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For various reasons, the Tennessee Titans are on track to be the last team to officially sign their first pick in the NFL Draft for the past three years. While it may seem strange to wait so long, Marcus Mariota’s alleged reason for not signing yet is even more bizarre. He wants to surf. The Titans don’t want him to. Allegedly.
The Hawaii native apparently enjoys surfing so much that it has been an area of concern on his contract. Allegedly. Reasonably, the Titans don’t want their hopeful franchise quarterback to succumb to an unnecessary injury surfing. In the end, he’ll sign regardless, although this certainly is an unprecedented cause to holdout for now.
Watch below to see some highlights from rookie camp:
Stealing any base, especially third, is extremely difficult in the MLB because of the power and accuracy of catchers behind the plate. As Anthony Rizzo headed to third base on a steal attempt, Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki delivered a perfect throw to Daniel Murphy covering third base. In perfect position to tag Rizzo out, the Cubs star simply defied all odds, jumping out of his slide to avoid the tag.
The play seemed to be a designed hit and run, although the batter could not put the ball in play, leaving Rizzo vulnerable. Yet, Rizzo made an incredible move out of great instinct to leap away from the glove hovering around the ground. Although he didn’t advance after, he later came around to score the game-winning run in the top of the 11th inning.
Look at the incredible slide below:
As the Confederate flag debate continues to heat up, NASCAR tracks have joined in to show their support to remove the controversial flag from their space. The series heads to Daytona this weekend, and the track has devised an exchange program. The system allows fans to trade in their Confederate Flag for an American Flag.
The move perfectly coincides with Independence Day, as NASCAR tries to rid of the flag, which has become somewhat synonymous with the sport. Brian France, NASCAR’s chairman, hopes to eventually ban the flag, but such a move would come later on when there is more time to discuss it. Several drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., have voiced their negative view on the flag.
View some truly American cars below:
Either the Cleveland Indians put on one of the best starting pitching displays or the Tampa Bay Rays gave one of the worst hitting attempts, or maybe some combination of both. After being swept by the Orioles, they have dominated against the Rays in historical, dominating fashion. So far in the series, the Indians outscored their opponents 21-4 behind an extremely dominating pitching rotation.
In each of the three contests, the Indians’ starters pitched perfect games into at least the sixth inning to open the game. Cody Anderson, Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco all displayed incredible pitching, consistently retiring Rays batters. The series’ highlight came last night, when Carrasco lost his no-hitter with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning. As everybody knows, every out is crucial, and every one is extremely difficult to collect.
Watch below to see just how close Carrasco came to a no-hitter:
Sports are just another strand in the American fabric that makes up the greatness of our beloved country. Sports are a form of patriotism in their own right — a form of civic pride. Sports allow us to come together as one community, one region, one nation to celebrate our way of life, our freedoms, and truly our great country on a large scale. Throughout our nation’s history sport has been part of our national conversation, often leading the cause for change, and helping us heal.
Here is a list of the most patriotic moments in American sports history.
1936 Berlin Olympics
Amid the turmoil of the times, both at home and abroad, Jesse Owens dominated the track and field events during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Adolf Hitler had been planning to use the games as a showcase for his “master race,” but the dictator could only watch in disgust as the man from Oakville, Ala. won four gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4x100 meter relay.
Derek Jeter is “Mr. November”
Baseball is the nation’s favorite past time, and that was perfectly evidenced after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as the nation finally began the healing process with a little help from the New York Yankees.
Typically, the Yankees are one of the most disliked teams in America, but in 2001, the Bronx Bombers not only represented New York City, but the rest of the country as well.
The Yanks found themselves in a two games to nothing hole against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but clawed back to win Game 3. In Game 4, Tino Martinez erased a two-run deficit with one swing in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Yankee Stadium crowd into a frenzy and the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, it was the great Derek Jeter who stepped into the box as the clock struck midnight on November 1, 2001, marking the first time in Major League history that a game had been played past October, due in part to a one week playing hiatus after 9/11. Jeter swung at the first pitch from D’backs close Byung-Hyun Kim and took it the opposite way, a line drive that just cleared the right field wall. That swing won Game 4 and tied the series for the Yankees and gave the entire nation something to cheer about.
Presidential First Pitch
Before the President made his way to the Yankee Stadium mound for his ceremonial first pitch before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, he was warming up his throwing arm in the tunnel behind the dugout. The legend is told that Derek Jeter approached then President Bush and said, “Don’t bounce it, they’ll boo you.”
The country had finally began its healing process from the terrorist attacks a month previously. The war in Afghanistan had recently begun and emotions were very high in New York and around the country. President Bush threw a strike, right down the middle of the plate. Yankee Stadium erupted in cheers and pride. Politics aside, that moment before Game 3 was a unifying moment for our nation and now lives on in baseball lore.
1991 NHL All-Star Game National Anthem
Just days after the U.S. went to war with Iraq in 1991, the NHL held its annual All-Star game in Chicago. With pride swelling and emotions running high, the old Chicago Stadium crowd was on its feet in a fever pitch. Anthem singer Wayne Messmer began singing the National Anthem as the crowd was still roaring — thus a new tradition was born. As Messmer continued singing the roar of the crowd only began to grow louder and louder. Fans were cheering and clapping as flags waved and voices sang. It was truly a spontaneous moment of American pride that has lived on. Now, before every Blackhawks home game, tenor Jim Cornelison sings the National Anthem as the United Center crowd celebrates — truly an awesome tradition.
Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball’s Color Barrier
Every year on April 15, all of Major League Baseball wears the number 42 to honor arguably the game’s greatest hero, Jackie Robinson. On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, becoming the first African-American to play in a major league game as he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson faced unspeakable threats and adversity from fans, opposing players, teams, and from within his own clubhouse. With the help of Dodgers’ owner and general manager Branch Rickey, Robinson was able to usher in a new era for professional sports and civil rights within America. Even after his playing days were over, Robinson remained active within the Civil Rights Movement until his death in 1972.
Boston, April 2013
On April 15, 2013, the city of Boston and the rest of the country were shaken after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, three spectators and a police officer were killed that day as the city was left to mourn. But Boston did not mourn long, in fact, Boston rallied, and sports helped unite the #BostonStrong movement.
Days after the attack, the Bruins hosted the Buffalo Sabres in Boston. Before puck drop, anthem singer Rene Rancourt began to sing, and then invited the TD Garden crowd to take over. The result was absolutely beautiful. Over 17,000 fans singing the National Anthem in the wake of tragedy, as one voice.
In a more brash approach, long-time Red Sox slugger David Ortiz addressed the crowd at historic Fenway Park before the Sox took on the Kansas City Royals five days after the attack. His speech was short, but sweet. “This is our (expletive) city…stay strong.”
The Miracle on Ice
There is no greater moment in American sports history. The Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics was the boost that American desperately needed. The country had been fighting, as President Carter said, a “crisis of confidence.” The ultimate end in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, an energy crisis, American hostages in Iran, the Cold War, Russia invading Afghanistan, and boycotting the Moscow Olympics had left many Americans feeling down and out. We needed a spark, and a bunch of college kids from Minnesota and Boston were able to provide that spark by doing the unthinkable, the impossible — beating the Russian national hockey team.
Just a week prior to the Olympics, Team USA lost to Russia 10 to 3 in front of a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden. Russia was more talented, more seasoned, and more physical. Coming into the ’80 Games, the Russians had won the last four Olympic gold medals and over 40 straight international games. On paper, the Americans had no shot. But on the ice, the impossible happened. Thanks to two goals from Mark Johnson and the game winner from the captain, Mike Eruzione, the Americans were able to defeat the Russians 4-3.
Broadcaster Al Michaels, adding to the lore of the game, gave his most signature line as the clock began to wind down, “Five seconds left, four…Do you believe in Miracles? YES!”
