Ohio State draft decisions: Curtis Samuel leaving for NFL, Tyquan Lewis coming back

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Ohio State draft decisions: Curtis Samuel leaving for NFL, Tyquan Lewis coming back

Two more Ohio State stars announced their NFL Draft decisions Monday.

H-back Curtis Samuel announced he'll leave for the draft, while defensive end Tyquan Lewis made it known he'll be back in scarlet and gray next season.

Samuel starred both catching the ball and running it this season. He was the team's leading receiver, catching 74 passes for 865 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He also carried the ball 97 times for 771 yards and eight touchdowns.

Samuel finished with 107 catches for 1,249 yards and nine touchdowns plus 1,286 rushing yards 15 rushing touchdowns.

"I arrived in Columbus in 2014 as a Brooklyn boy excited for the opportunity of playing college football on the biggest stage," Samuel wrote on Twitter. "The passion of Buckeye Nation has made my experience at The Ohio State University unforgettable. I have been privileged and honored to have amazing and incredibly talented teammates who are my friends for life.

"As I reflect on the past three years, I am very proud of our accomplishments. We beat TTUN (The Team Up North a.k.a. Michigan) all three seasons. We made it to the College Football Playoff this season and of course we were national champions in 2014.

"Coach (Urban) Meyer and I have the strongest bond, I am extremely thankful for everything he has done for me. He has helped develop me into both the player and the man I am today. Coach (Mickey) Maroti, you helped sculpt me both physically and mentally. I will always be thankful for the hard work you have put in with me.

"I would like to thank my family, which has been there to support me through every step of my journey. Their love and support gives me the strength to keep getting better every day. I thank God for the opportunities that he has blessed me with, to put me in the situation I am in today. I have decided to realize my dream and enter the 2017 NFL Draft."

Lewis was the team's leader with 10.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He recorded 29 total tackles. In his first three seasons at Ohio State, he's totaled 92 tackles with 26.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.

"It has been an honor to receive my bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University and to play football at the highest level for the best program in the nation and in front of the best fans," Lewis wrote on Twitter. "I can honestly say that I love my teammates, coaches and support staff. And no one is better at mentoring, leading and helping a young person develop on and off the field than coach Meyer, coach (Larry) Johnson and our strength coach, coach Mick. I am so proud of being a part of four Ohio State teams, including winning a national championship in 2014. But I am still hungry for more. And that's why I have made my decision to return to The Ohio State University next season to help the Buckeyes reach our goal of playing for championships and once again being the best team in the country. I can't wait to get started."

While Samuel's departure strips the Buckeyes of one of their only reliable receivers from the 2016 campaign, Lewis' return maintains a strong defensive line that should be even stronger in 2017.

Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule

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Big Ten reportedly talking about expanding conference basketball schedule

Conference play could be getting a bit longer in the Big Ten.

According to a Monday report from ESPN's Jeff Goodman, there are talks about expanding the Big Ten conference basketball schedule from 18 games to 20 games.

Commissioner Jim Delany told Goodman that while there hasn't been a vote among the league's coaches yet, there are ongoing discussions about lengthening conference play by a couple of games.

Conference play expanded a decade ago, when the number of league games jumped from 16 to 18 for the 2007-08 season.

In order for there to be enough days in between games for players, an expanded league schedule would mean the beginning of conference play coming earlier in December. Recently, conference play has typically started around New Year's. Of course, there will be a week earlier start to conference play this season with the Big Ten Tournament — at Madison Square Garden in New York — a week earlier than usual, wrapping a full week before Selection Sunday.

Similar moves have been made in football, with the Big Ten starting a nine-game conference slate last fall. It's meant league games in September — a no-no in the past — and this season will feature a conference matchup in the season's first week, when Indiana and Ohio State play on Aug. 31.

Expanding conference play in college basketball would have a similar effect as it has had on schedules in football. With fewer non-conference slots to fill, those games become more important to a team's NCAA tournament resume. It forces teams to schedule more high-profile opponents and eliminate games against small schools that generate little interest during the season's first couple months.

The ACC, a league that often runs neck and neck with the Big Ten in the debate over which is America's top basketball conference, announced it will be moving to a 20-game schedule last July, with that starting in the 2019-20 season.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo shared some thoughts on the subject with Goodman, saying he expects the move to happen.

"I personally see us going to a 20-game schedule," Izzo told Goodman. "I don't think there's any question it's going to happen — and I'm not overly against it."

Ohio State has its new head coach in Butler's Chris Holtmann

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Ohio State has its new head coach in Butler's Chris Holtmann

Ohio State found its next head basketball coach, going to one of Thad Matta's former employers to find the longtime coach's successor.

The school announced Friday morning that Butler head coach Chris Holtmann is the Buckeyes' new head coach.

Holtmann spent the past three seasons as the head coach at Butler, posting a 70-31 record and making NCAA tournament appearances in all three of those seasons, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in March. He was named the Big East Coach of the Year this past season.

Holtmann spent two seasons as an assistant at Ohio under former Illinois head coach John Groce, a former Matta assistant, before serving as the head coach at Gardner-Webb for three seasons. Holtmann left Gardner-Webb for an assistant-coaching job at Butler, though he was quickly promoted to interim head coach and then head coach in Indianapolis.

Holtmann takes over for Matta, who himself was the Butler head coach in the 2000-01 season before becoming the all-time wins leader at Ohio State. Matta's mostly successful tenure was ended earlier this week, when athletics director Gene Smith saw recruiting misses teaming with declining win totals to create a dip in Matta's success.

This week has been dominated by rumors and declarations of lack of interest from numerous candidates and possible candidates for the job. Xavier head coach Chris Mack and Creighton head coach Greg McDermott both made their decisions to stay at their current schools known via social media, and a report linking Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg to the job forced a no-interest comment from Hoiberg, too.

Despite those repeated "no thank yous," though, Ohio State is still seen to be one of the best jobs in college basketball thanks to one of the highest-profile athletics departments and one of the best conferences in the country, providing ample resources.

Recruiting will be a big expectation for Holtmann, as Matta's performance in that area dipped near the end of his tenure. The Buckeyes missed the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons, while Holtmann just took Butler to a No. 4 seed in the Big Dance, the highest in that program's history.