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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.

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ACC Predictions for 2013
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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
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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
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /athlons-essential-11-links-day-july-18-2013
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 18.

 

• The ESPYs provide the lovely ladies of sports, like Jennie Finch (pictured), with an opportunity to glam up for a night. The results are pretty impressive.

 

A countdown of athletes who are absolutely scandal-proof. Sounds like famous last words to me.

 

• This is interesting: NFL.com ranks the 50 most talented college players this year. No. 1 is no surprise. No. 2 is a big surprise, at least to me.

 

Apparently, the law's got ol' Rick Flair in a chickenwing over-the-shoulder crossface hold over failure to pay spousal support.

 

• Yesterday at SEC Media Days, Johnny Football became Johnny Rock Star by handling the media hordes with aplomb.

 

• Rory McIlroy's struggles continued with a 79 at the Open today. That's what happens when you putt it into a bunker.

 

A celebratory dance done right, courtesy of an Azerbaijani wrestler.

 

Tiki Barber just went public with his man-crush on Eli Manning by saying that Eli's better than Peyton. Oh yeah? Well I think Ronde's better than Tiki, and I bet Peyton does too.

 

• CJ2K has big plans should his Tennessee Titans win the Super Bowl. Those plans apparently involve a comically oversized cigar. Bill Clinton called to ask where he could get one (your cheap '90s reference for the day).

 

Les Miles explains social media by referencing the Harlem Shake. Sounds about right.

 

For some reason, the Predators painted their ice to look like a giant pool of pee.

 

• Thomas Bjorn destroyed an $80,000 camera with his golf ball at the British Open today.

 

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 10:56
Path: /college-football/gus-malzahn-bret-bielema-trade-jabs-sec-media-days
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Remember the chatter about spread offenses and injuries from the SEC coach meetings in May? Well, things got a little more interesting on Wednesday, as Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema traded barbs over spread offenses.

Malzahn got things started off with a response for Bielema's comments about spread offenses causing more injuries:

 

 

Do spread offenses really create more injuries? That's up for debate. 

However, one thing is for certain: The Nov. 2 matchup between Auburn and Arkansas just got a lot more interesting.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 09:10
All taxonomy terms: awesome, Video, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/greatest-game-horse-ever-ever
Body:

Sure, anybody can make amazing basketball shots in a game of HORSE with a basketball. But how about trying it with a Frisbee like trick shot artist Brodie Smith does? Go on, try it. 

Teaser:
The Greatest Game of HORSE Ever. Ever.
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: Funny, Video, videos, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/jon-hamm-goes-after-dwight-howard-espys
Body:
During last night's ESPYs, host Jon Hamm went after NBA star Dwight Howard with a few brutal zingers. And we mean brutal.
 

Teaser:
During last night's ESPYs, host Jon Hamm went after NBA star Dwight Howard with a few brutal zingers.
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/nebraska-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

Nebraska has won at least nine games in each of Bo Pelini’s five seasons in Lincoln. But the Cornhuskers have yet to play in a BCS bowl and have lost three consecutive postseason appearances.

Expectations are always high at Nebraska, so there’s plenty of pressure on Pelini and his staff to deliver a conference championship in 2013. The Cornhuskers have a favorable path to a return trip to Indianapolis, with their first road date coming on Oct. 12 against Purdue.

Nebraska’s schedule is backloaded, as its toughest competition for the division title – Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State – all take place in November. And of course, there’s a road date against Penn State on Nov. 23 that won’t be easy.

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

Nebraska's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

GameSteven
Lassan
Braden
Gall
Brent
Yarina
Kevin
McGuire
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
8/31 Wyoming
9/7 Southern Miss
9/14 UCLA
9/21 South Dakota State
10/5 Illinois
10/12 at Purdue
10/26 at Minnesota
11/2 Northwestern
11/9 at Michigan
11/16 Michigan State
11/23 at Penn State
11/29 Iowa
Final Projection10-211-110-211-110-210-2