One game later, the miracle was complete as Team USA defeated Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal.
Tennessee fans had been waiting anxiously for the university to unveil their new Nike football uniforms. That day has now come and gone, and the following is a breakdown of the brand new creations the UT Vols will be sporting on the field for 2015 and beyond.
At first glance, the new Nike Tennessee uniforms do not appear to be a far reaching departure from the previous Adidas offerings. That being said, there are actually quite a few changes, most are subtle, others not so much.
Probably the most important and challenging aspect of the Volunteers uniform is achieving the proper shade of “Tennessee Orange”. This has been a major issue of concern with the fan base following many failed attempts by previous uniform suppliers to create a consistent orange that matches throughout the uniform, especially under the stadium lights. It has also been an issue in terms of fan gear.
Nike reps have claimed that “getting the right shade of orange” was of the utmost importance when designing the new uniforms and fan gear. At first glance, it seems they have made good on that claim. We will know for sure when the players hit the field and the fans can also claim that their Tennessee hat actually matches their Tennessee shirt.
As for the uniform design, one of the first things you will probably notice is that the new number font is slightly larger with a modern flare that seems to mimic the new Nike Tennessee word mark. It is a departure from the older block style numbers that Tennessee has used in the past, which may not appeal to some of the more traditional Vol fans, but all in all, it makes for a good look that the majority of fans seem to appreciate.
You will also notice that Nike incorporated Tennessee’s famous checkerboard pattern into the pant and helmet striping which makes for a nice touch. The solid single stripe subtly blends into the orange and white checkerboard at the bottom of the pants and on the base of the helmet. The idea of incorporating the checkerboard into the new uniforms is something that did not sit well with some Vol fans, as it has proven to come off as tacky and gimmicky in previous uniform concepts. Still, Nike managed to pull it off in a tasteful manner.
Another alteration includes adding an orange collar to the white away jersey, a look that the Vols previously sported with Adidas in 2010. This seems to be one of the more unpopular changes among the fan base, but the orange collar does provide a nice contrast that flows well with the rest of the orange accents throughout the road uniform.
Nike added the words “My All” to the inside of the collar on all of the new jerseys. This serves to pay homage to the Tennessee football credo “I will give my all for Tennessee today!” The “My All” label obviously won’t be visible on the field, but it is a solid touch that should also serve to motivate the players. The moniker will also be included on the Nike retail jersey for fans.
One element that will make its return from year’s past is the iconic “Power T” on the front of the home and away pants which will be accompanied by the Nike swoosh on the opposite side. I think the majority of Tennessee fans favor the “Power T” being on the pants, but some fans will miss the cleaner look of the more recent pants.
The most significant change under Nike can be spotted in the new alternate “Smokey Gray” uniforms. While the Volunteer fan base seems to be, for the most part, in favor of the new home and away Nike digs; they appear very much split on the new alternate uniforms based on the many responses found on social media and fan boards.
They either love the new “Smokey Grays” or they hate the new “Smokey Grays”, often for the very same reasons. Those who love them seem to favor the more streamlined two-tone gray jersey and the inclusion of a gray helmet. While those who hate them often state their displeasure as being the more streamlined two-tone gray jersey and the addition of a non-traditional gray helmet. You get the point.
The good news is that the players seem to love them based on their overwhelmingly positive reaction via social media. After all, their opinions matter most, as they are the ones that wear them on the field. It is also a bonus in terms of recruiting if the players and prospective recruits prefer the new look.
An interesting side note on the new gray helmet is that it features a ghosted silhouette of the Great Smoky Mountains. When first hearing about this addition, most fans were quite skeptical, but it is subtle and adds a cool factor to the helmet that has been well received by the majority of Vol fans. The exception, of course, being those who hate the idea of Tennessee ever straying from their traditional white helmet.
Like Adidas before them, Nike is never going to please an entire Tennessee fan base with every design. Regardless of what Nike unveiled on July 1, 2015, most of the Tennessee faithful were going to love it, some were going to hate it and a few were going to teeter somewhere in the middle.
At the very least, there are always going to be certain elements of the uniforms, shoes and gear that will divide the fan base. That being said, I believe Nike succeeded in taking into account the varying tastes of an eclectic fan base when creating the new looks. The new Nike Tennessee Volunteers football uniforms should satisfy the palates of both the traditionalist and the modern fan.
In arguably the most anticipated debut for an injured player, Marlins pitching hurler Jose Fernandez will make his first start since May 9, 2014. After dominating in his first season in 2013 and earning the NL Rookie of the Year award, a torn UCL cut his second season very short. Now he will get his chance to pitch again, after quickly returning from Tommy John Surgery just a little over a year ago.
Ironically, the Marlins’ opponent, the Giants, will send out Matt Cain for his first start of the season, after recovering from late season ankle surgery last year. All eyes will certainly be on this game, although much of the focus will be around Fernandez. The Rays’ Matt Moore is also slated to make his first start today after Tommy John surgery last year.
Look below to see what Fernandez can do to batters:
The terms “on the hot seat” or “under pressure” usually apply to quarterbacks and head coaches. After all, there’s an enormous amount of pressure on quarterbacks and coaches for any college football team. And needless to say, it’s difficult to challenge for a conference championship or national title if the quarterback play is an issue all year or if the coaching staff’s status is uncertain after a slow start.
Despite most of the preseason focus on other positions, the battles in the trenches, at linebacker, cornerback or in the receiving corps are just as important to any team’s success in 2015.
With that in mind, let’s set aside the quarterbacks and head coaches for a moment and examine some of the other positions that must produce in 2015.
14 ACC Position Groups Under Pressure in 2015
Boston College Offensive Line
This unit has been a strength in coach Steve Addazio’s two-year tenure. But the Eagles lost all five starters off last season’s unit, and there’s very little returning in the way of starting experience. Senior Harris Williams is back after missing nearly all of 2014 with an ankle injury and returns in 2015 as the leader for this group. With a talented backfield returning, Boston College needs this unit to mesh early in the year to exceed last season’s seven wins.
Clemson Offensive Line
Protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson is priority No. 1 for coach Dabo Swinney in 2015. The line was the biggest issue following spring practice, and the concerns about this unit only increased after Isaiah Battle left for the NFL supplemental draft. The Tigers allowed 27 sacks in 13 games last year and return only one starter (center Ryan Norton). The projected starting five have just 29 career starts, and true freshman Mitch Hyatt is expected to start at left tackle.
Related: ACC Predictions for 2015
Duke Defensive Line
With five returning starters in the secondary, stopping the pass shouldn’t be an issue for co-defensive coordinators Jim Collins and Jim Knowles. But the Blue Devils have to be better against the run. Duke allowed 192.9 rushing yards per game in 2014 and only one starter – tackle Carlos Wray – is back up front. Converted linebackers Kyler Brown and Britton Grier are expected to play a hybrid linebacker/end role, and junior A.J. Wolf replaces Jamal Bruce on the interior. The development of the offensive line is also something to watch in 2015.
Related: Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2015
Florida State Linebackers
The offensive and defensive lines are also worth mentioning here, but the linebacker position has been depleted by departures and injuries. Senior Terrance Smith was injured off and on in 2014 and finished the year with 87 stops and two interceptions. He should be an all-conference performer (if healthy) in 2015. After Smith is where the questions begin for coordinator Charles Kelly. Senior Reggie Northrup is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Rose Bowl, and sophomore Matthew Thomas is questionable to start the opener after offseason shoulder surgery. If Thomas and Northrup aren’t ready by September, the pressure builds on junior college recruit Lorenzo Phillips, sophomore Ro’Derrick Hoskins and redshirt freshman Delvin Purifoy.
