Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: College Football, Tailgating
Path: /college-football/champion-no-bean-chili
Body:

Football and food go hand in hand on game day. There’s nothing better than getting to your favorite game early, hanging out with friends and family and celebrating the game ahead while chowing down on an assortment of amazing food.

 

Champion No-Bean Chili

 

Ingredients
3 lbs of ground sirloin
2 lbs of lean ground pork
2 to 3 medium onions depending on taste preferences
2 29 oz cans of tomato sauce
3 29 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
3/8 cup of chili powder
1/4 to 1/3 cup of paprika
2 to 3 T of cumin
Kosher salt
3 to 4 T of granulated garlic
1 to 2 t of chipotle chili powder
1 to 2 t of ancho chili powder
1 t of cayenne pepper
Olive oil

 

Instructions
Heat a small amount of olive oil in pan to keep meat from sticking as the meat browns. Brown ground sirloin and ground pork in batches. Salt with small portions of kosher salt. Add chopped onions as the meat gets close to being done. Finish cooking until all meat is done and onions are clear. Drain meat and onions.

In large dutch oven, add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, chili powders and garlic. Start on the low side of the chipotle, ancho, and cayenne peppers. Add chipotle, ancho, and cayenne pepper powders, granulated garlic, and kosher salt to match the taste of the intended audience. Add drained meat and onions. Simmer on low for several hours, stirring to prevent sticking. Add water to thin if needed. Add instant potatoes to thicken, if needed. (This is easier than flour or corn starch and is gluten free.)

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - 00:50
Path: /mlb/2013-mlb-power-rankings-july-8
Body:

Each week during the baseball season Athlon Sports looks at the best (St. Louis Cardinals) and worst (Houston Astros) baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week.

 

Athlon Sports 2013 MLB Power Ranking
 1. Cardinals Earned first home three-game sweep over the weekend.
 2. Pirates Tied with St. Louis and host a five-game series later in July.
3. Red Sox Boston’s 54 wins are most in the majors.
 4. A’s Tough stretch at Pittsburgh and vs. Boston to end first half.
 5. Rangers Yu Darvish should be considered for All-Star start.
 6. Rays Good to have David Price back atop the rotation.
 7. Reds Homer Bailey’s no-hitter highlights the week.
8. Diamondbacks Tied with Boston for the majors’ largest division lead.
 9. Braves Look out below! The Nationals are coming.
10. Orioles Offense struggling; produced just 20 runs in last seven games.
11. Tigers Will face White Sox for the first time this season this week.
12. Indians Michael Brantley only Indian with more RBIs than whiffs.
13. Nationals Making a strong run at the Braves before the break.
14. Yankees Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez finally playing rehab games in minors.
15. Dodgers Officially back in the hunt.
16. Angels Creeping toward contention, but not there yet.
17. Phillies Unclear whether Phillies will be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
18. Blue Jays Need to finish first half strong at Cleveland and Baltimore.
19. Rockies Just 3-6 in last nine games vs. NL West.
20. Giants Team hit just .177 in six games last week.
21. Royals Third-fewest extra-base hits in the majors.
22. Padres Blew a gasket when they reached the .500 level.
23. Cubs Can Cubs find a trade partner for Alfonso Soriano this season?
24. Mariners Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez are 1-2 in ERA in AL.
25. Twins Lost 12 of 16 since June 20.
26. Mets Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jeremy Hefner terrific young trio.
27. Brewers Deserve to have two starters in All-Star Game. 
28. White Sox Should begin unloading players any day now.
29. Marlins 16-11 since June 8, third-best in National League.
30. Astros Six losing streaks of five or more games this season.
 
AL Player of the Week
Adrian Beltre, Texas
The Rangers’ third baseman led the majors with four long balls last week ending a 22-game homerless streak. Beltre now has a nine-game hitting streak that includes four multi-hit games, as he batted .478 with a 1.607 OPS last week.
 
AL Pitcher of the Week
David Price, Tampa Bay
The Rays are ecstatic over having their ace back on the hill. Returning from a triceps injury, Price allowed just 11 hits with no walks over 16 innings in wins over Houston and the White Sox.
 
NL Player of the Week
Brian McCann, Atlanta
The Braves have been waiting for their catcher to break out this season, and last week he did just that. Batting an even .600 for the week, McCann raised his average from .250 to .304. He has multiple hits in his last four games.
 
NL Pitcher of the Week
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
The former Cy Young winner and the Dodgers are rolling as Kershaw is the only pitcher in the bigs with a sub-2.00 ERA. Last week he shut out the Rockies on four hits, then followed with a masterful eight innings at San Fran.
 
 
Teaser:
A look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 22:14
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR News & Notes, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/daytona-presents-moving-day-nascar-drivers-chase-contention
Body:

Jimmie Johnson celebrates in Victory Lane following his win in Daytona. (ASP, Inc.)In golf, there’s a nickname for Saturday competition: Moving Day. It’s a point at which either people put themselves in position to win, shoot an ugly round that takes them off the leaderboard or top the charts to start the final 18 holes on Sunday as the one to beat.

In essence, the Chase race took on the same complexion during a night of survival in Daytona. It was a race won by the points leader with those fighting to overtake him in September split into two categories: feast or famine. There were 11 drivers, eighth through 18th in the standings entering the night, who were separated by just 42 points. Six of those men finished outside the top 30, parked inside the garage due to wrecks. Two more, hanging back in a last-lap melee, wound up 17th and 21st respectively, leaving their nights somewhat of a wash. That left a wide opening for three others, each of whom finished 10th or better to capitalize on a rare wide swing in the points.

Is it a be-all, end-all for Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch, who all surged up the ladder after strong runs? Not yet. But looking at the eight races left on the regular season schedule there’s maybe one or two other opportunities, max, to collect this much on their rivals in one shot. The cookie-cutter racetracks just don’t lend themselves to wild finishes, while places like New Hampshire don’t have races long enough for mechanical problems to materialize. That means when Richmond comes and names like Kurt Busch are in contention to grab a coveted Chase spot, we’ll look back on this night as the one in which they “moved” into proper position to make it happen.

In “Through the Gears” we find out what else Daytona dealt us to talk about…


FIRST GEAR: A Sweep … Which Sweeps “Cracks in the Armor” Under the Rug
Last year, Jimmie Johnson had just eight finishes outside the top 15 — an outstanding record. Four of those occurred in plate races, a 100 percent disaster rate that included three DNFs and just one lap completed in the sport’s signature event, the Daytona 500. Rest assured the No. 48 team took that failure to heart, spending the offseason perfecting the plate-race version of the Gen-6 car so lightning wouldn’t strike twice.

Now, we’ve seen Johnson thunder through the field in a different way, leading a dominating 94 laps this Independence Day weekend in completing the first sweep of Cup Series Daytona races since Bobby Allison in 1982. How surprising was Johnson’s feat? He had only led 77 laps in his career at Daytona leading into the night — and that includes two victories at the sport’s Great American Race (2006, 2013).

For Johnson to flex his muscles in such fashion makes him the odds-on favorite to collect title No. 6 in November. But even in victory, just like several times the last six weeks, this five-time champ showcased some vulnerability. There was a perplexing late-race move, leaving teammate Kasey Kahne stranded when he was working as a virtual blocker. Moving to the top line, it eventually created an accident between Marcos Ambrose and Kahne once Johnson went to block on the backstretch. If the No. 9 car doesn’t wreck there and completes the pass, the No. 48 is sliding back through the field. (P.S. It could be the nail in the coffin for Ambrose, still winless on ovals and who has struggled on the Cup level to the point he could wind his way back to Australia in the offseason).

So there’s hope … just not much. Johnson’s four victories tie him with Matt Kenseth for most on tour, but that total could easily be seven were it not for three self-inflicted mistakes. It’s the No. 48 team’s racetrack right now. Everyone else is just playing on it.
 

Kurt Busch and Furniture Row Racing ... Chase contenders? (ASP, Inc.)SECOND GEAR: Kurt Busch’s Big-Time Comeback
Furniture Row Racing has done everything possible this season to shoot itself in the foot. There have been mechanical failures, poor pit calls, driver-induced penalties for speeding on pit road … and that’s without the assorted bad luck that finds its way into every team’s season. Employing a driver in Kurt Busch legendary for his ugly temper, there were plenty of times where a blowup, while never justified, would at least be understandable given the circumstances.

The catch, though, is that he hasn’t lost his cool — and finds himself on the brink of Chase qualification. If anything, he’s kept the team cool through a series of incidents, driving the car back into the top 5 and top 10 after digging a deep hole throughout the course of the season. Now ninth in points after a third straight top 10, it’s not a lock this team will get into the Chase. But the man behind the wheel is setting himself up for it, which is a miraculous effort considering the organization has never finished in the top 20 in points. Other drivers have received more recognition throughout the season, but Busch may be the big winner in the end, as he’s giving the best chance for a sponsor outside of FRR to take a flyer on him were he to end up in the seat of the No. 29 at Richard Childress Racing next season.


THIRD GEAR: Who’s the Big Loser?
I mentioned at the top that of 11 teams eighth through 18th in points, six finished outside the top 30 in Daytona. Certainly, wrecks were not what the doctor ordered for drivers like Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne (among others). But I’m not so worried about any of those three. Logano has momentum on his side, having posted six straight top-11 finishes before Saturday night while the other two have wins to fall back on. Chances are, Kahne will grab a second and I think Truex has put himself in position to make the postseason no matter what.

Instead, the guy I’m watching wasn’t even in that group of six. For Brad Keselowski, Daytona offered an opportunity to make a move. The team finished in the top 5 there in February with a front end that looked like a giant trash bag. Proving that strength, he was in the front row on Saturday night during a restart with less than 30 laps to go. But a series of bad-luck decisions in the draft left the No. 2 car 21st at the checkered flag, still sitting on the outside of the top 10 looking in. Now, the series heads to Loudon, Indianapolis and Pocono, all tracks where I don’t expect this team to contend for the win. And who knows what NASCAR’s penalties will be for those illegal roof flap spacers that the team — along with 15 others — was busted for in Daytona. If Keselowski hasn’t entered crisis mode behind the scenes at this point, I don’t know what it’s going to take.


FOURTH GEAR: Pondering the Future of Plate Racing
Saturday marked the third straight plate event where pack racing has returned to Cup competition, courtesy of the sport’s new Gen-6 bodies. But at times, the slow-moving lines made it feel like fans were watching two giant snarls of traffic on the highway. The sensation of “feeling the speed” wasn’t there; neither was the ability to make up three, five, even eight spots in just one lap. (Remember Dale Earnhardt’s epic charge at Talladega 13 years ago?)

That’s because the new Gen-6 car does not produce a closing rate that “pack racing” used to offer. Steve Letarte said on Monday that Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost 22 spots in one lap during one of the final restarts that pretty much eliminated him from competing for the win. In the past, with 10-20 laps to go, a driver would be able to come back from that and work his or her way back to the front. Not anymore; it’s been replaced by a game of high-speed, traffic-maneuver chess that takes all the mental strength available to get the push by one car.

I’d be shocked if we didn’t see a rule change following the 2013 season where there’s a different spoiler and air package, making it easier for drivers to pass — whether they like it or not.


OVERDRIVE
Clint Bowyer was the latest to admit after the race that he was simply riding around Daytona for the first 130 laps. If the sport has drivers staying in place for the first two-plus hours, how is it going to advertise the product effectively? That’s not going to win over many new fans. … Danica Patrick, who wound up 14th, actually deserved better than her last-lap melee. The car was a top-10 contender for most of the night. And Patrick coincidentally tangled with David Gilliland, the latest in a series of on-track incidents between the two. … J.J. Yeley has an average finish of 11.5 at Daytona this season. Everywhere else? He has yet to post a result better than 24th. Just another way in which the gap between lower- and upper-class teams has never been larger — outside of Daytona and Talladega, of course. … Thirty-one teams in Nationwide and Cup were found with improper roof flap spacer modifications at Daytona. The competitive advantage, though, is so minimal you have to wonder if NASCAR will hit that many teams with a serious point deduction. Teams shouldn’t mess with safety, of course, but when they’re working within thousandths of a second, at what point does it become nitpicking?


by Tom Bowles
Follow Tom on Twitter:
@NASCARBowles
 

Teaser:
Reaction from Jimmie Johnson's win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 21:51
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /test-content
Body:

Test

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 14:22
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /weekend-golf-july-4-7-what-you-might-have-missed
Body:

A few highlights of an interesting holiday weekend in golf:

• Has anyone had a stranger season than Graeme McDowell? His last eight appearances on the PGA and European Tours go something like this: missed cut, win, missed cut, win, missed cut, missed cut, missed cut, win. He's the walking personification of feast or famine. McDowell won the French Open by four shots for his ninth European Tour victory, a win that moved him to sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking. We would put him at the top of British Open favorites, but two of those missed cuts we mentioned came at The Masters and U.S. Open. "Thankfully I've managed to learn how to calm my emotions and learn how to respond under pressure, sometimes,'' McDowell said. Key word: sometimes. Here are the highlights:

• Meanwhile, Jonas Blixt rocketed up 100 spots — from 139th to 39th — in the FedExCup points standings with a two-shot win at the rain-interrupted Greenbrier Classic. Blixt earned a green jacket for his efforts, but the win gets him a shot at the Green Jacket that truly matters, as he's now in the 2014 Masters field. The win was his first top-10 finish of 2013 and moves him to 51st in the World Golf Ranking, giving him a shot at a spot in next week's British Open field as a top alternate. "This is what I play for," Blixt said. "I play to win. It just confirms that if you do the right things, that you work hard, dreams can come true." Here are the highlights:

Tom Watson spent time with the youngsters at the Greenbrier and more than held his own, finishing T38 after rounds of 68, 69, 72 and 67 to finish one stroke behind Bubba for low Watson. The ageless 63-year-old Watson is approaching shoot-your-age territory.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-july-8
Body:

It's the week before the All-Star break and Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies break down last week's top hitters and identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on for this week.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 1-7):

 NamePos.TeamRHRRBISBBAOPS
1.Desmond JenningsOFTB9164.4141.121
2.Torii HunterOFDET52111.4441.248
3.Robinson Cano2BNYY63100.3751.317
4.Kyle Seager2B/3BSEA7250.5451.516
5.Adrian Beltre3BTEX4450.4781.607
6.Starling MarteOFPIT6115.345.793
7.Brian McCannCATL6140.6001.480
8.Ryan Zimmerman3BWAS5182.346.862
9.Miguel Cabrera3BDET3381.2921.081
10.Kirk Nieuwenhuis*OFNYM5161.4501.250
11.Cody Ross*OFARI6251.323.963
12.Colby Rasmus*OFTOR5280.3331.137
13.Juan Uribe*3BLAD32110.3001.050
14.Hanley Ramirez3B/SSLAD8120.4801.399
15.Jayson Werth*OFWAS6070.400.923
16.Domonic BrownOFPHI6250.3751.135
17.Carlos GomezOFMIL4144.280.813
18.Jose ReyesSSTOR6241.323.871
19.Eric Hosmer1BKC6250.360.970
20.Alfonso Soriano*OFCHC3390.250.865
21.Alex GordonOFKC3251.5001.730
22.Jacoby EllsburyOFBOS4114.360.927
23.Michael Brantley*OFCLE5260.3481.075
24.Adrian Gonzalez1B/OFLAD5350.296.988
25.Chris Johnson*1B/3BATL5160.4171.084

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS (64% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
LaRoche got off to a terrible start (.136-3-8 in April), but since then has been more consistent and reliable. He's hit 10 home runs and driven in 32 in his last 59 games, and with Bryce Harper's and Jayson Werth's (see below) return to the lineup, he should continue to produce. Even with these early struggles, LaRoche has a track record of providing power and run production, while not hurting that much in the batting average category either, as evidenced by last season's .271-33-100 line.

