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Path: /college-football/pick-athlons-2013-texas-am-college-football-preview-magazine-cover

For the first time ever, Athlon Sports is letting fans choose the Texas A&M cover of our 2013 SEC College Football Preview magazine. Two great shots of quarterback Johnny Manziel are available to choose from.

Fans can vote once a day through April 22, with the winning cover hitting newsstands at the end of May. 
<p> Pick Athlon's 2013 Texas A&amp;M College Football Preview magazine cover</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/pick-athlons-2013-ohio-state-preseason-college-football-cover

For the first time ever, Athlon Sports is letting fans choose the Ohio State Buckeyes cover of our 2013 Big Ten College Football Preview magazine. Two great shots of quarterback Braxton Miller are available to choose from.

Fans can vote once a day through April 22, with the winning cover hitting newsstands at the end of May. 

Start voting now!

<p> Pick Athlon's 2013 Ohio State Preseason College Football Cover</p>
Post date: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /golf/adam-scott-wins-masters

CBS broadcast Ian Baker-Finch summed it up for his elated countrymen: From Down Under to the top of the world.

Adam Scott has his long-awaited first major, and Australia has its long-awaited first Masters, all on the strength of an anchored putter that for much of Masters Sunday had been nothing but dead weight for Scott.

"To make a couple of putts to win The Masters is just an amazing feeling," Scott said in Butler Cabin.

Somewhere, Greg Norman, the star-crossed, tragic figure who let multiple Masters slip away, has to be smiling.

"Part of this belongs to him," Scott said of Norman.

After a weekend dominated by Tiger Woods' unlucky break and unluckier two-stroke penalty on Friday — a turn of events that unleashed a furious social media reaction and threatened to consume golf's greatest tournament in controversy — the Aussies and the Argentine took control on another dramatic Masters Sunday. And after some stumbling and bumbling in the driving rain, we were treated to an electric five-minute stretch at the 72nd hole and a tense, dramatic playoff that totally redeemed the final round, and player who hadn't made anything all day made two hero putts for the ages.

Scott, the author of one of golf's epic collapses at the 2012 British Open, had appeared to find sweet redemption with an electrifying birdie putt on the 72nd hole that unleashed another awkward celebration involving caddie Steve Williams (reminiscent of the Urkel-esque high-five that Williams and Woods shared at the 2005 Masters).

But Cabrera, trailing by one, answered with one of the greatest, clutchest shots in major championship history, a ripped iron approach to three feet that led to the tying birdie.

In Sudden Death, the players matched pars at 18, and after the trip back to No. 10, they matched perfect drives and clutch approach shots. But after Cabrera's putt narrowly missed dropping in the back door, Scott calmly drove home his winning putt, to the considerable relief of an entire nation — not to mention sportswriters who were facing deadlines and worried that darkness might extend this tournament to Monday.

Cabrera came into the 2013 Masters ranked No. 299 in the world — sandwiched between Arnond Vongvanij and Doug McGuigan. But the ungainly, unflappable Argentinian almost grabbed a third major championship, this one even more unlikely than the first two. He remains the only multiple winner whose only PGA Tour wins are major championships

Tiger's Travails
Woods' two-shot penalty following what was judged to be an illegal drop was the talk of much of the weekend. And even after the penalty, Woods entered the final round within four shots of the leaders and one dazzling round away from a fifth green jacket. But a front-nine 37 prevented any sort of momentum, and an inward 33 wasn't nearly enough. "I played well," said the 14-time major champion. "Unforunately I didn't make enough putts and I missed a few shots here and there. I thought if I shot 65 I would have won it outright and it turns out that might have been the number."

Woods' failure to get within two of the leaders prevented a lingering controversy — although some continue to maintain that Tiger should have withdrawn to honor the spirit of golf sportsmanship.

More Masters Heartbreak for Sneds
Third-round co-leader Brandt Snedeker never found his rhythm on Sunday, posting another disappointing Masters finish five years after his final-round meltdown cost him the 2008 green jacket. A crushing 3-putt at No. 10 and a wet ball at 13 ended Snedeker's chances and left lingering questions about his major mettle.

Cinderella Boy
A chubby-cheeked 14-year-old found his way into Butler Cabin as the low amateur and one of the great stories of this Masters. Guan Tianlang dazzled the galleries with his composure and talent and most notably his putter — he didn't three-putt a single green all week. And a slow play penalty on Friday didn't rattle him or detract from his magical performance. "It's not easy to play here, to make the cut and be low amateur," he said. "I think I did a pretty good job this week and can't believe it's over."

• Rory McIlroy came in feeling confident. He left feeling frustrated. "That's what this golf course is, it's frustrating," he said. "I know I've played good enough golf here to win it at times, it's just a matter of stringing it all together in one week."

• Another pre-tournament favorite, Phil Mickelson, played miserably — his word, not mine. "I just had an off year," Mickelson said. "I don't know what to tell you. I played poorly. ... This is my favorite place to be, my favorite tournament, and one I look forward to the day after it ends. And to perform like this is disappointing. I'm disappointed in myself because I expect a lot more of myself, out of my game and so forth this week."

• Cabrera was bidding to become the first grandfather to win a major, but he wasn't the only seasoned citizen to perform well. 50-somethings Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer both made spirited runs, only to be betrayed by aging bodies and faulty putters.

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Post date: Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 20:03
Path: /nascar/nascars-top-12-most-dominant-streaks

Jimmie Johnson’s eighth career win at Martinsville last Sunday highlighted his dominance at that particular track. Johnson has won seven of the last 14 visits to the track and in 23 starts has an average finish of 5.3. While he still has a way to go to match Richard Petty’s mark of 15 wins at the paperclip, it did bring to mind some past performances at other tracks by NASCAR stars who were able to hit on some unmistakable magic. Let's take a look at the top 12 most dominant streaks in NASCAR:

12. Rusty Wallace – Martinsville Speedway, 1993-96  
Some may have scoffed when Rusty Wallace was inducted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame last year, but his performances on short tracks over the years were as impressive as any driver in the sport’s modern era. Dale Earnhardt may have dubbed him “Rubberhead,” but Wallace was rock solid on tracks under a one mile. Credit his Midwest ASA short track roots, as his best facility statistically was Bristol, but it was at Martinsville where he really went on a tear. From 1993-96, he won five times at the track, as well as posted one runner-up and one third-place showing. In 1993, he made a mockery of the event, leading 409 of 500 laps – so much for the good ol’ golden days of the early- and mid-1990s for competition, eh? Fittingly, Rusty would win the final race of his career in 2004 at Martinsville.

