Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Three Candidates To Be Next Cleveland Browns Special Teams Coordinator


Wendi Oliveros

February 21 2023

The Cleveland Browns made a late decision to fire the 2022 special teams coordinator Mike Priefer on February 21, 2023.

By NFL standards, a head coach that remains in the job (as Kevin Stefanski is) usually fires staff members at the end of the season.

He fired the defensive coordinator Joe Woods over a month ago.

Some believe the late-in-the-game firing means that Stefanski has a candidate in mind who is suddenly becoming available.

It is not clear if that is the case.

Here are three potential candidates for the vacant Browns special teams coordinator job ranked in descending order for the likelihood of getting hired.

3. Phil Dawson

48-year-old Phil Dawson has not been contacted by the Browns for an interview, but he would be an outstanding special teams coach for the team.

He is a living legend in Cleveland, spending 14 years as the Browns kicker from 1999-2012.

Dawson knows the intricacies of kicking at FirstEnergy Stadium because of the wind and conditions and would be a great coach and mentor for Browns second-year kicker Cade York out of LSU.

2. Raymond “Bubba” Ventrone

The Browns want to interview Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, 40.

This would be a lateral move for him so the Colts could prohibit the interview from happening.

Ventrone spent four seasons with the Browns from 2009-2012 and was part of their special teams unit.

He would be a fan favorite, but the fact that it is a lateral move complicates things.

1. Anthony Blevins

The Browns have requested permission from the New York Giants to interview assistant special teams coordinator Anthony Blevins.

The Giants cannot refuse because this would be a promotion for Blevins.

Blevins is 46 years old and a former XFL player.

He started in 2018 and has worn a lot of hats on the Giants coaching staff.

Blevins began as the Giants’ assistant special teams coach but also served as the assistant defensive backs coach and the assistant linebackers coach.

Prior to his time with the Giants, he was the assistant special teams coach for the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2017.

Blevins has plenty of experience, and this would be a well-deserved promotion which is why he is the most likely candidate to get the job.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Matt Guerrieri Named IU's Co-Defensive Coordinator and Safeties Coach


February 17, 2023

IU Athletics Release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana head football coach Tom Allen announced the hiring of Matt Guerrieri (gurr-AIR-ee) as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach on Friday afternoon.

“Matt fits in perfectly with our culture and aligns with our goals schematically,” Allen said. “He is innovative, energetic, and a tremendous family man. We welcome Matt, his wife, Alex, and their son, James, to IU!” 

Guerrieri spent 2012-21 at Duke, including four years as defensive coordinator, and joined the Ohio State staff in 2022.

“I am excited for the opportunity to join Coach Allen and his staff at IU,” Guerrieri said. “Coach Allen is a great coach and I look forward to working with him. My family and I can’t wait to get to Bloomington!”

Guerrieri has been a part of a College Football Playoff semifinalist, seven bowl teams, two 10-plus win teams, and five eight-plus win teams during his coaching career.

He served as a senior advisor and analyst with the Buckeyes before being named defensive coordinator at Tulsa on Jan. 6, 2023.

With the Blue Devils, Guerrieri was co-defensive coordinator from 2018-21 and safeties coach from 2015-21. He worked as a graduate assistant his first three campaigns.

Guerrieri was one of three finalists for the 2020 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Assistant Coach of the Year, a nominee for the 2018 Broyles Award, and one of 247Sports Top 30 Coaches Under 30 in 2018 and 2019.

He mentored All-American Jeremy Cash and five additional all-conference honorees. The 2015 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Cash also was a finalist for both the Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player in the nation) and the Thorpe Award (top defensive back in the nation).

Guerrieri’s 2019 secondary propelled Duke to third in the ACC in pass defense, allowing just 199.0 yards per game, and a top-five finish in pass defense efficiency (123.8). 