Brent Yarina, Big Ten Network, (@BTNBrentYarina)
There’s plenty to like about Nebraska this fall. It all starts with a dynamic offense that returns playmakers Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell, among others. It’s also difficult not to like a schedule that includes eight (!) home games – including five to open the season – plus a slate that doesn’t feature a truly dangerous road game until November 9 (at Michigan) or Leaders Division powers Ohio State and Wisconsin for the first time since joining the Big Ten. Oh, but then there’s the defense, a unit that surrendered 53.5 points and 595 yards in its four losses last season. This year’s defense is younger and more athletic, which should help, however it must show little learning curve because it’s going to decide what kind of season the Huskers have.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The Big Ten’s Legends Division should be one of college football’s most competitive title races in 2013. Four teams – Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern – have a strong case to be picked as the favorite. The Cornhuskers led the Big Ten in total offense last year, and it’s hard to see this group backtracking any with the return of quarterback Taylor Martinez, running back Ameer Abdullah, receiver Kenny Bell and guard Spencer Long. While there’s little doubt the offense will score plenty in 2013, it’s the defense that will give coach Bo Pelini plenty of sleepless nights this offseason. Nebraska allowed 360.6 yards per game last year and ranked ninth in the Big Ten in points allowed. With just four starters back, Pelini and coordinator John Papuchis will have their hands full. However, with a favorable schedule, it’s very likely the Cornhuskers start 7-0 before a brutal November. I'm picking Nebraska to lose at Penn State, but I could easily see a second loss coming against Northwestern instead of Happy Valley. If Pelini finds the right mix on defense, Nebraska will win the Legends Division. However, I think the Cornhuskers lose two games in Big Ten play and fall just short of a return trip to Indianapolis.    

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Nebraska and senior quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has 9,449 career yards of total offense already, are eyeing a return trip to the Big Ten Championship game. And the schedule sets-up beautifully for that to happen again in 2013. Two late season road trips to league powers Michigan and Penn State might be the toughest games all year for the Big Red. UCLA in the non-conference is an intriguing game but will be in Lincoln. Key Legends Division games with Northwestern and Michigan State come at home as well and there is no Ohio State or Wisconsin from the Leaders. It means the November 9 trip to Ann Arbor could decide the division crown. That said, the Huskers could lose to Michigan and still make it to Indianapolis should the Maize and Blue slip-up just one time this fall. This will be a great division to watch all year.

Kevin McGuire (@KevinonCFB), No2MinuteWarning.com and NittanyLionsDen.com
Did I really just predict Nebraska to go 11-1? I sure did but I can tell you right now it is the least comfortable 11-1 I have ever predicted. I really do not trust Nebraska enough to win all of the games they probably should, so a record of 10-2 or even 9-3 might be more realistic, but when push comes to shove right now I'll take a shot with this 11-1 mark. Nebraska's running game will be tough for most to shut down and it's not as though the defense could be much worse this year, right? I have called for Nebraska to reach the Big Ten championship game, coming out on top of a heated three-team race between the Huskers, Michigan and Michigan State with a serious run shown by Northwestern. But I have Nebraska defending home-field advantage this season against the Spartans and Wildcats to help them maintain the edge in the division race. The toss-up games for me are the home game against UCLA and the road game at Penn State. I just don't know what to make of Penn State right now, so I have to give the edge to Big Red right now. As for UCLA, the Bruins could be a Pac 12 (South) contender and could leave town with a big win, but I'll go with Nebraska to ind enough offense in another wild match-up.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I’ve picked Nebraska to go 10-2, mainly because I wavered between 11-1 and 9-3. Nebraska has too many defensive questions to put up an 11-1 season, but the schedule is too favorable for Nebraska to slip below nine or 10 wins. Michigan is a key swing game, and on paper, Nebraska should be better than Penn State. But home field advantage for the Nittany Lions and a standout defense should be enough to pull an upset. I could just as easily see Nebraska defeating Michigan and Penn State and instead losing to Minnesota, Northwestern or UCLA. I love that Nebraska has won five of their last six one-score games, but the Cornhuskers have been vulnerable to a questionable upset (Northwestern at home) or a game getting away from them (Wisconsin, Ohio State).

Mark Ross
Other than the rematch with UCLA in September, Nebraska doesn't really face a tough test until Northwestern comes calling the first Saturday in November. The Cornhuskers have more than enough offense to get by the Bruins at home and run out to a 7-0 start. While I think the Wildcats and Wolverines will be able to take advantage of an inexperienced defense, the Huskers' only remaining road game is against a Penn State team that lost a lot from last year's surprise team. As long as Bo Pelini can keep his temper in check and Taylor Martinez doesn't make too many mistakes, this team is capable of racking up 10 wins in the regular season alone.


