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All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/bill-belichick-reportedly-never-believed-tom-bradys-deflategate-story-patriots
Body:

Belief is a tricky thing. You want to take someone's word for something, but there's a nagging feeling they could be wrong. We've all been there.

 

According to Boston Herald writer Ron Borges, Bill Belichick never believed Tom Brady's Deflategate story. If that's true, he's certainly not alone.

 

"Belichick never believed his story, from what I was told," Borges said. "Because they all know. Why do you think all those retired quarterbacks, the Troy Aikmans of the world — Troy Aikman is about as nice a guy as I've ever met in football — nobody's backed [Brady]. Nobody, not a single guy. Why do you think that is? Because they hate Brady? No. Because they're not stupid. They know nothing's done with those balls that the quarterback doesn't want done."

 

Former Packers quarterback Brett Favre actually did come to the aid of Brady, saying what he did wasn't cheating. Having your own coach not believe your story is different. The relationship between a quarterback and head coach needs to be the smoothest of perhaps any other on the team.

 

Only time will tell if this story plays a part in the already tangled web of Deflategate.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 10:06
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-offensive-triplets-2015
Body:

The Big Ten is known for possessing some of the nation’s top defenses, but this conference isn’t short on offensive talent for 2015. The Big Ten has three potential first-round picks at quarterback in next year’s draft. Cardale Jones is expected to start over Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett at Ohio State, while Michigan State’s Connor Cook is back for his third year under center, and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg should improve under second-year coach James Franklin. Additionally, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is a Heisman frontrunner, and Corey Clement should be a capable replacement for Melvin Gordon at running back.

 

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 14 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 14 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.


Ranking the Big Ten’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

 

1. Ohio State

Total Points: 40

QB: Cardale Jones (1)

RB: Ezekiel Elliott (1)

WR: Michael Thomas (3)
 

Regardless of who starts under center for coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes have one of the nation’s best trios. Jones is penciled in as the starter at quarterback after guiding Ohio State to a 3-0 record and a national championship in his short tenure under center. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 696 yards over the final three games of last year, and Thomas led all Ohio State receivers with 54 catches in 2014.

Related: Urban Meyer Ranks No. 1 Among Big Ten Coaches for 2015

 

2. Penn State

Total Points: 35

QB: Christian Hackenberg (3)

RB: Akeel Lynch (5)

WR: DaeSean Hamilton (2)
 

Ranking Penn State at No. 2 in Big Ten triplets largely depends on how far the offensive line develops during the offseason. The Nittany Lions struggled up front in 2014 and prevented the offense from taking off in coach James Franklin’s first year. Improvement is expected up front, which should allow quarterback Christian Hackenberg to rebound after an up and down 2014 campaign. Akeel Lynch rushed for at least 75 yards in three out of his last four outings, while Hamilton – only a sophomore – is among the Big Ten’s top receivers.

Related: QB Christian Hackenberg Ranks No. 3 in the Big Ten QB Ranks for 2015

 

3. Nebraska

Total Points: 29

QB: Tommy Armstrong (5)

RB: Terrell Newby (7)

WR: De’Mornay Pierson-El (4)
 

Adapting to new coach Mike Riley’s pro-style offense will be the biggest challenge for the Cornhuskers in 2015. However, the pieces are in place for Nebraska to rank among the Big Ten’s best offenses. Armstrong threw for 2,695 yards and 22 scores last season and has one of the top receiving corps in the Big Ten with Jordan Westerkamp and all-around threat De’Mornay Pierson-El. Terrell Newby and Imani Cross will replace Ameer Abdullah’s production at running back.

Related: Where Does Mike Riley Rank Among Big Ten Coaches?

 

4. Wisconsin

Total Points: 29

QB: Joel Stave (9)

RB: Corey Clement (2)

WR: Alex Erickson (5)
 

Don’t expect much in the way of change for Wisconsin’s offense under new coach Paul Chryst. The former offensive coordinator for the Badgers is back in Madison after a three-year stint as Pittsburgh’s coach. Corey Clement should be a capable replacement for running back Melvin Gordon. However, question marks remain about quarterback Joel Stave and the options at receiver beyond Alex Erickson.

Related: Wisconsin's Corey Clement Ranks as the No. 2 Big Ten RB for 2015

 

5. Illinois

Total Points: 28

QB: Wes Lunt (4)

RB: Josh Ferguson (6)

WR: Geronimo Allison (7)
 

The Fighting Illini have plenty of offensive firepower in place, and this trio could rank higher if receiver Mike Dudek wasn’t lost for an indefinite period of time with a torn ACL. Lunt was off to a good start last season before a leg injury limited him to just eight games. Ferguson has rushed for 700 yards in back-to-back years and has 100 receptions in that span.

 

6. Michigan State

Total Points: 23

QB: Connor Cook (2)

RB: Madre London (12)

WR: Aaron Burbridge (8)
 

If the Spartans had proven No. 1 starters at running back and receiver, they would rank much higher on this list. Madre London is listed at running back here, but Delton Williams, LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes will be in the mix for carries. Connor Cook is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, and the senior needs Aaron Burbridge and DeAnthony Arnett to step up in 2015.

 

7. Indiana

Total Points: 22

QB: Nate Sudfeld (6)

RB: Jordan Howard (4)

WR: J-Shun Harris (13)
 

Kevin Wilson’s specialty is offense, and the Hoosiers should take a step forward on the stat sheet after quarterback Nate Sudfeld missed a chunk of 2014 due to a shoulder injury. Sudfeld was ready to join the ranks of the Big Ten’s best at quarterback in 2013, throwing for 2,523 yards and 21 scores. Howard rushed for 1,587 yards at UAB last year and is expected to be the top replacement for Tevin Coleman. Harris is the team’s top returning receiver from 2014 – 18 catches for 168 yards.

 

8. Rutgers

Total Points: 22

QB: Chris Laviano (13)

RB: Paul James (9)

WR: Leonte Carroo (1)
 

The Scarlet Knights have some intriguing offensive weapons in place for the 2015 season. But can new coordinator Ben McDaniels settle on a quarterback? Chris Laviano exited spring with a slight edge on Hayden Rettig for the No. 1 spot. James gets the nod at running back, but sophomores Josh Martin and Robert Hicks are two names to remember. Carroo averaged 19.2 yards per catch in Big Ten games last year.

 

9. Michigan

Total Points: 21

QB: Jake Rudock (7)

RB: Ty Isaac (8)

WR: Amara Darboh (9)
 

There’s little doubt Jim Harbaugh will generate some improvement out of Michigan’s offense in 2015. And if the pieces fall into place, the Wolverines should climb this list during the year. Jake Rudock is eligible immediately after transferring from Iowa and is expected to start over Shane Morris. Ty Isaac and Derrick Green are expected to share carries in the backfield. Amara Darboh will replace Devin Funchess as the No. 1 target in the passing attack.