The 2017 Blue Devils ranked among the conference leaders in opponent pass completion percentage (2nd), scoring defense (3rd), passing defense (3rd), and total defense (4th). They yielded 25-or-fewer points in 11-of-13 contests.

Duke surrendered 20.23 points per game, the program’s lowest total since 1977.

Guerrieri took part in the inaugural AFCA 30 Under 30 Coaches Leadership Institute in 2015.

Before joining the Blue Devils, Guerrieri spent 2011 as a defensive graduate assistant at Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he helped coach the secondary and the outside linebackers.

A three-year letterman at Davidson College, Guerrieri started at safety for the Wildcats. He was a senior captain and a three-time All-Pioneer Football League Honor Roll selection.

Guerrieri graduated from Davidson in 2011 with a degree in sociology. He earned his master’s degree in Christian studies from Duke in 2014.

Matt is married to the former Alex Thompson and the couple has one son, James.

Allen Hands Defensive Play Calling to Matt Guerrieri


February 18, 2023

Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

The Indiana Hoosiers will have a new defensive play caller in 2023 as head coach Tom Allen said he will be handing the reins of the defense over to new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Matt Guerrieri at his introductory press conference on Saturday morning.

“So excited to have him with us. Going to be a -- the situation is the way that I would like for this to be organized. Really, I want to follow the pattern we used in 2019.” Allen explained. “I'm going to have -- Coach Guerrieri will be calling the defense, much like Coach [Kane] Wommack did. And I will be heavily involved, but he will be the play-caller on game day. That way it will allow me to be a better head football coach to it this team. With everything that we have and the dynamics of college football today, I really feel like that's the best direction to go but had to have the right person for that particular role.”

Allen took over the play calling for the 2022 season as defensive coordinator Chad Wilt adjusted to his first year at the position. The Hoosier defense finished 120th nationally in scoring and 119th in total defense in the 2022 season.


Allen and the Hoosiers want to replicate the success they had in 2019 and 2020 when Allen handed the reins over to then-defensive coordinator Kane Wommack (current head coach at South Alabama).

“I can equate it to what we did in '19, that it's going to be our system and someone that really believes in it. And just from all that time together and then just obviously, you know, you watch people play and the things that they do and there's certain philosophical alignments that you have in, how you attack things, what are your answers in situations, and you have to have that core belief that that's how do you it.” Allen said.

Guerrieri has similar philosophies to Allen and believes he will be able to take IU’s defense to the next level.

His philosophy “aligns directly with Coach Allen's. We've been a base 4-2-5 for a number of years. I've played in numerous different -- I played in the 3-4 defense. I've been in a 4-3 and a 3-3-5 and 4-2-5. I think it goes to from a philosophy standpoint, Coach Allen would say tackling, take-aways, and effort. Those are the three pillars of who we are. That's not going to change from that standpoint.” Guerrieri said on Saturday.

The Hoosiers are set to open spring practice on March 4th culminating in a “Spring Football Event” on Saturday, April 15th.

Friday, February 17, 2023



The IHSAA is proud to announce the 2023 honorees for induction into the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame, IHSAA Officials Hall of Fame, and escort for the Grand March, to be recognized on February 18 before the state championship matches at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. 


Below is brief biographical information on each Hall of Fame selection and award winner. More information on IHSAA awards is available in the annual state tournament program, available for $5 at Wells Fargo Arena or through the IHSAA website and office.




AUSTIN BLYTHE, Williamsburg – Blythe was a rare four-time finalist and three-time champion at heavyweight, graduating in 2011 with a career record of 188-11. The three-sport star won 146 of his matches by fall – a state record at the time – and helped lead the Raiders to the State Dual Team Tournament in 2010 and 2011. He went on to play college football at the University of Iowa, starting 52 games over four seasons and earning All-Big Ten and third team All-American honors in 2015. He has been an NFL offensive lineman since, starting 72 games for the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and Seattle Seahawks. The son of Curt and Mary Blythe, Austin and his wife Kiley have three children: Reed, Callie, and Hayden.


