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Baseball is filled with amazing statistics, bizarre coincidences and lots of oddball occurrences. Last season was no exception, so we pulled together the best of the best and put them into this handy Calendar of MLB Weirdness. Enjoy!
April 6 Carlos Pena, who was a combined 4-for-46 off CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera, belts a grand slam off the former and the game-ending hit against the latter.
April 7 Prince Fielder hits his 232nd home run in his 1,000th game — exactly the same number poppa Cecil had in his first 1,000 games.
April 7 Ronny Paulino goes 4-for-4 in his Orioles debut, making him 13-for-17 in his initial starts with his four teams.
April 7 Jordan Schafer, who wasn’t yet born when Jamie Moyer allowed his first leadoff home run, tags Moyer for a leadoff home run.
April 8 For the first time in 46 years, the Yankees and Red Sox both start 0–3.
April 10 Yu Darvish is the first pitcher since 1910 to win a major league debut despite allowing at least four first-inning runs.
April 11 Jonny Gomes absorbs a walk-off hit-by-pitch in extra innings for the second season in a row.
April 13 The White Sox remain unbeaten in eight tries at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday the 13ths.
April 17 The Cardinals manufacture a walk-off run in the 10th against the Reds without an official at-bat (walk, sac bunt, intentional walk, walk sac fly).
April 18 Bartolo Colon throws 38 straight strikes during his eight shutout innings of the Angels.
April 19 Six batters into their game, the Astros already have lashed three triples in the same inning for the first time in their history.
April 20 The Blue Jays (who hadn’t turned one in 33 years) turn a triple play against the Royals (who hadn’t hit into one in 33 years).
April 20 Two of the four Red Sox pitchers (Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett) ever to allow five home runs in a game do so in a span of 12 days.
April 26 The Mets beat the Marlins in walk-off fashion after fielding a starting lineup consisting entirely of homegrown talent for the first time in 40 years.
May 2 Two 40-year-olds — Chipper Jones and Jason Giambi — stroke walk-off home runs on the same day.
May 5 Twenty-eight games into their season, the Angels finally get a home run from a first baseman — Mark Trumbo, not Albert Pujols.
May 8 A foul ball bounces into the cup of a Padres fan, who chugs his beer before removing it.
May 8 After not stealing a base in his first 219 major league games, catcher John Baker swipes one in the seventh and eighth innings.
May 8 Rod Barajas (hitting .127) and Brandon Inge (.128) rise up for walk-off home runs.
May 11 Brandon Inge (recently claimed off waivers by Oakland after starting 2-for-20 in Detroit) drives in exactly four runs for the fourth time in five games, giving him 16 RBIs on five hits.
May 18 The Elias Sports Bureau points out that Kevin Millwood is the third pitcher this season (following Barry Zito and Jerome Williams) to throw a shutout at least eight years after his previous one — something that had happened only once in the previous half-century.
May 20 All 15 of Max Scherzer’s strikeouts in seven innings against the Pirates are swinging.
May 21 Jamie Moyer pitches in his 50th different ballpark.
May 24 Michael Bourn’s three home runs in his last 11 at-bats are one more than he’d hit in his previous 925.
May 27 For the second time this month, a team’s only five hits are solo home runs.
May 28 For just the fifth time in history (but the second time in nine days), a pitcher (Chris Sale, duplicating Max Scherzer’s feat) strikes out 15 batters and allows as few as five base runners in a start of 7.1 innings or less.
May 29 Reds third baseman Todd Frazier saves the life of a restaurant patron with the Heimlich maneuver, then hacks up a double and a triple in a win over the Pirates.
June 6 On a day they play each other, the Brewers and Cubs each draft their manager’s son.
June 12 The Giants’ 16-game streak without a home run at home — the longest in baseball since 1983 — is ended by a pitcher, Madison Bumgarner.
June 13 Of the night’s four shutouts, three are by a 1–0 score and the other is Matt Cain’s perfect game.
June 13 Bryce Harper’s camp applies for a patent on the phrase, “That’s a clown question, bro.”
June 15 Drew Hutchison is the third pitcher in the same turn through the Toronto rotation to land on the DL after a mid-game injury, two of which are season-ending.
June 17 Two games last 15 innings just one day after two had extended to 14, marking the first time in history there were a pair of at least that length on successive days.
June 24 Waiver claim Brooks Conrad collects as many hits (three) and just one fewer RBIs (five) in his first 10 innings as a Ray as he did in 25 games as a Brewer.
June 24 The White Sox must remove Brent Lillibridge in the 10th inning because he’s just been traded to Boston, and the player who replaces him (Eduardo Escobar) lines a walk-off single.
June 27 Daniel Murphy, after not homering in 103 games over nearly 50 weeks, takes Cubs pitchers deep in consecutive innings.
June 27 The Yankees put 428 career pitching victories (Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia) on the DL on the same day.
June 27 The Dodgers are shut out by the Giants for the third straight day, making it the first time in the 129-year history of the franchise they failed to score in a three-game series.
June 27 The Diamondbacks suspend TV play-by-play man Deron Sutton, reportedly for refusing to wear the team’s logo shirt instead of a suit on air.
July 1 The Dodgers end a streak of 66 innings in which they never lead.
July 2 Two consecutive Pirates clank home runs off the right field foul pole at PNC Park.
July 9 Home Run Derby captains Matt Kemp and Robinson Cano combine to clear the fence one time in the annual competition.
July 13 Zack Greinke is the first pitcher since 1917 to start three consecutive games for his team, yet he pitches a total of only eight innings while allowing 10 runs. (Later, he misses his next start due to fatigue.)
July 21 On the same day the Cardinals score all 12 of their runs against the Cubs in one inning, the Pirates become the first team in 14 years to tally four times in an inning without a hit.
July 21 Starting pitchers Matt Cain and Cole Hamels take each other deep in the same inning.
July 22 The A’s make it eight walk-off wins in their last 16 home games.
July 23 One day after losing by five runs in extra innings, the Mets lose by six runs in extra innings.
July 24 Cliff Lee, a former AL leader in lowest home run frequency, becomes the first starter in 24 years to serve up four in one game after the sixth inning.
July 25 Tommy Hanson, who throws 108 pitches in five innings against the Marlins, allows three hits (all doubles — two of them leadoff), seven walks, seven stolen bases — and one run.
July 25 The Phillies complete a three-game sweep of the Brewers, with each victory by a 7–6 score.
July 30 On their 17th try, the Braves finally win a game on a Monday, ending a streak that had lasted nearly a full year.
Aug. 1 The Mets fail to score during an inning in which they draw three walks, get hit by a pitch and steal three bases.
Aug. 1 A Daytona Cubs intern is ejected from the game for playing “Three Blind Mice” over the PA system after a questionable call.
Aug. 2 Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez, who was hitting .223 with 100 strikeouts in 87 Class-A games, not only homers in his first big-league at-bat, but also does it against Johnny Cueto, who had not allowed one to a right-handed hitter in 169 innings.
