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Path: /nba/san-antonio-spurs-could-be-entering-very-different-new-era

The defending champion San Antonio Spurs are gone from the playoffs. After a cruel twist of fate that saw them face the Los Angeles Clippers in a first-round series that felt like a title bout, they’ve experienced their earliest exit in years.


Coach Gregg Popovich knows that the premature end to their season isn’t necessarily a referendum on the state of his team, but he also knows that change is an inevitable phenomenon. With Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green all facing free agency — and with Tim, Tony Parker and Manu all still getting closer to retirement — a shakeup in the Spurs’ nucleus seems like a real possibility.


Monday, Popovich said the team ''will probably look considerably different.” San Antonio is rumored to covet Texas native and Portland Trail Blazers superstar LaMarcus Aldridge, who has shown something less than exuberance toward the prospect of staying in Oregon lately. The Spurs could also make a run at Memphis Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol, though he appears less likely to leave his team.


The franchise’s No. 1 priority, in any event, would appear to be transition. Retaining Leonard seems like their top job this summer, but how they supplement the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year as they head into a new era is a question of grand proportions. Aldridge or another big-name recruit could pair with him for the new iteration of Spurs supremacy, but Popovich and his staff could of course also find their next killer where no one else is looking, as they’re wont to do.


Duncan was a clear top overall pick in the 1997 draft, but Ginobili and Parker were plucked from international obscurity as the 57th and 28th picks, respectively. The last time the Spurs made a particularly splashy move on the free agent market was… never. Don’t be surprised if their makeover comes not from contract fireworks in July, but from more unseen places.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 12:59
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, Randy Gregory, NFL
Path: /nfl/randy-gregory-gets-cowboys-tattoo-few-days-after-being-drafted

Being drafted to an NFL team is an unforgettable moment. Randy Gregory just wants a subtle reminder of it in case he somehow forgets.


The Cowboys rookie got a tattoo of the team's logo on his arm to remind himself that this is the beginning of a new journey for him.



At least he wasn't drafted to the Vikings. No one wants that logo tattooed on them. 

Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 12:38
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Duke Blue Devils, College Basketball
Path: /duke-coach-k-mike-krzyzewski-blue-devils-cook-okafor-tyus-winslow-video

There's no denying Mike Krzyzewski built Duke into the basketball power that it is today.


Duke released a video tribute to the Blue Devils coach entitled, "On Top of the Game," which he is. After winning the five national championships and coaching Team USA to victory, there's nothing Coach K can't do. 



It will be interesting to see if he can create the same kind of magic next year.

Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 11:53
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-coaches-2015

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.


This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’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. It's always easier for programs 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 coaches: How well are the assistants paid? 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 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 knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking.


Ranking the SEC’s Football Coaches for 2015


1. Nick Saban, Alabama

Record at Alabama: 91-17 (8 years)

Career Record: 182-59-1 (19 years)


Maintaining a place among college football’s elite every year is no easy task. However, as long as Alabama has Saban, the Crimson Tide will factor into the Playoff mix and remain among the nation’s top threats to win the national championship every season. In Saban’s eight years in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has won 10 games at least seven times and has not lost more than one game in SEC play in four years. And of course, we can’t forget about the three national championships during the BCS era. Additionally, the Crimson Tide has seven consecutive finishes inside of the top 10 in the final Associated Press poll. Recruiting and developing talent is another strength of the program under Saban, as Alabama has reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class over the last five seasons and 48 players have been drafted since 2009. 


Related: Alabama Ranks as the SEC's No. 1 Coaching Job


2. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn:
20-7 (2 years)
Career Record: 29-10 (3 years)


In just three seasons as a head coach, Malzahn has already entrenched his name among the best in the nation. After a 9-3 record at Arkansas State in 2012 (his first as a head coach on the FBS level), Malzahn has guided Auburn to a 20-7 mark over the last two years. The Tigers played for the 2013 national championship and finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll after the loss to Florida State. Auburn slipped to 8-5 last year, but Malzahn should have this team back in contention for the SEC title in 2015. Prior to being a head coach on the FBS level, Malzahn was one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators at Auburn and Tulsa, with a one-year stop at Arkansas in 2006. He’s also known for his stint as a high school coach at Springdale High School in Arkansas from 2001-05. Malzahn is one of the game’s top X’s and O’s tacticians on offense and upgraded his defense with the addition of Will Muschamp as his new coordinator.


3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

Record at South Carolina: 84-45 (10 years)

Career Record: 226-85-2 (25 years)


Spurrier enters 2015 ranked No. 2 among active FBS coaches with 226 career wins. South Carolina slipped in 2014 after three consecutive 11-win seasons, but Spurrier has elevated a program that had only one 10-win campaign prior to his arrival in 2005. Additionally, out of the six times the Gamecocks have won at least nine games, four of those have taken place under Spurrier’s watch. And Spurrier’s track record is no secret, as he went 122-27-1 at Florida from 1990-2001 and 20-13-1 at Duke from 1987-89. It’s not easy for coaches to maintain success over a 20-year span. Spurrier has had to tweak a few things along the way, but as evidenced by his recent success at South Carolina, he’s still one of the game’s top coaches.


4. Mark Richt, Georgia

Record at Georgia: 136-48 (14 years)

Career Record: 136-48 (14 years)


Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005, but the Bulldogs usually rank near the top of the conference. Richt has guided Georgia to three double-digit win seasons over the last four years, and the Bulldogs finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. The talent level certainly isn’t an issue for Georgia, as the program owns the No. 3 roster in the SEC over the last five seasons. And with a 7.6 national average, the talent level is in place for the Bulldogs to contend for a national title. Under Richt’s direction, Georgia has never finished lower than third in the East and has lost more than two games in SEC play only five times over the last 14 years.


5. Gary Pinkel, Missouri

Record at Missouri: 113-66 (14 years)

Career Record: 186-104-3 (24 years)


Pinkel has been a consistent winner throughout his tenure at Missouri. The Tigers average 8.1 wins a season under Pinkel and have claimed back-to-back East Division titles after a 5-7 record in their SEC debut. Prior to joining the SEC, Missouri posted seven consecutive winning campaigns from 2005-11, including a 12-2 mark and a No. 4 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. Pinkel’s success isn’t limited to just Missouri, as he went 73-37-3 in 10 years at Toledo. Despite a national recruiting rank of 39th nationally over the last five years, the Tigers won the SEC East in back-to-back years and will begin 2015 as one of the favorites in the division once again. That’s a huge credit to Pinkel and his staff’s ability to find and develop talent every year. 


6. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Record at Mississippi State: 46-31 (6 years)

Career Record: 46-31 (6 years)


Mullen is the perfect example of why job hierarchy within a conference matters when ranking coaches. Mississippi State is the toughest job in the SEC West, and this program’s 27.4 finish nationally over the last five years in recruiting ranks No. 7 within its own division. However, the Bulldogs are 46-31 under Mullen and are coming off just the third double-digit win season in program history. Last season, Mississippi State climbed as high as No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time and finished No. 11 in the final ranking – the second-highest mark in school history. Since a 5-7 mark in Mullen’s debut, Mississippi State has recorded a winning record in five consecutive years and is 22-26 in the SEC. Even though the Bulldogs suffered some heavy personnel losses this offseason, Mullen has elevated this program and the talent level has improved to ensure a quick rebuild.


Related: Mississippi State's Dak Prescott ranks as the SEC's No. 1 QB for 2015


7. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

Record at Ole Miss: 24-15 (3 years)

Career Record: 54-22 (6 years)


Ole Miss has made steady improvement under Freeze, including a nine-win campaign in 2014. The Rebels have made a bowl game in all three of Freeze’s seasons in Oxford and went as high as No. 3 in the Associated Press poll in 2014. And if injuries didn’t take a toll on the 2014 team, Ole Miss easily could have won 10 games for the first time since '03. While Freeze doesn’t have the track record of some of the coaches in this league, he’s already a proven winner at three different jobs. In addition to the 24 wins at Ole Miss, he went 20-5 at Lambuth from 2008-09 and 10-2 at Arkansas State in '11. As we mentioned in the introduction, it’s not a list of career accomplishments. Based upon what Freeze inherited and has done in three years at Ole Miss, his career trajectory is higher than several names on this list.


8. Les Miles, LSU

Record at LSU: 103-29 (10 years)

Career Record: 131-50 (14 years)


2015 is shaping up to be one of the most interesting years of Miles’ tenure at LSU. The Tigers have slipped in the SEC pecking order over the last three seasons and last year finished outside of the Associated Press top 25 poll for the first time since 2008. LSU’s 4-4 mark in SEC play in 2014 was the first non-winning record in conference games in six seasons. Additionally, Miles lost top assistant and defensive coordinator John Chavis to rival Texas A&M, and the offense ranked 13th in the SEC in scoring last year. Plenty of question marks surround LSU for 2015, but Miles has showed before he’s capable of getting the program back among the best in the SEC. The Tigers went 17-9 from 2008-09, yet rebounded with four consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2010-13. LSU has averaged a 6.8 finish nationally in recruiting rankings over the last five years. With that type of talent in place, the Tigers have the necessary pieces in place to get back to the top of the SEC.


9. Butch Jones, Tennessee

Record at Tennessee: 12-13 (2 years)

Career Record: 62-40 (8 years)


The arrow on Tennessee’s program under Jones' leadership is clearly pointing up entering 2015. The Volunteers went 5-7 in Jones’ first season but improved to 7-6 and returned to a bowl for the first time since 2010. Upgrading the talent on Tennessee’s roster has been a priority for Jones, and the coaching staff has inked back-to-back top-10 signing classes. With the talent on the rise, a solid core of personnel in place, and a team that won four out of its final five games, Tennessee is poised to take another step forward in 2015. Prior to Tennessee, Jones guided Central Michigan to a 27-13 record in three years (2007-09) and led Cincinnati to a 23-14 mark from 2010-12.