Related: Jim Harbaugh is the No. 1 Coaching Hire for 2015

 

10. Iowa

Total Points: 19

QB: C.J. Beathard (10)

RB: Jordan Canzeri (10)

WR: Tevaun Smith (6)
 

C.J. Beathard has replaced Jake Rudock as Iowa’s starting quarterback, and the Hawkeyes hope the Tennessee native helps the offense stretch the field more in 2015. Jordan Canzeri headlines a solid stable of running backs, while Tevaun Smith averaged a healthy 13.9 yards per reception in 2014.

 

11. Northwestern

Total Points: 19

QB: Matt Alviti (12)

RB: Justin Jackson (3)

WR: Christian Jones (11)
 

Justin Jackson had a breakout year for the Wildcats in 2014, leading the team with 1,187 yards and 10 rushing scores. Jackson remains the top back for Northwestern and will be among the Big Ten’s best in 2015. The Wildcats will spend fall practice sorting out their quarterback situation, as three candidates – Clayton Thorson, Matt Alviti and Zack Oliver – are vying for the No. 1 spot. Christian Jones is coming off a torn ACL and missed all of 2014.

 

12. Minnesota

Total Points: 12

QB: Mitch Leidner (8)

RB: Rodrick Williams (11)

WR: K.J. Maye (14)
 

Minnesota’s formula for success won’t change with a power rushing attack on offense. David Cobb will be missed, but Rodrick Williams and Rodney Smith should provide plenty of production. The bigger question mark on the Golden Gopher offense is a passing attack that managed only 147.3 yards in Big Ten games last year.

Related: Minnesota's Jerry Kill Ranks No. 5 Among Big Ten Coaches for 2015

 

13. Maryland

Total Points: 9

QB: Caleb Rowe (11)

RB: Brandon Ross (13)

WR: Juwann Winfree (12)
 

There’s a lot of uncertainty for Maryland on both sides of the ball in 2015. A new defensive scheme is the team’s biggest concern, but the Terrapins have to replace quarterback C.J. Brown and dynamic receiver Stefon Diggs. Rowe is recovering from a torn ACL and is expected to return at full strength by this fall. More production is needed from the running backs, while Winfree headlines a receiving corps that lost four out of its top five targets from 2014.

 

14. Purdue

Total Points: 7

QB: Austin Appleby (14)

RB: Keyante Green (14)

WR: Danny Anthrop (10)
 

Finding the right quarterback in coach Darrell Hazell’s biggest priority this offseason. Is Appleby the starter? Or should redshirt freshman David Blough or Danny Etling take the first snap? The concerns on offense extend to the running back spot, but there’s promise with Green and Markell Jones in 2015. Anthrop averaged 16.2 yards per catch last season and could be among the Big Ten’s top receivers. However, he’s also recovering from a torn ACL.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten's Offensive Triplets for 2015
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/all-nba-all-defense-teams-announced-league
Body:

Without further ado, here are the players that achieved top honors for the 2014-15 season:

 

All-NBA, first team

Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
James Harden, Houston Rockets
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

 

All-NBA, second team

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

 

All-NBA, third team

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

 

The most notable snubs here are Kawhi Leonard and John Wall. 

 

This list of 15 also has one major mystery. Pau Gasol had a terrific season in terms of comebacks, but to say he was one of the five best bigs in the game? That’s a bit generous.

 

The biggest surprise here is Cousins’ inclusion—not that he doesn’t belong. An elite, singular talent, he’s been overdue for this kind of recognition for a while. It just comes as unexpected that the media, long his enemy, gave it to him with the votes needed.

 

Here’s the defensive version of things:

 

All-Defense, first team

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

 

All-Defense, second team

John Wall, Washington Wizards
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Buls
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

 

Tony Allen’s “First team, All-Defense” chant proved, of course, to be prophetic here. It’s hard to pick too many bones with this collection, though; 10 is a small number for how many great defenders there are in this league, and there will always be a bushel of them left out of the party.

 

— John Wilmes
@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 09:26
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/julian-edelman-video-workout-train-los-angeles-childish-gambino-patriots-receiver
Body:

Julian Edelman isn't taking it easy after winning the Super Bowl.

 

The Patriots receiver uploaded a training video, with a soundtrack by Childish Gambino, and shows fans he's only going to get better from here. Weight-lifting, cardio, and catching passes in the sand are all a part of the routine it takes to be great.

 

 

Edelman clearly doesn't have time to hear about Deflategate. He's too busy preparing for next year.

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 09:12
Path: /college-football/dont-listen-nick-saban-bowl-system-just-fine
Body:

Don’t buy it.

 

Don’t buy what Bill Hancock is selling. Don’t buy what the conference commissioners are selling.

 

Certainly, don’t buy what Nick Saban is selling.

 

The Alabama Crimson Tide head coach has built up more than enough equity during his amazing career to have intelligent and respected opinions about his game.

 

But his latest comments about the College Football Playoff ruining the bowl system — what he claims he “fears the most” — couldn’t be further from reality.

 

What he “fears the most?” Really?

 

Not Gus Malzahn, not Ezekiel Elliott, not spread offenses, not his glaring weakness at quarterback.

 

But the BBVA Compass Bowl?

 

According to Saban, attention being removed from the Taxslayer Bowl is what keeps him up at night.

 

First, that’s more than difficult to believe. Second, it’s blatantly false.

 

Related: 5 Things I'd change about the College Football Playoff

 

Arkansas athletic director and chairman of the College Football Playoff Jeff Long couldn’t agree more.

 

"Well, I think sometimes coaches, particularly those at the highest level, I'm not sure how aware they are of what's really going on out there in the real world,” Long told Arkansas radio show Sports Talk with Bo.

 

The “real world” Long is referring to is television ratings and bowl expansion.

 

More people are watching bowl games than ever before. Remove the record-smashing playoff bowls from the equation — which lured roughly 90 million combined viewers for three games — and the average viewership for the remaining 36 bowls sits at over four million viewers per game (4,001,016 to be exact).

 

The lowest viewership in the 2013-14 bowl season — the last of the BCS Era — was the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which drew a paltry 332,000 viewers for the UNLV-North Texas showdown.

 

The lowest rated bowl game during the first Playoff season was the Camellia Bowl between South Alabama and Bowling Green, which drew more than three times the number of viewers at 1,110,000 sets of eyeballs.

 

Related: SEC, ACC have no right to hate Big Ten for satellite camps

 

Needless to say, fans are flocking to their televisions to watch the bowls like never before.

 

And how could the health of the bowl system be in question when the number of games continues to rise?

 

There were a record 39 bowls last year and not only is the system not suffering, but there is a chance that three more games will be added this fall.

 

That means 82 teams will play in a postseason game this season. It sounds like the bowl system is healthier than it’s ever been. Hell, bowl games are even being played outside of the country now.

 

Additionally, the College Football Playoff has increased the entire college football pie. With surging interest in the regular season and subsequent postseason tournament, the Playoff is elevating the entire sport to a new level of interest. Money is pouring into the sport from every angle at unprecedented rates.

 

Which, in turn, elevates interest and support for all 10 conferences, all 128 teams and all 42 bowl games.

