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Path: /college-football/miamis-defense-or-virginia-techs-offense-which-bigger-concern-2014

The ACC Coastal has been one of the toughest divisions to predict over the last few years, and nothing is expected to change in 2014.

In 2012, North Carolina, Miami and Georgia Tech tied for the division crown at 5-3. Last year, Duke won the Coastal with a 6-2 mark but three teams finished just a game behind the Blue Devils.

It’s hard to find much separation among the top six teams in the Coastal this year, so it may take another 5-3 record in conference play to win the division.

Miami and Virginia Tech are considered among the favorites to win the Coastal in 2014, but both teams have big question marks. The Hurricanes have struggled on defense over the last two seasons, and the Hokies’ offense is a concern after averaging only 22.8 points per game in ACC games in 2013.

Considering how tight the top six teams are expected to be within the division, slight improvement by Virginia Tech’s offense or Miami’s defense could be enough to vault either team into the top spot.

Athlon Sports’ preseason magazines are set to hit the newsstands in late May/early June, and it’s time to settle some of the biggest debates for 2014. Over the next few weeks, will dive into some of the key topics by conference and some of the debates that will shape preseason predictions for this year.

Miami's Defense or Virginia Tech's Offense: Which is a Bigger Concern in 2014?

Steven Lassan ()
This is a close call, but I have to say the Miami defense. Over the last two years, the Hurricanes are the only unit in the ACC to allow over six yards per play in conference games. And despite having three straight top-15 recruiting classes, Miami has showed very little improvement on defense. With upperclassmen like end Anthony Chickillo, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Tracy Howard, this unit has to take a step forward in 2014. The depth has certainly improved for Miami’s defense over the last two years, but the pass rush (just 12 sacks in ACC games last year) and stopping the run are still a concern. The offenses in the Coastal aren’t particularly prolific, but the Hurricanes still have to face Georgia Tech, an improving Pittsburgh offense, North Carolina, Duke and Florida State and Louisville in crossover play. Virginia Tech’s offense may not show much improvement in the stat column, but the Hokies have a very favorable schedule, and the skill players around new quarterback Mark Leal are improving. Also, with a Virginia Tech defense expected to be among the best in the nation, the Hokies won’t need to make a significant jump in production to win the Coastal. It’s tough to put either team in the top 25 for 2014 with the question marks surrounding both squads, but I have more concerns about Miami’s defense heading into the fall.

Mark Ross
For me, it's Virginia Tech's offense, as the improvement or lack thereof from this side of the ball will likely determine how the Hokies' 2014 campaign shakes out. Consider this: Virginia Tech's offense finished 99th or worse among FBS teams last year in total, scoring and rushing offense yet the Hokies still won eight games. What's more, all three of their conference losses were by seven or fewer points, including a three-point home loss to Duke that ended up determining the Coastal Division champion. Now while it's hard to see the defense repeat its top-11 national showing in all four major categories this season, especially with so much talent and experience having departed, there's no reason to expect a dramatic drop-off either, not as long as coordinator Bud Foster is in charge.

No the bugaboo for Frank Beamer's team the last couple of years has been the offense, but maybe this is the year coordinator Scott Loeffler finds his rhythm with his personnel and things come together. Quarterback is a big question mark, but the addition of Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer gives Loeffler another option to consider, as Brewer will provide Mark Leal with competition for the starting job when fall camp opens. Virginia Tech doesn't lack for playmakers per se, but the running backs and wide receivers are still relatively unproven and have yet to produce on a consistent basis. That said, the schedule shapes up nicely with Boston College and Wake Forest the crossover games from the Atlantic Division and Georgia Tech and Miami coming to Lane Stadium. As long as the defense doesn't take too much of a step backwards, Virginia Tech should at least contend for yet another division title. And if the offense can show even moderate improvement, then it's possible that the Hokies could get back to double-digit wins, something this program did consistently not too long ago.

John Cassillo, (),
To me, this is pretty clear: Virginia Tech's offense is the bigger concern, and I don't even think it's close. The Hokies' offense has been phenomenally bad these past couple years, especially last year when they pretty much hit rock bottom (100th in points per game and 102nd in yards per game). Problem is, though, they might end up sinking deeper. Offensive line's a consistent issue and now without Logan Thomas -- flawed as he was, he was the team's only real offensive weapon -- they'll need to figure out how to protect an inexperienced passer, too. At the running back position, there will be additional stress placed on sophomore Trey Edmunds too, as he'll largely be relied upon to guide Tech's offense in the early going. All seems like a recipe for disaster.

Miami's defense certainly has some work to do, but at least they have the pieces to do it. Their collection of young defensive backs showed an ability to ball-hawk last year and should continue to develop. The 'Canes also showed themselves capable of getting after opposing QBs, increasing their sacks numbers by 16 compared to 2012. They'll lose a couple of those contributors, but you have to like the potential of what they bring back -- especially when comparing it to what Virginia Tech loses (and still fails to possess) on offense.

David Fox ()
Virginia Tech’s offense has to be the bigger concern. This unit used to be fairly consistent with a run game that was fairly automatic. When Hokies had an above average quarterback, they were a top-10 or top-five team. That’s changed in recent years. Virginia Tech’s offense has been in decline. The Hokies’ yards per play performance has dropped every season starting in 2010. Same with yards per carry. That includes one season with David Wilson as the primary tailback and two with NFL prospect Logan Thomas at quarterback. Miami at least improved defensively last season and has enough returning personnel to be optimistic that trend can continue. Miami returns seven starters on defense, including Anthony Chickillo, Denzel Perryman and Tracy Howard. That’s a high-level player at each level of the defense. I’m not sure if Virginia Tech has that equivalent on offense. 

Ryan Tice (), 
Miami’s defense is the bigger concern, simply because quarterback Ryan Williams just went down with a torn ACL and that side of the ball will have to carry a heavier load. The presence of linebacker Denzel Perryman definitely helps. 

Last year, the Canes’ defense ranked 89th nationally with an average of 426 yards allowed per game, and they were the main culprit in the squad’s three-game losing streak. FSU scored 41 points, followed by Virginia Tech going off for 42 and then Duke got in on the fun with 48.

Another concern is that Louisville, who the Canes open up against on Sept. 1, had their way against Miami’s defense in the Russell Athletic Bowl — although the Cardinals must obviously replace quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Braden Gall ()
Both sides of this argument should be major cause for concern heading into the first year of College Football Playoff – especially for two coaches entering critical years at their respective schools and with expectations of a division title looming. But the answer has to be Tech's offense. Yes, Miami has allowed big chunks of yards in each of the last two seasons but there was progress, however small, a year ago. And with very talented names stepping into starring roles as juniors and seniors — Denzel Perryman, Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Anthony Chickillo — there are at least some excellent pieces for Al Golden to work with in Coral Gables. Frank Beamer and Scott Loeffler have little in the way of proven big-play talent on the offensive roster returning with the exception of possibly Trey Edmunds. And while Logan Thomas likely ruined more than a few Saturday evenings in Blacksburg, he also set offensive records for the Hokies and there is virtually zero experience returning at the QB position. Texas Tech's Michael Brewer is the wildcard and could save the day, but he has his hands full when he arrives this summer. Until then, I will say Miami's defense has more upside and potential.

Matt McClusky, (), 
The real concern for both teams, along with every other team in the ACC for that matter, has to be the fact that Florida State is still playing football. But, other than the Seminoles waiting as a roadblock down the line, I would say Miami's defense is probably a bigger "concern" than Virginia Tech's offense.

I write that because, well, Miami's defense couldn't get much worse than it was in 2013. The Hurricanes finished ranked No. 13 in total defense in the ACC last season -- that's out of 14 total teams. '13 was such a bad year on that side of the ball that UM recorded a meager 12 sacks in eight conference games, not exactly a stat to brag about for such a vaunted program. The secondary wasn't much better than the guys up front either, being routinely burned for big plays. Things were so un-Miami like, that opponents hung 40 or more points on the Hurricanes during a three-week stretch in November, a list of teams that included Virginia Tech.

Sure, the Hokies obviously have issues to be worked out on offense this coming season, but it's Miami with Coastal Division championship aspirations (along with, I'm sure, delusional hopes of a national championship). And for the 'Canes to follow through on any preseason goals or hype, they'll have to put things together defensively quickly because the season opens at Louisville with a trip to Nebraska and a home date with Florida State. The likes of Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyriq McCord need to step up, something most observers expect to see happen, or defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will be looking for work before Thanksgiving and Miami will once again play little brother to those boys upstate.

Miami's Defense or Virginia Tech's Offense: Which is a Bigger Concern in 2014?
Post date: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/new-uniforms-coming-mississippi-state-2014

Mississippi State has updated its uniform and helmet combination a couple of times under coach Dan Mullen, and it appears the Bulldogs will make a few tweaks for 2014.

According to this photo tweeted by @LoganLowery, Mississippi State’s new uniforms will resemble one of their uniforms from the 1990s. The jerseys feature stripes on the shoulders, along with “Hail State” above the number.

This isn’t a huge change for Mississippi State, and the jerseys will just be worn against Southern Miss on Aug. 30.

Here's a look at the new jerseys for the Bulldogs in 2014:



New Uniforms Coming for Mississippi State in 2014
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 18:12
Path: /college-football/union-story-continues-dominate-offseason-northwestern-qb-siemian

When Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian heard the question about one of his receivers, Miles Shuler, the Wildcats quarterback sighed in relief.

“Awesome, a football question, great,” Siemian said.

Northwestern’s spring practice will come to a close Saturday, but Wednesday was another clear indication what happens on the field for the Wildcats continues to be the secondary story in Evanston.

Siemian on the Big Ten spring football teleconference on Wednesday. Northwestern players filed for employee cards in January, but Siemian said he will vote against forming a union, a plan set in motion by Siemian's former teammate, Kain Colter.

“We filed for employee cards; it doesn’t mean a union is right for this university or this school,” Siemian said. “I think that distinction needs to be made. Just because you’re an employee, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a union is the right avenue.”

Siemian, who split time with Colter at quarterback the last two years, faulted himself for not gathering information as much as he could when he and a majority of his teammates signed employee cards in efforts to form a union. The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled members of College Athletes Players' Association are employees and may unionize.

"This all began with the best intentions."
-Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian
Siemian and Northwestern players will vote on unionization on April 25. Siemian said he will vote no.

“This all began with the best intentions,” said Siemian, a fifth-year senior. “I’m treated far better than I deserve here. Introducing a third party or somebody else — our main goals when this began, there were issues with the NCAA we thought we could address and that was one of the ways we could do it.”

include increased stipends, guaranteed sports-related medical coverage, improving graduation rates, allowing players to receive compensation for commercial sponsorships and more.

Siemian said those goals were not addressed with Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald or athletic director Jim Phillips before the move to unionize.

“To say ‘I don’t trust you enough to help us out to address these changes,’ I don’t think that’s the way to go,” Siemian said. “I can only speak for myself, but I feel pretty confident there are other guys on the team that feel pretty similar to me.”

Fitzgerald opened his portion of the teleconference with a request to speak only about football topics. He said his comments Saturday — — stood on their own.

“Out of respect to our players and out of respect to our program, what I said on Saturday is enough to be said,” Fitzgerald said.

That same day, four Northwestern players including Siemian said they were against forming a union.

Four is hardly the 50.1 percent majority vote from Northwestern players required to create a union. However, Fitzgerald, when prompted, gave a ringing endorsement for Siemian’s “leadership.”

Of the four players on record against a union, all are upperclassmen and three are returning starters.

“There’s no question that Trevor is our leader,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s a lot of great leadership now being demonstrated in our locker room. From what I’ve seen from when we got back in January, it’s that there’s no doubt that this is Trevor Siemian’s football team.”

Siemian acknowledged the strange circumstances around Northwestern, including the vote at the end of April that could have a lasting impact in college athletics.

“You’re not going to have everyone on the same page,” Siemian said. “You have different religions, different political views, but at the end of the day you’re teammates. Everyone’s had each other’s back and it’s just a mature locker room.”

Union Story Continues to Dominate Offseason for Northwestern, QB Siemian
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 17:37
Path: /college-football/bo-pelini-shocked-reaction-his-tweet-fauxpelini

For a few minutes and for a small sliver of the college football world, the national championship game was of secondary concern.

In Lincoln, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini sat down to watch the BCS championship game between Florida State and Auburn and fired off this Tweet to his cat-loving doppelganger.

Pelini is not a coach known for his sense of humor, so this public acknowledgement of his own parody account came as a shock. The spur-of-the-moment post garnered more than 10,000 retweets.

“I was aware of it — I don’t know how you couldn’t be aware of it,” Pelini said on Wednesday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. “My wife reminds me of it all the time. I was just sitting around one night thought, what the heck?

“I was surprised how viral it went. I was surprised to see the amount of attention it got.”

It wasn’t the last time Pelini showed he’s just like the rest of us when he’s not in the heat of football season. The Cornhuskers coach, who has been quite vocal with football officials, slyly complained about officiating during Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament loss to Baylor.

Bo Pelini Shocked by Reaction to his Tweet to @FauxPelini
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 15:03
All taxonomy terms: Justin Rose, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2014-majors-no-5-justin-rose

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2014 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 5:

Born: July 30, 1980, Johannesburg, South Africa | Career PGA Tour Wins: 5 (6 on the European Tour) | 2013 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2013 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,146,148 (8th) World Ranking: 8

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Justin Rose is the most technical player in golf, and ordinarily that makes for a good swing on video but a lack of results on the course. The problem, typically, is that those who never stop tinkering never start believing. But somewhere along the way, Justin found belief. His swing doesn't just look good on video; it produces and stands up to intense pressure, as it did on the Sunday of last year’s U.S. Open back nine. He has become so good tee-to-green that he can break holes apart, find specific portions of fairways and greens, and with the exception of being an average putter, is well supported in every other aspect of his game.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 39
Wins: 1

2013 Performance:
Masters - T25
U.S. Open - 1
British Open - Cut
PGA Championship - T33

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T5 (2007)
U.S. Open - 1 (2013)
British Open - T4 (1998)
PGA Championship - T3 (2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 8
Top-25 Finishes: 18
Missed Cuts: 14

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.


Athlon's 2014 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Dustin Johnson, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 12:09
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-april-9-2014

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for April 9.

• Not a huge fan of Ryan Braun. .

, and it was glorious.

. What's a superstar gotta do to get a foul called?


. Let's enjoy these guys while we can.

• Sad news: .

• More sad news: .

• Geno Auriemma won his ninth title last night, breaking a tie with Pat Summitt, .




• Watch a Dutch reporter tumble into a body of water during a live interview.


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

Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 11:23
All taxonomy terms: Dustin Johnson, Golf
Path: /golf/putting-dustin-johnson-slow-and-smooth

The perception is that Dustin's putting has held him back, and that once he starts draining more putts, the sky's the limit. While that may be true to an extent — Johnson ranked 117th on Tour in 2013 in Strokes Gained, Putting — his stroke has allowed him to convert a staggering number of eagles (12 in 71 rounds in 2013) and birdies (25th on Tour in birdie average in 2013). And his putting has been vastly improved this season; entering The Masters, he ranks 19th on Tour in Strokes Gained, Putting, and his slow, smooth stroke seems tailor-made for Augusta's lightning-fast greens. As with his full swing, Johnson's putting stroke hinges on tempo.














My putting stroke is longer and slower than many players out here. Like with the full swing, rhythm is very important, and a longer, slower putting stroke helps me maintain rhythm.

My tendency is to have my hands forward at address, but we've worked hard to keep the putter at a 90-degree angle to my body. I do have a little trigger right before the takeaway where I flex my hands forward slightly, but at address, the putter is at 90 degrees.


Butch Harmon says:

Dustin has done a nice job with his putting. He has an unusual putting stroke — it's very slow, smooth and rhythmic.

Guys like me who grew up on slow greens use a short pop stroke, but for Dustin, his long, rhythmic putting stroke is very effective on the fast greens that he faces on Tour.

I like him to keep his putter at a 90-degree angle relative to his body.

He also uses very light grip pressure — maybe a 3 on a scale of 1-10. Most amateurs grip it much harder.

This article appears in the 2014 issue of Athlon's Golf Annual. .


Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 10:33
Path: /college-football/all-acc-team-bcs-era

All-conference teams are a great indicator as to who is the best in each league. Earning first-team honors more than once is a pretty good sign that you were one of the best at your position during your career. The rare three-time (or even four-time) all-league selection makes you one of the best college football players of all-time.

As the College Football Playoff Era begins in 2014, Athlon Sports is looking back on the last 16 years of action — aka, The BCS Era. Here is the All-BCS Era All-ACC team. The only stipulation (unlike other folks who have done this exercise) is that you must have played at least one season from 1998-13 in the ACC.

First-Team Offense:

QB: Chris Weinke, Florida State (1997-2000)
He led his stacked Florida State squad to an undefeated BCS national title in 1999 over Virginia Tech before returning to win the Heisman Trophy as well as the Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas and Davey O'Brien awards the next season. His team lost two games over that span and one was the 2000 BCS title game against Oklahoma. He is still the ACC's all-time leader in yards per pass attempt (8.9) and was the conference’s all-time most efficient passer with a 151.15 rating until Tajh Boyd (and possibly Jameis Winston) came along. Second-Team: Philip Rivers, NC State

RB: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (2006-09)
With elite burst and big-play ability, Clemson used Spiller in every aspect of the game to great success. He is No. 2 in ACC history in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns and is the NCAA’s all-time leader with seven kickoff return touchdowns. His 2,680 all-purpose yards in 2009 are a single-season ACC record and his 7,588 all-purpose yards are the all-time career record in the ACC by almost 2,000 yards (Leon Johnson, 5,828). No ACC player has scored in more games (34) than Spiller did while at Clemson. Second-Team: Andre Williams, Boston College

RB: Thomas Jones, RB, Virginia (1996-99)
Until 2013, Jones boasted a long list of illustrious ACC rushing records. His 334 carries and 1,798 yards in 1999 were both single-season ACC records (Andre Williams). His six 200-yard games are an ACC record still and he is seventh all-time with 18 100-yard games. Jones is sixth all-time in the ACC in rushing, leading the league twice in 1998 and ‘99, and is tied for 12th all-time with 40 total touchdowns. Jones finished eighth in the Heisman voting in 1999 and was one of two consensus All-American ACC running backs during the BCS Era (Spiller). Second-Team: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

WR: Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech (2004-06)
Appropriately nicknamed Megatron, no player has demonstrated the combination of size and speed that Johnson brought to the Ramblin Wreck offense. The Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek prospect was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2004 before earning back-to-back All-American honors in 2005-06. He owns school records for receiving yards and touchdowns during his time at Tech and claimed the Biletnikoff Award as well as ACC Player of the Year honors in 2006. Second-Team: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

WR: Peter Warrick, Florida State (1995-99)
The phrase all-purpose wasn’t en vogue when Warrick broke onto the scene so the Bradenton (Fla.) Southeast superstar might deserve credit for the invention. And if not for an incident at Dillard’s department store that resulted in a two-game suspension, Warrick likely would have won the Heisman Trophy. The two-time consensus All-American joystick could do it all. His Sugar Bowl MVP performance — and touchdown catch — in the 1999 national championship game (six rec., 163 yds, three total TDs) will go down as one of the greatest national title performances in NCAA history. Second-Team: Torry Holt, NC State

TE: Heath Miller, Virginia (2002-04)
Perhaps the greatest tight end in ACC history, in 2004 Miller became the first player in league history to win the John Mackey Award. He wrote his name into the school and conference record books for receiving by a tight end, setting a new benchmark in all three major receiving categories despite only playing three seasons. However, it wasn’t just his elite receiving ability that made the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder one of the game’s best. Miller relished the blocking side of the game as well. Second-Team: Dwayne Allen, Clemson

T: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Virginia (2002-05)
Ferguson started 49 games in his Virginia career — all at left tackle —  helping the Cavaliers make it to four straight bowl games. He was a two-time, first-team All-ACC selection and earned All-American honors in his final season in Charlottesville. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the New York Jets and has gone to three Pro Bowls. Second-Team: Brett Williams, Florida State

T: Alex Barron, Florida State (2001-04)
The 6-foot-8, 315-pounder was Florida State’s top lineman of the BCS Era. He was a consensus All-American in 2003 and a unanimous All-American in '04. Barron was an Outland Trophy finalist in his final season as well. His teams never won fewer than eight games, won two ACC titles and went 26-6 in conference play over that span. Second-Team: Branden Albert, Virginia

G: Rodney Hudson, Florida State (2007-10)
The mauler from Mobile was a three-time, first-team All-ACC selection, a two-time, first-team All-American and a two-time winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top lineman in the ACC. He is one of only two guards to ever win the award twice (Elton Brown). He helped return Florida State to the ACC Championship Game as a senior in 2010 for the first time since '05. Second-Team: Elton Brown, Virginia

G: Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (2009-12)
The massive Tar Heels blocker was a three-time All-ACC performer and an Outland Trophy finalist in 2012. The unanimous All-American won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the league’s top lineman and eventually was the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cardinals. He paved the way for the ACC’s top running back (Giovani Bernard). Second-Team: Josh Beekman, Boston College

C: Steve Justice, Wake Forest (2004-07)
After enduring two losing seasons as an underclassman, Justice was the first-team All-ACC pivot for arguably the greatest team in school history. He led the way on the 11-win, ACC championship squad of 2006. He came back for his senior year and earned his second first-team All-ACC nod and was a consensus All-American as well. Justice was a Rimington finalist and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top lineman in the ACC in ’07. Second-Team: Craig Page, Georgia Tech

First-Team Defense:

DE: Julius Peppers, North Carolina (1999-2001)
As a two-sport star in Chapel Hill, Peppers was a freshman All-American in 1999 before leading the nation in sacks (15.0) as a sophomore. He capped his junior season as a consensus All-American and by winning Lombardi, Bednarik and Willis Trophy honors. Peppers finished 10th in the Heisman voting in 2001. He started 33 of 34 possible career games and finished with 167 tackles and 30.5 sacks, good for sixth all-time in ACC history and second during the BCS Era. His 53.0 tackles for a loss are 13th all-time in league history as well. Second-Team: DaQuan Bowers, Clemson

DE: Chris Long, Virginia (2004-07)
The son of NFL great Howie Long entered the starting lineup as a sophomore, totaling 46 tackles, 10.0 for a loss and two sacks. As a junior, Long posted 57 tackles, 12.0 for a loss and 4.0 sacks. As a senior, he claimed ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as the Dudley and Hendricks Awards. He was a unanimous All-American after 79 total tackles, including an ACC-best 19.0 tackles for a loss and league-leading 14.0 sacks in his final season in which he finished 10th in the Heisman voting. He finished his career with 182 tackles, 36.5 tackles for a loss and 20.0 sacks. Second-Team: Mario Williams, NC State

