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All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/can-nascar-fix-mother-nature-and-should-they-even-try
Body:

Michigan and Mother Nature do not go hand in hand. A few years back, the two-mile speedway had its Sprint Cup race postponed not once but twice due to persistent summer rain showers. This year, the track saw its 200-lapper shortened, put out of its misery with 138 laps complete, after four red flags for downpours. The last thunderstorm flooded parts of the speedway, forcing the track to clear out the grandstands while setting up a makeshift Victory Lane ceremony for winner Kurt Busch.

 

The end result wasn’t pretty, stoppages stripping the race of much of its rhythm and intrigue. It didn’t help Kevin Harvick dominated, pulling away for long stretches, when things did get going to the point no one else was able to challenge. If it weren’t for a broken valve stem, cutting the air out of one of Harvick’s tires, we’d be talking about the No. 4 car taking the field to task once again.

 

Could NASCAR have made it better? I think postponing the race, which is what many were calling for, was the wrong call. The forecast called for “pop-up” showers and there was no 100 percent guarantee they would keep popping up at the wrong time. That’s a whole lot different than trying to wait out a “wall” of precipitation that was falling for several hours at a time. In between the rain were long stretches of sunshine; push the race back until Monday and angry ticket-paying fans would remember that, wondering why they didn’t try harder. Yes, the Nielsen TV ratings will suffer but so would track attendance in future years if fans who couldn’t go Monday felt the race should have been run a longer distance.

 

Sunday reminded me of a rain-delayed, regular-season baseball game where the end-goal is simply just to “finish.” The problem is, there’s 162 of those for each team; in NASCAR, just 26 regular-season races before the Chase make the impact of a throwaway event that much greater. I understand the disappointment surrounding that. But it’s hard enough for the sport to fix its rules package; I don’t see them finding a way to control Mother Nature anytime soon.

 

Through The Gears we go…

 

FIRST GEAR: Busch Battles Back

 

Kurt Busch, months off a three-race suspension for domestic violence accusations, showcased some growing maturity at Michigan. Friday, his No. 41 Chevy was torn to shreds, a practice crash forcing out a backup car in a move that would have left Busch miserable in recent years. Instead? He put his trust in crew chief Tony Gibson the backup car would be just as good, if not better.

 

It certainly helps when Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick is rolling out a winning setup. But the bottom line is Busch kept his composure, believed in himself and was in position to capitalize when Harvick’s day went south before the rains came.

 

“It was a fantastic group effort,” the driver said. “That shows you the depth of Stewart-Haas Racing. It gives every crew member that much more confidence to know that we’re doing things right.”

 

Busch, who now has two wins, is guaranteed a spot in the Chase during a year where some wondered if he’d even end up with a ride. If not for a flimsy caution at Fontana, combined with a few big breaks at Bristol, he’d be tied with Jimmie Johnson atop the season victory list. Harvick is the top title contender at SHR but it’s days like these that remind you not to count Busch out.

 

SECOND GEAR: Kyle’s Rollercoaster Weekend

 

It was a weird weekend for the Busch brothers, bookending the field at Michigan as younger Kyle wound up dead last. The victim of perhaps NASCAR pushing a restart, running the cars as rain was falling, Busch hit a slick spot off turn 4, lost control and pounded the wall with his No. 18 M&M’s Toyota. The 43rd-place finish cost him dearly in the points, leaving him 173 behind 30th-place Justin Allgaier with 11 races remaining. That means Busch needs to gain 16 points a race, possible but not no longer probable, as his comeback bid has been bit by bad luck.

 

It was a shocking turnaround just a day after Busch reached Victory Lane in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series. He did it in his first start, impressive considering the No. 54 Toyota over there has not been as strong as recent years. That alone tells you Busch’s talent is pushing 100 percent; unfortunately, he needs factors outside his control to fall in place with it. So far, not so good on that front, as two DNFs (add last month’s Dover wreck) are starting to cloud his 2015 Chase potential.

 

THIRD GEAR: Larson’s Gamble Gone Wrong

 

Perhaps the only drama, aside from Harvick’s flat tire Sunday, concerned Kyle Larson’s failed bid for victory. Larson’s crew chief, Chris Heroy kept the No. 42 Chevrolet on track after Harvick’s incident, hoping against hope rain they knew was coming would happen before the car ran out of fuel. In the end, they came up three laps short, a green-flag stop leaving them 17th and oh-so-close to a surprise performance that would have launched them right into the Chase.

 

“Hey, I applaud my guys for trying,” Larson said. “We are pretty deep in points so we have to take risks like that.”

 

Here’s the cool part for Larson; that’s not necessarily true. He’s pulled within 39 points of a fading Ryan Newman and is 40 behind B-level Aric Almirola for a Chase spot. It’s certainly conceivable, considering the strength of the equipment behind him, the sophomore could make a run over the final 11 races. I wouldn’t feel too comfortable if I was either of those two men, especially as Clint Bowyer has closed in as well (just 12 and 13 points back of the pair, respectively).

 

FOURTH GEAR: Rules Package, Come Quickly

 

The first three laps at Michigan featured three on-track passes for the lead. After that? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. The rest of the 17 lead changes came as a result of green-flag pit strategy, a strong bottom groove making even restarts easy for the leader to stay out front.

 

Rumors persist NASCAR is debuting a new rules package, reducing downforce for these cars, as early as Kentucky next month. We should hear something over this coming week, one of the sport’s few “off weekends” for Sprint Cup racing until November. Owners keep complaining about the cost of new rules, but with what we saw Sunday? Getting new cars out there isn’t a recommendation – it’s a necessity. Follow-the-leader, aerodynamic racing is out of control to the point fans will walk away if it persists much longer.

 

OVERDRIVE

 

Kevin Harvick’s 29th-place finish was just his second outside the top 10 all season. It’s also the second straight week someone has suffered from a broken valve stem. Paul Menard had the same issue at Pocono. In both cases, the drivers kept from wrecking but it’s a problem to keep an eye on as the pressure of pit stops – one of the few areas you can gain track position easily – keep increasing… Sunday was a major step forward for Carl Edwards’ program. Leading 41 laps, the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota ended up 12th and was generally a top-5 car most of the race. The key has been qualifying; Edwards has started top 10 in each of the last five events, including his winning Coca-Cola 600 performance… Roush Fenway Racing must be ready to throw its hands up in frustration. While Trevor Bayne got lucky, pit strategy catapulting him to a season-high ninth place, their one Chase hopeful, Greg Biffle, ran an awful 36th. Two of his three worst finishes this season have come at RFR’s former strongholds, here and at sister two-mile track Fontana. When underfunded drivers like Cole Whitt, Josh Wise and Landon Cassill are blowing by you at this type of track, that’s a problem.

 

— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the Majority Owner of NASCAR Web site Frontstretch.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

 

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Teaser:
Can NASCAR Fix Mother Nature... And Should They Even Try?
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, New England Patriots, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/patriots-honored-incredible-super-bowl-rings
Body:

After winning the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion, with a seemingly improbable victory, Patriots owner Robert Kraft awarded his team with the biggest rings in NFL history. It is a small sum for an impressive victory and overall season, but nothing is small about the ring itself.

 

The ring itself is decorated with 205 diamonds, which create an image of the Patriots’ four Lombardi trophies with their logo in the middle. Around the diamond middle, the words “World Champion” are in bold letters. One side of the ring shows the score of the Super Bowl game, the Super Bowl logo, their season record, and the quote “Do your job”. The other side is personalized with the name of the recipient, years of other Patriots’ Super Bowls, and Gillette Stadium. The inside of the ring reads, “We are all Patriots”.

 

These were given out at a festive celebration held at Robert Kraft’s home. Take a look at the ring for yourself:
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 15:14
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /college-football/urban-meyer-makes-woman-wearing-blue-do-pushups-ohio-state-michigan
Body:

Urban Meyer is serious about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. So serious, that he made a woman wearing blue do pushups.

 

The Buckeyes head coach spoke at the Ohio State Football Women's Clinic and specifically told the ladies not to wear blue or mention that dreaded "M" word. One woman didn't listen, and it resulted in some pushups.

 

 

 

 

Not even the ladies are exempt. 

 

(Source: College Spun)

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 14:25
Path: /mlb/ned-yost-defends-royals-all-star-lead
Body:

The Kansas City Royals are currently dominating the All Star vote, and a lot of people are not happy about that. Seven players are slated to make the starting All Star team, potentially with more if this voting surge continues. To many, it may seem ridiculous that so many players are making it from one team, even when there are plenty of other great choices.

 

But that’s not how it works in baseball, and Royals manager Ned Yost made that clear when asked about it. Yost told the USA Today, "There's nothing wrong. Vote! The votes are the votes. If you don't like it, go out there and vote. Our fans have gotten out and voted.”