JOHNNY GALLOWAY JR., Waterloo, East & Iowa City, City High – A three-time state champion (2000-02), Galloway didn’t lose a match to an Iowa-based wrestler in his final three varsity seasons. After winning at 145 as a sophomore at Waterloo East, he went to City High and his title runs at 152 and 160 led the Little Hawks to runner-up finishes in both the traditional and dual team tournaments. Galloway graduated with a varsity record of 154-8, four MVC and district titles, and was believed to be the first African American three-time champ since Paul Stinson (1963-65). He was named USA Wrestling first team All-American in 2002 and went on to compete at Lindenwood and then Northern Illinois, where he was a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier and MAC champ. Galloway has worked in community and correctional services, currently serving as a pre-trial conditional release agent in Minnesota, where he lives with his wife Leticia and sons Jakai and Johnny III.


COLE WELTER, Don Bosco, Gilbertville – Welter was the first Don Bosco wrestler to graduate with three state titles (2007, 2009-10) and helped lead the Dons to four titles in the traditional tournament and dual team tournament during his varsity career. He graduated with career record of 162-14 while also being a two-time all-state player in baseball. Welter went on to wrestle at Wartburg College, going 113-24 in four seasons and again winning four titles each in the NCAA Division III tournament and dual team events. He capped three national tournaments with the 2014 championship at 165 pounds. He returned to Don Bosco as an assistant coach in 2016. Welter works for Stryker Orthopaedics as a product specialist, traveling eastern Iowa hospitals and assisting surgeons and staffs with total joint replacement surgeries. The son of Rob and Jammi Welter now lives in Raymond with his wife Nicole and daughter Blake.



DARIN SCHRECK, Norwalk – A state qualifier at Des Moines East who went on to teach and coach at three schools – Carlisle (1995-2000), Eagle Grove (2000-06), Norwalk (2006-12) – to great success over 17 total seasons. Schreck’s teams won nine total conference titles, with at least three coming at each school. Eagle Grove qualified for the State Dual Team Tournament three times under Schreck’s leadership. In total, he coached 44 state qualifiers, 27 place-winners, and six state champions. His career dual team record was 287-67 before going into athletic administration, and he currently serves as athletic director at Carlisle. Darin and his wife Jill live in Norwalk and have three adult kids: Sarah, Rylie, and Nico.



CRESCO HONOREES – Posthumous Hall of Fame honors are being given to four former Cresco standouts for their accomplishments. All four are prior selections to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.


Bob Hess, 1928: A champion in 1927 and runner-up in 1928 helped establish Cresco’s program and clinch the team title in his senior season. Hess attended Iowa State University and won National Collegiate titles in 1932 and 1933. Passed in 1998.


Dale Hanson, 1935: A two-time champion at 85 pounds and 105 pounds in 1934 and 1935, Hanson went on to win the 1939 NCAA championship with the University of Minnesota and was unbeaten in three straight years of dual team competition. Hanson enlisted in the Air Force in his senior year, serving at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and Midway in 1942 before losing his life as a co-pilot in October 1942 near current Papua New Guinea.


Don Nichols, 1935: A state champ at 85 pounds in 1933 and 135 in 1935, the brother of Harold Nichols lost only one dual match as a varsity wrestler. Nichols went on to wrestle for legendary coach Cliff Keen at the University of Michigan, where he was a two-time Big Ten champion and 1940 national champion. Nichols was named outstanding wrestler of that tournament. Passed in 2007.


Gene Lybbert, 1948: A two-time runner-up as an individual and part of Cresco’s team title in 1948, Lybbert’s wrestling career peaked in college. He capped a run to three National AAU tournaments with an undefeated and NCAA title run in 1952 for Iowa State Teachers College. Passed in 2019.