Aug. 3 The brothers Upton, B.J. and Justin, hit their 100th home runs within less than an hour of each other.
Aug. 5 On the day Oakland’s streak of 10 straight one-run wins concludes, the Orioles extend theirs to 10.
Aug. 6 Ichiro hits safely in his first dozen games as a Yankee, with exactly one knock in each contest.
Aug. 9 Joaquin Benoit surrenders his ninth hit since the All-Star break, seven of which are home runs.
Aug. 10 The same fan — a 15-year-old who lives in the United Arab Emirates — catches both of Manny Machado’s first two major league home runs.
Aug. 11 After not having a walk-off win all year, with 131 of them by other teams in the interim, the Astros celebrate one for the second straight day.
Aug. 15 Houston’s Jose Altuve singles three times, each followed by a Marwin Gonzalez double play.
Aug. 17 The Seattle pitching staff’s streak of 42 consecutive retired batters — the game’s longest in 38 years — concludes.
Aug. 19 Immediately after being “perfect gamed” by Felix Hernandez, the Rays set a team record for a four-game series by scoring 37 runs against the Angels.
Aug. 25 Carlos Quentin sets the single-season hit-by-pitch record for a second franchise in back-to-back years.
Aug. 29 Shelley Duncan ends his career in Cleveland having posted exactly 11 home runs and 29 runs scored in each of his three seasons there.
Aug. 31 The Rays conclude August having lost 12 of 14 one-run games since Friday the 13th in July, and as the first AL team since 1955 to drop four 1–0 contests in a calendar month.
Sept. 1 After no game in more than a year had ended with an outfielder gunning down the tying run at the plate, Toronto and Tampa Bay do it to each other on back-to-back nights.
Sept. 1 Adrian Beltre is now batting .500 over his last 10 games, four of which have been hitless.
Sept. 4 White Sox outfielder Dewayne Wise enters a game in the fifth inning of an eventual 18–9 loss to the Twins. Before he’s through, he not only cracks the sixth and franchise-record 10th doubles of the game, but also pitches scoreless relief for his second different team this season.
Sept. 6 The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Braves are the first team since 1984 to win 1–0 games on successive days in which the only run is unearned.
Sept. 11 Tampa Bay loses a game by more than two runs for the first time in 38 days.
Sept. 15 Both Anibal Sanchez and Francisco Liriano — each of whom has pitched a no-hitter before — lose their chance for another with two outs in the seventh inning, but win by a score of 5–3.
Sept. 16 Chris Young of the Mets gives up back-to-back home runs in the very inning that earns him $250,000 for fulfilling his 100-inning incentive clause.
Sept. 18 Miguel Olivo, who had drawn four unintentional walks in his previous 384 plate appearances dating to August 2011, is free-passed three times in Seattle’s 18-inning loss.
Sept. 20 The Mets fail to score four runs for the 16th consecutive home game — the longest streak of futility by an NL team since 1908.
Sept. 22 The A’s lose to the Yankees despite going deep three times in the 13th inning.
Sept. 25 The Mariners get themselves off a 1-for-47 schneid with runners in scoring position.
Oct. 2 Six days after Felix Hernandez becomes the first pitcher ever to fan Albert Pujols three times in the same game, teammate Hisashi Iwakuma replicates the feat.
Oct. 3 Despite not hitting a triple for the third season out of the last four, Miguel Cabrera wins the “Triple” Crown.
Oct. 10 Raul Ibanez of the Yankees becomes the first player in major league history to hit two home runs in a postseason game in which he did not start.
Oct. 12 A Washington-based team plays a winner-take-all postseason game for the first time since 1925 and, just as it did 87 years ago, blows a 6–3 lead and loses 9–7.
Want more baseball? Check out Athlon Sports' 2013 Baseball Annual for the most complete preview available. Order your copy now!
With the release of the 2013 ACC schedules, the countdown for the upcoming college football season has officially started. The ACC has expanded by two teams since last season, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the conference from the Big East. And the conference will undergo another change next year, with Louisville replacing Maryland (leaving for the Big Ten) in 2014.
The ACC is currently only the second BCS league to play with more than 12 teams and as conferences expand, it certainly creates some quirks in the scheduling. No team from the Coastal Division will play both Florida State and Clemson in 2013, while NC State catches a huge break in crossover play, missing Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Miami. The Wolfpack also only have to leave the state of North Carolina twice in 2013.
Athlon has combed through the ACC schedule to point out the most interesting tidbits and notes of information to know before making your 2013 predictions and travel plans.
ACC Football Schedule Analysis for 2013
Atlantic Division Analysis
Aug. 31 Villanova
Sept. 6 Wake Forest (Friday)
Sept. 14 at USC
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 Florida State
Oct. 5 Army
Oct. 12 at Clemson
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at North Carolina
Nov. 2 Virginia Tech
Nov. 9 at New Mexico State
Nov. 16 NC State
Nov. 23 Maryland
Nov. 30 at Syracuse
* Thanks to some late movement on the schedule, Boston College will meet Villanova for the first time since 1980. The Eagles own a 29-15-1 series edge over the FCS Wildcats.
* If the Eagles want to make a bowl game, beating Wake Forest on Friday, Sept. 6 is a must. Both teams will likely be fighting just to get to six wins, and this game could be just enough for one team to reach that mark. The Eagles have lost their last two meetings to the Demon Deacons.
* Boston College travels to Los Angeles to play USC on the road for the first time since 1987. The Eagles last played the Trojans in the 2009 Emerald Bowl and have lost all three previous matchups to USC. Needless to say, this is a difficult road trip for new coach Steve Addazio’s team.
* After winning five straight games over Army, the Black Knights shocked Boston College 34-31 last season. As mentioned previously, getting to a bowl game will be no easy task in 2013. Consider Army a must-win game for the Eagles in 2013.
* Boston College has one of the most bizarre road trips in all of college football next season. The Eagles travel to New Mexico State on Nov. 9. Really? Shouldn’t Boston College play the Aggies in Chestnut Hill? This is the first meeting between these two schools.
* The Eagles drew one of the toughest crossover schedules in the ACC. Boston College travels to North Carolina on Oct. 26 and hosts Virginia Tech on Nov. 2.
* With Boston College and Syracuse back in the same conference, these two teams will restart their annual rivalry game. The Eagles and Orange played every year from 1971-2004 but stopped once Boston College left for the ACC. These two programs met in 2010, with the Eagles winning 16-7 in Syracuse.
Aug. 31 Georgia
Sept. 7 South Carolina State
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 19 at NC State (Thursday)
Sept. 28 Wake Forest
Oct. 5 at Syracuse
Oct. 12 Boston College
Oct. 19 Florida State
Oct. 26 at Maryland
Nov. 2 at Virginia
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 14 Georgia Tech (Thursday)
Nov. 23 The Citadel
Nov. 30 at South Carolina
* Clemson opens 2013 with an opportunity to make a huge statement. The Tigers take on Georgia, which is a chance to pickup a victory against a top-10 team, and it's also a win that could help propel Clemson into the national title discussion. These two schools are separated by less than 100 miles but have not played since 2003. The Tigers have lost five straight to the Bulldogs and trail 41-17-4 in the overall series.