 

Royals fans must be voting a lot, considering they are one of the smaller market teams. In terms of Facebook likes, they rank 22nd with around 939,000. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees rank first with over 8 million likes. 

With a social media campaign like this, it's no surprise why they are dominating:
 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 14:22
Path: /college-football/parking-urban-meyers-spot-really-bad-idea
Body:

Parking in spaces that are marked or designated for certain individuals is never a good idea.

 

And it’s always a bad idea to block a college football coach in his parking spot. After all, most coaches work long hours and burn the midnight oil.

 

Thanks to running back Warren Ball, we are finding out Urban Meyer likes to block in anyone who parks in his space. Planning on leaving? Looks like this person will be waiting a while. And it's safe to say they won't be in Meyer's spot again. 

Teaser:
Parking in Urban Meyer's Spot is a Really Bad Idea
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 13:27
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /nba/cleveland-weatherman-talks-about-lack-officiating-game-5
Body:

WEWS News Channel 5 has a gem on their hands with weatherman Mark Johnson.

 

Everyone's new favorite weatherman gave us yet another colorful take on the NBA Finals, this time it was the lack of officiating that happened in Game 5.

 

 

The Warriors went on to win and take a 3-2 series lead, but just imagine how crazy he'll go if they end up winning it all. That's one forecast that people can't wait to see.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 13:17
Path: /mlb/david-price-endures-two-rain-delays-one-day
Body:

Athletes often pay homage to their colleges and love showing their support for them when they can. However, David Price seems to take it to another level with his support of Vanderbilt University, where his storied career led to him being drafted first overall in 2007. With the Commodores in the College World Series, Price had planned a trip to their opening game.

 

However, a rain delay of almost two hours in the fifth inning put a damper on his plans, which he took to Twitter in an anxious rant. After the Tigers game finally ended, the former Cy Young Award winner raced to the airport and jetted to Omaha in time for the baseball game. He took in the game, gave an interview, and took selfies with fans. Meanwhile, the Vanderbilt game also had a rain delay in the 6th inning, causing the game to be suspended until today. Price didn’t seem to care though, later exclaiming his joy on Twitter.

Take a look at David Price's adventure via Twitter:
 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 13:05
Path: /college-basketball/has-college-basketball-recruiting-landscape-leveled-out
Body:

With only a few unsigned prospects left in the 2015 class, recruiting analysts can begin to evaluate the top classes. But this year might make it a little more difficult than in years past. The top prospects of this class have not chosen the national powerhouses as in previous years, instead opting to sign with the underdogs. So with that, could the college basketball recruiting landscape finally be leveling out enough to provide more contenders for this year's national championship?

 

In 2014 the top class belonged to Duke, who was able to bring in four of the top 25 players in the ESPN 300 led by No. 1 overall prospect C Jahlil Okafor and No. 4 overall G Tyus Jones. Kentucky finished in a close second by also bringing in four of the top 25 led by No. 6 overall prospect F Trey Lyles. North Carolina would finish with the third-best class after bringing in three of the top 25 players, a trio led by No. 8 overall SF Justin Jackson. Kansas was right behind the Tar Heels for the third spot, but would finish fourth with its crop led by No. 3 overall prospect F Cliff Alexander. But the surprise of 2014 was UNLV, as Running Rebels were able to secure three prospects in the top 50 led by G Rashad Vaughn (No. 19 overall).

 

Let's fast forward to the 2015 class and look at how these powerhouse programs fared. Duke was able to continue its momentum, landing four prospects in the top 25, starting with No. 3 overall F Brandon Ingram. But other fellow blue bloods weren't as fortunate. Kentucky was looking forward to another great class filled with superstars, but for once John Calipari and his staff were unable to close the deal on many. Kentucky still was able to land two of the top 25 — No. 2 overall C Skal Labissiere and No. 13 G Isaiah Briscoe — but weren't able to replace all the talent that has already departed Lexington. No. 7 overall prospect Chieck Diallo and No. 12 C Stephen Zimmerman were able to give Kansas and UNLV, respectively, a boast in the rankings, but both teams were only able to land one other top 50 prospect each. The big loser in this class was North Carolina, as the Tar Heels were unable to land any prospects in the top 50, due in large part to concerns about potential NCAA penalties stemming from the university's wide-ranging academic scandal.

 

While all the big-name programs were trying to continue their recruiting success, a few unexpected schools rose to the challenge and lured talent to their respective institution. LSU was a winner this year by bringing in two of the top-15 prospects led by No. 1 overall F Ben Simmons, but the Tigers weren't the only rising team in this class. Cal was also able to land two top prospects, No. 4 overall G Jaylen Brown and No. 8 overall Ivan Rabb. Texas A&M was arguably the biggest winner by bringing in three of the top 50 prospects, led by No. 27 overall C Tyler Davis and No. 31 F Elijah Thomas. This success propelled the Aggies to their first top 10 class in over a decade. Florida State, Indiana, Marquette, Maryland, Mississippi State, Purdue, South Carolina and Villanova also were each able to land a top-15 prospect in this class while Memphis, Texas, and Washington were able to land multiple top-50 prospects.

 

The 2015 class was able to show that the top prospects aren't just looking at the powerhouses anymore and this trend will likely continue when the 2016 class starts to take shape. There have already been major surprises this cycle with Georgia, Harvard, Rice, Georgia State and Texas A&M building momentum early in the process, but will these influxes of highly regarded talent be enough for any of them to derail the powerhouse teams from adding another national championship to their collection?

 

Duke showed everyone what a No. 1-ranked class can do for a program but even the Blue Devils must admit the college basketball recruiting landscape is changing and the underdogs are building momentum for future classes.

 

— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

Teaser:
The college basketball recruiting landscape is leveling the playing field.
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 12:30
Path: /mlb/busy-week-mlb-prospect-debuts
Body:

It’s been a busy week for the MLB’s top prospects. Over just the past seven days, four of the league’s most anticipated players made their debuts, including Carlos Correa (SS, Astros), Byron Buxton (OF, Twins), Vincent Velasquez (P, Astros), and Francisco Lindor (SS, Indians). Not only did they come up, they also made some memorable moments rather quickly.

 

Carlos Correa made his first hit on a reversed call, then crushed a monstrous home run in his second game. Byron Buxton went 0-4 in his first game, but scored the winning run after reaching base in the ninth inning. Vincent Velasquez, the lone pitcher in this group, gave his team five innings of scoreless baseball, but took a no-decision in the game. And Francisco Lindor tripped rounding first base after collecting his first Major League hit that should have been a double.

 

These four newest additions to the league make up part of a 15-player list of prospects that have debuted this year, presumably with plenty more coming the remainder of the season. 

Watch a couple of the notable highlights below:

Carlos Correa:


Francisco Lindor:

Teaser:
Busy Week For MLB Prospect Debuts
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 11:32
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-15-coaches-rise-2015
Body:

Coaching in the college football ranks is no easy task. The pressure to win and produce at a high level is higher than ever before. And as a result of the pressure, programs can’t wait for five seasons to give a coach time to produce a winning record. Getting the hire right is critical to any college football program.

 

Change in any college football offseason is inevitable. There will be coaching changes after the 2015 season. So what names might intrigue athletic directors when jobs open up?

 

Let’s take a look at 15 college football coaches on the rise, followed by a few other names to know this year.

 

Related: Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2015

 

15 College Football Coaches on the Rise for 2015

 

Craig Bohl, Wyoming

2014 was a rebuilding year for Wyoming, so it was no surprise Bohl and the Cowboys struggled last season. But the long-term outlook in Laramie is promising for this coaching staff. Bohl went 104-32 in 11 years at North Dakota State, which included three consecutive FCS national championships from 2011-13. With nine starters returning in 2015, progress could be slow for Bohl this year. However, there’s a strong track record of success, and Wyoming hit a home run when it lured Bohl away from North Dakota State.

 

Related: Mountain West 2015 Predictions

 

Matt Campbell, Toledo

The Rockets are still looking for their first MAC West title under Campbell, but there’s no doubt the 35-year-old coach has this program headed in the right direction. Toledo is 26-13 under Campbell’s watch and is coming off its best record in MAC play over the last three years. The Rockets are Athlon’s pick to win the MAC West in 2015, and Campbell should have Toledo positioned to win at least eight games for the fifth time in six seasons.

 

Related: MAC 2015 Predictions

 

P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan

Fleck was hired to energize Western Michigan’s program and get the Broncos back into contention for MAC championships. So far, it’s safe to say Fleck has succeeded in both of those areas, as Western Michigan is among the favorites to win the MAC in 2015. The Broncos went 1-11 in Fleck’s debut, but were one of the most improved teams in college football last season. Western Michigan went 8-5 and made its first bowl appearance since 2011. Fleck is known as an ace recruiter, as this program has reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class in the MAC in back-to-back years.

