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All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-22-2013
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 22.

 

• It's late July, meaning that football season is a little over a month away. Here's a cheerleader gallery to while away the dog days.

 

The most athletic couples in sports. Undoubtedly, agents are already lining up to sign their spawn.

 

Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested for barking at a police dog. Will he now find himself in Will Muschamp's doghouse? (rimshot)

 

• Deadspin brings the goods today. First, there's George Brett eating baby food in slow motion. Then you have jiggling breasts at a Brewers game — just not the kind you want to see. Finally, there's no brawl quite like a badminton brawl. See for yourself.

 

MMQB, Peter King's vanity project, has launched. Gotta admit, I'll be a frequent visitor.

 

Is Jim Boeheim running out of gas? There's photographic evidence that he is.

 

• The SEC Media Days offered the usual coach-speak and pablum. But we had a translator on hand who tells us what they really meant.

 

This GIF will make it tougher to sell seats right behind home plate.

 

From the growing file of foul balls in beer, a lady makes the grab, then shares the brew.

 

• A sneaky Red Sox fan conned a Yankees coach out of a foul ball. Well played, son.

 

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 10:27
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Florida Gators, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/florida-lb-antonio-morrison-gets-taiwanese-animation-treatment
Body:

Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons this offseason.

First, there was an arrest on June 16 for punching a bouncer. Then on Sunday morning, Morrison was arrested for harassing a police animal. Yes, you read that correctly.

As a result of Morrison’s arrest, he has received the Taiwanese animation treatment. And there are appearances by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Florida coach Will Muschamp. Needless to say, this is worth just over a minute of your time.

 

 

Teaser:
Florida LB Antonio Morrison Gets Taiwanese Animation Treatment
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 10:14
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/kentucky-wear-gray-uniforms-and-helmets
Body:

The Mark Stoops era at Kentucky is already off to a fast start, as the Wildcats have one of the nation’s top recruiting classes. And as Stoops looks to build an identity and breathe some life into the program, Kentucky could be looking at updating its helmets and jerseys for 2013.

This photo tweeted by recruit Matt Elam showcases Kentucky’s matte black helmet and gray jersey.

Is it just something for show? Or will we see it in a game this year?

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/chrome-helmets-ole-miss
Body:

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze created plenty of buzz on the recruiting trail with a top-10 recruiting class. But are the Rebels going to make some more noise in the helmet department?

This photo showcases a chrome Ole Miss helmet (which is a pretty sharp look). However, it’s uncertain if this look will be worn in a game this year, or if this is just a concept look created for recruiting purposes.

Either way, it’s a shiny (and potentially awesome) look for Ole Miss.

 

Teaser:
Chrome Helmets for Ole Miss?
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/brewers-manager-wears-throwback-jersey-misspelling
Body:
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke sported a throwback jersey during a recent game against Miami. Unfortunately, it was misspelled, with the "U" and the "K" in Milwaukee swapped on the front. Apparently, it was a throwback to when people couldn't spell. 

Teaser:
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke sported a throwback jersey during a recent game against Miami.
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 08:41
All taxonomy terms: Cincinnati Reds, Overtime
Path: /overtime/fan-pities-fool-who-doesnt-reds
Body:

Now this is a baseball fan. During a recent Cincinnati Reds game at the Great American Ball Park, this die-hard fan was spotted sporting a color-coordinated mohawk while taking in the action. No word on why he didn't dye his arm and back hair red. 

Teaser:
A Cincinnati Reds fan was spotted sporting a color-coordinated haircut while taking in the action at Great American Ball Park.
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 08:25
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-worst-25-coaching-tenures-bcs-era
Body:

Determining the worst coaching tenures for any period is no easy task. Each program has its own set of hurdles to overcome, and all coaches aren’t on equal footing when they take over a job.

In forming Athlon’s list of the top 25 worst coaching tenures of the BCS era, we placed an emphasis on what shape the program is before the coach arrived, how it fared during his tenure, and the short-term effect after his departure. Programs like Eastern Michigan or New Mexico State have traditionally been a difficult place to establish a winning tradition, so it’s hard to punish coaches from both schools (or similar circumstances), even if their record is uninspiring. On the other side, programs like Southern Miss or East Carolina have a track record of success recently. Which makes the 0-12 by Ellis Johnson and 3-20 by John Thompson among the worst tenures of the BCS era (since 1998).

Also of note, only tenures that have been completed factored into this ranking. So any active tenures going into the 2013 season were not considered for this article.

College Football’s Worst 25 Tenures of the BCS Era

1. Mike Locksley, New Mexico
Record: 2-26 (2009-11)

Locksley was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistant coaches and recruiters when he left Illinois to join New Mexico in 2009. The Washington, D.C. native was able to attract some talent to Albuquerque, but it didn’t translate into results on the field. Locksley’s tenure at New Mexico lasted only three years, with his final season ending after the fourth game. Locksley won just two Mountain West games during his tenure and was suspended for one game due to an altercation with an assistant coach.

2. Larry Porter, Memphis
Record: 3-21 (2010-11)

Porter’s tenure is another example of why programs should be reluctant to hire ace recruiters with no head coaching experience. The former Memphis running back was hired as the Tigers’ head coach in 2010 and lasted only two years. Porter didn’t inherit a disaster at Memphis, as Tommy West went 15-23 over his final three years and played in a bowl game in 2008. Porter’s teams were largely uncompetitive, and his three wins came against MTSU (6-7 in 2010), Austin Peay (a FCS opponent) and Tulane (2-11 in 2011). After Porter’s unsuccessful tenure, Memphis got it right by hiring Justin Fuente, who went 4-8 in his first season with the Tigers.

3. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Record: 0-12 (2012)

There aren’t many one-year stints as a college football head coach. But it was clear to Southern Miss after just one season that Johnson wasn’t the right fit for the program. The Golden Eagles turned in arguably their worst season in school history, finishing with an 0-12 mark, with the offense ranking 110th nationally in scoring and the defense finishing 113th in points allowed. Southern Miss was replacing a handful of key contributors from its 2011 squad, but the Golden Eagles still had enough talent in the program to compete for a bowl bid. Johnson is an excellent defensive coordinator, but Southern Miss clearly made the right call to pull the plug after one season.

4. John Thompson, East Carolina
Record: 3-20 (2003-04)

After Steve Logan was fired in 2002, the Pirates made a big mistake by hiring Thompson. In the two years prior to Thompson’s arrival, East Carolina went 10-14. And in two seasons under Thompson, the Pirates slumped to 3-20. However, the program rebounded under Skip Holtz in 2005, winning five games and then seven in ‘06. Thompson is another case of a good coordinator that was not ready to be a head coach. And his record looks even worse when you consider two of his victories came against Army with the other one being Tulane.

5. Rob Ianello, Akron
Record: 2-22 (2010-11)

Prior to taking over at Akron, Ianello had no coordinator experience and was coming off a four-year stint on Charlie Weis’ staff at Notre Dame. The results were disastrous for the Zips. Ianello won just one game in each of his two years in Akron and went winless in MAC play in 2011. The Zips beat Buffalo in 2010 – a Bulls team that went 2-10 – and VMI in ‘11 under Ianello’s watch. Although Ianello’s tenure was a failure, the school deserves poor marks for firing him on the way to his mother’s funeral.

6. Greg Robinson, Syracuse
Record: 10-37 (2005-08)

Although Paul Pasqualoni has struggled at Connecticut, he went 26-23 over his last four seasons at Syracuse from 2001-04. While Robinson wasn’t inheriting a roster full of talent, he wasn’t getting a bare cupboard either. The Orange went from being a consistent bowl team to one that struggled just to get a couple of wins a year under Robinson’s watch. The Orange never won more than one Big East game in a single year under Robinson, and he recorded the program’s only double-digit losing seasons.

7. Todd Dodge, North Texas
Record: 6-37 (2007-10)

You have to credit North Texas for at least thinking outside of the box with Dodge’s hire. After being a successful high school coach in Texas, Dodge was supposed to turn North Texas back into a Sun Belt power. Instead, the Mean Green nosedived into being one of the worst teams in the nation. North Texas went 6-37 under Dodge’s watch and never won more than one conference game from 2007-10. Considering where North Texas is on college football’s food chain, a hire like Dodge is worth the risk. However, the Mean Green are still trying to dig out from his tenure, as Dan McCarney is just 9-15 over the last two years.

8. Turner Gill, Kansas
Record: 5-19 (2010-11)

Surprising. That’s the one word that comes to mind when mentioning Gill’s tenure at Kansas. Although his record at Buffalo – not an easy place to win – wasn’t overly impressive (20-30), he did lead the Bulls to a bowl game and a MAC Championship in 2008. Gill inherited a Kansas team that went 5-7 in Mark Mangino’s last season (2009), but the Jayhawks regressed in 2010-11. Kansas won just one Big 12 game under Gill’s watch – a 52-45 victory over Colorado – and finished 2011 on a 10-game losing streak. Considering the high expectations surrounding his arrival, Gill might be one of the most disappointing hires of the BCS era.

9. Carl Franks, Duke
Record: 7-45 (1999-2003)

It’s not easy to maintain success at Duke. But it’s also hard to ignore a 7-45 record over five years. Franks came to Durham from Florida, as he served as an assistant with Steve Spurrier from 1990-98 in Gainesville. Franks also had experience at Duke, as he played for the Blue Devils and later coached there from 1987-89. The high point of Franks’ tenure was a 3-8 mark in 1999, but that record was followed up by back-to-back 0-11 seasons. The Blue Devils never won an ACC game in Franks’ final full three years at Duke.