Related College Football Content

Big Ten 2013 Predictions
Big Ten's 2013 All-Conference Team
Ohio State and Michigan: The New Ten-Year War
The Big Ten's Best Traditions
Does Nebraska Still Believe in Bo Pelini?
5 First-Year Starting QBs Who Could Win College Football's National Title
College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013
College Football's 2013 All-America Team

Teaser:
Nebraska Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-nations-best-traditions
Body:

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


Last but certainly not least, are the college traditions.


Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. From Death Valley in Baton Rouge to Sailgating on Lake Washington in Seattle and every college town in between, there is no other sport in the nation like college football.


Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites (in the sake of fairness, no rivalry "game" is included except for one...)

 

1. Army-Navy

If there is one sporting event every person — not every fan, but every human — should attend, it would be the annual meeting of the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy. It has been played 113 times since 1890 and Navy leads the all-time series 59-47-7. This game stands above all games in sports and there are no words to describe how much more is on the line than a simply a football game.

 

2. Dotting the I

The culmination of "Script Ohio" during the pre-game festivities at Ohio State is a sight to behold. Once the word is spelled out by the marching band, the celebration comes to an end when one lucky sousaphone player dots the “I.” The crowd erupts and the lucky “dotter” puts on quite the show en route to their sacred position.

 

3. 12th Man

Born in January 1922, the phrase and tradition stemmed from one particular game with the nation’s top team at the time, Centre College. Because the team was so battered and injured, head coach Dana Bible had to call for E. King Gill, a basketball player at the time, from the stands to join the team. Texas A&M went on to win 22-14 and although Gill never made it into the game, he was the last and only man standing on the sideline. He answered the call to help his team and no one has ever forgotten about it.

 

4. Death Valley, La.

There is no singular way to describe a night home game in Tiger Stadium. The variety and flavor of an LSU tailgate is second to none with a wide-ranging menu from some of the best chefs in college football. And the stadium is arguably the loudest in the nation, especially when the Bayou Bengal fans have had all day to marinate. Who else makes the visiting team run out of the tunnel in the face of a 600-pound man-eater named "Mike"?

 

5. Song Girls

What isn’t to like about arguably the most famous cheerleading squad in college football? The USC Song Girls' squad was first formed in 1967 when seven students began the tradition in the L.A. Coliseum. Now the size of the team has grown to 12 but the trademark white sweaters and skirts haven’t changed in more than four decades. Few cheerleading squads in the nation have the talent pool to pull from like Southern California.

 

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

 

7. The Rose Bowl
Not many football teams play 45 minutes from campus, so this venue is just as much college football's as it is the UCLA Bruins. But not many teams play in the most historic venue in the nation. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena might be the most prestigious venue in all of college football. The connection Pac-12 and Big Ten fans have tied directly to "The Granddaddy of them all" — the sports' oldest bowl game — is virtually undefinable.

 

8. The Grove
It just might be the best place on Earth. This beautiful collection of oak, elm and magnolia trees surrounds a 10-acre plot adjacent to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. The party in The Grove has been going on since football began at Ole Miss, but became the Holy Grail of Tailgating by the 1950s. The gorgeous, um, scenery is second to none and the setting is historic. Everyone is undefeated in The Grove.

 

9. Beaver Stadium White Out
Black outs and blue outs and red outs are cool. But nothing makes a crowd standout like a white out. And when white is one of your primary colors and 110,000 people agree to wear the same color, the result is a stunning visual experience unlike any other in sports. Very few spectators rooting for Penn State will fail to comply with the dress code and the sheer size of the crowd is as intimidating as any in the nation. While other colors actually make the crowd look sparser, a good white out will make your crowd look much bigger.

 

10. War Eagle Flight
Possibly the best pregame, live mascot ritual in all of college football, Auburn’s Golden Eagle “Nova” performs the War Eagle Flight down through the rabid home crowd and onto its perch. Nova is officially the eighth such bird to grace Jordan-Hare Stadium as War Eagle I is said to have started the timeless tradition in 1892.

 

11. The Blackshirts
Nebraska has had a long-standing tradition of rewarding its defensive players for earning a starting spot. Since the 1960s, the starting 11, and maybe a few lucky other contributors on defense for the Big Red have donned black practice jerseys with pride. Midway through 2007, the defensive players and coaches voted to give up the uniforms due to subpar performance. They earned them back roughly a month later. The Cornhuskers also have a handful of other outstanding traditions, including the release of red balloons after their first score, and the tunnel walk as Nebraska gets ready to enter the field.