 

Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern

Transitioning from the FCS to FBS ranks with a new coach is supposed to be difficult. However, Georgia Southern crushed that narrative last season. In Fritz’s first season, the Eagles went 9-3 and recorded a perfect 8-0 mark in Sun Belt play. And Georgia Southern was much closer to double-digit wins than some may realize, as the Eagles lost to NC State and Georgia Tech by a combined five points. Prior to taking over at Georgia Southern, Fritz was a successful coach at Sam Houston State (40-14) and Central Missouri (97-47).

 

Related: Sun Belt 2015 Predictions

 

Justin Fuente, Memphis

Memphis hit rock bottom after a dismal two-year stint under Larry Porter from 2010-11. But thanks to Fuente, the Tigers needed just one season to match Porter’s two-year win total, as Memphis improved to 4-8 in his debut.The Tigers followed up with a 3-9 showing in 2013, albeit in the tougher American Athletic Conference after leaving Conference USA. Memphis then had a breakthrough 2014 campaign in Fuente’s third year, as the Tigers went 10-3 and finished No. 25 in the final Associated Press poll. Memphis has a few holes to fill going into 2015, but the Tigers will remain a factor in the American Athletic Conference with Fuente at the helm.

 

Related: American Athletic Conference 2015 Predictions

 

Bryan Harsin, Boise State

It’s hard to find a coach that’s better suited to guide the Boise State program than Harsin. The Boise native also played quarterback for the Broncos and was an assistant with the program from 2001-10. After Chris Petersen left for Washington, Harsin returned to Boise State after one year as Arkansas State’s head coach. The Broncos went 12-2 in Harsin’s debut, won the Fiesta Bowl over Arizona and finished No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll. With a strong core of talent in place for 2015, Boise State should be the top Group of 5 program this season.

 

Related: Mountain West 2015 Predictions

 

Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette

Hudspeth was the highest-ranked coach from a Group of 5 program in Athlon’s 128 coach rankings for 2015. Over the last four years at UL Lafayette, Hudspeth has recorded a 36-16 record and four consecutive bowl wins. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won exactly nine games in each of Hudspeth’s four years and went 7-1 in conference play last season. Prior to UL Lafayette, Hudspeth made stops as an assistant at Mississippi State, Navy and Delta State and went 66-21 as North Alabama’s head coach from 2002-08.

 

Related: Sun Belt 2015 Predictions

 

Lance Leipold, Buffalo

Jim Harbaugh grabbed the offseason attention as college football’s best coaching hire, but Buffalo’s decision to hire Leipold shouldn’t be overlooked. Leipold was ultra-successful in a stint at Wisconsin-Whitewater, guiding the Warhawks to 109 wins from 2007-14. Additionally Wisconsin-Whitewater won six Division III Championships under Leipold’s watch. The Wisconsin native also has stops in his career as an assistant at Nebraska and Wisconsin (graduate assistant).

 

Related: MAC 2015 Predictions

 

Pete Lembo, Ball State

The seven losses suffered by Ball State in 2014 were the most in Lembo’s coaching tenure, but the New York native is still one of the top coaches in the Group of 5 ranks. Lembo is 30-20 in four years with the Cardinals, including a 10-3 mark in 2013. Ball State also has two bowl appearances under Lembo. Prior to coming to Muncie, Lembo went 35-22 at Elon and 44-14 at Lehigh, with three combined FCS playoff appearances among the two programs.

 

Tom Herman, Houston

Herman has been on a fast track through the coaching ranks and was a key cog in Ohio State’s run to the national championship last season. The story for the Buckeyes in 2014 was no secret, as the offense never missed a beat despite losing its top two quarterbacks. Herman did a good job of preparing Cardale Jones over the last three games of the season, and the California native landed his first FBS head coaching opportunity at Houston. Herman is no stranger to the state of Texas, as he has stops in his career at Rice, Texas State, Sam Houston State and Texas as an assistant. Prior to calling the plays for the Buckeyes from 2012-14, Herman was the offensive coordinator at Iowa State. Houston is a program with potential. There’s a new stadium and a fertile recruiting territory to tap into. Herman should be a home-run hire for the Cougars.

 

Chad Morris, SMU

Morris is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. The Texas native has been on a fast rise through the coaching ranks due to his offensive acumen, as he was hired to coordinate Tulsa’s offense in 2010 after a lengthy stint (1994-2009) in the high school coaching ranks. After one year with the Golden Hurricane, Morris was hired by Dabo Swinney to fix a Clemson offense that ranked 10th in the ACC in scoring in 2010. The Tigers ranked first or second in the conference in scoring offense in three out of Morris’ four years calling the plays. Additionally, Morris was a key cog in Clemson’s turnaround, as the Tigers won at least 10 games in each of his four years in Death Valley. With his ties to Texas and background on offense, Morris should help spark a SMU program that has only four bowl appearances since 1985.

 

Matt Rhule, Temple

Looking for a sleeper team in the American Athletic Conference this year? Keep an eye on Temple. Rhule is just 8-16 in his two seasons with the Owls, but this program improved its win total by four games from 2013 to '14. And Rhule’s 2013 team wasn’t quite as bad as the win tally suggested, as the Owls lost six games by 10 points or less. Rhule replaced Steve Addazio after he left to be the head coach at Boston College and has the program in good shape headed into 2015.

 

Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State

Georgia Southern grabbed most of the attention and headlines last season, but Appalachian State’s first year in the FBS ranks shouldn’t go unnoticed. The Mountaineers went 7-5 and finished 2014 on a six-game winning streak. Satterfield has only been at the helm for two years and went 4-8 in his debut after replacing legendary coach Jerry Moore. Satterfield played quarterback for Appalachian State from 1991-95, and he’s got the program trending up entering the 2015 campaign.

 

Matt Wells, Utah State

Utah State has been one of the most unfortunate teams when it comes to injuries over the last two years. However, despite injuries to a few key players, the Aggies are 19-9 in Wells’ two seasons and have recorded back-to-back bowl wins. Wells worked under Gary Andersen from 2011-12 as an assistant and was promoted to the top spot after Andersen left for Wisconsin. Wells should have Utah State in the mix to win the Mountain West title once again in 2015.

 

Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion

Thanks to Wilder’s coaching, Old Dominion has been on a fast rise through the college football ranks. The Monarchs restarted their football program after a 69-year absence in 2009. Old Dominion went 17-5 in its first two seasons and played in the FCS playoffs in 2011-12 with double-digit wins in both years. The program transitioned from the FCS ranks to the FBS level and went 6-6 in its debut last season. Wilder also runs a high-powered offense, which averaged 34 points per game behind star quarterback Taylor Heinicke last year. Wilder will have to retool the roster with Heinicke out of eligibility, but the Monarchs are a team on the rise in Conference USA.

 

Related: Conference USA 2015 Predictions

 

Other Names to Watch

 

Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

Arkansas State has experienced its share of coaching turnover in recent years, as Anderson’s 2014 season marked the fifth consecutive season with a new head coach in Jonesboro. Anderson went 7-6 in his debut and should have Arkansas State among the teams to beat in the Sun Belt this year.

 

Dino Babers, Bowling Green

Babers has a wealth of experience in his career at several programs, and the former Baylor assistant has spent the last three years as a head coach. In two years at Eastern Illinois, Babers went 19-7 with two playoff appearances. And despite losing starting quarterback Matt Johnson in the season opener last year, Bowling Green won the MAC East and finished 8-6.

 

Neal Brown, Troy

Brown is one of the nation’s youngest head coaches at just 35 years old. The Kentucky native has stops on his resume as an offensive coordinator at Troy, Texas Tech and Kentucky, along with previous experience as an assistant at UMass, Sacred Heart and Delaware. This season will be Brown’s first as a head coach in the FBS ranks.

 

Jeff Brohm, WKU

Brohm had big shoes to fill after the departure of Bobby Petrino but guided WKU to an 8-5 record last season. The Hilltoppers are Athlon’s pick to win Conference USA in 2015.

 

Rod Carey, Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois has remained the team to beat in the MAC in Carey’s two years in DeKalb. The Huskies are 23-6 under Carey – with only one loss in conference play – and claimed the 2014 MAC championship. Carey inherited plenty of talent from former coach Dave Doeren and has maintained success so far. Now, the challenge for Carey is to show he is capable of recruiting and building success at Northern Illinois for the long haul.

 

Bill Clark, UAB

Even though UAB doesn’t have a football team in 2015, Clark deserves a mention in this space. The Alabama native went 11-4 with Jacksonville State in 2013 and guided UAB to a 6-6 mark in '14. The Blazers showed tremendous progress in Clark’s first season, and he should be the right coach to rebuild the program once it returns to FBS play.

