The ESPN Daily: The house that Dabo built, no love for Team USA, and welcome to College Football Saturday …

THINGS TO CARE ABOUT

Let’s get real … Don’t get it twisted — we encourage optimism. Optimism is great. But when it comes to our NFL team fandom, sometimes it behooves us to be realistic. If your favorite franchise fits into, shall we call it, the “lower tier” of teams heading into the season, why not redefine success a bit? No, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom if your beloved team isn’t playing in January. Instead, you could focus on important matters like developing young talent or finding a solution at a key point of weakness on its roster. On that note, Bill Barnwell’s here to outline some realistic goals for each of the 10 worst (we’re sorry) teams this season: Read More

No love for Team USA? Just two NBA All-Stars on its 2019 World Cup roster … that’s it. For the past decade, the USA has been unstoppable in Olympic and World Cup competition due to an absurd amount of talent donning the red, white and blue. From LeBron to Kobe to KD, it was truly a wealth of riches situation. But with so many stars choosing to sit out this summer, it’s a different scenario entirely, and let’s just say the athletes on the roster are well aware of the skeptics. They’re also motivated to prove them wrong. Read More

IT’S FINALLY HERE

Welcome to College Football Saturday … What a wait, huh? All those months getting up on Saturday and having to do things OTHER than watching college football all day. Ridiculous! There should be a law! Actually, we’re not sure how one would even go about writing such a law. Forget we said it. But seriously, hey, college football! Sweet! To celebrate, here’s a legitimate path for every AP Top 25 team to win the CFB title. Read more

You better believe it … We’re not sure if you’ve heard that CFB is back, but it is, and with it comes our betting previews for the top 25 teams. From win totals to Heisman potential to national championship odds, our experts are giving you what you need to know to make that money. Read more

Most important players … No offense, Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence — but this isn’t about you. Nope, it’s not about you either, Jerry Jeudy and Jake Fromm. For this list, we’re steering away from the known entities and diving deep into the college football vortex to determine the 25 players whose opportunity and development could make the biggest difference — either directly or indirectly — in how we end up viewing the 2019 season. Read More

WEEKEND BINGE READS

The NFL’s greatest? Tom Brady over Joe Montana? Jim Brown over Barry Sanders? Jerry Rice over Randy Moss? The task of choosing the greatest NFL players ever at each position isn’t an easy one, and any list is bound to generate more than its fair share of controversy. We put together such a list. How’d we do? Read more

A decade of amazing hockey … Similarly, it’s not remotely easy to lock down the best hockey players of the 2010s — which, we’re sorry to say for anyone who’s feeling old, are almost over. It’s even harder to do it for every single NHL club, especially since there’s technically one more season to go before it’s all said and done. With that in mind, here’s our experts’ take on the most influential members of each team over the past decade. Read more

20 years of Serena at The Open … Serena “GOAT” Williams and Flushing Meadows have become very well acquainted over the past two decades. There’s been highs and lows, but there’s no denying that the US Open has been a defining tournament in Serena’s career. As she vies for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, we recount 20 years worth of memories in the Big Apple. Read More

The house that Dabo built … Clemson has transformed into an improbable college football superpower. It’s a feat oddly befitting for its improbable head coach, Dabo Swinney. The former Alabama walk-on took a path that is far from conventional before ascending to the helm of the Tigers football program. So what afforded the historic rise from C.J. Spiller’s makeshift contract on the back of a business card to winning national titles? Here’s how Dabo made it happen for “little old Clemson”: Read More

THINGS TO WATCH

OVERHEARD

“I had a [season] for the books, but it’s out of my control. Once the media creates that narrative about one person for the beginning of the year, I think they just run with that narrative until the end of the year.”

— James Harden on last year’s MVP race (via 97.9 The Box) Read more

REMEMBER WHEN?

On this date in 1978, a legend was born. Kobe Bean Bryant, aka Black Mamba, came on the scene in Philadelphia. Kobe made a name for himself when he became just the sixth player to forgo college and enter the NBA draft. He would go on to become one of the greatest basketball players of our time, accruing five NBA championships during his 20-year tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers. Watch

WHAT’S ON THIS WEEKEND?

MLS doubleheader (8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN/Deportes): In need of plans on this fine evening? We got you. It’s a double dose of MLS action, as Orlando City takes on Atlanta United, followed by the Portland Timbers facing off with the Seattle Sounders.