Related: ACC Predictions for 2015
Georgia Tech Wide Receivers
It seems odd to mention this position for a team that averages only 14.5 pass attempts a game. However, even though Georgia Tech will have one of the nation’s top rushing attacks, the threat of the pass is still needed. DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller accounted for 61 of the Yellow Jackets’ 106 receptions last year. Will coach Paul Johnson find a couple of targets for quarterback Justin Thomas?
Related: ACC 2015 All-Conference Team
Louisville Offensive Line
While Louisville must replace all four starters in its secondary, there is plenty of talent waiting to step in for coordinator Todd Grantham. The offensive line had its share of ups and downs in 2014, allowing 40 sacks and clearing the way for rushers to average just 3.7 yards per rush in ACC games. Adding to the concerns about this group was the departure of three key seniors. Junior Tobijah Hughley and senior Aaron Epps are back as returning starters, but this unit is a position of concern for coach Bobby Petrino headed into fall practice.
Miami Offensive Line
The defensive line and linebacker units are also worth a mention here, but Miami’s offense won’t take off unless quarterback Brad Kaaya has enough time to throw. The Hurricanes return just one starter up front (guard Danny Isidora) and projected starter Taylor Gadbois was recently dismissed from the team. Even though there’s new faces stepping into the lineup, this group has potential and talent with sophomores Kc McDermott, Trevor Darling and Nick Linder competing for starting spots.
NC State Wide Receivers
With 14 returning starters, along with another year for quarterback Jacoby Brissett to develop, NC State is a sleeper team to watch in the Atlantic Division. Brissett threw for 2,606 yards and 23 scores in his Wolfpack debut, but the senior quarterback needs help from his supporting cast to elevate this team into division title contention. The receiving corps lost leading target Bo Hines (45 catches) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (22 receptions), leaving tight end David Grinnage (27 catches) as the top returning option. This unit isn’t totally depleted, as Bra’Lon Cherry, Johnathan Alston and all-purpose threat Nyheim Hines should give Brissett options in the passing attack.
North Carolina Defensive Line
The Tar Heels need better play from their offensive line, but improving the defense was the top priority for coach Larry Fedora in the spring. Hiring Gene Chizik as the team’s new coordinator was a step in the right direction, and the former Auburn coach inherits six returning starters. Getting better play from the defense starts up front, as this unit has to stop the run better after giving up 240.5 yards per game in 2014. Additionally, generating a better pass rush is a must after recording only 22 sacks in 13 games. Sophomores Nazair Jones and Dajaun Drennon are good building blocks for Chizik in 2015.
Pittsburgh Defensive Backs
Pittsburgh finished 2014 ranked fourth in the ACC in pass defense, but a deeper look at the numbers shows why coach Pat Narduzzi wants to improve this unit for the 2015 season. The Panthers allowed 12 plays of 40 yards or more and six of 50 yards or more. Both of those totals were near the bottom of the ACC. Eliminating some of the big plays allowed by the defensive backs could be helped by a better pass rush, which is where the influence of Narduzzi and coordinator Josh Conklin should pay off. Pittsburgh has to improve on defense to win the Coastal, and there’s reason to be optimistic in the Steel City going into the 2015 season.
Related: All-America Team for 2015
Syracuse Defensive Line
A couple of positions deserve a mention here, but Syracuse’s defensive line has been depleted by departures since last season. Junior Ron Thompson is a candidate for All-ACC honors, but how will the rest of this group look by the season opener? Converted linebacker Luke Arciniega could help at defensive end, and Thompson may have to play inside with the concerns on the interior. Senior Wayne Williams recently left the team, leaving redshirt freshmen Kayton Samuels and Chris Slayton has two of the top three options at tackle. Coach Scott Shafer will have a use a few incoming freshmen just to build a rotation up front.
The Cavaliers were hit hard by departures on defense, as end Eli Harold and linebacker Max Valles left early for the NFL Draft. Additionally, senior linebackers Henry Coley and Daquan Romero expired their eligibility, leaving just two returning starters up front. Linebacker is generally one of the easier positions to reload each year, but this will be an inexperienced group for coach Mike London. True freshmen C.J. Stalker and Jahvoni Simmons could start, while Zach Bradshaw, Mark Hall and Micah Kiser are also pushing for snaps.
Related: All-Freshman Team for 2015
Virginia Tech Offensive Line
This unit has been a question mark in recent years, and the Hokies need better play in the trenches on offense to get back to the ACC Championship. This unit allowed 34 sacks last season, and the rushing attack averaged only 3.2 yards per carry in ACC games. Improvement for this group rests on the development of junior left tackle Jonathan McLaughlin and sophomore guard Wyatt Teller. Both players should be in the mix for All-ACC honors and could develop into one of the ACC’s top pairings on the left side of the line. Promising pieces are in place for line coach Stacy Searels. How much will this unit improve by the fall?
Wake Forest Offensive Line
It’s no secret the offensive line was Wake Forest’s biggest weakness last year. The Demon Deacons allowed the most sacks in the nation (48), and rushers generated only 1.3 yards per rush. Coach Dave Clawson hopes another offseason helps this unit improve, and three freshmen – Phil Haynes, Ryan Anderson and Justin Herron – could crack the starting lineup. This unit won’t be as bad as it was in 2014. But how much can it improve?
From its humble roots, dating back to 1869 and a meeting of students from Rutgers and Princeton, to today’s billion-dollar spectacle, college football has grown along with the United States.
The game is woven into the fabric of Americana, and not just for its ubiquity in 21st century pop culture. College football has either reflected the history of the nation, or directly influenced it routinely in the last century.
On this July 4, reflect on these four games from college football history, which in their own manner, are indelible within American history.
Saint Louis vs. Carroll College, Sept. 5, 1906
College football reached a crossroads at the turn of the 20th century. With media banging the drum, detractors decried the game for its violence, players receiving monetary compensation or useless education – if any education at all.
The situation became so dire that, after 19 deaths in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt publicly intervened. The President who advocated speaking softly while carrying a big stick wielded that stick forcefully in his calls for reform.
Roosevelt, a proponent of athletics after overcoming his own childhood illnesses through an active lifestyle, wanted to see football improve.
Much like calls for safety reform today, traditionalists bemoaned that changes to the game would end it altogether. Roosevelt dismissed the notion, per a 1905 Washington Post article.
“I believe in outdoor games, and I do not mind in the least that they are rough games, or that those who take part are occasionally injured,” Roosevelt said. “But when these injuries are inflicted by others, either wantonly or of set design, we are confronted by the question, not of damage to one man’s body, but of damage to the other man’s character.”
Among the many reforms enacted that saved college football was the introduction of the forward pass.
Saint Louis University archives credit head coach Eddie Cochems with “secretly practicing the art of the forward pass,” and unleashing it via Bradbury Robinson, whose first completion was a 20-yarder to Jack Schneider.
Consider the 1906 game between Saint Louis University and Carroll College a chapter in the rich legacy of The Roughrider, and Robinson ostensibly the forerunner to the air-raid offense.
Michigan vs. Georgia Tech, Oct. 20, 1934
Five presidents played college football at varying levels, though Gerald Ford stands out tops among this group. A star at Michigan, Ford’s No. 48 was originally retired until 2012, when it became an honorary distinction for the Wolverine assigned to wear it.
No. 48 does not simply hold significance at Michigan because Ford was an All-American, or for his later political career. Ford’s example as a student-athlete shines 81 years after he took an important stand in defense of a teammate.
Georgia Tech demanded Michigan bench end Willis Ward, a black student-athlete and one of the premier Wolverines. When head coach Fielding Yost initially planned to acquiesce, Ford threatened to quit the team.
Yost and Michigan brass supported Ford and Ward, and the Wolverines beat the Rambling Wreck, 9-2.