 

Doc Holliday, Marshall

Holliday has rebuilt Marshall’s program back among the best in Conference USA. After Mark Snyder failed to lead the Thundering Herd to a season of more than seven wins, Holliday is 23-5 in his last two years and has three bowl appearances under his watch. Holliday was known for his recruiting ability when hired at Marshall, but he’s proven he’s more than just a good recruiter.

 

Joey Jones, South Alabama

Jones has built the South Alabama program from scratch, taking over in Mobile after spending time at Birmingham-Southern for two seasons. The Jaguars are 37-28 in six seasons under Jones, and most importantly, the program continues to show progress in each season at the FBS level. South Alabama is also coming off its first bowl appearance in program history.

Teaser:
College Football's Top 15 Coaches on the Rise for 2015
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /nba/jimmy-kimmel-exposes-cavaliers-fans-lie-witness-news-lebron-james-kevin-love
Body:

A lot of people are catching flack for being Cavaliers fans considering that many of them weren't before LeBron James came back.

 

Jimmy Kimmel is out to expose those people with another hilarious edition of "Lie Witness News." If you thought Warriors "fans" weren't real fans, get a load of these people.

 

 

One lady sounded so convincing with her "that's so funny we were just talking about that at lunch" line.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 10:38
Path: /college-football/sec-college-football-teams-rock-and-roll-bands
Body:

Music, like sports, sparks debate, creates discussion and can even lead to heated disagreements.

 

But both are unquestionably a huge part of American culture. So Athlon Sports has decided to combine two of our favorite things — rock and roll with college football.

 

What if our favorite football programs were rock and roll bands? Every Power 5 team will be represented, so if you don’t see your favorite band or school here, keep your eyes peeled.

 

Power 5 Teams as Rock Bands: ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Here are the 14 SEC schools as rock bands:

 

Alabama: Metallica

One of the most powerful bands of its time, which has been extremely successful and popular for a long period of time. They are big, loud, extremely talented but also obnoxious and whiny at times. Hall of Famers but really, really like to get their way.

 

Arkansas: Allman Brothers Band

True southern, classic, kickass rock and roll with some historically elite songs. However, they were at their best a long time ago and both had a meteoric rise to power halted by a tragic motorcycle accident.

 

Auburn: Johnny Cash

When it’s good, it is revolutionary, earth-shattering, industry-changing brilliance — even if a little dark at times. When it’s bad, it’s arrested, divorced, thrown in jail or rehab and generally upset at the more powerful and successful industry power (Alabama/Columbia Records).

 

Florida: Aerosmith

At its best, these two have produced some of their respective industries' greatest hits and changed the way fans viewed the game. But when it goes bad, the train wreck is something you just can’t take your eyes off of — and, generally, they both just look ridiculous on a regular basis.

 

Georgia: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Even the name Heartbreakers fits (SEE: SEC Championship Games). This is a really solid, consistently good quality product over a long period of time that got a ton of talent from Florida.

 

Kentucky: Will Smith

He’s not exactly rock and roll but he fits here. Smith, like Kentucky, is more well-known for something other than music (football). And his music was really fun and well-liked — but only like two songs/years.

 

LSU: Black Sabbath

A very successful program with an extremely rabid fanbase that goes over the top to celebrate their favorite people, including a leader who is a little strange. Which football program is most likely to bite the head off a bat, do a line of ants and be involved in the dark arts?

 

Related: 2015 Complete SEC Preview and Predictions

 

Mississippi State: Blue Oyster Cult

A one-hit wonder that is loaded with cowbell. To be fair, that one-hit wonder (Dak Prescott) is as beloved, popular and influential as any song of its time. And it spawned this.

 

Missouri: Elvis Costello

Who makes dorky cool better than Mizzou? A very talented and technically sound group that seems to consistently be underrated and never fully appreciated. And neither really fits personality-wise into the genre (punk or the SEC) that they seem to be placed.

 

Ole Miss: KISS

How they look and dress is extremely impressive and important. The loud and awesome party pretty much overshadows everything else — like the play on the field. Very important in history for a variety of reasons but never really one of the best musical talents of their time.

 

South Carolina: Hootie and the Blowfish

Both have been really, really big but only for a very short period of time and never considered the best in the business even at their height. The most famous and influential member is also better known for his work elsewhere.

 

Tennessee: Pearl Jam

They were at their best in the 1990s when they were grungy and a little rough around the edges. The entire program will always be slightly overshadowed by one elite superstar. However, the band has been largely boring and absent since the turn of the century despite the large fanbase and respected history.

 

Texas A&M: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Southern rock in its truest form with the most rabid followers who don’t take no for an answer. However, they are extremely self-destructive and never considered the best at what they do. Both were at their best when playing something related to Alabama despite being from a different conference originally.

 

Vanderbilt: Rage Against the Machine

Incredibly intelligent and well educated but only good for 2-3 albums because egos were too big and creative differences caused everyone to leave - whether it was for Penn State or Audioslave.

Teaser:
SEC College Football Teams as Rock and Roll Bands
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/patriots-get-their-super-bowl-rings-and-party-wiz-khalifa-tom-brady-robert-kraft-rob-gronkowski-trap-queen
Body:

The Patriots are Super Bowl champions and it seems like the party hasn't stopped since the night they won. The "Summer of Gronk" seems to be a year-round party and Tom Brady just can't stop smiling.

 

The champs received their rings and partied the night away with Wiz Khalifa, who ironically is a Steelers fan. That didn't stop the Pittsburgh rapper from dancing with Rob Gronkowski, Robert Kraft, Brady and the rest of the Patriots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brady dancing to "Trap Queen" is a sight many never thought they would see.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 10:27
Path: /college-football/14-acc-stats-you-need-know-2015
Body:

Here are the most important and interesting stats you need to know about the ACC in 2015:

 

72.3%: That Boston College runs the ball

Among the leaders in the nation, Boston College ran the ball 72.3 percent of the time on offense. The Eagles ran 878 offensive plays and threw just 243 passes. The 635 rushing attempts were 10th nationally and fifth among Power 5 teams.

 

4.03: Clemson’s nation-leading yards per play allowed

The Tigers led the nation by a wide margin with just 4.03 yards allowed per play. The next highest-rated ACC defense was Louisville at 4.75 (11th). The problem, however, is that nine of 11 starters are gone from the Tigers' defense, including five of the top six tacklers.

 

41.0: Number of tackles for a loss allowed by Duke

The Blue Devils led the nation in one key category: tackles for a loss allowed. Duke gave up a nation’s best 41.0 tackles for a loss all year in 2014, making it one of just four teams in the nation to allow fewer than 50.0. Virginia was second in the ACC with 53.0 tackles for a loss allowed.

 

8-0: Florida State’s record in one-score games

After winning by an average of 42.3 points per game in 2013, the Seminoles barely won games in '14. The Noles were 8-0 in games decided by one score due in large part to Jameis Winston’s fourth-quarter heroics. Winston was 7-0 last fall in one-score games, setting an unreachable precedent for Sean Maguire or Everett Golson.

 

18: Consecutive bowl games for Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets have been to 18 consecutive bowl games — the last five under George O’Leary, six under Chan Gailey and all seven of Paul Johnson’s tenure. It helps when you have the No. 1 most efficient offense in the ACC at 6.72 yards per play (eighth nationally).

 

9: Times Bobby Petrino has won at least 8 games

Bobby Petrino has coached at three different programs in 10 seasons — five at Louisville, four at Arkansas and one at Western Kentucky. Only once, his first at Arkansas in 2008, has he won less than eight games (5-7). Seven of those 10 seasons featured at least nine wins. Petrino also is 5-0 against Kentucky as Louisville's head coach.

 

3,198: Brad Kaaya’s Miami freshman passing record

The star sophomore from Miami is poised for a huge career in Coral Gables if his first year was any indication. Kaaya set a Miami freshman record for passing yards (3,198) and touchdowns (26) but nearly set all-time school records. Bernie Kosar owns the all-time single-season school record with 3,642 yards and Steve Walsh owns the TD record with 29. Both could fall in Kaaya’s second season.

 

5.32: North Carolina points per possession inside the 40 allowed

Finishing drives or stopping drives are one of the biggest metrics used to analyze teams by the new wave of advanced college stats. And North Carolina was the worst team in the nation at stopping drives. The Tar Heels were dead last in the NCAA with 5.32 points allowed per opponent’s trip inside the 40-yard line. For perspective, Virginia Tech led the ACC and was second nationally at 3.05 points per opponent’s possession inside the 40 allowed.

 

127: NC State points allowed to top three Atlantic Division teams

NC State is picked fourth in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State, Clemson and Louisville this preseason. The Wolfpack were 7-0 a year ago when giving up 30 points or less. However, against the best teams in the division, NC State allowed 42.3 points against the Noles, Tigers and Cardinals. NC State also gave up 56 to Georgia Tech, the pick to win the Coastal Division.