11. Kyle Petty – North Carolina Motor Speedway, 1990-92  
Long before he was tearing up Twitter (check out last week’s response to a guy threatening to cut his pony tail) and the highways of North America for his charity motorcycle ride, the heir to the Petty throne was getting his legs under him as a Cup contender in the late 1980s. Once he decided he wasn’t going to take Nashville by storm as a country music singer, he focused his attention to the Sand Hills of North Carolina, turning venerable Rockingham into his own personal concert. From 1990-92, he won five poles in a six-race span and at the 1990 event, put on a clinic leading, 433 of 500 laps (and winning $284,450 in the process — a princely sum by way of some Unocal 76 bonus money for winning from the pole). Two more wins would follow in ’91 and ’92 for Kyle, making “The Rock” the only Cup track where he would score multiple victories.

10. Mark Martin – Watkins Glen International, 1993-95  
For all the talk of road course ringers, it’s interesting that most of the successful Cup Series drivers have rather storied road-race histories themselves. Mark Martin was part of 24-Hours of Daytona class wins with Jack Roush in the 1990s and lists learning to drive on gravel roads around Batesville, Ark., in his father’s lap as part of that training. From 1993-95, Martin’s Valvoline Thunderbird was a force to be reckoned with on NASCAR’s roadies. He won three consecutive events during this time – all from the pole. The ’93 race saw him take the win after Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty tangled in the closing laps, though Martin twice had to overcome stripped-out lug nuts on pit stops. In ’94 he led 75 of 90 laps, and 61 of 90 laps the following year. Martin was on the verge of great things at The Glen prior to his three-year streak. In 1991 he spun while passing Ernie Irvan for the lead on the final lap and in ’92 was in contention when the race was called for rain just past halfway. All told, he averaged an amazing 2.7-place finish at the historic road course from 1989-98, never placing outside of the top 5.

9. Bobby Labonte – Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1996-99
In 1996, Terry Labonte was in the process of winning his second Winston Cup title. Meanwhile, brother Bobby was starting to run roughshod over the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After Mike Skinner nearly won his first Cup race in Atlanta dueling with Labonte, he half-jokingly lamented about “Bobby Labonte showing up here in his damn Pontiac.” The younger Labonte earned his second career win at the ’96 season finale in Atlanta from the pole and would start a span of seven races that saw him win four times, as well as posting a second- and a fourth-place run with a pair of poles, to boot. He would later add two more wins at AMS, including his last to date in 2003. It should come as no surprise that Kyle Busch’s first win with the Joe Gibbs Racing organization also occurred at AMS in 2008.

8. Jimmie Johnson – Charlotte Motor Speedway, 2003-06
With the number of obscene statistics that Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team have compiled over the past decade, none highlight the dominant nature of their success than the run of results at what was then appropriately titled “Lowe’s Motor Speedway.” From 2003-06, Johnson posted five points-paying wins, a pair of seconds, a third and a pair of wins in the All-Star Race. Johnson went dry for a few years at Charlotte afterward, but returned to win from the pole in 2009 and won the All-Star race again last year for a third time.

7. Darrell Waltrip – Bristol Motor Speedway, 1981-84
Over the last 12 years, we’ve all become aware of DW’s “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity” on Sunday afternoons. Yeah, it might be wearing a little long in the tooth, but behind all of the shameless self-promotion is one of the all-time great drivers (who had an even better catchphrase back in the day with, “Follow me in Tennessee!”). From 1981-84, Waltrip dominated rough ‘n’ tumble Bristol in what some fans viewed as a downright offensive manner. Eight straight wins — three in a row from the pole — with never more than five cars on the same lap highlight the dominance of his Junior Johnson-owned team. Looking back further, it seems Waltip was getting primed for his run, finishing in the top 3 (two wins) in the seven visits prior to the eight-win streak. In ’92, he won his final race at Bristol as well as the Southern 500 at Darlington the following week, the final two triumphs of his Hall of Fame career.

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Talladega Superspeedway, 2001-06
To say the superspeedway gene runs deep in the Earnhardt family would be an understatement. Back when he was synonymous with “The King of Beers,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. was presiding over his own kingdom of Eastaboga, Ala. Then, the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolets were nearly unbeatable on NASCAR’s plate tracks, as Earnhardt Jr. drove to five wins over the span of seven races. The two he didn’t win? Both runner-up showings; one to teammate Michael Waltrip, the other under caution to Jeff Gordon, which resulted in the No. 24 car being pelted with a barrage of beer cans. Junior’s last win at Talladega, in 2004, was the source of much controversy. After being told of the accomplishment of winning for a fifth time at the track, his reply to Matt Yocum was the now-infamous, “Well it don’t mean sh*t … Daddy done won here 10 times so I gotta do a little more winnin’!” His exuberance cost him 25 points, a fine levied by NASCAR for cursing on television, in the midst of a title run that saw him taking the points lead after having bounced back from massive burns suffered in a practice crash for a Grand Am race in Sonoma.  

5. Dale Earnhardt Sr. – Talladega Superspeedway, 1990-2000
If you ever get the chance to travel to Talladega, you will notice there are three flags flown: the United States flag, the Confederate flag and a black flag with a white No. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have been penalized 25 points for stating a fact, but it was his father’s success at Talladega that helped give birth to a legend. They say he could see the air. Not really, though – with his seat reclined at a 45-degree angle and wearing an open-faced helmet, he could probably feel the air on his face more than “see” it. That said, the Man in Black owned Talladega for the better part of a decade, winning eight of 22 races, with seven finishes of fourth or better in those he didn’t claim. He swept the events in 1990 and ’99, and his final — and perhaps most memorable — victory was came in 2000, when he drove from 18th to the win in the final six laps. Yeah, you’ve seen it before, but take a few minutes and watch perhaps the greatest superspeedway performance of all time.

4. Bill Elliott – Michigan International Speedway, 1984-89
“Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” is remembered for a number of accomplishments. Chief among them: two Daytona 500 wins, making up two laps at Talladega under green to win, posting the fastest qualifying lap in NASCAR history, winning the inaugural Winston Million in 1985 and claiming the 1988 Winston Cup championship. Overlooked during this decade of dominance was his performance at car owner Harry Melling’s home track, Michigan International Speedway. MIS has always had a reputation as being a Ford track – legend has it the torque curve coming off the corners helped the Blue Ovals dominate there for nearly 20 years. And from 1984-89, Elliott’s No. 9 Coors T-bird won seven poles and seven races, including sweeps in ’85 and ’86.

