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Super Sunday has come and gone and another team has taken its place in the annals of NFL lore.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are champions — the first for the franchise and the city of Seattle.
Pete Carroll became the third coach in American football history to win the Super Bowl and the NCAA national championship (Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer). His defense was the star of the show, scoring points and stuffing Peyton Manning unlike the football world has ever seen. Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks family.
Despite a horrific Super Sunday, however, Manning's 2013 campaign is still one of the best ever assembled by a professional passer. Certainly, his second Super Bowl victory would have been a better way to cap the year — and likely would have given him the greatest single season by a quarterback in NFL history — but let's not overlook a tremendous first 18 games from No. 18.
Toughness, leadership, statistical production, winning championships, clutch performances and overall physical ability are just a few of the ways to quantify greatness. It is using a combination of all these factors that Athlon ranks the greatest complete NFL seasons a quarterback has ever had—from Week 1 through Super Sunday.
1. Steve Young, San Francisco, 1994
There hasn't been a more complete NFL season than the year Young and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan put together in 1994. The 49ers finished the regular season with the best record in the league at 13-3 while Young set an NFL single-season record for efficiency with a 112.8 QB rating, breaking the previous record set by former mentor Joe Montana. He also came 0.3 percentage points from breaking Ken Anderson's NFL mark for completion percentage at 70.6 percent (Young's 70.3 percent still sits at No. 4 all-time). He started all 16 games, finished with 3,969 yards and an NFL-best 35 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. Additionally, Young led the team in rushing touchdowns with seven as he compiled 293 yards on 58 carries. For all of this he earned the NFL MVP, but what made the '94 campaign special is what took place following the regular season. The Niners steam-rolled the Bears, Cowboys and Chargers en route to Young's first Super Bowl — a win commemorated by a record six touchdown passes, 325 yards passing, the MVP trophy and Gary Plummer's famous monkey exorcism. Oh, and No. 8 was the game's leading rusher as well. Young posted 623 yards passing, 128 yards rushing, 11 total touchdowns and nary an interception in San Francisco's three playoff games. It was the finest season a quarterback has ever seen.
2. Peyton Manning, Denver, 2013
Regardless of the outcome in Super Bowl XLVIII, nearly the entirety of the NFL’s single-season record book was re-written by Manning and the Broncos this season. His final game was a massive disappointment and will go down in history as one of the most bizarre Super Bowl performances in NFL history. But no player — regular season or otherwise — has ever thrown for more yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) than Manning did in the 2013 regular season. He added 910 and five more scores to his totals in three postseason games while boasting a 15-4 overall record for the year. Manning finished with an NFL-record 6,387 yards and 60 touchdown passes. He also tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in the season opener and ran the NFL’s greatest offense. Denver broke the NFL record for scoring with 606 points in the regular season and total touchdowns with 76 — both set by New England in 2007 (589 and 75). The Broncos were the first team in NFL history with five players with at least 10 touchdowns. The great quarterback finished with 280 yards and one scoring strike in the loss to Seattle, and, had he won on Sunday, it would have completed the best single-season performance by any quarterback in history. However, the lasting image of Manning's '13 campaign will forever be the 43-8 loss to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
3. Kurt Warner, St. Louis, 1999
Part of what makes Warner's '99 campaign so memorable is how the Northern Iowa signal-caller ended up a Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP. The undrafted rookie finally broke into the league four years after graduating from UNI and led the inept Rams to the best record in the NFC (13-3) as a first-year starter. The 28-year-old led the NFL in touchdown passes (41), completion rate (65.1 percent), yards per attempt (8.7) and QB rating (109.2) while finishing with a franchise-record 4,353 yards passing. He then proceeded to complete over 81 percent of his passes for 391 yards and five touchdowns in his first career playoff start — a 49-37 win over Minnesota. By the end of Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner had thrown for 414 yards and two touchdowns to earn his second MVP trophy of the season. The huge numbers, the sheer improbability and ultimate victory combined to produce what was nearly the greatest season in history.
4. Tom Brady, New England, 2007
Today's sports culture values the championship and quarterbacks rarely disagree. So had Brady finished his magical romp through the NFL in 2007, he would be sitting at No. 1 on this list. He is only one of two QBs to ever finish a regular season 16-0 and eventually worked the record to 18-0 before the show-stopping loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII . Brady threw for a franchise-record 4,806 yards, good for third all-time in NFL history at the time. His QB rating of 117.2 was second all-time in NFL history and he became the first player to ever throw 50 touchdown passes in one season. He threw only eight interceptions and led the league in 11 passing categories. In the postseason, Brady and the Pats took care of business against Jacksonville in the Divisional Round, but the Michigan grad struggled in his final two games of the year. He threw three interceptions and had his second-worst yardage day of the year (209 yards) in the AFC title game win over San Diego. He capped his MVP season with an underwhelming performance against the extraordinary Giants defensive line, costing him his fourth Super Bowl ring and the unbeaten immortality of 19-0.
5. Dan Marino, Miami, 1984
Marino was well ahead of his time back in only his second year in the league. He set an NFL record for passing yards (5,084) that would stand for nearly 30 years and an NFL record for touchdowns (48) that would stand for 20 years. He led the Dolphins to the best record in the AFC at 14-2, claimed the MVP trophy and returned Miami to the Super Bowl where they fell just short of defeating the 18-1 Joe Montana-led 49ers. The Pitt Panther threw for 1,001 yards and eight scores in three postseason games. The 23-year-old with a lightning-quick release led the NFL in completions, attempts, QB rating and yards per attempt in a season that totally changed the way the game of football was played. He paved the way for what we see today on Sunday and came up 22 points short of a championship.
6. Joe Montana, San Francisco, 1989
The Golden Domer wasn't ever the most talented or fastest or strongest quarterback on the field, but his 13 regular-season games — and subsequent playoff run — during the 1989 season were as brilliant as most's 16-game seasons. Montana completed 70.2 percent of his passes, led the NFL at 270.8 yards per game and finished with a then-NFL record 112.4 QB rating. His completion rate was second all-time to only Ken Anderson and is still one of only five seasons with a completion rate of better than 70 percent in history. The 49ers finished 11-2 in his 13 starts and 14-2 overall and Montana was the MVP of the league. Montana threw for 3,521 yards, 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He also added 227 yards rushing and three more scores on the ground. However, what made No. 16's '89 campaign one of the greatest in history was his thorough destruction of the NFC and Denver Broncos in the postseason. He completed 65 of his 83 passes (78.3 percent) for 800 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero picks, finishing his historic season with arguably the most dominant Super Bowl performance to date by crushing John Elway and company 55-10. Three more games puts Montana over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns and moves him ahead of Marino and Brady on this list.
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2009
One could argue Brees' 2011 season was better, but I am guessing if you ask him which year was better, he would take 2009 everyday and twice on Sunday. He led the NFL in completion rate (70.6 percent), breaking the aforementioned Anderson's NFL single-season record. He also topped the charts in touchdown passes (34) and QB rating (109.6) en route to a 13-3 final record. He finished with 4,388 yards and only 11 interceptions. He then capped New Orleans' magical resurrection with 732 yards passing, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in three playoff wins. His performance in the Super Bowl XLIV win over the Colts and Peyton Manning gave the Saints franchise their first championship. Brees completed 82.1 percent of his passes and claimed the game's MVP honors.
8. Drew Brees, New Orleans, 2011
It is hard to argue that from a statistical perspective, no quarterback has ever had a better regular season than Brees last fall (until Manning). He set NFL records for completions (468), passing yards (5,476) and completion rate (71.2 percent) while leading the Saints to a 13-3 record. He then proceeded to throw for 928 yards and seven touchdowns in two playoff games. His defense let him down in the postseason and he contributed two of the team's costly five turnovers in the Divisional Round loss to the 49ers.
9. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2006
Manning has posted better numbers in a season (2013, '04), but when it comes down to his best two seasons as a Colt, the Super Bowl ring in '06, trumps the statistics he compiled in '04 (see below). In 2006 he threw for 4,397 yards on 65.0 percent passing and a league-leading 31 touchdown passes. This also was the only year in which No. 18 threw fewer than 10 interceptions (9). His 101.0 QB rating also led the NFL that season and he added four rushing scores for good measure. Manning led his Colts to four postseason wins that year (16-4 overall) and the 29-17 Super Bowl XLI win over Chicago in which he claimed the game's MVP trophy.
10. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 2011
In a season in which three passers topped 5,000 yards and numerous NFL records were broken, Rodgers' season can get lost in the shuffle. Yet, the Packers' quarterback set every major franchise passing record and led a team that finished 15-1 in the regular season. The year ended with a whimper with Rodgers sitting out the regular-season finale and then losing to the Giants in the first playoff game. But his 4,643 yards, 10.5 yards per attempt and absurd 45:6 TD:INT ratio gave No. 12 the most efficient season in NFL history (122.5 QB rating) — and it earned him the league's MVP trophy. Had he posted Matt Flynn's (480 yards passing, 6 TDs) numbers in the final week of the regular season, he would have hit 50 TDs and topped 5,000 yards. That said, Packers fans will always look at '11 with "what-if" memories.
Others to consider:
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 2004 (12-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,557 yds, 49 TDs, 10 INTs, 121.1 QB rating
Dan Fouts, San Diego, 1981 (10-6, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,802 yds (NFL record), 33 TDs, 17 INTs, 90.6 QB rating
Warren Moon, Houston, 1990 (8-7, Postseason: None)
Stats: 4,689 yds, 33 TDs, 13 INTs, 96.8 QB rating, 215 rush yds, 2 TDs
Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia, 1990 (10-6, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,466 yds, 30 TDs, 13 INTs, 91.6 QB rating, 118 att., 942 yds, 5 TDs
Brett Favre, Green Bay, 1996 (13-3, Postseason: 3-0) MVP, Super Bowl
Stats: 3,899 yds, 39 TDs, 13 INTs, 95.8 QB rating, 136 rush yds, 2 TDs
Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2004 (11-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 2,313 yds, 14 TDs, 12 INTs, 78.1 QB rating, 120 att., 902 yds, 3 TDs
Michael Vick, Atlanta, 2006 (7-9, Postseason: None)
Stats: 2,474 yds, 20 TDs, 13 INTs, 75.7 QB rating, 123 att., 1,039 yds, 2 TDs
Brett Favre, Minnesota, 2009 (12-4, Postseason: 1-1)
Stats: 4,202 yds, 33 TDs, 7 INTs, 107.2 QB rating
Michael Vick, Philadelphia, 2010 (8-3, Postseason: 0-1)
Stats: 3,018 yds, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 100.2 QB rating, 100 att., 675 yds, 9 TDs
Tom Brady, New England, 2011 (13-3, Postseason: 2-1)
Stats: 5,235 yds, 39 TDs, 12 INTs, 105.6 QB rating, 109 rush yds, 3 TDs
Jim Boeheim called the win over Duke one of the best games he’d coached at the Carrier Dome. ESPN’s Dick Vitale called it one of the best games he’d ever called.
The only question: Why did it take so long for such a game to occur?
Syracuse and Duke lived up to its promise of two national title-contending teams meeting for the first time in 16 years, but it was only a slice of a chaotic basketball weekend.
Seven ranked teams lost to unranked foes on Saturday and Sunday. Five top-10 teams lost, not least of which was one of three remaining undefeated teams (Arizona) and one of the flavors of the week (Michigan).
That leaves Syracuse and Wichita State as the only undefeated teams in the country as the calendar turns to March.
The next question is how long these winning streaks can last. Both Pittsburgh and Duke pushed Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The Orange will play both on the road in February.
What appears to be the toughest road stretch for Wichita State begins this week with a trip to Indiana State on Wednesday and another to Northern Iowa on Saturday.
The 10 Most Important Things in College Basketball this Week
1a. We want more of what Syracuse and Duke delivered
Few regular season games can match what occurred at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Syracuse’s 91-89 win in overtime over Duke will stand with any NCAA Tournament game in 2014 as the highlight of the year. Two 900-win coaches went back and forth strategically, the stars performed, and unsung heroes made their impacts. If this is what an expanded ACC — with Louisville joining next season, mind you — we’ll take it.
1b. C.J. Fair and the Syracuse frontcourt delivered
Perhaps an outsized amount of attention has been given to Syracuse’s fantastic freshman point guard. True, Tyler Ennis came up with a key basket at the end and nine assists in the win over Duke, but this was the C.J. Fair show for a good bit. The veteran forward showed off his ability to score from any spot inside the arc, finishing 12 of 20 for 28 points. Jerami Grant added 24, including a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line. And Rakeem Christmas defended Rodney Hood on a potential dunk to take a lead with 14.3 remaining. Christmas could have been called for a foul, but the call never came, keeping Syracuse ahead.
1c. Duke is national title worthy
The Blue Devils had their lapses in ACC play, but there was enough Saturday to show Duke has the pieces for a title run. Jabari Parker was in foul trouble, but the Blue Devils kept coming back against undefeated team on the road. Most encouraging was the play of role players like Amile Jefferson with six offensive rebounds, Tyler Thornton with three consecutive 3-pointers late in the second half and Rasheed Sulaimon and Andre Dawkins combining for 30 points.
2a. Arizona is about to get tested twice over
Arizona’s first loss of the season seemed imminent in retrospect. On Wednesday, the Wildcats needed all 40 minutes to pull away for a 10-point win over Utah before a defensive stand and a late 3 from Nick Johnson finally put away Stanford. Saturday's late-night loss to Cal wasn’t so much a shocking loss for Arizona as much as it was a culmination of three consecutive less-than-dominant games. The bigger news is the season-ending injury to starting forward Brandon Ashley, who averages 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. The Wildcats can insert freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) or go with a three-guard lineup. Either way, this is will be a major adjustment for a team that has gotten this far without a major incident.
2b. This shot from Justin Cobbs:
3a. Rick Barnes has gone from hot seat to possible national coach of the year
After years of letdowns, Texas is basking in being one of the nation’s true surprise teams, a development that took one more giant step with a 81-69 win over Kansas in Austin. Rick Barnes may not win national coach of the year, but he should be in the discussion. Texas, the same team that lost to Houston in the CBI last season, has defeated four ranked teams in four games.
3b. Texas beat up Kansas up front
The most impressive part of Texas’ win? The way the Longhorns outworked Kansas around the basket. Forward Jonathan Holmes finished with 22 points and three blocks while center Cameron Ridley, a McDonald’s All-American who once appeared to be a bust, had 10 rebounds and four blocks. Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins entered the game on a two-game hot streak before finishing 2 of 12 from the field.
4a. Kentucky woke up, but there’s still reason to be worried.
Kentucky came back from a disconcerting loss to LSU to beat Missouri 84-79. That’s a good road win over one of the few NCAA contenders in the the SEC, but there’s still plenty here for John Calipari to nitpick. Kentucky still struggled to defend guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson as most SEC teams do. The Tigers duo combined for 21 of 34 shots and 61 points. Missouri got little outside of that pairing, however. Meanwhile, Kentucky’s four best freshmen combined for 73 points and showed a good spark after the LSU loss.
4b. Hello, Jabari Brown
5. Ohio State has stopped the bleeding while Wisconsin is still in a tailspin
The Buckeyes and Badgers started a combined 31-0 and went 1-9 thereafter. Someone had to win Saturday, and Ohio State waited until the final possession to seal the 59-58 win. The Buckeyes moved starter Shannon Scott to a more familiar role as the top guy of the bench. He and his replacement in the starting lineup, Sam Thompson, combined for only 11 points, but Ohio State was more aggressive in the offensive end. Wisconsin, though, struggled to find a shot for the second consecutive game, finishing 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
6. Yogi Ferrell is keeping things interesting for Indiana
Ferrell was one of the most impactful players of the weekend. He scored 27 points and guarded Nik Stauskas, who scored only six, in Indiana’s 63-52. It’s been tempting to write off the Hoosiers this season after losses to Nebraska on the road and Northwestern at home in recent weeks, but Indiana is still in the thick of the NCAA at-large conversation thanks to wins over Wisconsin and Michigan.