 

243: James Conner, Tyler Boyd combined YFS/game

Miami’s Duke Johnson led the ACC in yards from scrimmage per game with 159.5 but Pitt’s James Conner (141.2) and Tyler Boyd (101.8) were second and third — and the top two returning to the ACC. Freshman Chris James (35.4) was the next highest producer of yards from scrimmage for the Panthers last season.

 

1984: Last time Syracuse didn’t have a 1,000-yard passer until 2014

The Orange went without a 1,000-yard passer for the first time since 1984. Needless to say, the offense was atrocious, scoring just 17.1 points per game. That number ranked 121st in the nation and ahead of only Wake Forest among Power 5 teams. It was the lowest-scoring output for the Orange since 2007.

 

2005: Last time Virginia won a bowl game

Mike London is squarely on the hot seat entering 2015 despite showing improvement last fall. He’s been to one bowl game — the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl — in his five-year tenure. The Cavaliers' win over Minnesota in the Music City Bowl following the 2005 season was the last postseason win for the Wahoos.

 

17: Virginia Tech losses over the last three years

Unlike their in-state rivals from Charlottesville, the Hokies have been to 22 consecutive bowl games. However, after a remarkable run of eight straight 10-win seasons, the Hokies have dropped back into the middle of the ACC pack. This team has lost either five or six games in three straight, totaling 17 defeats over the last three years.

 

36.8%: Wake Forest rushes stopped for no gain

Wake Forest led the nation in two really bad categories. On 36.8 percent of rushes, the Demon Deacons were stopped for no gain or lost yards. Additionally, Wake Forest led the nation with 127.0 tackles for a loss allowed for a nation’s worst 536 yards.

Teaser:
14 ACC stats you need to know for 2015
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/jj-watt-fires-back-twitter-troll-houston-texans
Body:

J.J. Watt always strikes me as a no-nonsense type of guy. 

 

On the field, the Texans star doesn't let much get by him and he seems to be the same way off the field. When someone on Twitter made a remark about Watt being a 2-star recruit coming out of high school, he had no choice but to respond.

 

 

 

Watt was probably ok with losing this follower. 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 09:42
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Tennessee Volunteers, SEC
Path: /college-football/breaking-down-tennessee-volunteers-future-quarterback-sheriron-jones
Body:
Tennessee fans are well aware of what returning starting quarterback Joshua Dobbs brings to the table. But what about the trio of talented freshmen that will be joining Dobbs on The Hill this fall?
 
 
With the loss of three of the Vols’ four scholarship quarterbacks this past year, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones knew that it was of paramount importance to recruit well at the quarterback position heading into the 2015 season. Not only did Jones and the Tennessee coaching staff rise to the challenge, they landed arguably the top class of freshman quarterbacks in the entire nation for 2015. This group is comprised of three consensus 4-star recruits - Jauan Jennings, Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones.  In the third and final installment of a three-part series featuring each of the freshman quarterbacks, here is a closer look at Sheriron Jones.
 
Sheriron Jones (pronounced Sher-Ron), a 4-star product out of Moreno Valley California’s Rancho Verde High School, was ranked as the No. 7 composite dual-threat quarterback in America per 247 Sports. A celebrated high school career, in addition to top-flight camp performances, would earn Jones a spot as a finalist in the famed Elite 11 quarterback competition. A distinguished honor, especially considering that only the best of the best high school quarterbacks are invited to the premier event, and only 18 quarterbacks nationwide advance to the finals each year. Jones’ stellar play would also earn him a trip to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American game and a spot on the Cal-Hi Sports California All-State team.
 
A one-time Florida Gator commit, Jones had a change of heart following the firing of Will Muschamp last December. He would ultimately sign with a Vols team in January that already had two highly touted freshman quarterbacks on campus, proving that Jones is definitely not one to shy away from competition.
 
While we have yet to see Jones play at the collegiate level, his high school film and scouting report lend credence to him being labeled as a quintessential dual-threat quarterback. Jones combines a solid repertoire of passing skills with a more than adequate skill set as a runner.
 
Jones’ first instinct is to stay in the pocket and throw the football in most instances, but he is quite capable of making plays with his feet under pressure. He possesses a very quick release and is extremely accurate on short and intermediate throws, both from the pocket and on the run.
 
As with any freshman quarterback, Jones has some improving to do in several areas. For starters, he needs to become more consistent in his mechanics and footwork. You can clearly see improvement in these areas when watching his senior film as opposed to his junior film, but he still gets “happy feet” in the pocket from time to time.
 
He also needs to improve on his deep ball and touch passing. Jones has solid arm strength, and he throws the ball on a rope with lethal accuracy in the short and intermediate range. However, you will often see his receivers waiting on the ball on deep throws and rarely does he hit guys in stride on long passes, which is a must at the SEC level. This is an issue that has also plagued current Vols quarterback Dobbs in the past.
 
In fact, Jones’ game appears very much like that of Dobbs' in many ways. Dobbs is obviously more polished and instinctual at this point in his career, but Jones has a very comparable skill set, which certainly bodes well as he enters fall camp vying for the backup role at quarterback.
 
That being said, Jones will have his work cut out for him with Dormady and Jennings also vying for the coveted No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Both Dormady and Jennings were able to get a big head start by enrolling at Tennessee in January, allowing them to participate in spring workouts and the Orange and White spring exhibition. Jones, on the other hand, just arrived on campus and has plenty of catching up to do in a very short time span. He will also need to add weight to his 6-2 frame in short order after showing up last week at an underwhelming 182 pounds.
 
In comparison to his freshmen quarterback counterparts, Jones is best described as the most balanced of the three. He isn’t quite as polished as Dormady in the passing game, and he isn’t as athletically dynamic as Jennings. Jones is, however, more mobile than Dormady, and further along than Jennings in terms of passing skills.
 

 

Dormady has already displayed a solid grasp of the Vols playbook and executed it well in the spring. And Jennings brings an athletic dynamic to the offense unmatched by the other two, but Jones may be the best fit for the current Tennessee offense in the long term.

 
He is a true dual-threat quarterback with a promising upside, which may ultimately give him the upper hand in landing the No. 2 quarterback spot at some point this season, and in due time, a chance to succeed Dobbs as the Vols' starting quarterback. Again, it will not be an easy ascent to the top, especially given that he is late in entering the quarterback race, trailing Dormady by a significant margin at this point. But, if he can master the playbook, show improvement in the passing game and add muscle in quick fashion; Jones should make it a very interesting race heading into the season opener.
 
- Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS
 
(Sheriron Jones photo courtesy of UTSports.com)
Teaser:
Breaking Down the Tennessee Volunteers' Future at Quarterback: Sheriron Jones
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /magazines/letter-bill-snyder-best-award-college-football
Body:

Cody Kirby engineered a 99-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter of a game against Kansas State five years ago that might not be memorable to most. Kirby was the senior quarterback of Missouri State in a game his team lost by 24 points. The game, in the grand scheme of things, was forgettable. From there, Kirby finished his career at Missouri State, played football in Canada and in the Arena Football League before returning to his alma mater as a graduate assistant.

 

Everywhere he’s gone, Kirby has kept with him a copy of Mind Gym, a book on mental training for athletes. And for the past five years, Kirby has used a souvenir from that game against Kansas State as a book mark. Marking his spot in Mind Gym is an envelope and letter on Kansas State stationery.

 

“The envelope is kind of torn and tattered,” Kirby says. “But I haven’t let the letter go without care.”

 

Kirby still reads the letter from time to time as a reminder of the values that stood out to the sender — in this case, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.

 

The note, handwritten, complimented Kirby’s competitive nature and the way he handled himself. The message predicted he’d be successful in any future endeavor.
 

Kirby left that game against Kansas State honored to have shaken the hand of Snyder after the game. Early the next week, the Missouri State football staff told him he had a delivery in the mail room. With the Kansas State return label, Kirby wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

 

“This was written diagonally across the letter and in a purple marker, so you know he sat and took the time to write that out,” Kirby says.

Related: Buy the 2015 Big 12 Preview Magazine

 

Anyone around Kansas State, though, will find those trademarks unmistakable: The Kansas State letterhead, the ink from a purple felt-tip pen, the lines of handwriting tilted clockwise at nearly a 45 degree angle.

 

And finally: Warm Regards, Bill Snyder

 

Kirby was just one of what must be hundreds of recipients of similar notes over the years. Without any fanfare or public announcements, this is a tradition as much as anything else is at Kansas State.

 

Snyder estimates he’s sent one of these handwritten notes after nearly every game since he became the head coach at Kansas State in 1989. He’s sent them for dozens of reasons, from consoling an injured player to congratulating an opponent on a victory over Kansas State to simple acknowledgements of competitiveness and leadership.