Related: Tennessee is a Team on the Rise for 2015


10. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Record at Texas A&M: 28-11 (3 years)

Career Record: 63-28 (7 years)


Texas A&M has made a successful transition to the SEC under Sumlin’s watch. In addition to fielding an explosive offense, the Aggies are 28-11 over the last three years and have a 13-11 record in SEC play in that span. With the program entrenched in the nation’s toughest conference, along with facility upgrades to compete with the SEC’s elite, Sumlin will be looking to push Texas A&M even higher in the conference standings. The Aggies’ win total in SEC games has declined from six (2012) to four (2013) to three (2014). While the offense has been among the league’s best since 2012, the defense has struggled mightily. But Sumlin took a big step in fixing that side of the ball by hiring John Chavis away from LSU. Prior to the last three seasons at Texas A&M, Sumlin guided Houston to a 35-17 record in four years from 2008-11. 


11. Bret Bielema, Arkansas

Record at Arkansas: 10-15 (2 years)

Career Record: 78-39 (9 years)


The overall coaching depth in the SEC is on display when Bielema ranks as the No. 11 coach on this list. Arkansas has showed marked improvement under Bielema in the last two years, and the Razorbacks are poised to take another step forward in 2015. After a 3-9 mark and a winless record in SEC play in 2013, Arkansas finished 7-6 and lost four games by a touchdown or less last fall. The Razorbacks closed 2014 by winning four out of their final six games, including a 31-7 destruction of Texas in the Texas Bowl. Prior to Arkansas, Bielema went 68-24 at Wisconsin and led the Badgers to four seasons of double-digit wins. The Razorbacks are clearly headed in the right direction, and Bielema’s physical style of play fits right at home in the SEC.


Related: Arkansas Razorbacks 2015 Schedule and Analysis


12. Jim McElwain, Florida

Record at Florida: First Year

Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)


After three seasons at Colorado State, McElwain was tapped as the replacement for Will Muschamp at Florida. Although Muschamp guided the Gators to an 11-2 mark in 2012, this program underachieved over the last four years with a 29-21 record. McElwain seems like the right coach to get the program back on track after a 22-16 record with the Rams, as well as a previous stint as an offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11. Colorado State improved its win total in each of McElwain’s three years, including a 10-win mark in 2014. Prior to calling the plays at Alabama, McElwain made stops as an assistant at Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville and in the NFL with the Raiders. His offensive background will pay dividends for a program that has struggled mightily on that side of the ball in recent years.


13. Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 7-17 (2 years)

Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)


Kentucky is making progress under Stoops, making the jump from two wins in 2013 to five in '14. The Wildcats also went 2-6 in SEC play last year, equaling the amount of conference victories recorded from 2012-13. Kentucky was close to bowl eligibility in 2014, losing to Florida by six in three overtimes and by four to Louisville in the regular-season finale. The overall talent level and direction of this program have each improved since Stoops took over after the 2012 season. The next challenge is getting Kentucky to the postseason. With 12 starters back, that could happen this fall.


14. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt:
3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 3-9 (1 year)


James Franklin left big shoes to fill in Nashville after leading the Commodores to three consecutive bowl appearances. While repeating that success in the first year was going to be tough for Mason, Vanderbilt slipped to 3-9 and went winless in SEC play for the first time since 2009. The Commodores also lost four conference games by 20 or more points, and two of their three wins came by less than three points. Mason plans on taking over the defensive play-calling duties in 2015 and a staff overhaul should help the offense improve after averaging only 12.8 points per game in SEC contests. Mason had plenty of success as a coordinator at Stanford. Will the Commodores show big improvement in year two?

Ranking the SEC's College Football Coaches for 2015
Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/jimmy-kimmel-manny-pacquiao-floyd-mayweather-fight-late-show

The fight against Floyd Mayweather didn't turn out in Manny Pacquiao's favor.


One person who did have fun that night was Jimmy Kimmel. The late show host talked discussed his experience walking to the ring with the fighter. Before the pair made their way to the ring, they were alone for a brief moment. 


"It was just me and Manny sitting there," Kimmel said. "He's warming up for the biggest fight of his life, he's getting ready and I'm standing there wearing gold chains and a stupid hat."



At least Kimmel knows the hat looked stupid.

Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 10:14
All taxonomy terms: Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, NBA
Path: /nba/nba-names-steph-curry-2015-mvp

In unsurprising news, the NBA has honored Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry with the 2015 MVP trophy. The announcement was made, officially, on Monday, which is also when his team formally held a press conference for Curry.


And although Steph’s reception didn’t make the same cultural waves as Kevin Durant’s “you’re the real MVP” address to his teammates and mother last season, it was certainly an emotional occasion. “Pop,” Curry said through tears, to his father Dell Curry, a former 16-year pro himself. “You were the example of what a true professional is on and off the court. I remember a lot of your career, and to be able to follow in your footsteps… it means a lot to me, and this is special.”


Steph also received some playful joshing from teammate and consummate Warriors mouthpiece Draymond Green, who asked when the new MVP would be supplying his roster with presents. Green referenced a story about about Kobe Bryant giving his teammates nice watches after winning the award, told to him by Warriors assistant and former Bryant teammate Luke Walton.


“I don’t know what kind of watches they were, but, I’ll beat that gift,” Curry said, and the undertone was obvious: I’m going to get you guys the present of rings, he all but said.


And so while Curry’s press conference was certainly touching, it also held more than a touch of the clinical air that has pervaded Golden State’s season. Under the leadership of Steph and head coach Steve Kerr, they’ve been a team on a ruthless mission, and their best player winning the league’s top individual honors seemed more like part of their procedure toward a championship than a culmination or a final step.


The Warriors continue their warpath tonight as they try to take a 2-0 series lead against the Memphis Grizzlies. We’ll see if the new MVP and Golden State can keep their undefeated 2015 playoff streak alive.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 10:10
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Overtime
Path: /mlb/will-ferrell-does-harry-caray-impression-david-letterman-late-show-chicago-cubs

Cubs fans still miss Harry Caray. Will Ferrell is happy to help fill the void when he can.


On the "Late Show with David Letterman," the comedian revisited his Caray impression and for a split second it felt like Wrigley Field back in the day.



Ferrell should call an entire game for the Cubs as Caray before it's all said and done.

Will Ferrell revisits his Harry Caray impression for David Letterman.
Post date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 09:24
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/floyd-mayweather-vs-manny-pacquiao-fight-gets-punch-out-treatment

The Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight wasn't the epic battle people were expecting. 


People took to Twitter to express that they felt cheated out of the "fight of the century" they were promised. Luckily, Noober Goober Gaming created a more exciting recreation of the event in Punch-Out form.



The sign in the background that reads, "You paid for this" is a nice touch.

Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 18:08
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, Overtime
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-victory-over-alabama-results-pregnancy

Here's one way to keep the romance going. Football.


When you credit your team for being responsible for your pregnancy, you may be a true sports fan. Either that or your significant other is.


Heather Callihan, an Ole Miss fan, announced her pregnacy in the best way possible. Holding up one sign that reads "23-17," along with another saying "This is what happens when Ole Miss beats Alabama," a fan announced her pregnancy to the world. One can only imagine the fun the Rebel fan had that night.



Hotty Toddy, indeed.


(Source: Red Cup Rebellion)

College football is credited with bringing a life into the world.
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 17:04
All taxonomy terms: St. Louis Rams, NFL
Path: /nfl/nfl-website-has-los-angeles-rams-page-st-louis

Conspiracy theorists in the football world are salivating right now.


According to Field of Schemes, if you go to the NFL's official website and search for "LA" a page for the Rams will appear. Except these Rams are based in Los Angeles. Everything is from the actual St. Louis Rams, from the jerseys to the stats, but there's always an underlying suspicision of why it happens.


With all the talks about Los Angeles getting its football team back, don't expect this conspiracy to die down anytime soon.

Is hinting at a possible move for the Rams?
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, College Football, SEC, Overtime, News
Path: /college-football/auburn-football-players-try-ride-horses-and-fail

Auburn football players are good at many things ... riding horses isn't one of them.


In the fourth installment from the school's "Sports Collide" series, the football team tackles horseback-riding. On the flip side, it seems difficult for other athletes to do what the football team does on the field. However, they have a pretty fun time trying.


Auburn Sports Collide 4

What a finish! Watch what happens when Auburn student-athletes cross over from their sport to another with video No. 4 in our series. WAR EAGLE!

Posted by Auburn Tigers on Saturday, May 2, 2015
The Tigers try their hand at horseback-riding.
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 14:30
Path: /nba/nba-series-preview-and-prediction-chicago-bulls-vs-cleveland-cavaliers

After three knee surgeries and almost 200 missed games, Derrick Rose has been forgotten by many as the one-time top threat to LeBron James’ throne over the Eastern Conference — which he and his team have represented in the NBA Finals for four straight seasons.


LeBron last squashed a Rose-led Bulls team with the Miami Heat in 2011, after Derrick became the youngest MVP in league history and led his team to 62 victories in Tom Thibodeau’s first year on the job as head coach.


A lot’s changed since then. James has won the MVP twice more, and Rose has been supplanted as the game’s brightest young point guard by Steph Curry, the winner of 2015’s award. But Chicago still stands as the biggest in-conference threat to LeBron, and the semi-finals matchup between the Bulls and his Cleveland Cavaliers is the most intriguing showdown of the Eastern season.