 

Attendance numbers at bowl games are a concern but that isn’t anything that the entire sports world isn’t dealing with as well. Overall attendance numbers for big time college football were at record lows in 2014 and attendance at sporting events as a whole are reaching concerning benchmarks.

 

The in-home experience is more enjoyable and significantly more affordable than taking a family of four to the game — much less flying them to El Paso for a neutral field exhibition game.

 

That isn’t a bowl game problem, that’s a sports industry problem.

 

Generally speaking, head football coaches say things for a reason. What was Saban’s motivation behind these patently untrue and unfounded comments?

 

Maybe he’s just upset the entire world destroyed his team for losing to Ohio State on the biggest stage and no one cared nearly as much that Auburn lost to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

 

Teaser:
Don't listen to Nick Saban, the Bowl System is just fine
Post date: Friday, May 22, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/ranking-nba-playoffs-most-significant-injuries
Body:

6. Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets

Had you told any close NBA follower that the Rockets got past the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs, without Beverley, a month ago… they wouldn’t have believed you. The 37-year-old Jason Terry did a shockingly good job slowing Chris Paul down during Houston’s historical comeback series win, and the Rockets are now in the Western Conference finals. Without Beverley’s maniacal defensive pressure to apply to MVP Steph Curry, though, things could end quickly for Houston. Terry is bound to show his age soon, and when the Rockets have to switch wingmen onto Steph, it should open up the offense for his passing genius.

 

5. John Wall, Washington Wizards

John Wall is one of the best players in the NBA, and he missed three games of a playoff series. After he fell on his hand in Game 1 (a dominant, 18-point, 13-assist performance from him, in which he led the Wizards to a 104-98 victory) he then missed the next three contests with a wrist injury. Paul Pierce’s heroics were enough to propel the Wiz to one more win—and nearly to two—but Wall’s absence was ultimately the weakness that Atlanta capitalized on. Wall came back in Game 6 and played another great game, but the Hawks had already taken control while he was gone.

 

4. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

Love’s separated shoulder hasn’t had a terrible impact on the Cavaliers—not yet, anyway. They’ve been lucky enough with one big, generous baseline reality: They play in the Eastern Conference. Even without Love, LeBron James and Co. have had enough to get within three games of the Finals. An emboldened Tristan Thompson, conveniently enough, has filled in for Love and done a lot of tough tasks that Cleveland arguably needs more than their missing All-Star’s shooting and playmaking. Thompson has been a voracious rebounder and a relentless defender, looking like just about the best custodian James has ever had. The smart money, however, is on Cleveland missing Love’s modern versatility dearly if they land in the Finals.

 

3. Wes Matthews, Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers were in rare air for much of the season. Their offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency were both consistently in the league’s top ten, putting them in company with only two other squads who could claim that status: the Warriors and the Hawks. That had a ton to do with Matthews, their best defender and the NBA’s overall leader in made three-pointers at the time of his injury. Without Wes against the Memphis Grizzlies, point guard Damian Lillard struggled as Mike Conley, Courtney Lee and Tony Allen took turns wearing him out. And without Matthews playing defense, Portland’s perimeter stronghold was downright porous.

 

2. Thabo Sefolosha and DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks

The severity of Carroll’s injury is yet unknown. His MRI concluded that no structural damage has been done to the knee he landed awkwardly on in Game 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but we don’t know how effective he can be on a quick turnaround. The thing is, he needs to be extremely effective, as he has the hardest job on the Hawks’ roster for this matchup—and potentially the hardest job in the entire sport—in guarding LeBron. Without Sefolosha either, who’s out for the year with a broken fibula, Atlanta is suddenly looking almost optionless in the face of the King’s warpath toward a fifth straight Finals appearance.

 

1. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder

The most important injuries in the playoffs are to men who didn’t play a minute in them. In fact, they don't even work for an organization that made the field. But the Thunder’s absence from this bracket has to be the biggest, most bothersome “what’s missing” feeling that’s making this spring feel somehow incomplete. When healthy, this is probably the most talented squad in the league. Now the franchise is undergoing a bit of change, with Billy Donovan hired as their new head coach in place of the outgoing Scott Brooks. Perhaps Donovan can manage the roster’s bodies well enough to help us avoid this sad lacking, a year from now.

 

— John Wilmes
@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 22:21
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/darrelle-revis-says-patriots-have-history-doing-stuff-tom-brady-jets
Body:

Don't bite the hand that feeds you but once that hand stops, it's a different story.

 

Former Patriots corner is speaking out about Deflategate and it isn't pretty. Revis, now with the Jets, told New York Daily News his truth about Tom Brady and the issues surrounding the Patriots.

 

"Everybody's blowing it up because it is Tom Brady," Revis said. "But if (the NFL) feels he did the crime or he did something and they want to penalize them, then that's that. (The Patriots) have a history of doing stuff. You can't hide that ... Tom was there when they did that stuff in the past."

 

Revis continued saying that he comment on whether or not Brady is a cheater, but his background shouldn't have an effect on his punishment. The Patriots quarterback shouldn't receive an appeal just because of his image.

 

"If Tom gets caught with a DUI it's a DUI," Revis said. "If they are saying that he did what he's done, then the suspension is the suspension."

 

Revis also mentions that this isn't the first go-round with the Patriots and discipline.

 

"New England's been doing stuff in the past and getting in trouble," Revis said. "When stuff repeatedly happens, then that's it. I don't know what else to tell you. Stuff repeatedly happened through the years. You got SpyGate, you got this and that and everything else."

 

The Jets vs. Patriots games will be one to mark down on your calendars.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 17:05
All taxonomy terms: New England Patriots, NFL
Path: /nfl/what-will-deflategate-mean-final-act-tom-brady-and-bill-belichick
Body:

The fourth Super Bowl victory was supposed to be the one that put the controversies behind the New England Patriots. For eight long years since the tide turned against them after 2007's Spygate, the Patriots and their fans were subjected to the incredibly simplified "they haven't won anything since Spygate," which summed up a popular general feeling that New England could no longer win the big one without the cheating.

 

Yes, the Patriots won more games, division and conference titles than anyone else in the time, and came within two miracle plays by the Giants of having two more Super Bowl wins, but apparently not winning a Super Bowl since Week 1 of 2007 was hard proof that the Patriots were no longer good because they couldn't videotape opponent's defensive signals from a disallowed area.

 

With a fourth ring, it was hoped that things would finally come full circle for the Pats. That the haters would realize that, despite the overblown controversies and cheating accusations, the Patriots' place in history was cemented and perhaps, could be respected.

 

But as if on cue, Deflategate dropped just hours after the AFC Championship Game, and once again the pundits are out to discredit everything the Pats have accomplished, throwing around asterisks and cheater accusations, only fueled further by false media leaks from the NFL and a far-from-convincing investigation.

 

After a few months to bask in the glory of their fourth Super Bowl title, the release of the Wells Report, and its corresponding punishments from the NFL, have set the Patriots right back to where they were after Spygate — a lightning rod for criticism and "hot takes."

 

So what will the long-term effects of Deflategate be on the Patriots as Tom Brady enters the final three years of his current contract? There's little question that Brady and Bill Belichick are in their final act together, one way or another. 