Logan Morrison, 1B/OF, MIA (18%)
Morrison has been known for more than what he does off the field than on it, although injuries have been somewhat to blame. What is worth noting, however, is that the opinionated Marlin has gotten the job done (.314-4-10 in 20 G) since making his season debut in late June. He's just 25, so he figures to get plenty of at-bats moving forward, and his multiple-position eligibility (1B, CI, OF) only makes it easier to find a spot for him. He would make an ideal platoon partner given his success against righties (.370-4-10) early on.

Andrelton Simmons, SS, ATL (43%)
His glove and defense alone will keep him in the lineup, and Simmons is showing signs of becoming more of a presence at the plate too. While his spot in the batting order changes quite a bit, his presence in the lineup doesn't, which makes Simmons valuable in the runs department because of the Braves' other big bats. The 23-year-old is currently a top-10 fantasy producer at his position, ahead of the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Martin Prado and Jimmy Rollins.

Alfonso Soriano, OF, CHC (35%)
It's summer, which means Soriano is starting to heat up. The veteran slugger's bat seems to follow the weather, so now may be a good time to invest. He will never hit for a high average and his value is limited somewhat as long as he stays with the Cubs, but he's one of the streakiest hitters around and when he gets hot, he can pile up some numbers. Don't forget that after the All-Star break last season Soriano produced a .258-17-60 line.

Jayson Werth, OF, WAS (57%)
Werth may finally be healthy as he's hitting .400 with seven RBIs and six runs scored through his first seven games of July. The high-priced outfielder has been replaced by Bryce Harper and others as the marquee names in the Nationals' lineup, but the added firepower also will help him put up better numbers if he continues to swing the bat well. In 24 fewer games compared to last season, Werth has already hit more home runs (8 so far, 5 in 2012) and has just about matched his RBI (28 to 31) and runs scored (36 to 42) totals. The key for Werth moving forward is staying healthy so he can stay in a lineup that's finally starting to produce like most expected entering the season.

Last week's picks:
Erick Aybar, SS, LAA: .350/.800, 4 R, 2 RBI
Rajai Davis, OF, TOR: .192/.661, 6 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC: .360/.970, 6 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Jose Iglesias, 3B/SS, BOS: .300/.741, R, 3 RBI
Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC: .176/.712, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

 NameTeamIPWKERAWHIP
1.Clayton KershawLAD25.03181.080.52
2.Matt MooreTB19.13260.471.14
3.Jeremy Hellickson*TB20.03190.901.00
4.David PriceTB16.02150.560.69
5.Jeremy Hefner*NYM20.02171.350.75
6.John Lackey*BOS22.02272.050.95
7.Jered WeaverLAA20.22170.870.92
8.Madison BumgarnerSF21.02192.140.76
9.Matt GarzaCHC15.02151.201.07
10.Derek HollandTEX15.01171.200.87
11.Homer BaileyCIN15.01162.400.60
12.Kyle Lohse*MIL16.22122.160.84
13.Gio GonzalezWAS20.03162.251.20
14.Ivan Nova*NYY14.21152.450.68
15.Jose FernandezMIA19.01181.890.95
16.Francisco LirianoPIT15.02131.801.07
17.Jonathan Pettibone*PHI17.02162.651.00
18.Chris SaleCWS23.00323.130.91
19.R.A. DickeyTOR23.02133.130.83
20.Max ScherzerDET13.12173.380.98

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Ryan Dempster (Thurs.) at Seattle (57%)
To be honest, I am a little stunned by Dempster's sub-60-percent ownership rate. His ERA (4.04) may be a little high, but he's allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last eight starts and is maintaining a nice 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (100:49 in 107 IP). The Mariners are 28th in the majors in runs scored and Dempster's offense is No. 1. What's not to like?

2. Jake Westbrook, STL (Thurs.) at Chicago Cubs (24%)
Westbrook rebounded nicely (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, W) against Miami following a disastrous outing (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER) in Oakland. Next up are the Cubs, a team he has already beaten twice this season (12 1/3 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 3 ER). He won't strike out many, but his offense should score more than enough runs to put him a position to earn the victory.

3. Kyle Lohse, MIL (Mon.) vs. Cincinnati (58%)
Following a horrendous May (0-4, 6.51 ERA), Lohse has turned things around. Even though he's just 3-0 in his last seven starts, he has posted a tidy 2.11 ERA and 29:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that stretch (42 2/3 IP). Also in Lohse's favor is the fact that the Reds are not near as potent offensively on the road compared to their home numbers.

4.  Jeremy Hefner, NYM (Fri.) at Pittsburgh (16%)
Hefner will never be mistaken for Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, but the 27-year-old has been just as effective over the last two months. Hefner has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last seven starts and has posted a 37:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over those 44 innings. For all of their success this season, the Pirates are anything but an offensive juggernaut (24th in MLB in runs scored).

5. John Lackey, BOS (Fri.) at Oakland (62%)
Since the middle of May, Lackey has produced a quality start every time out with the exception of his June 10 performance in Tampa Bay (4 ER in 5 2/3 IP). The veteran is throwing as hard as he ever has, which is a big reason why he has 27 strikeouts in his last three starts (22 IP). He has held the Orioles, Tigers and Angels to exactly two runs in their own parks over the past month, so there's really no reason to not throw him out there against the A's this week.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: July 8
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Essential 11
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-8
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 8.

• Country songbird and Eric Decker better half Jessie James might be our new favorite WAG. Here are a few reasons why.

Here's how Andy Murray spent his post-Wimbledon morning. I'd say Britain is pleased — as were Bradley Cooper and Gerard Butler at their bro-tastic best.

Mr. and Mrs. RG3 made a weird, creepy video together and posted it on Facebook.

Here are 21 ways not to celebrate a championship. My only quibble with the list: Nothing wrong with hitting up Denny's. A grand slam breakfast is a perfectly good way to celebrate.

• Sometimes, ESPN does things well. This is one of those times. A moving story of a producer and two special athletes.

The Seahawks got together with Fail Mary replacement ref Lance Easley for a charity softball game, where Easley posed for a photo with Golden Tate that will be like picking a scab for Packers fans. 

• Pro hoops has a new power couple: Kevin Durant is engaged to Minnesota Lynx player Monica Wright.

Saturday Down South picked East-West SEC All-Star Teams a la MLB. That's a game I'd pay to see.

• More Roger Goodell moralizing: The NFL reportedly is considering not inviting academically ineligible players to the NFL Combine.

• Interesting historical footnote: Kid Rock was present for the Malice at the Palace.

• Manny Machado went all Brooks Robinson on the Yankees yesterday.

 

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/who-best-worst-starting-quarterback-nfl-2013
Body:

Statistical production, raw talent, supporting cast, level of competition, individual awards and records are help to define hierarchies in sports debates. However, in the NFL, greatness is defined most about winning and losing. Sure, coaching, scheduling, injuries and many other factors influence the ability for any given NFL team to succeed on Sundays.

But who is under center playing quarterback is still the most important piece to the Super Bowl puzzle. With that in mind, who is the best quarterback in the NFL today? Who is the worst? Who gives your team the best possible chance to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2013? Don't worry, Athlon Sports has the answer.

The NFL's Best Quarterbacks in 2013 (age as of Sept. 1 and win-loss records):

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (29)
W/L: 52-26 (5-3) YPG: 254.8 QBR: 104.9 TD-INT: 171-46 Rush: 1,442 yds TD: 18

There is little doubt that Rodgers isn't the best player at his position right now. He is only 29 years old, already has one Super Bowl Championship, has posted the most efficient single season by any quarterback in history (122.5, 2011) and has won 46 games in the last four seasons (46-16). His uncanny ability to extend plays with his legs and fire accurately on the run makes him the perfect athlete to play the modern role of dual-threat quarterback. He wins, doesn't turn the ball over, is an elite athlete and is the consummate professional off the field. He is the best in the game today. 

2. Drew Brees, New Orleans (34)
W/L: 99-70 (5-4) YPG: 270.1 QBR: 94.3 TD-INT: 324-86 Rush: 570 yds TD: 9

Brees gets the slight nod over Tom Brady and Peyton Manning based somewhat on his age. At 34, Brees still has a few more seasons of elite-level play than either Brady or Manning. And elite level of play means back-to-back 5,000-yard passing seasons and three in the last five years. He has never been the most talented or physically gifted but the intangibles are off the charts, the leadership is second to none and he has been a winner every step of his career a state champion in Texas at Austin (Texas) Westlake, a Big Ten champ at Purdue and Super Bowl champ in 2009 for the Saints.

3. Tom Brady, New England (36)
W/L: 136-39 (17-7) YPG: 253.1 QBR: 96.6 TD-INT: 334-123 Rush: 748 yds TD: 14

The big edge for Brady in the statistical category comes in the win-loss column. He has won nearly twice as many playoff games as any other active NFL quarterback and has won more than 77 percent of his career starts. He is second only to Rodgers in quarterback efficiency for his career among quarterbacks with more than one year of starting experience. With three Super Bowl titles and five Super Bowl appearances on his resume there is nothing else to prove. That said, he is 36 years old and probably has just a couple more seasons left of elite play.

4. Peyton Manning, Denver (37)
W/L: 154-70 (9-11) YPG: 265.6 QBR: 95.7 TD-INT: 436-209 Rush: 728 yds TD: 17

Manning could easily lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl championship in 2013 and should he accomplish the ultimate goal for a second time in his career, it is likely he would walk away from the game like another famous Denver signal-caller. At 37 and having been forced to sit out all of 2011, Manning doesn't have much time left in this league. Yet, from a preparation and football IQ level, he has few peers ever in the history of the game and that won't change anytime soon. His age is the only thing that keeps him from the top spot.

5. Eli Manning, New York Giants (32)
W/L: 78-57 (8-3) YPG: 230.1 QBR: 82.7 TD-INT: 211-144 Rush: 395 yds TD: 4

The numbers aren't nearly as impressive as compared to Rodgers, Brees, Brady or Manning and, in fact, the younger Manning's stats pale in comparison to those quarterbacking juggernauts. He doesn't throw for as many touchdowns or yards. He turns the ball over more. And he doesn't win regular-season games at an elite rate. But he has more Super Bowl championships (2) than each of the aforementioned quarterbacks with the exception of Brady. Manning has proven he has what it takes to perform in clutch situations and his calm, quiet demeanor helps him succeed in the world's largest media market. 

6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (23)
W/L: 11-5 (0-1) YPG: 273.4 QBR: 76.5 TD-INT: 23-18 Rush: 255 yds TD: 5

This is optimistic, certainly, but Luck is the best NFL pro prospect since John Elway entered the league in the mid '80s and Luck just posted the single greatest rookie season by an NFL quarterback... ever. He is a special talent who is cut from the Rodgers mold of athletic ability, leadership, intelligence, toughness and accuracy. Few can throw on the run like Luck, and, since he is bigger than Rodgers, may end up being better than the Packers' signal-caller. There is no weakness to Luck's game.

7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta (28)
W/L: 56-22 (1-4) YPG: 243.0 QBR: 90.9 TD-INT: 127-60 Rush: 500 yds TD: 5

Calm under pressure is the name of the game for Ryan. Few have ever won games right out of the gate like Ryan — he has five winning seasons in five years — but he simply needs to finish games when it counts the most. He posted a career best in completion percentage (68.6) and QB Rating (99.1) a year ago while increasing his touchdown total for a fifth consecutive season. He overcame a big hurdle by getting his first career postseason win last year, but the Falcons crumbled around him against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Take one or two more steps for Atlanta and Ryan will be in the Rodgers class of talent and success.

8. Joe Flacco, Baltimore (28)
W/L: 54-26 (9-4) YPG: 220.4 QBR: 86.3 TD-INT: 102-56 Rush: 430 yds TD: 7

He isn't the fastest, smartest, strongest, most successful or most efficient. But few players in the history of the sport have ever posted a postseason run like Flacco did in the 2012 playoffs. He threw 11 touchdowns against no interceptions and carried his team to a Super Bowl championship with pristine quarterbacking play. At nine playoff wins, Flacco has as many as Peyton Manning and one more than Eli. Like Ryan, he's never had a losing season as an NFL quarterback.