Much remains to be seen after a spate of regular season games between the two sides that didn’t reveal much — various injuries, and midseason trades, meant neither team had their ideal lineup or momentum at the same time. The most mysterious factor of the series, though, is how Cleveland will fare and adjust without starting forward Kevin Love, who’s out for the year after separating his shoulder.


Young Tristan Thompson has been a nightmare for the Bulls on the glass and will be asked to keep that up as he fills in for many of Love’s minutes. But Cleveland’s offensive versatility will suffer without the hyper-skilled big man, and Chicago should be able to take advantage. 


Jimmy Butler can’t stop LeBron (no one can), but he can give the game’s best player enough trouble to limit his overall impact. A lot will fall on the plate of Kyrie Irving, and on Rose’s with the task to stop him. This will be a trying challenge, to be sure, but in the end Chicago will simply have more.


Prediction: Bulls in 6.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 14:29
All taxonomy terms: Miami Dolphins, Ndamukong Suh, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ndamukong-suh-takes-warren-buffett-arm-wrestling-match-miami-dolphins

Ndamukong Suh may not be the best person to test your physical strength against, but Warren Buffett never backs down from a challenge.


The Dolphins tackle took on Buffett in an arm-wrestling contest and it ended in the most unusual way.



Luckily Suh was taking it easy on Buffett.

Dolphins tackle takes on Warren Buffett in arm-wrestling.
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 12:51
Path: /nba/series-preview-houston-rockets-vs-los-angeles-clippers

Chris Paul has long been one of the NBA’s best players. But Saturday night, he ascended into the echelon of timeless legends. His inspired, hobbled performance in the Los Angeles Clippers’ Game 7 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, 111-109, goes straight into a pantheon including iconic showings from Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan. If you didn’t see his game-winner, you missed one of the sport’s finest moments:


Taking down the defending champions may feel like an accomplishment grand enough to end a successful season, but there’s still a long road ahead of the Clippers. Now Paul has to lead L.A. against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Paul has a compromised hamstring, and his partner in crime Blake Griffin spent many of his resting minutes against San Antonio with copious amounts of ice strapped around his knees.



The Clippers’ shallow bench nearly undid them against the Spurs, but the elite talent of their front six was ultimately enough. Houston’s goal, after a swift five-game dismissal of the Dallas Mavericks, will be to continue wearing down the Clippers. Without the hounding Patrick Beverley (out for the season with a torn wrist ligament) to make Lob City truly pay for their injured leader, the Rockets will have to get creative.


Expect Houston’s bevy of terrific wing defenders to take turns exhausting Paul in the series, who may miss Game 1 tonight — he’s listed as day-to-day. Trevor Ariza, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer should be able to challenge CP3 in a way that the veteran Jason Terry, Beverley’s primary replacement, cannot.


Houston’s best weapon in their quest to take the Clippers’ worn-down bodies to the end of their year, though, may be Dwight Howard. While he’ll often have his hands full with the indefatigable DeAndre Jordan, he’ll also be expected to make life difficult for Griffin at the rim, and open up the court for James Harden as a pick-and-roll partner.

If the Clippers had a week to get right before this series started, they’d be the overwhelming favorites — that’s the status you earn for knocking off the champs. But they’ll have to beat their health issues, in addition to the formidable Rockets. This one’s all but a toss-up.


Prediction: Clippers in 7.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 12:46
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-college-football-coaches-2015

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.


This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’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. It's always easier for programs 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 coaches: How well are the assistants paid? 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 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 knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking.


Ranking the ACC’s Football Coaches for 2015


1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Record at Florida State:
58-11 (5 years)

Career Record: 58-11 (5 years)


Fisher has returned Florida State to the nation’s elite, guiding the Seminoles to a 27-1 mark over the last two seasons and the 2013 national championship. Under Fisher’s watch, Florida State has averaged 11.6 wins a season and has three consecutive finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Replacing Jameis Winston won’t be easy, but Fisher is one of the nation’s best at talent evaluation, and the Seminoles will continue to win at a high level under his watch.  


Related: Ranking the ACC's Football Coaching Jobs


2. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

Record at Louisville: 50-13 (5 years)

Career Record: 92-34 (10 years)


Petrino’s return to Louisville was a success, as the Cardinals finished 9-4 in their first season in the ACC. And Petrino’s team was neck-and-neck with the top teams in the conference, losing by just six points to Clemson and was defeated by Florida State after leading the defending national champs going into the fourth quarter. In Petrino’s 10 years as a college head coach, he’s won at least eight games every season but one. The Cardinals have some key pieces to replace for 2015, but the program is in good shape for the long haul with Petrino in control.


3. David Cutcliffe, Duke

Record at Duke: 40-48 (7 years)

Career Record: 84-77 (13 years)


Cutcliffe has elevated Duke into an annual bowl team in the ACC, and after winning the Coastal Division title in 2014, the Blue Devils finished second last season. How big of a difference has Cutcliffe made with Duke since 2008? The 10-win 2013 campaign, and the 19 victories in a two-year span are the best marks in school history. Cutcliffe is regarded for his work with offenses and quarterbacks, but he deserves more credit for his work as a head coach, especially at a program like Duke where it’s not easy to maintain success.  


4. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Record at Georgia Tech: 58-35 (7 years)

Career Record: 165-74 (18 years)


2014 wasn’t necessarily a make-or-break year for Johnson at Georgia Tech, but it was fair to wonder where the program was headed after a 14-13 mark from 2012-13. The Yellow Jackets entered 2014 with low expectations and delivered with a surprising 11-3 season and a Coastal Division title. In Johnson’s seven seasons in Atlanta, Georgia Tech has never finished under .500 in conference play. Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have played for the ACC Championship three times. 


5. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

Record at Virginia Tech: 231-115-2 (28 years)

Career Record: 273-138-4 (34 years)


Beamer is college football’s longest-tenured coach entering the 2015 season. Virginia Tech has won 231 games under Beamer’s watch, which includes a streak of eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2004-11. While Beamer’s longevity deserves plenty of consideration here, it’s also worth noting Virginia Tech is just 22-17 over the last three seasons and has not finished in the final Associated Press poll in that span after recording 12 top-25 finishes in 13 years from 1998-2011. The Hokies tied for second in the Coastal Division in 2013 but slipped to fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2014. Can Beamer return this program back to the top of the Coastal in 2015? 


6. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Record at Clemson: 61-26 (7 years)

Career Record: 61-26 (7 years)


Swinney has helped Clemson football reach its potential with four consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories. The Tigers have not lost more than two games in ACC play during that span and finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013. Swinney is also regarded for his work on the recruiting trail, as Clemson has averaged a 13.2 finish – including two top-10 classes – among all 128 teams over the last five seasons. It’s no secret the Tigers invested heavily in their coordinators – Chad Morris (now at SMU) and defensive play-caller Brent Venables – to allow Swinney to focus on being the program CEO. What type of impact will Morris leaving have on the offense? That’s the big question facing Clemson in 2015 and beyond.


Related: Clemson's Deshaun Watson is the ACC's No. 1 QB in 2015


7. Steve Addazio, Boston College

Record at Boston College: 14-12 (2 years)

Career Record: 27-23 (4 years)


Even though he’s won only 14 games in two seasons at Boston College, Addazio is off to an impressive start with the Eagles. In the two years prior to Addazio’s tenure, Boston College went 6-18 and missed out on a bowl appearance in both seasons. But Addazio has made the Eagles a tough out in the ACC once again, and the program is coming off back-to-back bowl appearances. Addazio’s tenure is even more impressive when you consider he was able to mesh his systems with the returning talent in 2013, as well as recruit a graduate transfer (Tyler Murphy) at quarterback with a slightly different approach on offense. With only nine returning starters, Addazio has a tough assignment just getting Boston College back to a bowl in 2015. However, the track record suggests the Eagles will be pushing for a winning record once again. 


8. Al Golden, Miami

Record at Miami: 28-22 (4 years)

Career Record: 55-56 (9 years)


2015 is a critical season for Golden at Miami. The Hurricanes are just 16-16 in four years of ACC play under Golden and 28-22 overall. For a program that has the ability to recruit at a top 10-15 level, a .500 mark in conference games is a troubling sign. Golden did inherit some obstacles when he took over the program, including the Nevin Shapiro scandal and NCAA investigation, which was a cloud hanging over the program for over two years. Prior to taking over at Miami, Golden went 27-34 at Temple, which included a 17-8 record over the final two years (2009-10). With one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in Brad Kaaya, Miami has the potential to challenge for the Coastal Division title. But potential has been the key word surrounding this program for a few years. It’s time for Golden to deliver.  


9. Dave Doeren, NC State

Record at NC State: 11-14 (2 years)

Career Record: 34-18 (4 years)


If NC State picks up in 2015 where it left off last season, it’s a safe bet Doeren will rank higher on this list next year. The Wolfpack showed marked improvement in Doeren’s second season, going from a 3-9 and winless team in the ACC in 2013 to an 8-5 squad in 2014. NC State also finished 3-5 in ACC games and won four out of its final five games, including a 35-7 rout over rival North Carolina. Prior to NC State, Doeren went 23-4 at Northern Illinois and guided the Huskies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl in the 2012 season. Recruiting at NC State is on the rise too, as the Wolfpack have signed back-to-back top-35 classes after not finishing higher than 54th from 2011-13.


10. Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Record at North Carolina: 21-17 (3 years)

Career Record: 55-36 (7 years)


The ongoing NCAA investigation/uncertainty at North Carolina certainly isn’t helping Fedora’s tenure in Chapel Hill. However, the Tar Heels have regressed in wins since posting an 8-4 record in 2012. North Carolina finished 7-6 in 2013 and slipped to 6-7 in 2014. Aside from the regression in the win column, the biggest concern for Fedora has to be fixing a defense that ranked 14th in the ACC in yards per play allowed. The hire of Gene Chizik as the team’s coordinator should address that side of the ball, and North Carolina has one of the league’s most talented offenses in place. Could 2015 be the best year of Fedora’s tenure with the Tar Heels?


11. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

Record at Wake Forest: 3-9 (1 year)

Career Record: 93-88 (15 years)


Prior to taking over at Wake Forest, Clawson was a successful head coach at three previous stops. From 1999-2003, Clawson went 29-29 at Fordham, with 19 of those victories coming in the final two seasons. After five years with the Rams, Clawson went 29-20 with two FCS playoff appearances at Richmond, followed by a 32-30 mark at Bowling Green from 2009-13. Clawson didn’t inherit a loaded roster and finished 3-9 with just one of those wins coming in conference play. However, Clawson seems to have Wake Forest moving in the right direction with a talented, young core in place for 2015 and '16.  


12. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh

Record at Pittsburgh: First Season

Career Record: First Season


If we are buying stock in coaches for 2016 and beyond, Narduzzi is on the must-have list. The former Michigan State coordinator is ready to be a head coach after leading one of the nation’s top defenses from 2007-14. The Spartans ranked in the top five nationally for fewest yards per play and points allowed per game from 2011-13. Narduzzi’s defense was a big reason why Michigan State won at least 11 games in four out of the last five years. Pittsburgh is on its fourth coach in six seasons. However, Narduzzi seems like the right coach at the right time for the Panthers. 


Related: Grading College Football's New Coaching Hires for 2015


13. Mike London, Virginia

Record at Virginia: 23-38 (5 years)

Career Record: 47-43 (7 years)


London entered 2014 on the hot seat but managed to earn another season in Charlottesville after the Cavaliers finished 5-7 and lost five games by eight points or less. London enters 2015 in the same situation, as his contact expires at the end of 2016 and there’s pressure to get Virginia back into a bowl game after three consecutive losing seasons. Recruiting has been a strength for London and his staff, with the Cavaliers averaging a 31.8 finish nationally since 2011. The 31.8 mark ranks No. 6 among ACC teams, ahead of three other Coastal Division teams in Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Duke. But despite the success on the recruiting trail, Virginia has won only five games in ACC play over the last three seasons. 2015 is a make-or-break year for London.


14. Scott Shafer, Syracuse

Record at Syracuse: 10-15 (2 years)

Career Record: 10-15 (2 years)


Shafer went 7-6 in his first season at Syracuse (2013), but the Orange regressed to 3-9 last season. The four-win decline had a lot to do with injuries to key players, including quarterback Terrel Hunt. Improving the offense has to be a priority for Shafer and coordinator Tim Lester, especially since the Orange managed only 24 points in their final three games. Prior to Shafer’s promotion to head coach, he worked as a defensive coordinator with the Orange from 2009-12. Additionally, he made stops as an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois and Northern Illinois. Syracuse seemed to be trending in the right direction after 2013. But after a three-win campaign last year, can Shafer get the program back into contention for a bowl? With a new athletic director coming, the pressure is on Shafer to produce.

Ranking the ACC's College Football Coaches for 2015
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, News
Path: /college-football/early-2016-nfl-draft-prospect-rankings

The 2015 NFL Draft is over and more than 400 players have begun the next chapter of their football careers.


So what better time than now to look ahead to next spring and the 2016 NFL Draft. Here are the top 32 prospects that could be drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft:


1. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (6-4, 230)

He got no support from his running game or offensive line last fall, but Hackenberg has all the NFL tools to be the best QB prospect in the draft next year. He's a more athletic version of Eli Manning. It's hard to keep elite QBs from being the top pick.


2. Laremy Tunsil, OL, Ole Miss (6-5, 305)

He could easily be the top pick as the best offensive tackle in the draft. He has the size, the athleticism and is significantly better than any offensive lineman in the 2015 NFL Draft.


3. A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6-4, 320)

He won't stuff the stat sheet but tackles rarely do. Yet, Robinson is a beast in the middle who must be accounted for on every play — more often than not by more than one blocker. He's big and extremely physical.


4. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss (6-4, 280)

From a size and strength standpoint, few players in the country can match Nkemdiche's ability. He played end early in his career and has shifted inside and dominated in both spots. Look for him to take the next step in 2015.


5. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (6-4, 265)

The best pure pass rusher in this class, Bosa has already proven himself as one of the best in college football. He is likely to be avoided by most offenses in '15 so the numbers may not improve, but his stock won't go anywhere. He's one of the best players in the nation period.


6. Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (6-2, 235)

The freakish redshirt sophomore had a coming-out party in the College Football Playoff, earning MVP honors of the Sugar Bowl. He could blossom into the best linebacker in the nation due to elite speed, instincts and physicality.


7. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn (6-2, 255)

The knee injury may scare some scouts away, but Lawson can clear away all the doubt with a huge '15 campaign. He was essentially the best player on the Auburn defense two years ago as just a freshman and will become a household name in short order this fall.


8. Ronnie Stanley, OL, Notre Dame (6-5, 315)

He's got the size and talent to be an elite blocker on the next level and has held his own very well against elite defensive talent (Leonard Williams, Stanford, LSU).


9. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (6-2, 230)

A broken leg isn't nearly as concerning as knees or hips so once Treadwell steps back onto a field, it won't take long for his elite talents to show that he's the top receiver in the '16 class.


10. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida (5-11, 195)

An elite freshman All-American, teams were already staying away from VH3 last season. So he might be avoided completely this fall. That won't have much impact on his overall stock — which is the best cover corner in the nation.


11. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (6-1, 235)

Jack matches Lee from a talent standpoint and has produced on both sides of the ball a la Shaq Thompson. His numbers are huge and he's poised for another monster season as the star of the UCLA defense.


12. Su'a Cravens, S, USC (6-1, 225)

He has elite-level athleticism, size, range and has been making big-time plays the second he stepped onto the field. The former five-star prospect has completely lived up to the hype and is poised for a massive junior year.


13. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor (6-8, 275)

"Scary athlete" doesn't begin to explain what Oakman is along the defensive line. He's intimidating, massive and could be leading Baylor to a third consecutive Big 12 title.


14. Scooby Wright, OLB, Arizona (6-1, 240)

He may not have a true position in certain NFL defensive schemes but he's a guy who simply makes plays wherever he is slotted. Case in point: 163 tackles, 29.0 for a loss, 14.0 sacks and six forced fumbles don't happen on accident.


15. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (5-11, 195)

The Hokies' star coverman might actually be as good as Hargreaves. The five-star recruit has started every game of his two-year career and is going to be an All-American entering '15.


16. Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State (6-1, 204)

How many five-star recruits start all 13 games as a true freshman for a team that goes 14-0 and wins a national title? Ramsey is now an upperclassman, the veteran star of the Noles' defense.


17. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (6-3, 218)

He's got the size, the arm and is an above-average athlete. He wins games and takes care of the football as well. He's a pure leader who could be on the only team capable of knocking off Ohio State.


18. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (6-0, 225)

The top Heisman Trophy candidate entering the season was an absolute monster in the Playoffs. He carried his team to a national championship and should be the top back taken if he can stay healthy.


19. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State (6-4, 255)

There is a good chance he's the starter for Ohio State when the season opens, and his overall arm talent is what makes him the best QB prospect on the OSU roster. And a second national title could cement his first-round status.


20. Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame (6-2, 235)

He can play inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end in a 3-4 or just about anywhere else on the field. He's a freakish athlete who will vault himself into the first round.


21. Spencer Drango, OL, Baylor (6-6, 310)

He's a beast who anchored the Bears' two Big 12 titles the last two years. He could have easily entered the draft and been one of the top picks in the '15 Draft but could work his way into the top 10 with another stellar season in Waco.


22. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt (6-2, 190)

He regressed as a sophomore but his freshman season was no fluke. He has excellent athletic ability and can run all of the routes in the stem. Look for a huge bounce-back season from the Panthers wideout.


23. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (6-6, 240)

The best all-around tight end prospect in the nation unfortunately has been extremely underused by the Crimson Tide offense. He is an elite blocker and an elite pass catcher as well.


24. Leonard Floyd, DE/LB, Georgia (6-4, 238)

The dynamic, hybrid edge player flourished in Jeremy Pruitt's system last fall and should produce another huge season for what could be the best defense in the SEC. He's rangy, athletic and productive.


25. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State (6-5, 255)

Calhoun could have left school early last fall but elected to return. His stock can't change much but as long as he continues to deliver on his tremendous ability on a championship-level defense, he will be a first-rounder.


26. Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA (6-4, 310)

When it comes to upside, Vanderdoes has as much as anyone in the nation. The big-time prep star has delivered quickly on his potential and should blossom into a superstar this fall.


27. Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee (6-0, 190)

He may not have the flashy speed and quickness of other cornerbacks ahead of him in the draft, but few players in the nation are as instinctual and make as many plays as the Vols' star defensive back.


28. Vadal Alexander, OL, LSU (6-6, 340)

He's a massive road-grader and will produce big numbers in the running game. There is more than one solid LSU O-Line prospect in this unit, but Alexander is the best of the bunch.


29. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (6-3, 240)

He's an absolute beast. Cut from the Larry Johnson/Steven Jackson mold, few players have ever had the size-athleticism combo that Henry possesses. Now, if Lane Kiffin could just give him the ball a few hundred times.


30. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (6-2, 230)

He may not have the arm talent of the pure pocket passers in the NFL but few have his heart, toughness, physicality and leadership. He's a great athlete who is a better thrower of the ball than scouts think.


31. Tony Conner, S, Ole Miss (6-0, 217)

The fourth member of the highly-touted 2013 Rebels' signing class could find himself in the first round alongside Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche. Conner flies around the field and makes big plays consistently.


32. Nate Andrews, S, Florida State (5-11, 210)

The less-heralded of the two star FSU safeties isn't any less talented. He's got great size and could be just as highly regarded as Ramsey come draft time.


Next Best: Eddie Jackson, CB, Alabama; Jared Goff, QB, Cal; DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon; Travin Dural, WR, LSU; Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida; Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State; Duke Williams, WR, Auburn; Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama; Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma; James Conner, RB, Pitt; 

Early 2016 NFL Mock Draft Prospect Rankings
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/early-college-basketball-top-25-2015-16

About a month has passed since Duke defeated Wisconsin for the 2015 championship, and we’ve already had a busy offseason.


Coaches have been fired and hired and headed to the NBA. Underclassmen have put their names into the draft or elected to return. Most transfers and incoming freshmen have found their landing places.


In that case, now is as good a time as any to revisit our early top 25 for the 2015-15 season. Since we last took a snapshot of the national scene, our top two teams, Virginia and North Carolina, lost key players while Duke, Kentucky and — surprise! — Cal added key recruits.


1. Kentucky (38-1, 18-0 SEC)

Losses: F Karl-Anthony Towns, C Willie Cauley-Stein, G Aaron Harrison, G Andrew Harrison, F Trey Lyles, G Devin Booker, C Dakari Johnson

Returnees: G Tyler Ulis, F Alex Poythress, F Marcus Lee

New arrivals: C Skal Labissiere, G Isaiah Briscoe, G Charles Matthews, G Mychal Mulder

Outlook: In a rare string of recruiting losses, Kentucky lost out on guard Brandon Ingram (Duke), Cheick Diallo (Kansas), Malik Newman (Mississippi State) and Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV) in postseason commitments. Kentucky filled one spot with Mychal Mulder, a standout shooter from the junior college ranks. 


2. Duke (35-4, 15-3 ACC)

Losses: G Quinn Cook, C Jahlil Okafor, F Justise Winslow, G Tyus Jones

Returnees: F Amile Jefferson, G Matt Jones, G Grayson Allen

New arrivals: F Chase Jeter, G Luke Kennard, F Sean Obi, G Brandon Ingram, G Derryck Thornton

Outlook: If 2015 proved Duke could win a championship with a roster full of freshmen, the 2016 recruiting class proved Mike Krzyzewski could reload just as quickly. The team won’t be as stocked as the championship team, but the key holes have been filled with a big man (Jeter), a shooter (Kennard), a point guard (Thornton, who reclassified from the 2016 class to 2015) and a big, versatile shooter that has served Duke well in the past (Ingram). 


3. North Carolina (26-12, 11-7 ACC)

Losses: F J.P. Tokoto

Returnees: G Marcus Paige, F Brice Johnson, F Kennedy Meeks, F Justin Jackson, F Isaiah Hicks, G Nate Britt, G Joel Berry

Outlook: North Carolina was a candidate for preseason No. 1 the first time around with every key player returning. Since then, J.P. Tokoto elected to leave for the pros. Carolina should still be very good, but Tokoto was a standout defender. His departure tempers expectations a bit.


4. Kansas (27-9, 13-5 Big 12)

Losses: G Kelly Oubre, F Cliff Alexander

Returnees: F Perry Ellis, G Frank Mason, G Wayne Selden, G Brannen Greene, F Jamari Traylor, F Landen Lucas, G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

New arrivals: F Carlton Bragg, F Chieck Diallo

Outlook: Losing Oubre and Alexander is notable, but not unexpected in the big picture (even if both had uneven freshman seasons). The biggest victories came in recent weeks. Ellis decided to return to school, and Kansas was able to add top-10 forward Cheick Diallo, a freshman who should be an ideal fit in Kansas’ system.


5. Maryland (28-7, 14-4 Big Ten)

Losses: G Dez Wells, G Richaud Pack, F Evan Smotrycz

Returnees: G Melo Trimble, F Jake Layman, G Jared Nickens, G Dion Wiley

New arrivals: C Diamond Stone, F Robert Carter Jr.

Outlook: Maryland was one of the biggest surprises in 2014-15, finishing second in the Big Ten. Next season will bring legitimate expectations. Melo Trimble and Jake Layman are back. Moreover, landing the top-10 prospect Stone was a major coup for Mark Turgeon. Forward Robert Carter Jr. also will be eligible after averaging 11.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds at Georgia Tech in 2013-14.


6. Virginia (30-4, 16-2 ACC)

Losses: G Justin Anderson, F Darion Atkins

Returnees: G Malcolm Brogdon, F Anthony Gill, C Mike Tobey, G London Perrantes

Outlook: Virginia’s hopes of being a preseason No. 1 are probably dimmed with the surprising departure of Justin Anderson to the NBA Draft. That said, the Cavs’ preseason hopes last season were dampened when Joe Harris was believed to be an irreplaceable void. Virginia won the ACC regular season title anyway.


7. Michigan State (27-12, 12-6 Big Ten)

Losses: G Travis Trice, F Branden Dawson

Returnees: G Denzel Valentine, G Bryn Forbes, F Matt Costello, F Gavin Schilling, F Marvin Clark Jr., G Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr.

New arrivals: G Eron Harris

Outlook: Michigan State will miss Trice’s scoring punch and Dawson’s rebounding. Harris, who averaged 17.2 points per game for West Virginia in 2013-14, will help the former. Tum Tum Nairn will hold down the point guard spot and take over leadership of the team as just a sophomore. 


8. Iowa State (25-9, 12-6 Big 12)

Losses: G Bryce Dejean-Jones, F Dustin Hogue

Returnees: F Georges Niang, G Monte Morris, F Jameel McKay, F Abdel Nader

New arrivals: G Hallice Cooke, G Deonte Burton

Outlook: The biggest story of the Iowa State offseason will be coach Fred Hoiberg’s recovery from open-heart surgery. The Cyclones are in good hands with Niang and Morris still on board. As usual, transfers — Cooke from Oregon State, and Burton, a point guard from Marquette — will round things out. The Cyclones are still in contention for two graduate transfers (Michigan’s Max Bielfeldt and Providence’s Tyler Lewis).


9. Gonzaga (35-3, 17-1 West Coast)

Losses: G Kevin Pangos, G Byron Wesley, G Gary Bell Jr.

Returnees: F Kyle Wiltjer, C Przemek Karnowski, F Domantas Sabonis, G Kyle Dranginis, G Eric McClellan

Outlook: Wiltjer could have left to begin a pro career somewhere, but his return means he’ll be a potential national player of the year candidate. Replacing Pangos at point guard will be no small issue. Otherwise, this is a team built for another run. The replacements include a handful of players who saw few if any minutes last season — McClellan (who was dismissed from Vanderbilt before landing at Gonzaga), Josh Perkins (who missed all but five games with a broken jaw) or redshirt Bryan Alberts.


10. Oklahoma (24-11, 12-6 Big 12)

Losses: F TaShawn Thomas

Returnees: G Buddy Hield, G Isaiah Cousins, F Ryan Spangler, G Jordan Woodward

New arrivals: G Rashard Odomes

Outlook: The return of Hield, the Big 12 Player of the Year, is key as the Sooners look to stay in the mix in the Big 12. Most of the key pieces are back, but losing Thomas means the Sooners will rely even more heavily on the backcourt.


11. Notre Dame (32-6, 14-4 ACC)

Losses: G Jerian Grant, G Pat Connaughton

Returnees: F Zach Auguste, G Demetrius Jackson, G Steve Vasturia, F Bonzie Colson

Outlook: The departures of Grant and Connaughton probably mean Notre Dame won’t come within a hair of the Final Four again, but there are plenty of pieces for Notre Dame to make noise in the ACC. Colson is a future star.


12. Wisconsin (36-4, 16-2 Big Ten)

Losses: F Frank Kaminsky, F Sam Dekker, G Traevon Jackson, G Josh Gasser, F Duje Dukan

Returnees: F Nigel Hayes, G Bronson Koenig, G Zak Showalter

New arrivals: G Brevin Pritzl

Outlook: Hayes’ decision to return to school is critical. The Badgers won’t be Final Four contenders again, but don’t forget that the Badgers were a consistent top-four Big Ten team regardless of personnel before this run in the last two seasons.


13. Indiana (20-14, 9-9 Big Ten)

Returnees: G Yogi Ferrell, G James Blackmon Jr., F Troy Williams, G Robert Johnson, G Nick Zeisloft, F Hanner Mosquera-Perea

New arrivals: F Thomas Bryant, F Juwan Morgan

Outlook: Tom Crean could be well-positioned to return to the good graces of Indiana fans next season. Nearly everyone is back, and the frontcourt will get some desperately needed help from the 6-10 Bryant, a McDonald’s All-American.


14. Villanova (33-3, 16-2 Big East)

Losses: G Darrun Hilliard, F JayVaughn Pinkston, G Dylan Ennis

Returnees: G Josh Hart, G Ryan Arcidiacono, F Daniel Ochefu

New arrivals: G Jalen Brunson

Outlook: Hilliard was the closest thing Villanova had to a star player last season, but this was a balanced team with six guys averaging nine or more points per game. Losing Ennis, a graduate transfer, hurts. Nova adds the five-star point guard Brunson to a team that will already have a senior point guard in Arcidiacono.