10. Ted Roof, Duke
Record: 6-45 (2003-07)

As mentioned with Carl Franks, winning at Duke is no easy task. However, the Blue Devils can be much more competitive than they were under Franks and Roof. After taking over for Franks in 2003, Roof guided Duke to a 2-3 finish, including a 30-22 win over rival North Carolina. However, the momentum was short-lived, as the Blue Devils won only four games over the next four years. Duke also went winless in ACC play from 2005-07 under Roof’s guidance.

11. Jon Embree, Colorado
Record: 4-21 (2011-12)

Even though Embree was a Colorado alum, he was a questionable hire from the start. The former Buffaloes’ tight end had no coordinator or head coach experience and was serving as a tight ends’ coach for the Redskins prior to his arrival in Boulder in 2011. Embree didn’t inherit the best situation following Dan Hawkins, but Colorado showed little improvement under his watch. The Buffaloes went 3-11 in Embree’s first year and managed to win two out of their final three games. However, Colorado was arguably one of the worst teams of the BCS era in 2012, losing to Colorado State and Sacramento State to start the year and was demolished by Fresno State 69-14 in Week 3. Embree played a lot of young players and dealt with some injuries to key personnel, but the Buffaloes struggled mightily and his 1-11 season is the worst in Colorado history.

12. Kevin Steele, Baylor
Record: 9-36 (1999-2002)

Steele is a highly regarded defensive assistant but had a dismal stint as a head coach at Baylor. The South Carolina native was hired at Baylor in 1999, after spending four years as an assistant with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Prior to his arrival in Waco, Steele had no head coaching experience – and it clearly showed. The Bears had three consecutive losing seasons before Steele’s debut, but Baylor backtracked under his watch. The Bears went 1-10 in 1999 and then 8-26 in the next three years. Steele’s biggest blunder came against UNLV in 1999, as he chose to run a play instead of kneeling down with 12 seconds left. Baylor fumbled on that play, and the turnover was returned by UNLV for a touchdown, giving the Rebels a 27-24 victory.

13. Bobby Wallace, Temple
Record: 19-71 (1998-2004)

After leading North Alabama to three Division II championships from 1993-95, Wallace appeared to be the right coach to make Temple competitive in the Big East. He managed to make some progress, as the Owls won four games for three consecutive years. Although four victories may not seem like much, Temple had not won more than three games in a season since 1990. However, Wallace didn’t make enough progress under his watch, and the Owls were dismissed from the Big East after the 2004 season. Temple was forced to play 2005 as an Independent and posted a dreadful 0-11 record. The highlight of Wallace’s tenure? A 28-24 win over then-Big East memberVirginia Tech in Blacksburg in 1998.

14. Vic Koenning, Wyoming
Record: 5-29 (2000-02)

When Koenning was promoted to replace Dana Dimel, Wyoming had put together seven consecutive years of six or more wins, including a 10-2 mark in 1996. However, Koenning was unable to continue that momentum, and the Cowboys fell into the bottom of the Mountain West. Under Koenning’s watch, Wyoming went 5-29, which included only one win in conference play and two others against FCS opponents. Koenning is a solid defensive coordinator but was overmatched as a head coach.

15. Terry Shea, Rutgers
Record: 11-44 (1996-2000)

Shea’s tenure started just outside of the BCS era, but his three years in the required timeframe were a struggle. Rutgers went 2-20 in his first two seasons and recorded a 9-24 mark over the final three years. Shea did manage to go 5-6 in 1998 but was blown out by Temple in 1999 and 2000 and went a combined 4-18 from 1999-2000. The cupboard wasn’t full for Shea when he arrived at Rutgers, as Doug Graber didn’t fare better than .500 in his final three seasons. However, Shea did little to build on the mild success Graber had in 1991 (6-5) and ‘92 (7-4). 

16. Stan Parrish, Ball State
Record: 6-19 (2008-10)

If this was a list of all-time worst coaching tenures, Parrish’s 2-30-1 record at Kansas State from 1986-88 would rank near the top. While Parrish’s tenure at Ball State was bad, it wasn’t quite as bad as his previous stop at Kansas State. The Cardinals went 6-19 under his watch, which was a clear backtrack from the progress made under Brady Hoke (19-7 in 2007-08). The Cardinals also lost two games to FCS opponents under Parrish.

17. Todd Berry, Army
Record: 5-35 (2000-03)

Considering how difficult it has been to win at Army, it’s unfair to punish Berry too much in these rankings. However, his tenure in West Point was largely uncompetitive. Berry was hired to resurrect a program that had five losing seasons over the last six years, but he struggled mightily in his tenure, winning just one game in his debut season and posting a 1-11 mark in 2002. Berry was dismissed after an 0-6 start in 2003. Army is not an easy place to maintain success, but Berry’s decision to run a pro-style offense proved to be too difficult of a transition for a program that was acclimated to option attacks.

18. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Record: 15-21 (2010-12)

Tennessee was caught in a bad spot when the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll away from USC, which prompted Lane Kiffin to bolt Knoxville for Los Angeles. Kiffin’s mid-January move didn’t leave the Volunteers much time to find a new coach before Signing Day. Dooley came to Tennessee from Louisiana Tech after a 17-20 record in three years with the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech did make small gains under Dooley, which included a bowl game in 2008. However, he failed to bring much improvement to Knoxville, as the Volunteers went 15-21 under his watch and went 4-19 in SEC play. Considering the coaching turnover in Knoxville from Phil Fulmer to Kiffin to Dooley in just three years, Tennessee had to go through a lot of transition in a short time. However, Dooley winning just one SEC game in two years is simply unacceptable at a program that has all of the resources and tradition necessary to compete for SEC East titles.

19. Paul Wulff, Washington State
Record: 9-40 (2008-11)

At the time of his hire, Wulff seemed to be a good fit at Washington State. He was a former player with the Cougars and spent eight years at Eastern Washington, accumulating a 53-40 record. Wulff also took EWU to three playoff appearances. After a successful run under Mike Price, Washington State declined under Bill Doba, posting three losing seasons in five years. Wulff wasn’t inheriting a full cupboard, but the program wasn’t in terrible shape either. The Cougars were dreadful in Wulff’s first year, beating only Portland State and an 0-12 Washington team. Things didn’t get much better in year two, as Washington State went 1-11 and failed to win a Pac-12 game. The Cougars were more competitive in Wulff’s third season and won four games in 2011. However, that wasn’t enough for Wulff to return for 2012. Wulff’s tenure at Washington State ended with a dismal 4-32 record in Pac-12 play.

20. John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record: 4-8 (2012)

It’s unfair to pin all of Arkansas’ struggles in 2012 on Smith. The Razorbacks were left in a bad spot after Bobby Petrino was fired in April, and it’s no easy task finding a head coach in May for the upcoming season. No matter what coach was on the sidelines in Fayetteville last year, the transition from Petrino was going to cost Arkansas a couple of games. But after winning 21 games from 2010-11, the Razorbacks were one of college football’s biggest disappointments in 2012, and Smith has to shoulder a chunk of the blame. Arkansas’ 2012 season began to unravel in Week 2 after an overtime loss to ULM, and the Razorbacks were pummeled by Alabama 52-0 the following Saturday. Arkansas won three out of four games in the middle of the season, but it wasn’t enough. Considering the talent on last year’s team, Arkansas’ 2012 campaign will be one of the most disappointing in school history.

21. Jim Hofner, Buffalo
Record: 8-49 (2001-05)

Hofner came to Buffalo in 2001, which was shortly after the Bulls moved from the FCS to the FBS ranks. While the transition to the FBS wasn’t expected to be easy, Buffalo was largely uncompetitive under Hofner’s watch. The Bulls went 8-49 in his tenure and never won more than three games in a season. Buffalo had back-to-back 1-11 seasons from 2002-03, and Hofner finished his tenure with a dismal 1-10 mark. One of the few highlights of the Hofner era was a 36-6 win over Central Michigan in Brian Kelly’s first season.

22. Chuck Long, San Diego State
Record: 9-27 (2006-08)

Despite having a location in a fertile recruiting area, San Diego State has struggled to maintain success. After the failed Tom “Air” Craft era, the Aztecs made a splash by hiring Long from Oklahoma. Although Long was regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, San Diego State didn’t show much progress under his watch. The Aztecs went 3-9 in 2006, 4-8 in ‘07 and slipped to 2-10 in ‘08. The program also lost twice to FCS opponent Cal Poly under Long’s direction.

23. Tom Holmoe, California
Record: 9-31 (1998-2001)

Holmoe inherited a California team that was coming off a 6-6 mark in Steve Mariucci’s one and only season in Berkeley. The Golden Bears went 8-14 in Holmoe’s first two years but faded over the final three seasons. California went 4-7 in 1999 and then recorded a 4-18 mark over the final two years of Holmoe’s tenure. The Golden Bears failed to win a Pac-10 game in 2001 and their 1-10 overall mark is the worst in school history. California also ran into NCAA trouble after Holmoe’s tenure, as the program was forced to forfeit four wins from 1999 and was banned from postseason play in 2002 due to the use of ineligible players. Holmoe failed to beat Stanford once during his tenure, and the program quickly rebounded once Jeff Tedford was hired, winning seven games in 2002. 

24. Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss
Record: 10-25 (2005-07)

Orgeron did a good job of assembling talent in Oxford, as his recruiting class in 2006 was ranked No. 15 nationally by Athlon Sports. But a good portion of the highlights from Orgeron’s tenure were on the recruiting trail. Ole Miss won only three SEC games from 2005-08 and never made a bowl appearance under Orgeron. Three of Orgeron’s wins came against Memphis and three more came against FCS opponents. In 2008, one year after Orgeron was fired, Houston Nutt went 9-4 and led the Rebels to a win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Orgeron was hired due to his recruiting ties, but he had no head coaching experience prior to his arrival in Oxford.

25. Walt Harris, Stanford
Record: 6-17 (2005-06)

After a respectable 52-44 mark in eight years with Pittsburgh from 1997-2004, Harris decided to leave the Steel City for the Farm. The veteran coach had a tough assignment taking over the program after Buddy Teevens went 10-23 in three years, but Stanford went 5-6 in Harris’ first year. However, things fell apart for Harris in his second season, as the Cardinal went 1-11 in 2006. Stanford’s offense struggled after quarterback Trent Edwards was lost for the year, but the Cardinal was largely uncompetitive all season. Harris caught a bad break with Edwards’ injury, but the program was headed in the wrong direction, and dismissing him after two years proved to be the right move.

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Teaser:
College Football's Worst 25 Coaching Tenures of the BCS Era
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 07:21
Path: /college-football/christian-hackenberg-penn-states-next-superstar
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Christian HackenbergIt all seems so obvious now, as if everyone could see the hand of destiny at work. But the truth is, when Christian Hackenberg showed up as a sophomore at Fork Union Military Academy, a private boarding school in Fork Union, Va., no one really knew what he could do, and no one expected him to claim the starting quarterback position in his first season.

Fork Union didn’t exactly need a savior. It already had a fine quarterback in Richard Quittenton, who had lifted the Blue Devils into the state playoffs the year before. All the coaching staff asked of Hackenberg was that he learn the offense while Quittenton — a Canadian native who is now at the University of Toronto — ran the show. They taught him to operate the hurry-up offense in the hope that he might be able to earn some playing time by focusing on a specific niche.

“It was a sped-up spread,” Fork Union coach Micky Sullivan says. “You just throw it — boom, boom, boom.”

As the season went on, those booms got bigger and more frequent. “Christian took that as his piece of the offense and got really good at it,” Sullivan says. “We realized as we progressed that maybe he gives us a better chance to win. And he grew as a leader going into the huddle as a sophomore. He accepted that mantle and grew with it.”

Fork Union went on to win the Virginia Independent Schools Division I title that year, and Hackenberg ended up growing into one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country. After throwing for 5,509 yards and 56 touchdowns, he became a consensus 5-star prospect and was ESPN.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2013.

When he signed with Penn State this past February after a whirlwind recruitment — the school hadn’t started seriously pursuing him until after Bill O’Brien and his staff took over in January 2012 — it was seen as a huge coup for the Nittany Lions. This is a program, after all, that is looking to remain competitive in the face of severe NCAA sanctions. Hackenberg’s signing sent a signal to other elite recruits that under O’Brien’s leadership, Penn State remains an attractive place to play football.

“I liked a lot of other schools,” Hackenberg says, “but I loved Penn State. It’s where I felt most comfortable and where I felt I could maximize my potential athletically and academically.”

Bill O'BrienBut Hackenberg’s signing was more than just a symbolic victory for the Lions. With Matt McGloin gone after leading the Big Ten in passing yardage last season, Penn State needs one of its quarterback prospects to step forward in practice. Steven Bench, the only quarterback on the roster who had taken a snap, left the program after spring practice. Junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson, who enrolled last January, doesn’t have much experience running what O’Brien has described as “not the simplest system in the world.” So with no established favorite to overcome and O’Brien harboring few if any preconceptions about what he can or can’t do, Hackenberg will have an opportunity to compete for the starting spot in preseason camp.   

“Certainly he’ll be in the mix,” O’Brien says. “At every single position, we are going to play the best players. … Christian will come in and we’ll teach him the offense and give him some reps and see how he does.”

After watching him seize the starting position at Fork Union, Sullivan expects Hackenberg to do just fine. “Knowing Christian,” he says, “I can’t imagine that he’s thinking in his head, ‘I’m gonna go to Penn State and redshirt.’ He’s thinking in his head, ‘What do I have to do? How quick can I get in there to learn as much as I can learn so that I can be ready to compete for the starting job?’”

Hackenberg, who is originally from Tamaqua, Pa., and whose father played quarterback at Division III Susquehanna about 60 miles east of University Park, committed to Penn State five months before the NCAA took action last July. He stayed committed even though the sanctions ensure that he will play in, at most, two bowl games during his career. And he continued to sit tight in January when O’Brien’s name came up in connection with NFL coaching vacancies in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

The drama surrounding Penn State made for an interesting recruitment, as Alabama, Miami and Florida, among others, were interested in seeing just how firm his verbal commitment really was. “It was a chore,” recruiting coordinator Charles London concedes. “There were some other schools coming after him. (His decision) is a testament to the relationship he built with our staff here.”

It’s also a testament to how quickly perceptions change. Under Joe Paterno, Penn State wasn’t known for developing quarterbacks. The only Nittany Lion quarterback to succeed in the NFL in the past decade has been Michael Robinson, and that’s been because Robinson was capable of playing running back when he entered the league in 2006. In seven pro seasons, he’s attempted only two passes.

The last Penn State quarterback to make it big in the NFL as a passer was Kerry Collins, who led the Lions to an undefeated season in 1994 and parlayed his success into a 17-year pro career. But after he left, the offense slipped, yielding a series of quarterbacks who never made any impact at the pro level.

Hurt by its inability to develop pro prospects at the position, Penn State struck out with coveted in-state quarterbacks like Chad Henne and Terrelle Pryor. And when it did land a blue-chipper — Anthony Morelli, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones all had either four or five stars from the recruiting services — things never seemed to work out.

Enter O’Brien. The Lions’ new coach came in with a résumé full of NFL experience and a relationship with Tom Brady that gave him instant credibility with recruits.

Once the new staff was in place, the pursuit of Hackenberg began. And now that it’s over, the Lions believe they may have found their quarterback of the future.

Is he the quarterback of the immediate future? O’Brien is leaving his options open. “When you play quarterback at Penn State, you have to really learn how to balance the classroom with being the best-prepared quarterback you can be, working in the weight room, studying the playbook, studying the game plan, your opponent, then obviously going to class, which is No. 1 and will always be No. 1 at Penn State,” he says.

“We think Christian is a guy who is going to come in here and do all those things.”

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

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Teaser:
Christian Hackenberg Could be a Program-Changer for Penn State
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 07:20
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

Georgia has won the SEC East in back-to-back seasons but is searching for its first conference title since 2005.

The Bulldogs return eight starters on offense, including one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Aaron Murray, along with running back Todd Gurley, receiver Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Arthur Lynch.

However, the defense is a work in progress with eight new starters stepping into the lineup. Georgia has plenty of young players to build around, including sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins and true freshman safety Tray Matthews. But this defense will be under the spotlight right away in 2013, as the Bulldogs play Clemson, South Carolina and LSU before their first game in October.

What will Georgia's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Georgia's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
 

GameSteven
Lassan
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
SEC
Logo
Mark
Ross
Josh
Ward
8/31 at Clemson
9/7 South Carolina
9/21 North Texas
9/28 LSU
10/5 at Tennessee
10/12 Missouri
10/19 at Vanderbilt
11/2 Florida (Jacksonville)
11/9 Appalachian State
11/16 at Auburn
11/23 Kentucky
11/30 at Georgia Tech
Final Projection10-29-310-210-212-010-2


David Fox (@DavidFox615)
My original picks had Georgia losing its first two games against Clemson and South Carolina. I reversed field on South Carolina even though the Gamecocks have taken the last three meetings. Marcus Lattimore saved some of his best games for the Bulldogs, and now he’s gone. That said, Georgia’s offense was largely ineffective against South Carolina a year ago. The Bulldogs need to figure out what went wrong. The opening game against Clemson is going to be an up-and-down the field game, but I can’t go against the Tigers in Death Valley here. After that brutal one-two punch to start the season, Georgia has a chance to pick up some wins before the Florida game. Honestly, I’d be more worried about the Vanderbilt game than LSU. LSU’s young defense will be great one day, but maybe not in September against the best offense in the SEC. The last time Georgia went to Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs won a close, heated game. And the Florida game, well, that game’s always wild, and Georgia has won two in a row. That’s tempting fate.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The development of Georgia’s defense will hold all of the cards for coach Mark Richt’s team in 2013. The Bulldogs have one of the nation’s top offenses, but the defense will have eight new starters. However, the Bulldogs ranked sixth in the SEC in points and yards allowed last year, so there’s plenty of room on defense to improve. The talent level is solid on defense, but it will take some time for all of the new faces to mesh. The suspension of safety/linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons is a big loss, especially against Clemson’s spread attack. With a rebuilding defense taking on the Tigers in Week 1 – not to mention a huge SEC East showdown against South Carolina in Week 2 – I think the Bulldogs open the year at 0-1. However, Georgia will win the showdown against the Gamecocks the following Saturday and will stumble only once (Florida) in SEC play. But if Georgia’s defense emerges as a strength, and the offensive line develops as expected, the Bulldogs will have an excellent chance at running the table and finishing 8-0 in conference games.
 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Georgia's offense is going to be electric. There are no weaknesses on that side of the ball. The same cannot be said for the defense. There is plenty of talent with names like Jordan Jenkins, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews stepping into starting roles. Yet, there is loads of inexperience on a unit that was 12th in the SEC in rushing defense a year ago and there is no time to ease these young Bulldog pups into the season. Clemson and South Carolina will put UGA in an 0-2 hole to start, but this team will get much better as the year goes along. Mark Richt has fought his way out of an 0-2 hole before and could have to do it again. Key swing games with LSU, Florida, Georgia Tech and at Vanderbilt give Georgia a much tougher schedule than South Carolina.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
The opener against Clemson has the potential to be a classic shootout. Clemson gets the edge thanks to early-season jitters with Georgia’s defense, which opens without suspended safety Josh Harvey-Clemons. The Bulldogs will need to bounce back against South Carolina. It helps that game will be played in Athens. Florida, which played Georgia close last year, will be a tough opponent in Jacksonville. Georgia should be in good shape in the Eastern Division as long as it can at least split with Florida and South Carolina. Georgia is my pick to win the East.
 

SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
We are going to learn everything we need to know about Georgia after week 2. Opening the season at Clemson, then South Carolina coming to town is a tall task. The Bulldogs lost a ton on defense to the NFL, so they will lean heavy on their offense. Georgia might have the best offense in the SEC (Outside of Johnny Football) with names like Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell and Arthur Lynch. Returning Murray is huge; he was the 2nd highest rated QB in the nation last year, only behind McCarron. The loss to Alabama in the SEC title game still hurts (SPIKE THE BALL) but they need to turn it into motivation for 2013. Seeing them back in the title game wouldn't be surprising, seeing them do worse than 10-2 would.

Mark Ross
Do I really think Georgia will go undefeated? No, but that doesn't mean I don't like this team's chances. For starters, with Aaron Murray at quarterback and the two-headed monster of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall powering the running game, these Bulldogs are going to be tough for anyone, including the vaunted defenses of the SEC, to slow down. Then there's the schedule. Outside of the season opener in the ACC's version of Death Valley, Georgia's toughest true road game is either Vanderbilt or Georgia Tech, depending on your preference. South Carolina and LSU both come to Athens and there's the annual cocktail party in Jacksonville, Fla., with the Gators. After that it's mostly teams who are breaking in new head coaches. And the best part of the Bulldogs' schedule is which teams are NOT on it, i.e., Alabama and Texas A&M. This means Mark Richt and company won't have to even worry about facing Johnny Manziel or the Crimson Tide until the SEC championship game, which makes Clemson the only team on this schedule that is even on the same page with the Bulldogs when it comes to offensive firepower. It certainly won't be easy for any SEC team, including two-time defending national champion Alabama, to run the table, but this just may be the year everything falls into place for Georgia to do just that, at least in the regular season.

Related College Football Content

SEC Predictions for 2013
SEC 2013 All-Conference Team
Getting to Know the SEC's New Coaches for 2013
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
SEC's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
Best and Worst Times to be a LSU Fan
The SEC's Best Traditions
Unit Rankings: 2013 SEC Offensive Lines
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013

 

Teaser:
Georgia Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

South Carolina is coming off back-to-back double-digit winning seasons for the first time in school history. And the Gamecocks have their sights set even higher in 2013, as coach Steve Spurrier’s team is a national title contender and boasts a Heisman Trophy candidate in junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

A difficult crossover schedule with the West Division has played a part in South Carolina missing out on the SEC Championship over the last two years. However, the tables have turned in the East, as Georgia faces a tough crossover schedule, while the Gamecocks take on Arkansas and Mississippi State.

South Carolina’s SEC East title hopes could be decided fairly early in the season, as a huge contest at Georgia waits on Sept. 7.

What will South Carolina's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

South Carolina's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
 

GameSteven
Lassan
SEC
Logo
Mark
Ross
Josh
Ward
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
 
8/29 North Carolina 
9/7 at Georgia 
9/14 Vanderbilt 
9/28 at UCF 
10/5 Kentucky 
10/12 at Arkansas 
10/19 at Tennessee 
10/26 at Missouri 
11/2 Mississippi State 
11/16 Florida 
11/23 Coastal Carolina 
11/30 Clemson 
Final Projection10-212-010-210-212-011-1 

 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
If South Carolina beats Georgia on Sept. 7, there’s a good chance this team finishes 2013 with an unbeaten record. The Gamecocks have the favorable crossover schedule this year, and the quarterback combination of Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson will be a handful for opposing defenses. And despite the loss of its linebacking corps and a couple of players on the line, South Carolina should remain one of the best defenses in the nation. Considering how favorable the schedule is, it’s tough to predict two losses. I think Georgia will be much more prepared to stop defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and the Bulldogs have an edge with this game in Athens. I’m predicting South Carolina to lose to Arkansas (Razorbacks have won three straight over the Gamecocks in Fayetteville), but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the second loss come at Missouri (a third consecutive road trip). Again, with such a favorable schedule, it’s hard to pick the Gamecocks at 10-2. It's somewhat of a hunch, but South Carolina has the feel of a 10-2 team, and I’m guessing the Gamecocks stumble once unexpectedly along the way.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
South Carolina enters the year having won 31 games in the last three seasons. The Gamecocks are serious contenders to win the SEC Eastern Division this year. I have South Carolina losing to Georgia. Both teams will begin the season facing tough opponents (Georgia opens at Clemson), but the Bulldogs will have the fortune of playing South Carolina at home in week two. The Tennessee and Missouri games in November will be worth watching. I picked South Carolina to lose at Missouri, which will be the third straight road game for South Carolina. The Gamecocks should bounce back after their bye week, although Florida will be a tough opponent in Columbia. A third straight double-digit win season is very possible for South Carolina.

SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
Let me make my case for an undefeated regular season.

1. Clowney
2. They do not play any of the SEC West big 3 (Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M)
3. They own Clemson
4. Connor Shaw + Dylan Thompson
5. They get Florida at home
6. Clowney

And no, I did not forget about the most important game of the season, it’s week 2 at Georgia.  The season rides on the 4:30 kick between the hedges.
Name to remember: Bruce Ellington, WR

Mark Ross
Although I expect South Carolina to beat UNC in its opener, I think Georgia will come out victorious the following week because the game is in Athens and the Bulldogs appear to be a little more fearsome on offense. After the first two weeks, it should be clear sailing until November when the Gamecocks get to finish with four games at home. I like them to take care of business in the first three, but I'll take Clemson in a minor upset to finish out the regular season. Since I have Georgia winning the SEC East, I'm picking Clemson to win the battle of the Palmetto State because I think the Tigers will have more to play for by that point and Dabo Swinney really wants this one.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The entire SEC East season may come down to the Week 2 showdown Between the Hedges with Georgia — a team the Gamecocks destroyed last year and have beaten three straight seasons. But even with a loss to the Dawgs, South Carolina could easily win the East. South Carolina has the better head coach, the much easier schedule and the better defense than both Georgia and Florida. Is it possible that the Cocks lose a game it shouldn't like it has most every other year? Sure. But who is that team in 2013: at Tennessee? at Missouri? at Arkansas? Vanderbilt at home? No, Carolina has a two-game schedule this fall and wins over Florida and Georgia would send Steve Spurrier's squad back to Atlanta for just the second time in school history.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
South Carolina finally got a good draw with the schedule compared to Georgia. No LSU. No Alabama. No Petrino-led Arkansas. Three consecutive road games in the SEC is going to be tough, but won’t be many three-game road trips more manageable than Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. Only the Volunteers gave Carolina a game last season. The swing games, as always, are Georgia and Florida. I’ve picked South Carolina to split those games. Marcus Lattimore had his way with Georgia the last few seasons. Combine that with the game in Athens early in the year, and I’ll go with the Bulldogs. That Florida game, though, is a pick ‘em. Carolina lost 44-11 last season, but that game was something of a fluke. South Carolina isn’t going to turn the ball over four times again. People may forget Jadeveon Clowney had one of the best games of his career against the Gators a year ago.

 

Related College Football Content

SEC Predictions for 2013
SEC 2013 All-Conference Team
Georgia Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Getting to Know the SEC's New Coaches for 2013
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
SEC's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
Best and Worst Times to be a LSU Fan
The SEC's Best Traditions
Unit Rankings: 2013 SEC Offensive Lines
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013

Teaser:
South Carolina Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-ranking-big-tens-logos
Body:

Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.

Signature uniforms like Michigan’s winged helmet, picturesque monuments like The Horseshow in Columbus or historic personalities like Barry Alvarez help separate one team from the next in the Big Ten with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.

However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 

Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.

And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here is what Athlon Sports Art Director Matt Taliaferro has to say about the Big Ten's football logos:

"When it comes to clean, classy and delivering a no-frills branding blow, the Big Ten leaves all other conferences in a Woody Hayes-style cloud of dust. You won’t find any cartoonish gunslingers (looking at you, New Mexico State) or streamlined, over-Illustrator’d beavers (guilty as charged, Oregon State) — and that’s the way it should be for a conference whose institutions are embedded in the Heartland.