GREG BECKER, Waterloo: After a successful run as a wrestler at Don Bosco capped by the record-breaking 1979 team, Hall of Fame coach Bob Siddens encouraged Becker to give back to wrestling as an official. He started in 1980 and hasn’t stopped, officiating for 41 seasons with consistent postseason honors. Becker has officiated 26 state tournaments, including 18 state finals, and 14 state dual team tournaments. He also tallies 32 sectional tournaments, 28 district tournaments, 27 regional duals, and now three state girls’ wrestling tournaments. Becker was named state official of the year in 2009 and was part of the Grand March escort group from Don Bosco’s 1979 team. The son of Dick and Pat, Greg has four adult children – Brianna, Carissa, Brett, and Erica – and he and his partner Kristin live in Waterloo.


BRIAN GRAY, Winterset: The son of Hall of Fame official Rich Gray was an early state wrestling tournament attendee and even qualified twice for the tournament himself for Interstate 35. Gray started officiating during his freshman year of college and was mentored by his father and longtime official John Monroe during a rapid rise. He received postseason assignments in his fourth and fifth seasons, then officiated the state tournament at age 26. Gray is working his 24th state tournament 17th state finals this week, along with 12 state dual team tournaments. He was also honored by IWCOA as state official of the year this year. A co-founder of the Central Iowa Wrestling Officials Association and served as president for seven years. Gray lives in Winterset with his girlfriend Tiffany and son Cody.




Brad Smith, Lisbon

The Iowa High School Athletic Association is honored to have coach Brad Smith, Iowa’s all-time dual meet wins leader and a 12-time state tournament team champion, lead the 2023 grand march ahead of Saturday night’s finals at Wells Fargo Arena.


Smith’s legendary coaching career has spanned 45 seasons at Lisbon and Iowa City, City High. The Illinois native holds numerous state records and cross 700 career dual meet victories this season, extending the top mark he set in 2020. Smith was a 2011 inductee to the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame and has also received career honors from the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame and National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Smith was a two-time state champion at John Hersey in Arlington Heights, Illinois in 1971 and 1972. He then went to wrestle for coaches Gary Kurdelmeier and Dan Gable at the University of Iowa, competing on NCAA championship teams in 1975 and 1976. Smith won an NCAA title of his own at 142 pounds in 1976.


He dove into coaching, taking the head job at Lisbon in 1978. Smith led the Lions for 13 seasons, then went to City High in 1991 and spent the next 21 seasons there. Now 11 seasons into his second stint at Lisbon, Smith has coached 63 individual state champions, 304 state qualifiers, and 174 place-winners. His teams have also won seven dual team titles and claimed 18 total state runner-up trophies. A two-time Iowa coach of the year and two-time National coach of the year, Smith has spent over 20 years on the Iowa coaching staff for the junior national freestyle teams.


Smith and his wife Connie have three sons – Jacob, Cody, Colton – and six grandchildren.


The IHSAA sincerely appreciates Smith’s contributions to Iowa high school athletics and wrestling in our state. The grand march will begin following Hall of Fame and awards ceremonies on Saturday night, and lead all place-winners into Wells Fargo Arena ahead of the 42 state championship matches.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Mike Vrabel: No. 1 Best Defensive Performance in Super Bowl History That Didn’t Win MVP


by Russell S. Baxter

February 12, 2023


Winning a Super Bowl is difficult. Earning Super Bowl MVP honors as a defensive player may be even more difficult.


All kidding aside, there have been 56 Super Bowls to date and on only nine occasions has someone on the defensive side of the football walked away with that honor. There have been four linebackers, three defensive backs and two defensive linemen (counting Cowboys’ co-MVPs Randy White and Harvey Martin in XII once) that have won Super Bowl MVP accolades


So what about those defensive players that came up big but didn’t garner game MVP honors? Enclosed are some notable names.