College GameDay (9 a.m. ET Saturday, ESPN): Bring on the clever signs and the headgear picks, because it’s time to get the band back together. Corso and the gang are taking their talents to Walt Disney World for the first weekend of the college football season.

Dog Day (Saturday, ESPN2): Good boys (and girls), over here! We’re bringing you a full dog day of summer… get it? Yeah, you get it. Check out this guide for a day full of furry friends we 10/10 would pet. Watch

Miami vs. No. 8 Florida (7 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN): What better way to kick off the college football season (wow, that feels good to type) than with the first showdown between a couple of in-state rivals since 2013? The Canes head to Orlando with a new coach at the helm and touting one of the best defenses in the country. Meanwhile, the Gators look to build on a season that saw them win 10 games and finish in the top 10.

Yankees at Dodgers (7 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPN): Two of the best teams in MLB square off on Sunday Night Baseball for the finale of their three-game series in La-La Land. Clayton Kershaw is expected to take the mound. Do we even need to say we’re here for it? Because we most certainly are.

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Kashmiris erect barricades to keep Indian soldiers at bay

The UN is urging India to end the crackdown on free speech and access to information in Indian-administered Kashmir.

    The United Nations has expressed concern over the reports of excessive use of force by Indian soldiers.

    Human rights activists have condemned the internet and telephone shutdown in Indian-administered Kashmir.

    They say the blackout enforced by the Indian government is a form of “collective punishment” on the people of the disputed region.

    It has been more than two weeks since India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy.

    Al Jazeera’s Faiz Jamil reports from one neighbourhood in Srinagar that is trying to protect itself from police incursions.

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    How Prince Charles Hurt Princess Diana More Than We Realize

    When Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced, the world got utterly wrapped up in the scandal. No longer was it just royalists paying attention; everyone was on high alert. Once the tabloids got a hold of the truth — a sordid affair, what should have been a private matter went public.

    While some mudslinging did occur, Princess Diana walked away from her marriage with her head held high. So naturally, many thought she was taking it all in stride. But, an insider recently shared a tidbit that spoke to just how hurt the doting mother of two was by the rocky end to her marriage. 

    Why did Princess Charles and Princess Diana divorce?

    When it comes to this royal split, things were probably destined to fall apart. In Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, Sally Bedell Smith shines a light on what led Prince Charles to marry Diana. As it turns out, the Prince of Wales felt his father forced him to marry Princess Diana.

    Prince Philip wrote Prince Charles a letter. In it, he told him he was harming Princess Diana’s rep by not taking their relationship to the next level. He gave him an ultimatum: ask for her hand in marriage or end the relationship. Since Prince Charles didn’t marry her out of love, it’s no surprise their marriage didn’t last. The fact that he was still head over heels with another woman was just icing on the cake. 

    Prince Charles thought he could learn to love Princess Diana

    I don’t see him as a cynical person; he thought he could learn to love Diana as his grandmother and grandfather learned to love each other and had a great marriage. But because of their fundamental incompatibility and the age gap and her emotional turmoil, it was doomed before they walked down the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral. – Sally Bedell Smith

    Prince Charles did believe he could learn to love Princess Diana, but he wasn’t able to get Camilla Parker Bowles out of his head. Eventually, Princess Diana admitted that Prince Charles wasn’t the only one who admitted adultery. Upon hearing the dreadful news, Queen Elizabeth II ordered them to file for a divorce. Sadly, Princess Diana was willing to try to work things out, but there was no way she could defy the queen — at least not on this matter.

    The affair had a lasting effect on Princess Diana

    Any time a married couple divorces, the experience is devastating. Well, it can be devastating. In the case of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the late Princess of Wales was beyond heartbroken. According to Australian designer Jayson Brunsdon, the fashionista had to completely swear off one brand after bidding her 15-year marriage goodbye.

    During an interview with Harper’s BAZAAR, Brunsdon flashbacked to 1996. The job was to style Princess Diana for a hospital charity event in his native Australia. The late princess went into her bedroom and came back with shoes and bags for him to sift through. After carefully considering the bounty before him, Brunsdon settled on a pair of Chanel shoes. When he presented them to her, she quickly shot down the idea.