"The mark of a great logo is that it stands the test of time; and let’s be honest, you won’t catch Michigan re-tooling the block ‘M’ any time soon because its appearance is timeless. Such is the case with the majority of the Big Ten schools’ logos, where simple yet effective typography reigns and even those who veer into the graphics realm have effectively cut away the fat (although you’re treading on thin ice, Northwestern). Even Purdue’s contemporary “slanted P” fits dexterously with the more traditional “straight block” M’s, N’s, I‘s and U’s.

"The SEC may rule the gridiron and the ACC can hoop, but when it comes to traditional school logos, the Big Ten is the gold standard."

 

Big Ten Official Football Logo Rankings

 

 SchoolLogoThoughts
1.Michigan StateIt's clean, classic, gets the point across and is recognizable. It has some fierce edginess to it, the color scheme is perfect and there is no doubt it represents a Spartan.
2.Penn StateHistorically speaking, few logos are as traditional as the Nittany Lions oval. The smooth looking Lions head has great lines and appears to be hunting... Wolverines or Buckeyes? Few logos combine classy and aggresive like PSU.
3.NebraskaAgain, simple and straight forward gets the point across. The colors and subtle trim are great and it appears that the Huskers have a monopoly on this letter. There is no doubting what this logo refers to.
4.MichiganIt doesn't get any more simple that the block "M" of Michigan. The font is excellent but it could use some blue trim or accents.
5.IowaIt also comes in yellow but the black is more stylish. While maintaining a simple and historic look, the Hawkeye emblen also brings some creativity. In fact, I've no idea what an actual Hawkeye looks like.
6.Ohio StateNormally, a name in a logo doesn't work, but the "S" is perfectly designed into the "O" and it works. It makes it busier than the cleaner, more classic logos above. The colors and trim are second to none.
7.MinnesotaThere is much more style to this "M" as compared to Michigan's but it's also busier. The seraphs are cool and the trim is solid. An underrated logo.
8.IndianaThe historic brand of Hoosiers athletics is well known. The intersecting, symmetrical "IU" is simple and clean with the added touch of block seraphs.
9.PurdueThe black and gold logo is the only one in the league that appears to be italicized. The overall wide shape of the letter gives it some style as well.
10.WisconsinLet's face it, the floating "W" isn't the best Wisconsin logo but it is synonymous with the only successful era of Badgers football. The drop shadow is cool but only adds to the cartoonish feel.
11.IllinoisThe "I" by itself is nice and the "Illinois" can stand alone — and both look good that way. Together, it seems forced and MAC-ish.
12.NorthwesternThe purple "N" has plenty of things going on around it. Not only is the font bizarre but the Nickelodeon wildcat characture isn't intimidating anyone.

 

 

Related College Football Content

2013 Big Ten Predictions
2013 Big Ten All-Conference Team
Big Ten's Top 2013 Heisman Contenders
College Football's Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era
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College Football's 2013 All-Freshman Team
2013 All-America Team

Teaser:
Who has the best football logo in the Big Ten?
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: British Open, Golf, News
Path: /golf/phil-mickelson-thrills-british-open-win
Body:
Phil Mickelson Wins the British OpenSo Phil Mickelson has finally won an Open. Just not the one we thought he’d win. 
 
One of the greatest rounds in major championship history gave Mickelson his fifth career major, and perhaps the most unlikely: Before Sunday, Mickelson had more career missed cuts at the Open (four) than top 10s (two) and had publicly expressed doubts whether he had the game to win golf’s oldest championship.
 
On Sunday, he had the game and then some. 
 
Mickelson birdied four of the final six holes at tough, unyielding Muirfield for a three-shot win over Henrik Stenson, punctuating a stunning run to the Claret Jug with a double fist pump after his final birdie putt at 18 found the bottom of the cup. Mickelson’s 66, which was the low round of the day and tied for low round of the tournament, will take its place alongside Johnny Miller’s 63 at the 1973 U.S. Open and Jack Nicklaus’ 65 at the 1986 Masters among history’s greatest major final rounds, and given the conditions, it might have been a little better. Legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins, who’s been watching players win jackets, trophies and jugs for half a century, tweeted this: “That 66 by Phil is one of the greatest final rounds of a major on one of the most baffling courses I’ve ever seen.”
 
Leave it to Phil to bring the Muirfield monster to its knees. Those last six holes were pure artistry, and his last three should go in a time capsule:
 
• On 16, a perfect tee shot cruelly rolled off the front of the green, but Mickelson executed a brilliant up-and-down to save a critical par. 
 
• On the par-5 17th, Mickelson smoked two perfect 3-woods to set up a routine two-putt birdie.
 
• On 18, with Lefty’s army of fans holding its collective breath remembering the Winged Foot meltdown in 2006, Mickelson hit a perfect drive, then striped a 6-iron to 12 feet and drained the putt for a cathartic back-nine 32 that erased some of those demons that had been piling up at Opens on both sides of the pond for two decades. 
 
In his post-round interview, Mickelson was up-front about his ongoing love-hate relationship with links golf. “That relationship is minute-to-minute,” he said with a smile, adding that after what he called a “perfect” 6-iron at 16 rolled off the front of the green, “Love was not what I felt.”
 
But Mickelson erased any lingering doubts about his links mettle with his birdie at the par-5 17th. “Those two shots were very risky,” he said of his back-to-back 3-woods that left him with a two-putt birdie. “I had to take on those bunkers, and the worst rough on this course is on 17 short of the green.”
 
That hole was Exhibit A for a legendary round of ball-striking. Mickelson’s only bogey came on No. 10 and was promptly erased by that six-hole sprint to the finish. 
 
Mickelson has often talked the talk, citing quality preparation and control of his game heading into majors only to see it all crumble with ill-timed miscues. But he exhibited a level of control all week that was unprecedented in his roller-coaster career. “I’m playing some of the best golf of my career,” he said after adding the Open to his Scottish Open triumph the previous week, a rare tartan-clad two-fer. “It’s the best I’ve ever putted.”
 
Lefty now holds three legs of the career Grand Slam, and we’ll see if the golf gods will ever relent and allow him to add a U.S. Open, where’s he posted six agonizing runner-up finishes. “If six seconds counted as a win, I’d have all four of them,” he joked.
 
In the end, a day that started as a Lee Westwood coronation ended with Mickelson cementing his place among history’s greatest players.
 
“This is a day I’ll remember my entire life,” Mickelson said. At that moment, he spoke for all of us.
 
The Twitter reaction
Phil’s colleagues were quick to take to Twitter to congratulate Lefty. Here’s a sample:
 
“Great playing Phil Mickelson.” — Ian Poulter, whose final-round 67 had been the round of the day until Lefty’s heroics.
 
“66 from Phil today is ridiculous. Best golf I’ve ever seen. #boss” — Keegan Bradley, Mickelson’s Ryder Cup protégé
 
“So pumped for Phil right now!” — Rickie Fowler
 
• “Fitting that Phil destroyed holes 13-18 today to win the Claret Jug, while that same stretch destroyed most players hopes all week.” — 2010 champion Stewart Cink
 
• “Congrats to Phil, welcome to the @The_Open Muirfield unofficial champions club! #GreatPlaying” — Nick Faldo
 
Open Notes
• How tough was Muirfield? Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker were the only two players in the field to shoot two rounds in the 60s. Sneds’ second-round 79 prevented him from contending, but aside from a disastrous second-nine 43 on Friday, Snedeker played 4-under golf.
 
• The win moves Mickelson to No. 2 in the World Golf Ranking, behind only Tiger Woods. Tiger and Phil, 1 and 2. Seems like old times. But they’re going in opposite directions. While Mickelson was shooting his 66, Woods limped to another disappointing major finish, shooting a final-round 74. In his last seven majors, Woods is plus-23 in his weekend rounds, and his four scores at Muirfield got progressively worse. Didn’t the guy used to own Sunday like the Man Upstairs? 
 
• The last eight winners at Muirfield are legendary Hall of Famers, all: Mickelson , Els, Faldo, Watson, Trevino, Nicklaus, Player. Only one name conspicuously absent from that list.
 
• Mickelson tied 2011 winner Darren Clarke for the slowest to win his first Open Championship: Both won in their 20th Brtish Open start.
 
• The Open has become the major of choice for geriatrics: The last three winners are Mickelson (43), Ernie Els (42) and Darren Clarke (42). 
 
• Lefty’s longtime caddie Bones Mackay was almost as happy as his boss. “When you work for a guy for 21 years, and you watch him play the best round of golf he’s ever played, it’s pretty cool,” he said.
 
• Woods let a few choice expletives fly with microphones nearby, but there were no fireworks between Woods and his former caddie Steve Williams, on the bag for Woods’ playing partner Adam Scott. The two exchanged a cordial handshake on the 18th green, and Woods responded to Williams’ comment with a sincere “Thanks, man.”
 
• Perennial bridesmaid Lee Westwood shot a disappointing 75, one of the worst rounds among the leaders. But Mickelson’s win at 43 has to provide incentive to the 40-year-old Westwood to keep grinding. Lefty’s won two majors since turning 40.
 
• Mickelson pulled off the rare feat of starting as many as five shots behind and winning by three or more, joining Justin Leonard (1997 British Open) and Nick Faldo (1996 Masters). 
 
• Mickelson’s major ledger now includes five wins, eight seconds and 7 thirds. 
 