* Considering the magnitude of the Week 1 matchup, it’s a good idea Clemson scheduled South Carolina State in Week 2 and has a bye in Week 3. This will allow the Tigers plenty of time to put the game with Georgia in the rearview mirror before ACC play starts.
* The Tigers open ACC play with a game at NC State on Sept. 19. This will be the second consecutive season Clemson has a matchup on Thursday night. The Wolfpack lost a handful of key players from last year, including quarterback Mike Glennon and two All-ACC selections in the secondary. NC State won the last matchup against Clemson in Raleigh in 2011 but has lost eight out of the last nine in the series.
* Clemson takes on Syracuse on Oct. 5, which is the first meeting between these two schools as ACC opponents. The Tigers and Orange have met one time, with Syracuse winning 41-0 in the 1996 Gator Bowl.
* ACC Atlantic title? Florida State and Clemson will meet on Oct. 19 in Death Valley, which will likely decide the ACC Atlantic title. The Tigers have defeated the Seminoles five consecutive times at home but trail 18-8 in the overall series. The midseason matchup is better news for Florida State, especially with a handful of new starters breaking into the lineup on defense.
* The Nov. 9 bye week comes at a perfect time for Clemson. The Tigers have back-to-back road dates against Maryland and Virginia, before playing Georgia Tech on Nov. 14. Having an off date to prepare for the Yellow Jackets is crucial, while the bye also allows Clemson a late-season chance to get healthy.
* If Clemson starts 11-0, in-state rival South Carolina will be all that stands in the way from an unbeaten regular season. The Tigers have lost the last four matchups in the series with the Gamecocks and has not won in Columbia since 2007. Clemson is a legitimate national title contender but beating South Carolina could be a major roadblock in 2013.
Sept. 2 at Pittsburgh (Monday)
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 Nevada
Sept. 21 Bethune-Cookman
Sept. 28 at Boston College
Oct. 5 Maryland
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 at Clemson
Oct. 26 NC State
Nov. 2 Miami
Nov. 9 at Wake Forest
Nov. 16 Syracuse
Nov. 23 Idaho
Nov. 30 at Florida
* Florida State will open ACC play with a Labor Day matchup at Pittsburgh. This will be the first meeting between these two teams as conference members and only the ninth overall matchup. The Panthers have a 5-3 series edge over the Seminoles, with the last game between these two programs coming on Oct. 8, 1983. Florida State’s last game on Labor Day was on Sept. 7, 2009, when it lost 38-34 to Miami.
* In order to play Pittsburgh in the season opener, Florida State was forced to shuffle its schedule. The Seminoles replaced Wofford with Bethune-Cookman, which went 9-3 in 2012.
* Florida State’s Sept. 14 meeting with Nevada will be the first matchup between these two programs. The Wolf Pack has been one of the most successful WAC/Mountain West teams in recent years, but legendary coach Chris Ault stepped down at the end of the year, and running back Stefphon Jefferson departed early to the NFL.
* ACC Atlantic on the line? Florida State and Clemson finished tied atop the division with a 7-1 record last season and another tight battle should be expected once again in 2013. The Seminoles knocked off the Tigers in Tallahassee last season but has not won in Death Valley since 2001. And we can’t forget about the bye week. Florida State catches a huge break in scheduling, as it has a bye just before playing its biggest conference game of 2013.
* Can Florida State continue its in-state dominance over Miami? The Seminoles have won four out of the last five matchups, including four in a row in Miami.
* The Seminoles catch a break in crossover scheduling, as they miss North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech from the Coastal Division.
* Taking a page from the SEC? With a key matchup against in-state rival Florida on Nov. 30, the Seminoles smartly scheduled Idaho for Nov. 23. The game against the Vandals is a guaranteed win and allows Florida State to rest some of its key players for the huge game against the Gators the following Saturday.
Aug. 31 FIU
Sept. 7 Old Dominion
Sept. 14 at Connecticut
Sept. 21 West Virginia (Baltimore)
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Florida State
Oct. 12 Virginia
Oct. 19 at Wake Forest
Oct. 26 Clemson
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 Syracuse
Nov. 16 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 23 Boston College
Nov. 30 at NC State
* In order for Maryland to get bowl eligible, it needs to sweep all four games in its non-conference schedule. The Terrapins have a good chance to accomplish that, especially with West Virginia rebuilding and Connecticut losing some key contributors from its defense.
* Maryland’s October slate isn’t easy, as the Terrapins have a road trip to Florida State, a home date against Clemson and swing games against Virginia and Wake Forest. Maryland should be favored to beat the Cavaliers and Demon Deacons, but both matchups have to be considered tossups for now.
* Part II of the Randy Edsall Bowl will take place on Sept. 14, as Maryland travels to Storrs to take on his old team (Connecticut). Edsall spent 12 years with the Huskies and led the program to one BCS bowl during that stretch. Connecticut defeated Maryland 24-21 last season, and this year’s matchup will be huge for both teams in terms of bowl eligibility.
* Maryland caught a break in crossover conference scheduling, missing Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami in 2013. The Terrapins do have to play at Virginia Tech but catching Virginia over Miami or North Carolina is a plus.
* Maryland’s meeting with Syracuse on Nov. 9 is the first between these two programs since 1994. The Orange own an 18-14-2 series edge over the Terrapins.
* Unless Maryland makes the conference championship, the Nov. 30 meeting with NC State will be the final ACC game for the Terrapins. Maryland trails NC State by one game in the overall series (33-32-4).
Aug. 31 Louisiana Tech
Sept. 7 Richmond
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 19 Clemson (Thursday)
Sept. 28 Central Michigan
Oct. 5 at Wake Forest
Oct. 12 Syracuse
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Florida State
Nov. 2 North Carolina
Nov. 9 at Duke
Nov. 16 at Boston College
Nov. 23 East Carolina
Nov. 30 Maryland
* For a program with a first-year coach and just eight returning starters, NC State has to be thrilled with its 2013 schedule. The Wolfpack leave North Carolina just two times – at Florida State and at Boston College – and plays a very favorable non-conference schedule. NC State catches a rebuilding Louisiana Tech team in the opener and catches a dangerous East Carolina squad late in the year, allowing Doeren and his staff plenty of time to find replacements for the departed starters.
* The Sept. 19 matchup against Clemson will be a huge test for NC State. The Tigers are expected to be a heavy favorite to win the ACC and could get in the mix for a national title. The Wolfpack aren’t expected to win that game, but a good showing as an underdog would be a nice boost for Doeren and this team in 2013.