 

Will Deflategate prove to be the impetus for another scorched earth campaign, reminiscent of what the 2007 Patriots did after Spygate? Or will it be the straw that breaks New England's back?

 

The difference with Spygate was that it happened in-season, with the accomplishments of many of the dynasty veterans still on the roster being called into question. There was little doubt how players like Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and others would react in the weeks immediately following, as the "us against the world" card was never easier to play for a team that was already fueled on proving doubters wrong, even when it was clearly one of the best teams in the NFL.

 

But what about now? Yes, Deflategate is all anyone can talk about on all forms of NFL media right now, in the dead of the offseason. Will that still be the case four months from now? Will the Patriots' hate fire still burn as hot then?

 

And how much will new players like Jabaal Sheard and Scott Chandler, or rookies like Malcom Brown, really feel they need to prove the haters and doubters wrong? There are certainly enough Patriot veterans, led by Brady, to play with an extra chip on their shoulder. But can we really expect it to be a rallying call for the team months from now?

 

The Patriots' new and unproven secondary should be focused on what it is doing rather than trying to send messages to anyone.

 

Perhaps Deflategate will be the true beginning of the end for this Patriots dynasty. There are already rumors of dissension among owner Robert Kraft, Belichick and Brady, and with Kraft abandoning his appeal of the NFL's punishment, what kind of message does that send to Brady as he prepares his own appeal?

 

Brady's suspension could be reduced, but it's still very likely that Jimmy Garoppolo, a promising second-year quarterback will get at least a start or two. No one needs to tell Brady what can happen when a veteran quarterback has to miss a couple games. He's seen firsthand that getting your starting job back is never a guarantee, especially under Belichick.

 

In the past, New England has been able to put aside all the outside "noise" and focus on playing football. That might be their greatest strength under Belichick, as there always seems to be some kind of distraction coming from outside the walls of Gillette Stadium, whether it was the unexpected release of a veteran player or an unexpected loss in the early part of the season.

 

It comes back to Brady and Belichick, as it always has the past 15 years. Never before has Brady's integrity been called into question, and if he needed some added motivation to wreak havoc even after securing his fourth Super Bowl ring, he certainly has it. But in football there are no guarantees.

 

The Patriots' dynasty has been an unprecedented ride of wins and controversies, and responding to this final black mark just might be the biggest test yet. But if there's one thing we know about Belichick and Brady, they'll go down swinging and it will be front page news one way or another.

 

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of PatsPropaganda.com (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.

Teaser:
What Will Deflategate Mean for the Final Act of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 15:00
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-making-run-becoming-new-wr-u
Body:

Trends take time to develop and there is no arguing that over the last 20 years schools such as Miami, Ohio State, and Florida State have rightfully earned the moniker Wide Receiver University. But trends change over time and it looks as though recent history is showing there is a new player vying for the title, West Virginia University.

 

Over the last three NFL drafts (2013-15) West Virginia is the only school to have four wide receivers drafted. The Mountaineers are also the only team to have at least two wide receivers go in the first round, Kevin White in 2015 and Tavon Austin in '13.

 

Since 2013 there are three schools who have had three wide receivers taken in the past three drafts — USC, Oklahoma, and LSU. Of these four schools with at least three wideouts drafted since 2013 only WVU and USC have three players that went in the first three rounds. USC had Nelson Agholor drafted in the first round in 2015, Marqise Lee in the second round in 2014, and Robert Woods in the second round in 2013. Along with White and Austin, WVU had Stedman Bailey hear his named called in the third round of the 2013 draft.

 

Many will try to make the correlation between successful wide receivers and quarterbacks. However, in recent history that is simply not the case. Of the four schools listed above each have had only one quarterback drafted since 2013. The only school to have multiple wide receivers and multiple quarterbacks drafted in that time frame is Florida State with two each — Jameis Winston and EJ Manuel at quarterback and Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene at wide receiver. Whether or not Clint Trickett would have been drafted had he remained healthy is up for debate, but his early-season stats in 2014 were leading him to receive a shot somewhere at the next level. Whether that would have been being drafted or signed as a free agent unfortunately will never be known.

 

It is no secret that Dana Holgorsen has a history of developing wide receivers for the NFL. However the string of wide receivers that have come out of WVU in the last three years show a new growing trend in Morgantown, one that has never been seen. The Mountaineers have had a total of 10 wide receivers taken in the NFL draft since 1990, two of those were quarterbacks at WVU — Darren Studstill and Rasheed Marshall. Of the remaining eight wide receivers drafted, four have come in the last three years.

 

While WVU is a long way from catching the likes of Miami, Ohio State, and Florida State, schools that boast dozens of drafted wide receivers since 1990, there is no doubt that this continued trend will eventually garner a changing of the guard and a new school vying for the title WR U.

 

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

Teaser:
WVU is the only school to have four wide receivers drafted in the last three years
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 14:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-spring-national-championship-odds-2015
Body:

Spring practice is over for all 128 college football teams, which means it’s a long wait until the teams officially hit the field once again in the fall.

 

But there’s no shortage of college football news, as oddsmaker Bovada has released its updated national championship odds for 2015.

 

And it should be no surprise the Buckeyes open as the favorite at 7/2 odds.

 

A look through the odds shows some intriguing numbers, as Auburn – potentially a co-favorite in the SEC West with Alabama – is 12/1, while the Crimson Tide is a 7/1 favorite.

 

Other teams with favorable odds? How about Baylor at 20/1 or Georgia at 25/1?

 

College Football's Post-Spring National Title Odds
TeamNational Title Odds
Ohio State7/2
Alabama7/1
TCU10/1
Auburn12/1
Florida State12/1
USC18/1
Baylor20/1
Notre Dame20/1
Clemson22/1
Oregon22/1
Georgia25/1
Michigan State25/1
Oklahoma25/1
LSU28/1
UCLA28/1
Stanford33/1
Arkansas40/1
Michigan40/1
Ole Miss40/1
Texas A&M40/1
Tennessee50/1
Arizona State66/1
Florida66/1
Mississippi State66/1
Nebraska66/1
Texas66/1
Miami75/1
Wisconsin75/1
Arizona100/1
Georgia Tech100/1
Louisville100/1
Penn State100/1
South Carolina100/1
Utah100/1
Virginia Tech100/1
Washington100/1
Missouri150/1
Boise State200/1
BYU200/1
Kansas State200/1
Texas Tech200/1
West Virginia250/1
North Carolina300/1
Boston College500/1
California500/1
Cincinnati500/1
Duke500/1
Iowa500/1
Marshall500/1
Maryland500/1
Minnesota500/1
Northwestern500/1
Oregon State500/1
Pittsburgh500/1
Rutgers500/1
USF500/1
UCF500/1
  

 

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Spring National Title Odds for 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 14:29
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/nba-releases-awesome-video-steph-curry-and-his-daughter-riley-warriors
Body:

Stephen Curry is being unfairly ridiculed for bringing his daughter to the press conference after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. 