7. Michigan State needs Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson in the worst way
The Spartans perhaps stretched their roster as far as it could go without Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson. Michigan State lost 64-60 to Georgetown at Madison Square Garden on Saturday in what might be the Spartans’ last game without Payne. Dawson’s return is weeks away, but Payne could rejoin the team against Penn State on Thursday after missing seven games. The Hoyas had lost five in a row.
8a. Baylor ended its funk in unlikely fashion
Baylor’s collapse ended (Scott Drew hopes) at a time no one could have envisioned. Baylor visited Stillwater with altered travel plays due to weather and no Kenny Chery due to injury. Even without its point guard, Baylor defeated Oklahoma State 76-70 for the Bears’ second Big 12 win. Gary Franklin had 11 points and five assists subbing for Chery, but Brady Heslip’s long-range scoring was the story of the day as Heslip hit six 3s in a 20-point performance.
8b. What’s wrong with Phil Forte and Marcus Smart?
Smart got his seven assists, but he has not been the Big 12 player of the year contender in recent games. Smart has been brutal from 3-point range in recent games, shooting 3 of 28 from beyond the arc in the last four games. The real question is why a 29.7-percent 3-point shooter is taking seven 3s against Baylor. Sharpshooter Phil Forte also was in a funk, going 0 of 4 from the floor. Oklahoma State hasn’t really been the same since forward Michael Cobbins was lost for the season, and now Stevie Clark is in trouble again. The freshman point guard was arrested for the second time this season during the weekend.
9. Virginia is legitimately in the race for the ACC title
The Cavaliers defeated Pittsburgh 48-45 on the road Sunday to put the Cavaliers in second place in the ACC standings. The Cavaliers don’t have the national notoriety of some of the teams in their league, but they’re right in the ACC race. Virginia is 7-1, already had its meeting with Duke and catches Syracuse at home. The sub-50 point total isn’t appealing, but the Cavs deserve credit for winning on an off night for Joe Harris (4 of 12, 11 points). Malcolm Brogdon was the hero again.
10. Larry Brown is going to the NCAA Tournament
SMU responded from its setback against USF to beat a ranked Memphis team 87-72 on Saturday, a major statement win for a team seeking to beef up its NCAA Tournament resume. As long as the Mustangs don’t collapse down the stretch, SMU can use these two top-50 wins (Connecticut is the other) for an at-large bid. SMU hasn’t been to the Tournament since 1993, and coach Larry Brown hasn’t been since leading Kansas to the 1988 title.
• Give credit to North Carolina freshman Kennedy Meeks playing a role in the Tar Heels quest for consistency. He had 20 rebounds in 39 minutes in the last two games as North Carolina has won four of five.
• While you were getting ready for Super Bowl festivities, UCLA lost 71-67 to Oregon State. Arizona has its questions coming out of the Cal loss, but UCLA continues to be one of a handful of Pac-12 teams without the ability to consistently defeated the lower-tier teams in the league.
• Point guard DeAndre Kane was the early frontrunner for Big 12 player of the year, but Iowa State forwards Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim have played a lead role in pulling Iowa State out of its funk. Niang had 27 points and Ejim had 22 points and 16 boards in the 81-75 win over Oklahoma on Saturday
• Chris Collins should be in the Big Ten Coach of the Year discussion even if his team won’t play in the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern defeated Minnesota (minus Andre Hollins) 55-54 for back-to-back Big Ten road wins. The Wildcats are 5-5 in the league including wins over Wisconsin and Indiana on the road.
• Not a great look for Xavier: The Musketeers lost 68-60 at home to Seton Hall for its second consecutive loss. Xavier can’t afford many of those kinds of losses.
• Florida State’s stock has plummeted since starting 12-4. The Seminoles’ 53-49 home loss to Clemson was their fourth in five games.
• West Virginia is probably NIT-bound, but the Mountaineers had a nice week with a win at Baylor and a 10-point win over Kansas State. West Virginia needs all the momentum it can get. The schedule down the stretch is brutal.
In deserts thousands of miles apart, two golfers seeking to recapture past glory found more heartache. At the Waste Management Phoenix Open, 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson, largely missing from leaderboards since donning the green jacket, saw a par putt slip past the hole on 18 to lose by a shot to Kevin Stadler. And in Dubai, Tiger Woods continued his stumbling start to 2014 by finishing T41 in the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic for the worst two-tournament performance to start a season in his career.
Steady Kevin Stadler emerged from a crowd atop the leaderboard, shooting a final-round 68 in front of record Phoenix galleries and earning his first career win, gaining an invitation to Augusta in the process, where he'll join his dad, 1982 Masters champ Craig Stadler. But the tournament was Bubba's for the taking until he found the water on 15, bogeyed the 16th and failed to get up-and-down to save par on 18. Afterward, Watson tweeted: "I played solid all week, got to keep practicing! 2nd is first loser!!"
Woods' final-round 71 left him 6-under for the tournament, 10 shots behind winner Stephen Gallacher. A talkative Tiger asserted afterward that the problem is on the greens. "I drove it great today, I piped it all day," said Woods. "My iron game was not as sharp as I'd like, and I didn't make anything. I had seven lip-outs. That's quite a few lip-outs."
Here are the key stats from the weekend in golf:
1 Stadler earns a spot in The Masters, where he will join his father Craig in the field. The Stadlers become history's first father-son duo to play in the same Masters. They're the ninth father-son pair to win on the PGA Tour.
189,722 The Waste Management Phoenix Open, known for its huge, boisterous galleries, outdid itself this weekend. The Saturday crowd was 189,722, a record gallery for golf. The tournament total of 563,008 fans was also a record.
42 Phil Mickelson, who withdrew last week at Torrey Pines with back pain, finished tied for 42nd and says he feels fine. "My game is not far off, even though the score says that it is," says Mickelson, who plans to play this week at Pebble Beach. "It was just a fraction off."
60.5 Tiger's average finish in two tournaments this season — at Torrey Pines last week and Dubai this week — is 60.5. It's the worst two-tournament start of his career.
1 Gallacher became the first player to successfully defend his Dubai Desert Classic title. He vaults 30 places in the Official World Golf Ranking to 37, virtually assuring a spot in the Accenture Match Play Championship and getting him closer to his goal of a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.
The Scene at No. 16
With its huge, boisterous galleries offering deafening approval — or disapproval, as the case may be — the par-3 16th hole at Phoenix is unique in golf. Here's a video rundown.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Feb. 3.
• Tonight is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit TV special. Marisa Miller will be there. Say no more.
• So the Super Bowl pretty much sucked, but the Internet was quick to revel in Peyton Manning's epic fail of an evening.
• Manningface wasn't limited to Peyton last night. Although, I suspect that Eli's secretly happy that he's got more rings than big bro.
• The most exciting Super Bowl moment came when some 9/11 truther wacko crashed Malcolm Smith's press conference.
• He botched the coin toss, but Joe Namath can still pull off a fur coat like no man. Or woman, for that matter.
• One person's ranking of the Super Bowl commercials, which ranged from forgettable to stupid.
• So I wasn't blown away by the Super Bowl ads, but this local lawyer ad was pretty amazing. Jamie Casino for the win.
• Today's the 55th anniversary of the Day the Music Died. Here are 11 musical monuments to fallen heroes.
• Frank Caliendo pulled off a nice 30 for 30 promo spoof featuring Richard Sherman.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
All eyes will be on the Russian town of Sochi as the Winter Olympics is set to kick off on Feb. 7 with the games Opening Ceremony. In anticipation of this worldwide sporting event, it's always interesting to look at some of the surprising facts that relate to this historic event. Fortunately for us, someone put together this handy infographic.
Let's face it, the average sports fan has no clue what's going on with curling. What's up with the sweeping? Why is it called "curling"? Who started this crazy game? With the Winter Olympics kicking off soon, it's time you learned. This video will tell you all.
The first Wednesday in February is essentially Christmas for every college football head coach. After months of hard work on the recruiting trail, coaches will hit the offices bright and early on Wednesday for National Signing Day to welcome a new class full of freshmen and maybe a few junior college transfers to chase a national championship. With a new crop of players joining the program on National Signing Day, each coach now has a good idea about how their roster looks for the upcoming season and beyond. While National Signing Day is an important moment in building a national title contender, it also signifies the official start of next year’s recruiting class.
With most college football teams signing around 25 prospects on Wednesday, there’s over 3,000 players coming to the FBS ranks next season. And it’s no surprise there are some rather entertaining names among the new group of college players. Athlon combed through the recruits for the 2014 signing class by using the databases at Rivals, Scout and ESPN and rounded up the best (and most interesting) names joining an FBS roster next season.
Note: Positions of players can very from recruiting service. Players in this article were listed by position according to Scout.
2014 College Football Recruiting All-Name Team
Raymond Crochet (Salmen) Slidell, Louisiana
Prince Dukes (Curtis) Staten Island, New York
Bear Fenimore (Westwood) Austin, Texas
Ramroth Finnegan (Whetstone) Columbus, Ohio
Chase Forrest (Mater Dei) Santa Ana, California
Hunter Fralick (Spanish Springs High School) Sparks, Nevada
Baron Gajkowski (Lone Peak) Highland, Utah
Justice Hansen (Santa Fe) Edmond, Oklahoma
Rip Kirk (South Panola) Batesville, Mississippi
Chipper Lucero (Alta) Sandy, Utah
Grayson Muehlstein (Decatur) Decatur, Texas
Rafe Peavey (Bolivar) Bolivar, Missouri
Nicodem Pierre (Coral Reef Senior High School) Miami, Florida
Gunner Roach (UMS Wright Preparatory) Mobile, Alabama
Roosevelt Appleton (Hightower) Sugar Land, Texas
Wadzaire Blanc (Lake Nona) Orlando, Florida
Squally Canada (Milpitas) Milpitas, California
Juan Day (North Little Rock) North Little Rock, Arkansas
Taiwan Deal (Dematha Catholic) Hyattsville, Maryland
Raekwon James (John Curtis Christian) River Ridge, Louisiana
Tommy Mister (St. Rita) Chicago, Illinois
Orange Mooney (Hutchinson C.C.) Hutchinson, Kansas
Devine Redding (Glenville) Cleveland, Ohio
Superiorr Reid (Mount San Jacinto) San Jacinto, California
Tomaria Stringfellow (Sam Houston) San Antonio, Texas
Forrest Town (Zachary) Zachary, Louisiana
Jay’Metric Tucker (Hudson Valley) Troy, New York
Solomon Vault (Gaithersburg) Gaithersburg, Maryland
Chip Wannamaker (Bamberg Ehrhardt) Bamberg, South Carolina
Papi White (Seminole) Seminole, Oklahoma
Ish Witter (Alonso) Tampa, Florida
Traevohn Wrench (Gardner Edgerton) Gardner, Kansas
Geronimo Allison (Iowa Western) Council Bluffs, Iowa
Kd Cannon (Mt. Pleasant) Mount Pleasant, Texas
Freddy Canteen (Eastern
Christian Academy) Elkton, Maryland
Marceles Clash (Muir) Pasadena, California
Bingo Morton (Langston Hughes) Fairburn, Georgia
Picasso Nelson (Oak Grove Attendance Center) Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Devante “Speedy” Noil (Edna Karr) New Orleans, Louisiana
Wisdom Offor (American Senior) Hialeah, Florida
Michiah Quick (Central High East Campus) Fresno, California
Hunter Sharp (Antelope Valley) Lancaster, California
Thaddeus Snodgrass (Springfield) Springfield, Ohio
Ryan Watercutter (Bishop Swenger) Fort Wayne, Indiana
T.V. Williams (McKinney) McKinney, Texas
Freedom Akinmoladun (Grandview Senior) Grandview, Missouri
Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte Christian) Charlotte, North Carolina
Evan Butts (The Episcopal Academy) Merion, Pennsylvania
Marvin Fanfan (ASA) Brooklyn, New York
Stoney Hawkins (Centennial) Frisco, Texas
Austin Rukthavornsakul (McQueen) Reno, Nevada
Cannon Smith (Hammond School) Columbia, South Carolina
Moral Stephens (Taylor County) Perry, Florida
Beau Benzschawel (Grafton) Grafton, Wisconsin
Will Clapp (Brother Martin) New Orleans, Louisiana
Tanner Farmer (Highland) Highland, Illinois
Hunter Knight (Providence Christian) Dothan, Alabama
Damien Mama (St. John Bosco) Bellflower, California
Justin Muehlheausler (St. John Vianney) Kirkwood, Missouri
Hunter Ponder (Mansfield) Mansfield, Texas
Messiah Rice (Orangeburg Wilkinson) Orangeburg, South Carolina
Thor Riemer (Osceola) Osceola, Wisconsin
Hunter Steel (Chartiers Valley) Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
Tennessee Su’esu’e (East) Salt Lake City, Utah
Bentley Spain (Providence) Charlotte, North Carolina
Z Stephenson (Bloomington High School North) Bloomington, Indiana
Bearooz Yacoobi (Dearborn) Dearborn, Michigan
Poncho Barnwell (Nassau) Garden City, New York
Demarcus Christmas (Manatee) Bradenton, Florida
Lion King Conway (Southfield) Southfield, Michigan
Fritz Desir (Gulf Coast) Naples, Florida
Poona Ford (Hilton Head) Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge) Woodbridge, Virginia
Hercules Mata’afa (Lahainaluna) Lahaina, Hawaii
Godspower Ogide (Bishop Kearney) Rochester, New York
Naquez Pringle (Carver’s Bay) Georgetown, South Carolina
Gasetoto Schuster (Polytechnic) Long Beach, California
Breeland Speaks (Callaway Senior) Jackson, Mississippi
Dexter Wideman (Saluda) Saluda, South Carolina
St. Pierre Anilus (Georgia Military) Milledgeville, Georgia
Cash Barden (College of the Canyons) Santa Clarita, California
Coult Culler (Emsley A. Laney) Wilmington, North Carolina
Colton Jumper (The Hun School) Princeton, New Jersey
Thor Katoa (Pine View Middle) St. George, Utah
Greer Martini (Woodberry Forest) Woodberry Forrest, Virginia
Boadie Matts (Sandalwood) Jacksonville, Florida
Raekwon McMillan (Liberty County) Hinesville, Georgia
Justice Rawlins (Monessen SHS) Monessen, Pennsylvania
Serge Trezy (Eastern Arizona) Thatcher, Arizona
Olajuwon Tucker (Junipero Serra) Gardena, California
Budda Baker (Bellevue) Bellevue, Washington
Jukobie Boatwright (Emanuel County Institute) Twin City, Georgia
Zykiesis Cannon (Carolina) Greenville, South Carolina
Mookie Carlile (Stephenville) Stephenville, Texas
Justice Davila (Timber Creek) Sicklerville, New Jersey
Dominique Fenstermacher (Mountain Pointe) Phoenix, Arizona
A.J. Greathouse (Hamilton) Chandler, Arizona
Breckin Gunter (Box Elder) Brigham City, Utah
Sky Manu (Bingham) South Jordan, Utah
Juju Smith (Polytechnic) Long Beach, California
Finus Stribling (Independence) Thompson’s Station, Tennessee
Wonderful Terry (Garden City) Garden City, Kansas
Deshaun Thrower (Muskegon) Muskegon, Michigan
Bright Ugwoegbu (Seven Lakes) Katy, Texas
Vlassios Pizanias (Hubbard) Hubbard, Ohio
The Super Bowl is The Big Game in the NFL. But many of the game’s greatest players never took the field with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line. This year, Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey and Seahawks "Beast Mode" running back Marshawn Lynch headline the list of first-time Super Sunday participants in Super Bowl XLVIII. These all-time greats, however, were not so lucky.
