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Path: /nfl/star-lotulelei-heart-condition-hurts-draft-stock

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was not allowed to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a heart condition that was discovered during his pre-draft medical screening in Indianapolis.

Lotulelei will return to Salt Lake City for a second opinion after his most recent echocardiogram showed a low Ejection Fraction, with his left ventricle pumping at a rate less than the normal 55-to-70 percent efficiency, according to reports.

Once thought to be a lock top-10 pick — and even a viable candidate to go No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs — Lotulelei’s heart condition could result in a steep fall down draft boards.

The best-case scenario is that the irregularity in heartbeat was caused by dehydration or possibly rapid weight loss experienced by Lotulelei, who weighed in at 311 pounds in Indianapolis. The worst-case scenario is a serious medical condition that could pose a long-term health risk.

Lotulelei is just the latest elite prospect in the Class of 2013 to experience a serious setback leading up to the April 25-27 NFL Draft. In addition to Lotulelei (heart), Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck), USC quarterback Matt Barkley (right arm), Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (DUI) and Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o (Catfish) all have serious red flags.

<p> Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was not allowed to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine after it was discovered that he has a heart condition.</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 14:15
Path: /college-football/california-golden-bears-2013-spring-football-preview

After a disappointing 3-9 record last season, California made a coaching change, firing Jeff Tedford in favor of Sonny Dykes. Although Tedford did a lot of good things in Berkeley, the program had two losing seasons over the last three years and failed to build off its 28-9 stretch from 2004-06. Dykes is no stranger to life in the Pac-12, as he coached at Arizona from 2007-09. He went 22-15 in three seasons at Louisiana Tech and should be a good fit in an offensive-minded conference like the Pac-12.

California Golden Bears 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 3-9 (2-7)

Spring practice dates: Feb. 25-March 23

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Allan Bridgford, 31 of 68, 277 yds., 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing: Brendan Bigelow, 44 car., 431 yds., 3 TDs
Receiving: Chris Harper, 41 rec., 544 yds., 2 TDs
Tackles: Nick Forbes, 85
Sacks: Nathan Broussard and Chris McCain, 3
Interceptions: Michael Lowe, 3

Redshirts to Watch: QB Zach Kline, LB Hardy Nickerson Jr., LB Michael Barton, C Matt Cochran, OL Christian Okafor

Early Enrollees to Watch: K Matt Anderson, QB Jared Goff, WR Drake Whitehurst, DE Kyle Kragen, DE Sione Sina

JUCO Transfers to Watch: DE Kyle Kragen, WR Drake Whitehurst, DT Marcus Manley, DE Sione Sina

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Northwestern
Sept. 7 Portland State
Sept. 14 Ohio State
Sept. 28 at Oregon
Oct. 5 Washington State
Oct. 12 at UCLA
Oct. 19 Oregon State
Oct. 26 at Washington
Nov. 2 Arizona
Nov. 9 USC
Nov. 16 at Colorado
Nov. 23 at Stanford

Offensive Strength: With only four returning starters and the departure of its best receiver (Keenan Allen), California doesn’t have a glaring strength. Running back Brendan Bigelow is a potential star but will miss spring practice due to knee surgery. Assuming Bigelow is healthy, the Golden Bears should have a solid rushing attack and a promising group of young receivers.

Offensive Weakness: Quarterback. Zach Maynard never elevated his play to an All-Pac-12 level during his career in Berkeley, and California’s offense suffered as a result. Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin have a lot of work ahead of themselves this spring, as they need to identify a No. 1 quarterback, as well as address an offensive line that returns just two starters.

Defensive Strength: Considering California returned five starters from a defense that led the Pac-12 in total and pass defense, finishing 10th in the Pac-12 in yards allowed was quite a disappointment. This unit has experience coming back, including defensive ends Deandre Coleman, Chris McCain and Brennan Scarlett. Despite shifting McCain and Scarlett to defensive end, the linebacking corps should be solid, especially if Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt is ready to contribute.

Defensive Weakness: The secondary finished 89th nationally in pass efficiency defense and loses cornerbacks Steve Williams and Marc Anthony, along with safety Josh Hill. The Golden Bears have experience coming back at safety and will get a boost at cornerback with the return of Stefan McClure from injury.

Spring Storylines Facing the Golden Bears

1. Who starts at quarterback? The good news for Sonny Dykes: California has seven options to choose from at quarterback. The bad news: None have proven to be a capable starter. Senior Allan Bridgford has the most experience but has completed just 44 of 100 passes in his career. Bridgford’s experience could give him the edge to take the first snap, but expect junior Austin Hinder, redshirt freshman Zach Kline and true freshman Jared Goff to push him for time. Kline ranked as the No. 4 quarterback in the 2012 signing class by Athlon Sports and could be the answer under center. If the Golden Bears struggle to find a quarterback, finishing out of the Pac-12 North cellar will be very difficult.

2. Develop depth at running back. Brendan Bigelow should be ready for fall practice after offseason knee surgery, but he needs help in the backfield. Unfortunately for California, backup Daniel Lasco is also out for spring practice, as he recovers from shoulder injury. To help with depth this spring, Jeffrey Coprich is expected to move from defensive back. With Lasco and Bigelow sidelined, Coprich, Darren Ervin and Jonah Hodges need to take advantage of the spring reps and quickly get acclimated to the new offense.

3. Address the concerns on the offensive line. The Golden Bears return just two starters on the line, which may not be a bad thing considering this unit allowed 3.4 sacks a game last year. However, the losses were significant, as left tackle Tyler Rigsbee is gone after starting all 12 games last season, and center Brian Schwenke has exhausted his eligibility after picking up first-team All-Pac-12 honors last year. Finding the right answer at center is crucial in California’s offense, especially since that position plays a key role in making adjustments and checks at the line of scrimmage in Dykes’ offense.

4. Adjusting to the 4-3. After playing in a 3-4 scheme under former defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, California will be making the switch to a 4-3 this spring. To help with the transition, the Golden Bears have three junior college linemen joining the team, along with the move of Brennan Scarlett and Chris McCain from linebacker to defensive end. How will all of the pieces come together? California struggled on defense last season, so it’s important for this unit to quickly adapt to the new scheme.

5. Cornerback. With Steve Williams leaving early for the NFL Draft and Marc Anthony exhausting his eligibility, California is thin at cornerback. Kameron Jackson played in all 12 games and picked off three passes, and he should be a lock to handle one cornerback spot. The other side will likely go to Stefan McClure, who missed all of 2012 due to a knee injury. The Vista native was considered among the top 150 prospects coming out of high school, so talent isn’t an issue. Even if McClure returns to full strength, defensive coordinator Andy Buh needs more players to emerge as reliable options. Considering the talent on offense in the Pac-12, having a thin secondary is never a good thing.

Related College Football Content

Ranking the Pac-12 Coaching Jobs for 2013
College Football's Top 5 Running Backs on the Rise for 2013

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College Football's Top 15 JUCO Transfers for 2013

Pac-12 Team Recruiting Rankings for 2013

<p> California Golden Bears 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 11:25
Path: /college-football/stanford-cardinal-2013-spring-football-preview

After earning three consecutive BCS bowl appearances, the bar is set high for Stanford in 2013. And the Cardinal return 14 starters from a team that won 12 games last season, so it's not out of the question David Shaw's team can compete for a spot in the national championship this season. The Cardinal has a favorable path to a Pac-12 North title but play Oregon and USC in a challenging November slate. Even if Stanford doesn’t make for the national title in 2013, another appearance in the Rose Bowl is certainly within reach.

Stanford Cardinal 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-2 (8-1)

Spring practice dates: Feb. 25-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 8

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Josh Nunes, 124 of 235, 1,643 yds., 10 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Kevin Hogan, 55 car., 263 yds., 2 TDs
Receiving: Ty Montgomery, 26 rec., 213 yds.
Tackles: Shayne Skov, 81
Sacks: Trent Murphy, 10
Interceptions: Ed Reynolds, 6

Redshirts to watch: RB Barry Sanders, OL Nick Davidson, OL Johnny Caspers, WR Michael Rector, WR Conner Crane, LB Noor Davis, DE Jordan Watkins, C Graham Shuler, WR Dontonio Jordan, TE Alex Frkovic, TE Chris Harrell

2013 Schedule

Sept. 7 San Jose State
Sept. 14 at Army
Sept. 21 Arizona State
Sept. 28 at Washington State
Oct. 5 Washington
Oct. 12 at Utah
Oct. 19 UCLA
Oct. 26 at Oregon State
Nov. 7 Oregon
Nov. 16 at USC
Nov. 23 California
Nov. 30 Notre Dame

Offensive Strength: Quarterback Kevin Hogan still needs to develop as a passer, but there’s a lot to like about the Virginia native going into 2013. Hogan finished with 1,096 passing yards and nine scores, while adding 263 rush yards in 2012. Even though center Sam Schwartzstein finished his eligibility, the offensive line should be a strength. David Yankey is one of the best linemen in the Pac-12, while Khalil Wilkes, Kevin Danser, Cameron Fleming and a solid group of youngsters form one of the nation’s top offensive lines.

Offensive Weakness: The passing game. While Hogan is capable of guiding this team to another Pac-12 title, he has very little options in the receiving corps. Stanford’s top two receiving threats from last year – Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo – left early for the NFL, and Drew Terrell and Jamal Rashad-Patterson finished their eligibility.

Defensive Strength: Even with linebacker Chase Thomas and nose tackle Terrence Stephens finishing their eligibility, Stanford will have one of the best front sevens in the nation. The linebacking corps is stacked with talent, including senior Shayne Skov and first-team All-Pac-12 selection in Trent Murphy. The secondary also has first-team All-Pac-12 safety Ed Reynolds returning, along with rising star Alex Carter at cornerback.

Defensive Weakness: Is there really a weakness on this defense? Finding a replacement for Thomas will be a challenge, but the Cardinal has depth at linebacker. If there is an area of concern, it might be on the interior of the defensive line. Stanford gave up over 200 rushing yards in wins against UCLA and Wisconsin, which just happened to be two of the games Stephens missed at nose tackle.

Spring Storylines Facing the Cardinal

1. Upgrading the passing game. Considering Stanford’s strength in the trenches, it doesn’t need to throw the ball 35-40 times to win each week. However, with running back Stepfan Taylor gone, the Cardinal needs to find a spark in the passing game. Quarterback Kevin Hogan didn’t top more than 160 yards in each of his final three starts, but that’s not the biggest problem. With Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo departing at tight end, the receiving corps lacks weapons. Ty Montgomery was slowed by an injury last season, but he could be a go-to threat for Hogan. Outside of Montgomery, the Cardinal needs a big spring from receivers Kodi Whitfield, Kelsey Young, Michael Rector, Conner Crane and Dontonio Jordan. Sophomore Luke Kaumatule will likely work as the No. 1 tight end this spring.

2. A new go-to back? Stepfan Taylor capped off an excellent career at Stanford by winning offensive most valuable player honors in the Rose Bowl. During his four years with the Cardinal, Taylor rushed for 4,300 yards and 30 scores. Needless to say, Taylor will be missed. However, Stanford caught a break this spring, as Tyler Gaffney decided to return to school for his senior year. Gaffney left the team last year to play minor league baseball and recorded 449 yards on 74 carries in 2011. He will battle with Anthony Wilkerson, Remound Wright and touted redshirt freshman Barry Sanders for the starting nod this spring, but the Cardinal will likely lean on more of a committee approach. There’s plenty of depth and talent, but Stanford just needs to develop a pecking order this spring.

3. Who starts at center? It’s not a glamorous position battle, but Stanford has a large void at center with the departure of Sam Schwartzstein. He earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season and was a crucial part of Stanford’s success on the ground. Starting guard Khalil Wilkes is expected to slide to center this spring, with Conor McFadden, Kevin Reihner and Graham Shuler also getting snaps. The Cardinal also needs to figure out whether David Yankey sticks at left tackle or moves to guard, which would allow talented sophomores Andrus Peat or Kyle Murphy to win a starting spot. Stanford has depth and talent on the offensive front but cannot afford to have subpar play from center if it wants to win the Pac-12.

4. Replacing Chase Thomas at linebacker. Overall, Stanford is in great shape at linebacker with the return of Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov, A.J. Tarpley, Jarek Lancaster and James Vaughters. However, Thomas is a big loss from a leadership and production perspective. He recorded 7.5 sacks last season and ranked second on the team with 71 stops. Sophomore Kevin Anderson will get the first crack at replacing Thomas, but keep an eye on redshirt freshman Noor Davis.


Related College Football Content

Ranking the Pac-12 Coaching Jobs for 2013
College Football's Top 5 Running Backs on the Rise for 2013

College Football's Top 5 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2013

College Football's Top 15 JUCO Transfers for 2013

Pac-12 Team Recruiting Rankings for 2013

<p> Stanford Cardinal 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Overtime
Path: /overtime/greatest-husband-wife-pairings-sports

Although neither Danica Patrick nor Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Sunday's Daytona 500 (they did finish a respectable 8th and 12th), both made plenty of headlines leading up to the race. Besides Patrick making history as the first woman ever to win the Daytona 500 pole, she and Stenhouse Jr. publicly acknowledged that they are dating.

Now while it's entirely too soon to tell if NASCAR's new power couple will ever walk down the aisle, there have been plenty of superstar athletes and sports figures who have said "I do." Which got us thinking, who are the greatest husband-wife pairings in sports today?

For the purpose of this exercise, we tried to identify the “greatest” current married couples across the sports spectrum. While each has been successful in their respective sport, this ranking was determined by looking at their collective body of work.

Although it’s difficult to compare success on the baseball diamond compared to Olympic performances, for example, there’s no debating who tops Athlon Sports’ list as the No. 1 husband-wife duo in all of sports.


1. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf
Married: October 22, 2001
Children: son Jaden Gil and daughter Jaz Elle

With a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles (22 Graf, Agassi 8) and two gold medals, among numerous other accolades and accomplishments, Agassi and Graf are not only the king and queen of the tennis courts, but they are tops among such pairings across the sports spectrum.

Considered among the greatest to ever pick up a racket, both ascended to the No. 1 ranking in tennis at some point in their illustrious careers. In fact, Graf’s mark of 377 total weeks ranked No. 1 is the longest period for any player in tennis history. Graf also is second only to Margaret Court (24) in Grand Slam singles title, while Agassi is tied for eighth among his male peers. In addition to the big wins, this duo has a combined 1,772 career wins, more than 160 career titles, earned more than $50 million in prize money alone and both are members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

2. Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm
Married: November 22, 2003
Children: twin daughters Grace Isabella and Ava Caroline, son Garrett Anthony

Similar to Agassi and Graf, Garciaparra and Hamm enjoyed considerable success in their respective sports. Garciaparra started his major-league baseball career by being named American League Rookie of the Year in 1997. He followed up with two AL batting titles (1999, 2000) and was one of the junior circuit’s most feared hitters when he played in Boston from 1997-2003. Unfortunately, injuries started taking their toll on the sweet-swinging shortstop, who was traded by the Red Sox in a 2004 deadline deal and was never quite the same player the rest of his career. In 14 seasons, Garciaparra was a six-time All-Star who finished with a .313 career batting average. He has remained involved in baseball, serving as an analyst on ESPN for its MLB coverage and its telecasts of the College and Little League World Series.