9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (31)
W/L: 87-39 (10-4) YPG: 235.0 QBR: 92.7 TD-INT: 191-108 Rush: 1,036 yds TD: 14

The Steelers won one Super Bowl because of Big Ben and won another one in spite of Big Ben. He has an uncanny ability to prolong the action and make brutally tough plays in the face of certain disaster. There is no doubt that Roethlisberger is a big winner for a franchise that is one of the most demanding in the league. He is just 31 years old, but he has taken a beating and it is beginning to cost him. Big Ben hasn't played 16 games in a season since 2008 and has missed eight games over the last three seasons.

10. Tony Romo, Dallas (33)
W/L: 55-38 (1-3) YPG: 212.7 QBR: 95.6 TD-INT: 177-91 Rush: 508 yds TD: 5

From a statistical standpoint, Romo is one of the most underrated signal-callers in the game today. For an organization that is poorly managed from the top, Romo's career QB rating trails only Rodgers, Brady and Peyton Manning among quarterbacks with more than one year of starting experience. He has produced big numbers with little to no support from a running game and/or offensive line and it has led to multiple injuries. That being said, winning once in four postseason tries — including a memorable fumbled snap — and losing each of the last two regular-season finales with postseason berths hanging in the balance will always keep him being considered as one of the NFL's elite.

11. Robert Griffin III, Washington (23)
W/L: 9-6 (0-1) YPG: 213.3 QBR: 102.4 TD-INT: 20-5 Rush: 815 yds TD: 7

The former Heisman Trophy winner has all of the physical tools to become one of the game's greatest players. He has electric speed, a huge arm, great size, high football IQ, great work ethic and tremendous toughness. However, fans in D.C. have already seen how fragile his style of play can be on the NFL level. To that end, a second major knee injury in three years last fall doesn't bode well for a long career in the NFL unless RG3 can modify his style of play to protect himself.

12. Russell Wilson, Seattle (24)
W/L: 11-5 (1-1) YPG: 194.9 QBR: 100.0 TD-INT: 26-10 Rush: 489 yds TD: 4

Wilson has a lot of Drew Brees to his game. Undersized, savvy, hard-working, underrated athletically and a lightning-quick right arm. Cut from the Rodgers-Luck dual-threat cloth, Wilson is constantly looking to extend the play and make a big throw. He can run around and pick up first downs with his legs if need be, but he's also adept at throwing on the run. This, and his compact frame, gives him a better chance at staying healthy over other true dual-threats. His statistical and win-loss records as a starter both in college and his first year in the pros speak for themselves.

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (25)
W/L: 19-13 (0-2) YPG: 220.8 QBR: 83.9 TD-INT: 47-29 Rush: 272 yds TD: 5

He won't ever be confused with the most talented in the league and his long-term upside may still be in question. But Dalton simply wins games. He has two winning records and two playoff appearances in as many years for a team not normally accustomed to playing in the postseason. He is efficient, more athletic than expected and plays to his strengths. 

14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit (25)
W/L: 17-28 (0-1) YPG: 284.6 QBR: 82.8 TD-INT: 80-54 Rush: 323 yds TD: 7

Stafford is the exact opposite of Dalton. He is dripping with elite athletic talent from his burly frame to supercharged right arm but seems to be lacking in the intangibles section. He returned the Lions to the postseason, which is no easy feat, but he also has missed extended time due to injuries and regressed last fall. His 2013 might be one of the most important in the NFL.

15. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (25)
W/L: 5-2 (2-1) YPG: 115.6 QBR: 97.9 TD-INT: 10-3 Rush: 413 yds TD: 5

College football fans were not surprised in the least by the Niners' postseason sensation a year ago. One of the most dynamic college quarterbacks to ever play the game is forcing NFL defenses to find ways to slow him down. He has a cannon for a right arm, a huge frame and tremendous feet and speed. Time will tell if he can protect himself from the big hits. 

16. Cam Newton, Carolina (24)
W/L: 13-19 (0-0) YPG: 247.5 QBR: 85.3 TD-INT: 40-29 Rush: 1,447 yds TD: 22

Newton has certainly outperformed expectations in his first two seasons. Many doubted his accuracy, attitude and ability to run a pro offense. He still turns the ball over too much and needs to be more efficient but his production in two short years have proven many of those doubters wrong. The next step for Newton will be proving he can consistently win games on this level.

17. Jay Cutler, Chicago (30)
W/L: 51-42 (1-1) YPG: 229.2 QBR: 84.0 TD-INT: 136-100 Rush: 1,116 yds TD: 6

That "1-1" postseason mark is a pretty glaring number for a player as accomplished as Cutler. He has over 21,000 yards passing and nearly 150 touchdowns, but has been to the playoffs just one time in seven years. He has just two winning seasons over that time and is on his second team. He is turnover prone and has had plenty of attitude issues. Time is running out for Cutler to prove he is a legitimate franchise quarterback.

18. Sam Bradford, St. Louis (25)
W/L: 15-26-1 (0-0) YPG: 223.3 QBR: 77.3 TD-INT: 45-34 Rush: 216 yds TD: 2

There is some Andy Dalton to his game in that he doesn't appear to be the most gifted of athletes and his fragility is a huge concern. But in the right situation with an actual offensive line, Bradford has a chance to make a big statement this year. He topped 3,500 yards in each of his 16-game seasons and has a surprisingly solid 14-17-1 record during those two years for a team that has been long considered a doormat.

19. Matt Schaub, Houston (32)
W/L: 44-38 (1-1) YPG: 186.0 QBR: 91.9 TD-INT: 120-70 Rush: 328 yds TD: 4

There isn't much else to learn about the former Virginia Cavaliers quarterback. When healthy, he is a solid player who is capable of winning games and producing big numbers. He also played just 11 games in 2007 and '08 and just 10 in '11. One has to be on the field to win games and time is running out for the 32-year-old.

20. Philip Rivers, San Diego (31)
W/L: 70-42 (3-4) YPG: 240.4 QBR: 94.5 TD-INT: 189-93 Rush: 338 yds TD: 3

Consider Rivers a more volatile version of Jay Cutler. The mouthy signal caller has had a fall from grace unlike anything this league has ever seen. There is no doubting his physical talent, but Rivers has gone from leading the NFL in yards (4,710 in 2010) to becoming a walking turnover and .500 quarterback. Rivers is 15-17 with 35 interceptions and 24 lost fumbles in the last two seasons. 

21. Carson Palmer, Arizona (33)
W/L: 54-67 (0-2) YPG: 241.5 QBR: 86.2 TD-INT: 189-130 Rush: 372 yds TD: 7

Palmer will likely never be given his due as a solid NFL quarterback. He helped rebuild a perennial doormat when he led the Bengals back to the postseason and, frankly, Joe Montana at his best couldn't win in Oakland these days. He just posted his best yardage total in six seasons, topping 4,000 yards for just the third time, and now has Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd at his disposal. Expect a rejuvenation.

22. Michael Vick, Philadelphia (33)
W/L: 56-44-1 (2-3) YPG: 167.6 QBR: 80.6 TD-INT: 123-82 Rush: 5,551 yds TD: 34

The issue has been and will always be health with the player who takes more hits than anyone else in the NFL. Since coming back from prison, Vick has played in 12, 12, 13 and 10 games in four seasons and doesn't seem to be capable of changing his style of play. Until that happens, he is much more of liability than a champion.

23. Alex Smith, Kansas City (29)
W/L: 38-36-1 (1-1) YPG: 178.5 QBR: 79.1 TD-INT: 81-63 Rush: 761 yds TD: 4

Has anyone noticed that Alex Smith has played eight years in the NFL? He has a winning career record and is 19-5-1 over his last two seasons as a starter with just 10 total interceptions during that span. He also isn't playing for Jim Harbaugh any longer and is dealing with concussion issues. But still, eight years?

24. Jake Locker, Tennessee (25)
W/L: 4-7 (0-0) YPG: 169.9 QBR: 78.4 TD-INT: 14-11 Rush: 347 yds TD: 2

The Titans quarterback has awesome athletic ability but some glaring question marks. First, he simply isn't that accurate of a passer and, generally, that cannot be corrected. A 55.5 percent career completion rate won't win games in the NFL. Additionally, he has a long track record of injuries that have already impacted his pro career. 

25. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (26)
W/L: 33-29 (4-2) YPG: 195.0 QBR: 71.7 TD-INT: 68-69 Rush: 342 yds TD: 12

Where to begin? The facts are that Sanchez is a winning quarterback for his career who has played in two AFC Championship games —  out-performing Tom Brady in the process — and progressed statistically in his first three years. However, he regressed massively a year ago and has never become a play-maker. The leash is awfully short.

26. Ryan Tannehill, Miami (25)

W/L: 7-9 (0-0) YPG: 205.9 QBR: 76.1 TD-INT: 12-13 Rush: 211 yds TD: 2

The athletic ability is incredibly impressive and the first-year numbers are more than adequate. That said, there are still major doubts about his ability to be a pro quarterback. A year of small developmental steps and another 7-9 record would set him up for much bigger expectations in 2014.

27. Matt Flynn, Oakland (28)
W/L: 1-1 (0-0) YPG: 29.3 QBR: 92.0 TD-INT: 9-5 Rush: 14 yds TD: 1

The numbers tell the picture of what is known about Flynn. He has two career starts, one major contract and one major trade. On his third team in as many years, Flynn will finally get a chance to prove himself on the NFL level after winning a national title at LSU.

28. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (29)

W/L: 5-10 (0-0) YPG: 225.7 QBR: 72.6 TD-INT: 14-17 Rush: 111 yds TD: 0

Entering his second season at 29 years old isn't ideal and he did little a year ago to prove he was deserving of his first-round status. However, he also proved he belonged in the NFL year last year and should grow in Year 2. The upside is limited but he is serviceable for the time being.

29. Christian Ponder, Minnesota (25)
W/L: 12-14 (0-0) YPG: 177.3 QBR: 77.1 TD-INT: 31-25 Rush: 472 yds TD: 2

Ponder helped lead the Vikings to the playoffs last year but questions still remain about his ability to make plays in key spots against tough competition. He did win his final four starts last season and played big against the Lions, Texans and Packers, but he still has much to prove.

30. EJ Manuel, Buffalo (23)
W/L: N/A YPG: N/A QBR: N/A TD-INT: N/A Rush: N/A TD: N/A

There is a ton to like about the young first-round pick from Florida State. He has excellent mental make-up and will be a tremendous leader in the huddle. He is big, fast, physical, was one of the most efficient passers to play for the Seminoles, and is one of only two players in college football history to start and win four bowl games. There should be doubts but there is a lot more upside with Manuel than most acknowledge.

31. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (25)
W/L: 24-32 (0-0) YPG: 227.4 QBR: 79.8 TD-INT: 78-63 Rush: 902 yds TD: 4

Since his days at Kansas State, Freeman has been a turnover machine. He has 63 interceptions and 36 fumbles in four NFL seasons after 34 interceptions in three college seasons. That is 97 interceptions in seven seasons of football. There is a reason Mike Glennon was drafted.

32. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville (23)
W/L: 5-19 (0-0) YPG: 155.0 QBR: 70.2 TD-INT: 21-17 Rush: 154 yds TD: 0

Many times in the NFL a player falls into a horrible situation and is given very little chance to succeed. That is certainly the case with Gabbert, however, he has shown little in the way of true NFL upside.

Teaser:
Who is the best, worst starting Quarterback in the NFL in 2013?
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-accs-best-traditions
Body:

There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.

Last but certainly not least, are the college games' traditions. Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a deeper connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. The ACC has its fair share of historic practices and strange behaviors. From a legendary rock in South Carolina to a beat-up old lunch pail in Virginia, the ACC can match up with any other league in the nation when it comes to traditions. Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites:

Howard's Rock and The Hill
Legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard was given a massive rock from Death Valley, Calif., back in the early 1960s. It sat in Howard's office for years until IPTAY executive director Gene Willimon placed it atop a pedestal in 1966 at the top of the east end zone on the "hill" that the team runs down before entering Memorial Stadium each home game — the legend says Howard actually asked Willimon to throw the rock away. The next year, the team started rubbing the rock for good luck in the season opener and have been doing it ever since. The crowd comes to a rolling boil before each game while the Tigers players gather atop the hill waiting for the word to charge the gridiron. Many have called it the most exciting 25 seconds in sports.

Chief Osceola and Renegade
The planting of the spear at Doak Campbell Stadium is one of college football's finest traditions. Chief Osceola and his Appaloosa horse Renegade are the official symbols of the Florida State Seminoles, and they both ride out to midfield before each home game to slam a burning spear into the 50-yard line logo. With the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Osceola has been making this pre-game journey since 1978.

The Hokie Slab and "Enter Sandman"
There is little history or tradition with the "Enter Sandman" entrance theme for the Virginia Tech Hokies. In 2000 after playing the BCS title game the year before, Virginia Tech put up a massive new video screen and outsourced the pre-game video production. However, the powers that be in Blacksburg had to pick the song and, clearly, they chose wisely. Besides the signature entrance music, the players also gather in a long tunnel from the lockers to the field and slap a slab of signature Hokie Stone before emerging into a frenzied Lane Stadium.

Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wreck
When that 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe comes peeling across Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field, the Yellow Jackets faithful go berserk. Bearing the same name as the student body population, The Ramblin' Wreck has been leading the football team into home games since 1961. With cheerleaders draped all over the sides and crisp, whitewall tires, the car is not only an amazing college football tradition but also a work of art.

Miami's Smoke Tunnel
Using plumes of billowing smoke isn't some new or unique tradition reserved for Miami alone. However, the U is one of the originals, as the Hurricanes have been charging the field before home games through a cloud of smoke since the 1950s. Led by Sebastian the Ibis, powerhouse teams in South Florida have been demoralizing opponents by simply running out onto the field.