5. LB Rod Martin, Raiders (Super Bowl XV)

The Oakland Raiders became the first “wild card” team (and second non-divisional champion) to win a Lombardi Trophy as Tom Flores’ club stifled the Eagles, 27-10. While quarterback Jim Plunkett wound up the game’s Most Valuable Players, the Raiders’ Rod Martin had a memorable performance at the Louisiana Superdome. The unsung linebacker totaled five solo tackles. He also intercepted Eagles’ quarterback Ron Jaworski three times in the win.


4. DT Manny Fernandez, Dolphins (Super Bowl VII)

The perfect Dolphins capped off a 17-0 season in 1972 with a 14-7 victory over Washington. Miami’s defense kept George Allen’s offensive unit out of the end zone that afternoon at the Los Angeles Coliseum. While safety Jake Scott picked off two passes and claimed MVP honors, Manny Fernandez was a force that Washington’s offensive line struggled to control. He finished with 10 tackles and one sack. Miami held Allen’s team to 228 total yards


3. S James Washington, Cowboys (Super Bowl XXVIII)

The Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls in a four-year span in the early 1990s. The club was led on offense by the “Triplets” in Hall of Famers Troy AikmanEmmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. However, it’s worth noting that in all three of those wins, Dallas limited the opposition to 17 points or less. In Super Bowl XXVIII vs. the Bills, safety James Washington totaled 11 stops, an interception, one forced fumble and a 46-yard fumble return for a score.

 2. MLB Jack Lambert, Steelers (Super Bowl XIV)

Chuck Noll’s Steelers were looking for a fourth Super Bowl win in six years. They faced the surprising Los Angeles Rams, who finished 9-7 during the regular season. Pittsburgh rallied for a 31-19 victory. Steelers’ middle linebacker Jack Lambert was the best defensive player that day. He finished the game with 14 tackles (10 solo) and picked off Rams’ quarterback Vince Ferragamo late in the fourth quarter, setting up an insurance touchdown for Pittsburgh.


1. LB Mike Vrabel, Patriots (Super Bowl XXXVIII)

Super Bowl XXXVIII was a thrilling game despite the fact that there was no scoring in neither the first or third quarters. The Patriots and Panthers combined for 61 points, so it’s hard to believe there was any semblance of defense. But New England linebacker Mike Vrabel had a big outing in the 32-29 win. He totaled six tackles, a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. The versatile performer also caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady.


Monday, February 06, 2023

Basketball great Katie Smith gives a powerful message at Lancaster H.S.


Tom Wilson

Lancaster Eagle-Gazette

LANCASTER – The game of basketball has given so much to Katie Smith, and in turn, she is always looking for ways to give back, which is what she did Monday night at Lancaster High School.

The Lancaster High School Girls Athletic Association held an event tabbed: An Evening with Katie Smith Monday night in the high school auditorium. The event coincided with National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 1.

Former Lancaster graduate, Molly Haynes, who has been the public address announcer at the NCAA Women’s Final Four, as well as Ohio State women’s basketball PA announcer, talked about her career before introducing Smith.

Smith talked about her life experiences as an athlete growing up in Logan where she guided her high school team to the Final Four, before starring for the Ohio State women’s team. She helped lead them to the National Championship game during her freshman season. She would go on to be a WNBA All-Star, as well as playing and winning three Gold Medals on the Women’s Olympic basketball team.

Smith, 48, is now the lead assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA.

Those in attendance Monday night were high school players, as well as youth players, many wearing the game jerseys. They all listened intently as Smith talked, not so much about her accomplishments on the court, but about what it takes to get there and how to become a female leader.

“First off, you have to love what you do, and I love playing basketball,” Smith said. “I would have played even if I didn’t get paid, but once I started having success, I knew the responsibility I had. I was grateful for the people who led me on this path, and I am proud of where I came from.

“Playing sports taught me so many different things, especially persevering through tough times. Things aren’t always going to be easy, but you have to come back the next day and get right back at it. Along the way, I learned I didn’t have to be someone else or what someone expected me to be. Don’t change who you are for others, and don’t worry about things you can’t control.”