As good as Garciaparra was on the diamond, however, he can’t compete with his wife’s status as the greatest women’s soccer player in history. A four-time NCAA champion at the University of North Carolina, Hamm’s indelible mark on her sport came as a member of the U.S. women’s national team. For her career, Hamm scored 158 international goals, which is more than any player, male or female, in soccer history. She appeared in 275 international matches, the third-most of any female player, and helped the U.S. team win the Women’s World Cup twice (1991, ’99), along with three Olympic medals – two gold (1996, 2004), one silver (2000). Following her retirement in 2004, Hamm was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007, the first year she was eligible.

3. Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci
Married: April 27, 1996
Children: son Dylan Paul

Another gold-medal winning couple, Conner and Comaneci won a combined seven in their collective careers as gymnasts. A two-time U.S. Olympian, Conner was a member of the gold medal-winning men's gymnastics team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where he also won an individual gold on the parallel bars. Comaneci is one of the greatest women’s gymnasts of all-time, a winner of five gold and nine combined medals for her native Romania at the 1976 (Montreal) and ’80 (Moscow) Summer Olympics. She secured her place in Olympic history at just 14 years old, when she became the first female gymnast awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event (uneven bars, ‘76). She retired from gymnastics in 1981 and five years after marrying Conner became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2001. Besides raising their son, Dylan Paul, Conner and Comaneci own and operate the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Okla.

4. Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards-Ross
Married: February 26, 2010

With two Super Bowl rings and four Olympic gold medals, Ross and Richards-Ross have each tasted victory at the highest level in their respective sports. Ross is a cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who also helped the New York Giants win Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Richards-Ross has won a total of four gold medals while competing in three different Summer Olympics. Two of these came last summer in London, when she won her third gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s 4x400m relay team, while also claiming her first individual gold (400m).

5. Bret Hedican and Kristi Yamaguchi
Married: July 8, 2000
Children: daughters Keara Kiyomi and Emma Yoshiko

Hedican played in the NHL for 17 seasons (1991-2009) as a defenseman, appearing in a total of 1,039 games with St. Louis, Vancouver, Florida, Carolina and Anaheim. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and also was a two-time Olympian, playing for the U.S. national team in the 1992 and 2006 winter games. In fact, it was during the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville when Hedican and Yamaguchi, who won gold in women’s figure skating that year, first met. A proponent of early childhood literacy, Yamaguchi also is an accomplished author and was crowned as the champion of the sixth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” when she competed on the reality program in the spring of 2008.

6. Bob Kersee and Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Kersee is a famous and successful track coach, whose roster of athletes he’s trained include Olympic champions Florence Griffith-Joyner, Gail Devers, Allyson Felix, Shawn Crawford, and of course, his wife, Joyner-Kersee. She is a three-time gold medalist and winner of six total Olympic medals from competing in the 1988, ’92 and ’96 Summer Olympics. Joyner-Kersee first won gold in the heptathlon at the 1988 games in Seoul and then again in the ’92 games in Barcelona. She also won the gold medal in the long jump in ’88. Sports Illustrated voted her the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.

7. Curtis Conway and Laila Ali
Married: July 23, 2007
Children: son Curtis Muhammad and daughter Sydney J., as well as twin sons Cameron and Kelton and daughter Leilani from Conway’s previous marriage

The No. 7 overall pick of the Chicago Bears in the 1993 NFL Draft, Conway played 12 seasons in the pros, posting three 1,000-yard campaigns as a wide receiver. Also playing for San Diego, the New York Jets and San Francisco, he finished with 594 career receptions for 8,230 yards and 52 touchdowns. The daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali went 24-0 in her professional boxing career, which lasted from 1999 to 2007. The championship boxer then embarked on her next career in television, which has been highlighted by a third-place finish on the fourth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” in the spring of 2007 and co-host of the revival of “American Gladiators.” She also has appeared on commercials and made other guest spots, including on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” last fall.

8. Shelden Williams and Candace Parker
Married: November 13, 2008
Children: daughter Lailaa Nicole

Williams was an All-American at Duke, who finished his college career as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. Drafted fifth overall by Atlanta in the 2006 NBA Draft, Williams played for seven different teams during his six seasons in the NBA. He is currently playing overseas in the French League. Parker is one of the most accomplished players in women’s basketball history, as she was a two-time Player of the Year and two-time NCAA champion at Tennessee. The No. 1 overall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Parker won both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in her first season. Parker remains a key player for the Sparks and also has won two gold medals (2008, ’12) as a member of the U.S. women’s national team.

9. Matt Treanor and Misty May-Treanor
Married: November 2004

Drafted by Kansas City in the 1994 MLB Draft, Treanor spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues before making it to the majors in 2004 with the Florida Marlins. A catcher, Treanor also played for Detroit, Texas and the Royals and was a member of the Dodgers last season. Treanor is a career .221 hitter with a .989 fielding percentage behind the plate and he was on the Rangers' AL pennant-winning team in 2010. May-Treanor was a two-time women’s volleyball Player of the Year and NCAA champion at Long Beach State. Along with her partner Kerri Walsh, May-Treanor is largely responsible for putting women’s beach volleyball on the map. Together the duo dominated the sport while helping it gain in popularity and notoriety, highlighted by three straight Olympic gold medals. May-Treanor retired from the sport last August, shortly after she and Walsh won their third straight gold medal at the Summer Olympics in London. May-Treanor’s 112 individual championship wins in both domestic and international competition currently stand as the most of any women’s beach volleyball player. May-Treanor, like two other wives on this list, also has appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” her turn coming in the reality program's seventh season in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately, her experience didn’t go as well as Yamaguchi’s or Ali’s, as she ruptured her Achilles tendon during a training session and had to withdraw early from the competition.

10. Casey Daigle and Jennie Finch
January 15, 2005
Children: sons Ace Shane and Diesel Dean, daughter Paisley Faye

A first-round pick (31st overall) of Arizona in the 1999 MLB Draft, Daigle pitched in 33 games in his major-league career for the Diamondbacks and Houston Astros. Like Daigle, Finch also is a former pitcher, one of the most dominant ones in softball history. She was a three-time All-American at Arizona, where she also played first base, and is a two-time recipient of the Honda Sports Award, which is given annually to the best collegiate female athlete in 12 different sports. Finch finished her Wildcats career with 119 wins and 1,028 strikeouts and had her jersey number 27 retired by the school. Finch also pitched for the women’s national team in the 2004 and ’08 Summer Olympics (the last time softball was played in the Olympics), helping the U.S. team win the gold medal in Athens in ’04 and silver in Beijing.

<p> Greatest Husband-Wife Pairings in Sports</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-spring-quarterback-battles-2013

With spring practice getting ready to start for all 125 college football teams, quarterback battles will now take center stage. For most national title contenders – Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Stanford, Georgia, Notre Dame and Clemson – quarterback isn’t a question mark. However, there are a handful of teams that could be a conference title contender that enter spring practice with uncertainty under center.

Oklahoma State is Athlon’s early favorite to win the Big 12, and the Cowboys have three quarterbacks vying for the No. 1 job. Wes Lunt began 2012 as the starter but suffered a knee injury early. Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh each made starts in relief of Lunt, with Chelf impressing late in the season. The Cowboys could be a top-10 team next season, so identifying their starting quarterback is tops on head coach Mike Gundy's spring to do list. Outside of Oklahoma State, Arizona, Auburn, Florida State, Kansas State, Michigan State and Oklahoma are some of the other top teams with quarterback battles this offseason.

College Football's Top 15 Spring Quarterback Battles for 2013


The Candidates: Javelle Allen (FR), B.J. Denker (SR), Jesse Scroggins (JR), Anu Solomon (FR)

As Rich Rodriguez has proven from stops at West Virginia and Michigan, whoever is his starting quarterback is going to put up big numbers. Don’t expect that trend to stop in 2013, as Arizona looks to replace Matt Scott under center. Even though Scott is gone, having another offseason to work with Rodriguez and the coaching staff should be a huge boost to the entire offense. Denker came to Arizona via the JUCO ranks last season and made one start against Colorado, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He enters spring ball as the No. 1 quarterback, but redshirt freshman Javelle Allen and USC transfer Jesse Scroggins will get an opportunity to make a push. However, the competition will turn up a notch in the fall, as true freshman Anu Solomon arrives on campus. Solomon might be the best fit for the offense but lacks experience. Denker has the edge in experience within Rodriguez’s system, so he should finish spring as the No. 1 quarterback. However, this battle will likely extend into fall camp with Solomon having a good chance to steal the No. 1 spot.
Projected Spring Winner: Denker


The Candidates: Kiehl Frazier (JR), Jeremy Johnson (FR), Nick Marshall (JR), Jason Smith (FR), Jonathan Wallace (SO)

Auburn’s offense was a disaster last season. Gus Malzahn left to be the head coach at Arkansas State, prompting Gene Chizik to hire Scot Loeffler as the team’s new coordinator. Loeffler tried to switch the offense to a pro-style approach, which wasn’t a good fit for the personnel. Chizik and Loeffler were dismissed at the end of 2012, and Malzahn has returned to the Plains as the head coach. Three quarterbacks made starts last season, with Frazier leading the way with 753 yards passing, while Jonathan Wallace topped the stat chart with four touchdown tosses. Frazier and Wallace should be a better fit in Malzahn’s spread offense, but both will face competition from junior college recruit (and former Georgia defensive back) Nick Marshall, along with incoming freshmen Jason Smith and Jeremy Johnson. Marshall’s skill set is a good fit for this offense, but Frazier and Wallace have an edge in SEC experience. Don’t be surprised if this battle goes deep into fall camp.
Projected Spring Winner: Frazier


The Candidates: Kyle Boehm (SO), Allan Bridgford (SR), Jared Goff (FR), Austin Hinder (JR), Zach Kline (FR)

Although Bridgford made three starts last season, it’s anyone guess who will take the first snap for California this year. Adding to the drama is a new coaching staff and a new scheme, which has clouded the quarterback battle going into the spring. Bridgford was unimpressive in his limited work in 2012, finishing with 277 yards passing and three interceptions on 31 completions. Hinder came to Berkeley as a big-time recruit but has yet to throw a pass in game action. Kline ranked as the No. 4 quarterback prospect by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class, while Goff was rated as a four-star recruit by most scouting services in 2013. Considering the new scheme and overall inexperience of the returning quarterbacks, this battle may not be decided until the first snap of the season.
Projected Spring Winner: Kline

Florida State

The Candidates: Jacob Coker (SO), Clint Trickett (JR), Jameis Winston (FR)

After a 12-win season and an ACC Championship, the Seminoles have momentum entering 2013. However, there are some significant personnel losses, including quarterback EJ Manuel. Trickett has two starts under his belt, as he threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-30 loss to Clemson in 2011. In a mop-up role in 2012, Trickett threw for 272 yards on 22 completions. While Trickett’s experience should give him the early edge, the coaching staff is excited to get a look at Winston – the No. 1 quarterback in the 2012 signing class. Coker has good size and intriguing ability, but he is probably behind Winston and Trickett entering spring ball. Trickett’s experience should give him an early edge, but Winston will be the quarterback as soon as Jimbo Fisher feels the Alabama native is ready to run the offense.
Projected Spring Winner: Trickett

Kansas State

The Candidates: Daniel Sams (SO), Jake Waters (JR)

Replacing Collin Klein is no easy task, but the Wildcats have two promising options on the roster. Sams played in eight games last season, throwing for 55 yards on six completions and adding 235 yards and three scores on the ground. He averaged 7.3 yards per rush, which ranked first on the team. Waters joins Kansas State from Iowa Western Community College after throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns last season. As if those numbers weren’t impressive enough, he tossed only three picks on 333 attempts and is already enrolled and will participate in spring practice. Regardless of which quarterback wins the starting job, Kansas State should be in good shape to win at least eight games in 2013. Sams has shown dynamic ability as a runner but still has much to prove as a passer. Waters had an excellent career at Iowa Western Community College but he has to adjust to the speed of play at the FBS level.
Projected Spring Winner: Sams

Michigan State

The Candidates: Connor Cook (SO), Andrew Maxwell (SR), Tyler O’Conner (FR), Damion Terry (FR)

Replacing Kirk Cousins wasn’t expected to be easy, but most thought Michigan State would eventually find some stability under center. That wasn’t the case in 2012 as the Spartans averaged just 209.9 passing yards per game and finished with just 14 touchdown tosses. Maxwell started all 13 games, but the offense got a spark from Cook in the bowl game, which turned the position into an open competition this spring. O’Conner and Cook will get a chance to unseat Maxwell this spring, while Terry will join the competition in the fall. Terry is a dual-threat option, and his mobility could add a spark to a rushing attack that loses running back Le’Veon Bell, but he has some ground to make up in learning the playbook. Cook should push Maxwell for the job, but the guess here is the senior begins the year as the starter – on a very short leash.
Projected Spring Winner: Maxwell


The Candidates: Blake Bell (JR), Trevor Knight (FR), Kendal Thompson (SO)

Can Bell go from part-time player to full-time starter? That’s the big question in Norman this spring. If Bell can take his success in a part-time role and transform that into the course of a full season, Oklahoma won’t have much of a quarterback battle this spring. Bell has thrown for only 115 yards over the last two years but has rushed for 361 yards and 24 scores. Trevor Knight redshirted last season, but reports out of Oklahoma indicated he had an impressive year as the scout-team quarterback. Thompson is the third quarterback in the mix, but he did not play as a redshirt freshman last season. Make no mistake: This is Bell’s job to lose. If he stumbles, Knight figures to be Oklahoma’s starting quarterback this fall.
Projected Spring Winner: Bell

Oklahoma State

The Candidates: Clint Chelf (SR), Wes Lunt (SO), J.W. Walsh (SO)

Mike Gundy has a problem. But at least it's a good problem for a head coach to have. Oklahoma State has three quarterbacks that have shown the ability to win games. Lunt went into last season as the starter but a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette forced him to miss the next three games. Walsh replaced Lunt and threw for 415 yards and one touchdown in a win over Iowa State. However, Walsh suffered a knee injury in that game, forcing Gundy to go back to his true freshman. Lunt returned to the lineup against TCU on Oct. 27 but suffered an injury in the following week against Kansas State and didn’t play again until the bowl game. Chelf received the majority of his playing time in the second half of the year and was a pleasant surprise after starting the year No. 3 on the depth chart. He finished with 1,588 yards and 15 scores, which included 292 yards and four touchdowns in the 55-34 win over West Virginia. All three quarterbacks are proven winners and can lead Oklahoma State to a Big 12 title. If Chelf or Walsh win the job, should the Cowboys think about redshirting Lunt?
Projected Spring Winner: Lunt

Oregon State

The Candidates: Sean Mannion (JR), Cody Vaz (SR)

The Beavers were one of college football’s most improved teams last season, posting a 9-4 record after going 3-9 in 2011. Sean Mannion began last season as the starter, throwing for at least 270 yards in each of his first four starts. He also threw for 379 yards and two scores in a huge road win against UCLA in Week 4. However, Mannion was sidelined due to a knee injury in early October, which opened the door for Cody Vaz. Despite having little experience, Vaz proved to be more than capable of holding down the starting spot. He threw for 332 yards in a road win over BYU and 267 yards against Arizona State. Then in a role reversal, Vaz was bitten by the injury bug late in the year, which allowed Mannion to regain control of the job for the final three regular-season games of 2012. Vaz did return and started the Beavers' bowl game, but he struggled, throwing for only 194 yards and two interceptions. Mannion has the edge in talent, but this battle is virtually even.
Projected Spring Winner: Mannion