The Sod Cemetery
A professor issued a challenge in 1962 that Florida State team captain Gene McDowell was happy to meet. He was asked to return to FSU with "some sod" from Between the Hedges at Georgia. Ever since, before leaving for road games in which Florida State is the underdog, facing Florida or any championship game, FSU captains explain the significance of the Cemetery to their teammates. Captains continue to return home with a piece of the opponents' turf to be buried just outside the gates of the practice field.

Florida State's War Chant
There are various historical takes on when, where and how this Florida State tradition began, but many point to a big game against Auburn in 1984. The band played the traditional cheer but the student section continued chanting after the band finished and it stuck. By the next season, it was a stadium-wide phenomenon that birthed the now-historic tomahawk chop.

Best of the Rest:

Touching Testudo
Purchased in 1933 by University of Maryland students, the statue of Testudo (formerly Gorham) is a 300-pound bronze statue of a Chesapeake Bay Diamondback Turtle. The members of the football team touch the statue before taking the field of play at each home game.

Virginia Tech's Lunch Pail
Then co-defensive coordinators Rod Sharpless and Bud Foster brought a beat-up, old coal miner's lunch pail from New Jersey in 1995 to use as a motivational ploy. Now a well-known and established tradition of the Hokies' program, each week, the pail contains goals, hurdles and mission statements.

Pitt's Cathedral of Learning
At 535 feet, Pitt's tower is the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere. And the "victory lights" on the top floors are lit after every Pitt win.

Syracuse's No. 44
Retired in 2005, only the best Orange Men have ever been worthy of wearing the prestigious No. 44, including Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little.

NC State's Fury The Wolf
Former NC State head coach Tom O'Brien created Fury the Wolf to bolster the Wolfpack's entrance to Carter-Finley Stadium. The 400-pound bronze wolf was installed in 2008. Packaged with Tuffy the live Finish Tamaskan Dog, there is no mistaking the canine pride at NC State.

Rolling the Quad at Wake Forest
When Wake Forest moved to Winston-Salem in 1956, students needed to replace the ringing of the Wait Hall bell. So they began rolling Hearn Plaza, better known as the Quad.

NC State's re-entry policy
This is much less tradition as much as it is just awesome. Very few stadiums and arenas allow re-entry and Carter-Finley Stadium is one of them. I wonder what the students do out there in the parking lot?

Duke's Cameron Crazies
No, this one doesn't count but it does deserve mention as few hoops traditions compare to the football versions. This one most definitely does.

Teaser:
From a legendary rock in South Carolina to a beat-up old lunch pail in Virginia, the ACC can match up with any other league in the nation when it comes to traditions. Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites.
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, TCU Horned Frogs, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/tcus-casey-pachall-ready-second-chance
Body:

By all accounts, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall had a great spring. The Horned Frogs’ mystery man earned praise throughout spring drills, and though the status of his competition with Trevone Boykin remains officially unresolved, Pachall’s return to the starting lineup seems inevitable. How well Pachall performs after a trying 2012 season, though, could determine whether TCU is ready to compete for the Big 12 title in only its second season in the league.

The senior, who left the team after four games in 2012 to seek treatment for substance abuse, returned to the school in January after completing a three-month program. The next question — at least from a football standpoint — is whether Pachall is ready to face LSU in Cowboys Stadium on Aug. 31.

Coach Gary Patterson dropped subtle hints during the spring that his mind was made up. “When he left last year, he was rated the No. 1 quarterback in the nation and we were 4–0,” Patterson reminded the media in March. “The other guy (Boykin) learned because he had to by fire. He did a tremendous job for what we threw him into. I’ve got until August (to choose). Casey is the older one, but both of them can do good things. (Boykin) can move around, gets himself out of trouble, (Pachall) gets himself out of trouble with his arm. In some ways, it’s hard to compare those kinds of things.

“So it’s great competition between him and Casey. They’re both taking reps with the ones. Casey is taking most of them.”

Read into that what you will.

With Pachall under center, the offense was more dynamic and dangerous. As a first-year starter in 2011, Pachall set TCU records for yards (2,921), completions (228) and completion percentage (66.5), while passing for 25 touchdowns. When he left in 2012, he was fifth nationally in pass efficiency and had thrown for 10 touchdowns and one interception.

This isn’t a question of production. Rather, the uncertainty around Pachall’s return involves his mental state and his ability to rebuild trust and team chemistry.

In October, Pachall left the team in the wake of an early-morning arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. By then, he had already admitted to police in February 2012 that he had smoked marijuana, tried cocaine and ecstasy, and failed a team drug test. Pachall’s admission came amid a campus investigation that led to the arrest of four TCU players — including Pachall’s roommate, linebacker Tanner Brock — for selling drugs on campus.

It would have been understandable had Patterson cut Pachall loose after his arrest. But that wasn’t going to happen, for a couple of reasons: Banishing Pachall sent the wrong message about second chances and young adults earning redemption, Patterson said. Plus, an outright dismissal could have opened up the school to legal issues.

Instead, Patterson left the door open for the troubled quarterback.

The week before Pachall returned to campus in January, his father Stan Pachall, a former Texas Highway Patrol officer, thanked fans for their support.

“Casey is doing well and we are very proud of the progress he has made,” he wrote in an email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Some people are just haters and want to see people fail. To the haters, I hope that they never have anyone close to them that suffers from addiction of any substance. And to the people that support and have prayed for Casey’s recovery — THANK YOU.”

Meanwhile, TCU’s first season in the Big 12 went on with Boykin at quarterback. Before he took over, Boykin had 10 career pass attempts to his name. He went 3–6 as a starter, with all nine games coming against bowl teams (in comparison, Pachall faced one bowl team, SMU). TCU also was playing without leading rusher Waymon James, who was out with an injury for the final 11 games. Another top running back, Matthew Tucker, also was out with an injury during Boykin’s first start — an ugly, turnover-plagued loss to Iowa State.

After the game against the Cyclones, the coaching staff adjusted gameplans to fit Boykin’s skill set, which includes more running ability than Pachall possesses. And Boykin, who didn’t envision starting during 2012, grew into his new role.

In his second start, Boykin was outstanding in a 49–21 win at Baylor, passing for 261 yards and four TDs and rushing for 56 yards and a score. In a 20–13 win at Texas on Nov. 22, Boykin rushed for 77 yards and threw for 82 on an economical 7-of-9 passing.

Patterson, understandably, has several reasons for playing it close to the vest with his quarterbacks this season. For one, Boykin earned enough credibility in the final nine games to at least compete for the job.

“Both quarterbacks want to be the starting guy,” Patterson said early in March. “Everybody knows what strengths both of them have. It just makes us better because now there is competition. We’ll see how it goes.”

Meanwhile, Pachall has declined interviews since returning to the team. Patterson also limits practice access and player availability drastically during the spring, so very little about Pachall’s progress on the field is known besides what Patterson reports to the media — and that is guarded.

Before Pachall left, he got along well with his teammates and was a legitimate team leader, according to several former teammates. Patterson says nothing changed in that regard, and the team welcomed him back with open arms in public comments that are not unexpected given the circumstances.

“There hasn’t been anything said,” Patterson says. “He had a great image with those guys as far as his relationships, and I don’t think the relationship is any different.”

Now, it’s up to Pachall to make a difference on the field.

Written by Stefan Stevenson for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Big 12 Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Big 12 season.

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Teaser:
Casey Pachall's Return is a Huge Boost for TCU
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 07:03
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/athlon-sports-mlb-all-star-ballot
Body:

Tomorrow, MLB will announce the 2013 All-Star teams, and undoubtedly there will be some questions. Anytime you have fans electing players, there’s an overwhelming element of popularity, not necessarily performance. Players have their say as well, with the ability to select a few of the reserves, then the managers — Bruce Bochy of the Giants and Jim Leyland of Detroit — will fill out the enormous rosters of 33 players. I’m pretty sure I’ll disagree with the fans, who will elect the starting lineups, and most likely will disagree with the managers who select the reserves. After that process, and the rosters are announced on Saturday, fans once again will have the opportunity to make the final 34th selection for both teams.  


That’s right. There are 34 players on each All-Star roster. So before we get to my selections, let’s think about that number 34. Of that number, 13 will be pitchers. That leaves 21 position players. If you took the two best players at each position, that accounts for only 16 spots, so if the fans totally screw up and elect a player who is not one of the best two at his position, there is room to cover that mistake, if the managers so choose. And inevitably, there will be the teams that have no true deserving All-Stars, like maybe Houston, Miami and the Cubs, for example. With 21 position players and 13 pitchers, I think there are enough roster spots available to cover that as well.

It’s time to end the argument about having every team represented costing deserving players All-Star recognition. Maybe some players are more deserving, but if players are not one of the best two at their respective position, they have no real argument in my mind. If you take away the rule that every team must be represented, then among the next dominoes to fall should be shrinking the roster to 28 and taking away the fans’ vote.

I like having the fans select the starting lineups. I like having every team represented. I don’t like tying anything about the All-Star Game to where World Series games are played, which is an ill-conceived idea.

But I’ll step off of the soapbox for now. Here are the players who would receive my vote:

American League
(starting lineup and batting order)

LF Mike Trout, Los Angeles

The rising superstar isn’t having quite the season he put together last year, but he’s the best outfielder in the AL.

2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston
There are several reasons the Red Sox quickly erased their struggles from a year ago, but Pedroia has had the biggest impact.

3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
There is currently no Cabrera-Trout debate for MVP this season — it’s all Miggy, who has 85 RBIs through the Tigers’ first 84 games.


1B Chris Davis, Baltimore
Actually, the MVP debate may be Davis-Cabrera, if there is a debate. Baltimore’s first baseman leads the majors with 32 home runs.

CF Adam Jones, Baltimore
Acquired in a heist from Seattle for pitcher Erik Bedard, Jones has played at an All-Star caliber level for the past five seasons in Baltimore.


DH David Ortiz, Boston
Big Papi is the best DH alive, perhaps in history. He’s been in the top 10 in the AL in average, homers and RBIs for most of the first half.

RF Nelson Cruz, Texas
The Rangers’ right fielder makes the starting lineup because of his ability to hit in the clutch.

C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
OK, maybe his contract is becoming an albatross for Minnesota, but Mauer can still hit and is solid behind the plate.

SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit
The candidates at shortstop are few in the American League, but Peralta deserves to start even in a crowded field. Only Cabrera has a higher average on the AL Central leaders.


P Max Scherzer, Detroit
Most fans outside Detroit recognize the name Verlander much more quickly, but Scherzer is the Tigers’ best starter with a 13-0 record.

AL Reserves
Sal Perez, C, Kansas City
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston
Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore
J.J. Hardy, SS, Baltimore
Torii Hunter, OF, Detroit
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto
Clay Buchholz, P, Boston
Hisashi Iwakuma, P, Seattle
Felix Hernandez, P, Seattle
Chris Sale, P, Chicago
Bartolo Colon, P, Oakland
Yu Darvish, P, Texas
Justin Masterson, P, Cleveland
Glen Perkins, P, Minnesota
Mariano Rivera, P, New York
Joe Nathan, P, Texas
Jim Johnson, P, Baltimore
Grant Balfour, P, Oakland

National League
(starting lineup and batting order)

LF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
CarGo is on the short list of MVP candidates in the NL. His production could suffer without Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup for the Rockies.

CF Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh
Beyond Gonzalez, there are about six outfielders with equal arguments to start. But McCutchen makes the Pirates go and plays terrific defense.

DH Joey Votto, Cincinnati
Many players believe Votto is the best pure hitter in the game.

1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
The NL RBI leader deserves the start ahead of Votto at first this season, but maybe never again.

3B David Wright, New York
Quickly becoming Mr. Met in New York. The hometown fans will love seeing their superstar at the hot corner on the 16th.

C Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Widely considered the best defensive catcher in the majors, Yadi leads the NL in batting and has 45 RBIs. The Cardinals’ leader sits atop the MVP list for the first half.

2B Matt Carpenter, St. Louis
Having never played second in the minors, and with just 18 innings at the position prior to this season, Carpenter leads all NL second basemen in batting average, runs, extra-base hits and OPS.

RF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
Surprise! The outfielder representing the Brew Crew is not named Braun.

SS Sean Segura, Milwaukee
In all fairness, Tulowitzki of Colorado deserves to be the All-Star shortstop, having put together a brilliant first half. But being able to take the field is important for an All-Star and Segura is having a stellar season for the Brewers.

P Matt Harvey, New York
Maybe Adam Wainwright is more deserving to start but not by much. But I can’t resist having the Mets’ youngster throw the first pitch in the midsummer classic in his home ballpark.

NL Reserves
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
Allen Craig, 1B, St. Louis
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego
Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona
Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati
Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia
Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado
Carlos Beltran, OF, St. Louis
Adam Wainwright, P, St. Louis
Clayton Kershaw, P, Los Angeles
Cliff Lee, P, Philadelphia
Patrick Corbin, P, Arizona
Jordan Zimmermann, P, Washington
Travis Wood, P, Chicago
Jose Fernandez, P, Miami
Jason Grilli, P, Pittsburgh
Craig Kimbrel, P, Atlanta
Edward Mujica, P, St. Louis
Jonathan Papelbon, P, Philadelphia
Aroldis Chapman, P, Cincinnati

Teaser:
Tomorrow, MLB will announce the 2013 All-Star teams, and undoubtedly there will be questions. Anytime you have fans electing players, there’s an overwhelming element of popularity, not necessarily performance. I’m pretty sure I’ll disagree with the fans, who will elect the starting lineups, and most likely will disagree with the managers who select the reserves. Here is what my All-Star ballot would look like.
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 19:39
All taxonomy terms: Arkansas Razorbacks, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/floridas-jeff-driskel-signs-red-sox
Body:

If football doesn't work for Jeff Driskel, the Florida signal-caller has a solid Plan B. Driskel was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 29th round of the MLB Draft and signed with the team this week.

Driskel is still eligible to play for Florida this season, marking his second year as the Gators' No. 1 signal-caller. 