As a congressman three decades later, Ford was a champion of the civil rights movement.
A documentary entitled “Black and Blue: The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game,” chronicling the landmark Michigan-Georgia Tech affair, premiered in 2011.
1942 Rose Bowl: Duke vs. Oregon State in Durham, N.C., Jan. 1, 1942
Dec. 7, 1941: A date which will live in infamy.
Pres. Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress the day after the Empire of Japan bombed the American Naval station in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, established the tone for what was to come in the ensuing four years. The United States faced its greatest challenge as a nation.
In its own, small way, the 1942 Rose Bowl Game – played almost a month after Roosevelt’s famous address – embodied the American spirit during World War II.
Duke and Oregon State circumvented the issue of public gatherings being banned on the West Coast by moving the Rose Bowl Game from Pasadena, Calif., to Duke’s campus in Durham, N.C.
Underdog Oregon State beat Duke, 20-16, behind a pair of touchdown passes from Bob Dethman and the all-around play of retroactively named MVP, Donald Durdan.
For many involved in the 1942 Rose Bowl, the game was a last hurrah before going into battle, including Duke head coach Wallace Wade.
Some of the Blue Devils and Beavers crossed paths overseas. Wade encountered Oregon state lineman Sam Czech three years after the Rose Bowl Game as part of the same infantry unit near Villers-la-Bonne-Eau in Luxembourg.
Duke’s Charlie Haynes and Oregon State’s Frank Parker were two more former Rose Bowl competitors who were allies in the war.
Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times once wrote about how Parker carried Haynes to a farmhouse after discovering the former Blue Devil quarterback badly injured in the Arno Valley campaign in Italy. Medics were able to save Haynes’ life.
Army vs. Navy in Baltimore, December 1944
Last season’s Army-Navy Game returned to Baltimore on the 70th anniversary of the perhaps the most significant installment of the series in its history.
In 1944, Army brought its No. 1 ranking and unblemished record to the Charm City to face second-ranked Navy. At stake, almost assuredly, was a national championship.
However, this particular Army-Navy encounter was, “the biggest game of World War II,” according to author Randy Roberts, via Baltimore Magazine.
Roberts’ book, A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game That Rallied a Nation, examines this most historic entry into the most American of all college football rivalries. As he notes, this de facto national championship was played midway between the Battle of the Bulge and D-Day, the most crucial stretch to American victory in World War II.
Army completed the first of three national championship seasons with the win over Navy. The Cadets were undefeated in that three-year stretch with the backfield tandem of Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard captaining the team.
Both Davis and Blanchard won Heisman Trophies.
With the United States ready to find out their World Cup finals opponent, they eagerly awaited the matchup between England and Japan. Tied 1-1 in stoppage time, it seemed the game was headed into overtime. That is, until England defender Laura Bassett accidentally netted the ball in her own net. Japan sprinted up-field with the ball and tried to pass it in, but Bassett attempted to boot it away over the net.
However, the effort to kick the ball out of bounds ended in heartbreak, as the ball struck the top bar of the goal and bounced just inches over the line. The loss certainly stunned both the team and all of the country’s fans, as they were so close to a finals appearance. The United States will take on Japan on July 5 for the championship.
Take a look at the devastating own goal below:
Just like last year, Athlon Sports' 2015 NFL Preview magazine includes NFL player rankings at every position. The rankings in the magazine are provided by Dan Shonka of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services, a company that's been in the football talent evaluation business for more than three decades.
Seattle's quest for a second straight Super Bowl title came up painfully short, but it wasn't due to the efforts of the league's best secondary. The Legion of Boom is a big reason for the Seahawks' two-year reign (and counting) in the NFC, a group headlined by a trio of All-Pros in cornerback Richard Sherman (No. 2) and safeties Earl Thomas (No. 1) and Kam Chancellor (No. 3). Whether Sherman or Darrelle Revis is the NFL's top shutdown cornerback is up for debate, but what's not is how important Seattle's defensive backs are to the team's success. While the consecutive Super Bowl appearances should be enough to back this up, consider that Sherman (left elbow), Thomas (dislocated left shoulder), and Chancellor (left knee) each played through an injury on Super Sunday and came just a last-second Russell Wilson interception shy of beating Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Rankings courtesy of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services
2015 NFL Player Rankings: Cornerbacks
1. Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets
The All-Pro shutdown corner is back with the Jets on a five-year, $70 million deal after picking up a Super Bowl ring with New England.
2. Richard Sherman, Seattle
The All-Pro selection was the least-targeted cornerback in the NFL last season. One of the most competitive and rangy corners, he challenges every ball in his area.
3. Chris Harris Jr., Denver
A versatile, skilled outside corner who can also play in the slot or at safety, Harris earned a Pro Bowl invite last season thanks to his standout ball skills.
4. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis
After a trade from the Dolphins to the Colts, Davis’ career as a top coverage corner took off and earned him a Pro Bowl invitation in 2014.
5. Patrick Peterson, Arizona
After diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, he was back winning his share of one-on-one battles with the league’s elite receivers.
6. Joe Haden, Cleveland
Haden is tough in run support and a good open-field tackler. The five-year veteran totaled 73 tackles, 20 passes defended and three interceptions in 2014.
7. Sean Smith, Kansas City
His length helps him in press coverage, and he has become more technique conscious. Due to a DUI conviction, Smith likely will be suspended for the first two games.
8. Aqib Talib, Denver
Talib earned back-to-back Pro Bowl invitations with New England and Denver, finishing last season with 16 passes defended, four interceptions and two touchdowns.
9. Desmond Trufant, Atlanta
One of the top young corners in the game, Trufant has good short-area quickness and takes a direct line to the ball with no false steps.
10. Alterraun Verner, Tampa Bay
Verner should be a perfect fit in Lovie Smith’s Cover 2. He does a good job rerouting receivers with his quick feet and reactions.
11. Rashean Mathis, Detroit
12. Orlando Scandrick, Dallas
13. Corey Graham, Buffalo
14. Byron Maxwell, Philadelphia
15. Antonio Cromartie, N.Y. Jets
16. Darius Slay, Detroit
17. Brandon Flowers, San Diego
18. Chris Culliver, Washington
19. Kareem Jackson, Houston
20. Tim Jennings, Chicago
21. Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota
22. Tramon Williams, Cleveland
23. Brent Grimes, Miami
24. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, N.Y. Giants
25. Johnathan Joseph, Houston
26. Prince Amukamara, N.Y. Giants
27. Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo
28. William Gay, Pittsburgh
29. Lardarius Webb, Baltimore
30. Perrish Cox, Tennessee
2015 NFL Player Rankings: Safeties
1. Earl Thomas, Seattle
A defensive leader who has become a perennial All-Pro-caliber player.
2. Eric Weddle, San Diego
Consistently mentioned with the game’s top free safeties, Weddle earned his fifth All-Pro selection in 2014 and is a standout special teams player.
3. Kam Chancellor, Seattle
A cornerstone of the Seahawks’ defense as the secondary’s physical tone-setter, Chancellor played through a torn MCL in the Super Bowl.
4. Glover Quin, Detroit
A big-time coverage safety who can cover deep or play the nickel, Quin led the NFL with seven interceptions.
5. Tashaun Gipson, Cleveland
Second in the league with six interceptions, Gipson also defended eight passes and returned one pick for a touchdown.
6. Harrison Smith, Minnesota
Smith has emerged as one of the best young safeties in the league. The former Golden Domer had 92 tackles and five interceptions.
7. Devin McCourty, New England
The corner-turned-safety is one of the league’s most dependable players. McCourty is smart and athletic and has unlimited coverage range.
8. Antoine Bethea, San Francisco
After finishing with 14 passes defended (including four INTs), Bethea has been an underrated safety with the general public but not the league’s receivers.