3. Jeff Gordon – Darlington Raceway, 1995-98  
The mid-1990s was a turning point for NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt was suddenly presented with a natural rival in the form of young upstart Jeff Gordon — Earnhardt’s polar opposite in the eyes of NASCAR Nation. Where the new Wonderboy really excelled, coincidentally, was at NASCAR’s oldest and toughest speedway: Darlington. From 1995-98, Gordon won five races at “The Track Too Tough to Tame,” including four Southern 500s and the ’97 event that saw him banging fenders and blocking (gasp!) Jeff Burton down the frontstretch for a million-dollar payday. Oh, and those two races that he didn’t win? Third- and second-place runs. Gordon’s success at Darlington during these years helped propel him to title wins in 1995, ’97 and ’98.

2. David Pearson – Darlington Raceway, 1970-1980
There are certain tracks that some drivers are forever linked to, and that is certainly the case with David Pearson and his home state track of Darlington Raceway. From 1970-1980 the Silver Fox won nine races, nine poles, three Southern 500s and did so driving for three different car owners – the Wood Brothers, Hoss Ellington and Rod Osterlund, the latter in relief for an injured Dale Earnhardt in 1979. Pearson scored his most wins at Darlington (10 of his 105 triumphs), however it was not the only track where he enjoyed a field day. In 13 races from 1972-78 at Michigan, Pearson nearly equaled his Darlington dominance, posting eight wins, eight poles and never finishing outside of the top 5.

1. Richard Petty – Martinsville Speedway, 1967-75  
You know those memes that pop up on Facebook that picture an accomplishment of some significance, and one victorious line of sentiment underneath? Feel free to draw one up with The King, who won a total of 15 races at Martinsville. From 1967-75, Petty would win 11 times. 1967 was Petty’s second title season, and the one that earned him the nickname “King Richard.” He posted 27 wins that season, including 10 in a row. Two of those wins came at Martinsville. While the Petty persona may be synonymous with Daytona, having won the 500 a record seven times, it’s this Martinsville feat that stands the test of time, and the mark that every driver – even Jimmie Johnson – aspires to.

by Vito Pugliese
Follow Vito on Twitter: @VitoPugliese
Photos courtesy of Actions Sports, Inc.

<p> From Richard Petty to Dale Earnhardt to Jimmie Johnson, Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese ranks NASCAR's greatest runs of success at it's most daunting racetracks.</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 13:45
Path: /nascar/nra-sponsorship-nascar-race-texas-creating-buzz

1. NASCAR finding Texas race sponsor to be questionable fit
When Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage announced the naming rights to Saturday night's race, eyebrows were raised in circles far wider than those just in the NASCAR garage. That'll happen when you allow a political group on one side of this country's hottest political debate to stake it's name to an event broadcast on national TV.

The buzz over the National Rifle Association's sponsorship of the NRA 500 this week has picked up steam once again, and NASCAR released a statement Thursday that seemed to indicate that it will review such sponsorships in the future. Tracks procure naming rights deals themselves, but each are subject to approval from the sanctioning body.

“The NRA’s sponsorship of the event at Texas Motor Speedway fit within existing parameters that NASCAR affords tracks in securing partnerships,” said NASCAR spokesman David Higdon in a statement that also noted NASCAR takes no stand in the gun rights debate. “However, this situation has made it clear that we need to take a closer look at our approval process moving forward, as current circumstances need to be factored in when making decisions.”

NASCAR's review of the approval likely stems from how the sport is being viewed by outsiders and, perhaps more importantly, by new fans. But it's a fine line for the sport to walk that has a considerable section of the fan base — especially in Texas — who share the same political views of the NRA.

NASCAR can't afford to alienate both sides of this debate or any other. How it handles situations such as these will be quite fascinating to watch.

Meanwhile, Gossage thinks the scrutiny is overblown.

"The only questions are coming from less than 10 reporters," Gossage said Thursday. "The public isn't asking (us) questions."

2. Let's hope you like the Gen-6
Back on track, NASCAR made another interesting announcement Thursday during the half-day open test afforded to teams as a way to get a better handle on NASCAR's latest model. Basically, don't expect major rule changes on the Gen-6 platform anytime soon.

"I think we're in a fairly good spot," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. "The teams — one of the things we've learned over the years is if you keep moving the targets, people have a tendency to … it's harder for them to keep chasing that. We feel like the playing field is fairly level."

After the small sample size of the latest two races for the Sprint Cup Series, shying from changes makes sense. Auto Club Speedway put on a show easily rivaling the best ever at the track for stock cars, and Martinsville Speedway seemed unfazed by the new body style. That's a good thing.

Pemberton's remarks bring the Gen-6 car nearly full circle after the sanctioning body used a test at Texas last fall at the track to narrow down what kind of speedway aerodynamic and mechanical package would be in use with the new car. That day, teams experimented with various levels of downforce and multiple tire combinations. Today's product isn't far from what the drivers tested that day.

"As long as the input is (that) it's still pretty rock solid as far as being positive, they've got plenty to work with. We feel like there's no reason to move the target on them right now," Pemberton said.

As you watch Saturday night's race and judge the Gen-6 on its third intermediate track visit of the season, remember that last year's spring Texas race was the impetus for many to wonder why NASCAR had lost the number of incidents and cautions everyone was used to. The caution flag waved just twice for 10 laps in last year's 334-lap event, both times for debris.

<p> Five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the NRA 500.</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB, Golf
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for April 12.

• Sergio Garcia was your first-round co-leader at The Masters after shooting a bogey-free 66. Probably won't hold up, but in Sergio's honor, here's a picture of one of his ex-girlfriends, tennis player Martina Hingis.

A kid who has probably never shaved shot a 73 at The Masters yesterday and birdied No. 18. Sports makes me feel inadequate sometimes.

Scandal brewing at Augusta National: They've changed the pimento cheese recipe.

• Baseball vied for its share of headlines last night with a Dodgers-Padres brawl that resulted in a fractured Zack Greinke collarbone. To hear the great Vin Scully call the brawl, click here. The confrontation even extended into the parking lot after the game.

• Sometimes blue-chippers just don't pan out. But these SEC 5-star recruits are ready to emerge.

• Reality TV is often the last stop for has-been athletes on their road to oblivion. Here are the most cringe-inducing reality show athletes of all time.