 

12. Sooner Schooner
White ponies named Boomer and Sooner pull the famous replica Conestoga wagon onto the field at every Oklahoma home game. It is managed and steered by the RUF/NEKS, the university’s all-male spirit squad. Every time the Sooners score, the RUF/NEKS drive the Schooner out onto the field in a large arc that tops out near mid-field. The Sooner Schooner debuted in 1964 and officially became the school’s mascot in 1980.

 

13. Ralphie’s Run
One of the best live mascots in college football, Ralphie the Buffalo makes two big horseshoe runs around Colorado’s Folsom Field at the start of each half of each home game. It takes five “Ralphie Handlers” to make the sprint possible as she — yes, Ralphie is a girl — can reach upwards of 25 miles per hour if not restrained. The tradition began in 1934 when students used a bison as their mascot until Ralphie I made her debut in '66 when she was donated to the university by a student’s father.

 

14. South Bend, Ind.
There is no other way to describe a football game at Notre Dame Stadium than simply "South Bend." Touchdown Jesus, The Grotto, historic rivals and the College Football Hall of Fame are just the headliners. There are just a handful of fan bases, college towns, rivalry games and traditions that can match the experience in South Bend. It's a cathedral of college football — almost literally.

 

15. The LSJUMB
The tall tales about the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, or LSJUMB, are endless and mostly hysterical. It was founded in 1893 and has been picking on opposing teams, fans, coaches as well as societal injustices, with hilarious political satire and finely tuned musical prowess ever since. This is easily the most entertaining band website in history (trust me, check it out) and the LSJUMB’s latest victim was the Wisconsin Badgers. The “Ode to Cheese” during last year’s Rose Bowl tested the sense of humor of many frigid Madison natives and upset many boring media members.

 

16. Toomer’s Corner

May it rest in peace… for now. The Harvey Updyke saga is one of the most bizarre tales of fandom gone wrong in history. At the corner of Magnolia Avenue and College Street in front of 130-year-old Toomer’s Drug store, Auburn fans have rolled the two massive southern live oaks for roughly six decades. While those trees have been poisoned and subsequently cut down, there is no reason to believe that those in charge on The Plains won’t rebuild some sort of replacement that will allow fans to start a new tradition.

 

17. Chief Osceola and Renegade

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

 

18. The Fifth Quarter
Win by 50 or lose by 50, home or away, any and all Wisconsin Badger supporter will celebrate the Fifth Quarter. Thousands of fans will remain in their seats working their way closer to the field until well after the game. The marching band will put on an impromptu show unlike any other, complete with the alma mater "Varsity," the "Beer Barrel Polka" and the "Bud Song." When you say Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.

19. Midnight Yell 
Originally an impromptu post-dinner get-together to “learn heartily the old time pep,” Midnight Yell Practice at Texas A&M didn’t officially start until 1931. Today, the tradition is held on Friday nights before home games at Kyle Field and Thursday before road games at The Arches. It is a fairly self-explanatory tradition as fans and cadets gather to practice cheering for the Aggies — and making out some too.

 

20. Touching the Banner
The Michigan Wolverines take the field in style at every home game by running out of the oddly placed (midfield) team tunnel. The players pour onto the field and underneath a historic and massive banner that reads “Go Blue: M Club Supports You.” The band plays "The Victors" and each player jumps to slap the banner as he enters the gridiron. The tradition began way back in 1962.

 

21. Sailgating
Each fall Saturday in Seattle, Husky Harbor on Lake Washington is filled with a University of Washington fan flotilla. Fans show up in every possible type of floating vessel and set up shop in the shadows of Husky Stadium to sailgate for the big U of W contest to come later in the day. This practice has been going on since shortly after the stadium opened in 1920 and is often imitated, but rarely duplicated. With the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west, the crystal-clear blue water provides one of the most picturesque tailgating settings in the nation. Don't believe us, check out this New York Times slideshow.

 

22. The Hokie Slab and "Enter Sandman"

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

 

23. Tightwad Hill
Officially known as Charter Hill, Tightwad rises to the east of Cal’s Memorial Stadium and was formed from the dirt that was excavated during stadium construction. It offers a unique view of the action on the field should a game sellout or poor college students don’t feel like paying for tickets. Fans have been attending games on this hill since 1924 and most take the opportunity to enjoy many recreational activities high in the trees of Tightwad Hill (sorry, couldn’t resist).