* Considering how tight the ACC standings will likely be after the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, beating Wake Forest on Oct. 5 and Duke on Nov. 9 is crucial to NC State’s hopes of getting bowl eligible.
* The Wolfpack welcome ACC newcomer Syracuse to Raleigh on Oct. 12. NC State and the Orange have played six times, with the Wolfpack taking a 6-0 series edge. However, these two teams have not played since 1998.
* New life in the North Carolina-NC State rivalry? With two young coaches, the annual rivalry between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack should have some new energy. Larry Fedora led North Carolina to a 43-35 victory over NC State last season, while Doeren hopes to get revenge with a home victory over the Tar Heels in early November.
* ACC finale. Unless Maryland makes the conference championship, the Nov. 30 meeting with NC State will be the final ACC game for the Terrapins. Interestingly enough, the Wolfpack hold a 33-32-4 series edge over Maryland.
Aug. 31 Penn State (East Rutherford, N.J.)
Sept. 7 at Northwestern
Sept. 14 Wagner
Sept. 21 Tulane
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Clemson
Oct. 12 at NC State
Oct. 19 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Wake Forest
Nov. 9 at Maryland
Nov. 16 at Florida State
Nov. 23 Pittsburgh
Nov. 30 Boston College
* Syracuse and Penn State will meet for the first time since 2009 in East Rutherford, N.J. on Aug. 31. These two teams have a storied rivalry, as they played virtually every year from 1922-1990 and met in 2008 and 2009. The Orange has lost the last four matchups in this series and trail the Nittany Lions 42-23-5 in the overall series.
* Getting to a bowl game is going to be quite a challenge for Syracuse in 2013. The Orange should beat Wagner and Tulane and could be favored against Wake Forest and Boston College but there are few guaranteed victories after that. Even road games against NC State and Maryland will be tough, and Syracuse catches Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in crossover matchups with the Coastal Division.
* Syracuse has two back-to-back road trips on their schedule. The Orange play at NC State on Oct. 19 and then travel to Georgia Tech on Oct. 19. In November, Syracuse travels to Maryland on Nov. 9 and to Florida State on Nov. 16. Ouch.
* Syracuse and Northwestern meet on Sept. 7 for the fourth time in six seasons. The Orange are 1-2 in their last three meetings against the Wildcats, which includes a 42-41 shootout defeat in last season.
* How’s this for a welcome to the ACC? Syracuse hosts Clemson – the favorite to win the ACC – in its conference opener. The Tigers and Orange have played only once, with Syracuse winning 41-0.
* Syracuse will meet Florida State for the first time since 2005 on Nov. 16. The Orange has lost their last five meetings against the Seminoles, including a 38-14 blowout in Tallahassee in 2005. This will be the first meeting between Syracuse and Florida State as ACC members.
* From 1971-2004, Boston College and Syracuse met every season. Since the Eagles departed to the ACC, these two teams have met only once as non-conference foes (2010). With both teams back in the same conference, expect this Northeast rivalry to get some traction once again.
Aug. 29 Presbyterian (Thursday)
Sept. 6 at Boston College
Sept. 14 Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 21 at Army
Sept. 28 at Clemson
Oct. 5 NC State
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Maryland
Oct. 26 at Miami
Nov. 2 at Syracuse
Nov. 9 Florida State
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Duke
Nov. 30 at Vanderbilt
* This is the second time in four years that the Demon Deacons have opened with Presbyterian. Wake Forest won 53-13 in 2010, which was the first meeting between these two teams since 1945. The Demon Deacons should have little trouble with the Blue Hose on Aug. 29.
* Wake Forest’s Week 2 matchup at Boston College could be a huge game in terms of bowl eligibility. The Demon Deacons don’t have a bevy of guaranteed wins, so beating a Boston College team coming off a 2-10 record is a must. Wake Forest has won the last two games against the Eagles, including a 28-14 victory in 2012.
* Upset alert? The Demon Deacons shouldn’t overlook their Sept. 14 contest against Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks knocked off Arkansas last season, took Auburn to overtime and lost to Baylor by just five points. This is a dangerous team and is capable of pulling off an upset in Winston-Salem.
* The Sept. 28 matchup against Clemson should be a good barometer test for Wake Forest. The Tigers handily won last year’s game 42-13 and should be picked to win the ACC in 2013. If Wake Forest keeps things closer, it’s a good sign this team is showing signs of improvement from 2012.
* The home team in the NC State-Wake Forest series has won the last six matchups. If that trend holds true in 2013, the Demon Deacons should beat the Wolfpack in Winston-Salem.
* With Maryland headed to the Big Ten in 2014, the Oct. 19 meeting between Wake Forest and the Terrapins will likely be the last for the foreseeable future. Maryland owns a 43-17-1 series edge over the Demon Deacons.
* Wake Forest meets Syracuse on Nov. 2, which is the first meeting between these schools as conference foes. These two teams have played twice, with each program winning once.
* The Demon Deacons Oct. 26 road game against Miami is the first away game against the Hurricanes since 2008.
* For the sixth time in seven seasons, Wake Forest will close its regular season against Vanderbilt. The Commodores have a 3-2 edge in the last five games in this series.
Coastal Division Analysis
Aug. 31 North Carolina Central
Sept. 7 at Memphis
Sept. 14 Georgia Tech
Sept. 21 Pittsburgh
Sept. 28 Troy
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Navy
Oct. 19 at Virginia
Oct. 26 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 NC State
Nov. 16 Miami
Nov. 23 at Wake Forest
Nov. 30 at North Carolina
* David Cutcliffe has a manageable start to his sixth season as the Duke head coach. Two winnable non-conference games get the season started before three straight home games with a trio of teams that lost a combined 21 games. So with four of the first five at home, Duke needs to make hay in the first month if it expects to return to a bowl game.
* The first bye week comes in the first week of October. Regardless of how the first month of the season goes, the off week comes at a great time. Should Duke struggle, it gives Cutcliffe a chance to adjust. Should the Blue Devils start well, it gives this team a break to prepare for the brutal second half of the season. More importantly, it gives the defense two weeks to prepare for the triple option (Navy on Oct 12).
* Between the bye weeks in Week 6 and Week 10, the Blue Devils will be tested in a big way. The triple option of Navy is no easy task to slow considering what they have returning at quarterback in sophomore Keenan Reynolds. Packaged with back-to-back road trips to the Commonwealth of Virginia, this middle trio of games could determine the overall direction of the 2013 season.
* Following the second bye, four straight ACC games will finish the 2013 schedule for Duke. A pair of tricky in-state road trips will be a very difficult way to end the season. Of the four finishing games, only Wake Forest missed getting enough wins to be bowl eligible a season ago.