 

“I could think of 25 different reasons over the years when I’ve sent a young person a note,” Snyder says.

 

The process for him doesn’t seem to be a special one, even if he’s the only coach who corresponds with an opponent in such a way.

 

On an ordinary day in March this spring, for example, Snyder was at his desk, sending thank-you notes from a coaching event in Manhattan, Kan., earlier in the week.

 

His colleagues are familiar with the notes, too. R.C. Slocum, who as Texas A&M coach overlapped with Snyder in the Big 12, recalls one of his players getting a note from Snyder at some point during his tenure, though he doesn’t remember which one.
 

Slocum himself received a note from Snyder this winter after attending an event with the Kansas State coach.

 

“I’m never surprised when I get a nice note from him,” says Slocum, who coached at Texas A&M from 1989-2002. “That’s what he does. That’s what separates him from some of other people. ... That’s why Bill is respected like he is. It’s the personal touch.”

 

Even bitter rivals have received that personal touch.

 

Glen Mason, the coach at Kansas from 1988-96, recalled one of his captains receiving a note from Snyder in the late ’80s. Again, the identity of the recipient is lost to memory.

 

Snyder can’t recall why he started sending the notes. Did one of his coaches do the same? Did an opposing coach do that for him when he first started coaching or when he played?

 

“I wasn’t a good enough player, so if anyone sent anything to me, they were mistaken,” Snyder says.

 

When the practice started he can’t really say, either. Joan Friederich has worked in the Kansas State football office since 1973 — predating even Snyder in Manhattan. She’s been the administrative assistant to four football coaches at Kansas State, including both tenures for Snyder.

 

“That’s been too long ago, I don’t remember,” Friederich says. “It was a little bit later than when he first got the job. He sends so many things out, but he’s been doing it for several years.”

 

The routine, though, hasn’t changed. After nearly every Kansas State game, Friederich thumbs through her desktop directory to find the address to the football office of the most recent opponent. She loads an envelope into her typewriter — yes, a typewriter — to address Snyder’s note, and off it goes.

 

Even though this personal touch has gone on for decades, in the past, few people apart from the sender and recipient would have known of each note. Social media changed that, though. After North Dakota State upset Kansas State 24–21 in Manhattan to open the 2013 season, Snyder sent a letter to Bison quarterback Brock Jensen:

 

“Congratulations Brock. I was truly impressed with you & your teammates. You played so very well, virtually error free & with such poise. I wish you a great year & hope you achieve all you desire. Please share my thoughts w/ your teammates. Warm Regards Bill Snyder.”

 

 

 

A North Dakota State fan tweeted an image of the note, and the story quickly went viral.

 

“It caught me by surprise,” says Jensen, who led North Dakota State to its third of four consecutive FCS national championships that season. “I didn’t know he wrote notes to opponents like that. I found out when he wrote me.”

 

Former Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker didn’t know one was coming, either. During his senior season in 2011, Whittaker suffered a knee injury in a loss at Missouri on Nov. 12, a week before Texas’ final home game of the season against Kansas State. Whittaker, as a result, wouldn’t be able to play on Senior Day for the Longhorns. The week before the game against the Wildcats, Whittaker received an envelope from Kansas State.

 

“The letter he wrote to me, it was basically — not a sympathy letter — but to give me words of encouragement,” Whittaker says. “The fact that it was a Big 12 opponent and it was a head coach that wrote it, it was a gesture that I feel like is unparalleled.”

 

Coaches often like to say that locker room conversations or postgame exchanges should remain private, and Snyder is notoriously guarded when it comes to information he shares about his program. If his correspondence with opponents is being shared with the public through social media, he can live with it.

 

“As I tell our young people, don’t write or say anything that you would not want to be repeated,” Snyder says.

 

• • •

 

The letters, at least to one opposing quarterback, have become one of the sport’s top honors of sorts.

 

A note from Snyder doesn’t acknowledge the stats or the result of the game. It means the recipient competed at a level to impress Bill Snyder, a coach whose teams have consistently overachieved in the Big 12 for nearly 30 years.

 

West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett entered the 2014 season with plenty of goals that would have been obvious — get the Mountaineers back to a bowl game, stay healthy for the season and so on. One of the objectives for Trickett was more specific than wins and losses: Make Bill Snyder sit down at his desk in the Kansas State football office and write out his thoughts about the West Virginia quarterback.

 

Trickett knew this was a possibility. A year earlier, Trickett’s friend, Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro, received a letter from Snyder during his junior season. In a 49–26 loss to Kansas State on Nov. 9, 2013, Amaro caught nine passes for 67 yards. During the course of the Kansas State game, Amaro took a hard hit and had to be helped off the field. He didn’t return to the game. Again, Snyder noted the details:

 

“You’ve had a great year Jace. Admire how hard you play & the innate toughness you display to help your team. Hope you weren’t hurt badly on Sat. Wishing you & your teammates continued success, good fortune & health. Warm Regards Coach Snyder”

 

 


After Amaro shared the letter on Twitter, Trickett hoped he could live up to the standard to earn one of his own. “That was one of my goals going into the season,” Trickett says. “When we played them, I wanted to be the guy who gets the letter.”

 

Fortunately or unfortunately, the note came. Trickett sustained a concussion in West Virginia’s 26–20 loss to Kansas State on Nov. 20 and had to leave the game in the third quarter facing a two-touchdown deficit.

 

“Sorry I didn’t get to see you after the game Clint. Wasn’t aware that you had received a concussion. I hope the symptoms are gone by now & that you will be back soon. Always appreciate you as a young man of great values as well as being an excellent quarterback. Pulling for you to finish off the season at your best. Warm Regards Coach Snyder.”

 

Trickett, of course, has the letter. He’s taking it with him to East Mississippi Community College, where he’ll start his career as a quarterback coach.
 

At some point, the letter will hang on his wall. He’ll have framed a memento, essentially, from the injury that ended his playing career. “He’s the foundation of what a coach should be,” Trickett says. “When you think what a coach should be, you think of Bill Snyder. The handwritten letter epitomizes it.”

Teaser:
A Letter from Bill Snyder is the Best Award in College Football
Post date: Monday, June 15, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/awesome-graphic-shows-every-player-alabama-offense-made-it-nfl
Body:

Alabama is one of the best when it comes to recruiting.

 

After college, Crimson Tide players often have careers in the NFL. This infographic shows the 2012 Alabama squad during a game against Michigan. Fast forward three years later, all the Alabama players on the field are in the NFL. This is the same team that would go on to defeat Notre Dame for the national championship.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 17:36
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/stephen-smith-makes-sexist-joke-about-womens-world-cup-espn-magazine-megan-greenwell
Body:

Stephen A. Smith may have just put his foot in his mouth yet again.

 

During the SportsCenter Top 10 segment, a play from the World Cup came up and the ESPN personality gave a reason as to why one team may have given up a goal.

 

"They might not have wanted to mess their hair up," Smith said.

 

 

Soon after, Twitter reacted. One opinion in particular caught everyone's eye was that of ESPN Magazine Senior Editor, Megan Greenwell.

 

 

Although most would be a little uneasy about speaking out against a colleague, Greenwell simply could not hold her tongue any longer.

 

Smith, upon seeing his comments were making the rounds on social media, addressed his comments.

 

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 15:15
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /nba/jimmy-fallon-hands-out-nba-finals-superlatives-lebron-james-cavaliers-warriors-mike-miller
Body:

Jimmy Fallon is known for making fun of athletes with his "Tonight Show Superlatives," and the NBA is no exception.

 

The Tonight Show host releases a special NBA Finals edition where he comes after some of the Warriors and Cavaliers, including LeBron James.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 13:00
Path: /nfl/afc-north-players-will-need-step-2015
Body:

The AFC North was arguably the most competitive division in football last season, and it has been that way for the past several years. Cleveland was the only team that didn’t make the playoffs, while Cincinnati and Baltimore took wild card sports with 10 wins apiece. Pittsburgh edged out their rivals with 11 wins to take the division title. As far as this season is shaping up, the division seems to be destined for a close finish and once again multiple playoff teams is not far-fetched.

 

Each team does have some holes to be filled, so let's take a look at a player for each AFC North team that needs to step up in 2015 (teams listed in order of 2014 finish):

 

Shamarko Thomas, Strong Safety, Pittsburgh Steelers (1st place, 11-5)

 

After future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu’s retirement a few months ago, the Steelers were left with a void at strong safety position for the first time in over a decade. Thomas, a fourth-round pick in 2013, has played in 25 games, but has made just two starts. He has yet to have any significant impact on the field. Polamalu was one of the most feared players in the NFL, and thus it is up to Thomas to fill some very big shoes for head coach Mike Tomlin's defense. Teams facing the Steelers now know this weakness in the secondary, and Thomas must adjust quickly to a larger role for a position that has been a consistent strength for Pittsburgh.