DT: Aaron Donald, Pitt (2010-13)
Donald only played one season in the ACC but it was one of the, if not the, best by an ACC defensive lineman in league history. He swept the national awards by claiming the Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi and Bednarik as essentially the most decorated defensive player of the BCS Era not named Manti Te’o. He won ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors after posting 59 tackles, 28.5 for a loss and 11.0 sacks from his defensive tackle position. His career 29.5 sacks would be eighth in ACC history and his 66.0 tackles for a loss would be a new career ACC record had he played his entire career in the league. Second-Team: Darnell Dockett, Florida State

DT: Corey Simon, Florida State (1996-99)
A consensus All-American, Simon helped lead Florida State to back-to-back BCS championship games with a win in his final game over Virginia Tech in 1999. He left school with a then-record 44.0 tackles for a loss and was a finalist for the Lombardi and Outland Trophies as a senior. One of the most dominant interior lineman in ACC history, Simon was taken sixth overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. Second-Team: B.J. Raji, Boston College

LB: E.J. Henderson, Maryland (1999-2002)
He owns the career tackles per game record (12.5), career solo tackles per game (8.8) and the single-season unassisted tackles record with 135 in 2002. That year, Henderson won his second ACC Defensive Player of the Year award as well as the Butkus, Lambert and Bednarik Awards nationally. He was a two-time All-American, Chick-fil-A Bowl MVP, is second all-time in ACC history with 62.5 career tackles for a loss and 11th all-time with 473 tackles. Henderson was a second-round pick by the Vikings in 2003. Second-Team: Aaron Curry, Wake Forest

LB: Luke Kuechly, Boston College (2009-11)
Tackling. Machine. That is really all that needs to be said about the Boston College star defender. He was second nationally with 158 tackles as just a freshman, led the nation in tackles with 183 as a sophomore and led the world again in stops with 191 as a junior. So in just three seasons, Kuechly set the BC and ACC career tackle records en route to numerous awards. He was a two-time All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a first-round NFL Draft pick by Carolina in 2012 and won the Butkus, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott and Lambert national trophies. Second-Team: Keith Adams, Clemson

LB: D’Qwell Jackson, Maryland (2002-05)
The undersized tackler played in all 14 games as a freshman, started all 11 games as a sophomore and was an All-American as a junior and senior. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 after 137 tackles and four sacks. Jackson finished with 447 tackles, good for fourth in school history and 19th in ACC history — seventh among all players during the BCS Era. Jackson was a second-round pick of the Browns in the 2006 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Mark Herzlich, Boston College

CB: Dre Bly, North Carolina (1996-98)
Not only one of the coolest names in college football but one of the coolest customers on an island all by himself. Bly set the ACC single-season record with 11 interceptions in 1996 and left school with an ACC record 20 INTs in his career (both since broken). He was a consensus All-American as a freshman and sophomore (one of few in NCAA history to accomplish the feat) and was a second-round pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest

CB: Antrel Rolle, Miami 2001-04)
He only played one season in the ACC but it was a good one. Rolle was one of just four true freshmen to play on the dominant 2001 BCS National Championship team. He was an All-Big East pick as a sophomore and a unanimous All-American in the ACC in 2004 as a senior. He played safety in the NFL after being selected eighth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, but he was an elite college cornerback, shutting down names like Larry Fitzgerald (3 rec., 26 yds) and Calvin Johnson (2 rec., 10 yds) during his career. Second-Team: David Amerson, NC State

S: Anthony Poindexter, Virginia (1995-98)
He was a leader and one of the hardest-hitting players to ever play the game — and made one of the most famous tackles in NCAA history. He set a school record with 98 tackles as a sophomore and was an All-American as a junior in 1997. Despite getting injured late in the year, Poindexter earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors and became a two-time All-American. He was the only defensive back in the ACC to win conference Defensive Player of the Year honors during the BCS Era. The three-time, first-team All-ACC pick finished his career with 12 interceptions. Second-Team: Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

S: Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech (2002-05)
Playing multiple positions all over the defense, Williams entered the starting lineup as a sophomore. He was a first-team All-ACC pick as a junior while leading Tech to an ACC championship with a league-leading five interceptions and 19 passes defended. In 2005, Williams was a unanimous All-American and Jack Tatum Trophy winner as the nation’s top defensive back. He was a second-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Robert Carswell, Clemson

The All-ACC Team of the BCS Era
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/penn-state-or-michigan-who-finishes-higher-big-ten-east-division-2014

Michigan and Penn State are two of the premier programs in the Big Ten, but neither the Wolverines or Nittany Lions have won more than eight games in a season over the last two years.

The lack of success by Michigan and Penn State on a national level is just one reason why the Big Ten has slipped in terms of conference hierarchy among BCS leagues.

And as the 2014 season approaches, both teams have question marks to answer this offseason. Penn State is still dealing with scholarship sanctions, so depth could be an issue. The Nittany Lions also have concerns on the offensive line and in the secondary. Michigan has regressed since an 11-2 record in Brady Hoke’s first season (2011) and finished a disappointing 7-6 last year.

The Wolverines aren’t short on talent, but the offense struggled last season and question marks exist at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and on the offensive line.

With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, the Big Ten is set to undergo a few alterations for 2014. The Leaders and Legends Divisions are no more, as the Big Ten will split into the East and West alignment. In the East, Penn State and Michigan will be picked behind Ohio State and Michigan State, but the third-place team in this division could finish 9-3 or 10-2 in 2014.

Athlon Sports’ preseason magazines are set to hit the newsstands in late May/early June, and it’s time to settle some of the biggest debates for 2014. Over the next few weeks, will dive into some of the key topics by conference and some of the debates that will shape preseason predictions for this year.

Penn State or Michigan: Who Finishes Higher in the Big Ten East in 2014?

Steven Lassan ()
I’m very intrigued by both of these programs going into 2014. Brady Hoke appeared to be the right fit at Michigan after an 11-2 debut in 2011, but the Wolverines are just 15-11 over the last two years. While Michigan lost six games last season, five defeats were by four points or less. With Doug Nussmeier calling the plays, plus a return to full strength by quarterback Devin Gardner, the Wolverines should show improvement in the win column. However, I give a slight edge to Penn State in this debate. New coach James Franklin guided Vanderbilt to back-to-back nine-win seasons and should win big with the Nittany Lions. Penn State also has an advantage at quarterback with rising star Christian Hackenberg, along with depth at running back and plenty of intriguing options at receiver to replace Allen Robinson. Also, new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop should help the Nittany Lions’ defense improve after allowing 32 points a game in Big Ten play last season. The biggest concern for the Nittany Lions could be depth due to scholarship sanctions, along with motivation if the bowl ban isn’t rescinded. One factor in Penn State’s favor is the schedule. The Nittany Lions play at Michigan but host Ohio State and Michigan State. The Wolverines have to play at Northwestern in crossover play and travel to Michigan State and Ohio State in 2014. I think Penn State finishes ahead of Michigan in the East Division, but don't be surprised if both are top-25 teams this year.

Kevin McGuire (), and
Penn State has an excellent chance to finish the 2014 season ahead of the Wolverines in the Big Ten’s East Division (B1G East?). No team could have as favorable a schedule as the Nittany Lions as far as Big Ten play is concerned. Penn State gets Ohio State and Michigan State at home. The Nittany Lions are not ready to challenge either for the division just yet, but Penn State will not lose 63-14 again and getting the Spartans at home in the regular season finale could be pivotal. Penn State also gets a poor Illinois team that could have it packed in for the year on the road and they make a return trip to Indiana with revenge on the mind after last season’s match-up spun out of control.

Michigan has to play on the road at Ohio State and Michigan State in 2014 and they lack the defense to slow down the Buckeyes and the consistent offense to overcome the Spartans. Penn State has a better chance of at least splitting those games than Michigan seems to. The pivotal game separating these two programs will be the prime time match-up in the Big House. Michigan gets the home field advantage against a Penn State team that could still be putting some pieces together, but Penn State has the all important bye week heading in to the road game. We’ll see what Franklin can have cooked up for that game with a week to prepare.

Overall, Penn State is trending in the right direction while Michigan is looking to reverse their downward trend. Right now, Penn State has the edge.

Listen to our staff discuss every team in the Big Ten as they start to look to 2014.

Tune in to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast as our staff talks college football leading up to the 2014 season.

Braden Gall ()
Coaching, quarterback play and scheduling are three of the most important aspects to predicting where a team will finish in any given season. And in the case of the Wolverines versus the Nittany Lions, all three of those factors fall heavily on one side of the discussion. Christian Hackenberg is one of the top QB prospects in the nation, while Devin Gardner needs to show marked improvement after inconsistency and 17 turnovers a year ago. James Franklin is a bulldog who will recruit and coach unlike anything the Big Ten has seen in years, while Brady Hoke is hearing whispers of uncertainty. And the Nittany Lions play a very manageable schedule that is missing what could be the top four teams from the West (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota). Michigan will be a solid team in the seven- or eight-win range but Penn State could end up with nine or even 10 wins. I'll take the Lions with Franklin, Hackenberg and the easier schedule.

Mark Ross
I may be in the minority here, but I think Michigan will finish ahead of Penn State in the Big Ten's new-look East Division. Yes, I think the Nittany Lions made the best hire of the offseason in luring James Franklin away from Vanderbilt, but I also feel that the learning curve for Franklin and his coaching staff will be different in the Big Ten than it was when he was introduced to the SEC in 2011. I won't deny that Franklin has more talent to work with at Penn State than when he started at Vanderbilt, especially when it comes to quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but he also has to replace some key personnel, notably top wide receiver Allen Robinson and two All-Big Ten offensive linemen. Michigan has its own issues, especially on offense, but I think new coordinator Doug Nussmeier will be able to figure out what approach works best for his personnel and find a way to get the most out of quarterback Devin Gardner and the weapons around him. I also think the Wolverines will be better on defense, as they return eight starters from a unit that ranked fifth in total defense in the conference last season. With the new divisions and the addition of Maryland and Rutgers this will be a season of transition to differing degrees for both programs, but Brady Hoke is more familiar with life in the Big Ten than Franklin. So as far as 2014 goes, my pick is for Michigan to finish ahead of Penn State in the standings, but there's no question things are trending in the right direction in Happy Valley.

David Fox ()
Michigan should prove it was better than last year’s 7-6 season. The Wolverines have the tools to do that and, if everything breaks right, they can contend in the Big Ten East. Michigan was one of those teams last year that was between to a New Year’s Day bowl appearance (four losses by less than a touchdown) or a complete disaster (wins by less than a touchdown over Akron and UConn). Oddly enough, Michigan had a worse turnover margin (minus-2) in wins than losses (plus-7), mainly due to playing down to Akron and UConn. Altogether, it was just a bizarre season in Ann Arbor. The 2014 season has to be more stable than 2013. The foundation should be the defense, and the offense has potential to be more consistent. Quarterback Devin Gardner limited his turnovers late in the year, and he showed enough flashes to reinforce why he was a budding star before the season. The key is the line and run game. Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is a big, experienced piece of the puzzle that’s gone, but Michigan recruited quantity and quality across the offensive line. Throw in five-star running back Derrick Green from last year’s class, and Michigan should be expected to field a run game that’s not so dependent on Gardner. That should be enough for Michigan to finish ahead of Penn State.

Penn State or Michigan: Who Finishes Higher in the Big Ten East Division in 2014?
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Big Ten, College Football
Path: /college-football/2014-big-ten-rankings-preview-athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast


Now that the NCAA Tournament is complete, the Athlon editors can take a deeper look at the upcoming college football season. The rankings discussion for the preseason magazines is in full swing as spring practice is in its final weeks.

Braden Gall, David Fox and Steven Lassan take you inside the process of the rankings meeting as they talk through the teams in the Big Ten.

Who can challenge Ohio State? Will Michigan State continue to be a contender for the title? Can teams like Michigan and Nebraska return to power house status?

The podcast can be found on, and .

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall, @DavidFox615 and @AthlonSteven on Twitter or email .

Taking 2014 Big Ten Rankings: Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast
Post date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /nascar/nascar-rookie-report-larson-dillon-proving-able-closers-cup-series

Welcome to the Athlon Rookie Report, where each week David Smith will evaluate the deepest crop of new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series talent since 2006. The Report will include twice-monthly rankings, in-depth analysis, Q&A sessions with the drivers and more.

Today, David attempts to isolate each rookie from his team and equipment and properly rank the driving chops of each member of this year’s rookie class.

It’s rough being a rookie in the current day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It makes sense when you think about it: Where else is a driver going to compete against 42 of the world’s best stock car drivers? Though NASCAR’s Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series offer a fertile cultivating ground, the Cup Series newcomers tend to struggle in their initial season at the premier level. Of the 27 Cup Series rookies dating back to 2006, only Denny Hamlin scored a Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) above 1.000, a number that signifies a weekly race win contender, all cars being equal.

So forgive the new kids if they need a little help from their friends. Auto racing is a team sport after all, disguised as an individual sport. Sure, , but deep in a 43-car field, teammates — and that’s crew chiefs, engineers and pit crew — can still have an impact regardless of the equipment’s strength. Is a crew chief setting up his driver’s car for a killer close to a long race? Are the crew chief and crew helping manufacture track position during races with green-flag pit cycles ()? Sometimes the newbies just need a boost.

This week’s ranking focuses on the rookie drivers and the teams that have their backs:

Kyle Larson1. Kyle Larson, No. 42 (previous ranking: 1) 
If not for a pass-thru penalty during a green-flag pit cycle at Las Vegas that cost them 18 positions, Larson and the No. 42 team out of Chip Ganassi Racing would have every peripheral metric in their favor. Larson and crew chief Chris Heroy are proving to be able closers — they haven’t lost a single position in the final 10 percent of races, gaining at a plus-10.4 percent rate (an average of two spots per race). Larson is also seeing his exceptional passing from the Nationwide Series translate to Sundays, ranking in the top 10 for adjusted pass efficiency (52.33 percent). His fifth-place finish Monday at Texas was his second top-5 score of the year, and likely just the tip of the iceberg in what’s shaping up to be the best rookie campaign since Hamlin’s full-time foray into Cup.

Austin Dillon2. Austin Dillon, No. 3 (previous: 2) 
Dillon and his No. 3 team at Richard Childress Racing are the most artful closers in the Cup Series. Between Dillon’s now-serviceable driving (he sports a 1.000 PEER, ranking him 22nd among series regulars in production) and crew chief Gil Martin’s ever-improving single-race setups (per NASCAR’s speed by quarter metric, they rank 24th in first quarter speed and improve to a ranking of 19th in fourth quarter speed), they’ve yet to drop a position in the final 10 percent of races — a perfect base retention percentage of 100 — and are averaging a gain of 3.6 positions per race during that final kick to the finish.

Justin Allgaier3. Justin Allgaier, No. 51 (previous: 3) 
Allgaier and his Steve Addington-led HScott Motorsports team have finished 24th or better in each of the last three races, exceeding their season-long 26.2-place average running position by two spots. Chock full of value, the No. 51 team is cleanly navigating through their on-track whereabouts. Addington has picked up Allgaier five positions through eight green-flag pit cycles dating back to Phoenix, while the driver is a positive value passer — — with a plus-2.74 percent surplus that ranks as the eighth most valuable in the series.

4. Michael Annett, No. 7 (previous: 6)
5. Cole Whitt, No. 26 (previous: 4)
In terms of production, Annett and Whitt are toss-ups, displaying identical above-replacement level production ratings of 0.036. Where Annett trumps Whitt in this week’s ranking is passing. Their adjusted pass efficiencies — Annett’s is a 48.49 percent, while Whitt’s is a 48.38 — are staggeringly close, but Annett’s plus-2.48 percent surplus passing value, , is better than Whitt’s plus-1.62 and occurring two positions higher, on average, in the running order. Annett’s also receiving less help than Whitt in green-flag pit cycles. Whitt has been given four extra positions by crew chief Randy Cox in the last six races, while Annett has been awarded just one from Kevin Manion in that same span.

6. Parker Kligerman, No. 30 (previous: 5)
Brutal. Kligerman has been running at the race’s 10 percent-to-go mark just three times in seven events (his average running position at that point in a race is 37.6), so strong closing hasn’t been an option. Neither has jumping positions during green-flag pit cycles. Crew chief Steve Lane has provided Kligerman a jump plus/minus of plus-2 for the season, but the No. 30 team has rarely found itself on the lead lap and able to take full advantage of the tactic. Through the first seven races, they’ve yet to finish on the lead lap.

Alex Bowman7. Alex Bowman, No. 23 (previous: 7)
It hasn't been a glamorous first season for Bowman, but there certainly have been some positive takeaways to this point. He scored two finishes of 23rd or better in BK Racing equipment (at Daytona and Fontana) in his first seven races and, while his 33.8-place average running position isn’t stellar, he’s at least averaging a plus-1.22 percent surplus passing value from that position. A little help on green-flag pit cycles — crew chief Dave Winston’s jump plus/minus is zero — could aid a little bit of his running woes.


Did You Notice:

8. Ryan Truex, No. 83 (previous: 8)

Truex failed to qualify for the second time this season (his first was at Daytona) last weekend in Texas, after recording a lap eight tenths of a second slower than that of BK Racing stable mate Bowman. Though some might be surprised by his rough start, the most telling number may be the sheer lack of big car experience. Truex, at age 22, has just 69 races under his belt across NASCAR’s three major divisions, the K&N Pro Series and the ARCA Series. For comparison’s sake, Bowman, who is two years younger, has made 78 such starts to date. Truex needs races and not qualifying on speed stunts his development as a racer.


David Smith is the founder of and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projection, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at .
Photos by

A weekly ranking of the rookies in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 18:55
Path: /nascar/joey-logano-coming-his-own-team-penske

The NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, started wet, got wild, settled down, then ended with a bang. Through it all, 23-year-old Joey Logano was in the thick of the action.


Logano led a race-high 108 of 340 laps in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway en route to  collecting his first win of the season and second under the watchful eye of motorsports icon Roger Penske.


More and more, he’s proving to be the right man for Penske’s No. 22 Ford after getting the call to join the organization prior to the 2013 season.


“Over the years I’ve been able to kind of hone in who I am as a driver, who I am as a person,” Logano said of his progression. “When you’re 18 years old (his age during his rookie season), you got to grow up — you’re not quite done growing up at that point. I may not be now (but) I feel like I’m getting closer.


“I was able to go to Team Penske, get that fresh start, be able to take everything (I) learned (prior, at Joe Gibbs Racing), but not be taken as an 18-year-old kid anymore. I came over when I was 22. You’re looked at a little bit more as a man than an 18-year-old kid that was still in high school.”


Logano was viewed as a phenom during his rapid ascent to the Sprint Cup Series. Hailed as the sport’s “future” as a 14-year-old by respected NASCAR veteran Mark Martin, the hype and expectations surrounding Logano grew to near unattainable levels.


A rocky four seasons at powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing — with incompatible teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin — in which Logano tallied two wins, 16 top 5s and zero Chase bids, found him on the outside looking in following the 2012 season. When his contract, as well as that of Ford rival Matt Kenseth, came up the sponsors of Logano’s No. 20 ride were in favor of greener pastures. Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champ was in, Logano was out.


However, a confidence-building landing pad came in the form of Team Penske and its defending champion, Brad Keselowski.

It was Keselowski who openly lobbied the Penske brass to hire Logano.


“Brad Keselowski played a really big role in getting me in here and getting a meeting with Roger Penske,” Logano told USA Today shortly after his hire. “He was the one who called me and said, ‘Hey, this is a great opportunity for you.’


“That means a lot to have a teammate that really wants you there.”


Logano’s character also factored into the hire, as Penske’s No. 22 seat had previously been a hot one. Kurt Busch was released from the organization after multiple on- and off-track run-ins with team members and the media. His replacement, AJ Allmendinger, was promptly removed from the ride just half a season later when he failed a drug test. That left mega-sponsor Shell-Pennzoil demanding the right man step into the role.


And that’s when Keselowski’s earlier suggestion to consider Logano piqued the interest of team president Tim Cindric.


“I can’t say enough about how supportive Shell-Pennzoil has been through a little bit of turmoil that we’ve been in the last nine months,” Cindric said in September 2012, shortly after Logano’s hire. “We had to be even more in concert with them than we have ever been with a sponsor in terms of trying to understand what the right fits are to ensure we get it right.


“There was an extra sensitivity around ensuring that we had someone with the right character in the car.”


Logano hasn’t just been the right fit from a PR perspective; the Connecticut native, now in his sixth full season in the Cup Series, is delivering on the earlier expectations.


A first-time Chase entrant in his first season with Penske, Logano now has two wins and 15 top 5s in 42 starts behind the wheel of the No. 22 Ford. That equals his win total and is only one top-5 shy of his marks over a 144-race tenure at JGR.


“(It’s a) completely different situation now,” Logano said after his Texas win on Monday. “I’ve been able to take advantage of (experience), kind of walk in the doors of Penske the first time and say, ‘Here is who I want to be, here is what I want to do, here is how I feel like we can win races, do it together.’”


NASCAR Mailbox:


In Monday’s rain-delayed Texas event, “win races” is exactly what Logano did — and he held off the best to do so.


Outdueling current teammate Keselowski, former teammate Kyle Busch and four-time champion Jeff Gordon in a green-white-checker finish, Logano followed through when it mattered after exhibiting the dominant car of the day; promise delivered.


“I was able to follow (Gordon) through, get to second, get a run off of (turn) four, cross him over, get the lead — then we get the win,” Logano said of the final two laps of his most-recent triumph. “We’ve been in contention every race this year to win these things. To get the Shell-Pennzoil Ford in Victory Lane, it means a lot.”


Follow Matt Taliaferro on Twitter:
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Texas race-winner Joey Logano has found success at Team Penske in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 17:50
All taxonomy terms: Adam Scott, Greg Norman, Golf
Path: /golf/catching-defending-masters-champ-adam-scott

The green jacket traveled the world in the past year, and it is difficult to find a Masters champion who reveled in his victory and wanted to share it with total strangers more than Adam Scott.

In becoming the first Australian to win the coveted green jacket, Scott fully embraced the overwhelming joy that came with his victory when he traveled back Down Under, spending the rest of the year in full celebratory mode while also establishing himself as a major player for the foreseeable future.

It is unlikely that former Masters winners will be treated to Outback bloomin’ onions when Scott hosts the annual Champions Dinner — let’s be honest, true Aussies are not big fans of the American restaurant chain. But they do love their golf Down Under and have been heartbroken at the near-misses of their mates on this glorious stage, none more prominent than Greg Norman, who three times suffered excruciating defeats in the Augusta pines.

“He inspired a nation of golfers,” said Scott, tearing up at the mention of a mentor to many Aussie golfers. “Most of us would feel that he could have slipped a green jacket on for sure.”

Of course, with Scott winning The Masters, there would be links to the past, to be remembered afresh with a new major season just around the corner.
Steve Williams, Scott’s caddie, once worked for the Shark, and he played a key role in the victory, helping with the 10th-hole playoff read in near darkness, telling Scott to play more break on what would be the winning putt to defeat Angel Cabrera.

Williams was Tiger Woods’ longtime caddie and was on the bag three times for Woods victories at Augusta National.