 

The NBA is in one way or another showing the MVP that the league is behind him. They put together a video of Curry and little Riley with scenes of him talking about being a father. It's also the league's subtle way of saying "shut up, media." We're all glad they did it.

 

 

Classy move by the NBA.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 14:16
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /college-football/dedicated-vols-fan-mows-tennessee-logo-lawn
Body:

College football fans are the best.

 

Take this guy for example. Aaron Taylor has been mowing his lawn like this for the past year waiting for Google Maps to update. The epitome of dedication. The Vols fan mowed the Tennessee logo in his lawn to show everyone where his loyalty lies.

 

 

His place is the real Rocky Top.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/towns-okafor-might-both-rather-be-no-2-overall-land-lakers
Body:

Opportunities like this don’t come around too often. The Los Angeles Lakers, perhaps the most storied franchise in all of sports, are usually riding high in the championship picture. Winners of 16 titles and 31 NBA Finals appearances, they’re pretty unseasoned with where they are now: the draft lottery.

 

The last time L.A. had a top-five selection? 1982. That’s when they scooped up James Worthy, who went on to be an integral part of the most famous iteration of the team, next to Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

 

It should come as no surprise that this year’s crop of draft prospects—and their agents—understand the rarity of this occasion. The money, notoriety and probably even the winning potential is far greater with the Lakers than it is with any other 2015 lottery team. Bad as they were this past season, the allure of playing for the purple-and-gold is massive. 

Becoming a Lakers star, even when they’re terrible, means global appeal. Just ask Nick Young. Plus, things in the competition department can turn on a dime for them because of their ability to attract elite talent on the free agency market.

 

That might be why Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are both making gestures that aren’t hard to read as meaning “I’d rather be the No. 2 overall pick, not the No. 1, and play for the Lakers instead of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

Exhibit #1 is this tweet sent out shortly after the draft order was determined, by never-wrong league insider Adrian Wojnarowski, of Yahoo! Sports:

 

 

Woj is not a speculator, or much of an opinionist. If he posts something like that, it’s likely a sort of subtle message being delivered through complex, trusted channels of the NBA power network.

 

Okafor, for his part, said this to Sports Ilustrated after the lottery: “I don't know that I should go No. 1… I don't care. I just want to go to the right environment for me and the right team. I think the hype about No. 1 is more for the fans.”

 

This could all be an incorrect reading of the tea leaves. But if clues like these continue to drop, don’t be surprised if you see this story expand quite a bit.


— John Wilmes
@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 13:01
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/entourage-cast-practice-russell-wilson-seahawks-seattle-catch-quarterback
Body:

Russell Wilson is making a cameo in the new "Entourage" movie, and now the cast is making an appearance on his field.

 

The Seahawks quarterback gave the "Entourage" cast a lesson in ball handling as they tried to catch tennis balls one-handed. Not an easy thing to do.

 

 

 

Athleticism is truly a gift.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 12:23
Path: /college-football/adoree-jackson-filling-his-trophy-case-2015
Body:

Adoree’ Jackson quite literally jumped, feet first, into what should be a memorable 2015 season for the USC sophomore defensive back.

 

His long jump of 25 feet, 3.5 inches in the Pac-12 Track & Field Championship on May 16 garnered Jackson a conference championship, and the opportunity to win the national title next month.

 

It’s not the only award Jackson plans to pursue this year, either.

 

“That’s one of the things I expect out of myself,” Jackson said following USC’s spring game on April 11, referring to the Heisman Trophy.

 

Related: USC Trojans 2015 Preview and Prediction

 

Jackson already started a nice collection of trophies in 2014, winning Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and earning Freshmen All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America. But the Heisman is at a whole other level, beyond even his Pac-12 long jump title.

 

Despite primarily playing cornerback, Jackson has designs he describes as “serious talk and fun at the same time” on winning college football’s most prestigious, individual honor.

 

Winning the Heisman as a two-sport star would put Jackson in exclusive company with such notable names as Bo Jackson, Jameis Winston and USC’s first Heisman winner, Mike Garrett.

 

Doing so as a defensive player first and foremost would land Jackson in a club that includes just one member: 1997 Heisman winner Charles Woodson, a player USC head coach Steve Sarkisian directly compared Jackson to in December.

 

Like Woodson, Jackson’s road map to New York City and the Heisman presentation is drawn on the ability to excel in all three phases.

 

Sarkisian played Jackson at wide receiver and returner, in addition to the then-freshman’s duties as the Trojans’ shut-down cornerback. Jackson came through with three touchdowns on offense and two on special teams — one of each coming in USC’s Holiday Bowl defeat of Nebraska.

 

It takes a talented player to stand out in all three phases, but talent can only go so far.

 

“Better than his talent is what he brings every day,” Sarkisian said following the bowl game. “As a true freshman, you think about… what he's doing in the return game, on defense, [and] we have him on offense. It's hard.”

 

Just as hard is juggling track & field with football, which Jackson did throughout USC’s 15-date spring practice slate. Much like his transition from cornerback to wide receiver, however, Jackson flowed smoothly from long-jumping into the sand pit, to running down teammate Steven Mitchell in the Trojans' spring game.

 

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of CFBHuddle.com. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Teaser:
Adoree' Jackson Filling His Trophy Case in 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/jj-watt-posts-photo-gruesome-bruise-houston-texans-bills-tweet
Body:

J.J. Watt is not human. There have been many instances that prove that very theory.

 

The Texans star has given us another reason to continue thinking the way we do. Watt tweeted a picture of the bruise he received during a game against the Bills and wow, just wow.

 

 

Knowing Watt he probably just shrugged it off as nothing. 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 10:32
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-offensive-triplets-2015
Body:

The Big 12 is known for its offensive firepower, and the league isn’t short on talent at quarterback, running back or receiver for 2015. Baylor and TCU are the favorites to win the league title this year, and both teams appear at the top of the offensive triplet power rankings. The Bears need to find a new quarterback, but there’s a strong track record of finding the next standout passer under Art Briles. The Horned Frogs return one of the nation’s top quarterbacks (Trevone Boykin) and a solid group of running backs and receivers.

 

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 10 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 10 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.

 

Ranking the Big 12’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

 

1. Baylor

Total Points: 27

QB: Seth Russell (3)

RB: Shock Linwood (2)

WR: Corey Coleman (1)
 

Baylor has averaged over 40 points a game in four consecutive seasons. Good luck stopping the Bears in 2015. Even with quarterback Bryce Petty expiring his eligibility, Baylor is loaded with offensive talent. Russell has played well in limited action, and coach Art Briles has a strong track record of developing quarterbacks. Shock Linwood rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 scores last season, while the receiving corps is the nation’s best, headlined by Corey Coleman and KD Cannon.

Related: Baylor's Art Briles is the No. 1 Coach in the Big 12

 

2. TCU

Total Points: 25

QB: Trevone Boykin (1)

RB: Aaron Green (4)

WR: Josh Doctson (3)
 

TCU’s offense showed major improvement under co-coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie in 2014. After averaging only 25.1 points per game in 2013, the Horned Frogs increased that total to 46.5 last season. Boykin also emerged as one of the nation’s most improved quarterbacks and opens 2015 as one of the favorites to win the Heisman. TCU has a solid crop of playmakers in place, including Aaron Green (7.2 ypc in 2014) and Doctson (11 TD catches).