Chadwick Boseman talks about playing the great Jackie Robinson in the movie "42," which opens today.

Did you know that Kobe Bryant tried to launch a rap career? Me neither.

Charging the opposing dugout wielding a bat is no way to prove to the Cubs that you're worth your $30 million contract.

Metta World Peace made a comment that was bizarre even by Metta World Peace standards.

• The Lions have signed YouTube kicking sensation Havard Rugland to a contract. Judging from his video, he's got a shot. Guy's phenomenal.


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

April 11

• Hello, friends: The Masters is underway. I'm expecting big things from Dustin Johnson at Augusta this week. Which could mean an 18th hole greenside shot of Dustin's girlfriend Paulina Gretzky late Sunday afternoon. Which would have Bobby Jones spinning in his grave.

• Alternately, should Tiger Woods win, we'll get a glimpse of his current companion, skier Lindsey Vonn, already decked out in her Augusta finery.

Let's enjoy this little tradition as long as we can.

• Augusta is all about tradition, but there is something a little different about The Masters this year.

• Today's history lesson: Grantland looks back at GQ's piece on Tiger Woods from April 1997.

• It's no Bubba Watson hovercraft, but Michael Jordan has a tricked-out golf cart.

Kobe's line last night: 47 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and three steals. How was your night? For the hard-core Kobe lovers, here's video of every one of those 47 points.

• Getting you ready on the outside chance they're our future overlords: 10 bizarre facts about North Korea.

• Also not sports-related: The New York Post-iest headline ever ran today.

The Manning boys have a little fun with ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

• Either a nod to Cubs lore, or some sort of bizarre satanic ritual: Someone delivered a goat's head to Wrigley Field.

• Let's hope this isn't an omen for Rory McIlroy, but his girlfriend/par-3 caddie Caroline Wozniacki proved that she should stick to tennis yesterday.

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

April 10

• Somehow, some way, rich professional golfers are able to score some attractive companionship. Coed presents the WAGs of the 2013 Masters, including Kandi Mahan, wife of Hunter and former Cowboys cheerleaders (pictured).

One golfer, Rory McIlroy, is putting his WAG to work. Caroline Wozniacki will be caddying for him at the Par 3 contest today.

This collection of golf trick shot videos includes a nifty Masters tradition: skimming the ball across the pond at 16 during practice. Vijay Singh managed to hole one using this unusual method.

• It's a slow sports day, so I'll throw a little Seinfeld your way: the best Seinfeld character nicknames. Vegetable Lasagna for the win.

The UConn women won their eighth national championship last night, routing Louisville. But you know that eight isn't enough for Geno Auriemma; it only ties him with Pat Summitt.

The case for South Carolina QB Connor Shaw, the SEC's most underrated player.

Last night, LeBron got caught in midair with nothing to do. So he bounced it off the backboard for a self-assist. That's why he's King James.

• In case you missed it: Papa John himself really enjoyed Louisville's win the other night.

• Pay college football players? Bob Stoops says they're already getting plenty.

Russell Westbrook threw down last night. My favorite part of the clip is Kevin Durant's expression. He knows a good tomahawk when he sees one.

Jermaine O'Neal was apparently too tired to play an overtime period, so he just goaltended a potential game-winner.

• Today's video provides ammo to those who say that Denard Robinson is a runner, not a thrower.

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

April 9

• As we close the books on the NCAA Tournament, we present Coed Magazine's roundup of the sexy superfans of this year's championship game.

• A lackluster tournament was redeemed by a classic title game. With the dust and confetti settling, Athlon picks the winners — and the losers — of this year's NCAA Tournament.

• A couple of great moments from last night captured in GIF form, courtesy of Deadspin: Rick Pitino thinking he's being shot at immediately after the game; and the best block we've seen this year (that was called a foul).

• That abysmal foul call wasn't the only thing that tainted what was a great game. John Beilein made a colossal coaching blunder late in the final minute of action.

• They can't all be Shining Moments. The best GIFs, photos and sundry stupidity from the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Four-fifths of the Fab Five watched the game together. Wonder if Chris Webber was screaming timeout reminders to John Beilein.

• This seems dumb, NCAA edition (Vol. 516): Louisville's men's team is not allowed to go watch the women try to win the title tonight. That would be an extra benefit, dontcha know.

• Ever stop to wonder why college football even exists? A fascinating history lesson from Saturday Down South.

• Tonight's the Masters Champions Dinner. We're betting that Bubba Watson picks a better menu than some of these stomach-churning choices over the years.

• Bad officiating is not limited to college basketball. A baseball game ended late last night with one of the worst strike three calls you'll ever see.

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

April 8

• We bid a fond farewell to college basketball with this slideshow of the lovely ladies of March Madness. Until next year...

College basketball crowns its champion tonight. Neither Michigan nor Louisville has won the national title since before any of tonight's participants were born. In a few hours, that changes.

• Because I support the troops, I fully support this woman, in her full dress uniform, hilariously mocking Jim Boeheim

• Speaking of Boeheim, he and reporter Greg Doyel got into it at the postgame presser. They later made up, but this is what happens when curmudgeons collide.

• Last night, Blake Griffin took a breakway, went in for the finger roll, then decided at the last second, what the heck, I'll dunk it.

• Head coaches get the glory, but some of college football's most essential work is done by the assistants. Here are the 10 best assistant coach hires in the SEC this offseason.

• Sports movies provide fertile ground for debate. Here's a list of the 50 worst sports movies of all time. Hey, I liked The Waterboy. But I'll let them have Rocky V.

• This weekend, Ohio State mascot Brutus Buckeye got absolutely de-cleated in highly amusing fashion. He needed to have that giant head of his on a swivel.

• It's Masters Week, y'all. Take a pre-Masters tour of Augusta National.

Brandon Crawford's Giants World Series ring looks especially giant on the hand of his baby daughter.

• Prepare your eyes for some salty discharge: This weekend, a 7-year-old cancer patient ran for a touchdown at Nebraska's spring game.

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

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-head-coaches-rise

It seems every college football season has an active coaching carousel at the end of the year. Athletic directors are always looking for the next big thing, and there is no shortage of coaches looking to make the jump to a top-tier BCS program.