Aug. 31 Elon
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 at Duke
Sept. 21 North Carolina
Sept. 26 Virginia Tech (Thursday)
Oct. 5 at Miami
Oct. 12 at BYU
Oct. 19 Syracuse
Oct. 26 at Virginia
Nov. 2 Pittsburgh
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 14 at Clemson (Thursday)
Nov. 23 Alabama A&M
Nov. 30 Georgia
* Is having an open date in Week 2 a good thing for Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech? A layup in Week 1 against Elon gives this bye week a wasted feel. However, a trip to Durham to play a pesky Duke team in Week 3 might say otherwise. Anytime a coach can take two weeks to prepare for a conference opponent it’s a good thing.
* And since the Yellow Jackets will play four straight brutal ACC games following the off week, Johnson is likely pleased with the timing of his first open date. Following the trip to Duke, a three-game stretch with North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami could set the entire tone for the season. It is very likely that these four teams are the top four teams picked in the division and any struggles early from Tech could be crushing in their quest to repeat as Coastal champs.
* The Tech-on-Tech battle has long been the most important game in the division and it should once again carry significant weight in the league. But just in case anyone overlooks this game in the summer, it has been placed in primetime on Thursday night. It means Frank Beamer has just five days to prepare for Johnson’s triple option attack.
* A long road trip to BYU comes at a horrible time for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech will have just worked its way through a brutal first month in league play before taking the long trip out West to Provo.
* With Syracuse and Pitt on the schedule, Tech is the only Coastal team that will play both new additions to the league.
* Should Tech make it through to the second bye week in contention, an ACC Championship game preview could take place in primetime in Death Valley. Georgia Tech will travel to Clemson on Thursday night to wrap-up ACC play on Nov. 14.
* The season culminates with Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate once again. Johnson needs to make a statement in the one-sided rivalry with Georgia. The Bulldogs have won four straight and 11 of the last 12. And Georgia has averaged 36.3 points per game over the last six meetings.
Aug. 30 Florida Atlantic (Friday)
Sept. 7 Florida
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 Savannah State
Sept. 28 at USF
Oct. 5 Georgia Tech
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 17 at North Carolina (Thursday)
Oct. 26 Wake Forest
Nov. 2 at Florida State
Nov. 9 Virginia Tech
Nov. 16 at Duke
Nov. 23 Virginia
Nov. 29 at Pittsburgh (Friday)
* All eyes in South Florida should be on Week 2 when the Florida Gators come to town in a big intrastate battle. Conference and state bragging rights are certainly on the line, but much more could be on the line. Florida always has national title aspirations but Miami could send a shot across the bow of the ACC with a huge non-conference win over an SEC power. All hands should be on deck for the Florida game with a bye week and then Savannah State following the showdown with the Gators.
* Fans of football and The Sunshine State alike should appreciate when the big boys get together and Miami will play three BCS Florida teams in 2013. In fact, three of the four non-conference games on the Canes schedule will take place against teams from the state of Florida.
* A big home game with Georgia Tech leads Miami into its second bye week. Al Golden better have his team rested and healthy following the second off week because there are no breaks after Week 7. Seven straight ACC games will end the season for Miami, as both open dates are in the first half of the year. Especially, considering how the second half begins...
* Miami will begin the second half of the season with a brutal four-game stretch that will likely determine where the Canes finish in 2013. A primetime road trip to North Carolina begins the stretch that also features a trip to Florida State and a pair of home games with Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
* Should Miami make it through that four-week span, the final three games are extremely winnable. Duke, Virginia and Pittsburgh combined for 22 losses a year ago and only Pittsburgh appears to have any upside in 2013. The season finale against the Panthers will be a primetime showcase the day after Thanksgiving.
Aug. 29 at South Carolina (Thursday)
Sept. 7 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 28 East Carolina
Oct. 5 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 17 Miami (Thursday)
Oct. 26 Boston College
Nov. 2 at NC State
Nov. 9 Virginia
Nov. 16 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 23 Old Dominion
Nov. 30 Duke
* Larry Fedora has a tall order facing him in Week 1. Jadeveon Clowney can literally block the sun, and Fedora has to figure out a way to block him with a rebuilt offensive line. Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking in Columbia, as ESPN will feature this game on Thursday night to kickoff the season. Best of luck, Tar Heels.
* Following the first bye week in Week 3, the Tar Heels will have to play their first two ACC games on the road against quality opponents. At both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will be brutal tests for the Heels. North Carolina was 2-3 on the road last year and allowed a total of 102 points to the Tech schools.
* Following those two road tests, the Heels will get another bye week before a primetime showdown with Miami on Thursday night. These two were the best teams in the division a year ago and could be the same again in 2013. This one is must-see TV on a weeknight.
* Watch out fans in Chapel Hill following the home game with Miami, because the rest of schedule is surprisingly manageable. The Tar Heels figure to be big favorites in home games with Boston College, Virginia, Old Dominion and Duke. Two road trips to NC State and Pittsburgh might be tricky but aren’t all that intimidating as the Wolfpack breaks in a new coach and Pitt will be near the end of its first ACC season.
* In perhaps one of the biggest scheduling breaks in the ACC, North Carolina won’t face either Clemson or Florida State from the Atlantic Division. Additionally, the Heels will face just three teams that won bowl games a year ago in South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Fedora will face one team that won more than eight games a year ago (South Carolina).
Sept. 2 Florida State (Monday)
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 New Mexico
Sept. 21 at Duke
Sept. 28 Virginia
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 19 Old Dominion
Oct. 26 at Navy
Nov. 2 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 9 Notre Dame
Nov. 16 North Carolina
Nov. 23 at Syracuse
Nov. 29 Miami (Friday)
* Welcome to the ACC, Pittsburgh. The Panthers will have to face the defending ACC champs on Labor Day night in not only their first ACC league game, but also as their first football game as an ACC team. Paul Chryst will have his work cut out for him in the debut of his second season.
* The good news is Pittsburgh gets a bye week to lick its wounds following the game against Florida State before a fairly easy three-week stretch featuring New Mexico, Duke and Virginia. This will end the Panthers’ first month of play with three ACC games and two bye weeks under their belt before Week 7.
* Mid-to-late season non-conference games are oddly located. Old Dominion (Week 8), Navy (Week 9) and Notre Dame (Week 11) gives the Panthers three non-conference games in a four-week period deep into November. Not only could playing non-conference games halt any ACC momentum, but it features a test against the defending national championship runner-up.
* Few teams in the nation will finish with a harder stretch than the Panthers' final five games. Heinz Field will be the place to be over the final month in the ACC as North Carolina and Miami will come to town as well as the Fighting Irish. Mixed in are road trips to Georgia Tech and Syracuse, two teams that played in a bowl game last season.
Aug. 31 BYU
Sept. 7 Oregon
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 VMI
Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 5 Ball State
Oct. 12 at Maryland
Oct. 19 Duke
Oct. 26 Georgia Tech
Nov. 2 Clemson
Nov. 9 at North Carolina
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at Miami
Nov. 30 Virginia Tech
* If fans in Charlottesville want fireworks, they won’t have to wait long. Two brutal non-conference games with BYU and Oregon might be the toughest two-week start for any ACC team in 2013. The odds of winning both are slim and none so a 1-1 split would be considered a great start to the year. And at least Mike London’s team gets a bye week and VMI after the Ducks come to town.