1. Barry Sanders, RB, Lions (1989-98)
Playoff record: 1–5
Playoff stats: 386 rush yards (4.2 ypc), TD; 111 receiving yards (5.3 ypc), TD
Best team: 1991 Lions (12–4 record, lost in NFC Championship Game)
Closest call: 1991 (NFC Championship Game, 41–10 loss at Redskins)
After winning his playoff debut 38–6 against the Cowboys, Sanders lost his next five postseason games. Shockingly, one of the most exciting players of all-time was limited to 13 or fewer carries in four of his six playoff contests. The only time No. 20 was given more than 20 carries, he ripped off 169 yards in a 28–24 loss to the Packers. Although Sanders ran wild every year on Thanksgiving Day, he never showed up to the party on Super Bowl Sunday.
2. Deacon Jones, DE, Rams (1961-71), Chargers (’72-73), Redskins (’74)
Playoff record: 0–2
Playoff stats: N/A
Best team: 1967 Rams (11–1–2 record, lost in Divisional Round)
Closest call: 1969 (Divisional Round, 23–20 loss at Vikings)
The “Secretary of Defense” was known for head-slapping opposing offensive linemen, but the two-time Defensive Player of the Year must have been doing some head-scratching after retiring with zero playoff wins — and zero Super Bowl appearances — despite an unofficial total of 173.5 sacks during his Hall of Fame career.
3. Dick Butkus, LB, Bears (1965-73)
Playoff record: 0–0
Playoff stats: N/A
Best team: 1965 Bears (9–5 record, missed postseason)
Arguably the greatest middle linebacker in history, Butkus played for George Halas — the legendary coach whose name graces the trophy awarded to the winner of the NFC Championship Game — and on the same team as Hall of Fame triple-threat playmaker Gale Sayers. Despite looking great on paper at the time and even better in historical hindsight, Butkus’ Bears were unable to make the playoffs, which is the first step toward advancing to the Super Bowl.
4. Gale Sayers, RB, Bears (1965-71)
Playoff record: 0–0
Playoff stats: N/A
Best team: 1965 Bears (9–5 record, missed postseason)
Butkus and Sayers were drafted Nos. 3 and 4 overall, respectively, by the Bears in 1965. But the Hall of Fame duo were unable to translate their individual achievements into team success. Sayers notched a record six TDs in a single game — with nine carries for 113 yards and four TDs, two catches for 89 yards and one TD, and five punt returns for 134 yards and one TD as a rookie — but failed to score even a single Super Bowl trip.
5. Earl Campbell, RB, Oilers (1978-84), Saints (’84-85)
Playoff record: 3–3
Playoff stats: 420 rush yards (3.1 ypc), 4 TDs; 45 receiving yards (9.0 ypc)
Best team: 1979 Oilers (11–5 record, lost in AFC Championship Game), 1980 Oilers (11–5 record, lost in Wild Card Round)
Closest call: 1979 (AFC Championship Game, 27–13 loss at Steelers), 1978 (AFC Championship Game, 34–5 loss at Steelers)
The “Luv Ya Blue” bulldozer was unable to take down the powerful “Steel Curtain” during back-to-back AFC Championship Game losses. In two painful defeats at Pittsburgh, Campbell had a combined 39 carries for 77 yards (1.97 ypc), two catches for 15 yards, and zero TDs. Campbell’s two scoreless games against the Steelers were the only two playoff games in which he failed to find the end zone.
6. O.J. Simpson, RB, Bills (1969-77), 49ers (’78-79)
Playoff record: 0–1
Playoff stats: 49 rush yards (3.3 ypc); 37 receiving yards (12.3 ypc), TD
Best team: 1974 Bills (9–5 record, lost in Divisional Round)
Closest call: 1974 (Divisional Round, 32–14 loss at Steelers)
Another victim of the mighty Steelers, the Juice had better luck than Campbell — with 18 touches for 86 total yards and one TD — but was unable to lead the Bills to victory in what would be his only postseason appearance. The actor and defendant never basked in the spotlight of the Super Bowl but he was seen by millions during his days as Lt. Nordberg in the "Naked Gun" franchise and his starring role in the Trial of the Century.
7. Eric Dickerson, RB, Rams (1983-87), Colts (’87-91), Raiders (’92), Falcons (’93)
Playoff record: 2–5
Playoff stats: 724 rush yards (4.9 ypc), 3 TDs; 91 receiving yards (4.8 ypc), TD
Best team: 1985 Rams (11–5 record, lost in NFC Championship Game)
Closest call: 1985 (NFC Championship Game, 24–0 loss at Bears)
Upon first glance, the single-season rushing yards record holder posted solid playoff numbers. But take off the goggles and you’ll see that Dickerson’s 248-yard, two-TD outburst during a 20–0 win over the Cowboys in 1985 accounted for one-third of his career postseason rushing yards and half of his total TDs.
8. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers (2001-09), Jets (’10-11)
Playoff record: 4–5
Playoff stats: 468 rush yards (3.6 ypc), 6 TDs; 176 receiving yards (7.0 ypc), TD
Best team: 2006 Chargers (14–2 record, lost in Divisional Round)
Closest call: 2010 (AFC Championship Game, 24–19 loss at Steelers), 2007 (AFC Championship Game, 21–12 loss at Patriots)
Infamously sulking on the sideline, injured and wearing in a Darth Vader facemask and trench coat at New England — after just two carries for five yards — was clearly the low point of L.T.’s playoff career. Staying on the dark side, three of his five playoff losses were by margins of three points, one defeat came by four points and the most lopsided was a nine-pointer.
9. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs (1997-2008), Falcons (2009-13)
Playoff record: 1–6
Playoff stats: 30 catches for 286 yards (9.5 ypc) and 4 TDs
Best team: 2012 Falcons (13–3 record, lost in NFC Championship Game), 2010 Falcons (13–3 record, lost in Divisional Round), 2003 Chiefs (13–3 record, lost in Divisional Round), 1997 Chiefs (13–3 record, lost in Divisional Round)
Closest call: 2012 (NFC Championship Game, 28–24 loss vs. 49ers)
It took Gonzo 16 seasons to finally earn a playoff win. Then, with the Falcons holding a 17–0 lead over the 49ers in the NFC title game, it looked like the future Hall of Fame tight end would be punching his ticket to the Super Bowl and possibly riding off into the sunset as a champion. Nope. Gonzalez came back for a 17th season to end his Super Bowl-less slide. Instead, Atlanta fell to 4–12 record. Sadly, Tony will have to settle for a bust in Canton five years from now.
10. Warren Moon, QB, Oilers (1984-93), Vikings (’94-96), Seahawks (’97-98), Chiefs (’99-00)
Playoff record: 3–7
Playoff stats: 2,870 yards, 17 TDs, 14 INTs, 84.9 passer rating
Best team: 1993 Oilers (12–4 record, lost in Divisional Round)
Closest call: 1993 (Divisional Round, 28–20 loss vs. Chiefs), 1991 (Divisional Round, 26–24 loss at Broncos), 1988 (Divisional Round, 17–10 loss at Bills)
Moon won five consecutive Grey Cups and was twice named Grey Cup MVP in the Canadian Football League. But in these United States south of the border, the former CFL champion was unable to translate his prior success to the NFL Playoffs. Moon’s waning moment came in the worst collapse in postseason history, as his Oilers watched a 35–3 lead evaporate into a 41–38 overtime loss against the Frank Reich-led Bills.
After an extended search, Rutgers coach Kyle Flood has finally hired his offensive and defensive coordinator for the 2014 season.
Joe Rossi held the title of interim defensive coordinator after Dave Cohen was fired, and Flood has decided to keep Rossi on the staff as the full-time coordinator.
On the offensive side of the ball, Rutgers will welcome a familiar face back the college football sidelines. Former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen has been hired as the Scarlet Knights’ offensive coordinator. Friedgen has been out of football since he was fired at Maryland after the 2010 season. However, prior to his exit in College Park, Friedgen was regarded as one of the top offensive minds in the ACC. He should significantly upgrade Rutgers’ offense next year.
The hires of Friedgen and Rossi are crucial for Rutgers. With a move to the Big Ten on tap for 2014, the competition is only going to get tougher for the Scarlet Knights, and Flood is on the hot seat after a 6-7 record in 2013.
The race for the national freshman of the year has been in flux for most of the season, which is great news for lists like these.
Jabari Parker started on a hot streak before Aaron Gordon took center stage in a head-to-head matchup between Duke and Arizona. Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid have both looked like Kansas’ best freshman at certain times. And the rest of the Big 12 — Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma — have provided candidates for the most underrated freshman of the season.
This week has a new No. 1 rookie after we picked Embiid seven days ago. This week, we’re going with Parker for the freshman trending upward thanks to three consecutive double-doubles for a team that’s entering its biggest showdown of conference play.
That game against Syracuse could change things up again thanks to the Orange point guard Tyler Ennis. But Kansas’ rookies can’t be ignored in a tough road trip against Texas and the Longhorns’ freshman Isaiah Taylor.
The Freshman 15: Jan. 31
1. Jabari Parker, Duke
Parker is in fine form as the Blue Devils visit the Carrier Dome on Saturday with three consecutive double-doubles. The forward also set a Duke freshman record with 12 20-point games this season after a 21-point effort against Pittsburgh.
2. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Has Wiggins reached the turning point of the season? The Oklahoma State game was not a shining performance from the rookie, but since then, he’s twice set career highs. The 27 points against TCU may be easy to overlook but not 29 points and seven rebounds against Iowa State on Wednesday. He was 18 of 29 from the field this week.
3. Joel Embiid, Kansas
Embiid’s per game numbers since Jan. 11 are impressive enough (13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds), but he is averaging 20.8 points and 13 rebounds per 40 minutes.
4. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Ennis is third in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play (2.9) and second in assists (5.4) and steals (2.0).
5. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Arizona’s close call against Stanford on Wednesday was not helped by a five-point performance by Gordon in one of the few off games of the season. Gordon shot 5 of 23 from the field last week.
6. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Randle struggled on both sides of the court just like everyone for Kentucky in the 87-82 loss to LSU on Tuesday. Defenses are collapsing on Randle, but he’s still averaging 16.1 points and 10.2 rebounds.
7. James Young, Kentucky
Young was one of the few Wildcats making shots in the loss to LSU, hitting 8 of 18 from the field for 23 points. His shot hasn’t been consistent all season, but he’s shot 51.2 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range in the last three games.
8. Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma
The point guard of one of the nation’s surprise teams, Woodard had 18 points and only two turnovers in his matchup against Marcus Smart for Oklahoma’s signature win of the season.
9. Isaiah Taylor, Texas
Taylor broke out with 27 points in the 74-60 win over Baylor on Saturday, the Longhorns third consecutive win over a ranked team (though Baylor won’t be ranked for much longer).
10. Jordan Mickey, LSU
The Tigers’ top freshman has helped LSU make a push onto the NCAA Tournament bubble in recent games, averaging 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in his last four games.
11. Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Vonleh grabbed only three rebounds in the loss to Nebraska on Thursday, but that followed three consecutive double-digit game. Vonleh, however, remains a limited threat in the offensive end.
12. Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
The Huskies won’t go to the NCAA Tournament unless they win the Pac-12 tourney, but Williams-Goss is having an outstanding season at point guard for Lorenzo Romar. He’s filled up the stat sheet with 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists while breaking out for 32 points against Oregon State on Saturday.
13. Derrick Walton, Michigan
Walton has come into his own in recent games as Michigan's point guard, highlighted by 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in the signature win at Michigan State on Saturday.
14. Marcus Foster, Kansas State
Foster had his worst game of the season on Tuesday with 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting against Texas Tech, but he’s still averaging 12.9 points in Big 12 games.
15. Bobby Portis, Arkansas
Portis has returned to form in recent games even if Arkansas has not. The power forward had 16 points and seven rebounds against Missouri and 18 points and nine rebounds against Auburn in the last two games.
Super Bowl betting — and prop bets, in particular — attract sharks and suckers alike. Those who can’t afford a $4-million, 30-second commercial spot on FOX’s telecast or a $3,000 nosebleed seat at MetLife Stadium, but do have some lunch money to wager on Super Sunday can let a few bucks ride on a few fun bets.
Here’s a quick look at this year’s Super Bowl prop bets, along with advice on where the smart money should play. For consistency’s sake, all odds and lines are courtesy of online gambling site Bovada.lv.
(For the average Joe who doesn’t speak in Vegas tongues, when the odds are –150, you must wager $150 in order to win $100; when the odds are +150, your $100 bet nets $150.)
How long will it take Renee Fleming to sing the National Anthem?
Over 2:25 (+120)
Under 2:25 (–160)
Last year, Alicia Keys sang the National Anthem in a record 2:36, playing solo piano and going up and down the scales to break Natalie Cole’s oft-criticized 2:32 mark. This year, soprano Renee Fleming will become the first opera singer to sing Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Fleming will be accompanied by the New Jersey Symphony, so it should be a tight performance that sticks to the script. Take the under.
Will Renee Fleming wear gloves when she starts singing National Anthem?
It won’t be that cold, but it will be cold. Expect Fleming to wear gloves.
If Renee Fleming does wear gloves, what color will they be?
Vera Wang is designing a special ensemble for Fleming. Black gloves would seem appropriate.
Heads or tails?
Heads leads 25–22 all-time. It’s tails time to shine.
Which team will win the coin toss?
Seattle Seahawks (–105)
Denver Broncos (–105)
The NFC has a 31–16 all-time lead. The AFC has won the last two tosses after the NFC went on a run of 14 consecutive coin toss victories. The winner of the toss has a 23–24 record. The Seahawks will win and defer.
Who will be seen first on TV after kickoff?
Erin Andrews (–140)
Pam Oliver (Even)
Of course Richard Sherman’s favorite sideline reporter will be the go-to girl for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman once the game gets going.
How many times will “Beast Mode” be said during the game?
Over 2 (+110)
Under 2 (–150)
All Marshawn Lynch has to do is break a few tackles and/or break a long run. “Beast Mode” will be said three times, at least.
How many times will Peyton Manning say “Omaha” during the game?
Over 27.5 (–135)
Under 27.5 (–105)
Manning’s presnap key “Omaha” was shouted 31 times in AFC Championship Game. But the Seahawks will likely take the air out of the ball, giving the Broncos fewer possessions and fewer chances to challenge Warren Buffet’s title as “Oracle of Omaha.”
The Omaha Chamber of Commerce will donate $1,500 for each time Manning says the word. Money will go to Manning’s “Peyback Foundation,” which was founded in 1999 to “promote the future success of disadvantaged youth by assisting programs that provide leadership and growth opportunities for children at risk.”
The 15 local businesses taking part are Omaha Steaks, First National Bank of Omaha, Mutual of Ohama, Omaha Box Company, Omaha Storm Chasers, CenturyLink, ConAgra Foods, Union Pacific, Northstar Financial, Cox Communications, One Transcription Services, HDR, Oriental Trading, Brix and DJ’s Dugout.
Will halftime show break Madonna’s record for most watched ever (114 million)?
Madonna had already taken over the world with her self-titled debut (1983) and second album, “Like a Virgin” (1984) before Bruno Mars was even born (1985). If Beyonce couldn’t break the Material Girl’s record, there’s no way Bruno Mars will.