15. Wichita State (30-5, 17-1 Missouri Valley)

Losses: F Darius Carter, G Tekele Cotton

Returnees: G Fred VanVleet, G Ron Baker, F Shaquille Morris, G Evan Wessel

Outlook: Wichita State already survived a tense moment when Alabama courted Gregg Marshall. Baker mulled the draft but elected to return to school. The Shockers can’t be dismissed as long as VanVleet and Baker are in the backcourt.


16. Arizona (34-4, 16-2 Pac-12)

Losses: F Stanley Johnson, G T.J. McConnell, F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F Brandon Ashley

Returnees: C Kaleb Tarczewski, G Gabe York

New arrivals: F Ryan Anderson, G Allonzo Trier, F Ray Smith, G Justin Simon, C Chance Comanche

Outlook: McConnell, Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson are big losses. Yet Sean Miller continues to reload with 247Sports’ No. 2 recruiting class featuring four top-50 prospects and Anderson from Boston College (14.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg in 2013-14). 


17. Cal (18-15, 7-11 Pac-12)

Losses: F David Kravish

Returnees: G Tyrone Wallace, G Jordan Matthews, G Jabari Bird, F Christian Behrens

New arrivals: F Ivan Rabb, F Jaylen Brown

Outlook: Cal was already poised to take a step forward with the backcourt of Wallace, Matthews and Bird returning. Then, Cuonzo Martin beat out Kentucky, North Carolina and Michigan for the No. 2 small forward prospect (Jaylen Brown), adding to a recruiting class that already included No. 2 power forward (Ivan Rabb). Cal should contend for the Pac-12 title.


18. Utah (26-9, 13-5 Pac-12)

Losses: G Delon Wright

Returnees: G Brandon Taylor, G Jordan Loverage, F Jakob Poeltl, G Dakari Tucker, F Brekkott Chapman

Outlook: Wright could have the biggest impact of any single departure in the country. He’s a lockdown defender and an efficient point guard, two things not easily replaced. Poeltl could have gone to the draft as an intriguing prospect, but he elected for more seasoning in college after a dominant finish to last season.


19. Louisville (27-9, 13-6 ACC)

Losses: G Terry Rozier, F Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear

Returnees: G Quentin Snider, F Chinanu Onuaku, F Mangok Mathiang, G Anton Gill

New arrivals: G Trey Lewis, F Damion Lee, F Raymond Spalding, G Donovan Mitchell, F Deng Adel

Outlook: Rick Pitino bolstered his young roster with a pair of transfers, adding Trey Lewis from Cleveland State and Damion Lee from Drexel. Lee was arguably the top graduate transfer available after averaging 21.4 points per game last season. Lewis hit 96 3-pointers for Cleveland State. That will be a welcome sight after long-range shooting was a problem all year for the Cards.


20. SMU (27-7, 15-3 American)

Losses: C Yanick Moreira

Returnees: G Nic Moore, F Markus Kennedy, F Ben Moore

New arrivals: G Shake Milton

Outlook: SMU has been knocking on the door of postseason relevance for two seasons. First came a snub to the 2014 NCAA Tournament and then the questionable goaltending call in a loss to UCLA in the round of 64. Moreira is a substantial loss, but SMU returns enough to contend for another AAC title.


21. LSU (27-11, 11-7 SEC)

Losses: F Jarell Martin, F Jordan Mickey

Returnees: G Keith Hornsby, G Tim Quarterman, G Josh Gray, G Jalyn Patterson

New arrivals: F Ben Simmons, G Antonio Blakeney

Outlook: LSU underachieved in the Martin/Mickey era, reaching one NCAA Tournament and losing in a second-half collapse to NC State. The Tigers will be expected to contend in the SEC next season after adding Simmons, the top prospect in the 247Sports rankings. Blakeney is also a five-star prospect. LSU’s supporting cast of Hornsby, Quarterman and Patterson is solid.


22. Vanderbilt (21-14, 9-9 SEC)

Losses: F James Siakam, F Shelton Mitchell

Returnees: C Damian Jones, G Riley LaChance, G Wade Baldwin IV, F Luke Kornet, G Matthew Fisher-Davis, F Jeff Roberson

New arrivals: G Nolan Cressler

Outlook: The Commodores were an awfully young team last season and improved as the year went along. Jones’ decision to stay in school was huge. The one major departure is made up for by the arrival of Cressler, who averaged 16.8 points per game as a sophomore at Cornell.


23. NC State (22-14, 10-8 ACC)

Losses: G Trevor Lacey, G Ralston Turner

Returnees: G Cat Barber, F Kyle Washington, F Abdul-Malik Abu, F Caleb Martin, F Beejay Anya

Outlook: The unexpected departure of Lacey to the NBA Draft will dampen expectations. He was the Wolfpack’s most consistent player on a team that sorely needed consistency.


24. Butler (23-11, 12-6 Big East)

Losses: G Alex Barlow, F Kameron Woods

Returnees: G Kellen Dunham, F Roosevelt Jones, F Andrew Charbascz

New arrivals: G Tyler Lewis

Outlook: Dunham and Jones will be seniors, and 5-11 NC State transfer Lewis should take over the point guard spot. More important, Butler locked up coach Chris Holtmann with a contract extension. The gap between Butler and Villanova in the Big East is narrowing.


25. Michigan (16-16, 8-10 Big Ten)

Losses: G Max Bielfeldt

Returnees: G Caris LeVert, G Zak Irwin, G Derrick Walton, G Spike Albrecht, G Aubrey Dawkins 

Outlook: Michigan was a preseason top 25 team before everything went wrong, starting with an injury to star Caris LeVert. Before falling to .500, Michigan reached an Elite Eight and a national championship game. Let’s give John Beilein another chance at this, especially after LeVert elected to return to school.


Others of Note


Baylor (24-10, 11-7 Big 12)

Losses: G Kenny Chery, F Royce O’Neale

Returnees: F Taurean Prince, F Rico Gathers, F Johnathan Motley

Outlook: Not much was expected out of Baylor last season, but they made a nice run before losing to Georgia State in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears need to find a replacement for Chery at point guard to go with that solid front line.


Cincinnati (23-11, 13-5 American)

Returnees: F Octavius Ellis, G Troy Caupain, G Farad Cobb, F Gary Clark, G Kevin Johnson, F Shaquille Thomas

Outlook: Cincinnati’s roster returns essentially intact, but the Bearcats hope to have coach Mick Cronin for the season after he missed most of 2015 with a medical issue.


Florida State (17-16, 8-10 ACC)

Returnees: G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, G Brandon Montay, G Devon Bookert, G Phil Cofer

New arrivals: G Dwayne Bacon, G Malik Beasley

Outlook: A pick for a sleeper? Florida State returns nearly everybody to a mediocre team and adds two top-25 prospects at guard. 


Georgetown (22-11, 12-6 Big East)

Losses: C Josh Smith, G Jabril Trawick

Returnees: G D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, F Isaac Copeland, G Tre Campbell, F L.J. Peak, F Paul White

New arrivals: C Jessie Govan, F Marcus Derrickson, F Kaleb Johnson

Outlook: Placing expectations on Georgetown is always a tricky proposition. Smith-Rivera is already a star, and his return was critical to the Hoyas’ hopes. Copeland was a highly touted freshman and should start to reach his potential as a sophomore.


Oregon (26-10, 13-5 Pac-12)

Losses: G Joseph Young, G Jalil Abdul-Bassit

Returnees: F Elgin Cook, F Dillon Brooks, F Dwayne Benjamin, F Jordan Bell

New arrivals: G Tyler Dorsey

Outlook: The Ducks will need to find someone to replace the scoring that Young provided the last two seasons, but the Ducks got major contributions from last year’s freshman class. Oregon adds a top-30 point guard in a class with three top-100 freshmen


Purdue (21-13, 12-6 Big Ten)

Losses: G Jon Octeus

Returnees: C A.J. Hammons, G Rapheal Davis, F Vince Edwards, G Kendall Stephens, C Isaac Haas, G Dakota Mathias

Outlook: The seven-footer Hammons elected to return to Purdue rather than the NBA Draft, meaning the Boilermakers are gearing up to contend for the Big Ten title.


Texas (20-14, 8-10 Big 12)

Losses: F Jonathan Holmes, F Myles Turner

Returnees: G Isaiah Turner, G Javan Felix, C Cameron Ridley, G Demarcus Holland

New arrivals: G Eric Davis, G Kerwin Roach, C Shaquille Cleare

Outlook: How much of a difference can first-year coach Shaka Smart make? Many of the same pieces of a team that was picked to challenge for the Big 12 title last season will return. Adding two four-star freshmen in Davis and Roach and Maryland transfer Cleare means the pieces are in place for Texas to contend for an NCAA spot or more.


Texas A&M (21-12, 11-7 SEC)

Losses: F Kourtney Roberson, G Jordan Green

Returnees: G Danuel House, G Jalen Jones, G Alex Caruso,

New arrivals: C Tyler Davis, F D.J. Hogg, G Anthony Collins

Outlook: The Aggies were NIT bound after a disastrous SEC Tournament, but they were on the fringe for most of the season. They hope a standout recruiting class puts them over the top. USF point guard Anthony Collins is also eligible immediately.