* The Cavaliers will begin conference play in unfamiliar territory. Virginia has played at Pittsburgh twice all-time and only once since 1955 — a 38-13 loss in 2006. It will actually be the third ACC game for Pittsburgh but the first for Virginia in 2013.
* October offers some chances for London to get wins. Three of four will be at home and all four are winnable. Georgia Tech might be the only opponent that is favored over the Wahoos during the month.
* Virginia better win games in October because November is nasty. Road trips to North Carolina and Miami are going to be brutal while home tests against Clemson and Virginia Tech will likely feature large point-spreads. The good news is a bye week sandwiched directly in the middle of the five-week stretch. A small consolation.
Aug. 31 Alabama (Atlanta)
Sept. 7 Western Carolina
Sept. 14 at East Carolina
Sept. 21 Marshall
Sept. 26 at Georgia Tech (Thursday)
Oct. 5 North Carolina
Oct. 12 Pittsburgh
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 Duke
Nov. 2 at Boston College
Nov. 9 at Miami
Nov. 16 Maryland
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 30 at Virginia
* The ACC will get yet another chance at the SEC in the kickoff classic. While Clemson won twice against the SEC a year ago, the rest of the league failed epically against the best league in America. This does not bode well for a rebuilt Hokies offensive staff against the back-to-back defending BCS national champions. Needless to say, Virginia Tech will be a huge underdog. The season might as well start in Week 2 for Frank Beamer. Two easy non-conference games should allow for plenty of wound-licking before ACC play because…
* Conference play gets started right away for the Hokies. A road trip to Georgia Tech followed by two key home tests against North Carolina and Pitt could have Virginia Tech in control of the division after just three games – or teetering on the brink of missing a bowl — much like the first half of the 2012 season. The bye week will be a welcome sight after the first six games of the season.
* Of the final five games, only one appears to be difficult. Duke and Maryland at home should be wins. Road trips to Boston College and Virginia should be victories as well. So the trip to South Beach to face Miami in Week 10 is the only marquee matchup on the schedule following the first bye week.
* Virginia Tech misses both Florida State and Clemson this year.
* The second open date comes in Week 13 on the penultimate week of the year. It isn’t the most useful location for an extra week of preparation. However, the off week means Virginia Tech could be a heavy favorite in the Commonwealth Cup.
* Hokies Athletic Director Jim Weaver requested that Virginia Tech not play a home game on Thursday night this year — something that has happened for 11 straight seasons in Blacksburg. The ACC and ESPN agreed.
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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 Big Ten.
(Note: Current or impending NCAA sanctions were not a factor in these rankings.)
Ranking the Coaching Jobs in the Big Ten for 2013
1. Ohio State
Pros: There are eight FBS schools in Ohio, but there is only one school named The Ohio State University. The Buckeyes have been a consistent force on the field and in recruiting since Woody Hayes took over in the early 1950s.
Cons: Expectations are extremely high in Columbus. Consider the case of John Cooper: In 13 seasons, Cooper went 111–43–4, winning 10 games or more five times. But he went 2–10–1 against Michigan and lost his job after the 2000 season.
Final Verdict: Everything is in place to win a national championship at Ohio State. The facilities are top-notch, the fans are passionate, and the recruiting base is outstanding. Just don’t lose to Michigan.
Pros: Michigan has as much tradition as any school in the country. The Wolverines have been a national power since the 1890s and they play in one of the largest venues in the country, 109,901-seat Michigan Stadium. The program’s success and the school’s academic reputation have allowed Michigan to be a major player in recruiting both in the Midwest and nationally.
Cons: Michigan is an old-school program that is very set in its ways. A coach who comes in with a new philosophy — for example, Rich Rodriguez — will have a tough time being accepted.
Final Verdict: Michigan is no doubt an elite job, but as we saw in the Rodriguez era — he won a total of 15 games in three years — you have to be the right fit to win big in Ann Arbor.
3. Penn State (Note: These rankings do not take NCAA sanctions into consideration.)
Pros: Penn State is an enormous state university in an extremely fertile recruiting area. The Nittany Lions play in the second-largest facility in the country (Beaver Stadium, capacity 107,282), and they have won two national championships in the past 30 years
Cons: Penn State recovered nicely in the latter half of the 2000s, but it’s a bit disconcerting that a program with so much going for it was capable of having four losing seasons in a five-year span like Penn State did from 2000-04. Truly elite programs should not suffer through prolonged droughts.
Final Verdict: Penn State is difficult to evaluate at this point. Sanctions are not supposed to affect these rankings, but Penn State is a unique case. This is a great job, but the program will not compete at a high level until the sanctions are over.
Pros: Strong tradition. Amazing facilities. Passionate fans. Those three things don’t guarantee success, but they are a nice place to start. The Big Ten Legends Division has some good programs — Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State — but Nebraska should be in position to compete for a division title on an annual basis.
Cons: The Huskers won three national titles in the 1990s, but the program slipped a bit over the past decade. The state of Nebraska does not produce many high-end BCS conference players each year, and the program no longer has the sex-appeal to steal elite players from the East Coast like it did in the 1970s and '80s.
Final Verdict: Nebraska is a unique coaching position. You have everything in place to win big — except a local recruiting base. How big is that hurdle? Significant but not insurmountable. The Huskers are no longer a top-10 job nationally but still very desirable.
Pros: Wisconsin has been transformed into a football school over the past two decades. Badger faithful pack 80,321-seat Camp Randall Stadium each week and create one the best environments in the nation. Madison also is a great place to live.
Cons: The school’s local recruiting base isn’t strong; the state has not produced a national top-100 player in the past four seasons. Also, the Badgers have only been relevant on the national scene since the early 1990s. Wisconsin lacks the tradition of many of its Big Ten rivals.
Final Verdict: Barry Alvarez turned Wisconsin from a Big Ten afterthought to a significant player in college football. But the Badgers’ place as a top program is far from secure. Wisconsin, more than most of the other schools ranked in the top 25 on this list, needs the right coach in place to remain successful.
6. Michigan State
Pros: Michigan State seemingly has everything in place to be a major player in the Big Ten — great fan support (averaged 75,382 per game in ’12), good facilities, strong recruiting base and decent tradition.
Cons: Despite all of the positives listed above, Michigan State has only won one Big Ten title — in 2009 — in two decades and has only averaged 6.0 wins in the 47 seasons since claiming a share of the 1966 national championship. Also, there’s the Michigan thing: No matter how much success the Spartans enjoy, they will always be the second school in the state behind Michigan.
Final Verdict: Michigan State has been an underachiever and will never be the No. 1 program in its own state. Still, it’s a good job. If you can change the culture in East Lansing —which Mark Dantonio has apparently done — there is no reason Michigan State can’t contend for Big Ten titles on a semi-regular basis.