Earlier this offseason, Athlon ranked the top 20 coaches on the hot seat for 2013. There’s a good chance most of the coaches on that list won’t return for 2014. Which begs the question: Who could fill those voids? Or which coaches are the next big stars in college football? Toledo’s Matt Campbell, Ball State’s Pete Lembo, Memphis’ Justin Fuente and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth are just a few names that should be among the next group of rising coach stars in college football. A few years ago, names like Kevin Sumlin, Hugh Freeze or Mike MacIntyre would have made this list. Now, all three coaches are at BCS programs.

Although Kliff Kingsbury and Dave Doeren are taking over BCS programs, both coaches deserve a mention in this space. Kingsbury isn’t going to leave Texas Tech, but his experience as a coordinator and high-scoring offense should have the Red Raiders climbing the Big 12 food chain in the next couple of years. Doeren arrives in Raleigh after a 23-4 stint at Northern Illinois. Expect Doeren to elevate the Wolfpack after a 40-35 record under former coach Tom O’Brien. 

College Football's Top 10 Head Coaches on the Rise for 2013

Matt Campbell, Toledo
At 33 years old, Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches. The Ohio native was a solid player during his career at Mount Union and is on the fast track as a head coach. After spending time as an assistant with Mount Union, Bowling Green and at Toledo, Campbell was promoted to the top spot after Tim Beckman left for Illinois. The Rockets went 9-4 last season and three of their losses came by a touchdown or less. Toledo has a handful of players departing on defense, but the offense should remain one of the best in the MAC. The Rockets host defending MAC champion Northern Illinois in late November, so all of the pieces are in place for Toledo to win the conference title this year. Campbell should be one of the MAC’s top coaches in 2013 and beyond.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
DeRuyter went 9-4 in his Fresno State debut and has the Bulldogs primed to contend for the Mountain West title in 2013. Prior to coming to Fresno State, DeRuyter served as a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Air Force, Nevada and Ohio. He was Texas A&M’s interim coach for the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl, which the Aggies defeated Northwestern 33-22. All signs point to DeRuyter being a home-run hire for Fresno State, but with the Bulldogs a potential top-25 team for 2013, he could receive interest from BCS programs this offseason.

Dave Doeren, NC State
NC State made one of the offseason’s top coaching moves by hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois. Although Tom O’Brien led the Wolfpack to four bowl games in five seasons, a 22-26 record in conference play wasn’t good enough. It’s tough to envision NC State consistently beating Clemson and Florida State, but the program can win more than it has the last few years. Doeren looks like the right coach to take NC State to the next level, as he comes to Raleigh after a 23-4 mark in two seasons with Northern Illinois. Although he inherited a good team from Jerry Kill, Doeren took the Huskies to new heights, including a berth in last season's Orange Bowl against Florida State. Prior to his two-year stint as Northern Illinois’ head coach, he served as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Kansas and also spent time as a graduate assistant at USC. Doeren doesn’t have any experience in the ACC, so it may take some time to build connections on the recruiting trail. However, all signs point to Doeren’s hire being a home run for NC State. 

Related Content: Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2013

Justin Fuente, Memphis
Fuente inherited a mess when he arrived at Memphis. The Tigers were coming off a disastrous two-year stint under Larry Porter, which resulted in a 3-21 record. And under Fuente’s watch, the Tigers showed big improvement in 2012. Memphis went 4-8 last season, which included a three-game winning streak to finish the campaign. The Tigers lost three games by 10 points or less and got better as the season progressed. Before taking over at Memphis, Fuente spent five years as an assistant at TCU, including the last three as the co-offensive coordinator. With the move to the American Athletic Conference (new name of the former Big East), Fuente’s job will get a little tougher in 2013. Memphis doesn’t quite have the talent to push for a bowl game this year, but the Tigers will continue to take another step forward under Fuente’s watch in 2013.

Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
If you are looking for college football’s next rising star in the non-BCS ranks to jump to a BCS job, look no further than Lafayette, La. Hudspeth has recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons and has two bowl victories since taking over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Before coming to Louisiana-Lafayette, Hudspeth went 66-21 and made five playoff appearances in seven years at North Alabama, a Division II member school. Hudspeth served as an assistant on Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State from 2009-10 and spent one year as Navy’s offensive coordinator in 2001. As each of his two head coaching stops have shown, Hudspeth is a proven winner and is ready to jump to a BCS school in the next few years. And under Hudspeth’s direction, expect the Ragin’ Cajuns to win the Sun Belt conference title in 2013.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Kingsbury has been on a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and lands his first head coaching job at his alma mater. The San Antonio native had a prolific career as a starting quarterback under Mike Leach from 2000-02, finishing his career with just under 12,000 passing yards. Following his collegiate career in Lubbock, Kingsbury had a short professional stint, playing for five different teams in five seasons. Kingsbury joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Houston in 2008 and worked his way through the ranks, before becoming the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and guiding quarterback Case Keenum to nearly 20,000 career passing yards. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and produced a successful one-year stint as the offensive coordinator, which resulted in a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel). Kingsbury is young and unproven as a head coach, but he is the perfect fit at Texas Tech. For a program that never really embraced Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are in good hands with one of college football’s rising stars at head coach.

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Pete Lembo, Ball State
Thanks to last season’s 9-4 record, Lembo now has an overall winning record at three different programs. In five years at Lehigh, Lembo won 44 games and led the Mountain Hawks to two playoff appearances. At his next stop, Lembo won 35 games at Elon and made one postseason appearance. Ball State showed big improvement in Lembo’s first season in 2011 and won nine games, with an appearance in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl in '12. Lembo should have the Cardinals in the mix for the MAC title in 2013 and as a sharp X’s and O’s coach, will be high on athletic director’s wish lists come December.

Trent Miles, Georgia State
The Panthers quietly made one of the offseason’s best hires by pulling Miles away from Indiana State. The Sycamores were 1-32 in the three years prior to Miles’ arrival but recorded a winning record in each of the last three seasons. Also, Indiana State was the only team to defeat FCS champion North Dakota State in 2012. Even though Miles’ overall record is just 20-36, he clearly improved Indiana State from one of the worst FCS programs to a top-25 team in his final year. Georgia State is another difficult job, as the Panthers transitioning from the FCS to the FBS level. However, the program is located in a good recruiting base (Atlanta) and should eventually be competitive in Sun Belt games. If Miles turns around Georgia State, he should expect to hear from BCS programs in the near future.