 

Another player to watch: wide receiver Martavis Bryant

 


Geno Atkins, Defensive Tackle, Cincinnati Bengals (2nd place, 10-5-1)      

 

After two dominant seasons in his second and third years in the league, Atkins tore his ACL in 2013, missed seven games, and didn't look to be back at 100 percent in '14. He certainly has the skill and ability to be one of the league’s top defensive tackles and has proven it before. However, he’ll need to step up from last season’s performance if the Bengals want to finally get past the wild card round of the playoffs. The coaching staff had nothing but good things to say about Atkins during the recent OTAs, which is a promising sign for the three-time Pro Bowler.

 

Another player to watch: linebacker A.J. Hawk

 

 

Brandon Williams/Timmy Jernigan, Defensive Tackles, Baltimore Ravens (3rd place, 10-6)      

 

The departure of long-time defensive tackle Haloti Ngata appears to be a huge blow from a distance, until one looks at his replacements. Both Jernigan and Williams have been very productive early on in their respective careers, but replacing an all-time great is still a challenge. Offensive lines will not fear this duo as much, as Ngata often drew double teams and added attention in order to stop him. However, neither Williams nor Jernigan is a pushover, and the Ravens need this duo to really step up and continue their productive play in expanded roles.

 

Another player to watch: strong safety Matt Elam

 

Related: 5 Key Questions for the Baltimore Ravens During the Summer


 

Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Cleveland Browns (4th place, 7-9)

 

Without a doubt, Manziel has the most to prove in the entire NFL after his incredible college career and off-the-field antics. The Browns' biggest question remains at quarterback, one that has been ongoing since their re-introduction to the league in 1999. This year seems to be the make-it-or-break-it campaign for Manziel, who still must battle with Josh McCown for the starting job. Cleveland needs strong play from a quarterback badly, especially in a division with three well-established starters. Manziel certainly has the talent, but the question is will it click in his second year?

 

Other players to watch: running backs Terrance West/Isaiah Crowell

Teaser:
AFC North Players That Will Need to Step Up in 2015
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/sun-belt-football-2015-all-conference-team
Body:

With a solid core of experienced quarterbacks and playmakers returning, the Sun Belt should provide plenty of intriguing matchups and offensive fireworks in 2015. Arkansas State’s Fredi Knighten is Athlon Sports’ first-team All-Sun Belt quarterback, and the senior is a big reason why the Red Wolves are one of the favorites to win the conference this year.

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the Sun Belt last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2015.

 

Related: 2015 Sun Belt Predictions

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2015. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2015 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

2015 Sun Belt Team Previews

       
 
National
Rank:
90767712612587
  
National
Rank:
11512410893118 

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

Athlon's 2015 All-Sun Belt Team 
 First-Team
Offense
Second-Team
Offense
Third-Team
Offense
Fourth-Team
Offense
QBFredi Knighten
Ark. State  
Kevin Ellison
Ga. Southern 
Tyler Jones
Texas State 
Taylor Lamb
Appalachian State 
RBMatt Breida
Ga. Southern 
Marcus Cox
App. State 
Robert Lowe
Texas State 
Brandon Burks
Troy 
RBElijah McGuire
UL Lafayette 
Michael Gordon
Ark. State 
Larry Rose III
NMSU 
Elijhaa Penny
Idaho 
WR

Donovan Harden

Georgia State 

Jamal Robinson
UL Lafayette 
Rashon Caesar
ULM 
Dijon Paschal
Ark. State 
WRTeldrick Morgan
NMSU 
Dezmon Epps
Idaho 
J.D. McKissic
Ark. State 
Malachi Jones
App. State 
TEAjalen Holley (WR)
ULM  
Joel Ruiz (TE)
Georgia State 
Bryan Holmes (WR)
Troy 
Darion Griswold (TE)
Ark. State 
CDalton Bennett
Troy 
Joseph Scelfo
South Alabama 
Devin Mondie
Ark. State 
Jesse Chapman
App. State 
OGMykhael Quave
UL Lafayette 
I. Folasa-Lutui
NMSU 
Felix Romero
Texas State 
Alex Stoeher
Georgia State 
OGDarien Foreman
Ga. Southern 
Cameron Blankenship
South Alabama 
Donovan Williams
UL Lafayette 
Parker Collins
App. State 
OTAdrian Bellard
Texas State 
Colton Jackson
Ark. State 
Beau Nunn
App. State 
Jemar Clark
Ark. State 
OTChris May
South Alabama 
Antonio Garcia
Troy 
Ryan Melton
Texas State 
Octravian Anderson
UL Lafayette 
 First-Team
Defense
Second-Team
Defense
Third-Team
Defense
Fourth-Team
Defense
DERonald Blair
App. State 
Tyler Roberts
Troy 
Bernard Dawson
Ga. Southern 
Jamal Stadom
Troy 
DEChris Stone
Ark. State 
Quinton Bradley
Idaho 
Lorenzo Jackson
ULM 
Dallas McClarty
Texas State 
DTGerrand Johnson
ULM 
Jimmie Gipson III
South Alabama 
Jacoby Briscoe
UL Lafayette 
Kennan Gilchrist (LB)
App. State 
DTJa'Von Rolland-Jones
Ark. State 
Jay Ellison
Ga. Southern 
Lonnie Gosha
Troy 
Kawe Johnson (DB)
NMSU  
LBHunter Kissinger
ULM 
Xavier Woodson
Ark. State 
Marc Millan
Idaho 
Otha Peters
UL Lafayette 
LBJohn Law
App. State 
Dominique Tovell
UL Lafayette 
Michael Johnson
ULM 
Blake Dees
South Alabama 
LBJoseph Peterson
Georgia State 
Rodney Butler
NMSU 
Antwione Williams
Ga. Southern 
Trey McGowan
Texas State 
CBDavid Mims
Texas State  
Trey Caldwell
ULM 
Winston Rose
NMSU 
Latrell Gibbs
App. State 
CBDoug Middleton
App. State 
Rocky Hayes
Ark. State 
Bruce Dukes
Georgia State 
Jayshawn Jordan
Idaho 
SMitch Lane
ULM 
Matt Dobson
Ga. Southern 
Tarris Batiste
Georgia State 
Tracy Walker
UL Lafayette 
SMontres Kitchen
Troy 
Roman Buchanan
South Alabama 
Money Hunter
Ark. State 
Bobby Baker
Georgia State 
 First-Team
Specialists
Second-Team
Specialists
Third-Team
Specialists
Fourth-Team
Specialists
KAleem Sunanon
South Alabama 
Austin Rehkow
Idaho 
Wil Lutz
Georgia State 
Ryan Kay
Troy 
PAustin Rehkow
Idaho 
Brandon McKee
South Alabama 

Luke Ferguson

Ark. State 

Bentlee Crichter
App. State 
KRDerek Keaton
Ga. Southern 
Teldrick Morgan
NMSU 
Brandon Smith
Texas State 
Tyler Cain
ULM 
PRBlaise Taylor
Ark. State 
Rashon Caesar
ULM 
Elijah McGuire
ULL 
Dezmon Epps
Idaho 
Related: 2015 Sun Belt Predictions

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2015 All-Sun Belt Team

 FirstSecondThirdFourth

Appalachian State

Offense: 0

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 4

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 1

Arkansas State

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 3

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Georgia Southern

Offense: 2 

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 1 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Georgia State

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Idaho

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1 

UL Lafayette

Offense: 2 

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0 

ULM

Offense: 1

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 1

NMSU

Offense: 1

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

South Alabama

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Texas State

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 4

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Troy

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

 

Teaser:
Sun Belt Football 2015 All-Conference Team
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-2015-all-conference-team
Body:

Baylor and TCU ended 2014 at the top of the Big 12 standings, and the Horned Frogs and Bears begin 2015 as the favorites to win the league crown once again. Both teams are loaded with returning talent on both sides of the ball, as Baylor and TCU each place over 10 selections on Athlon’s 2015 All-Big 12 team. 

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the Big 12 last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2015.