Considering the personnel losses Florida suffered on defense, the Gators need Driskel to show improvement for the team to match its win total for 2013. However, the quarterback also needs help from a struggling receiving corps and revamped offensive line. 

Here's what Driskel had about his Red Sox contract on Twitter this week:

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 17:51
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/arkansas-releases-hype-video-2013
Body:

After last season's 4-8 record, there's a lot of excitement for the change in Arkansas football behind new coach Bret Bielema.

Bielema comes to Fayetteville from Wisconsin and should have the Razorbacks back in contention for a bowl in 2013.

With over 50 days until kickoff, Arkansas has released a video to get its fans ready for the 2013 college football season. 

It's worth a couple minutes of your time to check out this video. However, you are warned: It will just make you wish kickoff for the 2013 season was tomorrow. 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 17:44
Path: /nascar/can-dale-earnhardt-jr-return-victory-lane-daytona
Body:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.1. Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. win again at Daytona?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has long played the role of favorite in most of the NASCAR races he's run at Daytona International Speedway. His emotional win in the 2001 Pepsi 400, his 2004 Daytona 500 win and his impressive streak of top-10 finishes from 2003-06 helped to cement the status.

But after his second-place run in February's Daytona 500 (his third in four years), Earnhardt has now gone 18 Sprint Cup races at Daytona since pulling into Victory Lane. What's the deal?

"I think we might need to try to be at a better position sooner, where we’re not having to have to do so much right at the end of the race and not have an opportunity to challenge for the win," Earnhardt said Thursday at Daytona.

He's right. A last-lap pass pushed him to Jimmie Johnson's bumper in February's race, and the same thing happened in 2010 when he couldn't overtake Jamie McMurray in the Daytona 500.

Earnhardt is hopeful that the 2.5-mile track looses some grip in the heat and forces car handling to take precedence. To him, that's what makes exciting racing.

"We might have a good opportunity to see a real exciting race and I think when things get more exciting at the plate tracks, I’ve got a better shot at finding my way toward the front for an easier shot at it," Earnhardt said.


2. Restrictor plate results dog Harvick's strong first half
Just twice in 2013 has Kevin Harvick finished worse than 14th. And just twice this season has Harvick finished only 47 laps in a race.

Those stats are pretty remarkable given that 2013 is Harvick's final year at Richard Childress Racing. Then consider how flat the RCR program often was in 2012 and you'll start to understand how it's surprising that both of those DNFs came at the tracks that everyone on the eve of this year's Daytona 500 figured would be most ripe for Harvick's best finishes.

The poor runs came at the series' pair of stops at the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, where Harvick was knocked out both times by wrecks caused by Kyle Busch. He was undoubtedly going to be a factor in each — no one was stronger during Daytona's Speedweeks, as Harvick won the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race and one of the two Duel qualifying events — and you've got to think not much will have changed come Saturday night.

Harvick, now fourth in the standings, will be one to watch.


3. TNT abandons "wide open" broadcast concept
A staple of TNT's six-race coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in recent seasons has been its production of the July Daytona race. The "wide open" coverage, as the network called it, covered the screen with commercials just a handful of times for local commercial breaks. Otherwise, the national commercial breaks were run in a unique format that kept the race action on the screen while showing the spots in a side-by-side format.

Advertisers also got heavy play on the screen scoreboard and with pop-up ads.

While imperfect, the coverage style was a drastic improvement of NASCAR on television because viewers rarely missed a beat. Instead of going away, it's a style of NASCAR television that should have been expanded.

Network officials likely decided to abandon the format because advertisers just simply didn't like it and the ratings boost wasn't high enough. Personally, I'd like to see how fans would react if the wide-open coverage was a staple of NASCAR — not just a one-off deal on a summer Saturday night. TNT has promised that the race will not be interrupted by commercials during the final 30 laps.

Saturday night's coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. EST and includes an in-depth feature detailing Carl Edwards both on and off the track.


4. Nationwide drivers go for broke with no changes from February
Just in case Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers didn't want to win bad enough in Friday night's Nationwide Series race at Daytona, each has an extra $100,000 carrot dangling in front of them payable to the driver who finishes first among the four. It's all part of a Nationwide-sponsored incentive program that could see one of the four take home an extra $1 million after Indianapolis in a few weeks.

But those four drivers — plus everyone else entered in the Friday 250-miler — will fight for the win using the same rules package as the series' season-opener in February at the track. That's a bit worrisome if you remember the multi-car, last-lap wreck that sent Larson's car into the catchfence and injured more than 30 fans. Several were hospitalized.

NASCAR has been almost completely mum on the investigation underway from Larson's horrifying incident, and apparently hasn't found anything that needs to change on the competition side to prevent race cars from flying while racing at 200 mph. NASCAR did, however, announce some strengthening of the crossover gates at Daytona and Talladega, a move indicative of no real internal worries about cars getting airborne or in the fence. Officials seem to just want the fence to hold.

Judging by the gut-wrenching, ugly scene that Larson's ripped car left in row after row of Daytona's grandstand just a few months ago, that seems a bit light.


5. Testing brings new Goodyear compounds to Daytona
If you thought February's race at Daytona lacked the expected punch and wildness thanks to a lack of passing in the field, you weren't alone. Drivers were also frustrated with the advantage in that race seemingly coming from merely staying in line.

The race forced NASCAR's tire supplier Goodyear to make amends to the compounds used on the still-new Gen-6 car. To find a new sweet spot of competition and longevity, Goodyear brought nine teams to Daytona in April for a two-day test. Drivers included in the day and night sessions were Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Danica Patrick, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Michael McDowell (driving Denny Hamlin's No. 11), Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon and Carl Edwards.

The result was new compounds for each side of the car, and a change to the build of the left-side tires that Goodyear said is similar to tires in use at other Sprint Cup tracks. Hopefully, the new tires — both right and left side tires have never been raced — will add some energy to Saturday night's race.


by Geoffrey Miller
Follow Geoffrey on Twitter:
@GeoffreyMiller
 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 12:06
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-5
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 5.

• Sorry, fellas — Natalie Gulbis is engaged. Oh well. We'll always have the bodypaint spread.

Joey Chestnut ate 69 hot dogs yesterday. As Bob Ley tweeted, this is why our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor.

• As our tribute to American gluttony, here are 25 epic "Only in America" food items.

• It was an especially happy Fourth for one (no doubt long-suffering) Royals fan. A Lorenzo Cain grand slam netted her 25 large.

• Proving that baseball isn't the only sport with insufferable stat nerds, KenPom digs into the value of two-for-ones.

The Bruins hired a guard to prevent Tyler Seguin from partying during the playoffs. Now that's attention to detail.

• Looking to creep our your guests at your next dinner party? Serve them Silence of the Lambs-themed chianti.

• This is a bit random, but whatever: Celtics fan Roddy White is not a fan of the Brad Stevens hire.

• Already thinking about life after Johnny Football? You'll be glad to hear that the future of the quarterback position in the SEC is very bright.

Serena Williams, towel thief?

Mike Scioscia joins the "Yasiel Puig isn't an All-Star" chorus.

• Chris Parmalee didn't care that his team was down 9-1. He was going to catch the baseball.

 

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 11:24
Path: /nfl/12-nfl-running-backs-hot-seat-2013
Body:

While the term "hot seat" is typically associated with head coaches and their job security, they are not the only ones who feel the heat during an NFL season. Along those lines, the official "start" to the 2013 season is less than a month away, as training camps will open and the battle for roster spots begins anew among the players.

How NFL teams use and value running backs is changing. On the one hand, there’s the increasing trend of using backs more in the passing game, especially on screens and other short throws, to give defenses something else to worry about and have to prepare for. On the other, there’s the shift in philosophy as it applies to the decline of the workhorse back and the rise of the committee approach, as well as how teams approach the position through the draft, free agency and contract negotiations.

The shelf life of an NFL running back seems to be decreasing with each passing season. Teams still need them to succeed (six of the league’s top 10 rushing teams made the playoffs last season), but the backs themselves need to show that they can get the job done when given the opportunity. Here are 12 running backs we feel are squarely on the “hot seat,” whether it’s because of team expectations or job security, this season.

1. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Believe it or not, but McFadden will only turn 26 in August even though he’s entering his sixth NFL season. The talent is clearly there for the former first-round pick (No. 4 overall in 2008), but he’s yet to put it all together for a complete season. He has yet to play in all 16 games in a season and has started more than 12 just twice.

After rushing for 1,157 yards in 2010, McFadden has posted a total of 1,321 yards on the ground in the last two seasons combined. Injuries have been largely to blame, including a Lisfranc foot injury that caused him to miss the final nine games in 2011. Last season, he missed four due to a high ankle sprain, but he also posted a career-worst 3.3 yards per carry in the 12 he played in.

McFadden is entering the final year of his contract, so this is clearly a critical season for him. The Raiders have ditched last season’s zone-blocking scheme in favor of a power running system implemented by new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, which should be a much better fit for McFadden. This should provide him with the perfect opportunity to showcase his talents, provided he can stay on the field.

Related: 12 NFL Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat in 2013

2. Maurice Jones Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jones-Drew is entering the final year of his contract and at just 28 years old, he should be one of the top available free agents after this season provided he doesn’t re-sign with the Jaguars. However, a big payday for MJD is anything but a guarantee considering he played in just six games last season and had foot surgery in late December.

The 2011 NFL rushing champion needs to not only show that he’s healthy, but also that he can be the productive workhorse who averaged nearly 1,800 yards from scrimmage from 2009-11. The latter could be easier said than done considering the questions surrounding the Jaguars’ offense, but Jones-Drew needs to take full advantage of his opportunities and prove he’s still one of the league’s top offensive players, especially if he wants to get paid like one.

3. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Expectations were high for Mathews, who the Chargers traded up 16 spots to grab with the 12th overall pick of the 2010 draft. Anointed as the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson, Mathews was named to the Pro Bowl in 2011 after rushing for 1,091 yards, but otherwise his career in San Diego has been marked by injuries. He has yet to play a full season, as his list of injuries includes two broken collarbones, both of which he sustained last season.

Last August, Mathews broke his right clavicle on his first carry in the first preseason game, which caused him to miss the first two games. He returned in Week 3, but was ineffective, as he averaged less than four yards a carry and didn’t have a single 100-yard game. He then broke his left collarbone in Week 15, finishing his 2012 campaign with only 707 yards rushing and a single touchdown in 12 games.

Not only is Mathews’ durability a concern, but the jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise running back. San Diego would like nothing more than for Mathews, who has two years left on his contract, to establish himself as the lead back. But with a new head coach (Mike McCoy) and offensive coordinator (Ken Whisenhunt) in place and free agent acquisition Danny Woodhead joining the backfield, it’s clear that the team is running out of patience with its former first-round pick.

4. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Murray burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2011 when the third-round pick rushed for a Cowboys’ single-game record 253 yards against the Rams. Even more was expected of him entering last season, and he got off to a great start, gashing the defending Super Bowl champion Giants for 131 on the ground in a huge Week 1 win.

Things went downhill after that, however, as Murray didn't crack the century mark in any of his remaining games, and was limited to just 10 total because of a foot injury. The pressure is on in Dallas to not only win, but also get to the playoffs and make some sort of run. While most of the heat will be felt by head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo, this is an important season for Murray too.

The 25-year-old needs to show the team he’s the long-term answer in the backfield by staying on the field and getting back to the form he showed as a rookie when he averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Felix Jones is no longer on the roster, but the Cowboys did take Joseph Randle, who like Murray was one of the most productive running backs in the Big 12 during his collegiate career, in the fifth round of April's draft.

5. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
There’s no disputing Jackson’s reliability, as he’s put together an impressive eight straight 1,000-yard seasons. The question is, does he have another one in him? Even though he won’t turn 30 until later this month, the workhorse has amassed more than 2,000 carries over the last eight seasons.

The Falcons seem to think Jackson has plenty of tread left on his tires, since the team released Michael Turner and signed the former Ram as a free agent. The Falcons finished 29th in the league in rushing last season yet still made it to the NFC championship game. The team is hoping that Jackson has enough left in the tank to help carry them all the way to the Super Bowl this season.

6. Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals
Williams was the second running back taken in the 2011 draft, behind only Mark Ingram (see below), but he’s yet to have any sort of impact on the field. The former Virginia Tech star has played in a total of five games so far, rushing for a meager 164 yards on 58 carries (2.8 ypc). A ruptured patella tendon wrecked his rookie season, while a shoulder injury ended his 2012 campaign in early October.

The Cardinals were so high on Williams coming out of college because of his quickness and ability to make would-be tacklers miss. The opportunity is still there for Williams in Arizona, but the sooner he can get back to his pre-injury form the better, especially with free agent signee Rashard Mendenhall expected to get the first crack at the starting job. The Cardinals also drafted running backs Stepfan Taylor (fifth round) and Andre Ellington (sixth) in April, adding even more competition for touches during training camp and the preseason.

7. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
How can a rookie be on the hot seat? When the team that drafted you has Super Bowl or bust expectations and is looking to you to lead the way on the ground, that’s how. The former Wisconsin touchdown machine wasn’t drafted until late in the second round, but Denver clearly has high expectations of him in his rookie season.

The team has already released Willis McGahee, last year’s starter, with Ball expected to fill that role this fall. His competition for the job figures to primarily be Ronnie Hillman, a third-round pick in 2012 who averaged less than four yards per carry as a rookie, and Knowshon Moreno, who is recovering from another significant knee injury, this one sustained in the Broncos’ playoff loss to the Ravens in January.

With Peyton Manning at quarterback and wide receiver Wes Welker added in the offseason, it’s not like Denver needs Ball to produce like Adrian Peterson. The running game, however, is a critical part to the Broncos’ offensive game plan and will need to be productive if the team wants to do what it was unable to last season – make it to the Super Bowl.

8. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Williams would have been higher on this list if not for the fact in May he agreed to restructure the five-year, $43 million deal he signed with Carolina in 2011. This decision alone increases the chances Williams remains with the team for the duration of his deal. That said, the 30-year-old is the oldest member of a crowded Panthers backfield that also includes Jonathan Stewart (see below) and Mike Tolbert, as wall as quarterback Cam Newton, who led the team in rushing last season. While his roster spot appears secure, Williams’ role is anything but, as he’s averaged 644 yards rushing over his last three seasons compared to 1,136 in 2008-09.

9. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
Similar to his teammate DeAngelo Williams (see above), Stewart is a former first-round pick (No. 13 overall in 2008) who inked a lucrative, five-year contract with Carolina (August 2012) that has since been restructured (January 2013). The main differences between the two are that Stewart is younger (26) than Williams and has been more productive than him over the last three seasons, albeit not by much.

Stewart has his own durability issues, as he missed seven games last season with ankle and toe injuries, and he has yet to fully capitalize in games when he’s gotten the lion’s share of carries. The Panthers don’t lack for options in the backfield with Mike Tolbert and Kenjon Barner, the team's sixth-round pick in April's draft, also on the roster, so this season is as good as any for Stewart to establish himself as the lead dog in Carolina.

10. Isaiah Pead, St. Louis Rams
To say Pead’s rookie season was a disaster would be an understatement. The former Cincinnati Bearcat was taken in the second round (50th overall) of the 2012 draft by St. Louis with the hope that, at worst, he would be a productive backup for Steven Jackson. Pead finished his rookie season with a total of 10 carries and 54 yards rushing, as he struggled to pick up the playbook and saw limited playing time.

Jackson is now in Atlanta, which gives Pead a golden opportunity to seize the starting job. The No. 1 gig won’t be simply handed to Pead, however, as his struggles last season allowed fellow rookie Daryl Richardson the chance to emerge and the Rams drafted Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy in the fifth round in April. Pead also will miss the season opener against Arizona due to an NFL suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. So much for a totally clean slate.

11. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Ingram was the only running back taken in the first round of the 2011 draft, but he has yet to show the power and explosiveness that made him a Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama. Injuries derailed his rookie season and he rushed for just 602 yards in 2012, as his yard-per-carry average in the NFL currently stands at an unimpressive 3.9.

New Orleans head coach Sean Payton has said he wants to re-establish the running game this fall, which is where Ingram comes in. Fellow backfield mate Darren Sproles is more of a weapon out of the backfield and in space, while Pierre Thomas is versatile, but best suited for a supporting role. With Chris Ivory now with the Jets, the Saints really need Ingram to establish himself as the between-the-tackles force he was with the Crimson Tide.

12. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Miller was selected by the Dolphins in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and rushed for a respectable 4.9 yards per carry in limited action (51 carries) as a rookie. He is in line for considerably more touches this season with Reggie Bush now in Detroit and Miller atop Miami's backfield depth chart. It's now up to Miller to take advantage of this opportunity as the Dolphins also have 2011 second-round pick Daniel Thomas and 2013 fifth-round selection Mike Gillislee on their roster.

Teaser:
12 NFL Running Backs on the Hot Seat in 2013
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 08:20
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-daytona-international-speedway
Body:

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s nine-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

And just like that, the NASCAR season has again circled back to where it all began: Daytona International Speedway. They're not racing the Independence Day anymore, but it's still 400 miles at Daytona in July. Saturday night's race marks the halfway point in the full season slate and by the time it's over, just eight races left to make the Chase. With a new tire combination, we're all hoping the action heats up alongside the Florida summer sun from the so-so February show. Who are the best picks? Find out below:


A List (Pick two, start one)
Kevin Harvick

Without a doubt, Harvick was a favorite for February's Daytona 500. But the winner of both the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race and one of the qualifying races didn't even make it a quarter of the way through the big show before a mindless wreck caused by Kyle Busch took him out on Lap 47. He was shelved from the Talladega restrictor plate race in May on the very same lap in the same manner. If nothing else, Harvick is due for a good finish — and he's got the car that can prove it, should he finish.

Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth has been good in 2013. In fact, Kenseth has been really good in his inaugural year at Joe Gibbs Racing. Without a bum engine in the Daytona 500, there's a strong chance that Kenseth would be a three-time Daytona 500 winner. Instead, his engine gave up that day while after leading 86 of the race's 200 laps. At Talladega in May, Kenseth led a wealthy 142 of 200 laps before he was shuffled from the lead late. That's as dominant as anyone on restrictor plate tracks this season. And this isn’t a one-year anomaly, as his finishes of first, third, third and first on the plate tracks in 2012 prove.

Also consider: Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson

 

B List (Pick four, start two)
Kyle Busch
As much as you hate to burn a Kyle Busch start at a wild card like Daytona — and as little faith as you likely have in the Toyota engines — how can you pass up a guy who's average position at the 2.5-mile legendary track is better than anyone in the last 17 races? Busch has been inside the top 15 at Daytona for 2,171 of the last 3,076 laps (a series high) and has a win from 2008.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
If it feels like a virtual eternity since Earnhardt won a Sprint Cup race at Daytona, you're not far off. His last checkered flag was the 2004 Daytona 500 — a race win that came amid a streak of six top-10 finishes at the track. While Earnhardt has led just 15 laps at Daytona since 2009, he still has four top-5 finishes in his last seven starts. Were this any other driver with that stat line, I’d be billing him as a must-start.

Kurt Busch
Kurt was six laps from the scheduled completion of the May Talladega race with a great shot at a finish near the front when his car suddenly was flipping into Turn 3. In the Daytona 500, he was caught in the early crash induced by his brother. Should Kurt keep the car straight, I like his chances of a Daytona win — especially after his poor Kentucky driving. He's a driver, much like Tony Stewart, who feeds on overcoming adversity.

Jeff Burton
If you're looking for a driver to start who you won't come close to maximizing this season, Jeff Burton is the perfect Daytona candidate. A crash wiped him out of the 500 in February, but in 2012 he landed two top-5 finishes at the grand 2.5-mile track. Richard Childress Racing's fleet has found speed (see: Harvick in February) and the heady Burton should stand to benefit.

Also consider: Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano


C List (Pick two, start one)
David Ragan

He won NASCAR's most recent restrictor plate race. He's won two of the last eight restrictor plate races. Why wouldn't you pick David Ragan for Saturday night at Daytona? Well, easy: he hasn't finished better than 26th since his 2011 Daytona win. Still, though, you've got to think Ragan is a better pick than most in the C territory.

Danica Patrick
Patrick's biggest detriment Saturday night at Daytona could be the pressure she'll feel to replicate her stellar outing there in February. Restrictor plate racing has been her strongest medium to this point in NASCAR, and she'll have a car Saturday night capable of running up front. Managing the car until the end is something she's done before. That likely means she'll be a bit more aggressive — which could lead to trouble. Still, if he works another top-10 finish like February, consider that a win for your C-List.

Also consider: Trevor Bayne, Michael Waltrip


by Geoffrey Miller
Follow Geoffrey on Twitter:
@GeoffreyMiller
 

Teaser:
Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth lead the contenders for your NASCAR Fantasy squad at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 07:51
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-top-players-big-ten-2013
Body:

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with the college fantasy football site to provide in-depth coverage for 2013. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for Big Ten in terms of fantasy options for 2013:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

Starters

QB—Braxton Miller, Jr. (Ohio State)

Last season:  Passing—2,039 yards, 15TD-6 INT; Rushing—1,271 yards, 13 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3-4; Buffalo, San Diego St, @ Cal, FL A&M

Fantasy Draft Value:  Miller has all the tools to finish as a top-5 fantasy quarterback in 2013 and should be a first-round selection.

 

QB—Taylor Martinez, Sr. (Nebraska)

Last season:  Passing—2,871 yards, 23 TD, 12 INT; Rushing—1,019 yards, 10TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 1-2-3-4; Wyoming, USM, UCLA, So. Dakota St

Fantasy Draft Value:  The senior quarterback’s fantasy value hinges on his ability to improve as a passer.  Even though Martinez is careless with the football at times, he is still one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, which is why we project him as a third- or fourth-round pick.

 

RB—Ameer Abdullah, Jr. (Nebraska)

Last season:  Rushing—1,137 yards, 8 TD; Receiving—24 rec. for 178 yards, 2 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 1-2-3-4; Wyoming, USM, UCLA, So. Dakota St

Fantasy Draft Value:  The junior running back is a legitimate compliment to quarterback Taylor Martinez.  Abdullah should be in line for another 200-plus carry season and will likely be gone by the end of round three.

 

RB—Venric Mark, Sr. (Northwestern)

Last season:  Rushing—1,366 yards, 12 TD; 20 rec. for 104 yards, TD; 696 return yards, 2TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4; Syracuse, W. Michigan, Maine

Fantasy Draft Value:  Mark was an unknown commodity in fantasy circles before the 2012 season, but expect the senior running back to come off the board in the third round this year.

 

RB—Carlos Hyde, Sr. (Ohio State)

Last season:  Rushed for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3-4; Buffalo, San Diego St, @ Cal, FL A&M

Fantasy Draft Value:  We are projecting the senior running back to surpass the 1,000-yard mark, but quarterback Braxton Miller is option #1 on the ground.  However, if Hyde can duplicate his 16 rushing touchdowns from 2012, he is definitely worth a third-round selection.

 

WR—Allen Robinson, Jr. (Penn State)

Last season:  77 receptions for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 10-11-12; Illinois, @ Minnesota, Purdue

Fantasy Draft Value:  Robinson was the Big Ten Receiver of the Year in 2012, but inexperience at the quarterback position means a WR2 fantasy projection worthy of a selection between rounds 7 and 8.

 

WR—Jeremy Gallon, Sr. (Michigan)

Last season:  49 receptions for 829 yards and 4 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 3-4-5-6; Akron, @ UConn, BYE, Minnesota

Fantasy Draft Value:  Gallon should benefit as the Michigan offense evolves into a pro-style attack led by quarterback Devin Gardner.  The senior receiver should improve on his 49 receptions and 4 touchdowns from 2012, which makes him valuable in rounds 7-9.

 

WR—Kenny Bell, Jr. (Nebraska)

Last season:  50 receptions for 863 yards and 8 TDs.

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 1-2-3-4; Wyoming, USM, UCLA, So. Dakota St

Fantasy Draft Value:  Bell’s fantasy value depends on quarterback Taylor Martinez’s improvement as a passer.  The Big Ten is not the best conference to look for fantasy receivers and Bell should be drafted in later rounds to add depth to your roster.

 

WR—Kevonte Martin-Manley, Jr. (Iowa)

Last season:  52 receptions for 571 yards and 2 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  1-2-3-4; No. Illinois, Missouri St, @ Iowa St, W. Michigan

Fantasy Draft Value:  The Hawkeyes should be fine running the football, but the passing game is unproven with a new signal-caller at the helm.  Like Kenny Bell, Martin-Manley should be drafted in later rounds to add depth at the receiver position.

 

FLEX—Melvin Gordon, So. (Wisconsin)

Last season:  837 all-purpose yards, 4 total TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3-4; UMass, Tennessee Tech, @ Arizona St, Purdue

Fantasy Draft Value:  Fellow running back James White has been around longer, but we feel that Gordon has more potential.  Currently, the sophomore running back is projected as a fourth-round pick, but he could climb higher as fall camp progresses.

 

K—Brendan Gibbons, Sr. (Michigan)

Last season:  16-18 FGs; 93 points scored

 

DEF—Michigan State Spartans

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3; W. Michigan, South Florida, Youngstown St

Fantasy Draft Value:  Although inexperienced up front, Sparty’s ‘D’ is anchored by the linebackers and secondary.  Plus, Michigan State has a soft early-season schedule and they avoid matchups against Ohio State and Wisconsin in the conference schedule rotation.

 

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)
 

Related College Football Content

2013 College Fantasy Quarterback Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Running Back Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Tight End Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Kicker Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Defense Rankings

Teaser:
College Fantasy Football: Examining the Top Players in the Big Ten for 2013
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 06:37
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-wisconsin-football-fan
Body:

Until the late 1990s, falls and winters in Madison were especially harsh.

Before Barry Alvarez and Bret Bielema, there were precious few moments to excite the fans at Camp Randall.

Wisconsin enduring one of the great revivals in college football, giving Badgers fans two distinct eras for bragging rights -- the late ‘90s and then the early part of this decade. Wisconsin earned these Rose Bowl trips with more let downs than most.

Here are the best and worst times to be a Wisconsin fan.

BEST TIMES TO BE A WISCONSIN FAN

1998-99
Record: 21-3
National championships: 0
Coach: Barry Alvarez
Notable players: Ron Dayne, Aaron Gibson, Tom Burke, Chris McIntosh, Chris Chambers, Brooks Bollinger
Wisconsin had won just two Big Ten titles before Barry Alvarez was hired in 1990. Wisconsin won a conference title in 1993 under Alvarez, but Wisconsin’s shining moment came in 1998 and ’99 when the Badgers won back-to-back Big Ten titles and consecutive Rose Bowls. Ron Dayne became college football’s all-time leading rusher, winning the Heisman in 1999. The defense may have been overlooked in these two seasons as the Badgers held teams to 10.2 points per game. After years as a Big Ten also-ran, Wisconsin finally gave its fans a reason to Jump Around, a tradition started in 1998.

2009-11
Record: 32-8
National championships: 0
Coach: Bret Bielema
Notable players: Montee Ball, Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt, Gabe Carimi, Scott Tolzien, Lance Kendricks, Peter Konz, John Clay
Barry Alvarez handed the baton to Bret Bielema in 2006 when the Badgers went 12-1. The real payoff came four seasons later when the Badgers won the first two of three consecutive Big Ten titles (the third came in 2012 when a seven-win Wisconsin team reached the conference title game while Ohio State was banned). It wasn’t strange to see Wisconsin running backs put up good numbers, but Ball’s 2011 season stood out with a record-tying 39 touchdowns. NC State transfer Russell Wilson was in Madison for one season but made a case to be the Badgers’ best quarterback in school history.