Smith’s accomplishments on the court are astounding, and one constant is she has been a winner at every level.

She was the Gatorade National Player of the year during her senior season at Logan when she guided the Lady Chieftains to the Division I state championship game against Pickerington.

Smith played at Ohio State from 1992 to 1996 and made an immediate impact as she helped lead the Buckeyes to the national championship game her freshman year. Smith would go on to score 2,578 career points. She was the first female in OSU history to have her number retired.

During her professional career, playing in the ABL and the WNBA, Smith continued to have tons of success and retired as the all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball with 7,885 career points. In 2018, Smith has inducted int into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and that same year, she was also inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Smith talked a lot about her family, including the love and support her parents gave her, as well as competing and playing sports with two brothers. For her, it was the foundation that led to her success, and as she grew older, she understood her journey was a process of hard work and dedication to her craft.

“Sometimes we get a little too concerned about the little things, but at the end of the day, it’s bigger than that,” Smith said. “Be your best. You are going to have bad days, you are going to have tough days, but you are learning through the process, so just making sure that you can get back up when things aren’t going well, is the key.

Smith fully understands the challenges of being a female athlete in a man’s world, and sometimes that can lead to a lack of confidence, but she stressed to always be who you are and value your self-worth.

“My parents told me to put your shoulders back, shake their hand with a strong grip and look them in the eye,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of females that lack confidence for a lot of different reasons, and I have thought about that, but then there is a point where I am who I am. I’m going to be healthy, strong and the best athlete I can be, so be confident in yourself, whether you are skinny, strong, you got muscles, whatever it is, put your shoulders back and have respect and have confidence in who you are and what you do. Embrace who you are in everything that you do.”

She also talked about being able to work with different types of people, including your teammates. She told those in attendance to find a way to embrace, accept and enjoy the differences each person brings to the table.

Smith encouraged those in attendance to push the envelope and use their voice because women athletes deserve more.

“Just learning and wanting to know more is an amazing thing and sports gives you that, it gives you the opportunity to meet different people,” Smith said. “You are the younger generation and it’s your responsibility to make it better, make the game better. There are people who did a lot before me, and we are trying to make sure you have those opportunities so that you can continue to grow this game, and one of those things is supporting each other. We have to support each other.”

Tom Wilson is a sports reporter for the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. Contact him at 740-689-5150 or via email at for comments or story tips. Follow him on Twitter @twil2323.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

GM Ryan Poles: Riley Reiff helped set the tone


By Kevin Fishbain

Jan 11, 2023


LAKE FOREST, Ill. — General manager Ryan Poles took advice from a mentor to consider what success might look like if he ignored wins and losses.

That turned out to be important advice for the 2022 Bears season.

“It was really about the foundation that we built this year,” Poles said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “I was excited about that. I was excited about the progress that we made.

“I think two things can be true, too. I think you can be disappointed in the losses, right? That’s not what we’re here to do. It hurts. I joked early, it feels like part of your football soul gets ripped out when you got to do it over and over and over again. But the resilience that this organization showed was outstanding.”

The Bears went 3-14, setting franchise records for losses and with a 10-game losing streak. They also enter 2023 with the most salary-cap space in football, the No. 1 pick in the draft, and to Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, a foundation.

Here are 10 takeaways from Tuesday’s news conference, looking ahead to what the Bears hope they can build on in 2023.


7. Return on investment in free agents

Poles also mentioned right tackle Riley Reiff as someone who helped set the tone.

“That guy did more than a lot of people think for that O-line room and the mentality,” Poles said. “When I first got here, I wasn’t fired up on how we protected the quarterback in terms of getting ’em off the ground and that attitude and that physicality. He’s a reason why we ran the ball so well. We finished. We had an attitude. We had an identity and that’s a lot because of guys like him.”

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