    “Then I said, ‘what do you think?’, so I went through them all and I found a pair of Chanel shoes, and I said, ‘well these would look great with the Versace’ and she said ‘no, I can’t wear linked Cs, the double C’.” – Jayson Brundson

    When asked why she couldn’t wear the beloved brand, she responded: “it’s Camilla and Charles.” Isn’t that heartbreaking? Princess Diana was so torn up over the divorce that she couldn’t even wear clothes that rocked their initials. It’s important to note though, that even if Prince Charles may have committed adultery first, he was also torn up over how things ended up. 

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    EU showdown: Snap Italy election ‘will put Salvini on collision course with Brussels’

    Italy was plunged into crisis earlier this week after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sensationally resigned with a scorching attack on interior minister Mr Salvini – the leader of the right-wing Lega Party. Anna Nadibaidze of the Open Europe think tank said: “Recent events bring a new degree of political uncertainty in Italy, which was arguably unnecessary given the timing, specifically the importance of passing a budget for next year that respects EU budgetary rules, as well as difficult relations with Brussels in general.

    This would lead to even more confrontation between Rome (a founding member) and Brussels, and more uncertainty at a time when the EU has to deal with its new institutional cycle, Brexit and its next long-term budget

    Anna Nadibaidze

    “A snap election is not a guaranteed outcome if the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, decides there is a majority for an alternative government or if there could be a temporary technical administration to deal with budget issues and then hold an election in the spring of 2020.

    “However, if an election happens in the autumn, as Salvini has expected when he pulled the plug on the government, the possibility of a right-wing government led by Lega is highly probable, given the party’s position in recent polls.

    “This would lead to even more confrontation between Rome (a founding member) and Brussels, and more uncertainty at a time when the EU has to deal with its new institutional cycle, Brexit and its next long-term budget.”

    Lego, which gained 23 seats in the European Parliamentary elections in May – has been riding high in the polls in recent months – although a survey published today by the Tecne agency – the first since the crisis began – had the League’s support falling, at 31.3%, with the Progressive Democrats and 5SM both gaining ground, on 24.6 percent and 20.8 percent respectively.

    Mr Salvini was characteristically defiant in the face of the criticism – but his falling out with coalition partners Five Star Movement (5SM) has triggered talk of a behind-the-scenes deal to prevent him becoming Prime Minister.

    Mr Mattarella, the country’s head of state, yesterday said several of Italy’s parties had told him they needed more time to resolve a government crisis and avoid a snap election, and that he had told them to report back on Tuesday.

    JUST IN: Brussels plotting backstop compromise to avoid no deal disaster

    Mr Conte’s resignation was triggered by Mr Salvini’s announcement that his coalition with 5SM was no longer workable because of their reluctance to agree an austerity-busting budget in defiance of Brussels.

    Consequently, he demanded an early election – but Mr Mattarella, who is the only official with authority to dissolve the country’s legislature, said such a decision which should not be taken lightly.

    Meanwhile, Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party yesterday set tough new conditions for forming a coalition with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, making a deal between the traditional foes look more elusive and raising the chance of snap elections.

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    Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Mr Mattarella, 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio made no reference to the PD.

    However, he made it clear his party was keen to avoid another election – a year after the last one.

    He said: “In recent hours all the necessary contacts have been launched to find a solid parliamentary majority.”

    Mr Di Maio added that he had handed Mr Mattarella a list of 10 reforms which needed completing before Parliament should be dissolved.

    Many of these, ranging from an investment plan for the poor south of the country to legislation on conflicts of interests and to speed up the justice system, have always been among 5-Star’s flagship policies.

    For his part, Mr Salvini hinted at a possible change of heart – while claiming his former coalition partner of a budget climbdown.

    Mr Salvini said: “We want Italians to decide through an election, but since the 5Stars have now U-turned on many of their red lines.

    “If they are willing to move forward with this coalition, with a new and improved team to pass ambitious budget legislation without being limited by Brussels’ impositions, then we can discuss renewing our partnership.

    “Luigi Di Maio has worked well and in the interests of this country – if he wants to relaunch the government and relaunch the country we are ready, without any prejudice.”

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    Stacey Solomon defends ‘blended’ families as her sons spend time with their dads

    Stacey Solomon has spoken out in defence of 'blended families' as her eldest two sons prepare to spend time with their fathers.

    The 37-year-old Loose Women star is a hands on mum-of-three and shares her eldest boy Leighton, ten, with her former teenage sweetheart Dean Cox. She also shares six-year-old Zachary with her ex fiancé Aaron Barham.