 

24. War Chant/The Chomp
There are various historical takes on when, where and how the Florida State tradition began, but many point to a big game against Auburn in 1984. The band played the traditional cheer but the student section continued chanting after the band finished and it stuck. By the next season, it was a stadium-wide phenomenon that birthed the now-historic tomahawk chop. The Gator Chomp stemmed from Mississippi State’s band’s version of "Jaws" in 1981, some Florida band members modified the tune slightly and added the famous vertical chomping motion. It eventually spread across the stadium and is now synonymous with Gators football.

 

25. "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk
"
It may not have a sexy beginning — the science club came up with the rousing cheer in 1886 — but it might be the most famous cheer in all of college sports. The phrase “Rock Chalk” stems from chalk rock, which is a type of limestone prevalent in middle and western parts of Kansas.

 

Best of the Rest:

Uga

Nine different English Bulldogs have stood on the Georgia sideline dating back to 1956 with Uga I. However, this pup gets the royal treatment between the hedges, residing in his own air-conditioned dog house (situated on top of an ice bag most of the time). The marble mausoleum near the entrance of the Southwest corner of Sanford Stadium is the resting place for Ugas of yesteryear.

Cougars' Gameday Flag
Leave it to message boards to come up with stuff like flying a Washington State Cougars flag on College Gameday’s TV set every weekend for nearly a decade. No, it doesn’t always happen in the Pac-12 (obviously) but the Cougars' flag has made an appearance on the extremely popular Saturday morning program every week since the Red River Shootout on October 3, 2003 — which is more than 131 consecutive shows.

"Rocky Top
"
It might be the most recognizable fight song in the nation. Yes, visiting teams and fans get tired of the jingle after the 30th or 40th rendition on any given Saturday but Big Orange Nation never tires of the Felice and Boudleaux Bryant song written back in 1967.

"Jump Around"
The student section at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium between the third and fourth quarters is a rare sight. The well-known number by House of Pain hits the speakers and the entire section bounces up and down for the entire song. Not only do opposing fans and players get involved in the jumping, but Camp Randall Stadium also has been known to shake on occasion. It’s a sight to behold

The Ramblin' Wreck

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

The Smoke Tunnel

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

Woo Pig Sooie
There isn’t a clear story as to when or how this one came about but since at least the 1920s, Arkansas fans have been Calling the Hogs. The high-pitched chant echoes throughout the hills of Arkansas over and over and over again every Saturday.

The Mountaineer
The most loved fixture at West Virginia sporting events, the Mountaineer first showed up in 1936. Each year The Mountaineer is selected by “The Mountain,” the school’s prestigious senior honorary. The customary brown leather outfit is custom tailored each year and bushy beards are strongly encouraged.

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Teaser:
From coast to coast, college football is America's most tradition-rich sport.
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/oregon-turns-mark-helfrich-keep-ducks-among-nations-best
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Mark HelfrichWhen Mark Helfrich was promoted to replace Chip Kelly as Oregon's head coach in January, the native Oregonian called it "the opportunity of a lifetime."

The Ducks' athletic director, Rob Mullens, was similarly effusive about the move, which makes Helfrich the third straight UO head coach to be promoted from offensive coordinator. "We gathered a lot of input," Mullens said. "And fortunately for us it all pointed to one person, and he happened to live right here in this zip code."

For as much as Helfrich's credentials — born and raised in the state, former graduate assistant with the Ducks, ready and willing ambassador for the program — differ from Kelly's, he was hired for the sake of continuity. Helfrich needs to continue Oregon's run of four straight BCS appearances to truly be deemed an instant success. It would help to get the Ducks back into the Pac-12 Championship after they failed to qualify in 2012, and there's more than enough returning talent to think Oregon should be able to reach its second BCS championship game in four years.

Lofty expectations for a first-year coach? Most certainly. But with Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota back to run one of the nation's most explosive offenses, and all but four members of the defensive two-deep returning as well, the coaching change has done nothing to temper expectations in Eugene.

Kelly was seen as something of a revolutionary in the college game during his time in Eugene. His offense played at a frenetic pace, his practices were conducted at a fever pitch, and the system of play calling he developed to accommodate that tempo was adopted by no less than the New England Patriots. But Helfrich was a trusted advisor, orchestrating details behind the scenes that made Oregon's system fit for a race track, rather than a traffic jam.