What will Bruno Mars be wearing on his head at start of halftime show?
Fur Hat (+550)
No hat (+250)
Isn’t a fedora permanently attached to Bruno Mars’ head?
Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during their performance?
That’s like asking what kind of hat Bruno Mars will be wearing.
What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning head coach after the Super Bowl?
Any team with respect for its coach should dump water on the man. No one wants a stained, sticky shirt during the ensuing championship media whirlwind.
Who will be Super Bowl XLVIII MVP?
Peyton Manning (11/10)
Marshawn Lynch (15/4)
Russell Wilson (15/4)
Percy Harvin (16/1)
Knowshon Moreno (20/1)
Richard Sherman (20/1)
Demaryius Thomas (20/1)
Wes Welker (25/1)
Golden Tate (33/1)
If the Broncos win, Manning is the MVP no matter how he plays. For the Seahawks, Lynch is the best bet. But please, please, please let Richard Sherman make the speech, boss.
Seattle Seahawks (+3) (+115)
Denver Broncos (–3) (–135)
Over 47 (–115)
Under 47 (–105)
Beast Mode on offense. Legion of Boom on defense. Manning throwing ducks. Seattle will win a low-scoring, close game fitting of the No. 1 seeds in the NFC and AFC.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Jan. 31.
• Canada is bringing a tasty assortment of athletes to Sochi, including skeleton's Melissa Hollingsworth (pictured).
• Your official Super Bowl party drinking game, although I should warn you that it will lead to dangerous levels of consumption.
• Peyton Manning kind of annoys his teammates with his level of focus and preparation. How sad for them.
• Spoiler alert: Tim Tebow has a Super Bowl commercial that's pretty funny.
• There are lots of weird mascots out there. Warning: Some of these are nightmare fuel.
• A petite mother from Omaha put away 363 wings to demolish Kobayashi's record and win the Wing Bowl. That's 29,403 calories, if you're counting.
• Some adorable puppies predicted the outcome of the Super Bowl on Fallon. Revel in the cuteness.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
It’s a classic, yet unique matchup on tap for Super Bowl XLVIII this Sunday at MetLife Stadium when the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos kick things off at 6:25 p.m. ET on FOX. For the first time since 1991, the battle for the Lombardi Trophy features the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense (Denver) against the No. 1 scoring defense (Seattle).
There is certainly no lack of storylines when it comes to this game, one of the biggest being the on-field conditions at the first-ever outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city. NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell and many others have been waiting for this moment – hosting the biggest game of the year in the New York metropolitan area – for some time. And while it may be a little on the cold side (projected day-time high of 46 degrees on Sunday, low of 26 according to weather.com), it does appear that otherwise (slight chance of precipitation, minimal wind) Mother Nature will cooperate.
On the field, Pete Carroll is hoping to lead Seattle to its first Super Bowl victory in two tries, while John Fox and Denver are aiming for the franchise’s third world championship in seven appearances. Besides the No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense aspect, this is the first Super Bowl that pits the top seeds from each conference since New Orleans defeated Peyton Manning and Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV and just the second such matchup in the past 20 seasons.
This also is a pairing of former division rivals, as the Seahawks and Broncos were both in the AFC West from 1977-2001. For what it’s worth, Denver holds a 35-18 edge in the all-time series, which includes one previous postseason encounter. Seattle won that game, defeating the Broncos 31-7 in a wild card game during the 1983 playoffs. The last time these two teams faced each other was during the 2010 season, a 31-14 Broncos victory at home.
Super Bowl XLVIII Breakdown
When the Seattle Seahawks run:
During the regular season, Seattle averaged 136.8 yards rushing per game, good for fourth in the NFL in that category. In two playoff games, that number has increased to 144.5 per game thanks to a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks’ powerful, punishing workhorse, Lynch has 249 yards rushing on 50 carries in wins over New Orleans and San Francisco. That 5.0 yards per carry average is right in line with his career postseason mark of 5.1 in six playoff games.
Seattle’s offense is built around running the ball, so Denver’s defense can expect to see a heavy dose of Lynch. Besides being productive, Lynch’s presence forces the defense to load up in the box, which then opens up things in the passing game for Russell Wilson, especially in play-action situations. While Lynch is the main cog of the Seahawks’ ground game, he’s not the only effective ball carrier. Wilson is second on the team with 555 yards rushing (5.4 ypc), and uses his athleticism and mobility to frustrate pass rushers and often turn what appears to be a big loss on a play into a positive gain.
Understandably overshadowed by the exploits of the offense, Denver’s defense has done a solid job against the run all season. The Broncos were just as effective as Seattle’s mighty defense in defending the run (101.6 ypg) during the regular season and has taken that performance to another level during the playoffs.
In their wins over the Chargers and Patriots, the Broncos’ defense yielded a total of 129 yards rushing on 34 carries (3.8 ypc). Even more impressive, this unit is missing All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, starting defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson and starting cornerback Chris Harris. Tackle Terrance Knighton (6-3, 335) has been an immovable object in the middle of the line for Denver and the man affectionately known as “Pot Roast” needs to make his presence felt if the Broncos want to keep Lynch from reaching “Beast Mode” Sunday night.
The linebackers, sans Miller, also will be key as Danny Trevathan, Wesley Woodyard and Nate Irving will be responsible for making sure Lynch doesn’t break through the second level. Lynch was second in the league with 574 yards rushing after contact (YAC) during the regular season and he’s added another 107 in the playoffs. The Broncos allowed just 1.4 YAC per rush in the regular season, the fifth-best mark in the NFL, according to ESPN’s Stats & Info.
Seattle finished 26th during the regular season in passing offense at 202.3 yards per game. This ranking is the lowest of any team to ever reach the Super Bowl. While it may not be anywhere near as prolific as Denver’s, Seattle’s passing attack has certainly been effective.
Despite ranking 16th in the league in yards passing (3,357), Russell Wilson tossed 26 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions. The end result was a 101.2 passer rating, which was seventh overall. For his career, including playoffs, Wilson has produced a 56:20 TD:INT ratio in 36 career games. Only 25 years old, Wilson plays with the poise and maturity of a 10-year veteran, so don’t expect him to be rattled on the game’s biggest stage.
Wilson doesn’t possess the weapons in the passing game that Peyton Manning does, but he could get a big boost with the expected return of Percy Harvin. One of Seattle’s key acquisitions during the offseason, Harvin has played in just two games because of hip surgery and a concussion. His on-field impact to this point has been limited, but Harvin possesses the speed, explosiveness and big-play ability that could make him a difference-maker in this game.
In Harvin’s absence, Wilson has relied on wide receivers Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin to do the heavy lifting. Tate leads the team in receptions and yards, and he and Baldwin are both capable of breaking off a long play once the ball is in their hands. Tight ends aren’t completely ignored in the Seahawks’ passing game, but they aren’t a focal point either. Zach Miller is the primary tight end and he could become an option for Wilson, especially in play-action situations.
Denver’s pass defense has been busy this season, if anything because of the numbers and points the offense has put up. Large leads established by Manning and company have forced the opposition to throw, which is part of the reason why the Broncos’ defense gave up so many yards and touchdowns through the air.
Denver finished the regular season 27th in passing defense at 254.4 yards per game, but has really tightened things up recently. Over the past six games, including the two playoff wins, the Broncos have given up just 185.3 yards passing per game. Things figure to be a little tougher against the Seahawks without Harris, but the secondary features plenty of experience in cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and some decent size in strong safety Duke Ihenacho (6-1, 207). The main priority for the defensive backs in this game will be limit the big plays through the air to force Seattle to convert on third down and sustain drives.
Von Miller’s presence as a pass rusher will certainly be missed, but Denver has other options in ends Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers and rookie tackle Sylvester Williams. Even with all of his mobility, Wilson was sacked 44 times during the regular season (tied for the third most), but the key for the Broncos will be making sure they bring down the athletic, mobile quarterback should the pressure get to him.
When the Denver Broncos run:
While Peyton Manning’s assault on the record books was the talk revolving around Denver’s offense this season, it’s not like the Broncos weren’t getting the job done on the ground exactly. Led by a career year from Knowshon Moreno, Denver averaged 117.1 yards rushing per game during the regular season, which placed the Broncos 15th in the league.
For comparison’s sake Denver’s yards per carry average (4.1) and rushing touchdowns (16) in the regular season are more than comparable to Seattle’s numbers (4.3, 14) and the Broncos had 48 fewer carries than the Seahawks over their first 16 games. Moreno posted his first 1,000-yard season with 10 rushing touchdowns and he didn’t lose a single fumble in 301 total touches (241 rushing).
Rookie Montee Ball, who was expected by many to be Denver’s lead back, has gotten better as the season has progressed. He’s averaged 4.8 yards per carry over his past eight contests and has gotten double-digit carries in five of those, including both playoff wins. Ball also has done a better job holding onto the ball with just one fumble in his last 92 touches (74 rushes).
If there is any chink in the armor of the NFL’s No. 1 defense it may be on the ground. The Seahawks finished tied with the Broncos for seventh in rushing defense during the regular season at 101.6 yards per game. This includes back-to-back games against the Rams and Buccaneers in which the defense gave up more than 200 yards rushing. In the playoffs, Seattle has yielded an average of 135 yards on the ground to New Orleans and San Francisco.
While it may give up some yards, one thing the Seahawks’ defense does really well is prevent teams from getting into the end zone. Seattle surrendered just four touchdowns on the ground during the regular season, which tied Carolina for the fewest. The Seahawks have one of the deepest defensive lines in football with the likes of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril coming off of the bench in support of Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.
The linebackers are led by tackling machine Bobby Wagner with Bruce Irvin bringing pressure and making big plays, very similar to what Miller brings to Denver’s defense when healthy. And of course, everyone knows about Seattle’s secondary, which is just as good against the run as they are the pass thanks to their collective size, athleticism and physicality.
While the numbers may suggest otherwise, Denver does run the ball and uses it to set up the pass and vice versa. As effective as this game plan has been this season, doing so against Seattle’s defense will be no easy task. One of the keys for the Broncos will be can the offensive line open up some holes for Moreno and Ball to get through in hopes of forcing the Seahawks to adjust their alignment and get them out of their comfort zone?
When the Denver Broncos pass:
The most prolific passing offense in the history of the game versus the No. 1 passing defense and a secondary known as the “Legion of Boom.” What more could a football fan want? Peyton Manning’s record-breaking season has been well documented, but he has yet to face a defense like Seattle’s.
Less than three years removed from multiple neck surgeries that threatened to end his quarterbacking days, Manning is playing arguably the best football of his career. Besides his ridiculous regular-season totals, Manning has been on point during the playoffs too. In wins over San Diego and New England, he has completed 57 of 79 passes (72.2 percent) for 630 yards, four touchdowns and just one pick, good for a passer rating of 107.0. The experience gleaned from his two previous Super Bowl appearances should also aid Manning in his quest for a second Lombardi Trophy.
Manning can’t beat the Seahawks alone, however, which is where his impressive stable of pass-catchers comes in. Seattle may have the NFL’s best secondary, but a strong case could be made that Denver has the best weapons. Wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker combined to average nearly 14 yards per catch and 35 touchdowns during the regular season while tight end Julius Thomas exploded from virtually nowhere to catch 65 passes and 12 touchdowns.
There’s also running backs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball, who combined for 80 receptions for 693 yards and three scores, as well as role players like wideout Andrew Caldwell and tight ends Jacob Tamme and Virgil Green who are all capable of making a play when called on. With the exception of Welker, the Broncos’ pass-catchers feature decent size, which makes them a better match against the Seahawks’ big defensive backs.
One of the keys to Denver’s passing game is Manning’s ability to make quick decisions in the pocket and get rid of the ball in a matter of seconds, while the offensive line has done a fine job of keeping No. 18 upright. Manning was sacked just 18 times during the regular season, but the line knows it will have its work cut out for it against Seattle’s aggressive, unrelenting pass rush.
The Seahawks have allowed just two teams (Houston, New Orleans in the Divisional round) to throw for more than 300 yards on them this season. Overall, Seattle is giving up just 177.8 yards passing per game and this defense has been waiting for this opportunity to matchup against Manning and company.
Although All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman may do the most of the talking, both on the field and off of it, he is not a one-man wrecking crew. Fellow All-Pro Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor form arguably the hardest-hitting safety tandem in the league, while cornerback Byron Maxwell has more than held his own in coverage. Sherman and Chancellor both stand 6-3, while Maxwell is 6-1, but this is one game in which the Seahawks won’t enjoy much of a height advantage on the opposition.
Seattle’s secondary likes to play physical, so it will be interesting to see how closely the officials call things on the outside and across the middle, especially considering how many crossing routes and rub patterns Denver likes to run. The Broncos’ pass-catchers also need to be ready for some pushing and shoving and not back down from the contact at the line or allow the Seahawk defenders to disrupt their route.
Seattle will try and pressure Manning, who isn’t near as mobile as Wilson nor as effective a passer when he’s moved from his spot in the pocket or forced to hold onto the ball longer than he wants. The Seahawks’ pressure may be effective even if it doesn’t result in sacks, as it could help create some rushed or errant throws, which plays right into the hands of this ball-hawking (28 INTs) unit.
No one knows how much Percy Harvin will play on Sunday, but if there’s one area he could have a big impact in it’s special teams. In his career, Harvin has averaged 28.2 yards per kickoff return and has five touchdowns. His only return this season went for 58 yards and with Matt Prater not kicking in the Mile High City, whomever gets the call back there should get some chances to bring one back. Golden Tate (11.5 ypr) should handle the punt return duties for the Seahawks.
Steven Hauschka has been solid this season, connecting on 33 of 35 field goal attempts, including just one miss (14 of 15) from 40 yards and beyond. He shouldn’t have any trouble kicking in the cold, as he’s well versed in dealing with the conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Punter Jon Ryan has been effective (39.2 ypp) by limiting returns (3.9 ypr) on his kicks.
While Seattle may finally get Harvin back on kick return duty, Denver has its own special teams weapon in Trindon Holliday. He has returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown this season and is averaging nearly 28 yards per kickoff return. The only question may be will the Broncos let him handle both assignments on Super Sunday, as Eric Decker and Wes Welker have been called on for punt return duty during the playoffs.
Denver has a pretty solid punter-kicker tandem in Britton Colquitt and Prater, but neither will have the benefit of kicking in the thin air of their home stadium in this game. Colquitt placed more than a third (23) of his 65 punts inside the 20-yard line during the regular season, while Prater missed just one (25 of 26) field goal attempt and nailed an NFL-record 64-yarder back in Week 14.
Key Factor: Turnovers
Seattle led the NFL with a plus-20 (39 takeaways, 19 giveaways) turnover margin during the regular season and has posted a plus-three mark in the playoffs. Denver tied for 13th in the league with a zero turnover margin (26 of each), and has gone minus-two in its two postseason victories. Despite this large discrepancy (Seattle is plus-23 overall, while Denver is minus-two), both teams enter this game with identical 15-3 records.
The Seahawks would no doubt love to force the Broncos into some mistakes, but Peyton Manning has thrown just 11 interceptions compared to his 59 touchdowns in 738 total pass attempts this season. He has fumbled it away six times and some of Denver’s other players have had their own issues with ball security, so it’s imperative that the Broncos keep two hands firmly wrapped around the pigskin when its in their possession. After all, they know full well how opportunistic Seattle’s defense has been this season.
On the other side, the Seahawks’ offense has committed fewer miscues, but Russell Wilson and company will need to continue to take good care of the football as it does not want to give Manning and the Broncos additional opportunities, especially should those turnovers occur in Seahawks territory. One thing is for sure, winning the turnover battle will more than likely go a long ways towards deciding Sunday night’s outcome. The team with fewer turnovers in the Super Bowl is 35-3 all-time.