    Then in June this year Stacey welcomed third son Rex with her boyfriend Joe Swash.

    In the past Stacey has spoken of criticism she's faced over her extended family.

    But as the school holidays draw to a close, Stacey took to Instagram to defend her family set -up.

    Sharing snaps of her adorable brood, Stacey said: "They’re off on their holidays with their daddy’s tonight and they’ve been inseparable all day!

    "They’re going to have the best time but they will miss each other lots. (And I will miss them a tiny bit too," she joked.

    "For the last couple of days they’ve stopped arguing and bickering and have been really soppy and cuddly knowing that they’re about to go off on their adventures. For the first time they have an new dimension, leaving Rexy.

    "It’s always hard to split them up, but its so important for them to spend special time and make memories with the rest of their families," said Stacey.

    Giving her take on 'alternative family set ups' the mum-of-three gave some words of advice to her 2million followers.

    She said: "No matter what negative, unhelpful things people may say or think, ignore it because they’re wrong.

    "Don’t ever let it get you down. It doesn’t define you or your family."


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    Aston Villa vs Everton to retain place ahead of Man Utd and Arsenal as most played league fixture in history – The Sun

    ASTON VILLA face Everton tonight at Villa Park in what is the return of English football's most-played league game.

    The Toffees have played against the Villans a total of 202 times, with their first fixture against each other coming on September 22, 1888, which the Merseyside club lost 2-1.

    Both teams were among the 12 founding members of the Football League which was formed in 1888.

    The last meeting between the two sides came on March 1, 2016, with Everton emerging as 3-1 victors.

    If Villa failed to achieve promotion to the Premier League last season then they would have been joined at the top of the list by Arsenal vs Manchester United.

    Everton vs Liverpool would have also been contested 202 times at the end of the campaign.

    Villa against Everton's English record is dwarfed by Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers, with the Glasgow pair playing a whopping 316 times against each other.

    Dean Smith's men go into tonight's clash looking to get their first points of the season having lost their opening two games.

    A 3-1 defeat against Tottenham was followed by a 2-1 loss against Bournemouth last week, leaving them in 17th spot.

    Everton meanwhile have picked up four points out a possible six following their 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace and 1-0 win over Watford.

    Left-back Lucas Digne is set to start for the visitors despite a knock, while Villa ace James Chester is ruled out with a thigh problem.

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    Michelle Keegan shocks Brassic fans as she romps in steamy sex scene for Sky drama

    Michelle Keegan took on the role of feisty, single mum Erin in new Sky One drama Brassic. 

    The former Coronation Street star is a long way from the cobbles in the series as she’s seen trying to make a better life for her son.

    However, many people found themselves shocked with one of Michelle’s first scenes which saw her romping with Dylan (Damien Molony). 

    In one moment, Erin can be seen on top of Dylan, filmed from behind.

    She yells: “I’m c**ming” while she continues to grind extremely quickly on top of him. 

    Erin finishes her business before clambering off Dylan and lies panting next to him. 

    However, Dylan isn’t too pleased as he didn’t reach his climax.

    Erin turns to him and crudely insists: “You can finish on my t*ts.”

    Dylan agrees to the sex act, before the scene cuts and moves on.

    Fans were undoubtedly shocked with the graphic scene, as many took to Twitter to comment.

    READ MORE: Brassic season 2: Will there be another series of Brassic on Sky?

    One said: “Did @michkeegan just say ‘Finish on me t*ts’?”

    A second added: “But shocked at the Michelle Keegan sex scene though the little sass pot.”

    A third commented: “Sorry but hearing @michkeegan say ‘finish on me t*ts’ is the best thing I’ve heard all year. #brassic.”

    “I think we definitely need a gif of @michkeegan saying ‘finish on me t*ts’ #Brassic,” another wondered. 

    Michelle appeared on This Morning yesterday to discuss her new role but ended up in a little spat.

    She was debating the North/South divide with Rochelle Humes considering her husband is from Essex and Michelle is famously from Manchester.

    The former Coronation Street star admitted the only divide they have is because of their pie and mash sauce.

    Michelle laughed: “The only thing we do is when we go [for] pie and mash he gets liquor and I gethe gravy.”

    Rochelle, who is from the same county as Mark, seemed to correct Michelle on which side she is on. 