West Virginia (25-10, 11-7 Big 12)

Losses: G Juwan Staten

Returnees: F Devin Williams, F Jonathan Holton, G Jevon Carter, G Daxter Miles Jr.

Outlook: The Mountaineers, who are still smarting from a 39-point loss in the Sweet 16 to Kentucky, will have to replace the point guard Staten, but they return nearly every other key player from a surprise team in 2014-15.

An early college basketball top 25 for 2015-16
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-football-teams-2015-nfl-draft

Florida State has gone 39-3 during the last three seasons with three ACC titles, a national championship and a playoff appearance.


None of this is by accident or by fluke.


The Seminoles have had 29 players drafted during that span, a record for the modern era. In the 2015 draft, Florida State led all teams with 11 selections from Thursday through Saturday, starting with Jameis Winston as the No. 1 pick through guard Bobby Hart in the seventh round.


While Florida State was the top school, the SEC as usual led all leagues in the draft in a decade of dominance of sending players to the pro ranks.


Here’s a look at the top schools and a few notes on how schools performed in this year’s draft.


SchoolDraft PicksConferenceDraft Picks

*includes Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham


• For the first time in five drafts, the SEC did not have the most first-round draft picks as the Pac-12 and ACC had nine apiece. The SEC had seven first-rounders. For the ninth consecutive draft, however, the SEC produced the most overall picks (54).


• Florida State produced the most picks with 11, giving the Seminoles 18 picks in the last two seasons. There’s a good reason the 2013 ‘Noles overwhelmed just about everyone they played.


• With 11 picks for Florida State and 10 for Louisville, the Seminoles’ 42-31 win over the Cardinals on Oct. 30 had the most draft picks of any game last season.


• On the other hand, TCU’s 42-3 win over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl featured a grand total of three draft picks so far.


• Another oddity: Oklahoma State defeated Washington 30-22 in the Cactus Bowl. The Cowboys had one draft pick (defensive back Josh Furman, the 35h pick of the seventh round). Washington had three draft picks in that game, including two first-round picks. That doesn’t include first-round cornerback Marcus Peters, who was dismissed from Washington in early November.


• Ohio State is the first reigning national champion to be shut out of the first round of the NFL Draft since the 2002 Buckeyes. Ohio State’s five overall picks are the fewest for a reigning champion since 2010 Auburn (four).


• Not a bad problem to have: Alabama’s seven draft picks was the fewest for the Crimson Tide since 2011. Alabama has produced 44 picks since the 2010 draft.


• LSU’s four picks was the fewest for the Tigers since 2005.


• As has been trumpeted several times: Miami and Florida produced more draft picks than wins. Ereck Flowers an Phillip Dorsett became the first Miami players to go in the first round since 2008. The Hurricanes had seven players drafted but finished 6-7.


• Florida’s draft output was even more astonishing. The 7-5 Gators had eight players drafted, including six from an offense that 96th in yards per game. By one measure, the Will Muschamp era was more productive than the Urban Meyer era at Florida. Muschamp’s teams produced 5.5 draft picks per year (22 from the 2012-15 drafts) while Meyer’s produced five picks per year (30 from 2006-11).


• Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon was the Badgers’ first skill position player to be drafted in the first round since wide receiver Lee Evans in 2004 and first running back since Michael Bennett in 2001. Wisconsin’s first-round picks since 2004 have included four offensive linemen and two offensive linemen.


• The 2010 Texas A&M offensive line class may be one of the best classes for any position ever. Former coach Mike Sherman signed three first-round linemen (Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi) and fifth-rounder Jarvis Harrison.


• On a bit of a technicality, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was Oklahoma’s highest draft pick at No. 40. Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri, transferred to OU but never played. The next highest Sooner in the draft was No. 52 overall pick Jordan Phillips. Excluding Green-Beckham, Oklahoma has had only one top-50 pick since 2010, the draft when quarterback Sam Bradford, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and offensive tackle Trent Williams were all drafted in the top four.


• Two notable first-round droughts ended: Duke guard Laken Tomlinson became the Blue Devils’ first first-round pick since 1987, and Arizona State safety Damarious Randall became the Sun Devils’ first first-round pick since Terrell Suggs in 2003.


• Nine Power 5 teams were shut out of the draft: Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Illinois, NC State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Syracuse and Vanderbilt. The Volunteers didn’t have a player drafted for the first time since 1963.

Ranking College Football Teams in the 2015 NFL Draft
Post date: Monday, May 4, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/jim-kelly-receives-emotional-ovation-during-draft-pick

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly delivered one of the most inspirational moments of the NFL Draft when he was the surprise guest picker on behalf of the Buffalo Bills in the second round.


A little more than a year ago, Kelly was fighting an aggressive return of oral cancer, originally diagnosed in June 2013. Through treatment, Kelly had part of his jaw and teeth removed, and tests in January cleared of cancer.


Kelly made his pick to a standing ovation in Chicago for one of the draft’s most touching moments. Watch:



Jim Kelly Receives Emotional Ovation During Draft Pick
Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 23:06
Path: /college-football/colorado-updates-uniforms-and-unveils-new-gray-alternates-2015

Colorado’s classic white and black jerseys are some of the best in the Pac-12. But every uniform needs an occasional refresh, and that’s exactly what the Buffaloes are doing headed into 2015.


On Friday, Colorado updated its white and black uniforms, along with a brand new gray jersey.


Overall, these are really sharp uniforms for the Buffaloes:



Colorado Updates Uniforms and Unveils New Silver Alternates for 2015
Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 19:29
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/nfl-draft-first-round-shutout-great-news-ohio-state

Perhaps no one was more happy not to hear his team called on Thursday than Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.


Presumably, Meyer would have been pleased to hear an NFL team take his wide receiver Devin Smith in the first round, but whether Ohio State produced one first-round pick or none Meyer, that's a good thing.


For the first time since 2003 — the last time Ohio State won a national championship — the reigning national champion did not produce a first-round draft pick the following April. Since the start of the BCS era in 1998, Oklahoma in 2000 is the only other team that did not produce a first-round pick immediately after winning a national title.


Meyer won’t have the draft day brag sheet to take on the recruiting trail, or at least not one as impressive as past national champions. Not that it really matters.


Most of the draft picks from the 2014 national championship team will be playing for Ohio State in 2015.


This isn’t major news for anyone who has been paying close attention to Ohio State. The Buckeyes have all three quarterbacks in tow, including their top pro prospect at the position Cardale Jones. Defensive end Joey Bosa appears to be on pace for a first-round pick. Ezekiel Elliott may or may not continue Thursday’s run on first-round running backs, but he’ll be in the draft eventually. 


Linebackers Joshua Perry and Darron Lee are back. So is end-turned-tackle Adolphus Washington.


Even if Smith, defensive tackle Michael Bennett and cornerback Doran Grant are selected this weekend, the Buckeyes will have to wait until 2016 for their big draft celebration. 


That’s not totally uncommon for national championship teams. Since 1998, four reigning national champions produced four or fewer draft picks the following year — 2010 Auburn, 2008 Florida, 2003 USC and 2000 Oklahoma. The USC team went on to repeat in 2004. Florida started 13-0 in 2009 before losing to eventual national champion Alabama in the SEC title game. Only 2011 Auburn finished unranked.


Here’s a look at the national champions since 1998 and how they fared in the NFL Draft after their title season.


YearSchoolFirst RoundTotal PicksFollowing season
20131713-1, No. 5, lost in CFP semifinal
20123911-2, No. 7, lost Sugar Bowl
20113813-1, No. 1, won BCS championship
2010248-5, NR, won Chick-fil-A Bowl
20092710-3, No. 10, won Capital One Bowl
20081313-1, No. 3, won Sugar Bowl
2007178-5, NR, won Chick-fil-A Bowl
2006299-4, No. 13, lost Capital One Bowl
20052610-3, No. 13, won Alamo Bowl
20042512-1, No. 1, lost Rose Bowl*
2003 (BCS)179-3, No. 16, lost Capital One Bowl
2003 (AP)1413-0, No. 1, won BCS championship
20020511-2, No. 4, won Fiesta Bowl
200151112-1, No. 2, lost Fiesta Bowl*
20000211-2, No. 6, won Cotton Bowl
19993711-2, No. 5, lost Orange Bowl*
1998159-3, No. 9, lost Fiesta Bowl

*Lost in national championship game

NFL Draft First-Round Shutout Great News for Ohio State
Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 15:17
All taxonomy terms: Milwaukee Bucks, NBA
Path: /nba/milwaukee-bucks-face-bright-future-after-playoff-exit

54 points. That was the historically large deficit that sent the Milwaukee Bucks out of the NBA Playoffs, courtesy of the advancing Chicago Bulls.


120-66 is not a pretty figure, but the Bucks still have a lot to look forward to. Multiple young players broke out for them in a surprisingly competitive first-round bout with the Bulls. A series that once looked like a sweep became a six-game affair that had the Windy City sweating as head coach Jason Kidd’s defensive schemes flummoxed the Bulls in Games 4 and 5. The lengthy, energetic poise they bring to every position makes for a forest of limbs that will challenge NBA offenses for years.


John Henson was surprisingly effective stepping up to Pau Gasol in the post, as was Giannis Antetokounmpo. Sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams played an inspired Game 5, racking up 22 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocks as he led his team to a stunning 94-88 victory in Chicago. Shooting guard Khris Middleton continued to prove himself as one of the best in the game at his position, making life difficult for Bulls shooters and draining clutch three-pointers with the calm of an assassin.


And Milwaukee did all of this without the man who could very well be the centerpiece of their future: Jabari Parker. 2014’s No. 2 overall pick tore his ACL midseason, and has been on the mend since. Once he returns to the roster with his singular scoring knack, it will open up the floor for the Bucks’ offense in untold ways.