Penn State

The Candidates: Steven Bench (SO), Tyler Ferguson (SO), Christian Hackenberg (FR)

The Nittany Lions went from having one of the worst quarterback situations in the Big Ten to one of the best by the end of 2012. Matt McGloin thrived under new coach Bill O’Brien, throwing for 3,271 yards and 24 touchdowns, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Despite the departure of McGloin, with O’Brien’s tutelage and a solid supporting cast, the Nittany Lions shouldn’t slip too far on offense. Steven Bench completed 2 of 8 passes for 12 yards last season and opens spring practice as the frontrunner. Tyler Ferguson enrolled in January after spending one season at the College of the Sequoias. During his one season in the JUCO ranks, Ferguson threw for 2,614 yards and 22 touchdowns. While Bench and Ferguson will get a chance to impress this spring, the battle really won’t get underway until Christian Hackenberg arrives this fall. Hackenberg ranked as the No. 13 overall prospect in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100 and is regarded as a perfect fit in O’Brien’s offense. Bench figures to hold onto the job in the spring, but all bets are off when Hackenberg gets to campus.
Projected Spring Winner: Bench


The Candidates: Trevone Boykin (SO), Casey Pachall (SR)

The battle to be TCU’s quarterback is one of the most intriguing in college football this spring. Pachall was the starting quarterback through the first four games of 2012 but was suspended from the team after a DWI arrest. Before he left the team, Pachall threw for 948 yards, 10 touchdowns and only one pick. Trevone Boykin was set to play some snaps at running back before Pachall’s suspension but proved to be a quality fill-in at quarterback. Boykin finished the year with 2,054 yards passing and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for 417 yards and three scores. Pachall gives TCU’s offense more of a downfield threat in the passing game, while Boykin is a better dual-threat option. Pachall is the right pick to start for TCU – and could lead the Horned Frogs to a Big 12 title in 2013.
Projected Spring Winner: Pachall


The Candidates: Joshua Dobbs (FR), Nathan Peterman (FR), Justin Worley (JR)

New coach Butch Jones has quite a task ahead of him this year. Not only do the Volunteers lose quarterback Tyler Bray, but receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter and tight end Mychal Rivera also depart. Worley made three starters in relief of Tyler Bray in 2011 and played in five games in 2012, throwing for 134 yards and two picks on 23 attempts. Peterman ranked as a four-star prospect by Rivals coming out of high school, while Dobbs was one of the key members of Tennessee’s 2013 recruiting class. Dobbs is a good fit for Jones’ spread attack but needs time to adjust to the FBS level. Worley’s experience should pay off and help him win the starting gig this spring.
Projected Spring Winner: Worley


The Candidates: Max Browne (FR), Cody Kessler (SO), Max Wittek (SO)

The Trojans got an early look at their quarterback battle for 2013 when Matt Barkley suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against UCLA. Wittek started the final two contests and finished with 388 yards passing and three touchdowns, but he also threw five picks and completed just 52.2 percent of his throws. Wittek will open spring practice as the starter, but Browne and Kessler will get every opportunity to unseat him. Browne ranked as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2013 signing class by Athlon Sports and enrolled early to participate in spring practice. Wittek’s experience has to give him an early edge, but he is probably just keeping the seat warm until Browne is ready.
Projected Spring Winner: Wittek

West Virginia

The Candidates: Ford Childress (FR), Paul Millard (JR)

Whether it’s Childress or Millard taking snaps for West Virginia next season, don’t expect the Mountaineers to stray far from their pass-first attack. The receiving corps needs to be rebuilt thanks to the departure of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but West Virginia should still be one of the top passing offenses in the Big 12. Childress is an impressive prospect, standing 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, and has excellent bloodlines as his father (Ray) earned five trips to the Pro Bowl during his NFL career. Millard threw 34 passes backing up Geno Smith over the last two years and is still a virtual unknown. Millard has the edge in experience, but Childress has more talent and should claim the starting job.
Projected Spring Winner: Childress


The Candidates: Jon Budmayr (SR), Bart Houston (FR), Tanner McEvoy (JR), Danny O’Brien (SR), Curt Phillips (SR), Joel Stave (SO)

Despite three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances, change is coming to Madison in 2013. Head coach Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, and former Utah State coach Gary Andersen takes over. The Badgers won’t change much on offense, but expect Anderson and coordinator Andy Ludwig to make a few tweaks. O’Brien, Phillips and Stave each started games last season, with Phillips finishing the year as the No. 1 option. O’Brien was a disappointment after transferring from Maryland, while Stave was a pleasant surprise but was lost for the final four regular-season games due to injury. McEvoy joins Wisconsin in the fall, after spending the first part of his career at South Carolina and then Arizona Western College. His athletic ability is a plus in Ludwig’s scheme but he lacks experience on the FBS level.
Projected Spring Winner: Stave

Other Spring Battles to Watch


The Candidates: Brandon Allen (SO), Brandon Mitchell (JR), Taylor Reed (SO)

Allen made one start in relief of Tyler Wilson last year (Alabama) and finished 2012 with 186 yards passing. He is considered a heavy favorite to start for new coach Bret Bielema, but Mitchell (if he moves back from receiver) and Memphis transfer Taylor Reed will also get a chance this spring.
Projected Spring Winner: Allen


The Candidates: Chris Johnson (FR), Bryce Petty (JR), Seth Russell (FR)

All signs point to Petty easily winning this job, but considering Baylor’s recent success, his progress in spring practice is worth watching. Johnson ranked among the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the class of 2013 and enrolled early to participate in spring ball.
Projected Spring Winner: Petty


The Candidates: C.J. Brown (SR), Perry Hills (SO), Caleb Rowe (SO), Ricardo Young (JR)

Injuries hit Maryland’s signal callers hard last season, as linebacker Shawn Petty was forced to move under center for the final four games. The Terrapins are in better shape this year, but this battle likely won’t get underway until fall practice when Rowe, Brown and Hills should all be back to full strength. Young started his career at Virginia Tech and transferred to New Mexico in 2011. The Washington, D.C. native is Maryland’s healthiest quarterback this spring and is familiar with coordinator Mike Locksley’s offense.
Projected Spring Winner: Young

NC State

The Candidates: Manny Stocker (SO), Pete Thomas (JR)

New NC State coach Dave Doeren was one of the offseason’s top hires, but the former Northern Illinois coach has a huge question mark under center. Thomas started two years at Colorado State where he threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Stocker threw two passes in mop-up duty in 2012.
Projected Spring Winner: Stocker


The Candidates: Trey Anderson (SO), Tra’von Chapman (FR), Tom Savage (SR), Chad Voytik (FR)

Tino Sunseri wasn’t the most popular quarterback in Pittsburgh history, but he did finish his senior year with 3,288 yards and 21 scores. Replacing Sunseri appears to be a four-man race, including former Rutgers and Arizona quarterback Tom Savage. Voytik and Anderson will be the top competition for Savage in the spring, and the coaching staff is excited to see Voytik after a year of learning, as he was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation in the 2012 signing class.
Projected Spring Winner: Savage

South Florida

The Candidates: Bobby Eveld (SR), Matt Floyd (SO), Mike White (FR)

Not only was Skip Holtz’s time at South Florida one of the most disappointing tenures of the BCS era, he isn’t leaving a ton of talent under center. Eveld had an eventful 2012, as he was supposed to redshirt but an injury to B.J. Daniels forced him into action. Unfortunately for the Tampa native, he was lost for the season after getting injured in his only game. Floyd tossed five picks over the final three games, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see White finish the 2013 season as USF’s No. 1 quarterback.
Projected Spring Winner: Floyd


The Candidates: Ashton Broyld (SO), Terrel Hunt (SO), John Kinder (JR), Charley Loeb (SR)

As if breaking in a new coaching staff wasn’t enough of a challenge in Syracuse's first season of ACC play, the Orange also have to find a replacement for All-Big East quarterback Ryan Nassib. Broyld is an intriguing athlete, while Loeb was the top backup last year.
Projected Spring Winner: Loeb


The Candidates: Austyn Carta-Samuels (SR), Johnny McCrary (FR), Patton Robinette (FR)

Whether or not the Commodores can keep their recent success going will largely depend on what happens under center. Jordan Rodgers wasn’t the most prolific quarterback but he provided valuable leadership. Carta-Samuels was the Mountain West’s Freshman of the Year in 2009, made 11 starts in '10 with Wyoming and one with the Commodores last year. Robinette was Tennessee’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011.
Projected Spring Winner: Carta-Samuels


The Candidates: Greyson Lambert (FR), Phillip Sims (JR), David Watford (SO)

Sims finished the year as the starter, but all bets are off this spring with a revamped offensive staff. Watford is an intriguing dual-threat option, while Lambert was a top-25 quarterback coming out of high school. Even in a new system, Sims should have the edge this spring.
Projected Spring Winner: Sims

Washington State

The Candidates: Austin Apodaca (FR), Tyler Bruggman (FR), Connor Halliday (JR)

Mike Leach’s debut season in Pullman didn’t go according to plan. The Cougars expected to have a high-powered offense but averaged only 20.4 points a game. The quarterback position deserves part of the blame, and there’s an open competition this preseason. Halliday played well in a loss against UCLA (five touchdowns) but tossed almost as many interceptions (13) as he did scores (15). Apodaca and Bruggman are intriguing and could get a look if Halliday struggles.
Projected Spring Winner: Halliday

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<p> College Football's Top Spring Quarterback Battles for 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 09:20
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime, NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/chunky-linemen-run-40-combine-chariots-fire-music

The NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis, where athletes of all shapes and sizes come to impress. Some are more impressive than others, but one thing that always holds true: we love watching the pudgy linemen run the 40. And what could possibly make it better? Apparently adding the theme music from "Chariots of Fire". 



<p> Chunky Linemen Run 40 at Combine with "Chariots of Fire" Music</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 07:26
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-coaching-jobs-2013

We have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money  — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach? Today we focus on the SEC.

(Note: Current or impending NCAA sanctions were not a factor in these rankings.)

Ranking the Coaching Jobs in the SEC for 2013

1. Florida

Pros: Location. Location. Location. Florida is a public university in a state that produces a tremendous amount of top-flight talent. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium offers one of the best atmospheres in college football, and the fan base is as rabid as there is in the nation.

Cons: Expectations are sky-high at a school that has won two national championships in the past four seasons. If you don’t win — and win big — things can turn ugly very quickly. Just ask Ron Zook.

Final Verdict: Florida presents one of the elite coaching opportunities in college football. You have everything at your disposal to compete for national championships on an annual basis. There is no excuse not to be good at Florida.

2. Alabama

Pros: Tradition. With the possible exception of Notre Dame, no school in the country has more tradition than Alabama. The Tide have won 23 SEC championships and (depending on who you ask) 15 national titles. The facilities are top-notch, the fans are passionate and the recruiting base is strong.

Cons: Coaching football at Alabama is arguably the most stressful job in collegiate athletics. It’s takes a certain kind of coach to deal with that type of scrutiny.

Final Verdict: Alabama is unquestionably one of the premier jobs in the nation. The coach who can deal with the demands of the job — like Nick Saban — will win at a very high level in Tuscaloosa.

3. Georgia

Pros: Georgia has tremendous tradition and is located in arguably the finest college town in America — Athens. The Peach State might not produce talent at the same rate as Florida, Texas or California, but metro Atlanta is always strong, and small towns such as Columbus, Valdosta and Warner Robins consistently produce elite talent.

Cons: There are really no negatives to be found at Georgia, other than the fact that you are competing in the very difficult SEC, and you have a fan base that demands you win at a high level.

Final Verdict: Georgia is a great situation, but you clearly have to have the right guy in place to win big. After Vince Dooley won the third of three straight SEC crowns in 1982, the Bulldogs went nearly two decades — and went through two more coaches — before their next league title, won by Mark Richt in 2002.

4. LSU

Pros: It’s become a bit of a cliché, but there really is nothing like being in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night in the fall. That environment is one reason the Tigers are able to recruit so well. The other? The state of Louisiana is arguably the most underrated talent producer in the nation.

Cons: LSU has so much going for it, but why have so many coaches failed to win at a high level in Baton Rouge? From 1971 though 2000, the Tigers only won one outright SEC championship, in 1986 under Bill Arnsparger.

Final Verdict: It’s hard to find a reason why LSU would not be a desirable coaching position. Sure the competition is tough and the fans are demanding, but that comes with the territory. The school has won two national titles in the past 11 seasons.

5. Texas A&M

Pros: Texas A&M’s facilities are among the very best in the nation. Kyle Field is a bit on the old side and is set to undergo a renovation, but as far as the facilities for recruiting — football complex in the south end zone, the indoor practice facility — A&M has very few rivals. The recruiting base is among the best in the country, and the Aggies, the only SEC school in the state of Texas, should be able to battle the University of Texas for the best players in the state. 

Cons: Even with so much going for it, Texas A&M has had trouble sustaining success throughout its history.   

Final Verdict: Texas A&M is a very intriguing position. It has everything you would want in a job — great facilities, strong following, tremendous recruiting base — but the competition in the SEC West is fierce. If you win at A&M, you will have earned it.

6.  Auburn

Pros: Auburn and Georgia are the only two schools in the SEC with at least five winning conference seasons in each of the past four decades. Clearly, this program can be a consistent winner in the nation’s most difficult conference.

Cons: Auburn is a state school with a great following, but it will always be No. 2 in Alabama behind the Crimson Tide from Tuscaloosa.

Final Verdict: If your ego can handle being the second most important coach in the state, then Auburn can be a destination job. The school — with its fine tradition, strong facilities and outstanding recruiting base — has proven over time that it can compete on a national level. The Tigers, after all, won the BCS crown in 2010.

7. Tennessee

Pros: Who wouldn’t want to recruit to picturesque Neyland Stadium, with its 100,000-plus orange-clad zealots cheering on the Vols each week? And while Tennessee has struggled in recent years, the program enjoyed tremendous success in the not-too-distant past. From 1989-2001, the Vols went 80–20–1 in the SEC and claimed four league titles. During that span, they were ranked in the final top 10 of the AP poll seven times.

Cons: The Vols must recruit nationally because the state of Tennessee does not produce enough BCS conference players to stock the school’s roster. This is not a concern for UT’s chief SEC rivals Florida, Georgia, LSU, Auburn and Alabama.

Final Verdict: Tennessee is a great place to coach, but the Vols have slipped down the SEC food chain over the past decade. We now have Tennessee seventh on the list in the league.

8. South Carolina

Pros: South Carolina is home to arguably the most loyal fans in the nation. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Gamecock fans routinely filled 80,000-seat Williams Brice Stadium even though their team averaged only six wins per season. In addition, the facilities are great, and the recruiting base is strong.

Cons: Steve Spurrier has broken through in recent years, but South Carolina football has historically been one of the nation’s most underachieving programs.

Final Verdict: South Carolina has won 17 SEC games in the past three seasons — by far its best stretch since joining the league — but we’re still not ready to put this program on the same level as SEC royalty like Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Florida.  

9. Arkansas

Pros: Recently renovated Reynolds Razorback Stadium — with its 76,000 seats and 30x107-foot LED video screen — is one of the most underrated venues in the nation. Arkansas is the only BCS program in the state, giving the school an advantage in recruiting homegrown talent.