    The presenter said: “As an Essex girl, no they’re the rules, Michelle.”

    Brassic continues Thursday on Sky One at 9pm. 

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    Dianne Buswell: ‘As if’ Strictly pro fumes at boyfriend Joe Sugg over photo on his phone

    Dianne Buswell, 30, was shocked to find a slightly unflattering photo on her boyfriend Joe Sugg’s, 27, phone. The Strictly Come Dancing professional appeared to be unimpressed as she spotted a candid snap of herself on the YouTuber’s device. Posting the picture in view of her 768,000 Instagram followers, Dianne added the caption: “As if my boyfriend used this picture as his phone background. “Of all the pictures of me he chooses this one,” alongside several crying with laughter emojis and a see-no-evil monkey emoji.

    In the photo, Dianne is pictured with her mouth gaping open as a man walks into her path.

    As proof, the dancer shared another picture of the snap on Joe’s iPhone background.

    Fans and Strictly stars took to the comments section of Dianne’s post to share their thoughts about her former dance partner’s cheeky move.

    Choreographer Neil Jones, 37, replied: “Love it.”

    Welsh professional dancer Amy Dowden, 28, simply commented with five crying with laughter emojis.

    Meanwhile, Joe complained about his girlfriend Dianne during a funny game of Mr and Mrs.

    In the video, which the vlogger uploaded to his Thatcher Joe account, the pair asked and answered questions to reveal how much they knew about each other.

    Joe jokingly titled the video: “This could have ended in a split!”

    At the start of the clip, the former Strictly finalist said he hadn’t yet been “kicked out” by Dianne, after he failed in answering many questions correctly when they previously played the game.

    “Mr and Mrs round two,” Joe began. “I’ve survived, I haven’t been kicked out, I’ve not been murdered by my girlfriend, I’m still here!”

    Dianne mischievously added: “Haven’t been kicked out of your own house?”

    She shouted: “Get out of your own house!”

    Fortunately, Joe appeared to redeem himself in the challenge as he managed to answer more questions.

    The star informed his fans the couple were no longer “on the rocks”.

    He quipped: “Our relationship is no longer on the rocks everyone, I’m back on!”

    However, Joe went on to joke their relationship is “over” after Dianne only managed to get three questions right.

    He ended the video: “I’m sorry you’re rubbish! You obviously don’t know me,” he said, before exclaiming: “This relationship’s over!”

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    Peppa Pig to get new owner: GI Joe maker Hasbro

    Hasbro is going whole hog on Peppa Pig.

    The maker of Monopoly and GI Joe will pay about $4 billion to buy Entertainment One Ltd., a British entertainment company that produces “Peppa Pig,” ”PJ Masks” and other animated shows for preschoolers.

    “Peppa Pig,” which stars a pink cartoon pig with a British accent, airs worldwide and is translated into over 40 languages.

    Shares in Entertainment One jumped 30% in London on Friday.

    Hasbro Inc., based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, says the deal will help it turn more of its toy brands into shows or movies. Many of its brands, including My Little Pony and Transformers, already appear in TV shows and movies.

    The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

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    Syrian army pushes into encircled rebel pocket in northwest

    BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian army troops pushed deep into a pocket of territory in the northwest where they encircled rebels and a Turkish military post, seizing towns the insurgents have held for years, state TV and a monitor said on Friday.

    The army has imposed “a choking siege” on the cluster of towns, with much of it coming either under army control or within firing range, state-run Ikhabriya TV said.

    Soldiers captured a dozen hills, expanding state control of a main highway that runs through the area and stretches from the capital Damascus to Aleppo city, it added.

    Several rebel officials did not respond to requests for comment.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said pro-government force, backed by Russia, recovered the town of Kafr Zita from rebels who had controlled it since 2012. A Turkish military post in the nearby town of Morek was now also encircled, the UK-based war monitor and state TV said.

    Under its deals with Russia, Turkey has forces stationed at a dozen military posts in Idlib. The latest army advances have put Turkish troops in the firing line and threatened Ankara’s hopes of preventing a new wave of refugees on its border.

    Ten of thousands of people have fled towards the Turkish border in recent days as air and ground attacks battered parts of Idlib and Hama in northwest Syria, the country’s last big rebel stronghold. The United Nations says the offensive has killed hundreds of people since it began in late April.

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