With Kidd and a promising roster in tow — and new uniforms and insignia on the way this fall — Milwaukee’s looking like the scene of an NBA renaissance. Chicago might have a big-brother hold on them for now, but soon the Bucks could be their bitter rivals.


— John Wilmes


Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 14:24
All taxonomy terms: Malcom Brown, New England Patriots, NFL
Path: /nfl/first-round-pick-malcom-brown-solidifies-new-england-patriots-defensive-front

The New England Patriots took a defensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft for the second year in a row, selecting Malcom Brown from Texas and taking a solid step forward in replacing the irreplaceable Vince Wilfork. Last year, the Pats took Dominique Easley, also a defensive linemen with the versatility to play multiple positions. The Pats have taken a defensive player with their first pick in each of the last four drafts now.


Bill Belichick was clear in his press conference after the first round that Easley and Brown are different players, but what matters most is the continued influx of talent in the defensive trenches. The Patriots struggled against the run last season, especially in short-yardage situations so putting the 320-pound Brown into the mix should help remedy that problem.  


Taking Brown does indicate a slight shift in Belichick's defensive philosophy, which has been an ongoing evolution since the complete defensive rebuild that started in 2009. His biggest strength is getting into the backfield quickly, the same as Easley. This signifies just how important generating a pass rush from all spots on the defensive line has become.


When Wilfork was first drafted the Patriots ran a 3-4 defense with the front three two-gapping and holding their ground. While the Pats will still employ two-gapping techniques for certain matchups, it's become a tool, not the base down norm. Brown should be able to learn how to two-gap, but his size and ability against the pass should make him an every-down player in New England, even if he starts off as part of a rotation.


The cupboard was not bare at defensive tackle prior to Brown's arrival. Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones and Alan Branch join Easley as a promising interior grouping, but the addition of Brown sets their ceiling even higher.


The best defenses are ones who can consistently generate disruption up front and that continues to be something the Patriots struggle with. With the loss of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, a lethal pass rush can help offset the difference.


Brown should be a big part of the plan upfront. He's not going to instantly replace Wilfork all by himself, but he's just the kind of player Belichick can use in a number of ways to maximize his effectiveness.


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

The Patriots continue to spend high-round draft picks on their defense.
Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12
Path: /usc-secondary-growing-pains-help-unit-improve

Injuries mounted for USC in its 28-26 win at Arizona on Oct. 11. The Trojan secondary — a unit that started 2014 shorthanded, thanks to the suspension of cornerback Josh Shaw — lost Adoree’ Jackson and Kevon Seymour midway through the contest.


“I look out against Arizona,” USC head coach Steve Sarkisian said on Thursday’s Pac-12 coaches teleconference call. “And I think we had four true freshmen out in the secondary in the fourth quarter.”


USC’s situation was never again as dire as on that night, when John Plattenburg and Jonathan Lockett were thrust into prominent roles for the first time in their careers, but the secondary also never exactly teemed with experience, either.


Shaw did not return to the lineup until Nov. 22, leaving a corps of youngsters to handle the load. Fifth-year senior Gerald Bowman and junior Seymour were the group’s elder statesmen. Otherwise, the secondary was made up of true freshmen Jackson, Lockett and Plattenburg; redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins; sophomore Leon McQuay III, as well as sophomore Su’a Cravens, who split time between nickel back and strong-side linebacker.


All that inexperience predictably translated into ups and downs. The ups included a first month in which the Trojans did not allow a passing touchdown; giving up a Hail Mary to lose to Arizona State and allowing UCLA to turn several intermediate routes into huge gains were a few of the downs.


“We had our moments where we had our growing pains,” Sarkisian said. “But they ended up being real beneficial for us. Our guys are a lot more confident. They believe in what we’re doing. “We got better and better and better,” he added.


The unit’s collective and continued progress plays a critical role in the Trojans’ pursuit of the Pac-12 championship. USC faces five of the nation’s 33 most prolific passing offenses next fall, all in conference play.


Reinforcements arrive with an influx of new contributors, both incoming freshmen like 5-star prospect Iman Marshall, as well as redshirts like Lamont Simmons.


For those new additions to the secondary, last year’s youngsters take on the role of veteran leaders.


“For us, the leadership role is to just go out there and lead by example,” Jackson said after USC’s spring game on April 11. “Pretty much, that’s how I do it. If you talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.”


Jackson’s play as a true freshman did indeed speak volumes. He commanded attention in the offseason, albeit primarily for his explosiveness on special teams and offense.


But the speedster Jackson staked his reputation throughout his freshman campaign on his defense, typically matching up opposite opponents’ No. 1 wide receivers.


“He can cover just about anybody,” Sarkisian said.


Jackson’s coverage impressed Sarkisian so much last season, in one practice the head coach declared Jackson “kryptonite of the offense.”


USC needs him to be with Colorado’s Nelson Spruce (1,198 yards, 12 touchdowns in 2014) and Arizona’s Cayleb Jones (1,019 yards, nine touchdowns) and others lined up on the opposite side. And, in turn, Jackson needs his teammates in the secondary to become more consistent against the rest of opponents’ receivers.


The Trojans made positive trends to that end late in the season. McQuay, who had been badly burned on a few plays in USC’s late-season loss at UCLA, was instrumental in the Holiday Bowl defeat of Nebraska.


“To see a young man in Leon McQuay who struggled… come back and have two really cool, critical plays there at the end of the game on the third- and fourth-down plays was awesome,” Sarkisian said at season’s end.


McQuay, Hawkins and Plattenburg will all vie for playing time at free safety, which is indicative of a huge positive USC has in 2015 it lacked much of 2014: depth.


The Trojans relied so much on youth because the previous three years of NCAA-mandated scholarship restrictions rendered their bench thin.


With the options defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox now has in the secondary, USC can get more aggressive in other phases of its defense.


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

Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/2015-fantasy-baseball-closer-grid

One month into the 2015 MLB season and it’s no surprise to see Huston Street and Trevor Rosenthal among the leaders in saves for their respective leagues. But did you know that the Mets’ Jeurys Familia and Tigers’ Joakim Soria are tied with Street for the most entering May 1 with nine? Both are in the closer role for their teams because of injuries, which have had quite the early impact on bullpens around the league. Not only are we still waiting for Kenley Jansen, Sean Doolittle and Jake McGee to make their season debuts, but the Royals’ Greg Holland is currently on the disabled list with a pectoral strain, although he’s expected back right around the time his 15-day term is up.


TeamCloserSetupWatch List
ArizonaAddison ReedBrad ZeiglerEvan Marshall, Oliver Perez
AtlantaJason GrilliJim JohnsonLuis Avilan
BaltimoreZach BrittonDarren O'DayTommy Hunter, Brian Matusz
BostonKoji UeharaEdward MujicaJunichi Tazawa
Chicago (AL)David RobertsonZach DukeZach Putnam, Jake Petricka
Chicago (NL)Hector RondonPedro StropJason Motte, Zac Rosscup, Neil Ramirez (DL)
CincinnatiAroldis ChapmanJumbo DiazJ.J. Hoover
ClevelandCody AllenBryan ShawScott Atchison, Nick Hagadone
ColoradoJohn AxfordRafael BetancourtAdam Ottavino, LaTroy Hawkins (DL)
DetroitJoakim SoriaJoba ChamberlainAl Albuquerque, Joe Nathan, Bruce Rondon (DL)
HoustonLuke GregersonChad QuallsPat Neshek, Tony Sipp, Josh Fields
Kansas CityWade DavisKelvin HerreraRyan Madson, Greg Holland (DL)
Los Angeles (AL)Huston StreetJoe SmithFernando Salas, Cam Bedrosian
Los Angeles (NL)*Yimi GarciaChris HatcherPaco Rodrigiez, Pedro Baez, Joel Peralta, Kenley Jansen (DL)
MiamiSteve CishekA.J. RamosMike Dunn
MilwaukeeFrancisco RodriguezJonathan BroxtonWill Smith, Jim Henderson (DL)
MinnesotaGlen PerkinsCasey FienBrian Duensing, Caleb Thielbar
New York (AL)*Andrew MillerDellin BetancesDavid Carpenter, Justin Wilson
New York (NL)Jeurys FamiliaBuddy CarlyleCarlos Torres, Bobby Parnell (DL), Jenrry Mejia (suspended)
OaklandTyler ClippardDan OteroEric O'Flaherty, Sean Doolittle (DL)
PhiladelphiaJonathan PapelbonKen GilesJacob Diekman, Justin De Fratus
PittsburghMark MelanconTony WatsonJared Hughes
St. LouisTrevor RosenthalJordan WaldenMatt Belisle
San DiegoCraig KimbrelJoaquin BenoitDale Thayer, Kevin Quackenbush
San FranciscoSantiago CasillaSergio RomoJeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi
SeattleFernando RodneyDanny FarquharYoervis Medina, Tom Wilhelmsen
Tampa BayBrad BoxbergerKevin JepsenErnesto Frieri, Jake McGee (DL)
TexasNeftali FelizRoman MendezKeone Kela, Shawn Tolleson 
Toronto*Brett CecilMiguel CastroRoberto Osuna, Aaron Loup
WashingtonDrew StorenMatt Thornton Aaron Barrett, Casey Janssen (DL)

*Los Angeles (NL) and Toronto are employing a closer-by-committee approach, while New York (AL) has not designated a primary closer.


2015 Fantasy Baseball: Closer Grid
Post date: Friday, May 1, 2015 - 12:45