Is this Peyton Manning’s (final?) chance at redemption or a golden opportunity to cap off the greatest season in the history of the game? Will Russell Wilson establish himself as the NFL’s top young quarterback? Will Denver’s experience be too much for Seattle’s talent and athleticism to overcome? Can the No. 1 defense slow down the highest-scoring team the league has ever seen?
These are just some of the storylines surrounding this game and that’s without even bringing up the weather. The bottom line is this: these two teams were the best in their respective conferences and what better way to decide which one is truly No. 1 than to settle things on the field?
While it can certainly be said that the stakes for John Fox’s Broncos are higher given where Manning and others are in their careers, that doesn’t mean there’s any less pressure on Pete Carroll’s team. After all, regardless of how young and talented a team you are, there is no guarantee you will make it back to the Super Bowl before that so-called window of opportunity closes. Just ask Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers.
Manning and Wilson may take center stage at MetLife Stadium Sunday night, but both defenses will have plenty to say before this game is decided. So what happens when the top-scoring offense in the league goes head-to-head with the stingiest defense? Fortunately for us as football fans, we get to find out.
Athlon’s editors make their pick for Super Bowl XLVIII:
|Rob Doster||27-21||Peyton Manning|
|David Fox||35-21||Peyton Manning|
|Braden Gall||31-28||Peyton Manning|
|Steven Lassan||27-24||Peyton Manning|
|Mitch Light||27-21||Russell Wilson|
|Rich McVey||21-17||Peyton Manning|
|Mark Ross||27-24||Peyton Manning|
|Nathan Rush||27-23||Marshawn Lynch|
|Corby Yarbrough||31-28||Marshawn Lynch|
The Bowl Championship Series is dead. But even the harshest of BCS detractors must acknowledge that the 16-year run was arguably the best era of college football in the history of the sport.
The era was highlighted by the advent of the BCS Championship Game, conference realignment and mega-dollar contracts for conferences, programs and coaches. But the elite athletes had a huge, if not the biggest, hand in the unprecedented growth of college football over the last two decades.
So Athlon Sports is looking back on the players that made the BCS Era great — conference-by-conference, position-by-position.
One name stands above the rest when it comes to dominance along the defensive line in the Big 12. It also feels like a few schools — shockingly, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska — have dominated the all-conference teams for the last 16 seasons.
Note: Must have played at least one season between 1998-13 in the conference.
1. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (2005-09)
That one name that stands above the rest is the Boy Named Suh. The star defensive tackle from Portland, Ore., won the 2009 Outland and Nagurski Trophies as well as the Lombardi, Bednarik and Willis Awards. He was the first defensive player to win AP Player of the Year honors since its inception in 1998 and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in ’09. That year Suh claimed the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award and he came just seconds shy of leading the Huskers to their first conference championship since 1999. He finished his career with 215 tackles, 57.0 for a loss, 24.0 sacks and six blocked kicks.
2. Brian Orakpo, Texas (2005-08)
The trophy case for the former Longhorn defensive end is packed with a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski, Lombardi, and Hendricks trophies. He was an All-American who played in 47 career games in Austin, posting 132 tackles, 38.0 tackles for a loss, 22.0 sacks and six forced fumbles in his tenure. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American saw his career slowed by a knee injury in 2007 or else his totals would be even higher. He was a contributing member in all 13 games of the 2005 BCS national championship run and was taken 13th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.
3. Tommie Harris, Oklahoma (2001-03)
Harris was a dominant interior lineman for three of the better Sooners teams of the BCS Era. He helped lead his team to the BCS championship game in 2003 while claiming the Lombardi and Willis Trophies. He was a two-time consensus All-American selection as the Sooners went 35-6 during his three-year tenure. Oklahoma won the Cotton and Rose Bowls before losing in the Sugar Bowl in his final season. Harris was downright unblockable in Norman and was the 14th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
4. Casey Hampton, Texas (1996, 98-00)
From 1997-2000, Hampton started 37 straight games for the Horns and finished with 54 tackles for a loss — fifth all-time in Big 12 history. He posted an absurd 329 tackles from his line position and forced nine fumbles. He was a consensus All-American, two-time, first-team All-Big 12 pick and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2000. The All-Pro Super Bowl champion was taken in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft with the 19th overall pick.
5. Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma (2007-09)
After redshirting, McCoy was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year after playing in all 13 games on the Big 12 championship squad. He was a two-time All-American as a sophomore and junior, helping to lead Oklahoma to the 2008 BCS National Championship Game against Florida. He finished his career with 83 tackles, 33.0 for a loss and 14.5 sacks from the tackle position while winning two Big 12 titles. McCoy was taken with the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay.
6. Justin Smith, Missouri (1998-00)
The Mizzou standout has developed into one of the NFL’s most consistent and productive players for two teams. He left Columbia after a huge junior season that featured 97 total tackles, 24 tackles for a loss — good for eighth all-time in Big 12 history — and 11 sacks. He was an All-American that year and also was a two-time All-Big 12 selection. His 53 career tackles for a loss in just three seasons ranks seventh all-time in league history as well. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Bengals.
7. Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma (2007-10)
Beal is one of just two players in Big 12 history to rank in the top five in both career sacks and career tackles for a loss. He finished his collegiate career third all-time with 58.5 TFL and fifth all-time with 29 sacks — good for second all-time in school history. His 10 forced fumbles rank third in Big 12 history and he helped the Sooners capture three Big 12 titles and earn one trip to the BCS title game in 2008. Beal was a model of consistency, posting three straight seasons with at least 60 tackles, 15.5 TFL and 8.5 sacks. The three-time all-conference selection finished with 224 total tackles.
8. Rod Wright, Texas (2002-05)
The big fella inside made an instant impact, starting nine games as a true freshman and earning Freshman All-American status and claiming Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors as well. He went on to start 36 more games over the next three years, earning All-Big 12 honors in three straight years (first team his final two seasons). He was a consensus All-American and started every game for the 2005 BCS national champions and finished as a Lombardi Trophy finalist. Wright finished with 227 tackles, 42 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks.
9. Dan Cody, Oklahoma (2001-04)
He began his career as a redshirt tight end on the scout team for the 2000 BCS champs but turned into a force on the defensive side of the ball. He helped lead his team to three Big 12 crowns and two appearances in the BCS title game. Cody was an All-American his senior season and finished his career with 42 games played, 117 tackles and is sixth all-time in Big 12 history with 25 sacks. No. 80 was a second-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
10. Darren Howard, Kansas State (1996-99)
Other than Beal, Howard is the only other player in the Big 12 to be ranked in the top five of both career sacks and tackles for a loss. He finished tied for fifth with 54.0 TFL and is third all-time with 29.5 sacks. Howard was a big part of the Wildcats' success in the late '90s, as Kansas State went 42-7 during his four-year career, including two division titles and two postseason wins (Fiesta, Holiday). He played 10 years for the Eagles after being a second-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Just missed the cut:
11. Kevin Williams, Oklahoma State (1999-02)
K-Will was a huge part of the rebuilding that took place in Stillwater. He posted 160 tackles, 38 for a loss and 18.5 sacks during a career that saw the Pokes go from three wins to eight. The ninth overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft got OSU back to a bowl for just the second time in 14 seasons.
12. Shaun Rogers, Texas (1997-00)
Playing alongside Hampton, Rogers set a Big 12 record with 27.0 tackles for a loss in 1999. His 53 career TFLs rank tied for seventh all-time in Big 12 history. He also had 199 total tackles and 14 sacks before getting picked in the second round by the Lions in 2001.
13. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (2010-13)
The son of Jim Jeffcoat made an instant impact in Austin, playing in eight games as a true freshman. He capped his outstanding career with Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year honors and the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s best defensive end. Jeffcoat posted 174 tackles, 49.5 for a loss and 26.0 career sacks — good for sixth all-time in Big 12 history — despite missing more than half of his junior season due to injury.
14. Jared Crick, Nebraska (2008-11)
The Cornhuskers' edge rusher missed most of his senior season or he would be higher on this list. He posted two monster seasons by combining for 143 tackles, 27.0 tackles for a loss and 19.0 sacks in 2009 and '10. The two-time All-Big 12 pick was an All-American and fourth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
15. Frank Alexander, Oklahoma (2008-11)
Alexander earned Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2011 with 54 tackles, 19.0 TFL and 8.5 sacks to go with three forced fumbles. The fourth-round pick finished with 142 stops, 44.0 for a loss, 20.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. He played in one BCS title game and two BCS bowls on the back of two Big 12 titles (2008, '10).
Best of the rest:
16. Adam Carriker, Nebraska (2003-06)
Two-time All-Big 12 pick and 2006 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.
17. Brian Smith, Missouri (2003-06)
Big 12’s sack master with record 34 career QB sacks. Sixth all-time with nine forced fumbles.
18. Cory Redding, Texas (1999-02)
Fourth all-time in league history with 57 career TFL, including 24 in 2002.
19. Aldon Smith, Missouri (2009-10)
Big 12 Freshman of the Year, first-round pick and 17.0 sacks in only two seasons.
20. Mike Rucker, Nebraska (1995-98)
Played a key role on two national championship teams and is fourth in school history with 40 TFL.
21. Alex Okafor, Texas (2009-12)
Seventh all-time with 13 sacks in 2012. Two-time All-Big 12 pick and an All-American.
22. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M (2010-12)
Consensus All-American finished his career with 26.5 sacks in just three seasons in College Station.
23. Aaron Hunt, Texas Tech (1999-02)
Second all-time in Big 12 history with 34 career sacks.
24. Adell Duckett, Texas Tech (2001-04)
Fifth all-time in league history with 28 career sacks.
25. Kelly Gregg, Oklahoma (1996-98)
Tied for fourth all-time with 24.0 TFL in 1998 and is ninth all-time with 53.0 career TFL.
Take a break from Super Bowl preparations Saturday — and Sunday — to watch a little college basketball. Trust us.
While last weekend was short on top matchups, this week promises plenty of key storylines on heading into the biggest sports day of the year.
The showdown between Duke and Syracuse is the top game of the week as the Blue Devils appear to have solved some of their defensive shortcomings just in time for their first trip to the Carrier Dome.
The meeting will be the first between Jim Boehiem and Mike Krzyzewski since the 1998 NCAA Tournament when Duke defeated Syracuse in the Sweet 16. Since then, the two coaches have combined for three national championships and reached the 900-win marks at their respective schools.
In other games, top contenders face tricky road matchups against surprise teams. Kansas faces Texas in Austin as the Longhorns have been one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12. Arizona dodged Stanford on Wednesday, but its trip to the Bay Area will continue against a Cal team that is in NCAA Tournament contention.
Related: This week's NCAA Tournament Projections and Bubble Watch
College Basketball Weekend Preview: Feb. 1-2
Game of the Week:
Duke at Syracuse (Saturday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN)
The Blue Devils have the outside shooting to attack the Orange’s zone defense, ranking fifth nationally 3-point efficiency (41.4 percent). Meanwhile, Duke’s recently reacquired ability to defend will be tested. The Blue Devils held Pittsburgh forward Lamar Patterson to 4 of 14 shooting on Monday, but defending forwards C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant will be another challenge. Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis didn’t have his best game of the season in the road scare Wednesday against Wake Forest, but this should still be a showdown between two of the nation’s top freshmen in Ennis and Jabari Parker.
Related: College Basketball Pre-Weekend Power Rankings
Baylor at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN)
It’s time to panic in Waco. The Bears, who beat a Colorado (with Spencer Dinwiddie) and Kentucky in non-conference action, dropped to 1–6 in the Big 12 with Tuesday’s home loss to West Virginia. This team is too good to be sinking to an NIT bid. Baylor has been nothing short of inept since conference play started. Oklahoma State’s situation isn’t as dire as Baylor’s, but the Cowboys have lost two of their last three games and struggled to beat West Virginia at home.
Arizona at Cal (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Arizona’s undefeated start, now at 21 games, has been tested in the last two games. The Wildcats’ 10-point win over Utah on Sunday was more hotly contested than the final score indicated. On Wednesday, Arizona held Stanford to one field goals in the final 9:30 to escape Palo Alto with a win. Cal has lost three in a row, but Mike Montgomery’s team is solid on both sides of the court and has some nice veteran leadership in the form of senior guard Justin Cobbs and senior big man Richard Solomon. It would not be wise to pick against Arizona, but don’t be shocked if this game goes down to the wire.
Tricky Road Trip:
Kansas at Texas (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN)
Texas continues to be one of the nation’s biggest surprises. The Longhorns lost their top four scorers from the worst team of the Rick Barnes era, yet somehow find themselves among the upper echelon of the Big 12 with a 5–2 mark in league play. Kansas, of course, remains the team to beat. The Jayhawks, loaded with elite talent, are 6–0 in the Big 12 and appear to be getting better every game. Andrew Wiggins, the subject of lofty expectations to start the season, has set career highs in the last two games with 27 points against TCU and 29 against Iowa State.
Virginia at Pittsburgh (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Both teams are darlings in the advanced analytics world with Pitt ranked 12th in KenPom and Virginia one step behind. That’s with good reason. Both teams play sound basketball on both ends of the court, and with the exception of Virginia early in the season, neither loses games to inferior competition. That said, neither team has taken down a upper-echelon team this season.
Best Individual Matchup:
Oklahoma at Iowa State (Saturday, 4 p.m., Big 12 Network)
Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler, a Gonzaga transfer, may be one of the top rebounders in the country. After a 17-board game against Oklahoma State on Monday, Spangler is averaging 13.5 rebounds in his last six games. The rematch will pit Spangler against Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim for the second time this season.
Odd Non-Conference Game:
Michigan State vs. Georgetown (Saturday in New York, 3 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Michigan State steps out of Big Ten play for a trip to Madison Square Garden to play a Georgetown team that has lost five games in row. The Hoyas, thought by many to be a legitimate Big East title contender, slipped to 3–6 in the league with a loss at home to Villanova on Monday night. When healthy, Michigan State is arguably the best team in the country. The Spartans, however, have not been healthy in weeks. The game is part of a basketball showcase the day before the Super Bowl, including Marquette at St. John’s and the Miami Heat at the New York Knicks.
Other Games to Watch:
Ohio State at Wisconsin (Saturday, noon, ESPN)
Ohio State and Wisconsin don’t lose on the same day very often, much less both both at home to Penn State and Northwestern. The two teams were among the last undefeated teams in the country, but Wisconsin has lost four of five while Ohio State has lost five of six. Wisconsin has had a hard time defending guards on the perimeter including Minnesota’s Drew Mathieu and Northwestern’s Drew Crawford. Ohio State, meanwhile, has been a mess on offense since conference play began.
Kentucky at Missouri (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Kentucky’s season hit a low point this week with a listless performance Tuesday against LSU. The Wildcats had no answer for Tigers big man Johnny O’Bryant, who scored 29 points. Missouri isn’t built the same way, but guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson are among the most prolific scorers in the SEC. Missouri’s season hasn’t gone as well as the Tigers would have hoped, but the are coming off a win at Arkansas.
Memphis at SMU (Saturday, 2 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
Larry Brown has worked wonders in his second season at SMU, putting the Mustangs into NCAA Tournament contention. The 78-71 loss to USF on Tuesday was a notable setback, though, meaning the Mustangs need to reassert themselves against a top American Athletic Conference team. This visit from Memphis on Saturday figures to be the most anticipated home game for the program in decades. The Tigers have been inconsistent, but Josh Pastner’s team has all the right pieces — talented young players, veteran leadership, solid guard play and quality big men.