1951-54
Record: 26-8-1
National championships: 0
Coach: Ivy Williamson
Notable players: Alan Ameche
The early ‘50s teams would be eclipsed by the the Alvarez and Bielema eras, but before then, these were the glory years for Wisconsin. The Badgers finished ranked in the top 10 each year, reached the Rose Bowl in 1952 and produced a Heisman winner in the fullback Ameche in 1954.

WORST TIMES TO BE A WISCONSIN FAN

1986-93
Record: 20-58
Coaches: Jim Hilles, Don Morton, Barry Alvarez
Making Wisconsin’s ascent to the top of the Big Ten more dramatic was the period just before. The Badgers finished eighth or worst in the Big Ten for seven consecutive years, including a 1-10 season in Alvarez’s debut season of 1990.

1967-68
Record: 0-19-1
Coach: John Coatta
The Summer of Love this was not. Wisconsin endured a 23-game non-winning streak encompassing all of the 1967 and ’68 seasons. The Badgers were outscored 100-0 during one three-game stretch in 1968.

Teaser:
Best and Worst Times to be a Wisconsin Football Fan
Post date: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/rutgers-billboard-preps-b1g-ten-move
Body:

Rutgers was one of the biggest winners in college football’s recent round of realignment, as the Scarlet Knights will be moving from the American Athletic Conference to the Big Ten.

Rutgers will formally move to the Big Ten in 2014, but the promotion for the switch in conferences has already begun.

This photo tweeted out by Jason Baum (@JasonBaumRU) showcases the promotion for the move to the Big Ten for 2014.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 4, 2013 - 00:02
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-top-players-big-12-2013
Body:

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with the college fantasy football site to provide in-depth coverage for 2013. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for Big 12 in terms of fantasy options for 2013:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

Starters

QB—Clint Chelf, Sr. (Oklahoma State)

Last season:  Passing—1,588 yards, 15 TD-6 INT; Rushing—162 yards

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; @ UTSA, Lamar, BYE, @ West Virginia

Fantasy Draft Value:  Chelf began the 2012 season as the third-string quarterback, but by season’s end had solidified himself as the clear No. 1.  The Cowboys’ offense should be explosive once again and Chelf projects as a fourth- or fifth-round pick

 

QB—Bryce Petty, Jr. (Baylor)

Last season:  No significant playing time behind starter Nick Florence.

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 1-2-3-4-5-6; Wofford, Buffalo, BYE, LA-Monroe, BYE, West Virginia

Fantasy Draft Value:  We are buying into the system that Art Briles has established in Waco—Griffin, Florence and now Petty—and there are plenty of weapons around the junior quarterback.  We have to believe that someone in almost every league has Petty pegged as their third or fourth pick if he is still on the board.

 

RB—Lache Seastrunk, Jr. (Baylor)

Last season:  Rushing—1,012 yards, 7 TD; Receiving—9 rec. for 107 yards, TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 1-2-3-4-5-6; Wofford, Buffalo, BYE, LA-Monroe, BYE, West Virginia

Fantasy Draft Value:  We did mention that there was no shortage of weapons around quarterback Bryce Petty, right?  Seastrunk gives the offense a big-play threat on the ground and should be considered as a second-round pick.

 

RB—Jeremy Smith, Sr. (Oklahoma State)

Last season:  Rushing—Rushed for 371 yards and 8 TD behind starter Joseph Randle.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; @ UTSA, Lamar, BYE, @ West Virginia

Fantasy Draft Value:  We believe that Smith’s sample size was big enough as a compliment to the departed Joseph Randle that he will carry tremendous value as a RB2 and should be considered in rounds 4-5.

 

RB—John Hubert, Sr. (Kansas State)

Last season:  Rushing—947 yards, 15 TD; Receiving—18 rec. for 98 yards, TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3; No. Dakota St, LA-Laf., UMass

Fantasy Draft Value:  Now that Colin Klein is no longer taking snaps in Manhattan, Hubert becomes the main rushing threat in an offense that returns four starters on the O-line.  Hubert is experienced and proven, so fantasy owners would be wise to scoop him up in round 5.

 

WR—Josh Stewart, Jr. (Oklahoma State)

Last season:  101 receptions for 1,210 yards and 7 TD.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; @ UTSA, Lamar, BYE, @ West Virginia

Fantasy Draft Value:  Not only do we believe that Stewart can duplicate his totals from last season for receptions (101) and yards (1,210), but we are confident he will find the end zone with greater frequency in 2013.  The junior receiver is a legitimate WR1 and would make for a solid second-round selection.

 

WR—Eric Ward, Sr. (Texas Tech)

Last season:  82 receptions for 1,053 yards and 12 TD.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3-4; @ SMU, SF Austin, TCU, Texas St

Fantasy Draft Value:  Ward should be a target early and often in new head coach Kliff Kingbury’s up-tempo offense.  We feel that Ward will be a product of the system and should be drafted in rounds 2-3.

 

WR—Antwan Goodley, Jr. (Baylor)

Last season:  17 receptions for 171 yards and 2 TD, 542 return yards. 

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 1-2-3-4-5-6; Wofford, Buffalo, BYE, LA-Monroe, BYE, West Virginia

Fantasy Draft Value:  This is the one player in our rankings that has generated the most response because we have him rated higher than teammate Tevin Reese.  Goodley established good chemistry with quarterback Bryce Petty in the spring and we expect that to carry over into the 2013 season.  Goodley may just be the hidden gem in the draft that you can snag about three rounds later than his fourth-round projection.

 

WR—Jalen Saunders, Sr. (Oklahoma)

Last season:  62 receptions for 829 yards and 3 TD; PR TD.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3; LA-Monroe, West Virginia, Tulsa

Fantasy Draft Value:  Saunders returns to lead what we feel is the most dangerous group of receivers in the Big 12.  If the senior receiver can parlay his big-play ability into a few more scores this year, fantasy owners would get good value by selecting him in rounds 6-8.

 

FLEX—James Sims, Sr. (Kansas)

Last season:  Rushing—1,013 yards, 9 TD; Receiving—14 rec. for 168 yards, TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3; So. Dakota, @ Rice, Louisiana Tech

Fantasy Draft Value:  Sims will be the centerpiece in a very inexperienced offense.  The Jayhawks are not even close to being a serious contender in the Big 12, but a soft non-conference schedule makes Sims valuable in rounds 6-7.

 

K—Aaron Jones Sr. (Baylor)

Last season:  16-27 FGs; 119 points scored

 

DEF—TCU Horned Frogs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; SE LA, @ Texas Tech, BYE, SMU

Fantasy Draft Value:  The Horned Frogs’ defense only allowed 323 yards per game last year—impressive considering they play in the Big 12—and they return nine starters in 2013.
 

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite(TheCFFSite.com)

 


Related College Football Content

2013 College Fantasy Quarterback Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Running Back Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Tight End Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Kicker Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Defense Rankings

Teaser:
College Fantasy Football: Examining the Top Players in the Big 12 for 2013
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 20:32
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-top-players-sec-2013
Body:

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with the college fantasy football site to provide in-depth coverage for 2013. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for SEC in terms of fantasy options for 2013:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

Starters

QB—Johnny Manziel, So. (Texas A&M)

Last season:  Passing—3,706 yards, 26 TD-9 INT; Rushing—1,410 yards, 21 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 8-9-10; Auburn, Vanderbilt, UTEP

Fantasy Draft Value:  We don’t know how Manziel will top last year’s numbers, but his chances are good enough to make him the preseason No. 1 overall pick.

 

QB—Bo Wallace, Jr. (Ole Miss)

Last season:  Passing—2,994 yards, 22 TD-17 INT; Rushing—390 yards, 8 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 9-10-11-12; Idaho, BYE, Arkansas, Troy

Fantasy Draft Value:  It speaks highly of Wallace’s fantasy potential that we have him ranked above Georgia’s Aaron Murray, but the junior quarterback’s dual-threat ability gives him the slight edge. 

 

RB—Todd Gurley, So. (Georgia)

Last season:  Rushing—1,385 yards, 17 TD; Receiving—16 rec. for 117 yards; 243 return yards, TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 11-12-13; App. St, @ Auburn, Kentucky

Fantasy Draft Value:  Keith Marshall will get a share of carries in 2013, but another 200-plus carry season should yield similar results.  Gurley may be one of the safest first round picks, especially given the fact that the Bulldogs return five starters on the offensive line.

 

RB—T.J. Yeldon, So. (Alabama)

Last season:  Rushing—1,108 yards, 12 TD; Receiving—11 rec. for 131 yards, TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 4-5-6 Colorado St, Ole Miss, Georgia St

Fantasy Draft Value:  Yeldon did his damage on the ground last season with just 175 carries.  In 2013, expect the sophomore running back to get 200-plus carries and post numbers worthy of a first-round pick.

 

RB—Mike Davis, So. (South Carolina)

Last season:  Rushing—275 yards, 2 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 5-6-7; @ UCF, Kentucky, @ Arkansas

Fantasy Draft Value:  We believe the sophomore running back is worth a fourth-round pick over other SEC running backs like Mississippi State’s LaDarius Perkins, LSU’s Alfred Blue, and Ole Miss’ Jeff Scott.

 

WR—Jordan Matthews, Sr. (Vanderbilt)

Last season:  Receiving—94 rec. for 1,323 yards, 8 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 4-5-6; @ UMass, UAB, Missouri

Fantasy Draft Value:  Matthews led the SEC in receptions last year and is a top-10 fantasy receiver headed into the 2013 season.  The all-conference receiver is a solid WR1 and may not make it out of round 3.

 

WR—Mike Evans, So. (Texas A&M)

Last season:  82 receptions for 1,105 yards, 5 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 8-9-10; Auburn, Vanderbilt, UTEP

Fantasy Draft Value:  Evans should be even more dangerous now that he has a year of experience under his belt.  We’re hopeful that he will utilize his 6’5” frame and produce more red zone scores this season, which would make the sophomore receiver a nice fourth- or fifth-round pick.

 

WR—Amari Cooper, So. (Alabama)

Last season:  59 receptions for 1,000 yards, 11 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 4-5-6Colorado St, Ole Miss, Georgia St

Fantasy Draft Value:  Cooper had a sensational freshman season, but he wasn’t much of a fantasy factor until Week 5 last year.  Expect the sophomore receiver to start much faster in 2013 and legitimize our fourth- to fifth-round projection.

 

WR—Donte Moncrief, Jr. (Ole Miss)

Last season:  66 receptions for 979 yards, 10 TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 9-10-11-12; Idaho, BYE, Arkansas, Troy

Fantasy Draft Value:  Moncrief caught at least six passes in 8-of-13 games last season, but finished five games with fewer than 40 yards receiving.  The junior receiver should be a little more consistent in 2013 and projects somewhere between rounds 6-8.

 

FLEX—Ben Malena, Sr. (Texas A&M)

Last season:  Rushing—808 yards, 8 TD; Receiving—18 rec. for 111 yards, TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 8-9-10; Auburn, Vanderbilt, UTEP

Fantasy Draft Value:  We believe that Malena may be one of the toughest players to project heading into 2013.  If the senior running back is utilized as a true RB1, he will be worth a third-round pick in that potent Aggies offense.  However, given the talent that exists at the running back position in College Station, we are not convinced Malena will earn much more than 150 carries, which makes him more of a sixth- to seventh-round selection.

 

K—Taylor Bertolet, So. (Texas A&M)

Last season:  13-22 FG; 106 points

 

DEF—Alabama Crimson Tide

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 4-5-6 Colorado St, Ole Miss, Georgia St

Fantasy Draft Value:  Eight starters return on a defense that ranked No. 1 nationally in total defense, rushing defense, and scoring defense.

 

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)
 

Related College Football Content

2013 College Fantasy Quarterback Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Running Back Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Tight End Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Kicker Rankings
2013 College Fantasy Defense Rankings

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 20:28
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-top-players-acc-2013
Body:

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with the college fantasy football site to provide in-depth coverage for 2013. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for ACC in terms of fantasy options for 2013:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)
 

Starters

QB—Tajh Boyd, Sr. (Clemson)

Last season:  Passing—3,896 yards, 36 TD-13 INT; Rushing—514 yards, 10 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; So.Carolina St, BYE, @ NCSt, Wake Forest

Fantasy Draft Value:  The return of four O-linemen and playmaker Sammy Watkins should ensure a first-round selection.

 

QB—Logan Thomas, Sr. (Virginia Tech)

Last season:  Passing—2,976 yards, 18 TD-16 INT; Rushing—524 yards, 9 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 2-3-4; Western Carolina @ ECU, Marshall

Fantasy Draft Value:  In his third season as the starter, we’re hopeful that Thomas will show improvement in his decision-making and accuracy, which would justify a seventh- or eighth-round selection.

 

RB—Duke Johnson, So. (Miami)

Last season:  Rushing—947 yards, 10 TDs; Receiving—27 rec., 221 yards, Kick Returns—892 yards, 2TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:   Weeks 12-13-14; @ Duke, Virginia, @ Pitt

Fantasy Draft Value:  Johnson should put up big numbers as his workload increases, especially with the return of five starters on the O-line.  The sophomore running back will likely be among the first 20 overall players drafted.

 

RB—Isaac Bennett, Jr. (Pitt)

Last season:  Bennett rushed for 141 yards and 3 TDs behind Ray Graham and Rushel Shell.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 8-9-10; Old Dominion, @ Navy, @ Ga. Tech

Fantasy Draft Value:  Except for Pitt’s season-opener against Florida State, the first two months of their schedule is rather inviting to select Bennett in rounds 6-8.

 

RB—A.J. Blue, Sr. (North Carolina)

Last season:  Blue rushed for 433 yards and 9 TDs behind starter Gio Bernard.

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; Mid Tennessee, BYE, @ Ga. Tech, ECU

Fantasy Draft Value:  Blue may lose a few carries to sophomore Romar Morris, but the senior running back should get most of the carries in short-yardage and goal line situations.  Blue is projected as a RB3 or FLEX in most formats and should be considered after round 6.