Willie Taggart, South Florida
After a three-year stint as Western Kentucky’s head coach, Taggart essentially returns home to take over the top spot at South Florida. Taggart went 16-20 during his three years with the Hilltoppers, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. The 14 victories during that stretch was the best two-year stint for Western Kentucky since 2004-05. Taggart played his high school ball at Manatee in Bradenton, Fla., which is just an hour outside of USF. The 36-year-old coach is clearly one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks and should help the Bulls be one of the most-improved teams in the conference in 2013.

Related Content: Ranking the Big East Coaches for 2013

Matt Wells, Utah State
Gary Andersen did a tremendous job at Utah State, elevating the Aggies from a 4-8 program in his first season to an 11-2 team in 2012. Andersen left for Wisconsin in December, which promoted Utah State to promote Wells to the top spot. The Oklahoma native has deep ties to the program, as he played quarterback for the Aggies from 1993-96 and has served as an assistant under Andersen over the last two seasons. In his only season as Utah State’s offensive coordinator, the Aggies averaged 34.9 points a game and ranked 21st nationally in total offense. Wells has proven himself as an assistant and should keep Utah State near the top of the Mountain West in his first chance to be a head coach.

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<p> College Football's Top 10 Head Coaches on the Rise</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-assistant-coaches-rise-2013

The college football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about which assistants will be atop athletic director’s wish lists to fill open vacancies after 2013.

As with any list of rising stars or coaches, there are always a handful of names that miss out on the list. However, that isn’t a knock on their coaching ability. Coordinators like Alabama’s Kirby Smart or Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi have been known for a few years now and will get plenty of looks to be a head coach in the future.

Clemson’s Chad Morris is perhaps the hottest name for potential open vacancies after the 2013 season, as the former Texas high school coach has transformed the Tigers’ into one of the nation’s best offenses. Morris is certainly known around the nation, but after interviewing for the Texas Tech vacancy in 2012, he could finally land a head-coaching gig after 2013.

Outside of Morris, keep a close watch on Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and Texas A&M co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital are a few coaches who should see their stock rise in 2013. 

College Football's Top 10 Assistant Coaches on the Rise for 2013

Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame
Diaco was the architect behind Notre Dame’s top-10 defense last season. The Fighting Irish finished seventh nationally in total defense and second in points allowed in 2012, and only two opponents scored over 20 points. Diaco followed coach Brian Kelly from Cincinnati to South Bend, and he worked in assistant jobs with Virginia, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan before joining the Bearcats. Diaco has quietly built an impressive resume and should get a chance to be a head coach soon. With a loaded defense returning to South Bend for 2013, Notre Dame should be one of the top-10 defenses in college football, which will make the New Jersey native a hot commodity in coaching searches once the 2013 season is over.

D.J. Durkin, defensive coordinator, Florida
Durkin was promoted to defensive coordinator in mid-January after Dan Quinn left for the NFL. Coach Will Muschamp plays a large role in shaping Florida’s defense, but Durkin’s promotion shouldn’t be overlooked. The Ohio native is highly regarded among coaches in the SEC and worked under two of the best coaches during the BCS era – Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. This is Durkin’s first chance to be a coordinator, but with Muschamp on the sidelines, don’t expect Florida’s defense to suffer much of a drop in production in 2013 and beyond.

Scott Frost, offensive coordinator, Oregon
One of Mark Helfrich’s first jobs as head coach was to promote Frost from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator. The former Nebraska quarterback was regarded for his work on the Ducks’ staff since 2009 and helped to mold the receiving corps into one of the best in the conference going into 2013. Helfrich is expected to call the plays this year, but Frost will have a role in developing the gameplan each week. After a successful career as a starting quarterback at Nebraska, Frost is on the fast track through the assistant ranks, and his ability to pull talent to Eugene will help keep Oregon among the best teams in the nation.

Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State
Urban Meyer has a good eye for finding talent in the assistant ranks, so it was no surprise when he picked Herman to join his staff. Herman came to Columbus after three years directing Iowa State’s offense. The Cyclones didn’t have a ton of talent to work with on offense but averaged over 20 points a game in each of Herman’s three seasons. Before Iowa State, Herman called the plays at Rice and directed the Owls’ offense to an average of 41.3 points per game in 2008. Learning under one of the best coaches in college football should only raise Herman’s profile, and the California native should help Meyer direct one of the nation’s top offenses in 2013.

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson
Considering his success over the last two years at Clemson, it may be a bit of a stretch to put Morris in this category. However, the 44-year-old coach will be a hot commodity in coaching circles this offseason, as the Tigers are primed to make a run at an ACC Championship and could be a top-five team in some preseason polls. With quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins back on campus, Clemson will have one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses and could surpass last season’s average of 41 points per game. Morris was a successful high school coach before taking over as Tulsa’s offensive coordinator in 2010, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a chance to run his own program.

Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State
Norvell was the engineer behind Arizona State’s high-powered offense last season, which averaged 38.4 points a game and ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in total offense. At 32 years old, Norvell is one of college football’s youngest coordinators. However, there’s no doubt he is one of the Pac-12’s rising stars in the assistant ranks. Before coming to Arizona State, Norvell followed Todd Graham to stops at Tulsa and Pittsburgh and started four years at receiver during his playing career at Central Arkansas. Norvell has some holes to fill with running back Cameron Marshall and two receivers departing, but the Sun Devils should once again have one of the best offenses in the Pac-12.

Nick Rolovich, offensive coordinator, Nevada
Rolovich is the lone non-BCS coordinator to make this list for 2013. The California native played quarterback at Hawaii from 2000-01 and had a short professional stint with the Broncos, before spending five seasons in the Arena Football League and one in NFL Europe. Rolovich has been on a quick rise through the assistant ranks, as he spent two years at the City College of San Francisco from 2007-08 and was hired as Hawaii’s quarterbacks coach by Greg McMackin in 2008. Rolovich worked in that capacity until the 2009 season, when he was promoted to offensive coordinator. The Warriors averaged over 30 points a game in 2010 and 2011 under Rolovich’s watch. After Norm Chow was hired as Hawaii’s head coach, Rolovich left to join Nevada’s staff and spent the year learning the Pistol offense under Chris Ault. With his background under two different schemes and success with molding quarterbacks into starters, Rolovich is one of college football’s up-and-coming offensive playcallers.

Jake Spavital, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Texas A&M
After working with Case Keenum at Houston and Geno Smith at West Virginia, Spavital gets to tutor Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in 2013. The Oklahoma native has been on a fast track through the assistant ranks, starting his career at Tulsa under Gus Malzahn in 2008, before joining Dana Holgorsen at Houston in 2009. Spavital worked for two years under Holgorsen at West Virginia, serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Clarence McKinney is expected to call the plays for the Aggies in 2013, but Spavital’s experience working under Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury will help ease the transition for Manziel. Expect Spavital to be a hot name in coordinator searches at the end of 2013.

Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator, Washington
Wilcox transformed Washington’s defense from one of the worst in the nation in 2012 to rank fourth in the Pac-12 in points and yards allowed in 2013. The Oregon native started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Boise State in 2001 and worked in that capacity until joining California as a linebackers coach in 2003. After three years with the Golden Bears, Wilcox was selected as Boise State’s defensive coordinator in 2006 and coached in that role until 2009. He served for two years as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator under Derek Dooley in 2010 and took over at Washington in 2012. Wilcox is only 36 years old, but he is ready to be a head coach. However, until he leaves Seattle, expect the Huskies to rank among the best defenses in the Pac-12.

Mike Yurcich, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State
A few eyebrows were raised when Mike Gundy announced Yurcich as his new offensive coordinator. However, the Ohio native appears to be a perfect replacement for Todd Monken, who left to be the head coach at Southern Miss. Yurcich comes to Stillwater after a two-year stint as Shippensburg’s offensive coordinator. Under his watch, Shippensburg’s quarterback (Zach Zulli) won the Harlon Hill Award for the top player in Division II, while the offense averaged 529.2 yards per game in 2012. Yurcich doesn’t have to make wholesale changes at Oklahoma State, as the offense will largely use most of the same scheme from the previous year. However, expect Yurcich to put his own tweaks into the system, which as evidenced on the Division II level, should work out well for the Cowboys. 

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<p> College Football's Top 10 Assistant Coaches on the Rise for 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 07:20
All taxonomy terms: Guan Tianlang, Masters, Golf
Path: /golf/14-guan-tianlang-handles-masters-pressure

Using a self-taught short game, Chinese teen Guan Tianlang opens The Masters with a 73.

Since Bubba Watson hit that incredible shot around the pine trees during a playoff to win the 2012 Masters, the club has made some interesting history. It admitted its first two women members, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, ending a sometimes-spirited debate. And in November, a different kind of history occurred when Guan Tianlang won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand by a single stroke when he holed a 5-footer for par on the last hole using a belly putter, qualifying for The Masters.

On Thursday, Guan used that same belly putter to curl in a birdie putt on 18 for a more-than-respectable opening-round 73, 1-over par, beating defending champion Bubba Watson, among other older, more established competitors.

Guan is 14. And he is the youngest player ever to compete in The Masters, taking the distinction from Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who was 16 when he traveled up Magnolia Lane in 2010.

“I’m really proud of myself,’’ Guan said when he had qualified for The Masters. “I think it really helps Chinese golf. They will train even harder. I’m very happy about it.’’

Despite China’s immensity and population base, there are few top-level golfers from the country — yet. Most observers feel it is just a matter of time before the Official World Golf Rankings are dotted with Chinese players. Guan's success is bound to help.

Slowly but surely the Chinese view on the game is changing. And with golf being part of the Olympics starting in 2016, there will be a push to develop players. The dangling carrot of a Masters invite can only help them push to succeed.

“There remains, we believe, an untapped opportunity in Asia and other parts of the world, where amateur golf has its greatest growth potential," Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said at the time of the tournament’s unveiling more than three years ago.

Over the ensuing years, Payne has become more aggressive in his desire to “grow the game.’’ Along with the Asia-Pacific Amateur, there has been considerable assistance, millions of dollars, donated to junior programs. Payne began an initiative whereby children under 16 would be admitted to the Masters for free with an adult.

All of that, of course, caused Payne angst when it came to the women’s membership issue. He was criticized for talking about growing the game while holding back on admitting women to his very private club. Deep down, however, the feeling has always been that Payne wanted to see women members at Augusta National, too.

Now that is no longer an issue, and it makes you pause to wonder what Bobby Jones would think of all this.

The founder of the club was a great amateur himself, retiring from the game in 1930 after completing what was then the Grand Slam by winning the U.S and British Open and Amateur titles.

He might very well have an affection for Guan, having tried to qualify for his first U.S. Amateur at age 14 in 1916 and finishing second at age 17 in 1919. Jones would go on to win the U.S. Open and British Open a combined seven times. Because he played his entire career as an amateur, the tradition was established to make a place in the field for those who have yet to turn professional, a number that is now at six players.

Certainly Guan will get plenty of attention. For someone so young, his English is impressive, his game even more so. He is no stranger to the big stage, becoming the youngest winner of the China Amateur Open in 2011. He also played in the 2012 Volvo China Open, making him the youngest to ever compete in a European Tour event, although he missed the cut.

In July 2011, Guan ran away to an 11-stroke win in the 11-12 division of the Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego.

That is a long way from Augusta National, in both prestige and distance. But it is one amazing journey, and if Guan makes the cut, it will be more amazing still.

<p> At 14, Guan Tianlang Handles Masters Pressure</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 18:09
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/condoleezza-rice-changes-augusta

When the announcement came last summer that Augusta National had admitted its first two female members — Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore — some popped champagne corks, while others grumbled into their whiskey about the venerable club’s caving to political pressure. After more than a decade of protesting, stonewalling, name-calling and wrangling, America’s most famous course — with apologies to Merion, Winged Foot, Pebble Beach and many others — would have women who are actual members walking its manicured Bermuda grass fairways, rather than spouses of made men.

For many, it was the merciful end to a long debate.

“Tell Martha Burk it’s time to go home,” said former PGA Tour member and current ESPN analyst Paul Azinger.

For others, the battle still raged.

“It ain’t over,” said Burk, former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, who began the fight to get women members on the Augusta rolls in 2002.

Augusta’s move may have quieted things a bit, but it won’t send Burk and others on her side in search of other fights. Rice and Moore are two high-profile, extremely worthy candidates for admission to the club, but adding two women to an institution with roughly 300 male members isn’t going to get it done, at least for supporters of women’s rights. But while the story isn’t over, it isn’t the same tale that was told a decade — and more — ago. Augusta is no longer a stodgy bastion of chauvinism, and not just because Rice and Moore have joined up. Though not quite as progressive as, say, the ACLU, Augusta National’s membership is more 21st century corporate leaders than antediluvian sexists. And those men realize that excluding women from anything is bad business.