 

Related: 2015 Big 12 Predictions

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2015. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2015 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

Big 12 Team Previews for 2015
      
 
National
Rank:
3741034417
 
National
Rank:
285334836

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 Big 12 Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 10 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 
 

Athlon's 2015 All-Big 12 Team

 First-Team
Offense
Second-Team
Offense
Third-Team
Offense
Fourth-Team
Offense
QBTrevone Boykin
TCU 
Mason Rudolph
Oklahoma State 
Seth Russell
Baylor 
Patrick Mahomes
Texas Tech 
RBSamaje Perine
Oklahoma 
Aaron Green
TCU 
Rushel Shell
West Virginia 

Alex Ross

Oklahoma 

RBShock Linwood
Baylor 
DeAndre Washington
Texas Tech 
Johnathan Gray
Texas 
Wendell Smallwood
West Virginia 
WRCorey Coleman
Baylor 
KD Cannon
Baylor 
Allen Lazard
Iowa State 
Devin Lauderdale
Texas Tech 
WRSterling Shepard
Oklahoma 
Jakeem Grant
Texas Tech 
Jordan Thompson
West Virginia 
Kolby Listenbee
TCU 
WRJosh Doctson
TCU 
Brandon Sheperd
Oklahoma State 
Quenton Bundrage
Iowa State 
Jay Lee
Baylor 
CJoey Hunt
TCU 
Tyler Orlosky
West Virginia 
Ty Darlington
Oklahoma 
Jared Kaster
Texas Tech 
OGHala Vaitai
TCU 
Kent Perkins
Texas 
Nila Kasitati
Oklahoma  
Jamelle Naff
TCU 
OGCody Whitehair (OT)
Kansas State 
Boston Stiverson
Kansas State 
Adam Pankey
West Virginia 
Alfredo Morales
Texas Tech 
OTSpencer Drango
Baylor 
Zachary Crabtree
Oklahoma State 
Jake Campos
Iowa State 
Victor Salako
Oklahoma State  
OTLe'Raven Clark
Texas Tech 
Sedrick Flowers
Texas 
Jarell Broxton
Baylor 
Daniel Burton
Iowa State 
 First-Team
Defense
Second-Team
Defense
Third-Team
Defense
Fourth-Team
Defense
DEShawn Oakman
Baylor 
Charles Tapper
Oklahoma 

James McFarland

TCU 

Ben Goodman
Kansas 
DEEmmanuel Ogbah
Oklahoma State 
Travis Britz (DT)
Kansas State 
Branden Jackson
Texas Tech 
Jamal Palmer
Baylor 
DTAndrew Billings
Baylor 
Davion Pierson
TCU 
Desmond Jackson
Texas 
Beau Blackshear
Baylor 
DTPete Robertson (DE)
Texas Tech 
Hassan Ridgeway
Texas 
Vincent Taylor
Oklahoma State 
Will Geary
Kansas State 
LBEric Striker
Oklahoma 
Dominique Alexander
Oklahoma 
Elijah Lee
Kansas State 
Malik Jefferson
Texas 
LBNick Kwiatkoski
West Virginia 
Taylor Young
Baylor 
Seth Jacobs
Oklahoma State 
Micah Awe
Texas Tech 
LBRyan Simmons
Oklahoma State 
Jordan Evans
Oklahoma 
Xavien Howard (CB)
Baylor  
Nigel Bethel (DB)
Texas Tech 
CBZack Sanchez
Oklahoma 
Danzel McDaniel
Kansas State 

Nigel Tribune
Iowa State 

Morgan Burns
Kansas State 
CBDaryl Worley
West Virginia 
Kevin Peterson
Oklahoma State 
Duke Thomas
Texas 
Ranthony Texada
TCU 
SKarl Joseph
West Virginia 
Derrick Kindred
TCU 
Jason Hall
Texas 
Kamari Cotton-Moya
Iowa State 
SDante Barnett
Kansas State 
Orion Stewart
Baylor 
Jordan Sterns
Oklahoma State 
Dravon Henry
West Virginia 
 First-Team
Specialists
Second-Team
Specialists
Third-Team
Specialists
Fourth-Team
Specialists
KJosh Lambert
West Virginia 
Jaden Oberkrom
TCU 
Matthew McCrane
Kansas State 
Ben Grogan
Oklahoma State 
PNick O'Toole
West Virginia 
Ethan Perry
TCU 
Taylor Symmank
Texas Tech 
Nick Walsh
Kansas State 
KRAlex Ross
Oklahoma 
Morgan Burns
Kansas State 
Jakeem Grant
Texas Tech 
Daje Johnson
Texas 
PRCameron
Echols-Luper
TCU 
Dede Westbrook
Oklahoma 
Corey Coleman
Baylor 
Sterling Shepard
Oklahoma 

Related: 2015 Big 12 Predictions

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2015 All-Big 12 Team

 FirstSecondThirdFourth

Baylor

Offense: 3

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Iowa State

Offense: 0

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 3

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Kansas

Offense: 0

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Kansas State

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Oklahoma

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Oklahoma State

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 3

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 3 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

TCU

Offense: 4

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 2

Offense: 0 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Texas

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 3 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Texas Tech

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 2

Offense: 4

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

West Virginia

Offense: 0

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 2

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 3

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

 

Teaser:
Big 12 Football 2015 All-Conference Team
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NBA, Overtime
Path: /nba/cleveland-weatherman-uses-weed-wacker-while-discussing-cavaliers-game-4-lebron-james
Body:

Local anchormen are some of the more interesting people on television. For the most part they're in small markets and are able to get away with a lot of funny things.

 

Mark Johnson of WEWS News Channel 5 decided to talk a little about the Cavaliers' Game 4 lost before continuing with the weather report. Apparently he needed a weed wacker and a cement block to help him describe certain points in the game.

 

 

One can only imagine if this guy was the actual sports broadcaster.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 10:26
Path: /college-football/beware-improving-sec-east-2015
Body:

The SEC West is the best division in college football. That was the case last year and again in 2015.

 

The Pac-12 South is probably a close second with the Big Ten East quickly gaining momentum.

 

But where does the SEC East rank? After multiple seasons of questionable on-field performance, it might be time to start looking at the SEC East differently.

 

College football is cyclical. The East dominated the SEC for the better part of the 90s and until LSU, Alabama and Auburn won BCS titles from the West.

 

Due in large part to elite coaching hires at schools like Mississippi State, Arkansas and Ole Miss as well as the addition of sleeping giant Texas A&M, the West has been the dominant division in college football.

 

Other than Tim Tebow’s Gators (2006, ‘08), no East Division team has won an SEC championship since 2005.

 

The East bottomed out in 2013. Florida and Tennessee, the two teams that dominated the league in the 90s, combined for 15 losses. Georgia lost five times and Kentucky won only twice. Missouri was a surprise division winner and both South Carolina and Vanderbilt had arguably their best seasons in history — which still involved six combined losses.

 

But using the same blueprint as the West — hiring great new head and assistant coaches — the East is beginning to show signs of life.

 

Related: 2015 Preseason SEC Football Preview and Predictions

 

With Jeremy Pruitt leading the defense for the second year, Georgia is once again a Top 10 preseason team. It would be ranked even higher than No. 10 in the preseason rankings if not for the brutal schedule. The Dawgs face two projected playoff teams from the West in Auburn and Alabama and get ACC Coastal Division frontrunner and defending champ Georgia Tech in non-conference play.

 

Tennessee is surging into Butch Jones' third season loaded with more young talent than almost any team in the nation. Should Joshua Dobbs develop into the star many think he’s capable of becoming, the Vols could easily outperform their No. 22 preseason ranking. This is a hot program that is clearly trending in the right direction.

 

In Gainesville, just add Jim McElwain and stir. The offensive guru should be able to fix many of Florida’s offensive woes and the defense under new coordinator Geoff Collins should be stifling once again. Keep in mind, the Gators had a win over Idaho cancelled last year and were one game away from winning the East. The cupboard isn’t bare in The Swamp.

 

The only known commodity about Missouri is that they will most certainly be better than where they are ranked in the preseason — which is still pretty respectable at No. 27. The hiring of Barry Odom once again proves Gary Pinkel is a wizard when it comes to assembling a coaching staff. Having Maty Mauk back for his second season under center is critical too.

 

The bottom of the division still has some work to do but there are even positive signs down there too.

 

South Carolina’s defense was atrocious last year but mostly because of inexperience. Of the Gamecocks top 25 tacklers last year, 18 were freshmen or sophomores and only four were seniors. There’s plenty there to work with for new defensive leader and old Steve Spurrier confidant Jon Hoke.

 

Mark Stoops quickly reenergized Kentucky on the recruiting trail, but most importantly, more than doubled his win total from Year 1 to Year 2. It’s well within reason to expect the Wildcats to continue getting better and make a bowl game this fall.

 

Vanderbilt only has one direction to go after an abysmal first season under Derek Mason. His defense should be much improved and that should allow him to improve his team’s win total in Year 2 as well.

 

Related: The SEC West if the Best Division in College Football

 

Vandy isn’t a good team, Kentucky and South Carolina have work to do and Florida is a long way from getting back to being Florida. But every team in this division could be better than it was last season with the possible exception of Mizzou — the one team that  is perennially underrated.

 

It’s not the SEC West or even the Pac-12 South but the SEC East is returning to form quickly and the rest of college football could find that out the hard way in 2015.

Teaser:
Beware of the improving SEC East in 2015
Post date: Friday, June 12, 2015 - 09:30

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