Cons: The Hogs have found it tough to win consistently since bolting the Southwest Conference for the SEC in the early 1990s. Arkansas is 85-89-2 in the SEC and has only once had back-to-back winning seasons in the league.

Final Verdict: Arkansas is quite similar to several of the non-elite coaching positions in the SEC. It’s a good job, but it’s not a destination job for a coach with national title aspirations.

10. Ole Miss

Pros: Historically, Mississippi produces as many Division I prospects per capita as any state in the nation. There is plenty of competition for these recruits (Mississippi State, Alabama, LSU, etc.), but a good coach will be able to keep the Rebels stocked with solid talent. Support for Rebel football is also very strong; the Rebs averaged 57,066 per game in 2012. Also, Ole Miss’ facilities have improved tremendously in the past five years.

Cons: You have to go back to the early 1960s to find a time in which Ole Miss was a major player in the SEC. The Rebels haven’t won a league title since 1963, and they are only team in the West (outside of SEC West newcomer Texas A&M) that has not played in an SEC Championship Game.

Final Verdict: Ole Miss has made the commitment to its football program, but it takes more than a commitment — and more than one top-10 recruiting class — to beat the elite SEC programs on a consistent basis. This job has great potential, but Ole Miss hasn’t “arrived” yet.

11. Missouri

Pros: Missouri has an underrated recruiting base. There is a solid crop of instate talent every year, and Mizzou does a decent job landing players from Texas and Illinois.

Cons: It’s been tough to win consistently at Missouri. Dating back to the days of the Big Eight, the Tigers have only had seven winning seasons in league play since 1983. The SEC East presents several huge challenges on an annual basis.

Final Verdict: Missouri is a good job — but not a great job. You can average eight wins per season and go to decent bowl games, but the Tigers aren’t much of a threat to contend for SEC titles.

12. Kentucky

Pros: Kentucky, after firing Joker Phillips, has made a commitment to football. The school has announced facilities upgrades, and the pay scale for the new staff is significantly higher. And while the state of Kentucky doesn’t produce many SEC-level players, Kentucky should be able to recruit nearby Ohio and still can dip into Georgia and Florida because of the school’s membership in the SEC.

Cons: Football, while important, will always be the No. 2 sport at Kentucky. And even though the school has some recruiting advantages — see above — it’s tough to win at a high level in the SEC when you can’t depend on stocking your roster with in-state talent.

Final Verdict: The level of competition in the SEC is better than ever. For example, Vanderbilt has climbed ahead of UK — for now — on the food chain. Mark Stoops is off to a great start, but it will difficult to win consistently at Kentucky.

13. Mississippi State

Pros: Mississippi State has shown an ability to field a competitive team on a semi-regular basis in the past two decades. The Bulldogs have had a winning overall record in 11 of the 22 seasons since the first wave of SEC expansion in 1991. That’s not great, but it’s better than most college football fans might expect. Support for Mississippi State football is at an all-time high; the Bulldogs averaged 55,648 (100.99 percent of capacity) at Davis Wade Stadium last season.

Cons: Recruiting top players to Starkville can be difficult. Not only does MSU have to battle Ole Miss for the best of the best in the state, but Alabama, Auburn and LSU are almost always in play for Mississippi’s top players.

Final Verdict: This is the toughest job in the SEC West — and maybe the entire league. Good coaches have shown the ability to remain relevant in the league, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Mississippi State can win a division that includes Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn. 

14. Vanderbilt

Pros: Vanderbilt is an elite academic institution located in a great city. The school is spending more money than ever on athletics, from salaries for the coaching staff to the new indoor practice facility. While there is pressure to win at every school, expectations — even now after a nine-win season — will never be as great as other programs in the league. You aren’t going to get fired at Vanderbilt after one bad season.

Cons: Even with the recent upgrades, Vanderbilt trails the rest of the SEC in the facilities arms race. As the only private school in the SEC, the Commodores have the smallest fan base in the league — by far. Also, the academic requirements make recruiting that much more difficult for a staff that already has to overcome many hurdles. There is a reason that Vanderbilt went 29 years (from 1983 through 2011) without enjoying a single winning record in the SEC.

Final Verdict: James Franklin is proving that a recruit can have the best of both worlds — get a Vanderbilt education and win games in the nation’s best conference. Still, this is a very difficult job, maybe the toughest of any school in an AQ conference.

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<p> Ranking the SEC's College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /college-basketball/amazing-college-basketball-stats-week-feb-18-24

These days, it takes a special effort to defeat Syracuse or Colorado State on their home courts.

The Orange and the Rams have owned their arenas, with home winning streaks of 38 and 27 games, respectively. Both of those streaks ended Saturday thanks to dominating performances from two players.

One, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, was on everyone’s radar heading into a landmark game at the Carrier Dome. The other, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams, woke up Saturday morning averaging 12.6 points per game but went home with a 46-point outburst.

In another wild weekend of college basketball, some teams stuck to a true and tried formula (VCU) while others who flirted with disaster finally ran out of luck (Miami). And three teams in the SEC needed a little more time to either pad their postseason resumes (Kentucky and Tennessee) or potentially end their NCAA Tournament hopes (Alabama).

Here’s a roundup of the key numbers from another week of college hoops:

65. Combined homecourt winning streaks ended Saturday at Syracuse and Colorado State
Within minutes of each other Saturday, two of the three longest active homecourt winning streaks ended. Georgetown defeated Syracuse 57-46 to end the Orange’s 38-game home winning streak, and New Mexico defeated Colorado State 91-82 to end the Rams 27-game home winning streak. For a handful of reasons, the Hoyas’ win was especially notable:
• The last team to win in the Carrier Dome was also Georgetown on Feb. 9, 2011. The last non-Georgetown team to beat Syracuse on the road was Seton Hall on Jan. 25, 2011.
• The last time Syracuse failed to score 50 points at the Carrier Dome was Jan. 24, 2004 in a 66-45 loss to Pittsburgh.
• Georgetown also ended Syracuse’s 57-game home winning streak at Manley Field House in 1980.

33.3. Percentage of Georgetown-Syracuse field goals belonging to Otto Porter
Georgetown’s do-it-all forward Otto Porter entered himself into the National Player of the Year discussion with a dominating performance in the Hoyas’ 57-46 win over Syracuse to put his team in first place in the Big East. Not only did Porter carry Georgetown, he carried the entire game. He made a third of both team’s combined field goals with 12 of 36 in addition to carrying 32 percent of the total scoring in the game. No one on Porter's own team had more than two field goals or seven points. With 33 points in 40 minutes, Porter finished 0.825 points per minute. The national leader -- injured Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum -- averages 0.77 points per minute.

10. Three-pointers for Kendall Williams against Colorado State
Never mind player of the week, Georgetown’s Porter may not have been the player of his time slot Saturday. As Porter scored 33 on Syracuse, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams had an out-of-nowhere 46 points and 10 three-point baskets to defeat Colorado State 91-82. How unlikely was Williams’ breakout in Fort Collins? Before the game against Colorado State, Williams was 32 of 99 on three-point baskets this season, making an average of 1.3 per game. He was 10 of 13 on Saturday. Beyond that, Williams topped his previous career high (24 points) in the second half alone with 26 points after the break. Williams’ 46 points is the most for a Lobo since 1979 and the fourth-highest total in Mountain West history. Three of the four MWC single-game scoring totals better than Williams belong to BYU’s Jimmer Fredette.

37. Points to which Aaron Craft contributed against Michigan State
Yes, it’s possible for a guard who had been starting for nearly three season to hit a career high during his junior year. Aaron Craft scored a career-high 21 points in Ohio State’s 68-60 win over Michigan State on Sunday. With six assists (including four on three-pointers), Craft contributed to a total of 37 points against Michigan State. The lack of a supporting cast for Deshaun Thomas has been a season-long issue for the Buckeyes but not against the Spartans. Thomas tied his second-lowest scoring total of the season with 14 points and tied a season-low with only four field goals in a game in which Ohio State trailed by 9 early in the second half.

21. Extra scoring chances for VCU against Xavier
How did VCU erase a 17-point deficit in the second half to defeat Xavier 75-71 on the road? The Rams did what they do best and manufactured extra scoring chances through takeaways and offensive rebounds. VCU finished the game with a plus-11 edge in turnover margin and a 13-3 advantage in offensive rebounds, giving the Rams 21 more scoring chances (extra scoring chances per game are determined by offensive rebounds + opponent turnovers - opponent offensive rebounds - turnovers). VCU leads the nation in extra scoring chances per game with 12, but the Rams average only 7.7 extra scoring possessions per game on the road.

55. Points per game in the last three for Miami
Miami’s first ACC loss was a shocker with an 80-65 loss at Wake Forest, but the Hurricanes have been flirting with a letdown for the last week thanks to an offensive slump. Miami averaged 70.4 points per game through its first 23 games but averaged 55 points in its last three. Late-game heroics from Kenny Kadji and Shane Larkin lifted Miami against Clemson and Virginia, but the Hurricanes weren’t even in position for anything dramatic in the loss to Wake. In the last three games, Miami has shot 39.9 percent from the floor (down from 45.8 percent prior) and 32.4 percent from three-point range (down from 36.4 percent).

0. Points scored by TCU starters in the first half against Kansas
If TCU had any ideas of pulling another miracle upset of Kansas this season, those hopes were dashed quickly. TCU defeated Kansas 62-55 on Feb. 6 for its only Big 12 win and only victory since Dec. 30. The Horned Frogs had no such luck in the rematch: The TCU starting lineup went scoreless in the first half at Kansas, contributing to a 38-9 halftime deficit. TCU, at least, won the second half 39-36.

9. Overtimes in SEC play Saturday
For a major conference that may struggle to put at-large teams in the NCAA field, the SEC kept its fans waiting on pins and needles for most of the day Saturday. Four SEC games went to overtime, including two games decided in multiple overtimes. Kentucky had perhaps the most important SEC win of the day, defeating Missouri 90-83 in overtime to keep the Wildcats in the NCAA discussion after Nerlens Noel’s season-ending injury. Tennessee won a game it couldn’t afford to lose if it hopes to get on the NCAA bubble by defeating Texas A&M 93-85 in four overtimes on the road. Meanwhile, Alabama lost a game it couldn’t afford to lose by falling to LSU 97-94 in three overtimes. In a game only important to NIT selection, Georgia defeated South Carolina 62-54 in OT.

3. Double-doubles for NC State players in a loss to North Carolina
Indicative of NC State’s maddening season, NC State had three players with a double-double in a 76-65 loss to North Carolina: Richard Howell had 13 points and 17 rebounds, T.J. Warren had 10 points and 10 boards and Lorenzo Brown had 12 points and 12 assists. The Wolfpack, picked to win the ACC in the preseason poll, slipped to 8-6 in the conference with the loss to the Heels. A major reason for the turnaround from North Carolina’s 91-83 loss to the Pack in the first meeting on Jan. 26 was the development of freshman point guard Marcus Paige. After appearing lost in the first meeting, Paige had eight assists and no turnovers in the rematch.

16.7. Scoring average for Doug McDermott in the last six games
Is it fair to say a player who has scored 20 points in three of his last five games is in a slump? In Doug McDermott’s case, maybe it is. The Creighton forward has averaged 16.7 points per game in his last six. After a 74-66 loss at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, McDermott’s swoon has coincided with a 2-4 stretch for Creighton. Averaging 16.7 points per game would be great for just about anyone, but McDermott was averaging 24 points per game on Feb. 2 when Creighton was 20-3.

<p> Amazing College Basketball Stats of the Week: Feb. 18-24</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-analysis-oregon-ducks

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. The lead story in Oregon this recruiting season was Chip Kelly's departure for the NFL and the elevation of Mark Helfrich to head coach. At first, the loss of Kelly looked like it might have a devastating effect on the Ducks' recruiting class. Yet, Helfrich rallied the troops and the Ducks finished strong on NSD to claim one of the best classes in the Pac-12.

Oregon Ducks

National Rank: 20th
Pac-12: Fourth
Athlon Consensus 100
National Signees: 6
Total Signees: 19

Where They Got 'Em:

Helfrich's first full class will be the 2014 group, but since he was hired from within, he was a big part of putting together this class. The Ducks used nine different states to land 19 new prospects. California, as usual, was the most productive area for Oregon as it sent seven players, including three nationally rated kids from San Diego, north to Eugene. Other solid, underrated western states — Arizona (2), Nevada, Washington and Oregon (3) — for talent shipped players to Oregon as well.

Helfrich also continued the recent trend of dipping into Texas with two new players, including one of the top signees in this class. New Jersey, Georgia and North Carolina also are solid states for football talent and the Ducks went across the nation to get one player each from those three as well.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

The strength of this class may not be realized until all the players are slotted into the depth chart. A pair of nationally rated twins from San Diego — Tyrell and Tyree Robinson — are listed as "athletes" along with Juwaan Williams. The Robinsons are long, rangy athletes who want to play basketball and project at a variety of positions. Outside linebacker or wide receiver seem like the most likely spot for either and they could end up on different sides of the ball. Williams also could play receiver or safety. 

Should one or more of the "athletes" land at wideout, this receiving corps will be one of the best in the Pac-12. Two of the top six players in this class, Devon Allen and Darren Carrington, are wide receivers and should one of the Robinsons and Williams join them, this could be the best part of the '13 class. 

The offensive line also got much-needed depth with over a quarter of this signing class slotted to play along the offense's front line. None of the five signees are nationally rated but Oregon has done a great job developing the type of player they need for its offense. Smaller, more athletic prospects are what Kelly looked for and this group fits that mold. No offensive lineman weighs more than 290 pounds and four of the five check in at less than 280 pounds. This is a deep group that adds the most depth of any position on the field.

Thomas Tyner should be the star of the 2013 haul for Oregon. A record-setting in-state tailback who can run inside and out is the top-rated player in the class. He could easily play as a freshman and will be a more complete player than either former five-star signees De'Anthony Thomas or Lache Seastrunk. He speed, burst and big-play ability makes him a perfect fit for this offense. Tyner will be the next big star in the Ducks backfield.

Damion Hobbs, a 6-2, 195-pound dual-threat prospect, was the only quarterback in this class. He has a similar skillset to the last big Lone Star State quarterback Oregon signed, Darron Thomas. At least 11 and possible 13 or 14 of the 19 total signings in this class will play offense.

On defense, Oregon didn't sign a single defensive lineman. Tyrell Robinson excelled at defensive end in high school and could grow into the position, however. That said, the defense was largely left alone in this class. A trio of linebackers leads the way, including late pick up and nationally rated Torrodney Prevot. He was a steal on NSD and could be one of the top players in this class. He too could grow into a defensive end. Linebacker Danny Mattingly (no relation), junior college linebacker Joe Walker and safety Chris Seisay were the only other defensive signings in this class.