• American players have now won 12 of the last 17 Open Championships. 
Phil Mickelson's final putt to with the 2013 British Open
 
Teaser:
Phil Mickelson Thrills with British Open Win
Post date: Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 15:22
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-best-july-15-19
Body:

It's been a busy week in the college football world.

In addition to the latest news, Friday's links will try to highlight some of the best posts of week - just in case you didn't catch our posts from earlier in the week.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories From the Week of July 15-19

Six current players have been added to Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA.

Wisconsin and LSU are getting closer to announcing a two-game series. The best aspect? The two teams will likely meet in Lambeau Field at some point.

Cincinnati and Nebraska have agreed to a future two-game series.

Tony Gerdeman of theOzone.net thinks the Big Ten needs another Bret Bielema.

Adam Jude of The Seattle Times takes a look at the decision facing Washington coach Steve Sarkisian on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. In case you missed it yesterday, Seferian-Jenkins pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.

Why did Athlon Sports pick Syracuse to finish 4-8? What about the future of Scott Shafer and transfer quarterback Drew Allen? I discussed all of these topics and more with NunesMagician.com this week.

How will College Football’s playoff selection committee look? The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes has a good breakdown of what’s to come.

Want to be a NCAA official? Check out this test from the Big Ten Network.

Receiver (and Miami, Ohio transfer) Nick Harwell is still trying to get eligible to play at Kansas in 2013.

Colorado has found a new athletic director.

Michigan's Jake Ryan is out indefinitely with a torn ACL, but the defense could get a boost from sophomore James Ross.

It's official: Penn State and UCF will play in Ireland in 2014

What did South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney run in the 40-yard dash? Here's a scoop: It's ridiculous.

The SEC hopes to have 10 or 11 bowls when the new playoff format starts in 2014.

Beginning in 2014, the Big Ten will play in a new bowl game in Detroit. The ACC is expected to be the Big Ten’s opponent.

Yesterday's announcement by the NCAA to back away from video games was a little troublesome for gamers. But don’t worry, EA Sports still plans on making a college football video game next year. It just won’t have the NCAA logo. 

Saturday Down South has a good take on Johnny Manziel and his appearance at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema doesn’t consider no-huddle offenses a joking matter.

Texas has hired Greg Robinson (yes, that Greg Robinson) to serve in the player personnel department. 

Two Pittsburgh players won't return to the team for 2013.

Kentucky running back Josh Clemons was injured in a workout late last week. He is expected to miss all of the 2013 season.

The Big Ten is taking a tough stance on hits above the shoulders in 2013.

Can Penn State reduce its recent NCAA sanctions

Could Michael Dyer end up at South Florida?

Former Notre Dame receiver Justin Ferguson has transferred to Western Michigan.
 

Teaser:
College Football's Link Roundup: Best of July 15-19
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 15:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-training-camp-storylines-watch
Body:

By this time next week, training camps for all 32 NFL teams will have begun. Here are some things worth keeping an eye on with the start to the 2013 regular season less than two months away.

Quarterback Battles
Tim Tebow may no longer be with the Jets, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback controversy left town with him. For the second straight season Mark Sanchez enters training camp as the starter, but with very little job security. This time around, second-round pick Geno Smith is Sanchez’ primary competition. At least he will be as soon as he signs his rookie contract.

Even though Smith is not the media magnet that Tebow is, the former West Virginia star doesn’t figure to just quietly concede the starting job to Sanchez either, not after what transpired during the draft.

Sanchez isn’t the only quarterback who needs to get off to a good start in camp. Veterans Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb will face pressure from younger teammates in Eagles’ and Bills’ camp respectively, while Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden and Jake Locker also find themselves squarely on the quarterback hot seat.

Related: 2013 NFL Training Camp: Quarterback Battles to Watch

Coaching Changes
Eight teams, which equates to a quarter of the NFL, will be under the direction of new coaches this season. Of these eight, all but one are rookie head coaches in the NFL. The only recycled coach, if you will, is Andy Reid, who takes over the Chiefs after 14 seasons in Philadelphia.

Speaking of Philadelphia, no rookie head coach will be under more scrutiny this season than Chip Kelly, who is the latest college superstar coach to make the jump to the pros. Kelly’s offenses at Oregon put up ridiculous numbers. Can his system do the same in the NFL?

Kelly is not the only college coach who has graduated to the pro ranks. Former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone is the next up to try and end Buffalo’s 13-year playoff drought. Chicago’s Marc Trestman also will be adjusting to a new league, as the CFL coach get his first shot in the NFL with the Bears. Trestman led the Montreal Alouettes to two Grey Cup titles in five seasons, can he find similar success in Chicago? He does have nearly 20 years worth of coaching experience in the NFL, but his last stint came in 2004.

The rest of the rookie class of head coaches consists of Arizona’s Bruce Arians, Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski, Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley and San Diego’s Mike McCoy. Arians got some head coaching experience last season when he served as the Colts’ interim head coach during Chuck Pagano’s absence while he was battling cancer. Arians, Chudzinski and McCoy also all served as offensive coordinators for their respective teams last season while Bradley is the only new head coach of the entire bunch who comes from a defensive background. Bradley served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator the past four seasons.

And then there’s New Orleans’ Sean Payton, who’s not “new” by any stretch, but is returning after serving his one-year suspension for his part in the Saints’ BountyGate scandal. After winning 11 or more games in each of the previous three seasons, including a Super Bowl title in 2009, the Saints slipped to 7-9 in 2012.

While the offense was its usual explosive self, the defense allowed an NFL-record 7,042 yards. Payton may have made his reputation as an offensive mastermind, but there’s no arguing that the entire Saints franchise missed him being at the team facility, on the practice field, in the locker room and especially on the sideline last season.

RGIII Watch
There are several superstar players who are returning from offseason surgery and/or serious injury, including Rob Gronkowski, Ben Roethlisberger, Darrelle Revis and Brian Cushing, just to name a few. However, no body part will draw more attention during training camp than the right knee that belongs to Robert Griffin III.

Griffin tore the ACL and LCL in his right knee in the fourth quarter of the Redskins’ NFC Wild Card loss to the Seahawks in January. It was the second such significant injury to that knee for Griffin, who first tore his ACL early in his sophomore year at Baylor. Of course, everyone knows that Griffin was able to come back from that injury, as he won the Heisman in 2011 prior to being the second overall pick of the ‘12 draft.

While no one is doubting Griffin’s toughness and resolve, there are plenty of questions surrounding his eventual return. Will he be ready to go in Week 1 or will Kirk Cousins be under center for the Monday night season opener at home against Philadelphia?

Reports are Griffin is progressing nicely in his rehabilitation, but the team can’t afford to risk bringing him back too soon. He is the face and future of the franchise, so there’s no reason to rush him and clear him for practice, let alone games, until there is no doubt he is 100 percent healthy.

The End of New England’s Reign?
No team has had a worse offseason than Bill Belichick’s Patriots, and a strong case for this could be made without including Aaron Hernandez’ current legal issues. It started during free agency, which saw Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Patrick Chung sign with other teams. The Patriots did some work of their own in free agency, including adding wide receiver Danny Amendola, but the rest of the acquisitions didn’t help the roster get any younger.

Then in April, the Patriots’ draft featured some curious choices, including trading their first-round pick, as an emphasis was placed on the defensive side of the ball. It remains to be seen how many of these picks, if any, will have an impact in 2013, but the early reviews after the draft were not overly optimistic in that regard.

The next blow came in June when All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery. This marked the fifth medical procedure for Gronkowski in a span of six months, as he had already gone through four different surgeries related to the broken forearm he sustained in Week 11 last season and then subsequently reinjured in the playoffs.

Gronkowski is making progress in his recovery, but it’s entirely too soon to consider him a lock to be on the field by Week 1. Hernandez’ recent arrest after being charged with murder and other crimes gave the Patriots no other choice but to release the troubled tight end, putting even more importance on Gronkowski’s return.

Besides losing Welker and Woodhead in free agency, the Patriots also released wide receiver Brandon Lloyd in March. With Hernandez no longer on the roster and Gronkowski’s status up in the air, Tom Brady enters training camp with a host of unknown, and for the most part, unproven pass-catchers.

On the other side of the ball, New England finished last in the AFC in pass defense in 2012 and were just 13th in the conference in total yards allowed. Personnel changes on this unit were made, but they consist of “unknown” draft picks and the signing of a pair of 10-year veterans in defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and safety Adrian Wilson.

In short, the Patriots lost a lot of production and continuity on offense and it’s entirely up for debate how much better on defense they will be this season. Brady turns 36 in a couple of weeks and while he should be able to lead this team to a fifth straight AFC East title, it’s looking more and more that the Patriots’ championship window may be closing.

Baltimore’s Post-Super Bowl Makeover
The Ravens and their fans have understandably spent the offseason basking in the glow of their unexpected, emotional Super Bowl run. And for good reason, since not only is it hard enough to win one Lombardi Trophy, let alone two in a row; but for the fact that this year’s team will have a lot of new faces on it.

How many you ask? How about six on defense and three on offense from the starting lineup that beat San Francisco in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in February?

Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Fame linebacker who was the heart and soul of this team his entire career, is retired as is center Matt Birk, while linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive backs Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed and Cary Williams all left via free agency. Veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers and fullback Vonta Leach and defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu are currently free agents.

The Ravens used free agency and the draft to fill most of these holes, bringing in the likes of linebacker Elvis Dumervil and Arthur Brown and safeties Michael Huff and Matt Elam, among others. However, there is nothing the team can do to replace the expeience and continuity that is now gone from their roster.