The last came in 2005, nine long years ago.

Scott went on to have a stellar season, winning late in the year on the PGA Tour, then twice in Australia in addition to being part of a World Cup victory for his homeland at Royal Melbourne. His four worldwide victories helped him close the gap on Woods in the Official World Golf Ranking as 2014 began.

In sizing up his year’s work in the four biggest tournaments, Scott could only be pleased. And that is the beauty of winning one of golf’s most prestigious events. It doesn’t make the close calls any easier to take, but it does present them in a different light. Scott had three top-five finishes in major championships in 2013, which makes for a particularly excellent record when one of them is a victory.

“It’s really satisfying," Scott says. “Obviously the goal was to win one, but the real goal is to put myself in this position a lot more.

“At some point (in the 2013 majors), I think I led every major during the week. Obviously I’m peaking at the right times. It’s hard to stay there for four days and have the lead the whole time, but I feel like I’m improving still. So it’s something to build on for (the 2014) season."

Scott was among 13 players who made the cut in all four major championships and, along with fellow Aussie Jason Day, led the way with an aggregate of 2-over par for 16 major championship rounds. Of course, Scott’s Masters win makes for a nice tiebreaker in assessing the best major season.

“I was a lot over (par) at the U.S. Open," said Scott, who finished 45th at the only major in which he was not a Sunday contender. “That means I’m playing really good in the others. I think I was cumulative low (in 2012) as well in the four majors (he was top 15 in all four). If that’s the case, I’m doing something right. I wish it added up to more than one win in eight, but I’m going to try and do all the right things between now and April and go back and try and defend and try and get into contention again."

"Obviously the goal was to win one, but the real goal is to put myself in this position a lot more."
Since the start of the 2009 season, Scott has nine top-15 finishes in major championships, including a win and two runners-up. He has often said that his crushing defeat to Ernie Els at the 2012 Open Championship offered up more positives than negatives.

Still, the country’s inability to win at Augusta had become something of a sore spot, with Norman’s heartbreaks cited at every turn.

“It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win, just incredible," Scott said.

“It is fantastic to see him win," said Norman, who watched the telecast from his Florida home. “I believed in him. His ball-striking is probably better than anybody else’s on the planet. A lot of focus goes to the other players because he hasn’t put the credentials on the board or the runs on the board. But at the end of the day, just to watch the way he performed down the stretch, his intensity.

“Everybody questioned whether he had the intestinal fortitude, the go-get-it, but we all knew it. The players knew it. He’s got the game to do it, and I was just extremely happy for him."

Given his recent history in majors, and his form over the last several months, would anybody be surprised to see Scott keep that jacket for another year?

Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 14:17
Path: /college-basketball/15-amazing-stats-uconns-national-championship

The 2014 national championship was not a good one for the numbers people.

A No. 7 seed and a No. 8 seed reached the national championship game, a development that in some ways rendered the regular season moot. UConn also didn’t fit the statistical profile of a team to win the national championship, falling short of efficiency ratings that have been the trademark of every national champion for more than a decade.

This was even a loss for the numbers kept for the NCAA. Only a year after a postseason ban due to poor academic numbers, UConn was on college basketball’s biggest stage — and the Huskies’ best player made sure we took note of the NCAA’s questionable way of tracking academic performance.

We’re still going to look at all the key numbers anyway, the figures that proved this was one of the most unlikely national championship runs in NCAA history.

No. 7. UConn’s seeding on Selection Sunday, lowest to win a title since 1985.
Kentucky would have matched No. 8-seed Villanova’s title in 1985, the first year the field expanded for 1985. Still, UConn is the first team seeded this low to win a championship since Rollie Massimino’s team upset Georgetown 29 years ago.

No. 18. UConn’s rank in the final AP poll of the regular season.
While NCAA Tournament seeding aims to reflect the body of work for a season, the AP poll tends to reward recent performance and momentum. The Huskies ranked 18th in the final AP poll prior to the Tournament, marking the lowest rank for an eventual champion since Danny Manning and an unranked Kansas team won the title in 1988. UConn is the first team outside of the top 10 to win a title since 2003 Syracuse.

21.2. Points per game in the NCAA Tournament for Shabazz Napier.
How close did Napier come to matching his point guard predecessor, Kemba Walker? Pretty darn close. Napier scored 22 points in the championship game to raise his average to 21.3 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, 2.3 less than Walker during his championship run in 2011. The raw numbers were lower for Napier, but the 2014 Most Outstanding Player was a more efficient guard during his run to the title.

Kemba vs. Shabazz
Kemba Walker, 2011 Shabazz Napier, 2014
23.5Points per game21.2
6.0Rebounds per game5.5
5.7Assists per game4.5
1.5Steals per game2.5
43-of-107 (40.2 percent)Field goal shooting38-of-82 (46.3 percent)
32-of-69 (46.9 percent)2-point field goals18-of-39 (46.2 percent)
11-of-38 (28.9 percent)3-point field goals20-of-43 (46.5 percent)
44-of-49 (90 percent)Free throw rate31-of-33 (94 percent)
45.3 percentEffective field goal rate58.5 percent
54.8 percentTrue shooting percentage65.8 percent

7-0. Kentucky’s edge in McDonald’s All-Americans over UConn on Monday.
The Huskies became the first team since 2002 Maryland and only the second since 1979 to win a national title without a McDonald’s All-American. Granted, UConn has a McDonald’s All-American on the roster in Rodney Purvis, who sat out the season after a transfer from NC State.

3. Players with two national titles from UConn.
This isn’t exactly 2006-07 Florida when every key player returned to win back-to-back titles, but the list of players with two titles in the 64-team era is a short one. Shabazz Napier was an up-and-coming freshman on UConn’s 2011 title team. Niels Giffey and Tyler Olander were seldom used in 2011, but became valuable role players in 2014.

31 points. Margin of defeat for UConn against Louisville on March 8.
The Huskies became a No. 7 seed in part because of an 81-48 loss to Louisville on March 8. Before UConn, no eventual national champion lost a game by 30 points during the regular season. Only seven national champions endured a 20-point loss during the season, according to Patrick Stevens of

15 Amazing Stats from UConn's National Championship
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 12:16
All taxonomy terms: Henrik Stenson, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2014-majors-no-6-henrik-stenson

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2014 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 6:

Born: April 5, 1976, Gothenburg, Sweden | Career PGA Tour Wins: 4 (8 on the European Tour) | 2013 Wins (Worldwide): 3 | 2013 Earnings (PGA Tour): $6,388,230 (2nd) World Ranking: 3

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Henrik Stenson won three times last September and November, and he will no doubt pick up in the 2014 majors where he left off, because his swing is as technically sound as there is in the game. His coach, Pete Cowen, has not given in to the trend to flatten his backswing and round off his follow-through, and as a result his ball flight is high, solid and powerful. That's a rare combination in professional golf; as more and more players default to control swings, ball flights have come down and so have spin rates, making it harder to get at tough pins on firm greens. If he adds to his repertoire a deft touch from inside 125 yards, he will be the complete player.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 31
Wins: 0

2013 Performance:
Masters - T18
U.S. Open - T21
British Open - 2
PGA Championship - 3

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T17 (2007, 2008)
U.S. Open - 9 (2009)
British Open - 2 (2013)
PGA Championship - 3 (2013)
Top-10 Finishes: 7
Top-25 Finishes: 14
Missed Cuts: 9

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.


Athlon's 2014 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Dustin Johnson, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 11:52
Path: /college-basketball/very-early-college-basketball-top-25-2014-15

The 2014 national champion has been crowned, so now it's time to take a quick look ahead at next season.

Consider this a quick snapshot of the 2014-15 season. A handful of developments still need to happen before there’s a clearer picture of the season ahead.

McDonald’s All-American Myles Turner has yet to commit, and he’s down to a handful of power players — Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, SMU and Duke.

NBA Draft early entries also have a deadline coming up before may. Prospects can enter the draft any time before April 27, but those who declare and do not hire an agent must withdraw by April 15 to retain their eligibility.

1. Arizona (33-5, 15-3 Pac-12, Elite Eight)
Gone: None
Undecided: F Aaron Gordon, F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, G Nick Johnson
Top players returning: F Brandon Ashley, G T.J. McConnell, C Kaleb Tarczewski, G Gabe York
New arrivals: G Kadeem Allen (junior college transfer), G Parker Jackson-Cartwright, F Stanley Johnson, F Craig Victor (freshmen)
The best case is that Gordon is the only player to leave for the Draft. Hollis-Jefferson is Arizona’s next best prospect, and he’s a fringe lottery possibility. If Johnson returns to team with McConnell and York in the backcourt. Stanley Johnson, the No. 3 prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings, could step into Gordon’s shoes. He’ll be a more well-rounded offensive threat.

2. Wisconsin (30-8, 12-6 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
Gone: G Ben Brust
Top players returning: F Sam Dekker, G Josh Gasser, F Nigel Hayes, G Traevon Jackson, F Frank Kaminsky, G Bronson Koenig
The Badgers stand to lose only the sharpshooting Brust from a team that was one possession from playing for the national title. The Badgers always seem to have players waiting in the wings, so more minutes from rising sophomores Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig could make this an improved team from one that won 30 games in 2013-14.

3. Kansas (25-10, 14-4 Big 12, Round of 32)
Gone: F Tarik Black, C Joel Embiid, F Andrew Wiggins
Top players returning: F Perry Ellis, G Conner Frankamp, G Brannen Greene, G Frank Mason, G Wayne Selden, G Naadir Tharpe
New arrivals: F Cliff Alexander, G Kelly Oubre (freshmen), F Hunter Mickelson (Arkansas transfer)
Most teams would have trouble recovering from the departures of talent like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Kansas has a knack of grooming the next group while, of course, recruiting at a high level. Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden could become stars. The freshman class has only two players (for now), but both are top-five prospects in the 247Sports Composite. The Jayhawks also are in the running for top-five prospect Myles Turner.

4. Kentucky (29-11, 12-6 SEC, national runner up)
Gone: None yet
Undecided: C Willie Cauley-Stein, G Aaron Harrison, G Andrew Harrison, F Dakari Johnson, F Alex Poythress, F Julius Randle, G James Young
Top returning players: F Marcus Lee
New arrivals: G Devin Booker, F Trey Lyles, C Karl Towns, G Tyler Ulis (freshmen)
The outlook will be more complete when John Calipari’s group sorts out who will — in his words — succeed and proceed to the NBA Draft. Expect major losses after a run to the title game, but if any of the veterans from this year’s team return, Calipari may have fewer the headaches he had during the season. This freshman group isn’t the historic group that singed a year ago, but Trey Lyles and Karl Towns are impressive big men. Tyler Ulis should be a solid point guard.

5. Duke (26-9, 13-5 ACC, Round of 64)
Gone: G Andre Dawkins, G Tyler Thornton
Undecided: F Rodney Hood, F Jabari Parker, F Rasheed Sulaimon
Top players returning: G Quinn Cook, F Amile Jefferson, F Semi Ojeleye, C Marshall Plumlee
New arrivals: G Tyus Jones, C Jahil Okafor, F Justise Winslow (freshmen)
Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood have not declared, but either returning would be a surprise. The Blue Devils return their point guard and best offensive rebounder to go with the No. 1 freshman class. Center Jahlil Okafor is the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the 247Sports Composite while Jones is the No. 2 point guard.

6. Michigan (28-9, 15-3 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
Gone: F Jordan Morgan
Undecided: F Mitch McGary, F Glenn Robinson III, G Nik Stauskas
Top players returning: G Spike Albrecht, F Jon Horford, G Zak Irvin, G Caris LeVert, G Derrick Walton
New arrivals: F Kameron Chatman (freshman)
Michigan has three key players pondering a jump to the draft with Nik Stauskas the closest to being a lottery pick. Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton emerged late in the season, so they could be breakout candidates in 2014-15.

7. Wichita State (35-1, 18-0 Missouri Valley, Round of 32)
Gone: F Cleanthony Early, G Nick Wiggins
Top players returning: G Ron Baker, F Darius Carter, C Kadeem Coleby, G Tekele Cotton, G Fred VanVleet
Leading scorer Cleanthony Early is a big loss, but the Shockers return one of the top backcourts in the country in Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton.

8. North Carolina (24-10, 13-5 ACC, Round of 32)
Gone: F James Michael McAdoo, G Leslie McDonald
Top players returning: G Isaiah Hicks, G Brice Johnson, F Kennedy Meeks, G Marcus Paige, F J.P. Tokoto
New arrivals: G Joel Berry, F Justin Jackson, G Theo Pinson (freshmen)
The foundation of the Tar Heels will be juniors Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and J.P Tokoto, but the Tar Heels have standout sophomore and freshman classes to fill out a team that will challenge for an ACC title.

9. UConn (32-8, 12-6 American, national champion)
Gone: G Niels Giffey, G Lasan Kromah, G Shabazz Napier, F Tyler Olander
Undecided: F DeAndre Daniels
Top players returning: G Ryan Boatright, C Amida Brimah, G Omar Calhoun, F Phillip Nolan, G Terrence Samuel
New arrivals: G Daniel Hamilton (freshman), G Rodney Purvis (NC State transfer)
UConn is understandably curious what life will be like post-Shabazz Napier. If DeAndre Daniels returns, this is a team that will challenge for the AAC title. Adding Rodney Purvis, a decorated recruit who averaged only 8.3 points at NC State, may keep the Huskies in the mix.

10. Florida (36-3, 18-0 SEC, Final Four)
Gone: F Casey Prather, G Scottie Wilbekin, F Will Yeguete, C Patric Young
Top players returning: G Michael Frazier II, G Kasey Hill, F Dorian Finney-Smith, F Chris Walker
New arrivals: G Eli Carter (Rutgers transfer), G Chris Chiozza (freshman), G Brandon Francis (freshman), F Devin Robinson (freshman)
For a team that lost a group of seniors that played in four consecutive Elite Eights, Florida is well-positioned to stay competitive. Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, who didn’t become eligible until midseason, were five-star recruits. Michael Frazier II can still shoot lights out. The Gators will need more from Dorian Finney-Smith.

11. Virginia (30-7, 16-2 ACC, Sweet 16)
Gone: G Joe Harris, F Akil Mitchell
Top players returning: G Justin Anderson, G Malcolm Brogdon, F Anthony Gill, G London Perrantes, F Mike Tobey
New arrivals: G Devon Hall (redshirt), G B.J. Stith (freshman)
The Cavaliers lose their second-leading scorer and top rebounder, but they may be built to last under Tony Bennett. Malcolm Brogdon emerged as the Cavs’ MVP, and London Perrantes was an underappreciated point guard. Virginia also redshirted its top recruit, Devon Hall, last season.

12. Villanova (29-5, 16-2 Big East, Round of 32)
Gone: G James Bell
Top players returning: G Ryan Arcidiacono, G Dylan Ennis, G Josh Hart, G Darrun Hilliard, F Daniel Ochefu, F JayVaughn Pinkston
Leading scorer James Bell is gone, but the Wildcats have two other scorers who topped 14 points per game, plus point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who was on the fringe of double figures. Nova will miss his 6.1 rebounds, but the good news is that Doug McDermott is gone from Creighton, one of four teams to beat the Wildcats last season.

13. SMU (27-10, 12-6 American, NIT runner up)
Gone: G Nick Russell
Top players returning: G Keith Frazier, F Markus Kennedy, G Ben Moore, G Nic Moore, C Yanick Moreira
New arrivals: G Emmanuel Mudiay
SMU responded to its Selection Sunday snub by reaching the NIT title game. The Mustangs have a chance to get into the NCAA Tournament next season with little drama. SMU adds the No. 2 recruit and No. 1 point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay, to a team that loses only one significant contributor. That gives SMU two five-star guards in Mudiay and Keith Frazier.

14. Louisville (31-6, 15-3 American, Sweet 16)
Gone: F Luke Hancock, G Russ Smith, F Kevin Ware
Undecided: F Montrezl Harrell
Top players returning: G Wayne Blackshear, G Chris Jones, G Terry Rozier
New arrivals: F Shaqquan Aaron, G Quentin Snider (freshmen)
Like a few other teams, Louisville is in rankings limbo. If Montrezl Harrell returns, the Cardinals could be a top-10 team. A major question will be how Chris Jones and Terry Rozier fill the shoes of Russ Smith in Louisville’s first season in the ACC.

15. Michigan State (29-9, 12-6 Big Ten, Elite Eight)
Gone: G Keith Appling, G Gary Harris, C Adreian Payne
Undecided: F Branden Dawson
Top players returning: F Matt Costello, F Kenny Kaminski, G Travis Trice, G Denzel Valentine
The losses of Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne are major, but Michigan State has enough returning to be competitive in the Big Ten, especially if Branden Dawson returns to school. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine thrived in their roles, but they’ll need to be the No. 1 or No. 2 option next season.

16. Texas (24-11, 11-7 Big 12, Round of 32)
Gone: None
Top players returning: G Javan Felix, G Demarcus Holland, F Jonathan Holmes, F Connor Lammert, C Cameron Ridley, G Isaiah Taylor
The Longhorns were one of the surprise teams of 2013-14, turning Rick Barnes from a hot seat coach to Big 12 Coach of the Year. With no seniors on the 2013-14 rotation, Texas will be expected to contend for the Big 12 title in 2014-15.

17. Iowa State (28-8, 11-7 Big 12, Sweet 16)
Gone: F Melvin Ejim, G DeAndre Kane
Top players returning: F Dustin Hogue, G Naz Long, G Monte Morris, F Georges Niang, G Matt Thomas
New arrivals: F Jameel McKay (Marquette transfer), F Abdell Nader (Northern Illinois)
Losing Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane will hurt, but Georges Niang’s value was clear in the Elite Eight loss to UConn. Monte Morris was a sure-handed point guard as a freshman, but he’ll have the ball in his hands more with Kane gone. As usual, transfers will play a key role for coach Fred Hoiberg.

18. Oklahoma (23-10, 12-6 Big 12, Round of 64)
Gone: G Cameron Clark
Top players returning: G Isaiah Cousins, G Buddy Hield, F Ryan Spangler, G Jordan Woodard
New arrivals: F Khadeem Lattin (freshman)
Even without Cameron Clark, this will be a veteran team with rising juniors Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler leading the way. OU went 12-6 in the rugged Big 12 behind a freshman point guard, Jordan Woodard, who will have a year of experience.

19. VCU (26-9, 12-4 Atlantic 10, Round of 64)
Gone: G Rob Brandenburg, F Juvonte Reddic
Top players returning: G Jordan Burgess, G Treveon Graham, G Melvin Johnson, G JeQuan Lewis, G Briante Weber
New arrivals: F Michael Gilmore, F Terry Larrier, F Justin Tillman, G Jonathan Williams.
What little bulk VCU had is gone with the departure of 6-9 forward Juvonte Reddic. The Rams will try to make up for it with three freshman 6-7 or taller, all ranked in the top 100.

20. Kansas State (20-13, 10-8 Big 12, Round of 64)
G/F Shane Southwell, G Will Spradling
Top players returning: G Marcus Foster, F Thomas Gipson, F Wesley Iwundu, F D.J. Johnson, F Nino Williams
New arrivals: G Justin Edwards (Maine transfer), C Stephen Hurt (junior college transfer)
Losing those two seniors will hurt. Kansas State, though, will have one of the top point guards in the Big 12 in sophomore Marcus Foster. The Wildcats will need to prove something in a hurry. K-State lost its last four and six of its last nine.

21. Syracuse (28-6, 14-4 ACC, Round of 32)
Gone: G Tyler Ennis, F C.J. Fair
Undecided: F Jerami Grant
Top players returning: F Rakeem Christmas, F DaJuan Coleman, G Trevor Cooney, F Tyler Roberson
New arrivals: F Chris McCullough (freshman)
Point guard will be an issue for Syracuse as Jim Boeheim’s last two floor generals, Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams, left earlier than anticipated. The return of Jerami Grant may be the difference between Syracuse contending for the ACC or the NCAA Tournament bubble.

22. UCLA (28-9, 12-6 Pac-12, Sweet 16)
Gone: G Kyle Anderson, G Zach LaVine, F David Wear, F Travis Wear
Undecided: G Jordan Adams
Top players returning: G Bryce Alford, F Wanaah Bail, F Tony Parker, G Norman Powell
New arrivals: G Isaac Hamilton (ineligible last season), F Kevon Looney (freshman)
The Bruins will be hit hard by the NBA Draft, but they will add a McDonald’s All-American in Isaac Hamilton, who was ineligible last season after backing out of his letter of intent to UTEP. Norman Powell and Tony Parker will need to take lead roles.

23. Ohio State (25-10, 10-8 Big Ten, Round of 64)
G Aaron Craft, G LaQuinton Ross, G Lenzelle Smith
Top returning players: G Shannon Scott, F Sam Thompson, C Amir Williams
New arrivals: G Keita Bates-Diop (freshman), F Anthony Lee (Temple transfer), G D’Angelo Russell (freshman), G Kam Williams (redshirt)
Despite a leadership void without Aaron Craft, Ohio State will have the roster to contend in the Big Ten. Anthony Lee will be eligible immediately after transferring from Temple, where he averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds. A solid freshman class plus two guard Kam Williams returning from a redshirt year will keep Ohio State interesting.

24. Nebraska (19-13, 11-7 Big Ten, Round of 32)
Gone: G Ray Gallegos
Top players returning: G Terran Petteway, F Walter Pitchford, G Shavon Shields
Nebraska returns almost anyone from a fringe NCAA Tournament team. Did the Cornhuskers’ late-season wins over Michigan State and Wisconsin signal a team ready for more?

25. Colorado (23-12, 10-8 Pac-12, Round of 64)
Gone: None
Undecided: G Spencer Dinwiddie
Top players returning: G Askia Booker, F Wesley Gordon, F Xavier Johnson, F Josh Scott, G Xavier Talton
The Buffaloes’ ranking depends almost entirely on the return of Spencer Dinwiddie. Colorado is a top-15 team with him, a Pac-12 also-ran without him.

Also considered: Dayton, Gonzaga, Harvard, Memphis, Minnesota, Oregon

A Very Early College Basketball Top 25 for 2014-15
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 11:25
Path: /nascar/joey-logano-team-penske-surge-over-wet-nascar-weekend-texas

Joey Logano won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, but it’s his team at Penske smiling like it won the war. After all, it was one year ago in this very event where its dreams of two straight championships came crashing down. Severe penalties — only partially reduced on appeal — led to hefty fines and suspensions for both Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, and Paul Wolfe, head wrench for Brad Keselowski. After the tedious and draining appeals process, both car chiefs and the organization’s competition director found themselves on the sidelines for two weeks.  Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski

Twenty-five point penalties came along with it, a total that wounded Keselowski’s Chase bid and left Logano scrambling for half the summer. More importantly, there was a loss of confidence and momentum, paired with some mechanical head-scratching, that hung around for months. After all, this team whose rear ends “stood out” (to say the least) could no longer push the handling “gray area” other teams accused them of working. Edgy was replaced by uncertainty; an organization that thrived on an underdog role wasn’t used to spending time in the penalty box.