Michigan at Indiana (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Michigan is fresh off one of the best eight-day stretches in school history. The Wolverines sandwiched wins at Wisconsin and Michigan State around a win at home against Iowa. This team is 7–0 in the Big Ten — and has done it without preseason All-American Mitch McGary. Indiana, treading water in the tough Big Ten, has a win over Wisconsin (at home) on its résumé, but the Hoosiers sure could use another quality victory to impress the selection committee.
The number of undefeated teams remaining in college basketball has remained steady at three since Jan. 14.
Saturday may be the single day that’s most likely to change.
Granted, the three undefeated teams — Arizona, Syracuse and Wichita State — are all likely to be favored this weekend. But the weekend will still be tricky for at least two of them.
Arizona has been flirting with its first upset in the last two games, and now visits a well-coached Cal team. Syracuse will face the best team of any of the unbeatens, though, when Duke makes its first trip to the Carrier Dome. Wichita State is the least likely to lose this weekend against an Evansville team with a losing record. The Shockers’ biggest tests will come next week.
Arizona and Syracuse may be staying put at Nos. 1-2 heading into the weekend, but there’s been movement elsewhere.
Related: This week's NCAA Tournament Projections and Bubble Watch
College Basketball Pre-Weekend Power Rankings: Jan. 31
1. Arizona (21-0, 8-0 Pac-12)
This weekend: at Cal
The second half against Stanford showcased the best of Arizona this season: Stifling defense and a big shot from Nick Johnson.
Last week: 1
2. Syracuse (20-0, 7-0 ACC)
This weekend: Duke
The Orange have played three of the last four games on the road, but the Carrier Dome crowd gets back-to-back marquee games against Pittsburgh and Duke
Last week: 2
Related: Duke-Syracuse highlights weekend
3. Florida (18-2, 7-0 SEC)
This weekend: Texas A&M
The Gators finally got a resolution from the NCAA on stud freshman Chris Walker, but he won’t be able to play until Tuesday against Missouri.
Last week: 4
4. Kansas (16-4, 7-0 Big 12)
This weekend: at Texas
Andrew Wiggins has set career highs in back-to-back games, but don’t forget about Naadir Tharpe, who had 12 points and 12 assists against Iowa State on Nov. 29.
Last week: 5
5. San Diego State (18-1, 7-0 Mountain West)
This weekend: Colorado State
The Aztecs haven’t lost since Nov. 14, but offensive efficiency remains in question. San Diego State ranks 302nd nationally in effective field goal percentage.
Last week: 6
6. Michigan (16-4, 8-0 Big Ten)
This weekend: at Indiana (Sunday)
Going by the numbers, Michigan’s offense is better this season than it was with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. a year ago.
Last week: 14
7. Michigan State (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten)
This weekend: vs. Georgetown (New York)
The Spartans’ loss to Michigan on Saturday was as deflating as any defeat, so give a ton of credit to Michigan State recovering for an overtime road win over Iowa on Tuesday.
Last week: 3
8. Villanova (18-2, 7-1 Big East)
This weekend: at Temple
In most seasons, a three-game road trip against Marquette, Georgetown and Temple would be tough. Not this season. The Wildcats can sweep the whole thing.
Last week: 8
9. Wichita State (22-0, 9-0 Missouri Valley)
This weekend: Evansville
The Shockers haven’t been challenged since Missouri State took them to overtime on Jan. 11. Will that change next week at Indiana State and at Northern Iowa?
Last week: 7
10. Creighton (18-3, 8-1 Big East)
This weekend: DePaul (Friday)
Doug McDermott’s historic season continued with a game-winning 25-footer and season-high 39 points against St. John’s on Tuesday.
Last week: 11
11. Duke (17-4, 6-2 ACC)
This weekend: at Syracuse
Recent lineup change has Quinn Cook coming off the bench along with Andre Dawkins.
Last week: 16
12. Iowa (16-5, 5-3 Big Ten)
This weekend: at Illinois
The Hawkeyes are as sound a team in the country, but Iowa is 0-5 against RPI top 25 teams.
Last week: 12
13. Oklahoma (17-4, 6-2 Big 12)
This weekend: at Iowa State
The Sooners’ entire starting five averages double-digit scoring.
Last week: NR
14. Cincinnati (20-2, 9-0 American)
This weekend: USF (Sunday)
The Bearcats had a light non-conference schedule, so the Bearcats have made the most of wins over Pittsburgh and Louisville.
Last week: 20
15. Saint Louis (19-2, 6-0 Atlantic 10)
This weekend: George Mason
The Billikens are 21-1 in their last 22 Atlantic 10 games including the league tournament.
Last week: 13
16. Louisville (17-4, 6-2 American)
This weekend: UCF
Point guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones had miserable games Thursday in a loss to Cincinnati.
Last week: 10
17. Oklahoma State (16-4, 4-3 Big 12)
This weekend: Baylor
The Cowboys are 1-3 in Big 12 road games. They’ll be happy to return to Stillwater for back-to-back games to start February.
Last week: 9
18. Wisconsin (17-4, 4-4 Big Ten)
This weekend: Ohio State
The Badgers got burned by another top guard in Drew Crawford in the Northwestern loss, and Badgers players not named Ben Brust shot 8 of 39 against the Wildcats.
Last week: 17
19. Kentucky (15-5, 5-2 SEC)
This weekend: at Missouri
Kentucky played little defense in an 87-82 loss to LSU. The Wildcats need to rebound in a hurry.
Last week: 19
20. Iowa State (15-4, 3-4 Big 12)
This weekend: Oklahoma
The Cyclones tested Kansas in Lawrence on Wednesday but came up short in an 92-81 loss.
Last week: 18
21. UConn (17-4, 5-3 American)
This weekend: Off
It’s nearly February and Shabazz Napier still leads the Huskies in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
Last week: 21
22. Memphis (16-4, 6-2 American)
This weekend: at SMU
Only 30 teams take a lower rate of 3-point shots among all their attempts from the field than Memphis’ 26.2 percent.
Last week: 22
23. Pittsburgh (18-3, 6-2 ACC)
This weekend: Virginia (Sunday)
Talented forwards Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna will be tested against a stout defensive team in Virginia.
Last week: 15
24. UCLA (17-4, 6-2 Pac-12)
This weekend: at Oregon State
Many teams have tried, but the Bruins have proven they are the second-best team in a solid Pac-12.
Last week: NR
25. Virginia (16-5, 7-1 ACC)
This weekend: at Pittsburgh (Sunday)
Malcolm Brogdon has been one of the breakout players in ACC play, averaging 15.1 points per game in the last eight.
Last week: 25
Dropped out: No. 23 UMass, No. 24 Minnesota
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A new NFL champion will be crowned Sunday night during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium as the most-watched sport in the nation takes its biggest stage of the year. Besides more than likely hoisting the Lombardi Trophy once the game is over, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII will reap some other enviable rewards.
For starters, he will be presented with a Super Bowl MVP trophy along with a new GMC vehicle. Joe Flacco, last year’s Super Bowl MVP got a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. There’s also the numerous media and potential sponsorship opportunities that could present themselves. Do the words “I’m going to Disney World!” ring a bell?
So with this in mind, which Denver Bronco or Seattle Seahawk is best positioned to leave MetLife Stadium Sunday night with extra hardware and additional spoils of victory in tow?
Note: Odds to win courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook, as of publication date.
1. The Odds-on Favorite: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver
Odds to win: 11/10
Should the Broncos defeat the Seahawks Sunday night, it would be somewhat of a major upset if Manning wasn’t on the podium to accept his second Super Bowl MVP award. For one, no player will garner more attention leading up to and during Super Bowl XLVIII than the man behind the greatest statistical regular season of any quarterback in the history of the game. Also, whether he likes it or not, this game has already been labeled as Manning’s opportunity to stake his claim as the greatest quarterback to ever play or merely cement his Hall of Fame legacy, depending on who you ask. The good news for Manning, and perhaps Denver fans, is the fact that No. 18 is playing the best football of his career.
2. The Other Quarterback: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
Odds to win: 15/4
If the Seahawks end up winning Super Bowl XLVIII Wilson appears to have the best chance of being named the game’s MVP. Quarterbacks have earned Super Bowl MVP honors 26 times in the game’s 47-year history. The last four Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks and six of the last seven. As good as Seattle’s defense has been this season, the offense will need to score some points of its own. This is where Wilson comes in, as he’s capable of making plays with both his arm and his legs, and he’s already shown what he can do when the games count the most. In four career playoff games, Wilson has posted an impressive 96.9 passer rating. Don’t forget, he just turned 25 years old a couple of months ago.
3. The Bruising Running Back: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle
Odds to win: 15/4
Despite Wilson’s presence, poise and production, the Seahawks’ offense is built around running the ball. Seattle finished fourth in the regular season with 136.8 yards rushing per game with Lynch accounting for more than half (1,257 of 2,188) of the damage. A true workhorse, Lynch leads all players with 249 yards rushing on 50 carries this postseason and boasts a career 5.1 yards per carry average in the playoffs. Denver’s defense has been awfully stingy against the run lately (64.5 ypg, 3.8 ypc in two playoff games) and no doubt will be focused on bottling Lynch up at the line of scrimmage. If “Beast Mode” makes an appearance Sunday night it could lead to big things for both Lynch and the Seahawks.
Odds to win: 20/1
Intentional or not, Sherman guaranteed he would be one of the primary faces and storylines of Super Bowl XLVIII following his explosive commentary after the NFC Championship Game. A two-time, first-team All-Pro shutdown cornerback, Sherman definitely has the game to back up his big talk and now has everyone’s full attention. The Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary is by the far the toughest test Peyton Manning and company have faced this season, but the same could be said for Seattle’s defense matching up with the highest-scoring team in the history of the game. Since Sherman serves as the secondary’s official spokesman, if you will, all eyes will be on him Sunday night to see if his actions back up his words. One thing worth noting: Sherman (6-3, 195) won’t enjoy the same height advantage against Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (6-3, 229) or Eric Decker (6-3, 214) that he did against San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree (6-1, 214) and Anquan Boldin (6-1, 220).
5. The Big Game Veteran: Wes Welker, WR, Denver
Odds to win: 25/1
Welker may not be nearly as big (5-9, 185) as aforementioned teammates Thomas and Decker or any of the Seahawks’ starting defensive backs for that matter, but he does enter Super Bowl XLVIII with one sizeable advantage – experience. Welker and Manning have each played in two Super Bowls, which is twice as many as any other active player on either team’s roster. Unlike Manning, however, Welker has yet to hold the Lombardi Trophy, as he came up short twice (Super Bowl XLII, XLVI) during his six seasons with New England. Fortunately for Welker, he’s not playing the New York Giants Sunday, and he’s also been given a third opportunity to win the biggest game of his career. Welker’s Super Bowl stats (18 rec., 163 yds., 2 att., 21 yds.) certainly aren’t overwhelming, but his experience on this stage, his hands and his ability to find holes in the defense could come up huge for Manning and the Broncos.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Jan. 30.
• The folks at Guyism have made a nice discovery: Colombian model Melissa Giraldo.
• This is always fun: The 17 most ridiculous prop bets of this year's Super Bowl.
• One more Media Day highlight: Jim Brockmire asked Richard Sherman what he thought of white folks with dreads.
• An important how-to: Pulling off the perfect sports photobomb.
• Today's video doesn't take long to watch. Don't ever change, Pop.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Maybe you’re wondering why the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics to a Russian resort town with an average winter temperature in the 40s and a dearth of snow. You aren’t alone. $ince nobody know$ why the Committee doe$ anything, the $election will remain a mystery.
But potentially balmy temperatures are just one of the potential problems facing Sochi, which sits on the Black Sea and features lush vegetation and a “humid subtropical” climate. Political issues abound, corruption has been a constant and the threat of violence from neighboring parties is very real.
Let the games begin!
Snowball’s chance in…Sochi?
So, the IOC picked one of the few places in Russia that doesn’t get cold. Brilliant! In fact, events have been cancelled there over the past couple years because of high temperatures, rain and insufficient flake totals. What do you expect from a place that has palm trees? Does this mean the alpine and Nordic events will be contested via video games? Nope. Those clever Russians have been stockpiling snow for a year, hiding it under special blankets, and have 400 snow cannons at the ready to dust the mountains. They’re saving water to freeze, too. And there’s plenty of it. Heavy rains in September led to mudslides and the declaration of a state of emergency. It may be the winter sports equivalent of plastic surgery, but at least the show will go on. Probably.
Graft, Corruption, Business as Usual
According to a report issued by the country’s opposition leaders last May, nearly $30 billion of the $51 billion Olympic budget has gone to businessmen and government officials in the form of bribes and kickbacks. There were few, if any, competitive bids for work, and friends of President Vladimir Putin have profited greatly. “The Sochi Olympics are an unprecedented thieves’ caper, in which representatives of Putin’s government are mixed up, along with the oligarchs close to the government,” wrote former deputy prime minister and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Law and Order (Hopefully)
You may remember that the Russians had a little dust-up with the breakaway republic of Chechnya at the end of the last century. Despite a victory by the favorites, there has been some continued violence there and in the neighboring areas of Dagestan and Ingushetia, which just happen to be close to Sochi.
In October, a suicide bomber with ties to Chechen Islamic militants blew up a bus in southern Russia, killing six. Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has called for attacks on civilians and urged his charges to target the Olympics. Surveillance will be high, both by old-style spies and via newfangled electronic methods.
Expect plenty of undesirables to be collected and relocated to areas where they can do no harm. The Russians will deploy between 40-50,000 police and soldiers. They’ll use drone helicopters. There will be a naval presence in the Black Sea. Cossacks will maraud through the streets. Okay, so maybe that last one is a little over the top. But these have been nicknamed the “Gulag Olympics” by some human-rights activists.
Discrimination R Us
In a move that would have made Joe Stalin proud, Putin in June signed a law prohibiting the promotion of “nontraditional” sexual relationships to minors. Gay athletes and spectators fear arrest and harassment. Advocates are howling that the IOC refuses to confront Russia on this law and declare it in violation of the Olympic anti-discrimination principles. When IOC liaison Jean-Claude Killy announced that “The spirit of the Games is awakening here,” he was ridiculed for accommodating a government that traffics in hate, prejudice and violence. Some athletes vow to defy the law, which allows Russian leaders to express homophobic attitudes on TV. New Zealand has promised to protect its gay athletes, most notably speed skater Blake Skjellerup, who plans to compete with a rainbow pin on his uniform, in direct violation of the law. It will be interesting to see how the Russians deal with him and if they are capable of taking the world stage without behaving offensively.
—By Michael Bradley
With Cody Kessler entrenched as the starter, and Max Browne expected to push for playing time this spring, Max Wittek was the odd man out in the USC quarterback derby. And with limited playing time likely on tap for 2014, Wittek has decided to transfer from USC.
Since he will graduate from USC, Wittek will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.
In two years with the Trojans, Wittek completed 50 of 95 passes for 600 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.
After Matt Barkley suffered a season-ending injury against UCLA, Wittek started the final two games in 2012, including a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
Even though Wittek struggled in his two seasons at USC, he was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and was a top-100 recruit by Rivals.
Considering Wittek has upside and immediate eligibility, several FBS are expected to be interested in the California native this spring.
Beyond the quarterbacks, Tennessee and Wisconsin have their fair share of rooting interests in the Super Bowl.
Led by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, no school will have more of their former players in the Super Bowl than the Volunteers. Manning and three others play for Denver.
Wisconsin isn’t far behind with four players in the Super Bowl. Wilson is one of three Badgers on the Seahawks 53-man roster heading into Sunday.