Pros: Three key elements make Iowa an attractive job — it’s the top school in the state (sorry, Iowa State), it has a strong tradition of excellence (five Big Ten titles since 1981, two BCS bowls since ‘03) and it has great fan support (70,474 per game in ’12).
Cons: Iowa might be the top dog in the state, but the hunting grounds aren’t very fertile. To remain competitive, the Hawkeyes’ staff will always have to go into other teams’ home states to recruit.
Final Verdict: It’s difficult for a school that doesn’t have a strong local recruiting base to compete for national title. It can be done — Nebraska won three titles in the 1990s — but that is a very big hurdle to climb.
Pros: Illinois’ local recruiting base — from Chicago down into St. Louis — is among the best in the Big Ten. The facilities (weight room, practice facility, locker rooms, etc.) are strong, and the stadium recently received a $200 million upgrade.
Cons: Basketball is — and will always be — the top sport at Illinois. Football, for whatever reason, has never been much of a threat to break into the upper echelon of the league. Also, the fan support at Illinois isn’t as strong as the top programs in the Big Ten. Last year, the Illini averaged only 45,564 fans per game.
Final Verdict: Despite being the fifth most populous state, Illinois checks in No. 8 in our list of the Big Ten’s most attractive coaching positions. There is a lot to like about the job, but there are also reasons why the school has only won three Big Ten titles (two outright) since the early 1960s.
Pros: Purdue is a program that has experienced consistent success in the Big Ten during the BCS era. The Boilermakers went 48–32 in league play during the first 10 years of the Joe Tiller era. Support is solid when the program is winning.
Cons: Purdue is one of three BCS programs in a state that does not produce a high volume of elite recruits.
Final Verdict: Coaching is important at every school, but Purdue is the type of school that can win consistently with the right man in place (Joe Tiller) but will struggle with the wrong man (Danny Hope).
Pros: The Gophers have a relatively new stadium that provided a significant upgrade from the outdated Metrodome. As the only Division I (FBS or FCS) program in the state, Minnesota should land its fare share of in-state recruits.
Cons: Minnesota is a tough sell for out-of-state recruits. The weather is bad and the program lacks tradition.
Final Verdict: Minnesota is a program with a ceiling — and Glen Mason hit that ceiling (winning five to eight games in most seasons with an occasional 10-win breakthrough).
Pros: As the only private school in the Big Ten, Northwestern can be an attractive option for a top-flight recruit from the Midwest who is looking for an elite academic institution. The university has recently approved a $225-250 million facilities overhaul for all of the athletic programs. Football will no doubt be a huge beneficiary.
Cons: It will always be a struggle to keep up with the elite programs in the Big Ten, from a recruiting and facilities standpoint.
Final Verdict: You can win at Northwestern, but it will always be a challenge.
Pros: The school has increased its commitment to the football program in recent years, most notably an upgrade in facilities that includes a new weight room, a new scoreboard and an academic center, among other things.
Cons: Basketball is king at Indiana University and in the state of Indiana. The school’s recruiting base is weak, and there are two other BCS programs in the state.
Final Verdict: There’s a reason Indiana hasn’t had back-to-back winning seasons 1993 and ’94 and hasn’t won a Big Ten title since 1967. It’s tough to win in Bloomington.
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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. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has quickly developed a reputation as a strong closer on the recruiting trail and 2013 only bolstered that thought. In fact, he landed two of the top three players ranked in this class on the final day of the cycle. And it helped Clemson finish with a top-15 class.
National Rank: 13th
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 1
National Signees: 6
Total Signees: 23
Where They Got 'Em:
The Palmetto State has long been an underrated location for football talent. With elite names like Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore hailing from South Carolina — and signing with the Gamecocks — Swinney knows how important winning in-state recruiting battles is for his Tigers. Nearly one-third of this class (7) are in-state prospects.
Otherwise, Clemson has long combed the talent-rich waters of neighboring states Georgia (5), Florida (4) and North Carolina (3). Alabama was another regional state to ship a prospect to Death Valley. All but three players in this class came from the Deep South with Hawaii, Maryland and New York (one each) also providing talent to Clemson. From the north, Maryland and New York each sent a nationally rated prospect to the Tigers too.
Areas of Focus:
The most noticeable aspect of this class is the defensive secondary. At least seven new players are slotted into the future depth chart as defensive backs with a chance that two "athletes" could play there as well. This group includes the top-rated player in the class, AC100 cornerback MacKensie Alexander. He was the biggest NSD victory for Swinney and his coaching staff and he has all the makings to be an elite player both on and off the field. He and Ryan Carter are locked into cornerback spots and the rest of this extremely deep secondary class has tremendous length. Five of the seven DBs are listed at 6-foot-1 or taller.
There are only two linebackers in this class but both are nationally ranked. Dorian O'Daniel is the No. 2-rated prospect in this class and should be a star on the outside. Ben Boulware is considered by many to be the top player in South Carolina and he will line up inside. This obviously isn't a deep linebacking class, but it's one that has excellent upside.
A four-man defensive line class rounds out what could be a dynamite defensive haul for Clemson. Ebenezer Ogundeko is the highest rated of the bunch and is already enrolled in classes. Fellow defensive end Shaq Lawson is on campus already as well, while Dane Rogers Jr. rounds out a solid collection of new pass rushers. Scott Pagano is the lone interior defensive lineman in the class.
Jayron Kearse, T.J. Green and D.J. Greenlee are the three "athletes" in the class. Green will be an outstanding return specialist who could play wideout or cornerback. Greenlee has a huge frame and seems pegged for safety or outside linebacker. Kearse is listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds and was a star linebacker at South Fort Myers (Fla.) High School. It could turn out that 15 of 23 signees in this class could end be on defense.
That leaves just eight new offensive players. Running backs Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman will look to replace Andre Ellington after stellar prep careers. Dye was his region's Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 despite playing in only seven games while Gallman excelled as a two-way star at Grayson (Ga.) High School — Robert Nkemdiche's high school.
Three long, rangy pass catchers will provide talented depth to an already loaded skill position roster. Wide receiver Mike Williams is 6-foot-5 while tight end and early enrollee Jordan Leggett stands 6-foot-6. Kyrin Priester is the smallest of the bunch at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds.
Swinney signed just two offensive linemen in this class, including the No. 3-rated player in the class Tyrone Crowder.