Don’t think for a second Keselowski has forgotten those moments, especially after missing a shot to defend his 2012 title. So even though a late-race pit road speeding penalty left him 15th — as opposed to second — you better believe he joined in relishing Logano’s win. Team Penske leaves Texas with two victories on the year and, therefore, two cars virtually shoed-in the Chase and with top honors in the Ford camp. Keselowski’s rivalry forged with Kurt Busch last week at Martinsville has also faded into the background, just as the driver had hoped after an awkward week of backing away. Wins within a team have a way of doing that — erasing the drama in a way that penalties don’t.

Let’s not forget Logano’s contribution, his perseverance, highlighting this team’s resurgence. That starts our drive “Through The Gears” as we push through the Texas storms to find answers …

FIRST GEAR: Joey Logano comes into his own
In his second season driving for Penske’s No. 22, it’s safe to say Joe Gibbs Racing’s former prodigy made the right decision to branch out and leave. In slightly over a season manning his new ride, Logano has as many wins (two) as he did driving four seasons for JGR. His 15 top-5 finishes stop just one short of his total in the Toyota camp, while the likely two straight Chase bids qualify as uncharted territory for the 23-year-old.

“You never know when it will end, having great racecars,” he said. “When you have opportunities like today, like we've had this year so far, you need to capitalize on it.”

Texas is a great place for Logano to shine; his four top-5 finishes at the 1.5-miler are the most he’s scored at any Cup track on the circuit. Together, along with Keselowski, they combined to lead 193 of 340 laps and the victory would have never been in question without a green-white-checker finish for Kurt Busch’s blown tire. Even then, a four-tire stop didn’t rattle Logano when it put him behind Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers on the final restart. It was a cool, collected drive to the front from the Middletown, Conn., native that you may have not seen a few years back. The key? The crew chief, Gordon, who treats Logano as a mentee in a way that former head wrench Greg Zipadelli (while still at JGR) never did.

“I might annoy him because I come in the shop,” said Logano, showcasing how he’s bought in. “I basically sit in (Gordon’s) office. He fills me in on everything that's going on. The more I feel like I know about the race car, the better race car driver I can be.”

Turns out the pupil keeps listening — and the potential here is rising.

SECOND GEAR: Is Jeff Gordon a legit title threat?  Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano
Texas, while great for Logano, has been rough for last generation’s best “young gun,” Jeff Gordon. His 17.2-place average finish there over 27 starts is the worst for him at any NASCAR Cup track. So it was a bit of a surprise when, after a solid top-5 run all day, Gordon gave them a run for their money during that green-white-checker. Great pit strategy by Alan Gustafson, in the form of a two-tire stop, moved Gordon from sixth to second, where he had one final shot to beat Penske. Inevitably, a win wasn’t to be, but the confidence was palpable as Gordon’s run made him the point leader for the first time since 2009’s Coca-Cola 600.

“I'm real happy with the way our team's performing this year,” he said, even satisfied with his kryptonite — restarts — throughout the course of the day. “Feel like we missed a couple opportunities (on Victory Lane this season). But we're also running really strong, and we're consistently running strong, I know that opportunity's going to come for us.”

Should Gordon be counted as a title contender? Not having finished worse than 13th this year tells me it’s a resounding “yes.” Sure, the four-time champ has led just 67 laps and is still in search of a “breakout performance” that showcases the No. 24 team can get over the hump. But you’d have to think, with the way this team has turned consistent, a victory is right around the corner, right? You’re dealing with a driver who has a history of getting hot, once winning a modern-era record 13 races in the course of a year. That first win could come as quickly as a track Gordon once owned — tricky Darlington Raceway — which lies dead ahead this Saturday night.

THIRD GEAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s costly error
The most televised moment in the Cup race will be Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s slip onto the grass, a misstep that sent his No. 88 hard into the outside wall. Earnhardt, the Daytona 500 champion, had to scramble to avoid the ensuing fire while dirt kicked up from the incident ruined the afternoon for teammate Jimmie Johnson.

“I just made a mistake,” admitted Earnhardt. “I was lower than normal (in the tri-oval) and just misjudged it. It tears the car up pretty good when you run through the grass.”

Dropping to a tie for sixth in points, the driver’s hardly in postseason jeopardy. The way Earnhardt was able to shrug off the mistake, admitting it in public bodes well for the team moving forward. But it’s worth mentioning this mistake is also one drivers like Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and other title contenders simply don’t make during the Chase. That reason right there is the one why so many think Earnhardt remains a step below, for it only takes one misstep these days to knock yourself out of the hunt. There are no mulligans when it comes to September, October and November.

How do you fix a mental boo-boo like that? I don’t honestly know, and what Earnhardt blamed it on (the A-post blocking his vision) seems far-fetched. So we’ll see.

FOURTH GEAR: Runaway rookie race
The much-hyped rookie class of 2014 has turned into a one-man roadshow. Since winning at Fontana a few weeks ago in the Nationwide Series race, Kyle Larson has stepped up on the Cup level. Three top-10 finishes in the last four races have distanced him from the competition much earlier than expected, as chief rival Austin Dillon  has gone 11th, 11th, 15th and 21st in the same stretch. Larson was smooth as silk Sunday, driving into the top 10 at lap 60 and sticking there until upping the ante, powering right into the top 5 on the final restart. It’s a knack for getting better throughout the event, along with capitalizing on double-file chaos, that keeps Larson (fifth on Sunday) looking like a potential candidate for Cup Victory Lane this season.

Can anyone else step up? The competition, besides Dillon, has been fairly weak with Parker Kligerman and Ryan Truex simply trying to survive a few more weeks in NASCAR’s eight-man freshman class. Very quickly, and despite the prestige of Dillon’s No. 3 ride and that Daytona 500 pole, this race is looking like Larson’s to lose.

Take a second look at . There was no SAFER Barrier in the location he first hit. We say it too many times: How, with this technology readily available, is part of the outside wall uncovered at one of NASCAR’s most profitable — and fastest — tracks? Speedway president Eddie Gossage can pay for a giant television screen on his backstretch, but when it comes to safety the wallet appears to run dry. … NASCAR needs to come up with a better way to fight Mother Nature. This race, rain-delayed until Monday, wasn’t called until dragging fans through a four-hour wait. By the time it was pushed back, FOX’s national affiliates had switched off and plenty of fans were left to scramble for rescheduling info. With the forecast bleak all week and weepers slowing up the drying process, the writing was on the wall. So why the huffing, puffing and unnecessary FOX television fill? It all seemed kind of silly to me. Can this sport control the raindrops? No, but there has to be a better way to speed this decision process up without disrespecting the fans who paid hard-earned money to wait. And don’t get me started about the green-yellow start; to take up-to-speed laps away from fans that waited an extra day to see the race makes absolutely zero sense. … Kevin Harvick used to complain about the horsepower disadvantage at Richard Childress Racing. Well, you wonder which choice he’d rather make in 2014 after a second mechanical failure in four weeks. Harvick now has tied for the most DNFs (two) he’s had for any season since 2005. And there’s still 29 races remaining.

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Joey Logano outduels Jeff Gordon and wins a wild NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/top-10-ncaa-championship-games-modern-tournament-history

The Connecticut Huskies are champions.

Kevin Ollie, in just his first year eligible to make the tournament and just his second as a head coach, led his team to the top of the college basketball mountain. All UConn and Ollie did was become the first No. 7 seed to ever win the NCAA championship and the lowest seeded champ since Kansas (No. 6) topped Oklahoma in 1988.

Their defense was excellent and Shabazz Napier was downright brilliant once again. That said, Kentucky's fabulous freshmen should hold their collective head high after a tremendous effort on the other side of the court. It was a much better game than two teams with an NCAA record for combined total seeding in a title game (15).

But was last night's 60-54 showdown in North Texas one of the 10 best national championship games of the modern era? 

Limiting the time scope to the modern tournament era — aka, 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams — here are the 10 best national championship showdowns. (And five that totally flopped.)

1. (8) Villanova 66, (1) Georgetown 64
When: 1985 Where: Lexington, Ky.

It might be the most important basketball game ever played on any level. Villanova pulled the biggest championship upset in tournament history — later broken by UConn in 1999 — when the eighth-seeded Wildcats shot 22-of-28 from the floor to topple Big East rival and Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown. Nova is still the lowest-seeded team to win the NCAA championship and helped make the first 64-team tournament a huge success — in particular for the Big East. St. John's joined Nova and G-Town in the Final Four in '85 as the only year a conference has landed three teams in the Final Four.

2. (1) Kansas 75, (1) Memphis 68 (OT)
When: 2008 Where: San Antonio, Texas

For the first time in modern tourney history, all four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four. Both Kansas (who defeated a Roy Williams-coached North Carolina team) and Memphis (UCLA) cruised to the title game where John Calipari's Tigers overcame a five-point halftime deficit to take a nine-point lead with just over two minutes to play. Memphis, a notoriously poor free-throw shooting team, couldn't knock down freebies in the closing minutes and Kansas had a chance to tie it on the final possession. Veteran guard Mario Chalmers delivered with the game-tying three-pointer with 2.1 seconds to go. The Jayhawks cruised to the first six points in overtime and eventually won its first title in two decades.

3. (1) Indiana 74, (2) Syracuse 73
When: 1987 Where: New Orleans, La.

The last tournament in which teams were allowed to play in their home gyms also was the first in which the three-point shot was used. Bob Knight's Hoosiers topped Jim Boeheim's Orangemen on the back of a Keith Smart last-second baseline jumper. Smart was named the MOP because of his late heroics but current UCLA head coach Steve Alford actually led IU with 23 points in the game. The win gave Knight his third and final NCAA national championship and he would return to the Final Four only once more in his career after Smart's historic jump shot (1992).

4. (3) Michigan 80, (3) Seton Hall 79 (OT)
When: 1989 Where: Seattle, Wash.

Rumeal Robinson knocked down two free throws with three seconds left in overtime to give Michigan its first national title since 1963. The Wolverines outlasted a furious rally from the Cinderella Pirates and John Morton’s 35 points. Head coach Steve Fisher moved to 6-0 on the season after taking over for Bill Frieder just before the NCAA Tournament got started. Even though Robinson hit the game winners, future NBA star Glen Rice was named tourney MOP with 31 points in the title game and an NCAA-record 184 points in six games. 

5. (4) Arizona 84, (1) Kentucky 79 (OT)
When: 1997 Where: Indianapolis

Rick Pitino and his defending national champions entered the title game on a roll at 35-4 on the season. But Miles Simon scored a career-high 30 points on 14-of-17 from the free-throw line, including four in the final 41 seconds, to earn tournament MOP in a huge title game upset. The Wildcats didn’t make a field goal in overtime but outscored Kentucky 10-5. Arizona was the first team in history to defeat three No. 1 seeds in the same tournament.

6. (6) Kansas 83, (1) Oklahoma 79
When: 1988 Where: Kansas City, Mo.

Playing just 40 miles from campus, Danny (Manning) and the Miracles capped a historic season by avenging two regular season losses to the Sooners in the season’s final game. Oklahoma, a team that averaged 103.5 points per game, was held to less than 80 points and had an 11-minute drought with just two baskets late in the second half. Manning, the tourney MOP, scored 31 points and snagged 18 rebounds in the win. En route to the championship, the sixth-seeded Jayhawks beat No. 11 Xavier, No. 14 Murray State, No. 7 Vanderbilt and No. 4 Kansas State to get to the Final Four. It was just the third meeting of conference opponents in an NCAA championship game.

7. (1) Louisville 82, (4) Michigan 76
When: 2013 Where: Atlanta, Ga.

It had everything a national championship game should provide. Two historic brands coached by two of the game's greats in an epic battle with highlight-reel dunks, clutch shot-making and future NBA stars. After 39 furious minutes of end-to-end action, Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Luke Hancock, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng stood above National Player of the Year Trey Burke, Mitch McGary and two legacies in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. Rick Pitino won his second national title nearly two decades after winning his first with Kentucky. There wasn't a game-winning buzzer beater in the final seconds but, from start to finish, there have been few national title games more entertaining this one.

8. (1) Arkansas 76, (2) Duke 72
When: 1994 Where: Charlotte, N.C.

Arkansas, powered by coach Nolan Richardson's "40 minutes of hell" style of play, earned a spot in the Final Four much to the delight of No. 1 Hogs fan President Bill Clinton. The Hogs dispatched Arizona in the semi finals to meet Duke, who had won back-to-back titles in 1991-92. With the Commander-in-Chief in attendance at the Charlotte Coliseum, MOP Corliss Williamson paced Arkansas with 23 points and eight rebounds, but still needed a rainbow three by Scotty Thurman with less than a minute remaining to hold off a pesky Blue Devils team. The win gave Arkansas its first (and only) national title, a victory that certainly got the presidential seal of approval. 

9. (1) North Carolina 77, (1) Michigan 71
When: 1993 Where: New Orleans

Vacated wins or not, Michigan's Fab Five led the Wolverines all the way to the national championship game for the second straight season. Unfortunately, it ended with one of the most infamous and recognizable plays in NCAA tourney history. After racing up court down by two points, Chris Webber calls timeout with 11 seconds left in the game. However, since the Maize and Blue had no timeouts left, the play resulted in a technical foul and Webber's gaffe has gone down in history. Dean Smith claimed his second and final national championship.

10. (2) Louisville 72, (1) Duke 69
When: 1986 Where: Dallas, Texas

Duke was the No. 1 team in the nation with a sterling 37-2 record and the Naismith College Player of the Year Johnny Dawkins. And this also represented Mike Krzyzewski’s first-ever Final Four appearance. But Never Nervous Pervis Ellison played the game of his young career by scoring 36 points and grabbing 24 rebound in two Final Four games (25 and 11 against Duke) to earn Most Outstanding Player — the first freshman to do so since 1944 (Arnie Ferrin) and just the second freshman ever to win the honor. It was Denny Crum’s second national title in six seasons.

Just missed the cut:

11. (3) Syracuse 81, (2) Kansas 78
When: 2003 Where: New Orleans

Marquee stars Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade stole the hearts and minds of hoops enthusiasts en route to the Final Four. But Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim stole the headlines in the title game. Behind hot shooting from freshman guard Gerry McNamara (six three-pointers in the first half), the Orange took a lead that was sealed when Hakim Warrick blocked Michael Lee's attempt at a game-tying three-pointer to end the game. It was Cuse’s first national title as Melo, just a freshman, was named the MOP with 21 points in the win.

12. (1) Duke 61, (5) Butler 59
When: 2010 Where: Indianapolis

Butler beat No. 1 Syracuse, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 5 Michigan State en route to an improbable showdown with top-seeded Duke. Playing in its home town for the first time since 1968 UCLA and led by a rising coaching star in Brad Stevens, Butler battled the more talented and deeper Blue Devils to the wire. Gordon Heyward missed a half-court heave by inches that would have been the greatest shot in American basketball history. Coach K won his fourth NCAA championship.

13. (1) North Carolina 75, (1) Illinois 70
When: 2005 Where: St. Louis

After both teams survived unlikely scares in the Elite Eight against Wisconsin and Arizona respectively, the Tar Heels took a commanding early lead. But the Illini — led by Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head — rallied and tied the game at 70. Bruce Weber’s bunch had plenty of chances to take the lead and Raymond Felton calmly sunk free throws in the waning moments to give Roy Williams his first NCAA title.

14. (1) UConn 77, (1) Duke 74
When: 1999 Where: St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Blue Devils stormed through the tourney to reach the finals against a UConn team that was a then-record 9.5-point underdog. Clutch shooter Richard Hamilton won Most Outstanding Player with 27 points and Khalid Al-Amin ran the show with four assists. It was the biggest upset in a national title game in the history of the tournament.

15. (3) Duke 72, (2) Kansas 65
When: 1991 Where: Indianapolis

Duke’s win over unbeaten UNLV in the Final Four gets all of the headlines but the seven-point win over Kansas was a doozy as well. Christian Laettner was named MOP with 18 points, 10 rebounds on the strength of 12-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line. After nine Final Four trips and five national title game appearances, Duke wins its first national title.

The Final Flops:

(1) UNLV 103, (3) Duke 73
When: 1991 Where: Denver

(1) North Carolina 89, (2) Michigan State 72
When: 2009 Where: Detroit

(3) UConn 53, (8) Butler 41
When: 2011 Where: Houston

(3) Florida 73, (2) UCLA 57
When: 2006 Where: Indianapolis

(1) Duke 71, (6) Michigan 51
When: 1992 Where: Minneapolis

The Top 10 NCAA Championship Games in Modern Tournament History
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-april-8-2014

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for April 8.

• Shocking news this morning: .

. Now we get to see if he's right about Cal to the Lakers.

• Speaking of getting nervous, .


• I'd still rather be the UK tattoo bro than .



. Is he going broke or something? At least he bet on UConn.


on the occasion of the late-night legend's retirement announcement.

• Forty years ago today, .

• I'll throw Kentucky fans a bone with today's video: James Young's colossal slam against half the UConn team.


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

Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 10:07
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-128-college-football-coaches-2014

Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.


While it’s difficult to rank coaches, this aspect of college football is arguably the most important to winning a national or conference title. No matter how much talent a program has, winning a national title is difficult if the coaching is questionable.


Wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. A good coach can elevate a program. However, it’s easier for programs like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State and Texas with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.


A couple of other factors to consider when ranking assistant coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A good program is willing to spend big to keep its assistants. And a staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it’s reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?


Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?


Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 128 college football coaches rank nationally and by conference.

Ranking the Coaches by Conference:     

Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2014

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 79-15 (7 years)
Career Record: 170-57-1 (18 years)
Alabama’s Program Rank: ()

Ranking coaches in any conference or nationally is a tough assignment, but there’s little doubt about which one ranks as the best in college football. Saban is at the top of his game and is easily the No. 1 coach in the nation. In seven years at Alabama, Saban is 79-15 and has claimed three national championships. The Crimson Tide has finished in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in each of the last six years and only one of Saban’s seasons resulted in less than 10 victories. And as many around the SEC already know, Saban’s success isn’t limited to just Alabama. He recorded a 48-16 mark in five years at LSU, a 34-24-1 record in five seasons at Michigan State and a 9-2 mark in one year at Toledo. Saban is one of the nation’s top defensive minds, an excellent recruiter and also one of the best - if not the No. 1 coach - in college football at developing talent. As long as Saban is on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will be factor every season in the national championship picture.

Listen to our staff discuss the criteria and break down the debate in this year’s coach rankings in the the Cover 2 podcast.

Tune in to the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast as our staff talks college football leading up to the 2014 season.

2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 24-2 (2 years)
Career Record: 128-22 (12 years)
Ohio State’s Program Rank: ()

Meyer has been a head coach at four different jobs and has won at a high level at each program. A hallmark of Meyer’s tenures has been a quick turnaround or immediate improvement in the first season. Bowling Green went 2-9 in the year prior to Meyer’s arrival, and the Falcons recorded a 17-6 mark under his watch. At Utah, Meyer inherited a team that won five games in 2002. However, the Utes went 22-2 under Meyer and finished No. 4 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2004. Meyer was hired at Florida prior to the 2005 season and guided the Gators to a 65-15 record. Florida won two BCS titles under Meyer and finished No. 3 nationally in 2009. After stepping away in 2011, Meyer returned to the sidelines at Ohio State in 2012 and won the first 24 games in his tenure. The Buckeyes closed 2013 on a two-game losing streak but have won all 16 regular season Big Ten games under Meyer’s watch. With elite recruiting, combined with a top-five program like Ohio State, it’s only a matter of time before the Buckeyes win the national title under Meyer.


3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 77-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 219-79-2 (24 years)
South Carolina’s Program Rank: ()

Spurrier needed a few years to build the talent level at South Carolina, but heading into his 10th season in Columbia, the Gamecocks are a consistent East Division title contender. Through his first five years at South Carolina, Spurrier posted a 35-28 record with zero appearances in the final Associated Press poll. But since 2010, the Gamecocks are 42-11 and finished No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll last year. Spurrier was successful at Florida from 1990-2001 using the pass-first Fun ‘n’ Gun offense. However, the veteran coach has adapted at South Carolina and has been winning with a strong defense and a balanced offense. With successful stops at Florida and South Carolina in the SEC, along with a 20-13-1 three-year stint at Duke, Spurrier is without question one of the top coaches in college football. And even though Spurrier will be 69 years old when the season starts, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.


4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Record at Oklahoma: 160-39 (15 years)
Career Record: 160-39 (15 years)
Oklahoma’s Program Rank: 

Stoops quickly proved he was an elite coach with a national championship in his second season, and the Ohio native continues to keep Oklahoma among the nation’s best every year. After a 7-5 debut in 1999, Stoops guided the Sooners to a 13-0 record with an upset win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title. Success has been plentiful for Oklahoma since 2000 as well, as Stoops has recorded 11 seasons of at least 10 victories, and the Sooners have claimed at least a share of the conference title eight times. Maintaining success at a high level is challenging, but Stoops hasn’t missed a beat. Sure, Oklahoma had an 8-5 season in 2009 and finished No. 15 nationally in 2012. However, it’s hard to beat Stoops’ consistency, as well as his ability to beat the Sooners’ rivals. Stoops is 9-6 against Texas and 12-3 against Oklahoma State. As long as Stoops is at Oklahoma, expect the Sooners to be a consistent top 10-15 program nationally.


5. Art Briles, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 44-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 78-60 (10 years)
Baylor’s Program Rank: 

Briles has quickly emerged as one of the top coaches in college football, transforming a struggling program into ha contender on the national level. Baylor failed to record a winning record from 1996-2007, and Briles went 4-8 in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09. But since 2009, the Bears have been a factor among the top half of the Big 12, finishing 7-6 in 2010, which included their first bowl appearance since 1994. From 2011-13, Baylor is 29-10 and claimed their first outright conference title since 1980 last year. Briles’ success isn’t just limited to Baylor, as he went 34-28 in five seasons at Houston. With a new stadium, improved recruiting and a contract extension until 2023, the Bears appear poised to take another step forward under Briles’ watch. Much like Bill Snyder did at Kansas State, Briles has transformed Baylor from a struggling program into a conference title contender.


6. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Record at Kansas State: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Career Record: 178-90-1 (22 years)
Kansas State’s Program Rank: 

Prior to Snyder’s arrival, there was no track record of consistent success at Kansas State. But since Snyder was hired in 1989, the fortunes have changed for the Wildcats. Snyder won only six games during his first two years, but Kansas State had only one losing season from 1992-2003. Snyder guided the Wildcats to 11 consecutive bowl games from 1993-2003 and had six finishes in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll in that span. After a 9-13 mark from 2004-05, Snyder decided to step aside. But his retirement was short, as Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009 and promptly guided the Wildcats to a 6-6 mark. Over the last five years, Kansas State is 42-27 and claimed the Big 12 title in 2012. Winning in Manhattan is no easy task, and Snyder continues to get the most out of a roster that is consistently rated near the bottom of the conference according to recruiting rankings. As long as Snyder is on the sidelines, don’t count out Kansas State in the Big 12 title picture each year.


7. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Record at Florida State: 45-10 (4 years)
Career Record: 45-10 (4 years)
Florida State’s Program Rank: 

In four years in Tallahassee, Fisher has returned Florida State to national prominence. The Seminoles slipped at the end of the Bobby Bowden era, but Fisher has three seasons of at least 10 wins and has claimed back-to-back ACC titles. Florida State is 26-2 over the last two years and won the national championship last year, defeating Auburn in the final title game of the BCS era. Another factor working in Fisher’s ranking is his record against Florida State’s rivals. Fisher is 4-0 against Miami and 3-1 against Florida. Fisher’s success isn’t just limited to the on-field results, as he’s an excellent recruiter and talent evaluator and has a good eye for finding assistant coaches. With Fisher at the helm, there’s no more debate: Florida State is back and will be a factor in college football’s national championship picture for the foreseeable future.



8. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 64-29 (7 years)
Career Record: 82-46 (10 years)
Michigan State’s Program Rank: ()

Under Dantonio’s watch, Michigan State has emerged as one of the top programs in the Big Ten. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in three out of the last four years and went 25-7 in Big Ten play during that span. Dantonio guided Michigan State to a 13-1 finish last season, including a Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. The Spartans also finished No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll, which was the highest finish in program history since 1966. Prior to taking over at Michigan State, Dantonio went 18-17 in three years at Cincinnati. Dantonio recruited only one top-25 recruiting class from 2010-13, yet the Spartans rank No. 2 in the Big Ten during that span in conference victories. And with a hefty contract extension, Dantonio is poised to continue his success at Michigan State for the foreseeable future.

9. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Career Record: 208-72-2 (23 years)
Notre Dame's Program Rank:

Kelly is a proven winner at four different programs and has one national championship appearance on his resume after guiding Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season in 2012. In 23 years as a head coach, Kelly is 208-72-2 and has only one losing record during that span (2004, Central Michigan). At Grand Valley State, Kelly went 118-35-2 and won two Division II titles. In three seasons at Central Michigan, the Chippewas were 19-16 under Kelly’s direction. And at Cincinnati, Kelly guided the Bearcats to back-to-back BCS bowl appearances and three consecutive double-digit win seasons. With Everett Golson back at quarterback, Notre Dame could reach at least 10 victories for the second time in Kelly’s tenure.


10. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 12-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 21-5 (3 years)
Auburn’s Program Rank: ()

Malzahn has only been a head coach for two years on the FBS level, but he is already ranks near the top of coaches in the SEC. The Texas native was a successful high school coach before making the jump to coordinate Arkansas’ offense in 2006. Malzahn left the Razorbacks to be the offensive coordinator at Tulsa from 2007-08, before returning to the SEC as Gene Chizik’s play-caller from 2009-11. Malzahn was one of the key pieces in Auburn’s national championship season in 2010 and landed his first chance to be a head coach in 2012 at Arkansas State. The Red Wolves went 9-3 in his only year, as Malzahn was hired by Auburn to replace Chizik at the end of the 2012 season. The Tigers went 3-9 in 2012, but Malzahn provided a quick fix, leading Auburn to a 12-2 final record with an appearance in the national championship. Prior to last season, Malzahn was already regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. And after guiding the Tigers to a No. 2 finish in the final Associated Press poll, Malzahn deserves to be ranked among the top 10-15 coaches nationally.


11. James Franklin, Penn State
Record at Penn State: First Season
Career Record: 24-15 (3 years)
Penn State’s Program Rank: ()

Franklin comes to Penn State after a successful three-year stint at Vanderbilt. The Pennsylvania native is one of the top coaching hires for 2014 and should win big with the Nittany Lions. Franklin won 24 games with the Commodores, which tied the best three-year stretch in program history. Vanderbilt also recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons, finished in the Associated Press poll twice and claimed two bowl victories under Franklin. Prior to taking over with the Commodores, Franklin worked as the offensive coordinator at Kansas State and Maryland and served as an assistant with the Packers in 2005. After winning at one of the toughest programs in the BCS, Franklin is now at a job where he can consistently compete for titles. Franklin is also regarded as an excellent recruiter. With the resources available at Penn State, Franklin will have the Nittany Lions in contention for Big Ten titles and a spot in college football’s playoff in the near future.


12. David Shaw, Stanford
Record at Stanford: 34-7 (3 years)
Career Record: 34-7 (3 years)
Stanford’s Program Rank: 

Life without Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines and Andrew Luck at quarterback was supposed to be tough at Stanford. But that hasn’t been the case for the Cardinal, as Shaw as kept Stanford among the best in the nation. The Cardinal is 34-7 over the last three years and has lost only four conference games during that span. Shaw has guided the program to three consecutive BCS bowls and two top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Stanford signed a small recruiting class in 2013, which finished No. 51 nationally by 247Sports Composite. However, in 2012 and 2014, Shaw inked classes that ranked among the top 15 in the nation. Stanford has claimed at least a share of the North Division title in each of the last three years, but that run could be tested in 2014 with the departure of a talented senior class and defensive coordinator Derek Mason. Despite the personnel losses, expect Shaw to have Stanford back in the Pac-12 title hunt once again.


13. Chris Petersen, Washington
Record at Washington: First Year
Career Record: 92-12 (8 years)
Washington’s Program Rank: 

Petersen is a tough coach to rank among his Pac-12 peers. Winning big outside of a BCS conference is a good sign, but the week-to-week grind in the Pac-12 or any of the other BCS leagues is another matter. In eight years at Boise State, Petersen elevated the program to new heights. The Broncos went 92-12 and recorded four top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Also, Boise State claimed two BCS bowl victories and claimed at least a share of five conference titles. Another notch in Petersen’s resume was the Broncos’ track record against BCS teams. Boise State defeated Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia in non-conference or bowl games during Petersen’s tenure. The California native is a good fit at Washington and inherits a solid core of talent to work with in 2014. If there’s any concern about Petersen, it has to be the track record of former Boise State coaches leaving to take BCS jobs. Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins struggled at their next stop after leaving Boise State. Despite the lack of success by Hawkins and Koetter, all signs point to Petersen being a home-run hire for Washington.


14. Mark Richt, Georgia
Record at Georgia: 126-45 (13 years)
Career Record: 126-45 (13 years)
Georgia’s Program Rank: ()

Richt has experienced his share of ups and downs in Athens, but he has been one of the nation’s most consistent coaches since his hire in 2001. Over the last 13 years, Georgia has averaged 9.7 wins a season under Richt. Additionally, the Bulldogs have recorded three top-five finishes in the final Associated Press poll and claimed at least a share of the East Division title six times. The only thing missing on Richt’s resume is a national championship. The Bulldogs have not played in a BCS bowl since the 2007 season, but the new playoff format should help this team, especially with more spots in elite bowls open to the SEC. Also, the addition of former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is an upgrade over previous defensive play-caller Todd Grantham, which should bolster Richt's chances of winning a SEC title in the next few years.


15. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 31-44 (6 years)
Career Record: 75-73 (12 years)
Duke’s Program Rank: 

Cutcliffe’s career mark with the Blue Devils is only 31-44, but as we mentioned in the introduction, not all coaches can be judged solely on wins and losses. Duke is one of the toughest coaching jobs in a BCS conference. From 2000-07, the Blue Devils won only 10 games and had six seasons of at least 10 losses. Cutcliffe needed some time to establish a foundation, but Duke has turned a corner under his watch. The Blue Devils went 15-33 in Cutcliffe’s first four years. However, Duke is 16-11 over the last seasons and claimed the Coastal Division title in 2013. And in terms of recruiting, the Blue Devils have the No. 13 roster in the ACC, which only adds credit to the job Cutcliffe has done in Durham. Prior to his stint at Duke, Cutcliffe went 44-29 at Ole Miss, including a 10-3 record in 2003. Sustaining success with the Blue Devils won’t be easy. However, Cutcliffe is a sharp offensive mind and the program has made steady progress under his watch. Expect Duke to consistently be in the mix for bowl games under Cutcliffe in future seasons.


16. Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 41-9 (4 years, 2003-06)
Career Record: 83-30 (9 years)
Louisville’s Program Rank: 

Petrino is a polarizing figure in college football. There’s no doubt he’s made mistakes, but he’s also an outstanding coach – and likely one of the best in the nation. After stops at Arkansas, Western Kentucky and in the NFL with the Falcons, Petrino has returned to Louisville. From 2003-06, the Cardinals went 41-9 under Petrino’s direction and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll in 2006. Petrino transformed Arkansas from a 5-7 program in 2008 to an 11-2 team in 2011. However, his tenure ended with the Razorbacks after he lied to athletic director Jeff Long following a motorcycle crash in 2012. After sitting on the sidelines for a year, Petrino was hired by Western Kentucky to replace Willie Taggart, and the Hilltoppers finished 8-4 in Petrino’s only season. Again, there’s no question Petrino comes with baggage. But the Montana native is a proven winner – 83 wins in nine years – and one of the top offensive minds in college football.


17. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 95-24 (9 years)
Career Record: 123-45 (13 years)
LSU’s Program Rank: ()

The Mad Hatter is a bit of a gambler when it comes to making on-the-field decisions, and is always a good sound byte for the media, but let’s not overlook the Ohio native’s on-field success in recent years. In nine years at LSU, Miles is 95-24 and has won at least 10 games in each of the last four years. The Tigers had a slight dip in wins from 2008-09, finishing just 17-9 during that span. However, Miles returned LSU back to SEC and national prominence, and the Tigers finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. Miles’ success isn’t just limited to LSU, as he recorded a 28-21 mark in four years at Oklahoma State from 2001-04. There’s no doubt regarding Miles’ ability to recruit (four top-10 classes over the last five years), and he has one of the SEC’s top staffs with proven coordinators in John Chavis and Cam Cameron, along with regarded assistants in Jeff Grimes, Frank Wilson and Brick Haley. 


18. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Record at Northwestern: 55-46 (8 years)
Career Record: 55-46 (8 years)
Northwestern’s Program Rank: ()

Fitzgerald’s career record doesn’t compare to Urban Meyer or Mark Dantonio, but let’s keep in mind he’s also coaching at one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs. One way to look at Fitzgerald’s ranking is this: If he was at a program at the top of college football’s food chain with more resources, we think he would win at a higher level. In eight years at Northwestern, Fitzgerald has been outstanding. The Wildcats are 55-46 under his watch and played in five consecutive bowl games from 2008-12. Northwestern also won the 2013 Gator Bowl, which was the program’s first postseason win since 1949. The 1-7 mark in Big Ten play last season was Northwestern’s worst conference record under Fitzgerald, but the Wildcats were hit hard by injuries. Under Fitzgerald, Northwestern will always be a factor in the bowl picture and should be a tough out for the rest of the Big Ten.


19. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 18-9 (2 years)
Career Record: 67-38 (8 years)
Arizona State’s Program Rank: 

Graham gets a bad rap from his job-hopping in recent years, but there’s no question he’s one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. At Rice, Graham inherited a team that went 1-10 in the season prior to his arrival, and the Owls improved by six games in his first season and finished 7-6 overall. Graham was hired at Tulsa after one season at Rice and went 36-17 in four seasons. The Golden Hurricane had three years of at least 10 wins and a No. 24 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2010. Graham took over at Pittsburgh in 2011 and went 6-6, but his stay in the Steel City lasted only one year. Arizona State picked Graham to replace Dennis Erickson, and the program has been on the upswing over the last two years. The Sun Devils are 18-9 under Graham’s watch and claimed the Pac-12 South title last season. Arizona State has started facility renovations to Sun Devil Stadium and inked extensions with Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. With Graham at the helm, combined with a commitment to keeping good assistants and improved facilities, Arizona State is poised to become a consistent challenger for the South Division title.


20. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Record at Oklahoma State: 77-38 (9 years)
Career Record: 77-38 (9 years)
Oklahoma State’s Program Rank: 

Gundy has raised the bar during his tenure in Stillwater, winning 77 games over the last nine years and one Big 12 Championship in 2011. The Cowboys’ 2011 Big 12 title was the program’s first outright conference championship since 1948, and Gundy’s 77 wins rank first among coaches in Oklahoma State history. Since recording back-to-back seven-win seasons from 2006-07, the Cowboys have not won fewer than eight games. With a good chunk of talent leaving the roster heading into 2014, Oklahoma State appears to be set for a rebuilding year. However, Gundy has proved there’s plenty of staying power in Stillwater, and even if 2014 is a rebuilding effort, the Cowboys won’t be down for long.


21. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 9-4 (1 year)
Career Record: 39-35 (5 years)
Wisconsin’s Program Rank: ()

Andersen isn’t as experienced in the Big Ten as Ferentz, Kill, Hoke or Pelini, but he has a strong resume in just six years as a head coach. Andersen’s first head coaching job came at Southern Utah in 2003. The Thunderbirds went 4-7 Andersen's debut, which represented a three-game improvement from 2002. After one season at Southern Utah, Andersen worked at Utah from 2004-08 as an assistant, including the final three years as the defensive coordinator. In 2009, he was hired as Utah State’s head coach. Andersen went 8-16 in the first two years but recorded an 18-8 mark over the final two seasons. Utah State’s 11-win campaign in 2012 was the most victories in school history. Andersen went 9-4 in his Wisconsin debut and all four losses were by 10 points or less.


22. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 102-63 (13 years)
Career Record: 175-100-3 (23 years)
Missouri’s Program Rank: ()

Much like Mark Richt at Georgia, Pinkel has been a consistent winner during his career at Missouri. The Tigers slipped to 5-7 in their SEC debut in 2012, but injuries – especially to quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey – were the driving factors behind the disappointing season. However, one year later, Missouri won the East Division and finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll. Under Pinkel, the Tigers have winning records in eight out of the last nine years, with four double-digit win totals since 2007. Prior to Missouri, Pinkel was a successful coach at Toledo, recording a 73-37-3 record in 10 years with the Rockets. It was easy for some in the SEC to write off Pinkel after the 5-7 record in 2012. But heading into 2014, Missouri looks like a contender for the East Division title once again, and Pinkel has the program on stable ground entering its third year in the SEC.


23. Gary Patterson, TCU
Record at TCU: 120-44 (12 years)
Career Record: 120-44 (12 years)
TCU’s Program Rank: 

Moving to the Big 12 has been a challenge for Patterson and TCU, as the Horned Frogs are just 11-14 overall and 6-12 in Big 12 play over the last two seasons. But prior to joining the Big 12, TCU was a consistent top-25 team. The Horned Frogs recorded three top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2008-10, and this program has only two losing records in Patterson’s 12 years. It’s one thing to win in the Mountain West, but it’s a huge challenge to elevate a program into Big 12 title contention on a consistent basis. The coaching staff needs time to upgrade the overall program depth and talent to compete with Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State, but that shouldn’t be an issue when you look at TCU’s track record of success under Patterson. Also, the Kansas native is one of the top defensive minds in the conference – as evidenced by allowing just 4.8 yards per play last season. The Horned Frogs have stumbled a bit in their new conference, which isn’t really a surprise when you consider the struggles of West Virginia and Utah during their conference transition period. However, the future in Fort Worth still appears to be very bright for Patterson.


24. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 20-6 (2 years)
Career Record: 55-23 (6 years)
Texas A&M’s Program Rank: ()

Armed with the SEC logo, facility renovations and Sumlin’s coaching, Texas A&M is poised to be a factor on the national scene for the foreseeable future. The Aggies went 11-2 and finished No. 5 nationally in the final Associated Press poll in 2012 but slipped to 9-4 and just .500 (4-4) in SEC play last year. Prior to his stint at Texas A&M, Sumlin went 35-17 in four years at Houston. Building a program into a consistent national title contender will take time. And sometimes it's necessary to take a step back before moving forward. Through two years in College Station, Sumlin guided Texas A&M through a difficult conference transition, produced a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel) and has recruited back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes. Without Manziel and standout receiver Mike Evans, the Aggies may take a step back in 2014. However, with all of the young talent on the roster, the future looks bright in Aggieland.


25. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 224-109-2 (27 years)
Career Record: 266-132-4 (33 years)
Virginia Tech’s Program Rank: 

Beamer is the dean of college football coaches with 33 consecutive years of head coach experience. The North Carolina native worked as an assistant at Citadel and Murray State from 1973-80 and was promoted to the top spot with the Racers in 1981. In six seasons as Murray State’s head coach, Beamer went 42-23-2 and finished his tenure with four consecutive winning records. Beamer started his tenure at Virginia Tech with losing records in four out of the first six years. However, the Hokies have been one of the nation’s most consistent teams since 1993. Virginia Tech has played in 21 straight bowl games and has won at least 10 games in eight out of the last 10 years. While the program has been remarkably consistent, the Hokies are 15-11 in the last two seasons. Even though that record marks a slight drop from the early 2000s, there’s no reason to hit the panic button in Blacksburg going into 2014.


26. Charlie Strong, Texas
Record at Texas: First Year
Career Record: 37-16 (4 years)
Texas’ Program Rank: 

Strong was somewhat of a surprising hire at Texas, but all signs point to this paying huge dividends for the Longhorns. In four years as Louisville’s head coach, Strong went 37-15 and earned four bowl appearances. The Cardinals won 23 games over the final two seasons and claimed back-to-back top-15 finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2012-13. Prior to taking over at Louisville, Strong accumulated a wealth of experience as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina. There’s no secret Strong is a sharp defensive mind, a good recruiter, and someone who focuses on fundamentals and physical play. Considering Texas has struggled to develop its elite talent over the last few years, Strong and his coaching staff should fix that problem. Additionally, the consistent problems on the offensive line seem to be addressed with the addition of Joe Wickline. Coaching at Texas will require a few changes for Strong, especially when it comes to the booster glad-handing and Longhorn Network. But there's little reason to believe Strong won't win big at Texas. 


27. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Record at Oregon State: 88-73 (13 years)
Career Record: 88-73 (13 years)
Oregon State’s Program Rank: 

Riley is in his second stint at Oregon State, and the Beavers have been one of the Pac-12’s most consistent programs under his watch. From 1971-98, Oregon State failed to earn a winning record. But since 2003, the Beavers have eight winning seasons out of the last 11 years. Riley has guided Oregon State to six years of at least eight wins during that span. The Beavers also have 15 bowl appearances in school history – eight of them are under Riley’s watch. So while Oregon State is still looking for a Pac-12 title under Riley, he has clearly elevated a program that struggled mightily prior to his arrival. And if you needed any additional data on Riley’s impact, take a look at recruiting rankings. The Beavers own the No. 10 roster in the Pac-12, yet rank sixth in the conference in conference wins over the last four years.


28. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 9-16 (2 years)
Career Record: 93-59 (12 years)
Washington State’s Program Rank: 

Washington State is the toughest job in the Pac-12. But the Cougars have the right coach to keep this program competitive on a consistent basis. Leach was forced out at Texas Tech after 10 successful years in Lubbock. The Red Raiders never missed a bowl game under Leach and finished five times in the final Associated Press poll. Leach is only 9-16 in two years at Washington State. However, the Cougars improved their win total by three games from 2012 to 2013. Additionally, Washington State went to a bowl game for the first time since 2003 last year. Leach is one of the top offensive minds in college football and will help Washington State move a little closer to contending with the Pac-12 North’s top teams over the next few years.


29. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 45-18 (5 years)
Ole Miss’ Program Rank: ()

Freeze still has plenty to prove within the SEC, but there’s also a lot of potential. The Mississippi native has brought instant success to each of his three college coaching jobs, starting at Lambuth in 2008. The Eagles won seven games in the two seasons prior to Freeze’s arrival, but he went 8-4 in 2008 and 12-1 in 2009. Freeze served as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2010 and was promoted to head coach in 2011. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt title in Freeze’s only season, finishing 10-2 with a trip to the GoDaddy Bowl. In two years at Ole Miss, Freeze is 15-11 and 6-10 in SEC play. Those totals aren’t particularly overwhelming, but the Rebels finished 6-18 in the two years prior to his arrival. With two top-15 recruiting classes, the talent level is on the rise in Oxford. Freeze needs time to match the depth at Alabama, Auburn and LSU, but the gap is slowly starting to close.


30. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 16-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 136-94-2 (20 years)
Arizona’s Program Rank: 

A three-year stint at Michigan is really the only blemish on Rodriguez’s 20 years on the sidelines. The West Virginia native started his coaching career at Salem in 1988 and had his second opportunity as a head coach at Glenville State in 1990. In seven years with the Pioneers, he went 43-28-2 and was hired at Tulane to coordinate the offense after the 1996 season. After two years with the Green Wave, Rodriguez was hired as Clemson’s offensive coordinator (1999-00) and then took over the top spot at West Virginia in 2001. The Mountaineers were 60-26 under Rodriguez and were one win away from playing for the national title in 2007. Rodriguez left his home state for the opportunity to coach at Michigan, but his three years with the Wolverines resulted in a disappointing 15-22 record. And after sitting out a year, Rodriguez jumped back into the coaching game at Arizona. So far, so good in Tucson. The Wildcats have recorded back-to-back 8-5 seasons and two bowl victories under his watch.


31. Jim Mora, UCLA
Record at UCLA: 19-8 (2 years)
Career Record: 19-8 (2 years)
UCLA’s Program Rank: 

Mora has only been at UCLA for two seasons, but the former NFL head coach is making a difference. The Bruins are 19-8 under Mora, including a 12-6 mark during the regular season in Pac-12 play. UCLA finished No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which was the program’s first appearance in the last ranking since a No. 16 mark in 2005. Recruiting under Mora is also stable, as the Bruins have signed three consecutive top-20 classes. UCLA also made a big commitment to Mora by signing him to a six-year extension at the end of the 2013 season. With Brett Hundley returning for his junior year, the Bruins will have a chance to take the next step under Mora in 2014. 


32. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Record at Mississippi State: 36-28 (5 years)
Career Record: 36-28 (5 years)
Mississippi State’s Program Rank: ()

Winning at Mississippi State is no easy task. Just how difficult? Counting Mullen, the last seven coaches in Starkville had a losing record in SEC play. Jackie Sherrill guided the Bulldogs to an appearance in the SEC Championship, but his final record in SEC contests was just 43-59-1. Considering how difficult it is to win at a high level at Mississippi State, it’s unrealistic for Mullen to compete for SEC titles every year. In five years with the Bulldogs, Mullen is 36-28 and has guided the program to four consecutive bowl appearances. Additionally, Mullen is 4-1 against rival Ole Miss. Closing the gap on the rest of the West Division will be challenging, but Mullen clearly has the program going on the right direction. Considering the challenge of winning at Mississippi State, a strong case could be made Mullen needs to rank higher on this list of SEC coaches. 


33. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 22-15 (3 years)
Career Record: 49-49 (8 years)
Miami’s Program Rank: 

Golden is a tough coach to rank among his ACC peers. On the positive side: Miami has increased its win total in each of the last two seasons after winning six games in Golden’s debut. The Hurricanes are also seeing an uptick in recruiting, bringing in the No. 12 (2014), No. 14 (2013) and No. 10 (2012) classes after signing the No. 33 group in 2011. But here’s the bad news: This is Miami – the No. 3 coaching job in the ACC. The Hurricanes are still looking for their first appearance in the conference championship, and Golden has yet to produce a ranked team in the final Associated Press poll. , Miami needs to win at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Coral Gables, Golden took Temple from a 1-11 record in 2006 to a program with back-to-back winning seasons in 2009-10. Some of the Owls’ success under Golden was due to the transition to the MAC, but Golden helped to mold Temple from one of the worst programs back to respectability. 2014 should be a telling year for Golden and his overall leadership at Miami, as the Hurricanes have the talent to win the Coastal. However, enough questions remain that Miami could finish third in the division. 


34. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Record at Clemson: 51-23 (6 years)
Career Record: 51-23 (6 years)
Clemson’s Program Rank: 

Swinney has helped Clemson shake the underachieving label recently, recording a school-record 32 victories over the last three years. The Tigers are 14-2 in the last two seasons of ACC play and have two BCS bowl appearances in three years. Clemson finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013, which is the best final ranking for the program since Danny Ford guided the Tigers to a No. 8 ranking in 1982. Swinney is at his best in the program CEO role. Coordinators Chad Morris and Brent Venables are two of the nation’s highest-paid assistants, and Morris’ arrival in 2011 sparked instant improvement on offense. Prior to hiring Morris, Swinney was just 19-15. One trouble spot for Swinney is his record against rival South Carolina and Florida State. The Gamecocks have won five in a row over Clemson, while the Tigers are 2-4 under Swinney against the Seminoles. In order for Swinney to take the next step as a head coach, he has to consistently beat Florida State and South Carolina.


35. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 108-79 (15 years)
Career Record: 120-100 (18 years)
Iowa’s Program Rank: ()

Ferentz may not be the flashiest coach, but he is easily one of the top-six coaches in the Big Ten. Iowa is a solid job, but it also has its drawbacks. There’s not a ton of in-state talent to build a team, but the Hawkeyes are 15-17 in conference play over the last four years, which is almost equal to Michigan during that span (18-14). Ferentz went 4-19 in his first two years at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes recorded six consecutive bowl appearances from 2001-06, including an Orange Bowl trip after the 2002 season. After missing out on a bowl in 2007, Iowa earned four straight postseason trips from 2008-11, and Ferentz got the program back on track after a 4-8 mark in 2012. With a favorable schedule and 12 starters back, Ferentz should have Iowa in contention for the West Division title in 2014.


36. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 17-21 (3 years)
Career Record: 144-94 (20 years)
Minnesota’s Program Rank: ()

Kill was a successful coach prior to taking over at Minnesota and has guided the Golden Gophers to back-to-back bowl games for the first time sine 2008-09. In five years at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98), Kill went 38-14 and followed that stint with a two-year stop at Emporia State (11-11). From 2001-07, Kill recorded a 55-32 mark at Southern Illinois, which included five consecutive appearances in the FCS playoffs. And in three years at Northern Illinois, Kill went 23-16 with three bowl trips. After a 3-9 mark at Minnesota in 2011, Kill is 14-12 and clearly has the program on the right track. Also, last year’s 4-4 Big Ten mark is the first record of .500 or better in Big Ten play by Minnesota since 2005.


37. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: 5-7 (1 year)
Career Record: 55-34 (7 years)
Tennessee’s Program Rank: ()

In his first year at Tennessee, Jones had a similar overall record to his predecessor (Derek Dooley), but the Volunteers appeared to take a step forward in 2013. Tennessee lost to Georgia by three points in overtime and fell to Vanderbilt 14-10 in late November. The signs of progress were small, but Jones is recruiting at a high level and has a track record of success. From 2007-09 at Central Michigan, Jones went 27-13 and won two MAC titles. At Cincinnati, Jones recorded a 23-14 mark and finished with a 10-4 mark in the Big East over the final two years. Jones is unproven in the SEC, but all signs point to progress on Rocky Top heading into 2014.


38. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 26-13 (3 years)
Career Record: 73-63 (11 years)
Michigan’s Program Rank: ()

A few years ago, Hoke would have ranked higher on this list. However, Hoke’s stock has been on the decline after finishing 8-5 in 2012 and 7-6 in 2013. Prior to taking over at Michigan, Hoke recorded a 34-38 record in six seasons at Ball State, which included a 12-1 mark in 2008. He went 13-12 in two years at San Diego State and helped the program break an 11-year bowl drought with an appearance in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. Hoke went 11-2 in his Michigan debut in 2011 and led the Wolverines to a victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. However, despite back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes, the Wolverines are just 15-11 from 2012-13. Considering the expectations at Michigan, Hoke needs to show the program is headed in the right direction in 2014 to avoid the hot seat.

Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette
Career Record: 93-33 (10 years)

Hudspeth is a rising star in the coaching ranks and should have his pick of BCS jobs if he’s interested in leaving UL Lafayette after 2014. In three years with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth is 27-12 overall and 17-6 in Sun Belt play. UL Lafayette claimed a share of the Sun Belt title in 2013, and the program has three consecutive bowl victories. Prior to his stint with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hudspeth went 66-21 in seven years with North Alabama. He also has stops in his career at Mississippi State (2009-10), Delta State and Navy. If a SEC job opens this offseason, keep an eye on Hudspeth as a potential replacement.


40. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Career Record: 139-81 (18 years)

It’s a close call for the top spot among the coaches in the American Athletic Conference. Tuberville and O’Leary are both worthy of the No. 1 spot, but a slight edge goes to Tuberville. The Arkansas native is a proven winner at four stops in his coaching career, starting with a 25-20 stint at Ole Miss. From 1998-2008, Tuberville went 85-40 at Auburn and recorded a 20-17 mark in three years at Texas Tech. Cincinnati went 9-4 in Tuberville’s debut and could be the favorite to win the conference in 2014.

41. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Career Record: 82-34 (9 years)

Whether BYU has been an Independent or in the Mountain West, success hasn’t been a problem for Mendenhall. The Cougars won at least six games in each season under Mendenhall in the Mountain West, including back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2006-07. BYU joined the Independent ranks prior to the 2011 season, and Mendenhall has led the Cougars to at least eight victories in each of the last three years. Mendenhall isn’t flashy, but he’s a proven winner and has guided the program through a transition to the Independent ranks. And look at the schedule for 2014. Could BYU make a run at an unbeaten record?

42. George O’Leary, UCF
Career Record: 124-89 (17 years)

O’Leary quietly continues to build an impressive resume at UCF. The Knights won the American Athletic title in 2013 and finished No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll after beating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. UCF has back-to-back double-digit win seasons and has three bowl appearances in four years. Sure, the Knights have three losing records under O’Leary, but this program is never down for long and is among the best in the American Athletic Conference. O’Leary also went 52-33 during eight seasons at Georgia Tech. 

43. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Record at Nebraska: 58-24 (6 years)
Career Record: 58-24 (6 years)
Nebraska’s Program Rank: ()

Pelini is still looking for his first conference title or an appearance in a BCS bowl, but he has won at least nine games in each of his six seasons at Nebraska. While nine or ten victories a year works at most programs, is that an acceptable benchmark in Lincoln? Winning at Nebraska in 2014 is probably more challenging than it was in 1995, but according to recruiting rankings, the Cornhuskers have the No. 3 roster in the Big Ten. Although Pelini’s win total has been consistent and has five consecutive finishes in the final Associated Press poll, the expectations are huge at Nebraska. Would a 7-5 or 8-4 record in 2014 force athletic director Shawn Eichorst to rethink the direction of the program?

44. Steve Sarkisian, USC
Record at USC: First Year
Career Record: 34-29 (5 years)
USC’s Program Rank: 

Taking over at USC is essentially a homecoming for Sarkisian. The California native was a successful quarterback at BYU and had a short stint in the CFL. Sarkisian’s first college coaching job was at El Camino in 2000, and he landed at USC in 2001-03 and again from 2005-08 under Pete Carroll. In 2009, Sarkisian was hired at Washington, where he inherited a team that finished 0-12 in the season prior to his arrival. Sarkisian brought immediate improvement to Seattle, guiding the Huskies to a 5-7 mark in 2009 and a 34-29 mark in his tenure. Washington played in four consecutive bowl games under Sarkisian, but never finished higher than third in the Pac-12 North. Elevating the Huskies back to Pac-12 respectability was a good sign. However, Sarkisian needs to win at a higher level at USC. With a solid coaching staff and the No. 11 signing class from 2014, it seems Sarkisian is on the right path. And it certainly won’t hurt Sarkisian’s prospects when the sanctions end and USC has a full allotment of scholarships.

45. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 4-8 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-29 (4 years)
Colorado’s Program Rank: 

The arrow is clearly pointing up on MacIntyre’s tenure at Colorado. The Buffaloes were only 4-8 overall and won just one contest in Pac-12 play, but the program took a step forward last year after struggling under Jon Embree. Prior to taking over in Boulder, MacIntyre spent three years at San Jose State, transforming the Spartans from a 1-11 team in 2010 to a 10-2 squad in 2012. According to the recruiting ranks, , and standout receiver Paul Richardson must be replaced in 2014. MacIntyre needs time to successfully rebuild Colorado, but with a few breaks this season, the Buffaloes could make a bowl. After all, that isn't impossible considering MacIntyre’s second team at San Jose State made a four-game jump in the win column.

46. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 47-32 (6 years)
Career Record: 154-71 (17 years)
Georgia Tech’s Program Rank: 

Johnson has been a successful coach at three different jobs, starting with Georgia Southern in the FCS ranks in 1997. The Eagles went 62-10 under Johnson, which included back-to-back FCS Championships. At Navy, Johnson went 2-10 in his first year (2002) but finished his tenure with a 45-29 record and a No. 24 final ranking in the 2004 Associated Press poll. Johnson was hired at Georgia Tech in 2008 and is 47-32 in six years. Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have not finished under .500 in conference play under Johnson’s watch and won the ACC title in 2009. Despite his success, there seems to be unrest at Georgia Tech. But here's something to keep in perspective: Georgia Tech ranks as the No. 9 job in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets have 19 wins in conference play over the last four years – only Virginia Tech has more during that span in the Coastal Division. Johnson is also regarded as one of the ACC’s top X’s and O’s coaches. Sure, the option might not be the most exciting offense to run at a BCS program, and the recruiting at Georgia Tech isn’t getting any better. However, Johnson has finished first or second (outright or shared) in the Coastal in five out of the last six years.

47. Steve Addazio, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 20-17 (3 years)
Boston College’s Program Rank: 

Addazio brought instant improvement in his first season at Boston College. The Eagles went 6-18 from 2011-12 under Frank Spaziani, but Addazio guided Boston College to a 7-6 record in 2013. Addazio had plenty of talent in the upperclassmen ranks to help his transition, and his work on the recruiting trail should ensure the Eagles continue to be a factor in the bowl picture. Before taking over at Boston College, Addazio went 13-11 in two years with Temple. The Owls went 9-4 in the MAC in 2011 but slipped to 4-7 in the tougher Big East Conference. As a Connecticut native, Addazio is familiar with the recruiting scene in the Northeast and what it takes to win at Boston College. The Eagles lose several key players from last year’s seven-win team, so some regression in the win total should be expected. However, Addazio has this program trending in the right direction for 2015 and beyond.

Pete Lembo, Ball State
Career Record: 104-49 (13 years)

It’s pretty easy to sum up Lembo’s coaching career in this simple statement: Three different head coach jobs, three very successful tenures. Lembo’s first head coaching gig was in 2001 at Lehigh. He guided the Mountain Hawks to a 44-14 record and two playoff appearances in five years. Lembo went to Elon in 2006 and won 35 games in five seasons. Lembo was hired at Ball State in 2011, and the Cardinals have yet to record a losing record under his watch. Ball State is 19-7 over the last two years and has played in back-to-back bowls. There’s no question Lembo is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks and could be poised for a jump to a BCS program in the next few years.

49. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Record at Iowa State: 27-36 (5 years)
Career Record: 27-36 (5 years)
Iowa State’s Program Rank: 

Rhoads is a good example why records are often deceiving when ranking coaches. On the surface, 27 wins isn’t impressive. However, Iowa State is one of the toughest jobs among BCS programs and ranks No. 9 in the Big 12. Winning big is tough in Ames, and Rhoads has three bowl appearances in five years. Additionally, the Cyclones have only one season of fewer than five wins. Just how difficult is it to win at Iowa State? The program has only two seasons of more than eight wins and only four of the Cyclones’ bowl appearances came before 2000. So while Rhoads may not have the best winning total, he’s keeping Iowa State competitive and in the mix for bowl games. And at a job like Iowa State, some would consider that overachieving.

50. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 13-24 (3 years)
Career Record: 87-94 (15 years)
Maryland’s Program Rank: ()

Maryland has made steady progress in each of Edsall’s first three seasons and are in good position to make a bowl in 2014. Edsall was hired at Maryland in 2011 after 12 seasons at Connecticut. Under Edsall’s direction, the Huskies went 74-70 and claimed the Big East title in 2010. Edsall never recorded more than nine wins in a season at Connecticut, but he overachieved considering the program hierarchy in the Big East at the time. The Terrapins finished 2-10 in Edsall’s debut but improved their win total to four in 2012 and then seven in 2013. Maryland needs time to transition to the Big Ten, but Edsall is making gains in the right direction.

51. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Record at Utah: 76-39 (9 years)
Career Record: 76-39 (9 years)
Utah’s Program Rank: 

It’s pretty easy to see how deep the Pac-12 is with good coaches when Whittingham ranks No. 10. The former BYU linebacker is 76-39 in nine years in Salt Lake City, which includes a 13-0 record with a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in the 2008 season. In their final three years in the Mountain West (2008-10), Utah went 33-6 and lost only three conference games. However, as expected, the transition to the Pac-12 has been a challenge. The Utes went 8-5 in their Pac-12 debut but have posted back-to-back 5-7 records. Additionally, Utah is just 5-13 in conference play from 2012-13. Considering Whittingham’s wins in the Pac-12 have declined in back-to-back years, 2014 will be an important season to show the Utes are back on track. The addition of Dave Christensen as Utah’s offensive coordinator, combined with a little luck on health at quarterback could be enough for the Utes to get back to a bowl.

52. Will Muschamp, Florida
Record at Florida: 22-16 (3 years)
Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)
Florida’s Program Rank: ()

What a difference a year makes. At this time last season, Muschamp could have ranked in the top half of the coach rankings in the SEC. After 2013, he deserves to be ranked in the bottom four. In his debut with the Gators in 2011, Muschamp went 7-6 and defeated Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. Florida went 11-2 in Muschamp’s second year and finished No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. The Gators may have caught a few lucky breaks in 2012, especially with a turnover margin that was a +15 and an offense that averaged only 334 yards per game. Even if Florida was a tad lucky in 2012, it’s hard to understand why this team went 4-8 in 2013. Yes, there were injuries and the offense had its share of struggles. However, the Gators recruit at a high level and . Simply, going 4-8 at Florida should not happen. But Muschamp has another chance to guide the program back in the right direction, and staff changes to the offense should help. Muschamp is still a bit of a mystery heading into his fourth season, and it’s clear he needs a winning season to avoid hot seat talk in November.

53. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 71-33 (8 years)
Arkansas’ Program Rank: ()

Bielema’s debut at Arkansas did not go well. The Razorbacks finished 3-9 and winless in SEC play. However, there were signs of improvement late in the year. Arkansas seemed to play better over the final three games of the season, taking Mississippi State to overtime and losing to LSU by just four points in Baton Rouge. While the final record was ugly, the late-season improvement is a good sign for 2014. Also, Bielema deserves some time to build the program, as he inherited a team that went 4-8 in 2012 and played that year with an interim coach. Bielema was a successful coach at Wisconsin, winning 68 games in seven years and leading the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. It’s easy to panic after one bad year of a coaching tenure. However, Bielema has a solid track record and should help Arkansas take a step forward in 2014.

54. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 15-10 (2 years)
Career Record: 49-29 (6 years)
North Carolina’s Program Rank: 

Fedora could be a spot or two higher on this list, but there’s not much separating the middle of the pack when it comes to ACC coaches. The Texas native has North Carolina on the right track, and the Tar Heels should be in contention for the Coastal Division title in 2014. Fedora’s record at North Carolina is 15-10, with a 9-7 mark in ACC play. The Tar Heels were ineligible to play for the Coastal Division title in 2012 or play in a bowl, but Fedora guided North Carolina to a 5-3 conference record – the first for the program since a 5-3 mark in 2004. Prior to his stint at North Carolina, Fedora coached at Southern Miss and recorded a 34-19 mark with a No. 20 rank in the final Associated Press poll in 2011. If the Tar Heels take a step forward as expected in 2014, Fedora will rank higher on this list next season.

55. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 13-13 (2 years)
Career Record: 13-13 (2 years)
Pittsburgh’s Program Rank: 

Coaching uncertainty surrounded Pittsburgh from 2010-12. The Panthers went through three head coaches – Dave Wannstedt, Mike Haywood and Todd Graham – in two seasons. However, Pittsburgh got it right went they hired Chryst. Yes, his record is only 13-13, but this program is on the right track. Chryst went 6-7 in his debut but guided the Panthers to a 7-6 mark in his second year and Pittsburgh’s ACC debut. Prior to taking the top spot with the Panthers, Chryst was a successful offensive coordinator at Oregon State and Wisconsin and spent some time in the NFL with the Chargers. The talent level in the Steel City is promising. Quarterback Chad Voytik, running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd are three potential standout sophomores, and the offensive line seems to be on the right track after struggling over the last few years. Chryst needs more time to build the roster, but all signs suggest Pittsburgh is trending in the right direction going into 2014.

56. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Record at Texas Tech: 8-5 (1 year)
Career Record: 8-5 (1 year)
Texas Tech’s Program Rank: 

Kingsbury is a perfect fit at Texas Tech, and the future looks bright for this program with the former Red Raider quarterback at the helm. In his first season as Texas Tech’s coach, Kingsbury led the Red Raiders to an 8-5 record, including a bowl victory over Arizona State. Prior to taking over in Lubbock, Kingsbury worked as an assistant at Texas A&M and Houston under Kevin Sumlin. Despite his lack of experience as a head coach, there’s little doubt Kingsbury has Texas Tech on the right track. And considering Kingsbury’s background on offense, he will have no trouble attracting top quarterbacks and receivers to Lubbock. While the 34-year-old coach ranks No. 8 among his Big 12 peers, the guess here is he climbs this list over the next few seasons.

57. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Record at Indiana: 10-26 (3 years)
Career Record: 10-26 (3 years)
Indiana’s Program Rank: ()

Wilson was a highly regarded assistant prior to his hire at Indiana, and he has made a difference in three years with the Hoosiers. After a 1-11 mark in 2011, Wilson won four games in 2012 and five last season. Indiana was just a couple of plays away from a bowl, as it lost to Minnesota by three points and Navy by six last year. There’s no question Wilson is one of the Big Ten’s top offensive coaches, but the Hoosiers have struggled mightily on defense. Indiana has ranked last in the Big Ten for three consecutive years in yards allowed, and Wilson hired former Wake Forest coordinator Brian Knorr to call the plays in 2014. If Knorr can fix the defense, Indiana has plenty of firepower on offense to reach six wins. However, the Hoosiers drew a tough schedule in realignment, as they will play Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State every season.

58. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Record at Oregon: 11-2 (1 year)
Career Record: 11-2 (1 year)
Oregon’s Program Rank: 

Helfrich had a tough assignment replacing offensive mastermind Chip Kelly in 2013. The Ducks were picked by many as a threat to win the national title, but a late-season injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota hindered the offense in November. Oregon finished 11-2 in Helfrich’s debut and No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. Despite not getting to the national championship, 2014 was a solid debut for Helfrich in his first season on the sidelines in Eugene. Helfrich needs a little time to put his stamp on the program, and with Mariota returning in 2014, Oregon should in the hunt to win college football’s playoff.

Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Career Record: 104-32 (11 years)

It’s not often a coach jumps from the FCS to FBS ranks and takes the top spot in a conference. However, that’s the case with Bohl, as he ranks as Athlon’s top coach in the Mountain West. In 11 years at North Dakota State, Bohl guided the Bison to 104 victories, including three consecutive FCS Championships.

60. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 23-26 (4 years)
California’s Program Rank: 

It seems unfair to rank Dykes at the bottom of the Pac-12, but there’s not a bad coach in the conference. Dykes’ debut at California did not go well, as the Golden Bears finished 1-11 and winless in conference play for the first time since 2001. While the final record was not pretty, California had a handful of injuries to key players on defense, and Jared Goff was a true freshman getting his first snaps at quarterback. Dykes took steps this offseason to ensure last year’s 1-11 won’t be repeated. The defensive staff got a major overhaul and a solid recruiting class will help with the overall depth. Prior to his one season at California, Dykes went 22-15 at Louisiana Tech, including a 17-8 mark over the final two years.  

61. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Record at Kentucky: 2-10 (1 year)
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)
Kentucky’s Program Rank: ()

Considering Stoops inherited a Kentucky team that had just four SEC wins in the three years prior to his arrival, it’s tough to judge him based on 2013. The Wildcats went 2-10 and winless in conference play in Stoops’ first season, but there were signs of progress. Kentucky lost two conference games by seven points or less, and Stoops signed another signing class filled with talent. The Wildcats ranked No. 34 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings in 2013, but Stoops inked the No. 22 class in 2014. Prior to taking over at Kentucky, Stoops was a successful defensive coordinator at Florida State, and he also had prior stops at Arizona, Miami, Houston and Wyoming. It’s going to take Stoops some time to get the program on track. However, recruiting is going well, and the Wildcats showed signs of improvement last season. If Kentucky takes another step forward in 2014, it’s a good sign for Stoops’ long-term outlook in Lexington.

62. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt: First Season
Career Record: First Season
Vanderbilt’s Program Rank: ()

Mason takes over for James Franklin after a successful stint as Stanford’s defensive coordinator. The Arizona native has been on a steady climb through the ranks as an assistant, spending time at Weber State, Idaho State, Bucknell, Utah, New Mexico State and Ohio. In 2007, Mason joined the Vikings staff and spent three years as a defensive backs assistant in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh hired Mason at Stanford in 2010, and he was promoted to the co-defensive coordinator role in 2011, before taking over the sole play-calling abilities in 2012. Under Mason, the Cardinal finished first in the Pac-12 in total defense in 2012 and second in 2013. Additionally, Stanford’s defenses allowed less than five yards per play from 2012-13. As evidenced by his work under Harbaugh and David Shaw, Mason is a rising star in the coaching ranks and one of the top defensive minds in the nation. However, without any experience as a head coach, it’s hard to place Mason higher in the SEC coach ranks.

63. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: First Year
Career Record: 90-80 (14 years)
Wake Forest’s Program Rank: 

After successful tenures at three previous stops, Clawson finally gets his chance to run a BCS program. From 1999-2003, he recorded a 29-29 mark at Fordham. The Rams went 0-11 in his debut and made steady improvement over the next five years, including a 10-3 record with an appearance in the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson was hired at Richmond in 2004 and guided the Spiders to a 29-20 record with two playoff appearances. After a one-year stint as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2008, Clawson was hired at Bowling Green and led the Falcons to a bowl game in his debut. Under Clawson’s watch, Bowling Green won 32 games, claimed the MAC title in 2013, and made three bowl trips. Considering his history of improving programs that were struggling prior to his arrival, Clawson is the right pick to take over at Wake Forest.

Dan McCarney, North Texas
Career Record: 74-104 (15 years)

McCarney is one of the top coaches from outside the five BCS leagues. The Iowa native went 56-85 at a difficult job (Iowa State) from 1995-2006. The Cyclones went to five bowl games under McCarney and claimed a share of the Big 12 North title in 2004. The Mean Green made steady progress in McCarney’s three seasons and finished 9-4 with a Heart of Dallas Bowl victory in 2013.

65. Terry Bowden, Akron
Career Record: 146-80-2 (20 years)

After a successful stint as Auburn’s coach from 1993-98, it was puzzling to see Bowden not resurface on the FBS level until 2012 when he was hired by Akron. Although he was away from the FBS ranks for 13 seasons, Bowden certainly hasn’t forgotten how to coach. At North Alabama, Bowden recorded a 29-9 record in three years and is 6-18 in two seasons with the Zips. Akron’s win total improved by four games in Bowden’s second year, and the Zips should be in bowl contention in 2014. Could Bowden land at a BCS job in the near future?

66. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
Career Record: 20-6 (2 years)

Fresno State is one of the premier programs in the Mountain West, and DeRuyter has continued to add to the foundation Pat Hill built from 1997-2011. In two years with the Bulldogs, DeRuyter is 20-6 and claimed the Mountain West title in 2013. The Bulldogs have to reload in 2014 without quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams. However, DeRuyter is the right coach to keep Fresno State among the top programs in the Mountain West.

67. Larry Coker, UTSA
Career Record: 79-30 (9 years)

Coker went 60-15 in six years with Miami, including a national championship in 2001 season. However, that might not be his most-impressive accomplishment. Coker built the UTSA program from scratch, going 4-6 in 2011 and 8-4 in its FBS debut in 2012. The Roadrunners just missed the C-USA West Division title last season with a 7-5 overall record. While Miami dropped off at the end of Coker’s tenure, he’s clearly found a home in San Antonio, and UTSA is poised to be a major factor in Conference USA.

68. Frank Solich, Ohio
Career Record: 124-69 (15 years)

Solich is the longest-tenured coach in the MAC. He has held the top spot at Ohio since 2005 and has earned five consecutive bowl appearances. The Bobcats played for the MAC title in 2006 and 2009 and won 10 games in 2011. Solich may not be flashy, but he certainly knows how to coach. And prior to taking over at Ohio, Solich went 58-19 at Nebraska with three top-10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll.

69. June Jones, SMU
Career Record: 112-82 (15 years)

Progress at SMU has been slower than some may have expected from Jones, but the Mustangs have improved since the Oregon native took over in 2008. Jones transformed Hawaii’s program into a consistent winner in the WAC from 1999-2007, recording a 76-41 record with a Sugar Bowl appearance after the 2007 season. Jones went 1-11 in his debut at SMU, but the Mustangs had four winning seasons from 2009-12. And that’s no small feat considering SMU’s last stretch of four winning years occurred from 1983-86.

70. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
Career Record: 30-22 (4 years)

East Carolina heads into the American Athletic Conference with plenty of momentum, as McNeill has the Pirates on the right track after an 11-14 start to his tenure. McNeill is 18-8 over the last two seasons and is a former defensive back with the Pirates, so there’s no question he knows what it takes to win in Greenville. And prior to taking over at East Carolina, McNeill went 1-0 as Texas Tech’s interim coach for the 2009 Alamo Bowl.

71. Willie Taggart, South Florida
Career Record: 18-30 (4 years)

Taggart was one of last season’s top hires and a 2-10 record in his debut shouldn’t diminish the potential of USF in the next few years. At Western Kentucky, Taggart went 16-20 with back-to-back winning seasons after a 2-10 debut. With two solid recruiting classes under his belt, Taggart has the Bulls poised to make big improvement this year.

72. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Record at West Virginia: 21-17 (3 years)
Career Record: 21-17 (3 years)
West Virginia’s Program Rank: 

Holgorsen was regarded as one of the nation’s top offensive minds prior to his promotion to the top spot in Morgantown. The Iowa native worked as an assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, coordinated Houston’s offense from 2008-09 under Kevin Sumlin and spent 2010 as the play-caller at Oklahoma State. Holgorsen’s first season at West Virginia (2011) resulted in a 10-3 record and a Big East title. Transitioning to the Big 12 was a challenge for the program, but the Mountaineers started 5-0 in their first season in the new conference. However, West Virginia finished 2-6 over the final eight games in 2012. Transition was a big part of the 2013 season, as the Mountaineers had to replace quarterback Geno Smith and standout receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Although the 4-8 mark was a disappointment, Holgorsen’s team showed some progress at the end of 2013 by losing two out of their last three games in overtime. Moving to the Big 12 is a challenge for West Virginia, and the Mountaineers need time to recruit at a higher level to compete with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor. With just six Big 12 wins over the last two years, 2014 will be an important year for Holgorsen to show this program is heading in the right direction.

Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
Career Record:
49-30 (6 years)

Niumatalolo has picked up where Paul Johnson left off in Annapolis, guiding Navy to 49 wins over the last six years, including a 10-4 mark in 2008. The Midshipmen average 8.2 wins a season under Niumatalolo and has recorded only one losing record in his tenure. Navy will transition to the American Athletic Conference in 2015, and there’s no doubt Niumatalolo is the right coach to guide this program into a new league.

74. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Career Record: 90-83 (14 years)

After a successful stint as New Mexico’s coach from 1998-2008, Long decided to step aside and returned to the coordinator ranks for two years at San Diego State. However, once Brady Hoke left for Michigan, Long was promoted to the head coach role, and the Aztecs have three seasons of at least eight wins since 2011. Long certainly isn’t flashy, but San Diego State has emerged as a consistent winner under his direction.

75. Jim McElwain, Colorado State
Career Record: 12-14 (2 years)

Looking for a coach that could move to a BCS job at the end of the 2014 season? McElwain is a name to remember. In two years with the Rams, McElwain has made significant strides in Fort Collins, guiding Colorado State to an 8-6 finish and a bowl victory over Washington State last season. The Rams lose some key pieces from last year’s team, but McElwain should have Colorado State back in the mix for a bowl.

76. Matt Wells, Utah State
Career Record: 9-5 (1 year)

Gary Andersen left behind plenty of talent in Logan, but Wells deserves a lot of credit for getting Utah State to a 9-5 mark last year. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton was lost in the first half of the season with a knee injury, and the Aggies still managed to win the Mountain Division and play for the conference title. The real challenge for Wells starts in 2014, as Utah State returns only seven starters.

77. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 1-11 (1 year)
Career Record: 17-21 (3 years)
Purdue’s Program Rank: ()

Hazell’s debut at Purdue was a disappointment. The Boilermakers finished 1-11 and were largely uncompetitive in Big Ten games. However, Hazell’s long-term outlook is positive after a successful two-year stint at Kent State from 2011-12. The Golden Flashes won 16 games in Hazell’s two years, which was the most by a Kent State coach since Don James won 16 from 1973-74. And in a good sign for the Boilermakers in 2014, Hazell’s second team at Kent State improved by six victories. There’s not much that separates the bottom three coaches in the Big Ten, but Hazell’s success at a tough job (Kent State) is enough to give him somewhat of a pass on what transpired in 2013.

78. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 26-13 (3 years)
NC State’s Program Rank: 

Doeren’s first season was disappointing, but there’s no reason to panic at NC State. The Wolfpack had only eight returning starters last year, and the offense had its share of quarterback injuries. With Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett eligible at quarterback, combined with another year for the players to adapt to the coaching staff, NC State could be the most improved team in the ACC. Prior to taking over at NC State, Doeren went 23-4 at Northern Illinois and led the Huskies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl during the 2012 season. Sure, Doeren has plenty to prove in the ACC. And going winless in conference play in your debut isn’t exactly a strong introduction to the rest of the ACC. However, he has a track record of success as a head coach and was a regarded assistant during his tenure at Wisconsin and Kansas.

Dino Babers, Bowling Green
Career Record: 19-7 (2 years)

Babers has a wealth of experience in the assistant ranks, making stops at a handful of FBS programs, including Purdue, San Diego State, Arizona, UNLV, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, UCLA and Baylor. Eastern Illinois hired Babers prior to the 2012 season, and he proved to be an instant hit for the Panthers. Under Babers’ watch, Eastern Illinois went 19-7 in two years and made the FCS playoffs in both seasons. And with a loaded roster returning for Babers’ debut at Bowling Green, the Falcons could be the favorite to win the MAC in 2014.

80. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Record at Syracuse: 7-6 (1 year)
Career Record: 7-6 (1 year)
Syracuse’s Program Rank: 

Shafer picked up where Doug Marrone left off, guiding Syracuse to a 7-6 record with a victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl. After a 3-4 start, Shafer rallied the Orange for a solid second half of the season and won four out of the final six games. Syracuse’s only losses over the final six games were to national champion Florida State and a one-point defeat to Pittsburgh. Prior to his promotion to head coach at Syracuse, Shafer served as the defensive coordinator under Marrone and also has stops in his career as an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois and Northern Illinois. The Orange had some key faces to replace going into 2013, so Shafer deserves a lot of credit for guiding this program back to a bowl in its first season of ACC play. Now the task for Shafer is to sustain success, which seems like a reasonable goal considering he signed the No. 50 recruiting class in 2014 – an improvement on the No. 73 class from 2013. Shafer could be higher on this list, but Doeren’s success at Northern Illinois gave him a slight edge for the No. 12 spot.

David Bailiff, Rice
Career Record: 61-63 (10 years)

Winning at a high level on a consistent basis isn’t easy at Rice, but Bailiff has been a solid coach for the Owls. After a 21-15 mark at Texas State from 2004-06, Bailiff was picked to replace Todd Graham and has a 40-48 record in seven seasons. Rice has two 10-win seasons under Bailiff, including a 10-4 mark and a Conference USA title last year.

82. Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern
Career Record: 137-62 (17 years)

Fritz joins the FBS ranks after successful stints at Central Missouri and Sam Houston State. After a 97-47 record at Central Missouri, Fritz recorded a 40-14 mark with the Bearkats, including two appearances in the FCS Championship. Georgia Southern has a strong tradition of success, which Fritz should have no trouble building on as the program transitions to the Sun Belt Conference.

83. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Career Record: 51-49 (8 years)

Stockstill has experienced his share of ups and downs during his tenure at MTSU, but the Ohio native has guided the program to four bowl appearances and four winning seasons. The Blue Raiders are coming off back-to-back winning records for the first time since 2000-01.

84. Matt Campbell, Toledo
Career Record: 17-9 (2 years)

Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches and a rising star in the profession. He won his debut in the 2011 Military Bowl, defeating Air Force 42-41. And the Rockets are 16-9 over the last two years and played in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Toledo should be one of the favorites to win the MAC West in 2014.

85. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Career Record: 27-24 (4 years)

After a 17-20 start to his career at Marshall, Holliday seems to have the program heading in the right direction. The Thundering Herd went 10-4 last season and is regarded as a heavy favorite to win Conference USA in 2014. Prior to taking over at Marshall, Holliday was a noted assistant for his work on the recruiting trail.

86. Tony Levine, Houston
Career Record: 14-12 (2 full years)

Levine had big shoes to fill after Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M prior to the TicketCity Bowl in 2011. Houston won Levine’s debut but slipped to 5-7 in 2012. However, the Cougars rebounded in 2013 (8-5) and have a new stadium opening for 2014. If Levine can build on the progress Houston made last year, the Cougars will be a sleeper to watch in the American Athletic Conference title picture.

87. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)

As a New Orleans native and an assistant with the Saints, there’s not a better fit for a coach at Tulane than Johnson. In two years, the Green Wave has made considerable progress under Johnson. Tulane finished 2-10 in 2012 but improved to 7-6 with a bowl appearance in 2013. Moving to the American Athletic Conference will be an increased challenge for the Green Wave, and this program appears capable of handling that transition with Johnson at the helm.

88. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)

Fuente only has seven victories over the last two years, but there has been considerable progress at Memphis during that span. The Tigers went 3-21 in the two years prior to Fuente’s arrival and won just one conference game in that period. But Memphis went 4-8 in his debut in 2012 and finished 3-9 in 2013 in its American Athletic Conference debut. The Tigers should take another step forward in 2014.

89. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Career Record:
175-104-1 (23 years)

Blakeney has consistently proved he is one of the top coaches in the Sun Belt. Not only did Blakeney guide the program through the FCS to FBS transition, he has five bowl appearances since the Trojans moved to the Sun Belt. Troy has slipped some in recent years, failing to record a winning record since 2010. However, don’t expect this program to stay down for long under Blakeney.

90. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Career Record: 49-41 (7 years)

Calhoun’s stock has slipped just a bit in recent years. After starting his career at Air Force with four seasons of at least eight wins, Calhoun has not won more than seven games in a season and has back-to-back losing records. But despite the recent downturn in record, Calhoun’s track record suggests the program will rebound. However, it may not be in 2014, especially as the Falcons look to rebuild a struggling defense and settle on a quarterback.

91. Bryan Harsin, Boise State
Career Record: 7-5 (1 year)

Harsin returns to Boise State after a three-year stint away from the Broncos. The former Boise State quarterback spent time at Texas under Mack Brown for two seasons and led Arkansas State to a 7-5 record in his only year as the head coach in Jonesboro. Harsin is a great fit at Boise State and should have the Broncos in the mix for a Mountain West title in 2014.

92. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
Career Record: 203-121-2 (28 years)

Texas State is the seventh head coaching position in Franchione’s career, and he boasts a solid 203-121-2 record in 28 years. Franchione has helped guide the Bobcats through a program transition to the FBS ranks and has two 6-6 records over the last three years. There’s no question Franchione knows how to build a program, as evidenced by his wins at New Mexico and TCU. And with a little more time at Texas State, the Bobcats should be near the top of the Sun Belt.

93. Todd Berry, ULM
Career Record: 52-85 (12 years)

Berry’s overall record is only 52-85, but 35 of those losses came at Army – a program that has struggled to have success in recent years. Outside of Berry’s tenure with the Black Knights, he’s been a solid coach at two stops. Illinois State went 24-24 with two playoff appearances under Berry, while ULM is 23-26 in four years. The Warhawks have recorded back-to-back non-losing seasons for the first time since 1992-93.

94. Joey Jones, South Alabama
Career Record: 34-28 (6 years)

Looking for a rising star in the coaching rankings? Keep an eye on Jones. The Alabama native is 31-21 in five years with the Jaguars, which includes a 6-6 record in 2013. Jones built the program from scratch and has South Alabama in contention for the Sun Belt title in 2014.

95. Trent Miles, Georgia State
Career Record: 20-48 (6 years)

As we have mentioned a couple of times in this article, it’s impossible to judge a coach based solely on his record. Miles is the perfect case study for records, as he resurrected a struggling Indiana State program. The Sycamores went 1-22 from 2008-09 but finished with three consecutive winning records from 2010-12. Georgia State went 0-12 in Miles’ first season, but the Panthers made progress and were competitive in Sun Belt play by losing three games by a touchdown or less. Give Miles a couple of years to recruit and Georgia State will move up the ladder in the Sun Belt.

96. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Career Record: 12-3 (1 year)

So far, so good for Carey. Northern Illinois – arguably the top job in the MAC – has won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons. Carey picked up where former coach Dave Doeren left off, guiding the Huskies to a 12-2 record with a No. 24 finish in the final Associated Press poll. Although Carey was solid last year, he needs to prove Northern Illinois’ success in 2013 wasn’t solely due to inheriting a solid roster – especially quarterback Jordan Lynch.

97. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Career Record: 93-55 (11 years)

After a 6-32 start to his UNLV tenure, Hauck was squarely on the hot seat entering 2013. But the Rebels were one of the Mountain West’s biggest surprises last year, finishing 7-6 with an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Heading into 2014, Hauck is armed with a contract extension, and UNLV’s program is on stable footing after a few rebuilding seasons.

98. Tim Beckman, Illinois
Record at Illinois: 6-18 (2 years)
Career Record: 27-34 (5 years)
Illinois’ Program Rank: ()

Beckman has struggled in two years at Illinois, which comes as a surprise after a successful three-year stint at Toledo. In three seasons with the Rockets, Beckman went 21-16 and lost just two conference games over the last two years. The Fighting Illini went 2-10 in Beckman’s debut and improved to only 4-8 last season. Hiring Bill Cubit paid dividends for Illinois’ offense in 2013, but the defense has been dreadful, allowing at least 5.8 yards per play in back-to-back years. Another reason for concern is recruiting. Illinois ranked 70th nationally in the 247Sports Composite in 2013, which ranked 13th in the Big Ten.

99. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Record at Rutgers: 15-11 (2 years)
Career Record: 15-11 (2 years)
Rutgers’ Program Rank: ()

Flood was promoted to head coach after Greg Schiano left for Tampa Bay in 2012. Although he has guided Rutgers to back-to-back bowl games, Flood is still largely unproven. The Scarlet Knights won nine games in 2012, yet lost their final three contests and a chance to win the Big East title. In 2013, Rutgers slipped to 6-7 in a weaker conference (American Athletic) and finished with losses in four out of its last five games. Flood overhauled his coaching staff this offseason, which included the hire of former coach Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen as the team’s offensive coordinator. The week-to-week grind in the Big Ten will be a challenge for Rutgers, but adding Friedgen and changing defensive coordinators should help Flood in 2014.

100. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 18-31 (4 years)
Career Record: 42-36 (6 years)
Virginia’s Program Rank: 

London enters 2014 squarely on the hot seat and in need of a major turnaround to remain Virginia’s head coach in 2015. Considering the Cavaliers have the No. 6 roster according to the recruiting rankings, it’s hard to grasp why Virginia has just two ACC wins over the last two years. Tough non-conference scheduling and inconsistent quarterback play have played a large role in the Cavaliers’ recent struggles, but this program should be winning at a higher level. Prior to taking over in Charlottesville, London went 24-5 in two seasons at Richmond, including a FCS title from the 2008 season. And he went 4-8 in his first year at Virginia but went 8-5 with an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2011. But even with momentum on the recruiting trail and staff changes, London has yet to build on his successful 2011 record.

Jeff Monken, Army
Career Record: 38-16 (4 years)

Much like former Army coach Rich Ellerson, Monken appears to be a perfect fit at West Point. The Illinois native runs the option and was hired at Army after a successful four-year stint at Georgia Southern. Although Monken’s resume appears to be a good fit for the Black Knights, this is a tough job. Winning six games on a consistent basis would be a good start for Monken’s tenure.

102. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 4-20 (2 years)
Career Record: 39-47 (7 years)
Kansas’ Program Rank: 

Weis was a surprising hire for Kansas after Turner Gill was fired following two seasons in Lawrence. Prior to taking over at Kansas, Weis was just 35-27 in five years at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish started 19-6 under Weis but finished 16-21 over the last three seasons. And Weis has struggled to have success in two years with the Jayhawks, recording a 4-20 record over two seasons. Kansas has finished at the bottom of the Big 12 in back-to-back years, but there was slight progress in 2013 when the Jayhawks snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak with a win over West Virginia. Weis didn’t inherit much talent to work with and has taken steps to improve the overall roster depth over the last two seasons. However, Kansas needs to take a step forward in 2014, which means a couple of wins in Big 12 play.

Bob Davie, New Mexico
Career Record: 42-43 (7 years)

Davie is slowly rebuilding at New Mexico, as the Lobos are 7-18 in two years under his direction. The former ESPN commentator also has experience as a head coach from a five-year stint at Notre Dame, recording a 35-25 record with the Fighting Irish. It’s hard to gauge Davie’s progress since he didn’t inherit a full cupboard. However, we should have a better idea of how far this program has come after 2014.

104. Mark Whipple, UMass
Career Record: 121-59 (16 years)

UMass is set to depart the MAC after the 2015 season, so the program is facing an uncertain future at the FBS level. But after two sluggish years under Charley Molnar, bringing Whipple back to the sidelines makes a lot of sense for the Minutemen. Whipple went 49-26 in six years at UMass from 1998-2004, which included a FCS national championship in 1998. The Minutemen need to build overall roster depth to compete for winning seasons, but Whipple is a good hire at a critical time for the program.

105. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Career Record: 18-33 (4 years)

Buffalo isn’t an easy job, and Quinn has slowly transformed the Bulls into a bowl team. Quinn’s first year resulted in a 2-10 mark (2010), but Buffalo’s win total increased in each of the next three seasons. But after going 8-5 last year, can Quinn continue the momentum without standout linebacker Khalil Mack and running back Branden Oliver?

106. Matt Rhule, Temple
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)

Rhule was a good pick by Temple to replace Steve Addazio, as the Pennsylvania native worked as an assistant with the Owls from 2006-11. Temple’s first season under Rhule was a challenge (2-10), but the program had only 10 returning starters and played better as the season progressed. If the Owls pickup where they left off, Rhule could have Temple pushing for a bowl in 2014.

107. Bob Diaco, Connecticut
Career Record: First Year

Diaco takes over at Connecticut after four years as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator. The Fighting Irish were solid on defense under Diaco, including a No. 2 finish nationally in points allowed in 2012. Diaco does not have head coaching experience, but he has a strong resume as an assistant and should be a good fit in Storrs.

108. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Career Record: 22-17 (3 years)

Blankenship started his Tulsa career with a 19-8 record and a Conference USA title in 2012. However, he inherited a good team from Todd Graham, and after several personnel departures, the Golden Hurricane went 3-9 in 2013. Can Blankenship rebuild Tulsa in 2014?

109. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
Career Record: 46-14 (5 years)

Wilder had the tough assignment of building a program from scratch, but Old Dominion has recorded five consecutive winning seasons after not fielding a team from 1941-2008. Under Wilder, the Monarchs are known for their high-scoring offenses, which feature standout senior quarterback Taylor Heinicke in 2014.

110. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Career Record:
19-30 (4 years)

After successful tenures from Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, the Chippewas were hoping to hit another home run with Enos. So far, the results have been mixed. Central Michigan has one winning season (2012) and went .500 last year. However, the Chippewas are just 19-30 overall under Enos and 13-19 in MAC games. 2014 will be an important year for Enos to show Central Michigan is headed in the right direction.

111. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio)
Career Record: 74-7 (6 years)

Miami, Ohio was once one of the top programs in the MAC, but the RedHawks have slipped to the bottom in recent years. Martin looks like the right coach to right the ship in Oxford, as he went 74-7 in seven years at Grand Valley State. Martin also has experience in the FBS level as an assistant with Notre Dame from 2010-13.

112. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Career Record: 50-28 (7 years)

Caragher inherited plenty of talent at San Jose State, but the Spartans took a step back in the win column, regressing from 11 wins under Mike MacIntyre in 2012 to six in 2013. And Caragher’s task of getting San Jose State back to a bowl in 2014 will be tough without quarterback David Fales. Prior to taking over with the Spartans, Caragher went 44-22 in six years at San Diego.

113. Bill Clark, UAB
Career Record: 11-4 (1 year)

Garrick McGee’s departure after two years at UAB was a surprise, but the Blazers made the right hire by picking Clark from Jacksonville State. Clark is an Alabama native and has a wealth of experience as an assistant within the state’s high school ranks. He worked at South Alabama for five years as the team’s defensive coordinator and spent one season as Jacksonville State’s head coach, guiding the Gamecocks to an 11-4 record.

114. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Career Record: 92-79 (15 years)

Holtz has experienced plenty of success in his coaching career, starting with Connecticut from 1994-98, where the Huskies went 34-23. At East Carolina from 2005-09, Holtz recorded a 38-27 mark, which included back-to-back East Division titles. However, Holtz has struggled since an 8-5 record in his debut at South Florida. The Bulls went 8-16 over his final two years, and Louisiana Tech recorded a 4-8 mark in Holtz’s debut last season.

115. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)

Monken inherited a Southern Miss team that went 0-12 the year prior to his arrival, but the Golden Eagles made slight progress, winning their season finale to finish 1-11. The Illinois native has plenty to prove at Southern Miss. However, there’s also a lot to like about Monken. With successful stops in the NFL and as an assistant at Oklahoma State and LSU, Monken looks like the right coach to get the Golden Eagles back on track.

116. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)

Much like Eastern Michigan, Kent State is another program that has struggled to establish success in recent years. The Golden Flashes have not recorded back-to-back winning records since 1976-77. Haynes’ had a disappointing debut, as Kent State regressed by six wins from 2012. But the Kent State alum had the Golden Flashes playing better at the end of 2013 and finished with back-to-back victories.

117. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
Career Record: 139-46 (17 years)

Eastern Michigan is arguably the toughest job in college football. Creighton will have his hands full in Ypsilanti, but he has a strong resume and seems to be the right pick to improve the Eagles’ struggling program. Creighton is 139-46 in his career, including stops at Ottawa, Wabash and Drake. Succeeding at those programs should give Eastern Michigan confidence Creighton can win at a job that has only one bowl appearance in school history.

118. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State
Career Record: First Year

Anderson is Arkansas State’s fifth coach in five seasons, and he is cut in a similar mold from successful hires like Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze and Bryan Harsin. The Texas native has a background on offense, serving as the offensive coordinator at North Carolina from 2012-13 and at Southern Miss from 2010-11. Anderson also had stints as an offensive coordinator at MTSU and UL Lafayette. This will be Anderson’s first chance to be a head coach in the FBS ranks, but this appears to be another solid hire for Arkansas State.

119. Brian Polian, Nevada
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)

Polian is known for his work on the recruiting trail, but he was hired at Nevada without any experience as a coordinator on the FBS level. The Wolf Pack went 4-8 in Polian’s debut, which was complicated due to injuries. With better luck in the injury department, Nevada could challenge for a bowl.

120. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State
Career Record: 4-8 (1 year)

Satterfield is a good fit to lead Appalachian State into the FBS ranks, as he’s a former quarterback for the Mountaineers and spent from 1998-2008 as an assistant under Jerry Moore. Appalachian State went 4-8 in Satterfield’s first season and have enough returning talent to be competitive in its first season of FBS play.

121. Charlie Partridge, FAU
Career Record: First Year

Partridge inherits a FAU team that closed 2013 by winning its final four games, so there’s plenty of positive momentum surrounding the program. The Florida native has never been a coordinator on the FBS level, but he’s known as an excellent recruiter. With his connections in Florida, expect FAU to reel in plenty of talent under Partridge, which should help this program contend for Conference USA titles.

122. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky
Career Record: First Year

Brohm was promoted to the top spot with the Hilltoppers after Bobby Petrino returned to Louisville. Brohm doesn’t have any head coaching experience on the FBS level, but in addition to his one-year stint as an assistant with Western Kentucky last year, he has stops at Illinois, FAU, Louisville and UAB. The Hilltoppers have made good hires with their last two selections (Petrino and Willie Taggart), and Brohm appears to be capable of keeping this program in contention for conference titles and bowl games.

123. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)

Fleck is only 33 years old, so there was a learning curve expected during his tenure at Western Michigan. The Broncos went 1-11 in his debut, but Fleck has upgraded the program’s recruiting. Can Fleck turn that talent into wins in 2014?

124. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
Career Record: 31-63 (8 years)

Martin was promoted to head coach after DeWayne Walker left for the NFL in late January and inherited a program was in rebuild mode with a tough Independent schedule. The Aggies went 2-10 in 2013, but Martin is no stranger to winning at struggling programs after recording 29 victories at Kent State from 2004-10.

125. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Career Record: 1-11 (1 year)

Much like New Mexico State’s Doug Martin last year, Petrino inherited an impossible situation with Idaho playing an Independent schedule. The Vandals went 1-11 last year but should be more competitive in the Sun Belt. Petrino is a Montana native and coached at Idaho as an assistant from 1992-94.

126. Sean Kugler, UTEP
Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)

Kugler struggled in his UTEP debut, but he also didn’t have much luck in the injury department, as starting quarterback Jameill Showers played in only seven games due to injury. As a former UTEP lineman, Kugler knows what it takes to win in El Paso. However, with no experience as a coordinator or head coach on the FBS level, it may take him a year or two to adjust to his new role.

127. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Career Record: 4-20 (2 years)

Chow is highly regarded for his time as an assistant at various stops, including time at UCLA, USC, NC State and BYU. But his tenure as a head coach with the Warriors is off to a slow start. Chow is just 4-20 overall, and Hawaii went winless in conference play last season. Transitioning from the wide-open offense run under previous coach Greg McMackin to the pro-style attack Chow prefers will take some time. However, Chow needs to produce more wins.

128. Ron Turner, FIU
Career Record: 43-72 (10 years)

Turner was a curious hire at FIU, and his first season resulted in a 1-11 mark. The California native also has stops as a head coach at San Jose State and Illinois, where he recorded three winning seasons, including a 10-2 record with the Fighting Illini in 2001. 2014 will be an important year for Turner to show progress after a disappointing debut. 

Ranking All 128 College Football Head Coaches for 2014
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/all-pac-12-team-bcs-era

All-conference teams are a great indicator as to who is the best in each league. Earning first-team honors more than once is a pretty good sign that you were one of the best at your position during your career. The rare three-time (or even four-time) all-league selection makes you one of the best college football players of all-time.

As the College Football Playoff Era begins in 2014, Athlon Sports is looking back on the last 16 years of action — aka, The BCS Era. Here is the All-BCS Era All-Pac-12 team. The only stipulation (unlike other folks who have done this exercise) is that you must have played at least one season from 1998-13 in the Pac-12.

First-Team Offense:

QB: Matt Leinart, USC (2003-05)
Leinart won two national titles and played for a third in three years starting at powerhouse USC under Pete Carroll. He finished in the top six of Heisman voting in all three seasons, winning the award in 2004. He also earned AP Player of the Year, Manning, Walter Camp, Unitas and consensus All-American honors during his remarkable Heisman campaign. Leinart owns the career conference record with 36 consecutive games with a touchdown pass and his 99 TD passes were a league record until Matt Barkley came along. He also is just one of three players in league history to throw for 3,000 yards in three seasons (Derek Anderson, Andrew Walter). Second-Team: Andrew Luck, Stanford

RB: Reggie Bush, USC (2003-05)
Sort of a first of his kind, the all-purpose talent was unstoppable with the ball in his hands. He played a prominent role on the 2003 national championship team before providing 908 yards rushing, 509 yards receiving, nearly 1,000 return yards and 15 total touchdowns during USC’s 2004 romp to a second national title. He exploded as a junior, rushing for 1,740 yards on a ridiculous 8.7 yards per carry and scoring 19 total touchdowns, coming up just short of his third national title. He earned his second consecutive Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award as well as the Doak Walker, Walter Camp and Heisman Trophy. Second-Team: Steven Jackson, Oregon State

RB: LaMichael James, Oregon (2009-11)
Few players accomplished more in three seasons than James. Three straight 1,500-yard campaigns, a Doak Walker Award, consensus All-American honors and a trip to the BCS title game make the speedy and elusive back one of the BCS Era’s greatest tailbacks. His 53 touchdowns and 5,082 yards on the ground are both second all-time in Pac-12 history. The Texarkana, Texas, native finished third in the Heisman voting in 2010 and 10th in '11 and led an Oregon team that went 34-6 and won three straight Pac-12 titles. Second-Team: Toby Gerhart, Stanford

WR: Mike Williams, USC (2002-03)
In his two underclass seasons for USC, Williams was extraordinary. As a true freshman, the massive 6-foot-5, 240-pounder caught 81 passes for 1,265 yards and 14 TDs. He returned to top those numbers as a sophomore with 95 receptions (third in league history at the time), 1,314 yards and 16 scores in 2003 (still third in league history). He was a consensus All-American and finished eighth in the Heisman voting. Williams declared for the draft following his sophomore season, but was ultimately ruled ineligible and couldn't return to USC. Second-Team: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

WR: Marqise Lee, USC (2011-13)
As just a sophomore, Lee won the Biletnikoff Award, was a consensus All-American, was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and broke multiple USC and Pac-12 receiving records. He is one of just two wideouts in BCS history to finish in the top four of the Heisman voting. Lee owns the single-game Pac-12 record with 345 yards against Arizona in 2012 and is third all-time with 16 catches in that game. His 118 catches and 1,721 yards were both Pac-12 records that stood for one year until Brandin Cooks showed up in 2013. He is fourth all-time in career receptions and yards in league history and ninth in TD catches. Second-Team: Dwayne Jarrett, USC

TE: Marcedes Lewis, UCLA (2002-05)
The red-zone touchdown machine improved his production each of his four seasons at UCLA, culminating with All-American and John Mackey honors as a senior in 2005. He set school records in all three major categories for a tight end that year and helped UCLA to its best record (10-2) since 1998. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound consensus All-American was a matchup nightmare for defenses and was the Pac-10’s best player at his position during the BCS Era in a league known for its great tight ends. Second-Team: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

T: Sam Baker, USC (2004-07)
The stud left tackle charged with protecting Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush was a three-time, first-team All-American and three-time, first-team All-Pac-10 selection. Baker helped lead the way on teams that played in back-to-back national championship games and won four straight Pac-10 titles. USC was 47-5 during his time and he went on to be a first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2008 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Matt Kalil, USC

T: Kris Farris, UCLA (1995-98)
The 1998 Outland Trophy winner was a consensus All-American for the Bruins in 1998. In fact, Farris was one of only two players from the Pac-12 to win the Outland (Rien Long) and was the only offensive lineman to do so during the BCS Era. He helped lead UCLA to back-to-back 10-2 seasons and a Rose Bowl berth in his final season before being selected in the third round by the Bills in 1999. Second-Team: Jacob Rogers, USC

G: David Yankey, Stanford (2011-13)
In three short years, Yankey is likely the school’s most decorated offensive lineman. He earned consensus All-American honors as a sophomore for the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champs while also claiming the Morris Trophy as the league’s top OL. He returned as a junior and earned unanimous All-American honors en route to a second consecutive Pac-12 championship. He led Stanford to three straight BCS bowls and a 34-7 overall record over that span. Second-Team: Jonathan Martin, Stanford

G: David DeCastro, Stanford (2009-11)
As a freshman in 2009, he started all 13 games for the 8-5 Cardinal and was a freshman All-American. He started all 13 games as a sophomore for the 12-1 Cardinal, helping to win the program’s first BCS bowl game (Orange Bowl). He capped his career with a consensus All-American season for the 11-2 Cardinal. He left school early and was the 24th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Steelers. Second-Team: Adam Snyder, Oregon

C: Alex Mack, Cal (2005-08)
The star center started 39 consecutive games for the Golden Bears. He won the “Academic Heisman” as the recipient of the Draddy Trophy in 2008 and was a two-time Rimington finalist. Mack was the only Pac-12 player to win the Morris Trophy (Offensive) as the league’s top lineman twice during the BCS Era and was a three-time, first-team All-Pac-10 selection. He also was a rare first-round pick as a center by the Browns in 2009 and has earned three Pro Bowl invites in his career. Second-Team: Ryan Kalil, USC

First-Team Defense:

DL: Terrell Suggs, Arizona State (2000-02)
The star pass-rusher is best known as the NCAA’s all-time single-season sack master when he totaled 24 QB takedowns in 2002. Suggs was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and the inaugural Ted Hendricks Award winner that year as well. The accolades didn’t end there, however, as he also took home the Lombardi, Nagurski and Willis trophies. He led the NCAA with 31.5 tackles for a loss (still a Pac-12 record) and forced six fumbles that year. He finished his Sun Devils career with 163 tackles, a school-record 65.5 for a loss (second all-time in league history), 44 sacks (second all-time) and 14 forced fumbles. Second-Team: Stephen Paea, Oregon State

DL: Haloti Ngata, Oregon (2003-05)
Arguably the best NFL defensive tackle of his generation, Ngata had to overcome a torn ACL in college. Once he recovered, the big interior stuffer posted 107 tackles, 17.5 for a loss and 6.5 sacks over his final two seasons in Eugene. He was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, a consensus All-American and the Morris Trophy winner before being selected 12th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. He blocked seven kicks and led Oregon to a 10-win season in 2005 — just the school’s third such campaign in school history at the time. Second-Team: Shaun Cody, USC

DL: Will Sutton, Arizona State (2009-13)
There are only two players in the history of the Pac-12 to win multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards and Sutton is one of them (Washington’s Steve Emtman is the other) as he claimed both the 2012 and '13 honor. Sutton was an All-American after a huge junior season in 2012 before returning to help lead Arizona State to the best record in the Pac-12 and a South Division title. He won back-to-back Morris Trophies as well as the league’s best D-liner in both seasons. From his tackle spot, he finished with 19.5 career sacks and 45.5 tackles for a loss. Second-Team: Rien Long, Washington State

DL: Sedrick Ellis, USC (2004-07)
Ellis was one of the big fellas up the middle who helped the Trojans win four straight conference titles and earn two BCS championship appearances (2004-05). He was one of three players to ever win the Morris Trophy twice during the BCS Era, was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and was a unanimous All-American in '07. Ellis finished with 144 total tackles, 28.5 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks in 48 career games for the Men of Troy. USC was 47-5 during his four years. Second-Team: Dave Ball, UCLA

LB: Rey Maualuga, USC (2005-08)
The hard-hitting tackler was a freshman All-American on the 2005 USC team that barely lost to Texas in the national title game. He then started the next three seasons for the Trojans, earning consensus All-American honors, the Chuck Bednarik Award and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008. The Men of Troy went 46-6 during his time on campus and few players were as feared nationally as Maualuga. He posted 272 career tackles, 22.5 for a  loss, 9.0 sacks and five interceptions. Second-Team: Shayne Skov, Stanford

LB: Chris Claiborne, USC (1995-98)
The three-year star for the Trojans was the first and only Butkus Award winner in USC history when he was named the nation’s top linebacker in 1998 — the same year both Al Wilson and Andy Katzenmoyer were seniors. He also is the only Pac-12 player to win the Butkus in the three-decade history of the award. He was a consensus All-American and the No. 9 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Nick Barnett, Oregon State

LB: Adam Archuleta, Arizona State (1997-2000)
The West Coast’s favorite walk-on became a three-year starter for the Sun Devils. He earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors twice and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2000. He was a finalist for the Butkus Award and finished with 330 tackles, 54.0 tackles for a loss and 14.0 sacks. The star tackler was a first-round pick of the Rams in the 2001 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Lofa Tatupu, USC

CB: Antoine Cason, Arizona (2004-07)
The California native was a four-year contributor for Arizona, playing in 46 career games in Tucson. He went on to win Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year, was named first-team all-league twice as an upperclassman and is the only player from the Pac-12 to win the Thorpe Award during the BCS Era (2007). He scored four times (two INTs, two punt returns), intercepted five passes and made 71 tackles as a senior. He finished with 253 tackles, 14.0 for a loss, 15 interceptions and five total touchdowns. Second-Team: Daymeion Hughes, Cal

CB: Deltha O’Neal, Cal (1996-99)
He is one of just two defensive backs to win conference Defensive Player of the Year during the BCS Era when he set an NCAA record by returning four interceptions for touchdowns in his senior year. He also won the Mosi Tatupu Award as the nation’s top special teamer and the Pop Warner Award as the most valuable player on the West Coast —  one of only six Pac-12 players to do so and one of only two Pac-12 defensive players. He was a consensus All-American and first-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Chris McAlister, Arizona

S: Troy Polamalu, USC (1999-2002)
The big-play machine was a three-year starter for the West Coast powerhouse. He was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, a consensus All-American and stuffed the stat sheet his entire career. The big hitter finished with 278 tackles, 29.0 for a loss, six interceptions and four blocked punts in 36 career starts for the Men of Troy. Polamalu led USC back to prominence with a league title and trip to the Orange Bowl before being taken in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Second-Team: Ed Reynolds, Stanford

S: Taylor Mays, USC (2006-09)
A five-star recruit coming into college, Mays helped lead USC to three consecutive conference championships and a 34-5 record in his first three seasons. He was a rare, three-time All-American from 2007-09 and was a freshman All-American in '06. Mays finished his career with 276 tackles, 21 pass breakups and five interceptions. Second-Team: Lamont Thompson, Washington State

The All-Pac-12 Team of the BCS Era
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/national-championship-game-recap-hungry-huskies-cap-title-run

The Hungry Huskies outdueled the new Fab Five for one of the most unlikely NCAA championship runs in Tournament history.

UConn defeated Kentucky 60-54 for the Huskies’ fourth national championship Monday, as a traditional power won the title in untraditional ways.

UConn started as a No. 7 seed, the lowest-ranked team to win a title since 1985. Kevin Ollie, a coach short on experience, defeated three national championship coaches in three games. And Shabazz Napier, who had a lower recruiting profile than just about anyone he faced Monday, was the best player on the floor for three weeks.

Here’s how the Huskies sealed the championship:

Game MVP: Shabazz Napier, UConn
Napier scored 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting to lead the Huskies. While he wasn’t always sharp, taking ill-advised shots and having his pocket picked at a key moment, Napier helped hold the Harrison twins to 15 points and 6-of-16 shooting.

Telling stat: 54.2. Kentucky’s free throw shooting rate
For the second time in three trips to the national title game, coach John Calipari watched his team struggle at the free throw line. In a game Kentucky lost by 6, the Wildcats have to look at 11 missed free throws as one of the main reasons they lost Monday. The game might not have been close if James Young didn’t go 8-of-9 from the stripe.

How UConn won:
The Huskies answered every time Kentucky attempted to swing momentum. Kentucky closed the first half on a 16-5 run, and UConn needed more than nine minutes to get from the 30-point mark to the 40-point mark. Young ignited Kentucky with a monster dunk, but UConn, despite an ankle injury to Ryan Boatright, eventually stopped the bleeding. With a long 2-pointer by Boatright, UConn took a six-point lead with 4:12 to go, a basket that turned out to be the dagger.

How Kentucky lost:
The free throws hurt, but Kentucky trailed 30-15 to start the game. For a team that thrived so much in close games, Kentucky needed the remainder of the first half and the start of the second just to make the game competitive. Kentucky never led or tied this game after digging itself into an early hole.

Quote to note:
“Ladies and gentlemen, these are the Hungry Huskies. This is what happens when you banned us.”

-Napier with CBS’ Jim Nantz during the trophy presentation.
The NCAA barred UConn from the NCAA Tournament last season due to poor performance in the Academic Progress Rate.

Highlight of the game:

National Championship Game Recap: Hungry Huskies Cap Title Run
Post date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 00:33
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Missouri Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/missouri-wr-dorial-green-beckham-suspended-indefinitely

Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham is expected to be one of the top receivers in the nation in 2014. However, Green-Beckham’s status with the team is up in the air, as the junior receiver has been suspended indefinitely.

Coach Gary Pinkel released a statement announcing Green-Beckham’s suspension:

“It's unfortunate, but it's the right thing to do for our football program, for the athletic department, and also for Dorial," Pinkel said. “We have high standards related to the expectations that come along with being a Missouri Tiger and Dorial has not met those recently. Representing Mizzou and our fans is a privilege, and we'll work with him during this process.”

“It's been disappointing to have this, and other issues which have taken place lately. It's frustrating, because we work very hard to instill responsibility and discipline in our young men so that our program represents Mizzou the right way. These actions aren't representative of those expectations, and we are addressing these issues head on.”

Green-Beckham was one of the top recruits in the 2012 signing class and caught 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman. As a sophomore, Green-Beckham became one of the top receivers in the SEC, grabbing 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Green-Beckham is a key piece of Missouri’s offense for 2014, as the Tigers were already set to lose Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington.

Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham Suspended Indefinitely
Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 22:29
All taxonomy terms: Jason Day, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2014-majors-no-7-jason-day

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2014 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 7:

Born: Nov. 12, 1987, Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia | Career PGA Tour Wins: 2 | 2013 Wins (Worldwide): 0 | 2013 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,625,030 (12th) World Ranking: 4

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Jason Day is the world’s best putter on fast, treacherous greens. Period. This explains why he consistently pops up on the leaderboards in majors; having played in only 13 in his career, he has six top tens and four finishes of third or better. In 2013 he averaged 28.68 putts per round at the four biggest events, and this combined with his length off of the tee and a wonderful attitude make him one of the most exciting players to watch in golf. One of the nicest guys in golf too, Day might just have one of the nicest resumes in 2014.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 13
Wins: 0

2013 Performance:
Masters - 3
U.S. Open - T2
British Open - T32
PGA Championship - T8

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T2 (2011)
U.S. Open - 2/T2 (2011, 2013)
British Open - T30 (2011)
PGA Championship - T8 (2013)
Top-10 Finishes: 6
Top-25 Finishes: 6
Missed Cuts: 3

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the . Be sure to follow him  on Twitter.


Athlon's 2014 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Dustin Johnson, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 11:50
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-april-7-2014

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for April 7.

• The backlash to Paulina Gretzky's Golf Digest cover and photo layout has begun. .

• A classic photo made the rounds over the weekend: .

• Automatically rooting against the Cats tonight? .

• One reason to root against Kentucky: .

• Jon Solomon points out that . College sports in a nutshell.


• Tonight's the Champions Dinner at The Masters. .

• Let's hope they have some good brew to wash down whatever Adam Scott serves at Augusta tonight. After all, .


• Comedy gold from the guy they call Lumpy: .

, because he's Vin freakin' Scully.

• Watch as an attempted intentional walk becomes a walk-off home run.


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

Post date: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 10:52