One has to think that with the depth on offense in this class, one Robinson and Williams will end up playing on the defense.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 2, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 5
Defense: DL: 0, LB: 3, DB: 1, ATH: 3, K/P: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
20. Thomas Tyner RB No. 2 Aloha, Ore. 5-11 201
131. Tyrell Robinson ATH No. 8 San Diego, Calif. 6-4 200
189. Devon Allen WR No. 21 Phoenix, Ariz. 6-0 187
202. Torrodney Prevot LB No. 25 Houston, Texas 6-3 215
209. Darren Carrington WR No. 26 San Diego, Calif. 6-2 186
212. Tyree Robinson ATH No. 11 San Diego, Calif. 6-4 200

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
Joe Walker LB Palos Verdes, Calif. 6-2 225 JUCO

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. LSU Tigers
8. Texas A&M Aggies
9. UCLA Bruins
10. Auburn Tigers
11. Florida State Seminoles
12. Georgia Bulldogs

<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Analysis: Oregon Ducks</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 06:25
Path: /nascar/jimmie-johnson-wins-daytona-500

NASCAR’s new Gen-6 car gave way to a new style of drafting in the Great American Race, while newcomer Danica Patrick once again made history. The ultimate result, though, was all too familiar. Jimmie Johnson scored career Cup win No. 61 by holding off a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a frantic final lap to win the 55th Daytona 500.

“This Lowe’s Chevrolet was so fast,” said Johnson, a two-time 500 champion. “Chad (Knaus, crew chief) did an amazing job. We stuck to our plan all week long, kept the car straight through the practice sessions and the Duel and knew it was a fast car that would race well. We got that done here today.”

Johnson led 17 laps on the afternoon, but took the lead for good with 10 laps remaining, just prior to the event’s final caution.

“My lane was bunched up tight and helped me surge by the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) at the start-finish line when the (final) caution came out,” Johnson said. “That was the move that set things up for us.”

Leading the high line on the ensuing restart with six laps to go, Johnson, Greg Biffle and Patrick shoved their way out front. With Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer in tow, Keselowski attempted to pull the low line alongside Johnson, but three-wide racing took over as drivers scrambled for position, breaking up the run.

That’s when Earnhardt made his move — a move that would ultimately come up short.

The 2004 Daytona 500 winner lurked in fifth when the field took the white flag, but hooked up with Mark Martin in a sleek, two-car draft. Slicing low on the backstretch, the pair drafted under Patrick and Biffle, nearly pulling even with the leader.

“Once we came off of (Turn) 2, we just mashed the gas and got a run on Danica and side-drafted a little bit,” Earnhardt said of the last-lap move. “Once we come to (Turn) 4, we kind of ran out of steam. We didn’t have enough to get to Jimmie.”

“The end got exciting,” Johnson said. “The 88 (Earnhardt) got a big shove and was up the inside and I moved down to defend that.”

That move, combined with Earnhardt’s momentum stalling in Turns 3 and 4, allowed Johnson to shut the door. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates ran nose-to-tail through the tri-oval, with Johnson winning by .129 seconds. Martin, Keselowski and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 5.

“There’s no better way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500,” Johnson said. “I’m a very lucky man to have won it twice. I’m very honored to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport.”

Passing was at a premium over the course of the 200-lap, 500-mile race — and that suited Patrick, who qualified on the pole. She became the first female to lead a green flag lap in Cup competition — she led five laps total — and rarely dropped out of the top 10, backing up the speed her Chevrolet showed in qualifying.

“It was nice to lead laps in the race — just to have done that,” said Patrick, who finished eighth. “It was a steady day.”

A clean start to the race evolved into a largely single-file procession that was punctuated by a nine-car accident on lap 34 that eliminated many of the favorites. Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart were among those forced to the garage when Kyle Busch got into the back of Kahne, turning him in front of the field.

“The cars in front of us slowed up, so I was just slowing up right on Jeff Gordon’s bumper,” Kahne said. “I got hit from behind. Kyle was probably getting pushed and it all happened so quick.”

“To hell with the season,” a frustrated Stewart said. “I wanted to win the 500.”

The three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas took over at that point. Matt Kenseth led 83 of the next 115 laps with teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin neatly tucked in behind. But the complexion of the race changed on lap 149, when Kenseth — while leading — and Busch retired due to engine issues within two laps of one another.

Hamlin led the next 23 laps until Keselowski and Johnson began swapping the lead over the final 26 circuits.

The win was Hendrick Motorsports’ seventh Daytona 500 triumph and came in Johnson’s 400th career start. Johnson joins Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dave Marcis, David Pearson and Lee and Richard Petty in having won in their 400th starts.

“It’s a huge honor,” Johnson said. “There’s no other way to put it. Any time you’re mentioned with those greats, it’s a huge honor.”

<p> Johnson edges Earnhardt for second 500 crown.</p>
Post date: Sunday, February 24, 2013 - 19:33
Path: /nfl/geno-smith-makes-case-be-kansas-city-chiefs%E2%80%99-no-1-pick

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith entered the NFL Scouting Combine already perceived as the best passer in a clustered Class of 2013 — a group of signal-callers that includes USC’s Matt Barkley, NC State’s Mike Glennon, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib and Tennessee’s Tyler Bray.

After running an official 4.59 in the 40-yard dash, Smith is an even more intriguing player to watch. An added athletic dimension to the pocket passer only increases the value of the Mountaineer. Smith’s time was the fastest time among quarterbacks, as Manuel (4.65) and Wilson (4.95) were the only aforementioned passers to break the five-second mark.

Although Smith’s 4.59 isn’t challenging the record-setting 4.41 run by Robert Griffin III before being picked No. 2 overall by the Washington Redskins last year, it is the same time Cam Newton ran two years ago before going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers.

Smith was not only fast but explosive — posting an impressive 33.5” vertical leap and 10’4” broad jump in Indianapolis. The 6’2”, 218-pounder also spun the ball well as a throwing quarterback during position drills with the receivers. The only potential downside of the Combine experience for Smith has been his hand measurement of 9 ¼” — compared to Barkley’s 10 1/8” and Manuel’s 10 3/8” hands.

Still, Smith has shown enough to be considered a viable option for coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1 overall as well as several other quarterback-starved teams picking in the top-10 — including the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 2), Oakland Raiders (3), Cleveland Browns (6), Arizona Cardinals (7), Buffalo Bills (8) and New York Jets (9).

One thing is certain, Smith made himself millions of dollars by competing on the biggest stage in NFL scouting. In fact, running, jumping and throwing at the Combine may have secured Smith the top spot in the NFL Draft on April 25.

<p> West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith ran a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash and threw the ball well at the NFL Scouting Combine, making his case to be the No. 1 overall pick of coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs at the NFL Draft on April 25.</p>
Post date: Sunday, February 24, 2013 - 15:39
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/daytona-500-start-time-tv-schedule-lineup-track-info
The Daytona 500 revs up today at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for its 55th running. To help you prepare for the legendary NASCAR race, here's a look at everything (When does the race start? What's the starting lineup? Who's likely to win?) you need to know. 
Start Time: 1 p.m. ET today (Feb. 24)
Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Watch: FOX; RaceView (Live Stream) 
Listen: Motor Racing Network

The 2013 Starting Lineup for the Daytona 500
1. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
2. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
3. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
4. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
6. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
7. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
8. Austin Dillon, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
9. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
10. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
11. Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
12. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
13. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
14. Mark Martin, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
15. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Penske Racing Ford
16. Paul Menard, No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
17. Casey Mears, No. 13 Germain Racing Ford
18. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
20. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
21. Joey Logano, No. 22 Penske Racing Ford
22. David Ragan, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford
23. Bobby Labonte, No. 47 JTG Daugherty Motorsports Toyota
24. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
25. David Gilliland, No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford
26. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
27. Joe Nemechek, No. 87 Nemco-JRR Toyota
28. Ricky Stenhouse, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
29. Michael Waltrip, No. 26 Swan Racing Toyota
30. Dave Blaney, No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
31. Scott Speed, No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford
32. Josh Wise, No. 35 Front Row Motorsports Ford
33. Trevor Bayne, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford
34. Ryan Newman, No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
35. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
36. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
37. Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
38. Michael McDowell, No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford
39. Terry Labonte, No. 32 FASLane Racing Ford
40. Regan Smith, No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet
41. J.J. Yeley, No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
42. David Reutimann, No. 83 BK Racing Toyota
43. Travis Kvapil, No. 93 BK Racing Toyota
Failed to qualifying: Brian Keselowski, Mike Bliss


Daytona International Speedway Race Stats

2013 Race Length: 500 miles/200 laps; 400 miles/160 laps

Track Qualifying Record: 210.364 mph (Bill Elliott, 1987)

Race Record: 500 - 177.602 mph (Buddy Baker, 1980); 400 - 173.473 mph (Bobby Allison, 1980)


Anonymous Crew Chief's Take on Daytona International Speedway:

“Whatever. It’s a superspeedway. Daytona used to be good when it had character and the cars had to handle. That made speedway racing a little bit of fun. You could take the frustration away from qualifying and actually had to go race and make the car drive good. It’s the hub of our sport; it’s where we start our season, and there is a ton of history there. And it’s a great place and a great racetrack, but now that it’s been repaved, it just doesn’t have any luster. That said, the January test sessions will be huge for everyone with the new bodies.”


Classic Daytona Moments:

Suffice it to say that, coming into the 2002 Daytona 500, Ward Burton wasn’t on many prognosticators’ short list of potential winners.

As it turned out, he didn’t let that stop him. Burton, an underdog driver competing for an underdog Bill Davis Racing organization, beat the odds and a star-studded field to capture the 44th annual Daytona 500, in the process scoring one of the biggest upsets in the history of The Great American Race.

Burton’s path to Victory Lane was hardly conventional, however, as the slow-talking Virginia native benefited from the oddest of circumstances to take over the top spot in the final laps.

Burton, who inherited the lead when NASCAR penalized leader Sterling Marlin for hopping out of his car under a red-flag period and attempting to repair damage to his front fender, held off fellow Virginian Elliott Sadler in a three-lap dash to the checkers.

Marlin, forced to restart at the tail end of the longest line, finished eighth and was denied a third victory in the most prestigious of all stock-car races.


Fantasy NASCAR Take on Daytona International Speedway:


Matt Kenseth—Kenseth was a cool customer amid a firestorm at restrictor plate tracks in 2012. In addition to winning his Duel qualifying race and the Daytona 500, he was also strong in the summer’s 400-miler, leading 89 laps en route to a third-place finish.

Jeff Burton—The Richard Childress Racing driver outlasted the mid-race drama at Daytona in 2012, finishing fifth and second, respectively, in the season’s two points-paying races.

Kyle Busch—His showings in last year’s 500 (17th) and 400 (24th) weren’t all that impressive, but he averaged running positions of 14th and eighth, respectively, in the two races and provided sparks in the season-opening Shootout, driving a damaged race car to an exciting victory.


Jamie McMurray—The 2010 Daytona 500 winner ranked 16th out of 50 drivers on’s plate track PEER rankings in 2012; however, in a season in which passing at Daytona came at a premium, McMurray registered 359 passes for positions within the top 15.

Runs on Seven Cylinders

Jimmie Johnson—Johnson suffered only three terminal crashes in 2012, and two of them came at Daytona. The five-time champion seems snakebitten on plate tracks as of late, but his equipment is always capable of excelling within the draft.

RELATED: NASCAR 2013: Camping World Truck Series Preview

<p> Daytona 500 Start Time, TV Schedule, Lineup, Track Info</p>
Post date: Sunday, February 24, 2013 - 08:45
Path: /nascar/nascar-2013-starting-lineup-daytona-500
The Daytona 500 revs up today at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for its 55th running. The legendary NASCAR race airs today on Fox at 1 p.m. (ET).
The 2013 Starting Lineup for the Daytona 500
1. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
2. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
3. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
4. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
6. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
7. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
8. Austin Dillon, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
9. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
10. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
11. Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
12. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
13. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
14. Mark Martin, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
15. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Penske Racing Ford
16. Paul Menard, No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
17. Casey Mears, No. 13 Germain Racing Ford
18. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
20. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
21. Joey Logano, No. 22 Penske Racing Ford
22. David Ragan, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford
23. Bobby Labonte, No. 47 JTG Daugherty Motorsports Toyota
24. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
25. David Gilliland, No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford
26. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
27. Joe Nemechek, No. 87 Nemco-JRR Toyota
28. Ricky Stenhouse, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
29. Michael Waltrip, No. 26 Swan Racing Toyota
30. Dave Blaney, No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
31. Scott Speed, No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford
32. Josh Wise, No. 35 Front Row Motorsports Ford
33. Trevor Bayne, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford
34. Ryan Newman, No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
35. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
36. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
37. Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
38. Michael McDowell, No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford
39. Terry Labonte, No. 32 FASLane Racing Ford
40. Regan Smith, No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet
41. J.J. Yeley, No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
42. David Reutimann, No. 83 BK Racing Toyota
43. Travis Kvapil, No. 93 BK Racing Toyota
Failed to qualifying: Brian Keselowski, Mike Bliss
<p> NASCAR 2013: Starting Lineup for the Daytona 500</p>
Post date: Sunday, February 24, 2013 - 08:24
Path: /nascar/violent-crash-mars-nascar-race-injures-fans

DAYTONA BEACH, FL — A violent ending to Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway marred an exciting race and left numerous fans injured and a sport shaken.

As a pack of cars sprinted to the start-finish line on the event’s final lap, a massive crash broke out when Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski while racing for the lead. Smith’s car clipped the nose of Keselowski in the tri-oval and impacted the wall head-on. Keselowski also spun, and chaos ensued when drivers took evasive action to miss the accident.

The car of Kyle Larson became entangled with Keselowski and others, spinning into the wall, then catapulting into a crossover gate built into the speedway’s protective catchfencing.

<p> Fans hurt in ugly Nationwide Series wreck in Daytona.</p>
Post date: Saturday, February 23, 2013 - 19:48
Path: /nascar/hype-daytona-500-over-favorites-emerge

A week of pomp and circumstance is nearly over in Daytona. On the eve of NASCAR’s most prestigious race, the Daytona 500, Cup cars roar around the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway in the final practice session of the week — known as Happy Hour — looking for that last little bit of speed. Or handling. Or integrity. Or answers of some sort.

Kevin Harvick has been the week’s big winner thus far, posting wins in the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race last Saturday and his qualifying Duel 150 on Thursday. But he hasn’t been the week’s big story. Danica Patrick cornered the publicity market on Sunday, when she won the pole for the 500 and became the talk of American motorsports — or more accurately, the face that NASCAR’s marketing machine has been all-too-happy to advertise to the public.

“Can I win? Yeah, absolutely,” Patrick proclaimed. “I feel comfortable in this kind of race situation; I feel comfortable in the draft; speeds are not a problem.”

A bold statement indeed, if not a bit naïve.

Danica was not just a big story for nearly five days, she was the story, as rash claims and inflated tails of hope ran amok, the sport bathing itself in Danica-mania.

That said, it was only after Patrick was assured of the point that FOX sold out its commercial space for the 500, so from a financial standpoint at least, the hype is warranted.

The adoration tempered a bit on Thursday, when the Budweiser Duels set the field for Sunday’s race. Actual cars on the track, actual competition, and actual winners gave all a much-needed change of focus.

Meanwhile, traditional heavy-hitters have skirted under the radar, seemingly content to let a hungry media focus on the week’s trendy topic while they go about the business of figuring out a new car. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been as invisible as Dale Earnhardt Jr. can be. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin … nary a word. It took Brad Keselowski giving what NASCAR deemed a “we need to talk, son” interview with USA Today to get the defending champ some serious pub.

With that in mind, it’s well past time to seriously examine which drivers have a realistic shot at winning stock car racing’s most celebrated race. When the engines fire at 1:19 pm EST on Sunday, the media-run of the prior week, the pomp and circumstance of a marketing-driven sport, will fall prey to the reality of performance.