 

WR—Sammy Watkins, Jr. (Clemson)

Last season:  57 receptions for 708 yards, 3 TDs; 257 return yards; rushing TD

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; So.Carolina St, BYE, @ NCSt, Wake Forest

Fantasy Draft Value:  Watkins is a legitimate game-breaker and should be one of the top receivers in the country this season.  Top-tier receivers are hard to come by on draft day, which makes Watkins a possible first-round selection.

 

WR—Quinshad Davis, So. (North Carolina)

Last season:  61 receptions for 776 yards, 5 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; Mid Tennessee, BYE, @ Ga. Tech, ECU

Fantasy Draft Value:  Davis ended 2012 on a high note, catching 38 passes for 484 yards and three touchdowns in the final four games of the season.  We believe that four-game stretch was a preview of things to come in 2013, which makes the sophomore receiver worthy of a fifth- or sixth-round selection.

 

WR—Jamison Crowder, Jr. (Duke)

Last season:  76 receptions for 1,074 yards, 8 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 3-4-5; NC Central, Memphis, @ Wake Forest

Fantasy Draft Value:  Quarterback Anthony Boone’s mobility may end up extending plays for the Duke offense, which will create downfield opportunities for his main receiving threat.  The Blue Devils may end up in quite a few shootouts, so expect Crowder to start disappearing off draft boards in round seven.

 

WR—Stefon Diggs, So. (Maryland)

Last season:  54 receptions for 848 yards and 6 TDs; 713 KR yards, 2 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 1-2-3; FIU, Old Dominion, @ Connecticut

Fantasy Draft Value:  Diggs has a ton of potential, but consistent play from the quarterback position may be a bigger challenge than opposing DBs.  In league formats that include return yards, Diggs may go as early as round six, but in standard PPR leagues expect Diggs to still be available in round seven.

 

FLEX—Michael Campanaro, Sr. (Wake Forest)

Last season:  79 receptions for 763 yards, 6 TDs

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 4-5-6; Army, Duke, @ Maryland

Fantasy Draft Value:  Campanaro could very well be in line for an 80-plus catch season, but his 2012 yards per catch average is the reason we believe drafting him before round seven is a stretch.

 

K—Chandler Catanzaro, Sr. (Clemson)

Last season:  18-19 FGs; 111 points scored

 

DEF—Clemson Tigers

Schedule Sweet Spot:  Weeks 2-3-4-5; So.Carolina St, BYE, @ NCSt, Wake Forest

Fantasy Draft Value:  The Tigers are always a threat in the return game, but their high-powered offense will put a lot of pressure on opposing teams to score, which will create plenty of opportunities for their experienced defense. 


Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite) (TheCFFSite.com)


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Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 20:21
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/five-ways-fix-texas-football
Body:

After a second straight blowout loss to Oklahoma last October, a large number of Texas fans seemed to turn on Mack Brown in a way never seen in his previous 15 years in Austin. Brown appeared to be on his way to winning some of those fans back after reeling off four straight victories following that 63–21 loss to OU. But then came a loss at home to TCU on Thanksgiving followed by a 42–24 defeat at Kansas State.

A come-from-behind victory over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl gave Texas a hint of momentum going into 2013. But the big picture is not pretty: Texas is 22–16 overall in the past three seasons, including an unfathomable 11–15 in the Big 12.

Texas football is broken. Here are five ways to fix the Longhorns.

HOLD MACK BROWN ACCOUNTABLE

This appears to be a make-or-break year for Mack Brown at Texas in the eyes of most Texas fans. The faithful won’t tolerate another four- or five-loss season or another blowout loss to Oklahoma.

Not when Texas A&M is writing storybooks in College Station as a member of the SEC. Not when Will Muschamp, former defensive coordinator at Texas, is going 11–1 in the regular season and playing in a BCS bowl in Year 2 at Florida.

Texas has the most returning starters (18) and the most experienced quarterback (David Ash) of any team in the Big 12. Yet few are picking Texas to win the 2013 race, instead going with the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or TCU.

Brown vowed two years ago that Texas would play for a national title in either 2013 or 2014. Texas has a talented junior class, and Brown is counting on this group to lead the Longhorns to big things this season. But last year’s defense was the worst in school history statistically and just lost NFL Draft picks Kenny Vaccaro (safety) and Alex Okafor (end).

Ash got off to a great start last year but then was benched in the blowout loss to OU and again against Kansas, TCU and Kansas State. Quarterback is not a position of strength at Texas.

The schedule is also tricky in 2013, with non-conference games at BYU and at home against a much-improved Ole Miss team.

With DeLoss Dodds’ contract as athletic director expiring in August 2014, this could be the last season in which Brown would have Dodds’ undying support. A new athletic director could mean big changes, especially for the football coach.
 

DEVELOP TOP RECRUITS INTO TOP DRAFT PICKS

Texas hasn’t had a single offensive lineman drafted since 2008. That’s five years and counting since tackle Tony Hills was selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round. Texas also didn’t have a single offensive player taken in the 2011 or 2012 NFL Drafts.

Brown believes that current offensive line coach Stacy Searels is recruiting and developing the next wave of NFL talent. But it’s hard to look at the current starters and see any difference-makers who will be playing on Sundays at this point.

Texas has recruited plenty of 4- and 5-star prospects on the offensive line in recent years. But they have failed to be developed into pro-level players, and Texas has constantly struggled to run between the tackles. Considering that some of the best offensive linemen in college football are from Texas — including Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, both of whom went to Texas A&M — the Longhorns have to do better.

Texas signed 20 players in the 2009 class. Only five ended up contributing — six if you count Garrett Gilbert, who transferred to SMU after the 2011 season. This speaks to both Texas’ poor job evaluating prospects and its poor job developing them.
 

MODERNIZE PLAYER EVALUATION

When Mack Brown announced the hiring of new player personnel director Patrick Suddes, a former football operations assistant at Alabama, Texas finally added a position to its staff that Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh added in 2007 and Nick Saban added in 2009.

The hope is that Suddes can bring some of the savvy from Saban’s well-oiled football office that numbers 40 people and more closely resembles an NFL front office. Texas expects to end up with about 15 people in its new personnel department, including a handful of new quality control coaches.

All of this is aimed at tightening up some of the player evaluation mistakes of the past. In 2007, there were camps in which quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Landry Jones and Garrett Gilbert were competing head to head. Coaches from Alabama and Michigan walked away clearly giving the edge to Andrew Luck.

But Texas wasn’t in attendance. The Longhorns had already made up their mind to go with Gilbert, the local product  who had won 30 straight games and two state titles at nearby Lake Travis. Luck, of Houston Stratford, attended a junior day at Texas. Not only did Luck not get a scholarship offer, but the Texas coaches basically ignored the future No. 1 overall NFL pick. There is no rule that states you can’t recruit more than one quarterback in the same class.

And it’s well documented that Texas didn’t believe Robert Griffin III or Johnny Manziel (above) — the past two Heisman Trophy winners — could play quarterback for the Longhorns.

Mack Brown knows all too well the importance of the right quarterback. He won his only two conference titles in 28 years as a head coach with quarterbacks named Vince Young and Colt McCoy.
 

OUT-RECRUIT THE IN-STATE RIVALS

When Brown took over at Texas, Texas A&M was two years into a 15-year period of mediocrity under R.C. Slocum, Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman. Texas won most of the head-to-head recruiting battles between the two schools and dominated the series on the field.

Now, A&M is in the SEC and fresh off a 10–2 season that featured the first freshman, Manziel, to win the Heisman Trophy. The Aggies’ coach, Kevin Sumlin, has been dominant on the recruiting trail. Two players in the Class of 2013 who had been committed to Texas ended up signing with A&M, including highly regarded receiver Ricky Seals-Jones.

Brown didn’t have to worry about Baylor and TCU in recruiting or on the field during most of his time at Texas. That has changed. Baylor’s Art Briles and TCU’s Gary Patterson have elevated the profiles of their respective programs and have claimed victories both on the field and in recruiting.

Brown has always seen himself as the pied piper of the Texas high school coaches, always showering them with praise in hopes they’ll help encourage recruits to pick the Longhorns. But Briles, a former Texas high school coach, has equally strong ties at the high school level. And Patterson has won big with Texas talent.

Brown used to watch the fish jump into the boat. Not anymore. He has been out on the road recruiting more than ever, and it will take that kind of effort for Texas to re-establish itself as the top destination in the Lone Star State.
 

LIVE A CHAMPIONSHIP MENTALITY

The championship drive of a team has to be established from the top down. And an increasing number of Texas fans are doubting that Brown has what it takes to compete with the likes of Saban at Alabama and Urban Meyer at Ohio State any longer.

Brown was either confused or deliberately trying to deceive when he made it sound like the player personnel director position that Texas created in early 2013 was the result of new recruiting rules.

That position has been around for five years. Texas just this year got around to creating it. And based on Texas’ high number of misses in recruiting recently, it’s a position Brown could have benefited from if it was filled in 2007, when Harbaugh did the same at Stanford.

The NCAA also doesn’t currently have a limit on the number of quality control coaches you can hire. Saban has at least nine. Brown had three in 2012.

And while Brown has always been credited with having a great family atmosphere that is attractive to recruits, no one uses words like “physical” to describe the Longhorns. That has to start at the top and be an everyday way of life.

While coaches such as Saban, Meyer and Muschamp are notorious for breathing fire during practices to get players on edge, Brown is often standing at practice with the boosters he courts very carefully while leaving the coaching to his assistants.

And the question has to be asked: Does Brown still have enough competitive fire to compete on the field and on the recruiting trail with the likes of Bob Stoops? The Longhorns’ Red River rivals have won three in a row against the Horns, the last two by an average of 40 points — with OU teams that weren’t close to the best Stoops has had. That’s alarming.


Written by Chip Brown for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Big 12 Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Big 12 season.

 

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Teaser:
Texas football is broken. Here are five ways to fix the Longhorns.
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 19:44
Path: /college-football/brad-stevens-celtics-questions-and-potential-candidates
Body:

Butler’s Brad Stevens pulled off the shocker of shockers when the two time national-runner up coach landed with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday afternoon.

Stevens, who turned Butler from overachieving mid-major to national brand, had been a candidate for some of college basketball’s most high-profile jobs, including UCLA following the 2012-13. The Bulldogs coach has been one of college basketball's most respected coaches after becoming the youngest coach to reach the Final Four since Bob Knight in 1973 and winning more games (166) than any coach in the first six years of his career. Now, the basketball world knows what kind of job it would take to pry the 36-year-old from Butler.

The job won't be easy, though. Stevens takes over for Doc Rivers, who left for the Los Angeles Clippers on June 24. The Celtics are also rebuilding after trading stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets. Stevens is the another high-profile hire from the college ranks, joining Rick Pitino. After leaving Kentucky in 1997, Pitino endured four losing seasons with the Celtics before returning to the college game.

Here are three key questions we have following Wednesday's move:

Can Stevens turn the trend of college coaches in the NBA?
College coaches have a checkered history in the recent NBA ranks, most of them ending badly: Pitino already failed in Boston. John Calipari, Mike Montgomery, P.J. Carlesimo, Tim Floyd and Jerry Tarkanian all had failed tenures in the pro ranks after leaving college. Stevens is considered one of the brightest minds in the college game, and his cool demeanor may prove an asset. Still, he’s 36 and his recruiting approach and situation in the Horizon League and Atlantic 10 rarely brought in pro-sized egos.

What’s the future for Butler?
Butler has been one of the most successful programs in a mid-major conference thanks to a steady stream of good hires for the last 20 years. Barry Collier, now the athletic director, made Butler a winning program as Thad Matta (24-8 in one season) and Todd Lickliter (two Sweet 16 appearances) continued to build. Butler reached unprecedented heights under Stevens with back-to-back appearances in the national title game. Butler won’t have margin for error as the Bulldogs have moved from the Horizon to A-10 to the restructured Big East. Facing Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova and Xavier on a regular basis will be a new challenge.

Who is Butler’s next coach?
Stevens gave no public signs he intended to leave Butler, so we’ll find out how prepared Collier is to hire a new coach, especially after every vacant college job has been filled for months. Here are some guesses of where he make look:

Matthew Graves, South Alabama. This would be the logical move and the one with the greatest track record — had Stevens left in March. Graves, a former Butler player who had been on the staff since 2001, was hired this offseason as the head coach at South Alabama. The last three Butler coaches — Thad Matta, Todd Lickliter and Stevens — were all promoted from within. Graves played at Butler and has been on the staff since 2001.

Terry Johnson, Butler assistant. The longest tenured remaining assistant at Butler has been on the staff since 2007 and previously served in an administrative post. He played high school basketball in Indiana and coached and played at IPFW.

 

Brandon Miller, Butler assistant. The Butler alum has served two terms as an assistant at his alma mater, replacing Graves this offseason. Before that, he spent three seasons under Matta at Ohio State.

Jeff Boals, Ohio State assistant. An assistant for Matta at Ohio State, Boals has spent most of his career in the midwest at Robert Morris and Akron before Columbus. He’s ready for his first top job.

 

LaVall Jordan, Michigan assistant. Another assistant with Butler connections. Jordan started at Butler from 1998-2001 before serving as an assistant and coordinator of operations under Lickliter. He's spent the last four seasons at Michigan working with guards Trey Burke and Darius Morris.

Bryce Drew, Valparaiso. Knows the territory of Indiana basketball and has won two Horizon League regular season titles at his alma mater. Seeing him anywhere other than Valpo would be a strange sight, though.

Todd Lickliter, Marian (NAIA). He led Butler two the Sweet 16 twice in six seasons before a 38-57 tenure at Iowa. If Butler wants to go back to the well, he’s down the street in Indianapolis at Marian of the NAIA after spending last year as an assistant at Miami (Ohio).

Teaser:
Stevens shocks basketball world with move, leaves questions in wake
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 18:53

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