Quarterback and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco is signed long-term and several other key parts of last season’s roster remain, but it will be interesting to see how quickly the old will gel with the new as the Ravens prepare for life on the field as defending champions.

2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHouston Denver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
    
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
DallasChicagoAtlantaArizona
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

Click here to order your Athlon Sports Pro Football 2013 Preview magazine

Teaser:
2013 NFL Training Camp: Storylines to Watch
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/memphis-gets-shiny-makeover-2013
Body:

Not only will Memphis play in a new conference this year, but the Tigers will be getting a uniform makeover.

In its first season of play in the American Athletic Conference, Memphis will be sporting a shiny gray and blue helmet, along with an updated look to the jerseys. One of the best parts of the new uniform is the “M” in the gray helmet features Tiger stripes.

This is a pretty sharp combination for Memphis and a definite upgrade.

Photos from (@TigersMedia) and (@CoachFuente)

 

 

Teaser:
Memphis football gets new uniforms for 2013.
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/western-kentucky-unveils-new-jerseys-2013
Body:

With Bobby Petrino taking over at Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers are guaranteed to be one of college football’s most interesting teams in 2013.

In addition to the change in head coaches, Western Kentucky will also have a new appearance in the uniform department.

The Hilltoppers unveiled their new jerseys for 2013 on Thursday night, which includes a white, red and black editions. Perhaps one of the best parts of the jersey is the university’s seal inside the numbers.

Check out Western Kentucky’s new uniforms for 2013: (photos from (@CoachPetrinoWKU)

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-19-2013
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 19.

 

• Sofia Vergara was nominated for an Emmy, which seems like a good excuse to link to this amazing assortment of pics and GIFs of the Modern Family starlet.

 

Tom Rinaldi only shakes hands when Tom Rinaldi wants to shake hands.

 

• Looking to endanger your life to relieve summer boredom? Check out these insane summer stunts.

 

• Brian Urlacher doesn't want the Bears to win a Super Bowl without him. Smokin' Jay understands.

 

• Awww. Here's a gallery of athletes celebrating with their kids. Some of them seem to be saying, get away from me, you large sweaty man.

 

• Interesting column: AJ McCarron has self-branded as the anti-Manziel.

 

• This just in: J.J. Watt is an insane athlete. Basically, he could hurdle Danny DeVito from a standing start.

 

Charles Barkley: Saying what he thinks since 1984.

 

• Charl Schwartzel destroyed a 5-iron in anger at the British Open. He thereby joins Athlon's video countdown of golfers behaving badly.

 

• Remember that kid who ran onto the field at the All-Star Game because Twitter told him to? He might spend a year in prison. Apparently it's illegal to make the All-Star Game remotely interesting.

 

Jadeveon Clowney posted a priceless picture of Steve Spurrier on Instagram.

 

• Jonesing for a little hoops action? Here's a tasty dunk from NBA Summer League play.

 

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:28
Path: /college-football/steve-spurrier-stops-arbys-arbys-fan
Body:

From the Fun ‘n’ Gun to the Beef ‘n Cheddar, it seems.

Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina contingent stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way back from SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Thanks to Jadeveon Clowney, we know it happened.

 



Thanks to Arby’s Twitter account, we know it was an Arby’s.
 

 

 

Teaser:
Steve Spurrier stops at Arby's; Arby's is a fan
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:27
Path: /college-football/which-team-has-most-returning-starters-big-12
Body:

The Big 12 is one of the toughest conferences to predict this preseason. No Big 12 team managed to crack Athlon's projected final top 15 for 2013, as Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU and Oklahoma all ranked between 16-20.
 

It’s not the biggest indicator when predicting success, but returning starters are an interesting trend to look at before the season starts.

With 17 returning starters, Texas has the most in the Big 12 for 2013. Will that be enough for the Longhorns to get back to a BCS bowl? It's now or never for Mack Brown, especially with the rest of the conference in transition. 

 

TeamOffenseDefenseOverall
Baylor4711
Iowa State549
Kansas336
Kansas State8210
Oklahoma7411
Oklahoma State5712
TCU5913
Texas8917
Texas Tech4711
West Virginia4711

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:20
Path: /college-football/acc-returning-starters-2013
Body:

The ACC has only two top-25 teams in Athlon’s projected final 125 rankings, but the conference should make a run at having 10 teams make a postseason appearance.

It’s not the biggest indicator when predicting success, but returning starters are an interesting trend to look at before the season starts.

And it’s interesting to note that four teams in the Coastal Division have 13 returning starters, while Georgia Tech – the division’s ACC title representative last year – has a conference-best 16 starters back for 2013.

 

TeamOffenseDefenseOverall
Atlantic Division   
Boston College7815
Clemson6713
Florida State6410
Maryland549
NC State448
Syracuse6612
Wake Forest7815
    
Coastal Division   
Duke6511
Georgia Tech8816
Miami8412
North Carolina6713
Pittsburgh5813
Virginia6713
Virginia Tech4913

 

Teaser:
ACC Returning Starters for 2013
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Houston Texans, J.J. Watt, Overtime
Path: /overtime/jj-watt-can-jump-really-really-high
Body:
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt recently posted a video of himself demonstrating his freakish athletic ability. Although he weighs in at 288 pounds, Watt can jump an astounding 59.5 inches into the air and land on a stack of boxes. We're not sure what the practical application is, but if we need someone to jump on boxes for us, we know who we're calling. 
 

Teaser:
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt recently posted a video of himself demonstrating his freakish athletic ability.
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 08:47
All taxonomy terms: Arizona Diamondbacks, MLB, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/diamondbacks-have-mexican-wrestler-official-mascot-we-are-so-confused
Body:
The Arizona Diamondbacks have introduced D-backs Luchador (@DbacksLuchador) as an official mascot. Because why wouldn't you want your baseball team to have a Mexican wrestler to represent your franchise, right? Right? 
 
 
According to the team: The D-backs Luchador first appeared at Chase Field in June 2012, the same year that the team conducted their first Lucha Libre mask giveaway.
 
Lucha Libre -- literally translated as "free fighting" -- has a long, proud history within the Hispanic culture and is often said to be the second most popular sport, ranking only behind soccer.
 
Soon after his first sighting, the D-backs Luchador quickly became a recognizable presence throughout the ballpark, leading the team to make him a formal character in the 2013 season. Possessed with high-flying wrestling skills and a "good-guy" persona, the
D-backs Luchador is admired by children and adults alike.
 
Throughout 2013 season, the D-backs Luchador will be making appearances at D-backs games and community events, in addition to wrestling with Club Deportivo Coloseo at the Glendale Park and Swap.
 
Uh, OK, we still don't get it.
 
Teaser:
The Arizona Diamondbacks have introduced D-backs Luchador (@DbacksLuchador) as an official mascot.
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 08:16
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football, News
Path: /best-and-worst-times-be-clemson-fan
Body:

About the best and worst of Clemson fandom can be described just by recent events.

First, the Tigers are in a good spot on the football field. Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to its first ACC title in 20 years in 2011, and 2012 wrapped up the program’s first back-to-back 10-win seasons in more than two decades. The offense is one of the best in the country, leading the Tigers to a top-10 rank in the preseason.

But this is Clemson, and the Tigers can’t get out of their own way.

When Howard’s Rock was revealed to be vandalized earlier this summer, fans were aghast to find one of the nation’s most beloved college football artifacts broken. Could it have been a rival? Had Clemson found its own Harvey Updyke?

Nope, it was an 18-year-old Clemson fan who snuck into the stadium for kicks and chipped off a piece of the college football landmark.

Beyond recent years, we looked at the best and worst times to be a Clemson fan, and because Clemson football has unique ability to tantalize its own fanbase, we picked the most frustrating time to root for the Tigers.

BEST TIMES TO BE A CLEMSON FAN

1981-90
Record:
91-22-4
National championships: 1
Coach: Danny Ford, Ken Hatfield
Notable players: Terry Kinard, William Perry, Terrence Flagler, Donnell Woolford
The casual college football may forget how good the ‘80s were to Clemson. Tigers fans won’t. From 1981-90, only Nebraska, Miami and BYU won more games than Clemson. The run under Danny Ford included the improbable 1981 national championship coming off a 6-5 season a year earlier. The ’81 team defeated four top-10 teams, including a win over a Herschel Walker-led Georgia team. The Tigers capped the season by defeating No. 4 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl in a de facto national championship game. The era also feature two-time All-American defensive back Terry Kinard and fan favorite “Refrigerator” Perry. Clemson finished the era with three consecutive ACC titles from 1986-88 and four consecutive 10-win seasons from 1987-90.

1948-50
Record:
24-4-3
National championships: 0
Coach: Frank Howard
Notable players: Bobby Gage, Jackie Calvert
Clemson wouldn’t achieve national prominence until the ‘80s, leaving these three (but really two) seasons as the top mark before the 11-1 season in 1978. Clemson went 11-0 with a win over Missouri in the Gator Bowl in 1948 and 9-0-1 with a win over Miami in the Orange Bowl in 1950. Clemson fans had plenty to cheer about, but too many games against regional teams like Presbyterian, Furman and The Citadel made it tough for the nation to take Clemson’s record too seriously.