Kevin Harvick
The aforementioned Harvick has a sterling record thus far in 2013, though points aren’t paid until Sunday. Harvick has been the pied piper of the low groove that most have been unwilling (or unable) to utilize. He has dexterously maneuvered through the field on two occasions, finding the point and holding off all comers.

“I think it's a matter of how you came down here with the balance of your race car,” Harvick said after his Duel triumph. “Gil (Martin, crew chief) and I talked about what we thought we needed coming down here after the (January) test, went a particular direction. It's worked out for us.”

Don’t be misled — Harvick’s deftness in the draft has worked to his advantage, as well. And should again on Sunday. However, no driver has come to Daytona and pulled the trifecta — winning the Unlimited, a Duel and the 500 in the same season. But this team seems primed.

“You're going to have multiple pit stops and you're going to have to change fours tires at some particular point,” Harvick says. “You're going to see the field get mixed up because people are going to be on varying strategies.

Advantage: Harvick.

Tony Stewart
Despite Harvick’s excellence, no driver is a more popular pick for Sunday than Tony Stewart.

Confident to the point that he sat out Happy Hour on Saturday, Stewart has displayed a calm swagger throughout Speedweeks even though he has yet to finish among the top 3 in … well, anything.

Still, his Stewart-Haas Racing team appear ahead of the curve with the new car, showing impressive speed. And apparently he’s found the feel.

“I’m really happy with my car,” Stewart said after Saturday’s second practice session. “I got out and looked at Steve Addington (crew chief) and he’s like, ‘I’m content if you are.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know what else to ask for with the car.’

“It’s a good scenario — there’s not a scratch on it and it’s ready to race. It’s a position that I don’t know we’ve ever been in — I think we’ve always run final practice.”

Shut out in 14 attempts in the Daytona 500, Stewart hasn’t quite reached a Dale Earnhardt-esque frustration level, but at the moment, this race tops his career bucketlist.

The pieces are in place for a win, but the 500 is wrought with pitfalls.

Matt Kenseth
Kenseth makes any list of favorites on his 2012 plate brilliance alone. The winner of two of the last four 500s, Joe Gibbs Racing’s heir to the coveted No. 20 averaged a 2.0-place finish on the plate tracks last season.

The Wisconsin native was racy in the Unlimited, leading 26 laps, and was running second late in his Duel before being shuffled to fifth at the finish. Kenseth’s big problem throughout Speedweeks hasn’t been speed or handling, but a lack of dancing partners. One would think with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch serving as teammates, he’d have plenty of help. But more often than not, he’s been the man overtaken with a lack of help than the driver doing the passing when the money’s been on the line.

Like Stewart, Kenseth passed on Happy Hour, which speaks to the strength and confidence of his bunch. Ever the silent assassin, this is the guy who could very well spoil Harvick’s and Stewart’s fun.

<p> Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart lead a star-studded NASCAR field.</p>
Post date: Saturday, February 23, 2013 - 18:49
All taxonomy terms: Manti Te'o, NFL
Path: /nfl/manti-te%E2%80%99o-impressive-combine-press-conference

Manti Te’o went from being Notre Dame’s golden boy, Heisman Trophy runner-up, BCS National Championship Game captain, to being a national laughingstock who was either a naïve 21-year-old who fell for a Catfish story or an egomaniac who basked in the spotlight of a tall tale he knew to be false — or both.

But on Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the middle linebacker prospect — identified as LB-32 this weekend — had to go in front of the assembled circus of media members and discuss the “incident,” the national title game, his family and his future.

“This is pretty crazy. I’ve been in front of a few cameras, but not as many as this,” marveled Te’o at the packed house at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Given every opportunity to melt under the heat lamp, the Hawaiian played the press conference to near perfection, with a balanced mix of humility and sincerity, along with a touch of self-deprecation.

On post-scandal mindset:

“How I’m handling it right now is focusing on the moment and on football and the Combine. Not everybody gets this opportunity to be here. I’m sure there’s thousands and thousands of people who would like to be here in Indianapolis. So, just trying to enjoy the moment.”

On his poor play against Alabama:

“That’s all on me. I played hard. And so did my team.

On Lennay Kekua:

“I cared for somebody. And that’s what I was taught to do, ever since I was young. When somebody needs help you help them out. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up the way I thought it would.”

On why he didn’t make plans to visit Lennay Kekua:

“I did. We made plans. Obviously it didn’t work out.”

On waiting to explain his side of the Catfish story:

“From our point of view, let everything come out first and then have my side come out. So the way that we did it I felt worked best for me. I’m just very grateful for those who helped me to get through that time. I think it went over as smoothly as it could.”

On moving forward from scandal:

“I’m just looking forward to getting ready, getting straight to football. I understand that people have questions. But I think I’ve answered everything I could. And, for me, I’d really like to talk about football.”

On what he would bring to an NFL team:

“What I bring to the table is a lot of heart, a lot of energy and somebody who works hard.”

On any possible regrets:

“I could have done some things different, obviously. Could have done a lot of things different to avoid all this stuff.”

On being embarrassed:

“This is definitely embarrassing. You’re walking through grocery stores you kind of like give people double-takes to see if they’re staring at you. It’s definitely embarrassing. I guess it’s part of the process, part of the journey. But it’s only going to make me stronger, and it definitely has.”

“If I was still embarrassed, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you.”

On understanding why NFL teams ask about the scandal:

“They want to be able to trust their player. You don’t want to invest in somebody who you can’t trust. With everybody here, they’re just trying to get to know you. They’re trying to get to know you as a person and as a football player. I understand where they’re coming from.”

On what he has learned from this ordeal:

“I’ve learned, first, to be honest, in everything you do — from the big things to the small things. Secondly, to keep your circle very small and to really understand who’s really in your corner and who’s not. Going off the season that my team and I had, there were a lot of people in our corner. And then when Jan. 16 happened, there’s a lot of people in the other corner. I just learned to appreciate the people that I have, that are with me. And make sure you always try to turn a negative thing into a positive.”

On the toughest moment through all of this:

“The toughest moment, to be honest with you, was a phone call I got from my sister, where she told me that they had to sneak my whole family in their home, because there were people parked out in the yard and stuff like that. That had to be the hardest part. For me, something that I’ve always had a problem with is when I can’t do something about it, when I can’t help. To know that my family was in this situation because of the actions that I committed was definitely the hardest part for me.”

On taking legal action against Ronaiah Tuiasosopo:

“No. That’s the worst thing you could do. Both families are going through chaos. There’s not only people camped out at my house, there’s people camped out at his house. I went through what I went through and he went through his own share of stuff. I think that’s the worst thing for me to do is to do that. Forgive. If you forgive, you’ll get majority of the blessings. I’ve always tried to forgive and it’s definitely benefited me.”

On whether or not he has a girlfriend:

“No. Not right now.”

On impact of craziness on his perspective:

“As people we have to realize that we’re all people. Somebody is somebody’s son, somebody is somebody’s daughter. You know what I mean? And I try to picture it that way. And would you want somebody doing that to your son? Would you want somebody doing that to your daughter? And if not, then why do it? Through this whole experience, I’ve learned that.”

Closing statement:

“In closing, I’d just like to thank everybody for being here. It’s been a hard but tremendous ride for me and my family and the University of Notre Dame. I’d like to thank my parents, my family, my friends, the University of Notre Dame, and everybody who supports me. I couldn’t do it without all of you. Hopefully after this, I answered the things I need to answer and we can move on with football. Thank you, everybody.”

Te’o said he has already interviewed with the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers — a pair of 3-4 defenses picking toward the end of the first round who could use a middle backer — and claims there are 18 official interviews with NFL teams on his schedule. After today’s press conference, those teams may spend more time talking X’s and O’s on the chalkboard than they do XOXOs on text messages with a fake Internet girlfriend.

<p> Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was impressive during his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, answering questions regarding Lennay Kekua, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama and his future in the NFL.</p>
Post date: Saturday, February 23, 2013 - 16:50
All taxonomy terms: Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, NFL
Path: /nfl/chance-warmack%E2%80%99s-height-should-not-hurt-draft-stock

There were a few surprises when the fat guys along the offensive line weighed in at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday. Alabama has three first-round prospects along the front five — guard Chance Warmack, tackle D.J. Fluker and center Barrett Jones. Two of the trio raised eyebrows once they hit the room with the tape measurers, scales and NFL decision-makers.

Warmack measured in shorter than advertised at 6’2”. After all, teams were expecting him to be a towering 6’3”. Fortunately, he also weighed in at 317 pounds and his arms were a long 34 3/4”. There’s no reason to worry. But come Combine time, a potential top-10 pick being one inch shorter than expected causes a panic.

The reality is that Warmack is an old-school mauler and arguably the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson went No. 17 overall in 2001. The fact that he shows off his glistening gut with a short-shirt halter-top jersey only adds to his nastiness.

After leading the Crimson Tide with 39 pancake blocks and just two penalties — while serving as one of Bama’s three team captains — Warmack is hoping to follow in the footsteps for former Alabama legend John Hannah, who was the No. 4 overall pick in 1973 before road-grading his way to a Hall of Fame career as a guard.

In fact, some are even suggesting that Warmack should be on the short list of candidates for the Kansas City Chiefs’ No. 1 overall pick. With Larry Allen having been inducted into the Hall of Fame this season, it’s easy to be reminded of the impact an All-Pro guard can have on a franchise.

Warmack’s linemate, Fluker, was an as-advertised 6’5” tall, but he did weigh in at a svelte 339 pounds — some 16 pounds lighter than the 355 pounds he tipped the scales at during the Senior Bowl.

<p> Alabama Guard Chance Warmack’s Height Should Not Hurt Draft Stock After Measuring In Shorter Than Expected At The NFL Scouting Combine.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 17:32
All taxonomy terms: Monthly, News
Path: /monthly/why-can%E2%80%99t-ncaa-be-more-consistent-penalties-they-hand-out

Why can’t the NCAA be more consistent? It seems like there is no rhyme or reason to the penalties handed out.

— James B. Anderson, Apopka, Fla.
James, one of the biggest complaints about the NCAA is inconsistency in the enforcement process, with good reason. Some schools, players and coaches have the book thrown at them, while others seem to skate by. From an organizational standpoint, there’s not much the NCAA can do. The NCAA can only compel people who want to be involved — and want to stay involved — with college athletics to work with the enforcement process. This is the root of the inconsistencies: Unless former players and coaches or outside influences want to work with the NCAA or provide testimony in a legal setting, the NCAA is out of luck. If the NCAA can’t investigate a case, it can’t punish a school. It’s that simple. If there’s one spot where the NCAA has been consistent, however, it has been punishing those who lie to or mislead NCAA investigators. This has been the downfall for coaches (Bruce Pearl) and players (Dez Bryant). If NCAA penalties are going to be more consistent, something structurally will have to change.
— David Fox, Senior Editor
<p> Go on, ask us anything.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 14:49
All taxonomy terms: Monthly
Path: /monthly/will-ncaa-revisit-penalties-handed-down-penn-state-and-usc


With the NCAA’s recent admission about botching the investigation at Miami, is it possible that they will revisit the penalties handed down to Penn State and USC?
— Nick Harrison, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Nick, that’s a good question, but it’s highly unlikely the NCAA will revisit any of its past decisions, specifically the high-profile cases at USC and Penn State. The Miami case was unique; the NCAA specifically admitted to a “severe case of improper conduct” while investigating allegations of wrongdoing involving the school’s football and men’s basketball programs. There was no specific admission of improper investigative techniques at USC (though there is an ongoing lawsuit about the case), and there was no actual NCAA investigation at Penn State. The NCAA used the findings of the independent Freeh Report to determine the sanctions at Penn State. So while it’s likely there will be significant changes to the methodology employed by the NCAA in the future, there is no evidence to suggest the organization will retroactively change any of its previous decisions. 
— Mitchell Light, Managing Editor
<p> Will the NCAA revisit penalties handed down to Penn State and USC?</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 14:43
Path: /nascar/6-wildcard-drivers-watch-2013-daytona-500

The Daytona 500 is the Great American Race for a reason. Dreams are realized, careers are validated and history is made each and every season. For the 55th time in history, 43 cars will attempt to finish 200 laps around the 2.5-mile asphalt tri-oval called the Daytona International Speedway.

What makes this particular event the Super Bowl of NASCAR is its unpredictability. Since 2001, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth (twice) have won the prestigious event. But so has Ward Burton, Michael Waltrip (twice), Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne.

Burton had five wins in 375 career NASCAR starts and went his last full four seasons following his 500 victory in 2001 without a top five. Waltrip has started 770 career races and two of his four career wins have come in the Great American Race. McMurray has six career wins in 366 starts and hasn’t even finished in the top five in 48 straight races (Bristol, 2011). And the ultimate Cinderella story, Trevor Bayne, in a historic Wood Brothers Ford, won the sports’ highest honor in just his second career start in NASCAR. He has just two top 10s in 32 races since.

Needless to say, the race is a total crapshoot. When 43 cars ride wide open at over 200 miles per hour inches from each other, anything can happen — especially, when the sport is breaking in a new vehicle. So while superstars of the sport — Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch to name a few — are all searching for their first Daytona 500 championship, there is a host of upstarts who feel like they too can compete for a title this Sunday.

Related: The Top 10 Races to Attend in 2013

Athlon Sports’ 2013 Daytona 500 Wildcards to Watch:

Ricky Stenhouse, No. 17
Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Stenhouse enters his first full season of Sprint Cup action with back-to-back Nationwide points championships under his belt. His high-profile relationship with Danica Patrick aside, Stenhouse’s driving skills are what earned him a spot in one of the most successful Daytona 500 cars in recent years. Matt Kenseth wheeled the No. 17 Roush Ford to victory twice in the last four years in the season’s opening race and Stenhouse has the make-up and experience to make waves in his second career Daytona 500 start. He has his work cut out for him, however, starting 28th on Sunday.

Austin Dillon, No. 33
Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

This will easily be the most watched young driver in the field. Dillon, Richard Childress’ grandson, is one of the rising stars of the NASCAR ranks and has all the tools to push for a win in his just his third career Sprint Cup start and his first at Daytona. He ran extremely well in his first full Nationwide season in 2012, finishing third in the points championship. He also ran extremely well in the Bud Duels on Thursday, earning a Sunday starting spot outside of Row 4. He is experienced well beyond his 22 years of age and has been labeled as a driving prodigy by some. Watch out for the Honey Nut Cheerios Chevy on Sunday afternoon.

Kurt Busch, No. 78
Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet

It would not be that big of a shock to see a former points champion in victory lane at Daytona, however, if Busch wins the biggest race of the season it would be considered a huge upset. Busch has won 24 races in his career and clearly has elite driving talent. However, he has had major off the track issues over the last few seasons and is racing for a big underdog in Furniture Row Racing. He hasn’t won in 43 Sprint Cup starts and he posted just one top five in 2012. He raced well in the Duels and will start 11th on Sunday.

Related: Harvick the favorite, Danica starts on the pole

Marcos Ambrose, No. 9
Richard Petty Motorsports Ford

The Australian has tons of ability and it nearly led to an appearance in the Chase a year ago. While his strengths is clearly on short tracks and road courses, it doesn't mean that Ambrose can't compete at a plate track. He finished 13th in this race a year ago and is coming off his best points finish of his career (18th). Richard Petty's cars aren't the same as the bigger teams but they have what it takes to win the big one. Ambrose will begin the race in the 24th starting spot.