Offense: QB: 0, RB: 2, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 2
Defense: DL: 4, LB: 2, DB: 7, ATH: 3
|29.||MacKensie Alexander||DB||No. 6||Immokalee, Fla.||5-11||185|
|121.||Dorian O'Daniel||LB||No. 13||Olney, Md.||6-1||205|
|135.||Tyrone Crowder||OL||No. 19||Rockingham, N.C.||6-2||325|
|149.||Ben Boulware||LB||No. 18||Anderson, S.C.||6-1||230|
|175.||Jayron Kearse||ATH||No. 23 (LB)||Ft. Myers, Fla.||6-4||205|
|201.||Tyshon Dye||RB||No. 23||Elberton, Ga.||6-1||205|
|205.||Ebenezer Ogundeko||DE||No. 37 (DL)||Brooklyn, N.Y.||6-3||230|
|Jadar Johnson||DB||Orangeburg, S.C.||6-1||180||--|
|Jordan Leggett||TE||Navarre, Fla.||6-6||235||--|
|Ebenezer Ogundeko||DE||Brooklyn, N.Y.||6-3||230||No. 205|
|Shaq Lawson||DE||Central, S.C.||6-4||260||--|
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
The Great American Race, for the first 180 laps, looked more like the Great American Parade. Cars ran single-file for much of the Daytona 500, content to ride in packs for fear that pulling out for a pass would leave them slower than the street cars the new Gen-6 models are supposed to resemble.
Just don’t expect Jimmie Johnson to complain. “Five-Time” saved his best for last, when the field bunched up inside the last 20 laps and the racing finally resembled some semblance of Sprint Cup competition. Out in front on the white-flag lap, he slammed on the gas pedal when cars wrecked behind him, easily outlasting teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the second Daytona 500 of his one-day Hall of Fame career.
This day, however, will never come close to those lofty standards, a disappointment for NASCAR during a time where plenty of extra eyes were paying attention. Their missed opportunity leads off this week’s “Through The Gears,” bringing you up to speed on the storylines that simmer following the 55th running of the Daytona 500.
First Gear: The Gen-6 needs work at Daytona. Serious, serious work
Daytona is NASCAR’s Super Bowl; but Sunday, the challenge for fans was nothing more than staying awake. That’s problematic. NASCAR’s Gen-6 model, while expected to improve the competition on intermediate tracks, sterilized it on a plate track. Strategy and track position — the latter an ugly word that’s castrated competition elsewhere — made its way into the restrictor plate world most thought it could never touch again. Whether or not NASCAR should be using the plates as a form of parity is a separate discussion. The fact this package caused cars to run single-file, repeatedly, with only 19 lead changes in the first 172 laps (mostly during cautions, restarts and green-flag stops) is a fact not easily ignored.
Some of that, whether NASCAR likes it or not, can be attributed to the plate package it built for the Gen-6 chassis. Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin tweeted the single-file racing was “frustrating,” attributed to the weakness of the inside line. Meanwhile, winner Johnson had another take – that the drivers themselves, sick of wrecking out of so many Russian Roulette, keep-the-pack-together-like superglue races had grown tired of actually trying to compete until the end.
“When we’re running single-file, we’re just trying to get to the finish,” Johnson said. “We’ve all crashed so many times and have torn up so much stuff … I feel for NASCAR, they’re trying to create a very competitive car.”
There’s a point to be made here, along with Saturday’s carnage that left 28 fans injured and many drivers clearly shaken. After 25 years, no matter the rules, these drivers know the name of the game. Did you know there has not been a plate race without a yellow (or several) within the last 20 laps since Daytona’s July 2004 Pepsi 400? Some of the drivers today hadn’t earned their high school diploma when that happened. That means the same type of pattern has been repeated, over and over; no matter what you do, no matter where you are on the track, as long as you stay on the lead lap a caution will bunch up the field with 20 to go (or less). After that … the real racing starts.
Competitors are smart and they adapt. So NASCAR needs to come up with a way where there’s a clear reason to race hard, from start to finish even in the sport’s Super Bowl, otherwise, drivers will just do it when it counts. NASCAR also needs to take a hard look at Johnson’s other point, how side-drafting permanently disabled the inside line Sunday. By all accounts, drivers pulled out of line and got railroaded because the Gen-6 car is so sensitive to that method of manipulation. Perhaps adjusting the spoiler will help? If NASCAR does that, it’s believed some form of tandem drafting would be the result. But as the Nationwide race showed us — before all hell broke loose — some hybrid version of that format isn’t all bad.
What NASCAR can’t have, whether the drivers like it or not, is a parade the likes of which was seen on Sunday — especially when the fan base is used to the heart attack that is Daytona’s last 20 laps. They say people are enthused about a style of racing that closely matches the early 1990s? Check the ratings: 1990 and ’91 were the two lowest-rated 500s since the race received full-time coverage in 1979.
Second Gear: Danica is the real deal … sort of
OK, raise your hand if you thought Danica would be a flop. She wasn’t. In truth, Patrick’s day surpassed most peoples’ expectations, becoming the first woman to lead a lap in the Great American Race and following it up with the best ever finish (eighth).
More importantly, Patrick remained consistent, running in the top 10 for the duration in a performance that she described perfectly: “steady.” If not for making a rookie mistake, in failing to follow Earnhardt with one lap left, she may have been on the podium.
“I definitely was a little uncertain how I was going to be able to do it pass for the win),” she said. “I think Dale did a nice job and I think he taught me something.”
What she needs to learn — much quicker — is how to get off pit road. At tracks where she won’t make track position back, like the intermediates, those mistakes could destroy a solid run. I do expect more Danica-mania to develop now, as the momentum train heads to Phoenix, where she was in position for a top-15 performance last November before a late wreck.
Third Gear: Johnson sets another milestone … to the detriment of Earnhardt Jr.
Johnson, taking advantage of track position opportunities, ran a smart, clean race. That’s expected when crew chief Chad Knaus can take center stage. He successfully kept the No. 48 out of drafting practice, gambling that this race was about who could stay in line, use pit strategy to stay up front and then make a calculated move when it counted.
The victory gives Johnson a victory in his 400th career start. In a weird quirk, five others have accomplished the feat, including Hall of Famers Lee Petty, Richard Petty, David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt. As if Johnson needing another notch on a resume that may see him reach 100 career wins (he’s at 61 now) before his career is complete.
You can’t say the same for Earnhardt, runner-up in this race for the third time in the last four years. It’s a huge win for Hendrick Motorsports, which runs the 48 and 88 out of the same shop. But you’ve got to wonder if the restrictor plate drought, now at eight-plus years, has Earnhardt wondering when it’ll finally be his turn again.
“Running second over and over is great and all for our team,” Earnhardt said. “But it’s been too long. I would love (to win), even having to go through all that (media) hassle that Jimmie is about to go through this week. It’s worth it.”
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.
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
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
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.
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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
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
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.
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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
Married: 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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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".
Source: SB NATION
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
National Rank: 20th
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 1
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.
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.
Offense: QB: 1, RB: 2, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 5
Defense: DL: 0, LB: 3, DB: 1, ATH: 3, K/P: 1
|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|
|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
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.”
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.
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.
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 MotorsportsAnalytic.com’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
Why can’t the NCAA be more consistent? It seems like there is no rhyme or reason to the penalties handed out.
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.
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: The 10 Most Memorable Daytona 500s