Related: TCU's Trevone Boykin is the No. 1 QB in the Big 12

 

3. Oklahoma

Total Points: 25

QB: Baker Mayfield (5)

RB: Samaje Perine (1)

WR: Sterling Shepard (2)
 

Yes, the Sooners have a new scheme and coordinator (Lincoln Riley), but the offense is still going to rely heavily on one of the nation’s top backfields. Samaje Perine rushed for 1,713 yards and 21 scores as a true freshman in 2014, and he will have plenty of help from Joe Mixon and Alex Ross. Having a healthy Sterling Shepard at receiver should make a difference for new quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Related: Oklahoma Ranks No. 17 in Athlon's 2015 CFB Top 25

 

4. Texas Tech

Total Points: 22

QB: Patrick Mahomes (4)

RB: DeAndre Washington (3)

WR: Jakeem Grant (4)
 

Offense is always a strength for Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders are loaded with talent for 2015. Patrick Mahomes is likely to start over Davis Webb, and the sophomore should improve off a solid stat line as a freshman (1,547 yards, 16 TDs, 4 INTs). DeAndre Washington was the first 1,000-yard rusher in Lubbock since 1998. Jakeem Grant led the team in receptions and receiving yards last year.

Related: TTU's De'Andre Washington Ranks No. 3 in Big 12 RB Rankings for 2015

 

5. Oklahoma State

Total Points: 18

QB: Mason Rudolph (2)

RB: Rennie Childs (8)

WR: Brandon Sheperd (5)
 

Oklahoma State’s 27.6 scoring average in 2014 was its first year under 30 points since 2009. The Cowboys should get their offense back on track in 2015, as quarterback Mason Rudolph is one of the rising stars in the Big 12, and there’s no shortage of weapons at receiver. Rennie Childs has the inside track on the starting running back spot. However, junior college recruit Chris Carson is a name to watch.

 

6. West Virginia

Total Points: 14

QB: Skyler Howard (6)

RB: Rushel Shell (6)

WR: Jordan Thompson (7)
 

It’s a safe bet to assume Dana Holgorsen will find the right answers for West Virginia’s offense in 2015. Skyler Howard started the final two games of 2014 and threw for six touchdowns and 631 yards in that span. Although Howard showed promise, he also has to raise his completion percentage after recording a 50.9 mark in 2014. Kevin White will be tough to replace at receiver, and Daikiel Shorts, Thompson and Shelton Gibson are the frontrunners to lead the team in receiving. The running back position is a strength after Rushel Shell rushed for 788 yards in 12 games last year.

 

7. Texas

Total Points: 13

QB: Tyrone Swoopes (7)

RB: Johnathan Gray (5)

WR: Marcus Johnson (8)
 

Don’t expect Texas to rank near the bottom of Big 12 in offense for long. The Longhorns will have more growing pains in 2015, but coach Charlie Strong and coordinator Shawn Watson have this group trending in the right direction. Swoopes and Jerrod Heard are locked into a tight battle for the quarterback job, and regardless of who starts under center, Texas needs to develop a few options at receiver. Johnathan Gray rushed for 636 yards last season and should be better a full year removed from a torn Achilles.

Related: Austin is the No. 1 college town in the Big 12

 

8. Iowa State

Total Points: 9

QB: Sam Richardson (8)

RB: Tyler Brown (10)

WR: Allen Lazard (6)
 

The Cyclones have potential to climb this list by the end of 2015. Sam Richardson was steady in his first year under coordinator Mark Mangino (2,669 yards, 18 TDs), while Allen Lazard or Quenton Bundrage (back from a torn ACL) provide big-play ability at receiver. Running back is the biggest uncertainty, but there’s potential with Tyler Brown or Mike Warren.

 

9. Kansas State

Total Points: 6

QB: Joe Hubener (9)

RB: Charles Jones (9)

WR: Kody Cook (9)
 

It’s tough to count out coach Bill Snyder’s team in the Big 12 title picture, but the Wildcats lost two key offensive standouts in quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett. Hubener did not start a game at quarterback in high school and will be pushed by true freshman Alex Delton and Jesse Ertz for snaps in 2015.

 

10. Kansas

Total Points: 6

QB: Michael Cummings (10)

RB: Corey Avery (7)

WR: Rodriguez Coleman (10)
 

It’s going to be a long year for new coach David Beaty. Out of the three names mentioned above, it’s uncertain if any will actually play for the Jayhawks in 2015. Cummings suffered a knee injury in the spring game, and Avery and Coleman were both suspended indefinitely. 

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's Offensive Triplets for 2015
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/donovan-mcnabb-rips-syracuse-unretiring-no-44-jim-brown-ernie-davis-floyd-little
Body:

The retiring of number is an honor. When three iconic players wear the same number, some believe that number should be off limits forever. Donovan McNabb is one of those people.

 

The former Syracuse quarterback took to Twitter and expressed his displeasure of his school's decision to unretire No. 44. The famous number worn by football greats Jim Brown, Floyd Little, and Ernie Davis is now up for grabs. Of course the school got permission from Little and Brown, but that doesn't make a difference to some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

McNabb does have a point that the number should remain untouchable but if the owners of the number are okay with it, he could try to respect their decision.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/peyton-manning-takes-part-david-lettermans-final-top-10-list-late-show-broncos
Body:

Peyton Manning is one of the funnier players in the NFL.

 

The Broncos quarterback took part in the the last "Late Show with David Letterman" and said something he's always wanted to say to the iconic host. The Top 10 was read by a bunch of hilarious people, and given Manning's history with the show, it was only right he join in and represent for the sports population.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 08:23
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/nba-releases-lessons-storytelling-commercial-ahead-finals
Body:

The NBA is pretty much known for the powerful commercials they release each year. This year is no different.

 

Narrated by NBA superfan, Common, the finals commercial doesn't disappoint. Clips of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, among others are featured in the commercial. Who will be the next champion to add to future commercials? 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 15:46
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/how-nascar-might-be-turning-18-34-crowd-away
Body:

This past week, much has been made of an All-Star Race that was more of an All-Star Snooze for what few fans stuck around to watch the entire event. For the sixth straight year, there wasn’t a single pass for the lead in the final “no guts, no glory” 10-lap segment. Denny Hamlin used clean air to cruise to a $1 million dollar victory that looked less enticing than the fireworks display following the event.