Joey Logano, No. 22
Penske Racing Ford

Sliced Bread hasn’t quite lived up to his billing since entering the sport full-time in 2009. After four full seasons, Logano has two career wins (one on rain) and has never finished higher than 16th in the points standings. He posted just two top-five finishes a year ago and is now racing for a new team. Penske won the points title a year ago, so Logano should have competitive equipment and has the upside to find himself near the front in the race’s closing laps. He will start 21st.

Michael Waltrip, No. 26
Swan Racing Toyota

Most people find it difficult to root for Mikey, however, watching the Sandy Hook tribute paint scheme on the No. 26 Toyota will be emotional for many in this country. Waltrip has won this race twice before (in much better equipment) and was inches from winning at Talladega a year ago before he collected Tony Stewart in the season’s biggest wreck on the penultimate lap. He knows how to drive at restrictor plate tracks and should be in the mix near the end.

Related: Fantasy Picks for the 2013 Daytona 500

Related: The 10 Most Memorable Daytona 500s

<p> 6 Wildcard Drivers to Watch in the 2013 Daytona 500</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 10:51
Path: /nascar/daytona-international-speedway-track-information

Daytona International Speedway Race Stats

2013 Race Length: 500 miles/200 laps; 400 miles/160 laps

Track Qualifying Record: 210.364 mph (Bill Elliott, 1987)

Race Record: 500 - 177.602 mph (Buddy Baker, 1980); 400 - 173.473 mph (Bobby Allison, 1980)


Anonymous Crew Chief's Take on Daytona International Speedway:

“Whatever. It’s a superspeedway. Daytona used to be good when it had character and the cars had to handle. That made speedway racing a little bit of fun. You could take the frustration away from qualifying and actually had to go race and make the car drive good. It’s the hub of our sport; it’s where we start our season, and there is a ton of history there. And it’s a great place and a great racetrack, but now that it’s been repaved, it just doesn’t have any luster. That said, the January test sessions will be huge for everyone with the new bodies.”


Classic Daytona Moments:

Suffice it to say that, coming into the 2002 Daytona 500, Ward Burton wasn’t on many prognosticators’ short list of potential winners.

As it turned out, he didn’t let that stop him. Burton, an underdog driver competing for an underdog Bill Davis Racing organization, beat the odds and a star-studded field to capture the 44th annual Daytona 500, in the process scoring one of the biggest upsets in the history of The Great American Race.

Burton’s path to Victory Lane was hardly conventional, however, as the slow-talking Virginia native benefited from the oddest of circumstances to take over the top spot in the final laps.

Burton, who inherited the lead when NASCAR penalized leader Sterling Marlin for hopping out of his car under a red-flag period and attempting to repair damage to his front fender, held off fellow Virginian Elliott Sadler in a three-lap dash to the checkers.

Marlin, forced to restart at the tail end of the longest line, finished eighth and was denied a third victory in the most prestigious of all stock-car races.


Fantasy NASCAR Take on Daytona International Speedway:


Matt Kenseth—Kenseth was a cool customer amid a firestorm at restrictor plate tracks in 2012. In addition to winning his Duel qualifying race and the Daytona 500, he was also strong in the summer’s 400-miler, leading 89 laps en route to a third-place finish.

Jeff Burton—The Richard Childress Racing driver outlasted the mid-race drama at Daytona in 2012, finishing fifth and second, respectively, in the season’s two points-paying races.

Kyle Busch—His showings in last year’s 500 (17th) and 400 (24th) weren’t all that impressive, but he averaged running positions of 14th and eighth, respectively, in the two races and provided sparks in the season-opening Shootout, driving a damaged race car to an exciting victory.


Jamie McMurray—The 2010 Daytona 500 winner ranked 16th out of 50 drivers on’s plate track PEER rankings in 2012; however, in a season in which passing at Daytona came at a premium, McMurray registered 359 passes for positions within the top 15.

Runs on Seven Cylinders

Jimmie Johnson—Johnson suffered only three terminal crashes in 2012, and two of them came at Daytona. The five-time champion seems snakebitten on plate tracks as of late, but his equipment is always capable of excelling within the draft.

RELATED: NASCAR 2013: Camping World Truck Series Preview

<p> A NASCAR fan's guide to Daytona International Speedway</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-weekend-preview-another-classic-georgetown-syracuse-rivalry

A casualty of conference realignment will be a boon for the turnstiles at the Carrier Dome.

With Syracuse off to the ACC next season, Saturday’s matchup will be the second-to-last regular-season meeting in a a storied Big East rivalry between the Orange and Georgetown and the last in upstate New York.

Syracuse is sending the series out in style, at least. The Orange will have the record crowd at a fever pitch. With added seating in the Carrier Dome, Syracuse already has announced a sellout with a ticket count of 35,012, the largest crowd for an on-campus game during the regular season.

But the game isn’t just an opportunity for Syracuse-Georgetown nostalgia. With an eight-game winning streak, Georgetown has moved into a three-way tie for the Big East lead along with Syracuse and Marquette.

Both teams have a Big East Player of the Year contender with the Hoyas’ Otto Porter putting the team on his back iHe’ll try to out-duel Syracuse’s breakout point guard Michael Carter-Williams for what could be another chapter in a rivalry that will be altered thanks to a changing college landscape.

One of the key stories for both teams this season has been how each team has dealt with absences. Georgetown has thrived without George Whittington, who remains the Hoyas’ third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder despite being declared academically ineligible in January.

Meanwhile, Syracuse stumbled at times without James Southerland, who has since returned from being ineligible, and DaJuan Coleman, who remains sidelined following knee surgery.

Related: NCAA Tournament projections and bubble watch

Georgetown at Syracuse
Where: Carrier Dome,

Syracuse, N.Y., cap. 35,012
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

G Markel Starks (6-2/175, Jr.)
G Jabril Trawick (6-5/210, So.)
F Otto Porter (6-8/205, So.)
F Nate Lubick (6-8/235, Jr.)
F Mikael Hopkins (6-9/223, So.)
G Michael Carter-Williams (6-6/185, So.)
G Brandon Triche (6-4/200, Sr.)
F Jerami Grant (6-8/203, Fr.)
F C.J. Fair (6-8/215, Jr.)
F Rakeem Christmas (6-9/242, So.)

Game-defining matchup: Georgetown’s Otto Porter v. Syracuse's zone defense
How will Syracuse defend Georgetown’s do-it-all forward Porter with the zone? Porter could hurt Georgetown by scoring inside or outside -- the 6-8 forward is 29 of 65 from three-point range this season -- or he could beat Syracuse with his passing from down low.  Whether it’s Rakeem Christmas on the inside or C.J. Fair and Jeremi Grant on the perimeter, Syracuse will need a team effort to shut down Georgetown’s MVP.

Player we’re watching: Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera
The Hoyas would like to find a No. 2 scoring option after Porter. The freshman Smith-Rivera showed signs he might be that guy. He scored 33 points on 10 of 12 shooting in Georgetown’s win over DePaul on Wednesday. Sure, that’s against DePaul, but Smith-Rivera averaged 10.6 points per game in the eight games prior to his breakout against the Blue Demons.

Stat that matters: Syracuse’s three-point shooting
When James Southerland was out for six games, Syracuse didn’t just miss 13.8 points per game the sixth man brought off the bench. The Orange missed his a ability to stretch the defense. With Southerland out, Syracuse attempted 15 three-pointers per game, making 32.2 percent of them. Since Southerland returned on Feb. 10 against St. John’s, Syracuse is attempting 18.8 threes per game, making 36 percent of them. That’s good news, but Georgetown will be the best defensive team Syracuse has faced since Southerland returned.

How Georgetown can win: Frustrate Michael Carter-Williams
The formula is pretty simple for defeating Syracuse: Limit Carter-Williams’ playmaking ability, and Syracuse will have some difficulty. The Orange are 1-3 in Big East play when Carter-Williams has fewer than five assists and 0-3 when he has more turnovers than assists.

How Syracuse can win: Put pressure on Porter’s supporting cast
Point guard Markel Sparks and Smith-Rivera have been more productive with Whittington out, but this remains Porter’s team. In each of the last two games, Porter has been the third-leading shot-taker on his own team, yet the Hoyas won both games. It seems a stretch for Georgetown to win a game on the road against Syracuse with someone other than Porter taking the most shots from the field.

Prediction: Syracuse 65, Georgetown 58

All times Eastern

NC State at North Carolina (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN)
The Tar Heels are probably in the NCAA Tournament field, but defeating NC State would ease a few doubts about North Carolina’s chances of reaching the field. Meanwhile, NC State is looking for its first regular season sweep of the Heels since 2003. North Carolina has enjoyed a boost from P.J. Hairston, who is averaging 20.7 points per game since re-entering the starting lineup in the last three games.

Related: Top 40 college football/basketball coaching tandems

New Mexico at Colorado State (Saturday, 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
It’s safe to say this is the biggest week for Colorado State basketball in recent memory. The Rams faced UNLV on Wednesday but lost 61-59. They'll return home to face the MWC-leading Lobos for a chance at a conference title. Colorado State is searching for its first league championship since 1988-89, when Boyd Grant led the Rams to the outright WAC title. New Mexico beat CSU 66–61 in Albuquerque in late January.

Related: Freshman of the Year debate: Bennett, McLemore or Smart?

Creighton at Saint Mary’s (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN)
The marquee matchup in this year’s BracketBusters may actually impact the brackets.  Creighton, despite its recent struggles, isn’t in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. Saint Mary’s, on the other hand, desperately needs a quality win. The Gaels have a gaudy record (21–5), but their RPI is 51 and they don’t have any wins vs. top-60 RPI teams. It’s fair to call this a must win for SMC.

Marquette at Villanova (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN2)
Villanova responded to its wins over Syracuse and Louisville in January by losing back-to-back games to Notre Dame and Providence. How will the Wildcats respond to defeating Connecticut on the road last weekend, a win that may put them back into the NCAA field? Meanwhile, Marquette is looking to stay in the Big East regular season title race. A win in Philly would keep Marquette in a tie with the Syracuse-Georgetown winner.

Arkansas at Florida (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
Anyone else starting to have doubts about Florida’s Final Four potential? The Gators are beating teams by an average of 20.7 points per game, but their best wins outside of Gainesville are over Florida State in Tallahassee and Air Force in Sunrise, Fla. In their last road games against competent teams, they lost 80-69 to Arkansas and 63-60 to Missouri. Arkansas looks like an NCAA Tournament team at home, but they’ve been dismal on the road, including losses to Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Texas A&M.

Stanford at Oregon (Saturday, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Stanford may have played itself out of NCAA contention by losing three of four, including its second loss of the season to USC. The Ducks are hopeful they’ll have starting point guard Dominic Artis back for Stanford, who defeated the Ducks 76-52 with Artis sidelined. Oregon has gone 4-3 without their standout freshman point.

Missouri at Kentucky (Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN)
Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament hopes took a huge hit last Saturday with a 30-point loss at Tennessee. It’s imperative the Wildcats show they can beat quality opponents without center Nerlens Noel (torn ACL) in the lineup. They whiffed on their first attempt and squeaked by Vanderbilt. But the Cats still have opportunities against Missouri and Florida. The Tigers will be in the NCAA Tournament, but they will not like their seed too much unless they start winning some games away from home. Mizzou is 1–6 in true road games, with the only win coming at Mississippi State.

Ohio at Belmont (Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPN2)
After Creighton-Saint Mary’s, this is the top BracketBuster with two high-level teams in their respective conferences. The matchup of mid-major point guards Ian Clark (Belmont) and D.J. Cooper (Ohio) is the main draw here. Clark is one of the most efficient players for his size (6-foot-3). He’s shooting 55 percent from the field, 48 percent from three-point range and 81 percent from the free throw line. Cooper is working on a unique career with 2,000 career points, 900 assists, 500 rebounds and 300 steals.

Illinois at Michigan (Sunday, 1 p.m., ESPN)
It’s been a streaky season for the streak-shooting Fighting Illini. After losing six of seven during one long stretch of Big Ten action, Illinois has now won four straight, highlighted by the buzzer-beating victory over Indiana two weeks ago. Michigan struggled to beat Penn State at home on Sunday, but the Wolverines were due for a sluggish performance after facing Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State in consecutive games.

Cincinnati at Notre Dame (Sunday, 2 p.m., CBS)
Just two weeks ago, Cincinnati was 18–4 overall and 6–3 in the Big East. Now, after three losses in four games (including two at home), the Bearcats are 7–6 in the league with road trips to Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville looming. It’s not quite time to panic, but Mick Cronin’s team could really use a win. Notre Dame picked up a much-needed win on Monday night, rallying from an early 19–3 deficit to beat Pittsburgh 52–42 on the road. The Fighting Irish had struggled in their previous two games, losing at Providence and needing overtime to beat DePaul at home.

Michigan State at Ohio State (Sunday, 4 p.m., CBS)
It’s another huge battle between Big Ten heavyweights. Michigan State is making a push toward a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This might not be Tom Izzo’s most talented team, but the Spartans are finding ways to win. Ohio State is likely out of the Big Ten title race after losing three of its last four, but this is still a very good team that is in position to secure a top-four seed in the NCAAs. The Buckeyes trounced a Tournament-bound Minnesota team 71-45 on Wednesday.

Athlon Sports managing editor Mitch Light contributed to this report.

<p> College Basketball Weekend Preview: Another classic for Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry?</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /nascar/harvick-favorite-danica-point-daytona-500

Sunday's Daytona 500, the 55th in the long, storied history of The Great American Race, officially has the field set. There are endless stories emanating from NASCAR's biggest event, but here are the five that will most impact Sunday's race.

No horsing around: Harvick is the favorite
There's just one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver batting 1.000 with trophies on the line in 2013: Kevin Harvick. Both of those trophies, of course, have come in the last week at Daytona where NASCAR's resident "lame duck" has scored impressive wins in the last Saturday's Sprint Unlimited and the first race of Thursday's Budweiser Duel at Daytona.

But statistics aren't the only thing supporting Harvick's case as the head-turning favorite before Sunday's race. Instead, it's the manner in which Harvick has taken control at the end of both races and held on with the grip of a vice.

In the Sprint Unlimited, Harvick first moved to the lead on lap 34 of the 75-lap, three-segment race. Just twice, and for two total laps, did the No. 29 not cross the start-finish as the designated leader. And when the heat turned up on the final lap, Harvick was able to play both lanes and make a bold, sweeping block of Greg Biffle on the backstretch of the money lap. He wasn't pressured again before the checkered flag.

Thursday was much the same in his 150-mile qualifying race, except Harvick was better. A savvy move exiting pit road pinned Trevor Bayne — the only other driver to lead Duel No. 1 — against the infield grass and then behind him as the two rushed through the gears to get up to speed. Bayne never recovered and eventually ended up in a crash while Harvick maintained his position. Even the restart wasn't a hassle for the No. 29, as Harvick managed the high then low line to keep competitors at bay and the Budweiser victory lane bath in sight.

Afterward, many of his competitors noted handling played a huge role in their ability to challenge. Harvick seemed almost incredulous at the thought.

"We never experienced any of that," Harvick said. "I think it's a matter of how you came down here with the balance of your race car."

Translation: the No. 29 is good. You can bet the field has taken notice.