 

MOST PAINFUL TIME TO BE A CLEMSON FAN

2000-08
Record:
70-42
Coach: Tommy Bowden (right)
It’s tough to classify to the Bowden era at Clemson. The Tigers had eight consecutive winning seasons from 2000-08. They went 7-2 against South Carolina, and at one point took three of four from Florida State. Clemson recruited well and kept talent on the field. Given the program’s history — especially apart from the Danny Ford years — this was all pretty good. But Clemson always kept fans wanting more. This is when “to Clemson” became a verb, meaning raising expectations only to see them crash in spectacular fashion. The Tigers started 8-0 in 2000 only to lose three of the last four. They started 7-1 in 2006 to lose four of the last five, including a bowl game to Kentucky. The 2007 team started the season unranked but excited the Clemson faithful by beating Florida State in the opener. The 4-0 start was spoiled by back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Fittingly, the Bowden era ended when Clemson opened the season ranked ninth in the polls before starting 3-4.

WORST TIME TO BE A CLEMSON FAN

1968-76
Record:
37-57-3
Coaches: Frank Howard, Hootie Ingram, Red Parker
Clemson won five ACC titles under Howard, but his latter years were no reason to brag. The successors to Clemson’s all-time wins leader didn’t fare much better. The Tigers endured eight losing seasons in nine years. Charley Pell was hired in 1977 to fix the program, which he did. But it came at a price.

Related College Football Content

ACC Predictions for 2013
12 Steps to Fix ACC Football
ACC All-Conference Team for 2013
ACC's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
Virginia Tech's Struggling Offense Gets a Makeover

Teaser:
From the glory years of the '80s to the agonizing Bowden era
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/kliff-kingsbury-returns-home-lead-texas-tech
Body:

Kliff KingsburyFor all the talk about Kliff Kingsbury’s youth, wardrobe and ability to relate to players, there is one other major factor that should contribute to his success: He’s home.

Kingsbury’s birth certificate says he was born in San Antonio, but the five years he spent as a quarterback in Lubbock have made him as West Texas as the dusty wind that whips across the South Plains or the grassroots Flatlanders, who have helped bring the area to life with their songs for 40 years. His return to Texas Tech has created the kind of excitement that used to prevail when he was tossing it around 50 times per game (at least), and the Red Raiders were starting their journey to prominence under Mike Leach.

Lubbock is a different kind of place. It sits hundreds of miles away from its Big 12 Texas brethren, who are clustered — if it’s possible to be clustered in Lone Star country — on the state’s eastern half. If you’re going to win at Tech, you have to understand the culture. You have to embrace the land and the wind, especially the wind. The school doesn’t have the same pedigree as its in-state rivals, and as late as the 1960s there was a proposal to include it in the Texas A&M system. But Tech maintained its independence and moved on. By hiring five assistant coaches with direct ties to the school, Kingsbury has assured that there will be no learning curve for his staff when it comes to selling the school’s identity.

“Texas Tech fans and students have always had a chip on their shoulder, and they take pride in that,” Kingsbury says. “I hired five coaches who played here, and they bring great energy for the school.”

Tech needs that fire. Under former coach Tommy Tuberville, who surprisingly bolted in December to take the Cincinnati job, the program had drifted away from its personality.

“We have to find our identity again,” Kingsbury says. “I don’t know where it went, but it got lost. We have to establish our identity.”

Kingsbury aims to get that back — in every way possible. That he is doing it as a 33-year old head coach has brought him considerable attention. But the bigger story is that he is the absolute right man for the job, no matter what his age, or how many boosters send secret memos to school administrators suggesting marketing strategies that capitalize on his youth. A lot of people have played football at Tech. Only Kingsbury blends a true comprehension of the Tech essence with a sparkling football résumé and a rare ability to connect with college players.

“Age does not equate to experience,” says Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, for whom Kingsbury worked as offensive coordinator in 2011 at Houston and last year in College Station. “It’s the quality of experience that matters.”

Kingsbury’s 11 years after leaving Lubbock have provided a rock-solid football foundation. Although he threw a total of two passes during parts of four NFL seasons, he had the opportunity to learn from people like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in New England and Mike ­McCarthy in New Orleans. His apprenticeship under Air Raid savant Dana Holgorsen at Houston was akin to graduate work after three years with Leach in Lubbock. And all he did last year was run an offense that helped Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy for the Aggies. But Kingsbury isn’t just a quarterback guy. Sumlin says he understands how to coach offense and how to direct players successfully.

“He’s got a big-picture view,” Sumlin says. “People talk about growth curves and how quickly everything happened for him, but I can tell you this, once you get to the coordinator level in the SEC, there is a lot of pressure involved. You are the head coach of the offense, and you have to be able to talk to your team in that role.”

Although Kingsbury was in College Station for just one season, he made an impact — well beyond Manziel. When he took the job at Tech, Kingsbury asked Sumlin if he could speak to the team. Kingsbury was honest and emotional, and after he finished speaking, one Aggie stood and applauded. Wide receiver Ryan Swope, who struggled to acclimate to Kingsbury’s attack — after authoring the finest pass-catching year in A&M history in 2011  — was moved. “(Swope) stood up and clapped,” Sumlin says. “Everybody did, and there were some tears shed.”

Including by Kingsbury. He isn’t just a fast-climbing coaching jet, although his trajectory is quite steep. His magic is found in his energy and ability to sell not only Lubbock but also his vision for success, in terms college kids can understand. Players are less inclined to listen to an old-schooler spout platitudes and time-tested recipes for success, even if they work. They want a modern touch — for better or worse — and Kingsbury provides that. He’s demanding and exacting in his approach, but one of the reasons Manziel was so successful last year was that Kingsbury let the quarterback freelance often within the confines of the attack. “He’s a quarterback’s quarterbacks coach,” says Case Keenum, who spent four of his six years at UH (2006-11) with Kingsbury. “He’s more inclined to check to a pass than to a run.”

It’s obvious that Kingsbury remembers well what it was like when he was a Red Raider. The whole staff, which includes only one coach older than 40, isn’t far removed from its playing days.

“Being young, we can relate to the kids, because only eight-to-10 years ago, we were doing the same things they are,” says co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who played at Tech from 2001-04. “We relate to their struggles as student-athletes. They’re missing their moms and dads, and we can tell them how we dealt with that.”

Kingsbury is somewhat evasive about what kind of attack he’ll employ, but fans of Leach’s system will recognize plenty of similarities. The twists will come from Kingsbury’s time with the Patriots and with McCarthy, as well as his experiences with Holgorsen, a spread mad scientist in his own right. “(Kingsbury) does a pretty good job putting his own twist and slant on the offense,” Keenum says.

Mostly, Kingsbury wants to rediscover the mentality that helped Tech succeed under Leach, who wasn’t a West Texas native, but his “swing your sword” attitude played well with fans. Tuberville didn’t run from the South Plains mindset, but he didn’t embrace it, either.

Kingsbury holds tight to that personality. It doesn’t matter how old he is or what kind of clothes he wears.

“He’s up-to-date enough to wear cool brands of jeans and shoes,” co-offensive coordinator Eric Morris says.

It’s not about that, even if the alums want to market him that way. Kingsbury has returned to Lubbock, eager to rejuvenate the Texas Tech he knows and loves.

Right where he belongs.

Written by Michael Bradley 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.

Related College Football Content

Big 12 Predictions for 2013
Big 12 2013 All-Conference Team
Big 12's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
Five Ways to Fix Texas Football
Casey Pachall's Return is a Huge Boost for TCU
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013

Teaser:
Kliff Kingsbury Returns Home to Lead Texas Tech
Post date: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-july-18
Body:

The college football news cycle never stops. Even with SEC Media Days stealing the show in Alabama, there's plenty of other news happening from around the nation. 

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Thursday, July 18th

Wisconsin and LSU are getting closer to announcing a two-game series. The best aspect? The two teams will likely meet in Lambeau Field at some point.

The SEC released the media preseason all-conference teams. Needless to say, some of the picks are interesting. 


Cincinnati and Nebraska have agreed to a future two-game series.

Who will step up at running back for Virginia Tech in 2013?

Could FIU pickup former Bowling Green running back Anthon Samuel for 2013?

Atlantic Coast Convos takes a look at Georgia Tech running back David Sims


A defensive tackle at Virginia has decided to leave the team. The Cavaliers were already thin at this position.
 

The Big 12 is a wide-open league in 2013. Here are three reasons why (and three reasons they won't) Oklahoma State will win the Big 12.

Yesterday's announcement by the NCAA to back away from video games was a little troublesome for gamers. But don’t worry, EA Sports still plans on making a college football video game next year. It just won’t have the NCAA logo. 

The Big Ten has announced its partnering with a new bowl game in Detroit, beginning with the 2014 season.

Iowa State running back Shontrelle Johnson is ready to return to team activities.

Here's an excellent breakdown of Minnesota's running back corps for 2013. The Golden Gophers should be more potent on offense this year.

Virginia Tech picked up a transfer from Richmond that could factor prominently into the special teams’ department next year.

Saturday Down South has a good take on Johnny Manziel and his appearance at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema doesn’t consider no-huddle offenses a joking matter.

Texas has hired Greg Robinson (yes, that Greg Robinson) to serve in the player personnel department. 

True freshman defensive end Carl Lawson could make a big impact for Auburn’s defense in 2013.

What rivalries have been lost due to realignment?

The Pac-12 is protesting Grand Canyon University’s admittance into Division I

Teaser:
College Football's Link Roundup: July 18
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 14:13

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