9. Mike Adams, Indianapolis
In his first season with the Colts, Adams reached his first career Pro Bowl at age 33. He intercepted five passes and forced two fumbles last season.
10. Reshad Jones, Miami
The big-hitting safety also plays the ball well in the air. He was responsible for 80 tackles and seven passes defended along with three interceptions in 2014.
11. Jairus Byrd, New Orleans
12. Donte Whitner, Cleveland
13. George Iloka, Cincinnati
14. Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia
15. Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati
16. Patrick Chung, New England
17. Michael Griffin, Tennessee
18. Morgan Burnett, Green Bay
19. Robert Blanton, Minnesota
20. T.J. Ward, Denver
21. Antrel Rolle, Chicago
22. Dawan Landry, Free Agent
23. William Moore, Atlanta
24. Da’Norris Searcy, Tennessee
25. Will Hill, Baltimore
26. Calvin Pryor, N.Y. Jets
27. Darian Stewart, Denver
28. Danieal Manning, Free Agent
29. James Ihedigbo, Detroit
30. Nate Allen, Oakland
A publicly viewed tough decision for North Carolina tight end Garret Walston ended on Tuesday with a verbal commitment to the University of Georgia.
Walston, 6’4”, 220 pounds, has been a prized recruit for both Georgia and home state favorite, University of North Carolina. On May 19 the New Hanover High School star set a decision date. Just two days later, on May 21, he backed off a decision date preferring to take two more visits, one to Georgia and one to North Carolina.
Walston had made several visits to the Tar Heels including attending their Junior Day and two visits to Athens attending the Bulldogs Junior Day and another at the end of June. Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt was so impressed with Walston that he flew into Athens cutting out part of his vacation to meet with him in person before flying back to resume his vacation.
The Wilmington area talent had 12 scholarship offers on the table by the time he committed to Georgia including offers from Cal, Maryland, N.C. State, Northwestern, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College, Ohio, Virginia, East Carolina, and Virginia Tech.
College recruiters took notice of Walston after he helped lead the Wildcats to a 7-5 season in 2014.
The Bulldogs now have 12 verbal commitments to their 2016 recruiting class.
July 4th of every year is a time to celebrate America, and what better way is there to enjoy the day than with sports? So let's take a look at some of the best sports-related moments that have occurred on this special day in American history (listed chronologically):
1939 — Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech
In one of the most famous speeches of all-time, Lou Gehrig stated, “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” The resonating quote came just weeks after finding out that he was diagnosed with ALS. The Yankees retired his number that day, and fans celebrated his accomplishments as he braced for a fight against the disease that took his life less than two years later. He became the first player to have his number retired in baseball, starting a trend for the league’s best players.
1975 — Billie Jean King Wins Wimbledon for the Sixth and Final Time
Billie Jean King, one of the most influential women’s athletes of all time, battled through Wimbledon and defeated Australian Evonne Goolagong in straight sets, 6-0, 6-1. The match would prove more significant than being her sixth title there in singles, as she essentially retired from tournament singles events following the match. It became her 12th and final Grand Slam title in singles, in addition to 16 women’s doubles titles and 11 mixed doubles titles. She was a pioneer for women’s’ rights, and that alone makes her worthy of a spot on any patriotic list.
1977 — Red Sox Bats Provide Fireworks at Fenway
There’s no doubt about it: baseball fans dig the long ball as much as anything. Thus, the Red Sox’s eight-home run performance on July 4th certainly is worthy of a spot on this list. With a roster stacked with several future Hall of Famers, six players hit home runs, including Red Sox legends Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski. All but one of the home runs were solo blasts, as the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 9-6 at Fenway Park. What's better than fireworks? Moonshots.
1980, 1984 — Ryan, Niekro Join the 3,000-K Club
Nolan Ryan joined the 3,000 Strikeout Club on his way to eventually setting the Major League record for career strikeouts with 5,714. On the same day four years later, knuckleballer Phil Niekro recorded his 3000th strikeout. They are both part of an elite club of sixteen MLB pitchers, who have recorded this impressive feat.
1981— McEnroe Finally Beats Borg at Wimbledon
With apologies to Roger Federer and Rafael, arguably the greatest men’s tennis rivalry in the sports history is the one between American star John McEnroe and Sweden's Bjorn Borg. In their careers, they officially met 14 times, splitting the series right down the middle. Entering the 1981 tournament at Wimbledon, Borg had dominated there, winning five straight titles and was eyes a sixth. However, McEnroe rallied down one set and took three straight for his first championship on the famed grass court. He became the first American to win in England since 1975, rocking the Red, White, and Blue as he hoisted the trophy.
1984 — The King Reaches Victory Lane for the 200th Time
Richard Petty was as dominant in NASCAR as any athlete was in their respective sport. Fittingly on Independence Day in 1984, he claimed the Firecracker 400 at Daytona for his 200th career victory. The win also ended up being his final one in such a storied career. Ronald Reagan delivered the infamous “Start your engine” line, and what can be more patriotic than that?
1994 — The World Cup Comes to the United States
Even though soccer may not be near as popular in the United State as it is overseas, it was even less so prior to our nation hosting the World Cup in 1994, an event that changed the landscape for the sport. Headed into this prestigious event, observers weren't quite sure how the World Cup would be received, considering the U.S. Men's National Team's ranking compared to other countries. Yet, the tournament on home soil not only set attendance records, the U.S. team also shattered expectations. The U.S. tied Switzerland and defeated Colombia, sending the team into the Round of 16 against eventual champion Brazil. The game, fittingly on July 4, saw the Americans put up a strong fight, before falling 1-0. However, this World Cup helped skyrocket interest in soccer, which can be seen today.
2007 — Joey Chestnut Ends Kobayashi's Reign Over Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
In what has become a July 4th tradition, each year millions of Americans tune onto ESPN to watch as over a dozen men and women compete in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. The U.S. had not produced a winner since 1999, mostly due to the utter domination by Takeru Kobayashi, who won six straight titles. However, an American, Joey Chestnut, was slowly making a name for himself. In 2006, he lost by less than two hot dogs. However, everything would change in 2007, when Chestnut downed a world record 66 hot dogs and took the title for the red, white and blue. From then on, he has won every year, bringing his total to eight championships. Nothing is more American than this.
The AFC East only produced one playoff team last year, but with new head coaches in Buffalo and New York and a Tom Brady suspension to open the season, 2015 brings with it quite some intrigue. The Patriots will look to defend their division, conference and Super Bowl titles, but this may be the year the other teams start to close the gap a little.
Related: NFC East Players That Will Need to Step Up in 2015
Here are players from each AFC East team who will be important to their team's success in 2015:
Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback, New England Patriots (1st place, 12-4)
With Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the season, Garoppolo will be tasked with managing the Patriots’ offense in the meantime. With only limited playing time last year, he will need to be able to perform well enough so that Brady doesn't have too big of a hole to dig out of when he returns. Four games can make a huge difference in the season’s outcome, especially with a matchup against the Bills early on.
Another player to watch: cornerback Malcolm Butler
Richie Incognito, Right Guard, Buffalo Bills (2nd place, 9-7)
In one of the more interesting moves of the offseason, new Bills head coach Rex Ryan brought in the controversial Incognito to help bolster an offensive line that struggled last year. Thus, Incognito is surely an upgrade with his veteran presence, but the baggage that comes with him can't be overlooked. If he can stay out of trouble, the move will look brilliant, but any sort of slip up will be extremely costly. The Bills need his talent, and that’s really all they need out of him for now.