Follow the leader
One factor playing into Harvick's hand as he has dominated so far is the apparent advantage held by the leader in the Gen-6 chassis when drivers form the long, snake-like lines of cars. Just seven different drivers led in the qualifying races Thursday, with just four of them leading for more than one lap.

"It's hard to pass the leader," Kyle Busch said after winning the second Duel race. "Just stay out front when you can get out front and you can run pretty good and just try to hold everybody off behind you."

That showed on the final lap of Busch's race when Kasey Kahne, with a push from Austin Dillon, edged under Matt Kenseth in second but couldn't punch past Busch. Kahne never even got alongside Busch.

"It's really tough to pass. When another car gets near your rear tire, it's like you threw the parachute out," Jimmie Johnson said.

Harvick and Jeff Gordon said Daytona now requires more planning to make a pass for position — not just finding someone to push like the recent years of tandem racing at restrictor plate tracks. The consequences can be dire.

"You've just got be precise in your moves," Harvick said. "If you get yourself in the wrong spot like we did at the beginning of the race in the middle, you just can't go anywhere. The only place you're going is backwards. It's hard to get yourself into the hole that you need when you make a mistake."

Gordon agreed, saying Daytona in 2013 feels like the Daytona of old.

"This is a real thinking race now. It comes down to the way it used to," Gordon said. "You get yourself in position. Everybody kind of rides, and thinks about what they have. You have to have your car handling pretty good, which is tough to do further back in traffic."

But Gordon, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, doesn't think passing the leader will be completely impossible come Sunday”

"You have got to have somebody go with you; you can't do it by yourself. But you can get a run, definitely. No doubt about it.”

Handling the unexpected
In order to get the kind of run Gordon is talking about, and to time it at the point where it'll put a driver in prime position to walk away with that coveted Harley J. Earl trophy, a driver has to first be in the position to make that move. In a 500-mile race, that's no easy feat.

No, the Daytona 500 isn't the same test of attrition that it once was. Parts last longer. Teams hit setups with more regularity. Drivers, typically, are smarter.

But 500 miles is still 500 miles — especially with a new car putting drivers more on the edge than they were with the stuck-to-the-track Car of Tomorrow chassis. Ryan Newman found that out during Wednesday's practice, and Denny Hamlin found it out late in the first qualifying race Thursday. Both suddenly lost control of race cars that weren't handling particularly poorly before they encountered a set of aerodynamic variables strong enough to send the car into a spin quicker than a blink of an eye. That will happen again Sunday and a driver (or drivers) in contention will pay the price.

It's a measure of the new car that has several, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., searching for answers in the two days of practice left before the 500.

"I didn't anticipate really the balance being a big deal because the car does have a good downforce package; we thought the balance would be pretty close," Earnhardt Jr. said. "(I) figured we would be fighting loose a little bit. We have to work on it."

Should drivers withstand that challenge, they'll have to be ready to execute flawless pit stops, too. Kyle Busch took the lead in the second qualifying race thanks to a call for no tires during his pit stop. Trevor Bayne lost his lead in the first race partially because he locked up his tires coming to pit road under green, necessitating a change. Busch wound up winning his qualifying race; Bayne wrecked.

"Pit crews are going to make a huge difference on Sunday," said Tony Stewart. "That's going to be the difference between which pack you come out in. You're going to have to have good stops to stay up there all day."

Like Gordon said, Sunday will feel more like Daytona of old. Carl Edwards, despite wrecking four times at Daytona, is looking forward to that.

"There will be groups of cars that separate themselves, some pit strategy and some guys that slide around and can't keep up," Edwards said. "I think it will make it a really dynamite, fun race."

Manufacturer parity
Not everyone will leave Daytona Sunday night using the words Edwards did, but you can bet one of NASCAR's three competing manufacturers will be celebrating well into the night.

For the first time since the 1990s, cars in the Sprint Cup Series actually resemble their showroom counterparts. It's been a concerted effort by NASCAR, after pressure from those manufacturers, to make those comparisons easier.

It also introduces the realistic potential of Chevrolet, Ford or Toyota having a slight advantage come race day thanks to their body design. NASCAR has worked to prevent the issues, but competitors are competitors, and competitors like to complain.

Just look at the starting lineup for Sunday's race: seven of the top-10 are Chevrolets. If the finishing order resembles that, Jack Roush's comments won't be far behind.

<p> Five things to watch for in the Daytona 500.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 09:57
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-basketball/athlons-essential-11-links-day-feb-18

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Feb. 22.

• Danica's not the only woman making history this weekend. Rising superstar Ronda Rousey is headlining UFC 157 tomorrow. Here's a slideshow of Ms. Rousey's progression from little-known judo medalist to sex symbol.

• A pregnant Cowboys fan lost a bet to her boyfriend, a Redskins fan. The result: The kid will be named after Robert Griffin III.

• It's NFL Meat Market time. As usual, there's an SEC angle.

• Mark Cuban is one of the stars of ABC's Shark Tank. Somebody made a Lego video of the show. Cubes was impressed.

• Another reason to hate Pete Rose: According to an auction site, he apparently used corked bats in 1985, the year he broke Ty Cobb's record. The good news is, you can bid on one of the corked bats.

• February Madness: Tiger and Rory, the top two seeds, lost in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship. NBC hardest hit.

A Twins pitcher met his fiancee via social media. But to prove that he's the anti-Te'o: He actually met her.

• Kobe goes all Namath, guaranteeing a playoff berth for the Lakers.

• We interrupt the sports to bring you the weather: An Australian weatherman passed out on air. Of course, he was in a stunt plane at the time.

• LeBron limped off the court last night, much to the delight of Bulls fans. Stay classy, Chicago.

• Today in front office mis-management: The two highest-paid Mets outfielders are not even on the team. One of them, Bobby Bonilla, hasn't played for the Mets since 1999. The sad thing is, he's still probably their best left field option.

• You've probably already seen this, but too bad — it's still amazing. A cheerleader makes the ultimate half-court shot.

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

Feb. 21

• Daytona's Budweiser Duels are today. To mark the occasion, enjoy this comprehensive rundown of pole-sitter Danica Patrick's life and career.

This rundown of the most underrated comedies of the last 20 years includes my pick for funniest sports movie of all time, Kingpin.

• Here's a fun sequence from Okie State-Kansas last night: Elijah Johnson breaks Marcus Smart's ankles, then has his shot rejected into the fifth row.

• James Harden's awesome evening included this half-court buzzer-beater.

• Also last night: The Lakers won for their fallen leader.

• On an evening of awesome highlights, this might have been the best: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's ruthless posterization of Greg Monroe.

• SEC football's calling card is defense, but who has the best returning offense in 2013?

Calls for Mark Emmert's resignation are mounting. I happen to think that rug on his head is a fire-able offense, but that's just me.

• Oscar Pistorius may have caught a break: Turns out the lead investigator has problems of his own.

A table tennis player baffles his opponent by going behind the back.

Hey, David Price: You can afford to buy Evan Longoria a breast pump. Yes, that's a weird sentence.

• Well, this is just too dang adorable for words: An arthritic sea otter dunks basketballs for therapy.

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

Feb. 20

• Break up the Blackhawks. Chicago is 13-0-3, tying the best start in NHL history. To help them celebrate, here's a gallery of NHL ice girls and cheerleaders.

• Inspirational story of the day: A partially blind pitcher is attempting to make the Rays roster.

• So they cleaned up in recruiting. But will Ole Miss actually be any good at football in 2013?

• In this era of 46-38 abominations, one college basketball team still knows how to score.

Indiana's Victor Oladipo scored his 1,000th career point on a go-ahead tip-in in Indiana's 72-68 win at Michigan State. He keeps putting the Victor in Victory.

Here's what the NFL team logos would look like if they all moved to Great Britain.

• Michael Jordan turned 50 over the weekend. Now it's Sir Charles' turn. Here's a photographic tribute to the Barkley on his 50th birthday.

• Hulk Hogan has opened a restaurant in Tampa. One reviewer is not impressed. If you own a restaurant, you don't want to read that your food is a "train wreck."

Donovan McNabb tweeted his congratulations to Danica Patrick for winning the Daytona 500. Trouble is, the race hasn't happened yet.

• Night before last, UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma grabbed Baylor coach Kim Mulkey's butt for some reason. Cameras were there to record the touching moment.

• Celebrity diving shows are yielding YouTube gems like this: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doing a back flip off a diving board.

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

Feb. 19

Maxim catches us up with some of the breakout stars of the London games, like javelin thrower Leryn Franco (pictured).

FAU's new football stadium is sponsored by a company that runs prisons. Are they changing their nickname to Mean Machine?

Marcus Lattimore says he's ready to shock the world with his progress.

• The late Jerry Buss might be the greatest owner in the history of the NBA. Here are his seven greatest achievements with the Lakers.

• Not sports-related, but amazing: The Ghostbusters headquarters made out of Legos.

• Did anyone think that Jerry Jones' bus would not be a palace on wheels?

The 26 dumbest sports injuries of all time. You'd think that athletes, who make their living with their bodies, would be more protective of their most valuable asset.

Oscar Pistorius is going with the "I thought she was an intruder" defense. Still doesn't explain the bloody cricket bat. Weird detail: He didn't have his legs on.

• Good news for the SEC West: Alabama and LSU have strengthened their recruiting staffs.

• The fact that the new Die Hard movie is garbage simply reminds us how great the original was. Here are 50 things you probably didn't know about that movie, including the fact that Richard Gere was considered for the role of John McClane.

• Ndamukong Suh is on an upcoming celebrity diving program. Previously, we learned that he practically had to save obese comedian Louis Anderson from drowning. Now, the ABC promo has misspelled his name. Let's hope he fired his agent.

• We have a new entry in the ongoing World's Worst Free Throw Attempt sweepstakes. Entries are now closed.

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

Feb. 18

Danica Patrick won the pole for the Daytona 500. Maybe now she'll be known more for her racing than for photos like the one at right. Nah, who am I kidding?

• It was a rough weekend in college hoops. Cal coach Mike Montgomery got physical with his best player, who proceeded to take it out on the USC Trojans. Meanwhile, an Illinois State player kicked a Wichita State Shocker in the chest, sparking the Shockers to an 8-0 run to close out a 1-point win.

• Happy Presidents Day. Here's a quiz testing your knowledge of both sports and presidential administrations.

Deadspin's weekend roundup includes Craig Ehlo recounting what it was like to guard Michael Jordan, who's 50 years and 1 day old today.

If you stared into Craig Sager's sportcoat at the All-Star Game, you risked hypnosis. Or even insanity.

Did a text message send Oscar Pistorius over the edge?

Guy flings himself into a cactus, screams f-word repeatedly. That recipe equals YouTube gold (though we must accompany it with a content warning).

The Harlem Shake is already dying, and I can pride myself on the fact that I've managed to avoid it during its brief lifespan.

• Power couple: Tiger and the POTUS got together for a friendly round of golf over the weekend.

• Bad timing award: First-round NFL Draft prospect Alec Ogletree got popped for DUI with the Combine set to begin Wednesday.

• Moments like this are what NBA All-Star Weekend is all about. All that's missing is a Kia to jump over.

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

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 09:45
Path: /nfl/10-most-intriguing-names-watch-nfl-combine

Millions of dollars are made and lost at the NFL Combine and 2013 won’t be any different. Player interviews, mental acumen, agility, strength and speed tests all help NFL scouts, executives and coaches attempt to quantify over 300 different prospects over one weekend in Indianapolis.

Each year features freakish performances that makes eyes pop and mouths drool. Each season, workout warriors vault themselves into the first round. And each year, there are intriguing storylines to follow for more than a few important players.

Here are the 10 most intriguing players to watch at this year’s combine:

1. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
His is obviously the most anticipated combine performance in years. He has two glaring issues to overcome: His fake girlfriend scandal and extremely poor performance against Alabama in the national title game. He will need to address immaturity issues while explaining his lack of toughness and productivity in the biggest, and final, game of his college career. Can he shift scouts' focus back to his leadership and remarkable play in carrying Notre Dame back to national prominence?

2. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
He would have easily been the top-rated running back in this draft had he not horrifically injured his knee halfway through his junior season. He is focused, driven and ready to prove himself already just months following the terrible injury. In a draft class where no one stands out as a first-round pick, Lattimore’s work ethic, overall talent and genuine personality might make him this year’s Willis McGahee.

3. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
In a similar boat as Lattimore, Barkley needs to prove he made the right decision to return to USC for his senior year. He was lauded for his maturity and leadership when he initially returned, but many have doubts about his overall physical size and potential health. He must convince teams that his injured shoulder will be healthy and that he is the guy who broke records as a junior and not the guy who lost six games as a senior.

4. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, ex-LSU
Where to begin? Mathieu has been his own worst enemy ever since breaking onto the scene as a sophomore. What's more, there has been one awful BCS National Championship game performance, multiple arrests and it's been nearly two calendar years since anyone saw the Honey Badger make a play of any consequence. He is undersized and his cover skills were always a question, but now his dedication to football and maturity are major issues. The former LSU defensive back has much to prove to even get drafted late as a special teamer.

5. Wide Receivers, Tennessee
Justin Hunter had to overcome a torn ACL and wasn’t the same following the injury. He needs to prove his toughness, focus and overall explosiveness. Cordarrelle Patterson is an elite athlete who needs to prove he isn’t a long-term project as a wide receiver. And Da’Rick Rogers, from all accounts, needs to prove he cares about the team more than himself. He held the Volunteers hostage before getting kicked off of the team and has to show he has the mental makeup to match his exquisite athletic ability.

Related: 12 Players Who Could Dominate the NFL Combine

6. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Mingo doesn’t show up on game tape as often as his lesser talented teammate Sam Montgomery does. However, Mingo still is a tremendous athlete who has elite upside that just needs to show he can be a productive football player. Should he develop a better understanding of the game and prove he can be consistent, he could be a big winner in Indianapolis.

7. Offensive Linemen, Alabama
Chance Warmack needs to prove that war-daddy offensive guards are worth taking in the top ten (hint: they should be). He is arguably the safest, most dependable player in the entire draft but could slip due to his position. Barrett Jones is a three-time national champ and Outland Trophy winner who excelled at three positions. Proving he is at least a second-round talent at guard or center will be key. And D.J. Fluker, who will wow scouts with elite size and strength, needs to prove he can be a left tackle and not just a right-side guy.

8. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah is the opposite of the workout warrior. He won’t wow scouts with elite size, range or length. He won’t run an elite 40-yard dash or impress in the shuttle drill. But he is an excellent football player and needs to somehow prove that to scouts without wearing any pads. His terrible week of practice in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl was capped by a great performance in the game itself. Scouts want to know which player is he?

9. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
He has excellent measurables and is watching his stock skyrocket due to great size and athleticism. However, he played on defenses that consistently underachieved and was constantly exposed in man-to-man situations by smaller, speedy players like Tavon Austin. He needs to prove he is agile enough to play in pass coverages if he expects to garner Mark Barron comparisons, which, right now, are absurd.

10. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
This is someone to root for at the combine. He is a tremendous playmaker with elite production and speed to match. He will excel on special teams, can run the ball out of the backfield and will be an outstanding slot receiver. Percy Harvin is an apt comparison and he needs to prove his speed is more important than his diminutive frame.





Related: The 10 Freakiest Accomplishments at the Combine

<p> 10 Most Intriguing Names to Watch at the NFL Combine</p>
Post date: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 09:00