling, denies murder and the alternative offence of manslaughter.The trial continues. A British squash champion was killed with one punch after telling his teenage stepson: ‘You can’t talk to your mum like that,’ a court heard.Douglas Herridge, then 17, struck Colin Payne with what was described as a catastrophic blow as the pair grappled in the family study at their home in Dartford, Kent.The 54-year-old collapsed and died rapidly, despite desperate attempts to save his life. Douglas Herridge outside Maidstone Crown CourtCredit:Steve Finn Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mrs Herridge, who had been studying at home for a masters degree in executive business administration, briefly left the room to call for the decorator Ziad Natour to help.She returned within seconds to hear Douglas calling Mr Payne “a p—y” and him replying “Come on then”.She told the court: “Then I saw one punch. Douglas punched Colin. It landed on his face on the side of his head. Douglas left the room and Colin had his hands at the side of his head.”He started going down slowly and I called Zi that I needed his help, to call an ambulance. Colin was slowly going down and I thought he still had a level of consciousness.”But then he sat down and at that point I could hear him start snoring. He was sitting upright but slumped forward. Zi came down and at that point I was checking Colin’s breathing and pulse.”Being a nurse from my background I knew what to do.”Herridge sat sobbing in the dock as his mum first gave evidence, telling the court how her marriage break-up had affected him.The break-up of the marriage between his parents five years earlier had caused traumatic emotional turmoil, said prosecutor Richard Hearnden, with Herridge becoming “upset, angry and agitated”.There were incidents when he put his hand on his mother’s throat, punched and kicked her. On another occasion the youngster was said to have tried to push her down the stairs and police were called.He also took his frustration out on furniture, walls, computers and kitchen appliances. His behaviour deteriorated to such an extent that in 2014 it was decided he would live with his natural father, David. Mrs Herridge told the jury: “He was saying in a fairly firm voice ‘You cannot talk to your mum like that. You cannot behave like that. You cannot behave like that in this house'”They were 20, 30cm apart. Both had raised voices. I stood up off the chair. It just all happened so quickly. I just went between them and said ‘Can you stop.'”They were holding on to each other. Both had their arms on each other but I don’t know where. It was like they were in this different world. They didn’t hear me.”center_img Herridge had been arguing with his mother, Ina, after asking her to lend him some money on November 19 last year.She refused due to his behaviour, described to a jury at Maidstone Crown Court on Tuesday as violently aggressive.But he became increasingly agitated and emotional, swearing and calling her names, the court heard.Hearing the commotion, Mr Payne pushed his way into the study and asked what was going on, telling his stepson to calm down before trouble flared.Giving evidence for the prosecution, Mrs Herridge, who is originally from Finland, told the court it as if they were “in a different world” when she tried to intervene. The court heard that he returned to the family home in the summer of 2015 but his attitude and behaviour deteriorated again when he gave up a business course at college after three months and then quit his job with an air-conditioning firm.Three days before Mr Payne’s death, the 6ft 4in, fit and healthy divorcee, himself a father of two, told Mrs Herridge he had been frightened of her son when his violent behaviour escalated and he ripped Mr Payne’s T-shirt.He told Mrs Herridge “that child can’t live in this house any longer behaving like that”.”Mrs Herridge said Colin, by comparison, wouldn’t even harm a fly,” said prosecutor Richard Hearnden.David Herridge also said his son was “not the boy he used to be”.Mrs Herridge, a risk manager for the NHS, and Mr Payne had also contacted social services for help.The jury was told Herridge claims he was acting in self-defence after Mr Payne “barged” into the room, grabbed him around the neck and tried to throttle him. Herridge claims his stepfather was choking him when he punched him.The blow had no effect so he punched him again. The court heard he accepts this punch killed Mr Payne but denies using excessive force.Mr Payne was British Open Over-50s champion and a former professional player on the PSA World Tour.He had won the Kent championship five times and had represented the county on more than 100 occasions.He managed three bathroom stores in Tunbridge Wells, Reigate and Brighton. Douglas Herridge outside Maidstone Crown Court I saw one punch. Douglas punched Colin. It landed on his face on the side of his headMrs Herridgelast_img read more

House with 25ft great white shark on its roof could be given

first_imgMike Ratcliffe, the Chairman of Headington Neighbourhood Forum, said it was an “entirely appropriate” candidate for listed status.He added: “The shark, embedded in its rooftop, continues to intrude, to surprise and to fascinate.”People stop to look, it has a presence on Trip Advisor and has an international reputation.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Shark in the roof of a terraced house in HeadingtonCredit:Eye Ubiquitous/REX/Shutterstock  If approved, a bid would then be made to have it nationally listed with English Heritage.Mr Heine, 72, who now lives in Waterstock and is having treatment for terminal leukaemia, has welcomed the campaign to get the shark house listed.It was originally created by sculptor John Buckley as a protest against the American bombing of Libya, and still draws tourists.Local councillor Ruth Wilkinson said: “I was shocked to find out that the shark had not been listed to protect it.”center_img Shark in the roof of a terraced house in Headington A house with a 25ft great white shark sticking out of its roof is set to be given listed status by a council who originally wanted it demolished.City councillors hated the monster ‘jaws’ built into the roof by owner Bill Heine back in August 1986 and refused it retrospective planning permission.However, Michael Heseltine, then secretary of state for the environment, came out in favour of the shark and the monument was saved.Now over 30 years later Oxford City Council are deciding whether to give the building, with its fibre glass shark ‘diving’ into the rooftop, listed status.An application for it to be listed on the Oxford Heritage Asset Register will now go to the city council, with a decision expected by the council next year.last_img read more