Another player to watch: quarterback EJ Manuel
Jamar Taylor, Cornerback, Miami Dolphins (3rd place, 8-8)
As Cortland Finnegan retired and no big names were brought in at cornerback, Taylor will need to step in opposite Pro Bowler Brent Grimes. Injuries have placed a damper on Taylor's first two seasons, and after a disappointing rookie season, he progressed in limited action last year. Now he will be needed to perform consistently, mostly by staying healthy. He’ll be tasked with covering teams’ No. 2 wide receiver for the most part, and the Dolphins are hoping their investment in the 2013 second-rounder finally pays off.
Another player to watch: linebacker Chris McCain
Geno Smith, Quarterback, New York Jets (4th place, 4-12)
New head coach Todd Bowles made his mark on defense, but one of the biggest messes he has inherited with the Jets is his quarterback situation. Jets fans had hoped Smith would save their team, but he has come up well short of their, not to mention his, expectations. The team traded for Brandon Marshall to give Smith a better weapon, and there's no question this is an important season for Smith. His future with the team, and possibly the NFL in general, will depend on how he fares this year. First order of business for Smith is to beat out veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in training camp for the starting job.
Another player to watch: running back Chris Ivory
It's hard to imagine, but once upon a time Roger Goodell was just a kid looking for a job.
In a tweet by Darren Rovell, we get to see how Goodell's career in the NFL came to be. In 1981, a 22-year-old graduate sent a letter to the NFL commissioner at the time, Pete Rozelle.
34 Years Ago Today: A 22-year-old Roger Goodell writes a letter to Pete Rozelle to try to get a job at the NFL pic.twitter.com/03jww1yZbw— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 2, 2015
Goodell did end up with an intern position, but it's unclear whether this was the letter that led to it.
Since 2003, Kansas head coach Bill Self has been consistently producing championship caliber teams and players. And though he may be 52 years old, he apparently still has plenty of game left in him. While in South Korea for the World University Games, Self showed some students what he can still do. With a ball in his hand and a crowd present, Self drained six straight long-range two jumpers.
Not only did he go perfect from deep, but he also made it look effortless. From 1981-1985, Self was an integral part of the basketball team at Oklahoma State. Maybe if he ever needs somebody to step into a game, he could just sub himself right in.
Well that was quick. Just days after opting out of a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love has signed a five-year deal with them for $110 million. While the Cavaliers had hoped he would not have left the original deal, there seemed little belief that he was going to leave the team. Now that he’s back for 2015, the team will look to focus on resigning superstar Lebron James to a long deal as well.
Love certainly had his high moments during the season, although it was a bit up-and-down compared to what the team was hoping for. He went down with an injury as the Cavaliers were making their way through the playoffs, which proved to be detrimental. However, a healthy 2015-16 campaign would only seem to put the Cavaliers within striking distance of a championship.
Watch this hype video made for him before this past season:
DeSean Jackson and the Eagles didn't have the happiest of breakups. What breakup is ever really happy?
The Redskins wide receiver talked on his new BET show, "Home Team," about the way the Eagles treated him based on his background.
"When I was released by the Eagles, I felt they tried to paint a picture that definitely wasn't true," Jackson said. "It was a slap in the face coming off one of my best seasons in the NFL. It's like, bro, the Eagles tried to blow me up. That's cold how they did me."
Nike sponsors many of the biggest names in sports from Kobe Bryant to Serena Williams.
What's the point of having all that star power if you don't put it together in one glorious commercial? Bryant, Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., Richard Sherman and others all team up to show just how fast they are.
Tennessee released a new uniform design on Wednesday, as the program officially joined forces with Nike as its apparel supplier.
The Volunteers were under the Adidas brand since the mid-1990s, but as of July 1, the program will be sporting Nike apparel for the next eight years.
Nike isn’t making any drastic changes to the Tennessee uniform. Here’s a look at the Volunteers’ Nike uniforms for the upcoming year:
Tennessee's 2015 uniforms with Nike:
Here it is, your Tennessee Football AWAY uniform pic.twitter.com/Esk0S0cb5t— Tennessee Athletics (@Vol_Sports) July 1, 2015
Headhunter pic.twitter.com/g6H2Muzr8N— Vol Photos (@Vol_Photos) July 1, 2015
Alternate Helmet for Tennessee:
Alternate Uniform for Tennessee:
Here's Tennessee's uniforms from 2014 with Adidas:
White Sox lefty Chris Sale has become a member of a short list in the record books, joining Pedro Martinez as the only two pitchers to strike out 10+ batters in eight straight games. In a 2-1 win over the MLB-best Cardinals, Sale struck out 12 over eight innings, allowing just one run. However, very typical of his season, he ended up with a no decision, as the White Sox struggled to score.
The Southpaw from the South Side leads the MLB with 141 strikeouts and possesses a scant 2.87 ERA. His record of 6-4 is hardly indicative of what he’s accomplished so far, as he has been utterly dominant in making batters swing and miss. Sale has been a lone highlight on the White Sox and should be a lock for the upcoming All Star Game.
Look at some incredible pitches from the strikeout machines:
The start of July signals the halfway point in the MLB regular season. With the All-Star Game set for July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the Midsummer Classic is clearly one of the storylines to watch this month. But it's not alone, as pennant races will heat up and the July 31 trade deadline looms. Here's a rundown of the five storylines that are sure to sizzle this month
Will Kris Bryant or Joc Pederson separate themselves in the NL ROY race?
The future of baseball seems to be loaded with power, if this year’s rookies are indicative of the shift in baseball. In the NL, the race for Rookie of the Year already seems to be down to a battle between Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant and Dodgers’ center fielder Joc Pederson. Both players have gotten off to incredible starts, especially as they were both highly rated prospects. The question though is whether either one will take a decisive lead in the rookie race. As of now, Bryant leads Pederson in batting average, hits and RBIs despite playing in 11 fewer games. However, Pederson leads rookies definitively with 20 home runs and has a higher on-base percentage and slugging percentage than Bryant. Defensively, Bryant has been more than serviceable at the hot corner, while Pederson has made his share of highlight-reel plays in center field. There is still more than half a season left, but July will be an important month for both players, not to mention their respective teams.
Pitching is all about Chris: Archer and Sale
There have been several pitchers who have heated up as of late, but few dominated in June like Chris Archer and Chris Sale. Archer currently boasts a 2.31 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 17 starts. In June alone, Archer went 4-1 in six starts, including a three-game stretch where he struck out 34 in 20 innings. Sale has been just as dominant, as he closed out June with his eighth straight start with at least 10 strikeouts, tying Pedro Martinez's all-time record for the longest such streak. Sale may only have six wins, but you could make a strong case that the ace of the AL Central's last-place White Sox should start the All-Star Game in two weeks. Then again, the same could be said for Archer, who is leading the surprising pitching staff for the AL East's first-place Rays, who are tied with the Orioles entering July. The intensity each displays on the mound is incredible, and it will be interesting to see how long each will be able to maintain this level of performance.
MLB Trade Deadline: Who's moving?
On the last day of July, the trade deadline will come. However, between now and then, it's entirely possible that some big-name players will change teams. Some teams will seek to maximize their return on desirable assets in hopes of jumpstarting a rebuild, while others are looking to add that key player who will hopefully contribute to a deep playoff run. Players that have already been linked to trades include pitchers Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir, and hitters Troy Tulowitzki and Ben Zobrist. Each of these high-profile players brings veteran experience and immediate results to any team in need. Many players have been talked about in trades since last year, so keep an eye out for a blockbuster or two.
Standings Shakeups: Which teams will continue to win and which need to rebound?