Among the biggest questions after the change was whether Helfrich, and his new offensive coordinator Scott Frost, would prove as daring as Kelly in their play calling. In the last four years, Oregon has led the nation in two-point conversions, and has been among college football's most aggressive teams on fourth down. Oregon tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Tom Osborne was on the UO staff when Helfrich was a graduate assistant in 1997, and coached with him again at Arizona State before they were reunited in Eugene in 2009. Osborne foresees little change in the Ducks' philosophy. "Aggressive play-calling?" he said. "I don't see it changing at all."

Marcus MariotaOne element that seems certain to change, if only slightly, is Oregon's run-pass balance. In 2012 the Ducks ran the ball more often, and for a higher percentage of their total offense, than they had in 30 years. With Mariota throwing to a veteran group of receivers and tight ends in 2013, that figures to change. But Helfrich's pedigree could be a factor, too. He's a former dropback passer at Southern Oregon University who was a quarterbacks coach in his four previous jobs prior to being named Oregon's head coach. The stadium record for passing yardage at the Ducks' Autzen Stadium is 536 yards by Andrew Walter of Arizona State in 2002 — with Helfrich as his position coach.

There was one noticeable change for the Ducks during Helfrich's first spring — Kelly was a yeller, while Helfrich is not. Following the first practice in April, Mariota was noticeably hoarse. "Now you don't have that extra voice," Mariota said. "I was trying to be that, and it kind of caught up with me."

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti chose his words carefully in describing Helfrich's "softer touch," perhaps owing to the fact he's a married father of two, where as Kelly was the rare bachelor among the head coaching ranks nationally. Aliotti's called differences between the two "the one million dollar question."

"Everything's been the same," Aliotti said. "They're just two difference personalities out there. As far as how they conduct practice, as far as what we want to get done, you wouldn't even notice a change."

One area in which Mullens would probably prefer a change is in his head coach's public persona. Kelly could be outwardly antagonistic of media, and cut back dramatically on his interactions with boosters. “That’s part of the job,” Helfrich said. “We’re going to do our best to make everybody feel involved.”

And he hopes to be doing so for a long time. “Coaching at Oregon is the pinnacle for me,” Helfrich said. "This is a special place to me. We talked about a lifetime contract; was not able to get that done, but maybe we’ll earn that here down the road.”

Written by Rob Moseley for Athlon Sports. Visit our online store to order your 2013 Pac-12 preview to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Pac-12 season.

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Teaser:
A New Era Begins at Oregon with Coach Mark Helfrich
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ncaa-ends-contract-ea-sports-college-football-video-game
Body:

The EA Sports NCAA Football franchise will end with this season’s edition.

Facing ongoing litigation as a result of the Ed O’Bannon class action lawsuit, the NCAA announced Wednesday it would not renew its contract with EA Sports. The contract expires in June 2014.
NCAA Football 2014 will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo, the press release indicates. The end of the contract does not necessarily mean the end a college football video game utilizing school names and mascots, however.

“Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game,” the NCAA says. “They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future.”

The NCAA, EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Committee are co-defendants in a class action lawsuit stating the NCAA Football video games violate antitrust laws by essentially requiring athletes to release their likeness rights for perpetuity.

 

The end of the contract means, in theory, the CLC, which represents nearly 200 universities, or schools/conferences individually could sign a new contract for a college football video game with EA Sports that does not include the NCAA name or logo.

Teaser:
NCAA Football 2014 will be final game under the contract
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 14:55
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-july-17
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SEC Media Days continues on Wednesday, but there's plenty of other news from around the college football world. 

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 Wednesday, July 17th

Jon Cooper of Saturday Down South has an excellent recap of Tuesday’s events at SEC Media Days. 

Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger has a good rundown of Ole Miss’ coach Hugh Freeze comments from Tuesday, including an update on JUCO signee Nick Brassell.

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

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.

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

Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal posts an update on Kentucky’s depth chart for 2013.

Here's a preview of Michigan State's receiving corps for 2013. 

The Big 12 has released the 2013 preseason media all-conference team. For comparison's sake, here’s a look at Athlon’s All-Big 12 team for 2013.

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.

Thanks to Tajh Boyd’s decision to return for his senior year, Clemson can expand its offense even more in 2013.