 

This week, NASCAR talked about “starting the All-Star Race at an earlier time” seeing as the green flag didn’t happen until 9:42 ET on a Saturday. But as a member of the 18-to-34 male generation the sport is so desperately trying to attract, its problems run deeper than a start time. I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s how you send this age group running for the hills…

 

*You have a race that happens on a Saturday night. With the variety of entertainment options these days, how many people in that generation are going to stay in, gather around a television and watch an event that starts at 9:30? It’s no surprise all of NASCAR’s lowest-rated Nielsen numbers, this year and in years past, have happened on Saturday nights. There’s a reason weekly NFL games happen on a Sunday…

 

*You have an analyst in the broadcast booth that starts a race by going, “Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!” And, as much as I love the trio of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, and Larry McReynolds, they are increasingly disconnected from the “next generation” of stock car racing fans every passing year. Talking about racing from “back in the day” is increasingly difficult when newer fans don’t know the combatants you’re talking about. The good old days of the All-Star Race, like the 1992 event was when many 20-somethings weren’t born or too young to understand. We need to hype up the present competition instead of trying to get new people to love the past. It’s gone.

 

*Driver introductions, almost as long as the All-Star Race itself contained all the personality of a local library. For those who didn’t see it, Sprint set up a stage (as it always does) with fans set up all around in a mosh pit environment. One by one, the drivers would come out with their crews as the announcers would loudly introduce their arrival to the sport’s biggest event. Here’s the problem: each one responded like they were walking down the street, hurrying to get to their financial analyst instead of connecting to the fan base in front of them. A limp handshake and a small wave doesn’t do it, guys in this age of six-second Vines going viral. Give the kids something to talk about; for those who watched, do you even remember anything from those intros?

 

*I’m a firm believer competition, not crashes, put fans in the seats. But there wasn’t a single wreck in the All-Star Race, barely a minor glitch in an event where everyone was supposed to be giving 110 percent. After the race, Hamlin was talking about how he’d invest his money, talking like a CNBC anchor instead of an athlete fans should be jumping up and supporting. Where’s the intensity? Where’s the rivalries? People gave each other more room than I do driving down the highway. If this All-Star Race doesn’t give drivers a sense of urgency, an exhibition where there’s no championship points on the line, it’s a serious problem.

 

*New fans need new faces to hold onto. What new face was in the All-Star Race? There was a celebration of Jeff Gordon’s career, as there should have been since the four-time champ is retiring this season at the age of 44. Instead, we had the same old teams and drivers running up front, tired stories in an age where the rules and entrenched organizations make it near-impossible for new ones to appear. NASCAR needs a name to catch fire just like golf once had Tiger Woods enthrall a generation. But who will it be? Chase Elliott? Kyle Larson? Austin Dillon? Can any of them catch on when they’re put in politically correct teams and plugged into top-tier rides like a factory? Will fans believe they had to fight for everything they’ve got? It’s the “Jimmie Johnson” problem for a new generation.

 

Note we haven’t even talked about the competition side of this equation, “clean air” that’s dirtying the waters of quality racing. But that’s what going Through The Gears is for.

 

FIRST GEAR: NASCAR’s Aerodynamics Gone Awry

 

In just a few months, the sport has backtracked from testing its 2016 rules package in the All-Star Race to perhaps nixing any changes altogether. Owners are complaining about the cost to redo cars, engines, and chassis designs in such a short period of time. But there’s also a different cost to be weighed, as both the audience for the sport and television ratings plummet to all-time lows.

 

The bottom line is single-file competition, the type we saw at Charlotte isn’t doing the world of racing any favors. Double-file restarts have even lost their flavor as fans know after a minute or two of side-by-side action their driver will be “stuck” in whatever place they end up. Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com has a great piece on what part of the problem is, corner speeds up significantly to the point drivers can go close to wide open on intermediate tracks like Charlotte. That takes driver skill out of the equation, makes passing more difficult and induces fear in a group of athletes raised on “safety, safety, safety” and scared of the type of serious injury Kyle Busch suffered back in February.

 

What’s the fix? Well, you can’t have an answer if you don’t try experimenting. This area is where NASCAR really needs to step up with the large amount of TV funding they’re pouring in each season. Give the teams who have attempted every race this season money to supplement the costs of a new package. Hold several NASCAR-sanctioned tests where people smarter than writers (i.e. – engineers) work on creating better racing. Right now, the value cost for the owners isn’t there to do it. You’re asking them to spend money on changing a package where new rules could make the top teams fall further behind. Long-term, that would cost them financially and potentially allow new people to enter the sport and challenge them. So why do it?

 

NASCAR has to give them a reason. Paying for fixing their own sport is a good start.

 

SECOND GEAR: How to Beat Hendrick and Stewart-Haas Racing

 

Hamlin, in his All-Star Race win, lived up to comments he made a month ago about the current state of Toyota drivers on intermediate tracks. To beat the top teams of Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Kurt Busch, all of whom are running Hendrick chassis and engines, Hamlin said every little thing has to go their way.

 

Saturday night, all the stars aligned. Hamlin, through a unique NASCAR qualifying procedure applied in the All-Star Race, used the speed of his pit crew to snatch the pole. He then kept track position through most of the evening, capping it off with a 10.4-second pit stop that put him up front for the final segment. Earning clean air through strategy and pit road gave Hamlin enough of a cushion in a short stint to hold off Harvick.

 

In the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend, I’d expect that trio, not Hamlin to charge to the front. But at least JGR now has a blueprint on how to “steal one” if they’re still this far behind Hendrick equipment in this fall’s postseason Chase.

 

THIRD GEAR: Kasey at the Bat

 

While Kasey Kahne didn’t win the All-Star Race Saturday night he made his presence felt in the first segment, making a rare pass for the lead under green. Fighting by Hamlin, Kahne eventually fell back in the pack through pit stops but the muscle he flexed should be there in next week’s 600.

 

Kahne, who is often overshadowed by teammates Johnson, Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., now has a chance to make a statement this weekend. After a few years of tough luck driving the No. 5 car, he’s quietly collected a handful of consistent finishes while gelling with new crew chief Keith Rodden. Charlotte is one of his best tracks and a win would seal the deal on a Chase bid, producing a sigh of postseason relief he hasn’t often had. Keep in mind five of 10 Chase races are the type of 1.5-mile tracks Kahne eats for breakfast when running on all eight cylinders. One of these years, he’s going to peak at the right time and use that strength to his advantage… is 2015 the year?

 

FOURTH GEAR: Tough Break for All-Star Hopefuls

 

Martin Truex Jr. has had an outstanding season. While not winning a race, he’s been second in points for the majority of the year’s first 11 races. But after failing to advance through the preliminary events, along with losing this year’s “Fan Vote” he failed to make the All-Star field. In comparison, Aric Almirola, a driver who has finished no better than 11th in 2015, earned a spot through his victory at Daytona last July.

 

It’s rare the sport has such a blatant example of an All-Star “slight,” but it might be time for NASCAR to take a look at its policy. Currently, the stance of “2014 and 2015” victories putting a driver in the field is like rewarding a MLB player for what he did last August and September. Certainly, that won’t put him into the sport’s All-Star Game in mid-July of the following year and you wonder if NASCAR should be the same way. Should you be an All-Star for what you’ve done lately or what you’ve done over the course of a longer period of time (i.e. – the rule to let past All-Star winners in the field)? It’s open to debate.