As always, several teams have outperformed preseason expectations, while others have struggled to win. The Rays, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Giants and Mets have all enjoyed success at a level beyond what was expected of them. The Astros have certainly garnered the most attention, led by a bevy of young players; orchestrating a surprising turnaround given their results from the past few seasons. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Mariners and White Sox have been among the biggest disappointments, after each attacked free agency aggressively and made significant moves during the offseason. None of the teams are completely out of the playoff race just yet, but unless an extensive winning streak is on the horizon, it's likely each team could make some changes before the trade deadline. Specifically, the Red Sox need pitching (last in AL, 28th in MLB in ERA) and the Mariners and White Sox need hitting (29th and 30th in MLB in runs scored, respectively).
All-Star Game: What will happen next?
This year's All-Star Game will be played at Great American Ball Park, an NL stadium, but it's the potential makeup of the AL team that's getting the most attention. With the Royals dominating the All-Star voting, it seems that changes to the process could be on the forefront. Whether or not action happens immediately, the dialogue will be important. Baseball has arguably the most important All-Star exhibition out of any of the big four sports because the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series. The question is if new Commissioner Rob Manfred addresses the issue, which will certainly be a larger topic for debate. However, don't expect any rules changes in July, as those discussions and decisions will be saved for the offseason.
Colin Cowherd isn't the easiest guy to get along with, but evidently Jim Harbaugh is in the same boat.
The Michigan coach was being interviewed by Cowherd and it didn't go as planned. The ESPN personality ended up cutting the interview short, and for good reason. Harbaugh didn't seem too interested.
Social media quickly reacted to the awkward exchange and abrupt end to the interview.
In defense of Cowherd. Harbaugh clearly had little interest in being interviewed. Answers were brutal.— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) July 1, 2015
Wow. Good for @ESPN_Colin for cutting that interview with Harbaugh off. Guy was half asleep.— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) July 1, 2015
" I just did the roughest interview I've ever done in my 12 years in radio." @ESPN_Colin on Jim Harbaugh. Ouch— BK (@brendonkuhn) July 1, 2015
" I just did the roughest interview I've ever done in my 12 years in radio." @ESPN_Colin on Jim Harbaugh. Ouch— BK (@brendonkuhn) July 1, 2015
For the first time in a long time, social media is siding with Cowherd for doing what he had to do and cutting Harbaugh short.
Later, Harbaugh replied to the criticism he received for the interview.
In my experience of participating in interviews, I've found it takes 2 to produce a clunker! I'll take 50% responsibility 4 this clunker.— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) July 1, 2015
Before the free agency period explodes, the New Orleans Pelicans have made sure to wrap up Anthony Davis to ensure that he will be with the team long-term. In a five-year extension that will begin next year, the max deal will give him the league’s richest contract. From 2016-2021, Davis will rake in around $145 million, averaging out to about $29 million a year.
The power forward was among the league’s best, ranking in the top five in WAR, points, and blocks. At only 22, the young superstar seems only to have an upward trajectory over the course of his contract. He looks to lead the team further into the playoffs, as they were knocked out by the eventual champion Warriors this year. Broken down more, Davis will make about $350,000 a game, or just under $10,000 per minute played.
Take a look at some top plays below and see why he's getting paid so much:
Cornerback is one of the toughest positions to play in college football. Quarterbacks, spread attacks and skill players aren’t getting any easier to defend and the rules certainly favor the offensive side of the ball.
While the success of the secondary doesn’t necessarily depend on the two starting cornerbacks for any team, having a standout tandem helps to defend the prolific offenses in college football.
It’s never too early to think about the upcoming year, so Athlon Sports is taking a look at ranking the top cornerback tandems for the 2015 season. A couple of notes: Only Power 5 programs were considered for the top 25 and there was projection for the upcoming year. Previous stats and awards matter, but it is important to look at what’s ahead for the 2015 season. Additionally, it’s not easy to weigh the tandems when there is one clear standout (Florida State and Clemson) and question marks at other spot.
Top 25 CB Tandems from Power 5 Teams
1. Virginia Tech: Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson
Fuller is one of the top cover corners in the nation and a first-team Athlon Sports All-America selection for 2015. Facyson was limited to three games due to injury last year and recorded six stops. When healthy, Facyson is one of the top defensive backs in the ACC, recording third-team all-conference honors in 2013.
Related: All-ACC Team for 2015
2. Florida: Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Tabor
Hargreaves III is arguably the best cornerback in college football. Over the last two seasons, Hargreaves III intercepted six passes and broke up 24 throws to his side of the field. Tabor was a member of the Athlon Sports All-Freshman Team last year after recording 22 tackles and one interception in 12 appearances.
Related: 2015 All-America Team
3. LSU: Tre’Davious White and Kevin Toliver II
New LSU coordinator Kevin Steele inherits one of the top defensive backfields in the nation. The Tigers ranked third nationally in pass efficiency defense last season and plenty of experience and talent returns in 2015. White has started 24 games over the last two years and recorded four interceptions in that span. Toliver II was a five-star recruit in the 2015 signing class and will battle with Ed Paris for the starting spot opposite of White.
4. USC: Adoree’ Jackson and Kevon Seymour
The Trojans have question marks up front with the departure of Leonard Williams, but there’s little concern in the secondary for coordinator Justin Wilcox. Jackson is one of the top all-purpose players in the nation and will see time on offense in 2015. Seymour broke up 13 passes last season and has made steady improvement over the last three years.
Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015
5. Notre Dame: Cole Luke and KeiVarae Russell
The Fighting Irish ranked 84th nationally in pass efficiency defense last season but expect to see big improvement out of this unit. Russell recorded 109 tackles and 10 pass breakups from 2012-13 and ranked as one of the nation’s top cornerbacks prior to last year. However, Russell was suspended for all of 2014, forcing Notre Dame to shuffle its secondary. Cole Luke started all 13 games as a sophomore last year and recorded 48 tackles, 11 pass breakups and four interceptions. He should be even better in his second season as the starter.
Related: 2015 All-America Team
6. Minnesota: Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray
Most around the Big Ten know how good this duo was in 2014, but it’s time for the rest of the nation to take notice. Boddy-Calhoun was one of Minnesota’s top playmakers on defense last season, breaking up nine passes and intercepting five in 13 games. Murray only intercepted one pass, but opposing quarterbacks also avoided his side of the field. This duo was a key reason why Minnesota only allowed 12 passing scores in Big Ten play in 2014.
7. Wisconsin: Darius Hillary and Sojourn Shelton
Behind the leadership of rising star coordinator Dave Aranda, Wisconsin limited opponents to just 20.8 points per game in 2014. The secondary was a key piece of Aranda’s defensive success last year, as the Badgers allowed just 11 touchdown passes in Big Ten play and held opposing quarterbacks to a 47.4 completion percentage. Hillary started all 14 games last season, while Shelton followed up a solid freshman debut with 33 tackles and six passes defended.
8. Florida State: Jalen Ramsey and Marquez White
Coordinator Charles Kelly should feel great about one of Florida State’s cornerback spots. The other spot? Wait and see. Ramsey could be college football’s best defensive player in 2015, as the Tennessee native has started all 28 games in his career and will move from safety to cornerback this year. Marquez White is locked into a tight battle for the other job, as converted running back Ryan Green or talented freshmen Tarvarus McFadden or Marcus Lewis could start opposite of Ramsey.
Related: ACC Predictions for 2015
9. Ohio State: Eli Apple and Gareon Conley
The Buckeyes ranked 13th nationally in pass efficiency defense last season and eliminated some of the big plays that hindered this unit in 2013. Doran Grant must be replaced at one corner spot, but Eli Apple is one of the nation’s rising stars on defense after starting 14 games in 2014. Apple is one of the Big Ten’s top corners, while Conley left spring with the edge over Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore for the other spot.