Beyond the colleges for the two quarterbacks in the Super Bowl, certain corners of the state of California will be watching their own favorite sons. The state of California produced 22 players on Super Bowl rosters, as many as the next two states combined.
Athlon Sports mapped the 53-man rosters for both the Seahawks and the Broncos by college and high school. Here’s what we found:
The maps are interactive. Zoom in and out to check different areas and find names of each player. The Broncos are marked in orange, and the Seahawks are marked in green.
Where the Super Bowl players went to college
• Gary Andersen may be the coach with more reasons to brag than others. On the one hand, he can sell the four Super Bowl players at his current stop at Wisconsin, including running back Montee Ball for the Broncos and linebacker O’Brien Schofield, defensive back Chris Maragos and Wilson for the Seahawks.
Andersen, a first-year coach in 2013, can’t really play up player development for those four, but he can for linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin, two Seahawks who played for Andersen at Utah State.
• After Tennessee (five) and Wisconsin (four), some of the usual suspects have three players in the Super Bowl: Florida, Georgia, Stanford, Texas and USC.
Among the surprises with three apiece include Kentucky (linebackers Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard and tight end Jacob Tamme), San Diego State (running back Ronnie Hillman, linebacker Heath Farwell and long snapper Aaron Brewer) and Texas Tech (wide receiver Wes Welker and guards Louis Vasquez and Manny Ramirez).
• NC State has up to four players in the Super Bowl, assuming you count Wilson. The Seahawks quarterback graduated from NC State before transferring to Wisconsin. The other NC State products in the Super Bowl are linebacker Nate Irving, defensive end J.R. Sweezy and kicker Steven Hauschka.
• Schools conspicuously absent from the Super Bowl include rivals Ohio State and Michigan.
• The SEC rules again: The league’s current lineup produced 22 players in the Super Bowl from 10 different schools. Only Auburn, Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are absent.
After the SEC’s 22, the Pac-12 checked in with 16 and the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten with 11 each.
Where the Super Bowl players went to high school
A tip of the hat to Dallas Jackson of NationalHSFootball.com for his charts of each players' high school details. Check his site for where each player ranked as a recruit:
Denver Broncos | Seattle Seahawks
• California led all home states with 22 players taking up 106 roster spots. The Golden State’s high total isn’t that surprising. However, that California’s total equalled that of Texas (12) and Florida (10) is surprising considering all three are considered on equal footing in recruiting.
The next most represented states were Georgia (eight) and Virginia (six).
• Two high schools will have two players each in the Super Bowl: Norfolk (Va.) Maury claims graduates Kam Chancellor, a Seattle defensive back, and Vinston Painter, a Broncos offensive tackle. Both went to college at Virginia Tech.
Colony High in Ontario, Calif., produced Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner and Denver cornerback Omar Bolden.
“Five-star” is a term in recruiting reserved for the nation’s elite. Roughly 30 players each year are awarded the coveted fifth star next to their name by the recruiting websites.
According to MaxPreps.com, there are roughly 15,000 high school football teams in this country. So if each team has on average 20 seniors, that is roughly 300,000 senior football players in the country who are looking for scholarships to play college football.
However, just over 3,000 of those — or less than one percent — will sign a Letter of Intent with an FBS program on National Signing Day next Wednesday (125 FBS schools X 25 scholarship offers per year = 3,125 signees per year).
So about one percent of one percent of high-school senior football players will be ranked a “five-star” prospect. And only one percent of anyone signing an LOI next week will have a five-star rating.
Does that mean every five-star athlete is a lock to be a superstar and future NFL first-round pick? Of course, not. But Hall of Fame college football names like Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Jameis Winston, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Murray, Matt Barkley, Manti Te’o, Jadeveon Clowney and dozens of others have been extremely deserving of their five-star ranking.
But who are the names that didn’t deserve it? Who are the biggest five-star busts of the last 10 years? Who are the forgotten names once ballyhooed on message boards across the Internet only to fall into college football obscurity forever?
Below is a year-by-year breakdown of the biggest five-star busts of the last 10 recruiting cycles (since 2005).
Note: For the sake of consistency, the composite 247Sports ranking was used for each class.
Class of 2005 (38)
Busts: Fred Rouse (No. 5), Ryan Perrilloux (No. 6), Callahan Bright (No. 18), Melvin Alaeze (No. 20), Jason Gwaltney (No. 25), Marques Slocum (No. 34)
There were plenty of names who didn’t live up to expectations in this group but were contributors (Michigan fans remember Kevin Grady, for example). However, this group also has a long list of talented youngsters with major off-the-field issues. Names like Alaeze, Perrilloux, Rouse and Bright all had major legal issues either shortly after arriving on campus or before even getting to school. Rouse was was kicked off Florida State when he robbed a teammate and Alaeze was sentenced to eight years in prison in December 2006. Injuries slowed names like Gwaltney while grades stopped players like Bright. In all, this is one of the worst five-star classes in the modern era of recruiting rankings.
Deserving: Michael Oher, Darren McFadden, Brian Cushing, DeSean Jackson, Jonathan Stewart, Kenny Phillips, Rey Maualuga, Eugene Monroe, Derrick Williams, Mark Sanchez
Class of 2006 (29)
Busts: Vidal Hazelton (No. 3), Mitch Mustain (No. 7), Antwine Perez (No. 21), Marcus Ball (No. 29)
There were a lot of elite players (see below) and plenty of solid contributors in this five-star class (See: Stafon Johnson, Allen Bradford, Carl Johnson), so the recruiting services did a pretty good job in 2006. Hazelton was a top-five recruit and a signing saga with his father got his career off track early. Mustain, Perez and Ball all transferred and none accomplished anything more than Mustain’s freshman run of eight straight wins as the starter. It was the peak of his career on a gridiron while Perez and Ball never made any sort of impact for USC or Florida State respectively. This was one of the best five-star classes ever evaluated.
Deserving: Andre Smith, Percy Harvin, Sergio Kindle, Myron Rolle, Matthew Stafford, Sam Young, Beanie Wells, Taylor Mays, Micah Johnson, Gerald McCoy, Brandon Graham, Tim Tebow, C.J. Spiller, DeMarco Murray, Ricky Sapp, LeSean McCoy, Maurice Evans
Class of 2007 (26)
Busts: Aaron Corp (No. 19), Eugene Clifford (No. 25), John Brantley (No. 26)
The ’07 five-star class didn’t have many elite superstars (Eric Berry, Noel Devine) nor did it have many total busts (Corp, Clifford). This group was loaded with middle-of-the-pack contributors who were solid players but never deserved five-star rankings: Jimmy Clausen, Joe McKnight, Ronald Johnson, Everson Griffin, Chris Galippo, Marc Tyler and Terrance Toliver just to name a few. Quarterbacks will always be judged harshly and John Brantley and Aaron Corp both had their shot at power programs to become “the guy” and both fell flat on their faces. Deonte Thompson, John Chiles, Torrey Davis, Ben Martin and Tray Allen weren’t complete busts but weren’t stars either.
Deserving: Eric Berry, Marvin Austin, Ryan Mallett, Noel Devine, Arrelious Benn, Carlos Dunlap, Josh Oglesby, Martez Wilson, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Miller
Class of 2008 (27)
Busts: Darrell Scott (No. 4), Jermie Calhoun (No. 9), Blake Ayles (No. 15), Dayne Crist (No. 19), Tyler Love (No. 21), B.J. Scott (No. 26)
This group has some elite superstars like Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Matt Kalil, Patrick Peterson and Da’Quan Bowers. But it also has a long list of true busts — all of which happened for different reasons. Scott was never committed to playing football, Calhoun wasn’t good enough while Ayles and Crist were hurt too much to make an impact. Tyler Love won a couple of titles with Alabama but never played and retired before his eligibility ran out while Scott transferred to South Alabama (where he was a solid player). This was a class with big hits (Jones, Green, etc) and big misses (Darrell Scott).
Deserving: Da’Quan Bowers, Terrelle Pryor, Julio Jones, Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green, Arthur Brown, Jonathan Baldwin, Michael Floyd, Michael Brewster, Matt Kalil, Mike Adams, Brandon Harris, EJ Manuel
Class of 2009 (30)
Busts: Bryce Brown (No. 2), Russell Shepard (No. 3), Gary Brown (No. 11), Andre Debose (No. 15), Dorian Bell (No. 20), Darius Winston (No. 24)
While the ’08 class seemed to be a group of busts and stars, the ’09 group features a large number of guys who weren’t either — and a bunch of guys who don’t really have a category. Jacobbi McDaniel, Xavier Nixon and Devon Kennard all were solid players but didn’t develop into special players. Meanwhile, Greg Reid was a special talent who couldn’t stay focused off the field for Florida State. Garrett Gilbert was a bust for Texas but was No. 2 in total offense nationally in 2013 for SMU. Andre Debose was supposed to be the second coming of Percy Harvin but could never stay healthy (or productive). Christine Michael was Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was a second-round pick but could never stay healthy. Rueben Randle and Craig Loston were excellent players for LSU but were they the No. 1 player in the nation at their position? Chris Davenport and Russell Shepard were just okay for the Tigers and Davenport was solid for Tulane last fall after transferring. Bryce Brown, Gary Brown and Dorian Bell are the truest “busts” in this group as all three failed to make any impact in college whatsoever. This group of five-stars is a hodgepodge of everything that makes recruiting impossible to evaluate. Mostly, this is a group of players that were just OK — names like Jamarkus McFarland, Jelani Jenkins, Marlon Brown, Nico Johnson, Donte Paige-Moss and Branden Smith.
Deserving: Matt Barkley, Manti Te’o, Trent Richardson, Vontaze Burfict, Dre Kirkpatrick, Mason Walters, Aaron Murray, D.J. Fluker, Sheldon Richardson
Class of 2010 (30)
Busts: Kyle Prater (No. 11), Jeff Luc (No. 26), Darius White (No. 27)
The evaluators did an amazing job with this class. Of the top 30, nearly 20 of them deserved a fifth star in the rankings as a long list of future NFL stars dot this group. Prater, Luc (right) and White all transferred without making any impact whatsoever at USC, Florida State or Texas respectively. And other names like Ronald Powell, Seantrel Henderson, Mike Davis, Xavier Grimble, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Reggie Wilson, Robert Crisp and Trovon Reed were solid contributors but are neither deserving of five-star nor bust status. What about Da’Rick Rogers and Michael Dyer? They were obviously extremely talented and productive while at Tennessee and Auburn but both were kicked off their teams only to land on their feet elsewhere. Where do they belong?
Deserving: Robert Woods, Dominique Easley, Jackson Jeffcoat, Sharrif Floyd, Jordan Hicks, Marcus Lattimore, Keenan Allen, Lamarcus Joyner, Dee Milliner, Matt Elam, William Gholston, Alec Ogletree, Christian Jones, Josh Shaw, George Uko, Ja’Wuan James, Lache Seastrunk
Class of 2011 (30)
Busts: Isaiah Crowell (No. 6), George Farmer (No. 8), Christian Westerman (No. 10), Trey Metoyer (No. 21)
There is still much left to be determined about this class. Names like Karlos Williams, Brandon Williams, Ray Drew, Curtis Grant and Malcolm Brown have a good chance to improve their legacies in 2014 while others like Christian Westerman, Jeff Driskel, Tony Steward and Ishaq Williams need to make big waves this fall to avoid being labeled a bust. Aaron Lynch is a unique case of obvious five-star talent but bouncing around from South Bend to Tampa will change his college legacy while not impacting his draft status much at all (he is highly regarded by scouts). To date, only Farmer and Metoyer have failed to make some sort of impact — be it good or bad (See: Crowell).
Deserving: Jadeveon Clowney, Cyrus Kouandjio, La’El Collins, Anthony Johnson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Timmy Jernigan, Jarvis Landry, De’Anthony Thomas, Stephone Anthony, Sammy Watkins, Anthony Chickillo, Steve Edmond, James Wilder
Class of 2012 (35)
Busts: Gunner Kiel (No. 27), Thomas Johnson (No. 33)
Even more so than the ’11 cycle, very little is known about this group as a whole. That said, many of these names have already made a huge impact on the positive side of the ledger and this five-star class looks like one of the best in recent memory. Jameis Winston is pretty good, right? What about DGB for Mizzou? What about Pac-12 offensive linemen Andrus Peat and Isaac Seumalo? How about Ohio State D-liners Noah Spence and Aldophus Washington? Or SEC running backs T.J. Yeldon and Keith Marshall? Or Duke Johnson and Tracy Howard at The U? Needless to say, it looks like the talent scouts pegged this class pretty accurately. There are loads of names who look poised to break out in ’14: Darius Hamilton, Eddie Williams, D.J. Humphries, Trey Williams or Arik Armstead. And if signing Winston wasn’t enough for Florida State, a trio of emerging five-stars look poised to defend their title in Mario Edwards, Eddie Goldman and Chris Casher. The closest to joining Kiel and Johnson in the bust category is Rushel Shell, who will need to be very good at West Virginia to avoid the moniker.
Deserving: Dorial Green-Beckham, Shaq Thompson, Noah Spence, Johnathan Gray, Landon Collins, Stefon Diggs, Keith Marshall, Jameis Winston, Duke Johnson, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Adolphus Washington, Tracy Howard, Ronald Darby, Isaac Seumalo, T.J. Yeldon, Andrus Peat, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Jenkins
The Class of 2013 is only a glimmer in the eye of college football fans right now but names like Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Hargreaves, Su’a Cravens, Jalen Ramsey and Christian Hackenberg already looked poised to become superstars (if they aren’t already). And others like O.J. Howard, Derrick Henry, Laquon Treadwell, Kendall Fuller, Thomas Tyner, Chris Jones, Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams might not be too far behind.
Only time will tell if the upcoming group of five-stars, headlined by future LSU tailback Leonard Fournette, will continue the recent trend of spot-on evaluation.
Or if they will go the way of Aaron Corp and Gunner Kiel.
College football’s BCS era ended with Florida State’s victory over Auburn on Jan. 6 in the national championship. With the playoff era set to start next season, lets look back at the BCS era and some of the coaching tenures that were a time to forget for certain fanbases.
Determining the worst coaching tenures for any period is no easy task. Each program has its own set of hurdles to overcome, and all coaches aren’t on equal footing when they take over a job.
In forming Athlon’s list of the top 25 worst coaching tenures of the BCS era, we placed an emphasis on what shape the program is before the coach arrived, how it fared during his tenure, and the short-term effect after his departure. Programs like Eastern Michigan or New Mexico State have traditionally been a difficult place to establish a winning tradition, so it’s hard to punish coaches from both schools (or similar circumstances), even if their record is uninspiring. On the other side, programs like Southern Miss or East Carolina have a track record of success recently. Which makes the 0-12 by Ellis Johnson and 3-20 by John Thompson among the worst tenures of the BCS era (since 1998).
College Football’s Worst 25 Tenures of the BCS Era
1. Mike Locksley, New Mexico
Record: 2-26 (2009-11)
Locksley was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistant coaches and recruiters when he left Illinois to join New Mexico in 2009. The Washington, D.C. native was able to attract some talent to Albuquerque, but it didn’t translate into results on the field. Locksley’s tenure at New Mexico lasted only three years, with his final season ending after the fourth game. Locksley won just two Mountain West games during his tenure and was suspended for one game due to an altercation with an assistant coach.
2. Larry Porter, Memphis
Record: 3-21 (2010-11)
Porter’s tenure is another example of why programs should be reluctant to hire ace recruiters with no head coaching experience. The former Memphis running back was hired as the Tigers’ head coach in 2010 and lasted only two years. Porter didn’t inherit a disaster at Memphis, as Tommy West went 15-23 over his final three years and played in a bowl game in 2008. Porter’s teams were largely uncompetitive, and his three wins came against MTSU (6-7 in 2010), Austin Peay (a FCS opponent) and Tulane (2-11 in 2011). After Porter’s unsuccessful tenure, Memphis got it right by hiring Justin Fuente, who went 4-8 in his first season with the Tigers.
3. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Record: 0-12 (2012)
There aren’t many one-year stints as a college football head coach. But it was clear to Southern Miss after just one season that Johnson wasn’t the right fit for the program. The Golden Eagles turned in arguably their worst season in school history, finishing with an 0-12 mark, with the offense ranking 110th nationally in scoring and the defense finishing 113th in points allowed. Southern Miss was replacing a handful of key contributors from its 2011 squad, but the Golden Eagles still had enough talent in the program to compete for a bowl bid. Johnson is an excellent defensive coordinator, but Southern Miss clearly made the right call to pull the plug after one season.
4. John Thompson, East Carolina
Record: 3-20 (2003-04)
After Steve Logan was fired in 2002, the Pirates made a big mistake by hiring Thompson. In the two years prior to Thompson’s arrival, East Carolina went 10-14. And in two seasons under Thompson, the Pirates slumped to 3-20. However, the program rebounded under Skip Holtz in 2005, winning five games and then seven in ‘06. Thompson is another case of a good coordinator that was not ready to be a head coach. And his record looks even worse when you consider two of his victories came against Army with the other one being Tulane.
5. Rob Ianello, Akron
Record: 2-22 (2010-11)
Prior to taking over at Akron, Ianello had no coordinator experience and was coming off a four-year stint on Charlie Weis’ staff at Notre Dame. The results were disastrous for the Zips. Ianello won just one game in each of his two years in Akron and went winless in MAC play in 2011. The Zips beat Buffalo in 2010 – a Bulls team that went 2-10 – and VMI in ‘11 under Ianello’s watch. Although Ianello’s tenure was a failure, the school deserves poor marks for firing him on the way to his mother’s funeral.
6. Greg Robinson, Syracuse
Record: 10-37 (2005-08)
Although Paul Pasqualoni has struggled at Connecticut, he went 26-23 over his last four seasons at Syracuse from 2001-04. While Robinson wasn’t inheriting a roster full of talent, he wasn’t getting a bare cupboard either. The Orange went from being a consistent bowl team to one that struggled just to get a couple of wins a year under Robinson’s watch. The Orange never won more than one Big East game in a single year under Robinson, and he recorded the program’s only double-digit losing seasons.
7. Todd Dodge, North Texas
Record: 6-37 (2007-10)
You have to credit North Texas for at least thinking outside of the box with Dodge’s hire. After being a successful high school coach in Texas, Dodge was supposed to turn North Texas back into a Sun Belt power. Instead, the Mean Green nosedived into being one of the worst teams in the nation. North Texas went 6-37 under Dodge’s watch and never won more than one conference game from 2007-10. Considering where North Texas is on college football’s food chain, a hire like Dodge is worth the risk. However, the Mean Green are still trying to dig out from his tenure, as Dan McCarney is just 9-15 over the last two years.
8. Turner Gill, Kansas
Record: 5-19 (2010-11)
Surprising. That’s the one word that comes to mind when mentioning Gill’s tenure at Kansas. Although his record at Buffalo – not an easy place to win – wasn’t overly impressive (20-30), he did lead the Bulls to a bowl game and a MAC Championship in 2008. Gill inherited a Kansas team that went 5-7 in Mark Mangino’s last season (2009), but the Jayhawks regressed in 2010-11. Kansas won just one Big 12 game under Gill’s watch – a 52-45 victory over Colorado – and finished 2011 on a 10-game losing streak. Considering the high expectations surrounding his arrival, Gill might be one of the most disappointing hires of the BCS era.
9. Carl Franks, Duke
Record: 7-45 (1999-2003)
It’s not easy to maintain success at Duke. But it’s also hard to ignore a 7-45 record over five years. Franks came to Durham from Florida, as he served as an assistant with Steve Spurrier from 1990-98 in Gainesville. Franks also had experience at Duke, as he played for the Blue Devils and later coached there from 1987-89. The high point of Franks’ tenure was a 3-8 mark in 1999, but that record was followed up by back-to-back 0-11 seasons. The Blue Devils never won an ACC game in Franks’ final full three years at Duke.
10. Ted Roof, Duke
Record: 6-45 (2003-07)
As mentioned with Carl Franks, winning at Duke is no easy task. However, the Blue Devils can be much more competitive than they were under Franks and Roof. After taking over for Franks in 2003, Roof guided Duke to a 2-3 finish, including a 30-22 win over rival North Carolina. However, the momentum was short-lived, as the Blue Devils won only four games over the next four years. Duke also went winless in ACC play from 2005-07 under Roof’s guidance.
11. Jon Embree, Colorado
Record: 4-21 (2011-12)
Even though Embree was a Colorado alum, he was a questionable hire from the start. The former Buffaloes’ tight end had no coordinator or head coach experience and was serving as a tight ends’ coach for the Redskins prior to his arrival in Boulder in 2011. Embree didn’t inherit the best situation following Dan Hawkins, but Colorado showed little improvement under his watch. The Buffaloes went 3-11 in Embree’s first year and managed to win two out of their final three games. However, Colorado was arguably one of the worst teams of the BCS era in 2012, losing to Colorado State and Sacramento State to start the year and was demolished by Fresno State 69-14 in Week 3. Embree played a lot of young players and dealt with some injuries to key personnel, but the Buffaloes struggled mightily and his 1-11 season is the worst in Colorado history.
12. Kevin Steele, Baylor
Record: 9-36 (1999-2002)
Steele is a highly regarded defensive assistant but had a dismal stint as a head coach at Baylor. The South Carolina native was hired at Baylor in 1999, after spending four years as an assistant with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Prior to his arrival in Waco, Steele had no head coaching experience – and it clearly showed. The Bears had three consecutive losing seasons before Steele’s debut, but Baylor backtracked under his watch. The Bears went 1-10 in 1999 and then 8-26 in the next three years. Steele’s biggest blunder came against UNLV in 1999, as he chose to run a play instead of kneeling down with 12 seconds left. Baylor fumbled on that play, and the turnover was returned by UNLV for a touchdown, giving the Rebels a 27-24 victory.
13. Bobby Wallace, Temple
Record: 19-71 (1998-2004)
After leading North Alabama to three Division II championships from 1993-95, Wallace appeared to be the right coach to make Temple competitive in the Big East. He managed to make some progress, as the Owls won four games for three consecutive years. Although four victories may not seem like much, Temple had not won more than three games in a season since 1990. However, Wallace didn’t make enough progress under his watch, and the Owls were dismissed from the Big East after the 2004 season. Temple was forced to play 2005 as an Independent and posted a dreadful 0-11 record. The highlight of Wallace’s tenure? A 28-24 win over then-Big East memberVirginia Tech in Blacksburg in 1998.
14. Vic Koenning, Wyoming
Record: 5-29 (2000-02)
When Koenning was promoted to replace Dana Dimel, Wyoming had put together seven consecutive years of six or more wins, including a 10-2 mark in 1996. However, Koenning was unable to continue that momentum, and the Cowboys fell into the bottom of the Mountain West. Under Koenning’s watch, Wyoming went 5-29, which included only one win in conference play and two others against FCS opponents. Koenning is a solid defensive coordinator but was overmatched as a head coach.
15. Terry Shea, Rutgers
Record: 11-44 (1996-2000)
Shea’s tenure started just outside of the BCS era, but his three years in the required timeframe were a struggle. Rutgers went 2-20 in his first two seasons and recorded a 9-24 mark over the final three years. Shea did manage to go 5-6 in 1998 but was blown out by Temple in 1999 and 2000 and went a combined 4-18 from 1999-2000. The cupboard wasn’t full for Shea when he arrived at Rutgers, as Doug Graber didn’t fare better than .500 in his final three seasons. However, Shea did little to build on the mild success Graber had in 1991 (6-5) and ‘92 (7-4).
16. Stan Parrish, Ball State
Record: 6-19 (2008-10)
If this was a list of all-time worst coaching tenures, Parrish’s 2-30-1 record at Kansas State from 1986-88 would rank near the top. While Parrish’s tenure at Ball State was bad, it wasn’t quite as bad as his previous stop at Kansas State. The Cardinals went 6-19 under his watch, which was a clear backtrack from the progress made under Brady Hoke (19-7 in 2007-08). The Cardinals also lost two games to FCS opponents under Parrish.
17. Todd Berry, Army
Record: 5-35 (2000-03)
Considering how difficult it has been to win at Army, it’s unfair to punish Berry too much in these rankings. However, his tenure in West Point was largely uncompetitive. Berry was hired to resurrect a program that had five losing seasons over the last six years, but he struggled mightily in his tenure, winning just one game in his debut season and posting a 1-11 mark in 2002. Berry was dismissed after an 0-6 start in 2003. Army is not an easy place to maintain success, but Berry’s decision to run a pro-style offense proved to be too difficult of a transition for a program that was acclimated to option attacks.
18. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Record: 15-21 (2010-12)
Tennessee was caught in a bad spot when the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll away from USC, which prompted Lane Kiffin to bolt Knoxville for Los Angeles. Kiffin’s mid-January move didn’t leave the Volunteers much time to find a new coach before Signing Day. Dooley came to Tennessee from Louisiana Tech after a 17-20 record in three years with the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech did make small gains under Dooley, which included a bowl game in 2008. However, he failed to bring much improvement to Knoxville, as the Volunteers went 15-21 under his watch and went 4-19 in SEC play. Considering the coaching turnover in Knoxville from Phil Fulmer to Kiffin to Dooley in just three years, Tennessee had to go through a lot of transition in a short time. However, Dooley winning just one SEC game in two years is simply unacceptable at a program that has all of the resources and tradition necessary to compete for SEC East titles.
19. Paul Wulff, Washington State
Record: 9-40 (2008-11)
At the time of his hire, Wulff seemed to be a good fit at Washington State. He was a former player with the Cougars and spent eight years at Eastern Washington, accumulating a 53-40 record. Wulff also took EWU to three playoff appearances. After a successful run under Mike Price, Washington State declined under Bill Doba, posting three losing seasons in five years. Wulff wasn’t inheriting a full cupboard, but the program wasn’t in terrible shape either. The Cougars were dreadful in Wulff’s first year, beating only Portland State and an 0-12 Washington team. Things didn’t get much better in year two, as Washington State went 1-11 and failed to win a Pac-12 game. The Cougars were more competitive in Wulff’s third season and won four games in 2011. However, that wasn’t enough for Wulff to return for 2012. Wulff’s tenure at Washington State ended with a dismal 4-32 record in Pac-12 play.
20. John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record: 4-8 (2012)
It’s unfair to pin all of Arkansas’ struggles in 2012 on Smith. The Razorbacks were left in a bad spot after Bobby Petrino was fired in April, and it’s no easy task finding a head coach in May for the upcoming season. No matter what coach was on the sidelines in Fayetteville last year, the transition from Petrino was going to cost Arkansas a couple of games. But after winning 21 games from 2010-11, the Razorbacks were one of college football’s biggest disappointments in 2012, and Smith has to shoulder a chunk of the blame. Arkansas’ 2012 season began to unravel in Week 2 after an overtime loss to ULM, and the Razorbacks were pummeled by Alabama 52-0 the following Saturday. Arkansas won three out of four games in the middle of the season, but it wasn’t enough. Considering the talent on that team, Arkansas’ 2012 campaign will be one of the most disappointing in school history.
21. Jim Hofner, Buffalo
Record: 8-49 (2001-05)
Hofner came to Buffalo in 2001, which was shortly after the Bulls moved from the FCS to the FBS ranks. While the transition to the FBS wasn’t expected to be easy, Buffalo was largely uncompetitive under Hofner’s watch. The Bulls went 8-49 in his tenure and never won more than three games in a season. Buffalo had back-to-back 1-11 seasons from 2002-03, and Hofner finished his tenure with a dismal 1-10 mark. One of the few highlights of the Hofner era was a 36-6 win over Central Michigan in Brian Kelly’s first season.
22. Chuck Long, San Diego State
Record: 9-27 (2006-08)
Despite having a location in a fertile recruiting area, San Diego State has struggled to maintain success. After the failed Tom “Air” Craft era, the Aztecs made a splash by hiring Long from Oklahoma. Although Long was regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, San Diego State didn’t show much progress under his watch. The Aztecs went 3-9 in 2006, 4-8 in ‘07 and slipped to 2-10 in ‘08. The program also lost twice to FCS opponent Cal Poly under Long’s direction.
23. Tom Holmoe, California
Record: 9-31 (1998-2001)
Holmoe inherited a California team that was coming off a 6-6 mark in Steve Mariucci’s one and only season in Berkeley. The Golden Bears went 8-14 in Holmoe’s first two years but faded over the final three seasons. California went 4-7 in 1999 and then recorded a 4-18 mark over the final two years of Holmoe’s tenure. The Golden Bears failed to win a Pac-10 game in 2001 and their 1-10 overall mark is the worst in school history. California also ran into NCAA trouble after Holmoe’s tenure, as the program was forced to forfeit four wins from 1999 and was banned from postseason play in 2002 due to the use of ineligible players. Holmoe failed to beat Stanford once during his tenure, and the program quickly rebounded once Jeff Tedford was hired, winning seven games in 2002.
24. Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss
Record: 10-25 (2005-07)
Orgeron did a good job of assembling talent in Oxford, as his recruiting class in 2006 was ranked No. 15 nationally by Athlon Sports. But a good portion of the highlights from Orgeron’s tenure were on the recruiting trail. Ole Miss won only three SEC games from 2005-08 and never made a bowl appearance under Orgeron. Three of Orgeron’s wins came against Memphis and three more came against FCS opponents. In 2008, one year after Orgeron was fired, Houston Nutt went 9-4 and led the Rebels to a win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Orgeron was hired due to his recruiting ties, but he had no head coaching experience prior to his arrival in Oxford.
25. Walt Harris, Stanford
Record: 6-17 (2005-06)
After a respectable 52-44 mark in eight years with Pittsburgh from 1997-2004, Harris decided to leave the Steel City for the Farm. The veteran coach had a tough assignment taking over the program after Buddy Teevens went 10-23 in three years, but Stanford went 5-6 in Harris’ first year. However, things fell apart for Harris in his second season, as the Cardinal went 1-11 in 2006. Stanford’s offense struggled after quarterback Trent Edwards was lost for the year, but the Cardinal was largely uncompetitive all season. Harris caught a bad break with Edwards’ injury, but the program was headed in the wrong direction, and dismissing him after two years proved to be the right move.
Other Bad Tenures of the BCS Era
|Years at School||Record|
|Dean Pees, Kent State||1998-03||17-51|
|Mike DeBord, Central Michigan||2000-03||12-34|
|Buddy Teeves, Stanford||2002-04||10-23|
|Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville||2007-09||15-21|
|Gary Nord, UTEP||2000-03||14-34|
|Keith Burns, Tulsa||2000-02||7-28|
|Jeff Woodruff, EMU||2000-03||9-34|
|Brian Knorr, Ohio||2001-04||11-35|
|Jeff Genyk, EMU||2004-08||16-42|
|Tom Cable, Idaho||2000-03||11-35|
|Nick Holt, Idaho||2004-05||5-18|
|Brent Guy, Utah State||2005-08||9-38|
|Tyrone Willingham, Washington||2005-08||11-37|
|Mike Haywood, Pittsburgh||2010||0-0|
|Rich Rodriguez, Michigan||2008-10||15-22|