 

OVERDRIVE

 

Kahne, driving in the Camping World Truck Series for JR Motorsports, edged out Erik Jones for a victory only for his No. 00 Chevrolet to fail post-race inspection. It was a great opportunity for the sport to make a serious statement, punishing a part-time team for violating the rules that could have earned them that slight edge. Instead? They got a slap on the wrist this week. Disappointing… This year, no NASCAR driver is attempting the 1,100-mile double of both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, held on the same day. I thought both sports benefitted from Kurt Busch’s attempt last year and remain baffled why they won’t work together to make sure someone keeps doing it. Both series are struggling to keep their fan bases; why not work together toward a common goal?

 

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

 

Photos by Action Sports, Inc.

Teaser:
How NASCAR Might Be Turning The 18-34 Crowd Away
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 15:00
Path: /college-football/sec-acc-have-no-right-hate-big-ten-satellite-camps
Body:

The SEC has only itself to blame. You too, ACC.

 

Coaches (and fans) from both leagues have some serious diaper rash when it comes to "satellite camps."

 

But the SEC and ACC power brokers are directing their anger in the wrong direction. They have no right to get angry at the Big Ten or Urban Meyer or James Franklin.

 

Penn State's Franklin immediately began the Big Ten's hottest new recruiting philosophy as soon as he arrived in Happy Valley and it's totally legal. In the Big Ten, at least.

 

It has quickly caught on in the population-challenged Big Ten footprint as a way to get their brands in front of the best players from the South.

 

It's perfectly within the rules to "host" a football camp for elite prospects at small colleges throughout the rich fertile recruiting territory that is the Southeast for teams from the B1G. Just because the SEC doesn't allow it or, more importantly, doesn't need it has nothing to do with Franklin.

 

The SEC won't ever have the desire to run a satellite camp in Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota or Indiana. It doesn't need those players to survive. The Big Ten needs Southern talent to survive.

 

Related: 5 Things We'd Change About the College Football Playoff

 

The NCAA currently has no issue with the innovative recruiting practice and it shouldn't ever change the rule — especially not for the Big Ten. The SEC and ACC have voted on their own not to allow such practices. If your coaches don't like it, take it up with Mike Slive (or Greg Sankey after July 31) and John Swofford.

 

Because if there is one league that needs any advantage it can get when it comes to recruiting, it's the Big Ten.

 

Four- and five-star recruits aren't coming from the Big Ten footprint like they used to and, frankly, there are many natural disadvantages the Big Ten must overcome in order to compete with the Southern leagues.

 

For example, the SEC and ACC will never vote to allow official visits in the summer months because that would allow the Big Ten to showcase the gorgeous campuses that reside in places like Madison, Ann Arbor, Happy Valley or Columbus during the best time of the year.

 

No, the powers that be down South will always vote against moving official visits because visiting Gainesville in December is much more pleasant than visiting Minneapolis. But in July or August, I'd rather be in Madison.

 

Related: 10 Biggest Wildcard Teams in College Football in 2015

 

What's hilarious about the SEC/ACC outrage over satellite camps is the hypocrisy. The SEC has been bending recruiting rules for decades in an effort to win big — and it's worked — more than any other conference. The Big Ten or Pac-12 have rarely resorted to the ruthless tactics of the deep South.

 

That all changed with Meyer and Franklin, two former SEC coaching alums, who came home to roost in the Midwest. Be it recruiting committed athletes (which is commonplace in the SEC but ruffled Big Ten feathers at the time) or satellite camps, the duo has forced the rest of the Big Ten to elevate itself to a certain level on the recruiting trail. 

 

The result will be better athletes creating more competitive football teams for the entire conference.

 

Hate satellite camps all you want, Southern Man, but the fact of the matter is the SEC and ACC voted against their own best interests when each conference decided not to allow them. Not the Big Ten. Not the NCAA. Not Urban Meyer.

 

Don't blame James Franklin for simply doing what's in the best interests of his program.

Teaser:
SEC, ACC have no right to hate Big Ten for Satellite Camps
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/brian-windhorst-first-take-espn-skip-bayless-steph-currys-daughter-sparks-media-discussion-children-post-game-conferences
Body:

Steph Curry is the most-well received player in the NBA. The one time he brings his daughter to the post game press conference, that all seems to change.

 

Riley Curry was undoubtedly the star of the show after the game. Players from Chris Paul to Derrick Rose have brought their children to have them sit on their laps after the game. No big deal. 

 

Brian Windhorst went on ESPN's "First Take" to talk about why bringing Riley was wrong. Windhorst claims he can't ask the questions he wants to if a child is there. What questions those are, he never mentions. Skip Bayless, of course, agrees.

 

 

The Warriors tweeted out the perfect response.

 

 

Some media members could benefit from lightening up a little. Especially when the conference is full of the media asking the same questions all the time. The ground-breaking stories from these "special questions" aren't made in the quotes that everyone in the room gets.

 

Steph's father Dell Curry told FTW that press will learn get over it, and his son was still able to do his job.

 

"They'll get over it," Curry said. "He was still able to do his interview. She didn't stop that at all."

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 13:39
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-spring-heisman-2015-odds
Body:

The 2015 college football season doesn’t begin until September, but there’s no shortage of news to keep the conversation moving until kickoff.

 

With Everett Golson transferring to Florida State, oddsmakers have shifted the outlook for the Heisman race.

 

Bovada updated its Heisman odds on Wednesday morning to reflect Golson’s transfer, and the former Notre Dame passer is listed at 14/1.

 

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott tops the list at 6/1, while LSU’s Leonard Fournette checks in at 15/2.

 

Below are the complete list of odds by Bovada (updated after Golson’s transfer), and three names we like that are good buy-low options:

 

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Talented sophomore takes control of Clemson’s high-powered offense.

 

Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn

Auburn is a dark-horse national title contender in 2015.

 

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Should be an All-American in 2015 after an impressive freshman campaign last year.

 

Post-Spring Heisman Odds from Bovada (updated May 20)
Player/Position/TeamOdds
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State6/1
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU15/2
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State8/1
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia8/1
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU8/1
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State12/1
Cody Kessler, QB, USC12/1
Everett Golson, QB, Florida State14/1
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama16/1
Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA18/1
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State20/1
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson20/1
Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn20/1
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma20/1
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State25/1
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State28/1
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin33/1
Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech33/1
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon33/1
Seth Russell, QB, Baylor33/1
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami40/1
D.J. Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State40/1
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State40/1
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh40/1
Malik Zaire, QB, Notre Dame40/1
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State40/1
Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona40/1
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU40/1
Jared Goff, QB, California50/1
Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State66/1
Jalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee66/1
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss66/1
Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina66/1
Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona66/1

 

Teaser:
College Football's Post-Spring Heisman 2015 Odds
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 13:04
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /college-football/butch-jones-goes-ballistic-when-sweet-home-alabama-played-vols-practice
Body:

Pro tip No. 1: Never play "Sweet Home Alabama" at Tennessee.

 

During a Vols practice, the iconic Lynyrd Skynyrd song was heard blasting from possibly the baseball field. Tennessee heach coach Butch Jones was having none of that.

 

"We're at Tennessee, that don't play here," Jones said.

 

 

I wonder how he feels about "Georgia on My Mind"?

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 12:57

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