Related: 2015 All-America Team
10. Clemson: Mackensie Alexander and Cordrea Tankersley
Clemson suffered significant losses to its front seven for 2015, but Alexander gives coordinator Brent Venables a solid piece to build around in the secondary. The Florida native is coming off an impressive freshman season, recording 22 tackles and six pass breakups in 13 games. Uncertainty surrounds the spot opposite of Alexander, which is expected to go to Cordrea Tankersley.
11. Tennessee: Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley
Sutton has been underrated throughout his career, but the Georgia native won’t fly under the radar in 2015 as one of the SEC’s top defensive backs. He has 20 pass breakups and five interceptions over the last two years. Moseley played in 13 games as a true freshman in 2014 and recorded 19 tackles and six pass breakups.
12. Mississippi State: Will Redmond and Taveze Calhoun
The Bulldogs finished No. 14 in the SEC in pass defense last season, but that number was a little deceiving. Mississippi State ranked No. 25 nationally in pass efficiency defense and limited opposing quarterbacks to a 53.4 completion percentage. Redmond has never started a game in his career, but the Memphis native has thrived as a nickel back. Calhoun ranked fourth on the team with 53 stops in 2014 and also recorded nine pass breakups.
Related: SEC 2015 All-Conference Team
13. Maryland: William Likely and Sean Davis
Likely isn’t the biggest cornerback (5-foot-7), but the Florida native is one of the Big Ten’s top returning defenders. In 13 games last season, Likely earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after recording 83 tackles and six interceptions. Davis started all 13 games last season and will move to cornerback from safety on a full-time basis in 2015. He recorded 115 tackles and eight pass breakups last year.
14. Virginia: Maurice Canady and Demetrious Nicholson
Health is a huge question for this trio, as Nicholson has played in only six games over the last two years due to injury. Assuming Nicholson is healthy and regains his pre-injury form, Virginia should be one of the ACC’s best against the pass. Canady earned second-team All-ACC honors after recording 37 tackles, one forced fumble and three picks in 2014.
15. Ole Miss: Tony Bridges and Tee Shepard
Ole Miss fielded one of the stingiest defensive units in the nation in 2014, and this unit shouldn’t miss a beat despite losing cornerback Senquez Golson to the NFL. The Rebels allowed only seven passing scores in SEC games in 2014 and limited opponents to a 59.1 completion percentage. Matching those totals in 2015 is on the shoulders of juniors Tony Bridges and Tee Shepard. Bridges ranked as the No. 7 junior college recruit in the 2015 247Sports Composite. Shepard returns to action after missing 2014 due to injury.
16. Kansas State: Danzel McDaniel and Morgan Burns
McDaniel and Burns are an underrated duo and a big reason why Kansas State allowed only 11 passes of 30 yards or more last season – the fewest in the Big 12. In his first year from the junior college ranks, McDaniel earned second-team All-Big 12 honors and recorded 59 tackles. Burns is a weapon on special teams and started 12 games for the Wildcats last season.
17. Auburn: Jonathan Jones and Blake Countess
With Will Muschamp calling the signals in 2015, Auburn could have one of the nation’s most improved defenses. The front seven is set with the return of end Carl Lawson, but the secondary has room to improve after allowing 44 plays of 20 yards or more last year. Jonathan Jones had a breakout year in 2014, recording 11 pass breakups and six interceptions en route to earning second-team All-SEC honors. Countess is a graduate transfer from Michigan eligible immediately. He appeared in 38 games with the Wolverines.
18. Oklahoma: Zack Sanchez and Jordan Thomas
Much like a few teams ahead of the Sooners, one spot is secure and the other spot has uncertainty entering 2015. The pass defense has to improve for coach Bob Stoops, but junior Zack Sanchez should be one of the Big 12’s top cover options. The Texas native has 21 pass breakups in the last two years. Sophomore Jordan Thomas is the favorite to start opposite of Sanchez.
19. Missouri: Kenya Dennis and Aarion Penton
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Dennis and Penton earn All-SEC consideration this year. This duo anchored the Missouri secondary in 2014, guiding the Tigers to a No. 39 finish in pass efficiency defense. Penton broke up 10 passes and intercepted three balls, while Dennis made 61 stops and defended 10 passes.
20. UCLA: Fabian Moreau and Ishmael Adams
With four starters back in the secondary, UCLA should be able to improve off last year’s No. 60 rank in pass efficiency defense. Moreau earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2014 after recording 53 tackles and one interception. In addition to his success on special teams, Adams started all 13 games on defense and picked off two passes and recorded 41 tackles.
Related: Pac-12 Predictions for 2015
21. Arizona State: Lloyd Carrington and Kweishi Brown
The Sun Devils are going to be aggressive with their front seven on defense, so a few big plays are going to be allowed by the secondary if the pass rush doesn’t get to the quarterback. Arizona State allowed 27 passing plays (No. 12 in the Pac-12) of 30 yards or more last year. Coordinator Keith Patterson and coach Todd Graham hope that number drops in 2015, especially with Carrington and Brown returning after combining for four interceptions and 11 pass breakups in 2014.
22. Arkansas: Henre’ Toliver and Jared Collins
The Razorbacks showed big improvement under coordinator Robb Smith last year, holding opponents to just 5.1 yards per play after allowing 6.1 in 2013. The secondary limited opposing SEC quarterbacks to 12 passing scores last season, and Smith has three solid options to choose from at cornerback. Juniors Jared Collins and D.J. Dean are competing to start on one side, while Henre’ Toliver left spring with the edge at the other spot.
23. Penn State: Trevor Williams and Grant Haley
Penn State plans on shuffling its secondary a bit in 2015, but coordinator Bob Shoop should feel confident in this group. Senior Jordan Lucas will shift from cornerback to safety, opening the door for Williams and Haley to take over as the new tandem in Happy Valley. Haley played well as a true freshman last season and recorded 18 tackles and one interception in 13 games. Williams made a smooth transition from receiver to cornerback prior to 2013 and started 12 contests last year.
24. Duke: Bryon Fields and Breon Borders
The Blue Devils quietly ranked 23rd nationally in pass efficiency defense last season. And with five starters returning in the secondary for 2015, matching that total or climbing even higher could be possible for coach David Cutcliffe’s defensive backs. Safety Jeremy Cash is this unit’s headliner, but Fields and Borders combined to intercept four passes and limited ACC opponents to just 12 passing scores in league play.
25. NC State: Juston Burris and Jack Tocho
The Wolfpack are a sleeper team to watch in the ACC Atlantic this year, as the Wolfpack return 14 starters from a team that won four out of their final five games in 2014. NC State’s defense has to retool up front, but the secondary is a strength with all five starters returning. This unit ranked 42nd nationally in pass efficiency defense and allowed 12 passing scores in league play. Tocho is only getting better with each snap, and the junior anchors the secondary after recording 40 tackles, one interception and 11 pass breakups last year.
Other Power 5 CB Tandems to Watch
Alabama: Cyrus Jones and Tony Brown
Georgia: Malkom Parrish and Devin Bowman
Georgia Tech: Chris Milton and D.J. White
Iowa: Desmond King and Greg Mabin
Michigan: Wayne Lyons and Jourdan Lewis
Northwestern: Nick VanHoose and Matthew Harris
Oklahoma State: Kevin Peterson and Ramon Richards
Oregon: Charles Nelson and Chris Seisay
West Virginia: Daryl Worley and Terrell Chestnut
Top Group of 5 Cornerback Tandems
Boise State: Donte Deayon and Jonathan Moxey
FIU: Richard Leonard and Jeremiah McKinnon
Houston: Brandon Wilson and William Jackson
Louisiana Tech: Adairius Barnes and Bryson Abraham
Northern Illinois: Paris Logan and Anthony Brooks
San Diego State: J.J. Whittaker and Damontae Kazee
San Jose State: Jimmy Pruitt and Cleveland Wallace
Temple: Tavon Young and Sean Chandler