Minnesota has regained the services of receiver Andre McDonald for 2013.

Louisville’s first release of its fall depth chart had a few surprises and reasons to be concerned.

Teaser:
College Football's Link Roundup: July 17
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 14:32
Path: /college-football/jadeveon-clowney-calls-out-tajh-boyd-and-aaron-murray
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For the most part, conference media days are a cliché fest. However, from time-to-time, there are a few gems that resonate throughout the offseason.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney dropped one of the top soundbites from the first day of SEC Media Days on Tuesday, calling out Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.
 



How did Boyd and Murray fare against South Carolina last season? Well, it wasn’t pretty. Murray went 11 of 31 for 109 yards and one interception, with Boyd completing 11 of 24 throws for 183 yards and two picks.

So is there truth to what Clowney was saying? I mean, who wouldn’t be intimidated by a 6-foot-6 defensive end with sub-4.6 speed?

Needless to say, Clowney’s comments should work well for bulletin board material at Georgia and Clemson, especially since those two matchups could be the toughest for South Carolina in 2013.

Teaser:
Jadeveon Clowney Calls Out Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /british-open-5-burning-questions
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Can Phil Mickelson win?

Shockingly, given Mickelson's creativity and brilliant wedge play, the Open Championship is historically his weakest major. He has contended only twice and missed the cut last year at Royal Lytham. But his Scottish Open win this past weekend demonstrates a newfound appreciation for links golf. "I used to hate it and now I love it," he said. He's also expressing an intriguing level of confidence in his putting stroke. "I am really optimistic about this week and going forward because I'm starting to putt as well as I ever have," he said. "… You've seen me try the belly putter, you've seen me try different grips, and finally I believe I have kind of found the secret to my own putting." He's leaving the driver out of the bag this week; we'll see if that's a smart play or typical Mickelson over-thinking.

 

Is Rory McIlroy distracted by girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki?

NBC analyst Johnny Miller sure seems to think so. And Sir Nick Faldo jumped on the bandwagon this week, advising Rory to concentrate on golf while is window of greatness is open. But McIlroy is not taking the criticism lying down, firing this withering counterattack in a news conference: "I saw what he said, and he said I should be at the course 9 to 5. I actually was on the range at 6:15 and got out of the gym at 6:15, actually a 12-hour day compared to his nine-hour day. It is what it is, and Nick should know how hard this game is at times. And he's been in our position before. And he should know how much work that we all do put into it." Of course, the proof's in the results, and Rory's results have been lacking. But a win this week would do a lot to shut up the critics.

 

Which Graeme McDowell will show up this week?

McDowell's roller-coaster ride defies comprehension. How’s this for feast or famine: McDowell’s last eight appearances on the PGA and European Tours include three wins and five missed cuts (two of which came at The Masters and U.S. Open). So which Graeme will show up at Muirfield? He thinks he knows: "I still have the links game — the wind game — inside me and I will be relying on that at Muirfield. Links golf is in my blood and I feel like I slip back into that mode easily." If the wind blows, watch out for McDowell.

 

Muirfield: easy or hard?

The course historically produces worthy champions: Els, Faldo (twice), Watson, Trevino, Nicklaus and Player are the last seven winners at the storied venue. Nicklaus liked the course so much that he named his home course in Ohio in its honor. But as for its degree of difficulty? The fact that the players are trying to outdo each other in calling the layout "fair" would seem to indicate that they feel that low scores are there for the taking. Watch the conditions. If the wind blows, the course's circuitous layout makes changing breezes hard to gauge. Remember — Tiger Woods shot 81 at Muirfield in a gale-force wind in 2002.

 

Who'll kiss the Claret Jug?

There's no shortage of viable candidates: Mickelson's hot; Ernie Els is playing well heading into his title defense; McDowell's in his comfort zone; Justin Rose and Adam Scott have their breakthrough majors and will be loose and confident.

But we're going with Tiger Woods. Noted golf psychologist Bob Rotella thinks Woods is showing signs of "panic" that he'll never regain his major mojo. But we think he's cornered and angry that no one seems to fear him any more. And it's not like has hasn't been close; since his last major win in 2008, he has seven top-six finishes in majors, including a T3 at last year's Open Championship. "I think it's just a shot here and there," he said. "It's making a key up-and-down here or getting a good bounce here, capitalizing on an opportunity." We think that opportunity will knock this week.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 12:31

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