The club isn’t afraid of a fight, though. Some speculate, with good reason, that Augusta National would have opened its doors to women earlier, had Burk not begun protesting the all-male policy in 2002. Once that started, Augusta National almost had to hold out. Former chairman Hootie Johnson’s comment that the club wouldn’t admit women “at the point of a bayonet” reflected that attitude. “They didn’t have to cave,” Azinger says.

Well, Augusta National probably did have to “cave.” If it didn’t host The Masters, the most esteemed golfing event on the planet, whether it had women members wouldn’t have been an issue, since there are still some clubs (prestigious Pine Valley among them) that remain all-male. Women — along with many men — would have still wanted to join the club, but there wouldn’t have been the same attention given to their quest.

Because the club makes 10 figures annually from the tournament, and because the PGA Tour mandates now that any course that stages a sanctioned event must have a membership that is not just comprised of white men, Augusta National’s makeup became a target.

“The fact that the club is part of a massive event is the reason it was protested,” Azinger says. “It became political.”

For Burk and many others, this isn’t about golf, especially since Moore doesn’t play too often. (Rice has said she’s about a 14 handicap and is also a member at San Francisco Golf Club and Shoal Creek, among others.) This is more about power. Or, rather, the access to it. A look at the membership list at Augusta confirms that. Big hitters like Warren Buffett, T. Boone Pickens and Bill Gates are among the Augusta National lineup. It doesn’t matter whether they can drive the ball 300 yards or are barely qualified to play the windmill hole at a mini-golf course.

When they sit down to have a drink and chat, big things can happen. Granting women access to those conversations is at the heart of the fight. As women are kept out of high-level, though casual, discussions at clubs like Augusta, so too are they omitted from big dealings on the corporate level.

“When you have a roster of Fortune 500 execs engaging in a mass exclusion, it sends the message to the business community that it’s okay to do that,” Burk says.

The Augusta National stance had been that its private status allowed it to choose anyone it wanted as members. From its founding in 1933, until 1990, those chosen were male and white. In ’90, after the firestorm that enveloped Alabama’s Shoal Creek Golf Club regarding its white-only membership, Augusta admitted African-American members. Twenty-two years later, the club’s trademark green jacket was tailored to fit women.

“Augusta had to be pistol-whipped behind closed doors to let African-Americans be admitted,” Burk says. “This smacks of the same thing.”

When Burk and her compatriots began hammering at Augusta in ’02, then-chairman Johnson — a close friend of Moore’s and a fellow University of South Carolina graduate — said that if organizations like the Girl Scouts, Junior League, Boy Scouts and various fraternities and sororities could have single-sex memberships, Augusta could also. The difference was that Augusta National hosts The Masters every April, and the Tri-Delts don’t. That’s what gave those fighting the exclusion of women ammunition. The Masters is (arguably) a public event, and the club that hosts it was acting as “a de facto public accommodation,” according to Burk, referring to the term used in the Civil Rights Act that prevents discrimination in any establishment open to the public.

Trouble is, the state of Georgia doesn’t have a public accommodation statute. So, when a number of law firms approached Burk and the NCWO about taking the fight to the courtrooms, they found some roadblocks. Big roadblocks.

“When (the firms) got a little into it, they saw some barriers that were not insurmountable, but were very difficult,” Burk says. Since the legal path was rocky, the only way left was through protest, raised voices and as much political pressure as the NCWO and its allies could muster.

“It became a political issue,” Azinger says. “It’s a misnomer that women weren’t allowed there. That’s not the case. Women played there every day.”

Don’t get Azinger wrong. He’s delighted that Rice and Moore have been admitted. “I think it’s great,” he says. And he has company.

“I am extremely pleased to see the decision by Augusta National,” said three-time Masters champion Gary Player via e-mail. “For a club representing the pinnacle of the golfing world, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore are excellent choices to become the first female members and will no doubt do the appointment great justice. Of course, this is a historic change and echoes the importance of women in golf. I can only hope that this will continue to grow female participation in golf throughout the world.”

* * *

The decision to admit Rice and Moore is viewed by some as less a heroic than an inevitable act. Although The Masters lost TV sponsors for two years after 2002, corporate involvement has grown back, and now big timers like IBM and AT&T can be found on the tourney’s web site. But as women gain influence (some say too slowly) in the political and business arenas, staging a prestigious public event like The Masters at a club that refused admission to women was almost impossible. Chairman Billy Payne and Johnson agreed that Moore and Rice would be appropriate as the first women admitted. Although Augusta National’s membership process is extremely secretive, and often candidates don’t even know they are being considered, Payne took the unusual step of announcing their admission.

“This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club,” read the beginning of his statement released last August. (Payne would not comment for this article.)

Payne continued to describe the “deliberate” consideration given each candidate for membership and the “extended period of time” over which any application is considered. That happens at most clubs. There were reports that Rice and Moore were first considered five years ago. Talk about deliberate.

Now that two women are in, can we expect a flood of females in green jackets dining in the Grill Room and sitting on the stately clubhouse’s porch, sipping cool drinks and making deals?

“It’s important for the dinosaurs to die off,” Donna Lopiano says. “You then hope the next generation does better.”

Lopiano is the president of Connecticut-based Sports Management Resources, which helps colleges and universities with athletics-related issues, including Title IX compliance. When it comes to gender equity in college sports, it’s hard to find someone with more experience, knowledge or battle scars.

She wasn’t in the middle of the Augusta skirmish, but she knows the value of the two women’s admission. She also understands that Rice and Moore constitute a good start — and little else.

“Was it inevitable Augusta would succumb to pressure?” she asks. “Yes. Is it enough? No. But you have to start somewhere. It’s the same thing with people of color.”

To comprehend fully the Augusta situation, people have to understand the country club ethos. All over America, there are clubs that practice exclusionary tactics. Some are segregated — gently — according to religion. Many have no, or precious few, African-American members. And many don’t admit many women members. Wives of members can play golf and have the run of the clubhouse — though not the men’s grill. But they aren’t on the membership rolls. Part of that is due to the fact that more men play golf than women. But that’s changing. When Rice and Moore were announced as members at Augusta National, PGA chief Tim Finchem noted that “women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and watching the game of golf” and that their admission “sends a positive and inclusive message.” Just like many other things in society, the country club world is changing.

That the club’s members were all white and male for decades was hardly a shock, given the fact that many other clubs in the country had that distinction. Augusta National’s leadership felt that was its prerogative as a private institution. And in fact, many men who wanted in were stonewalled completely or made to endure a purgatorial waiting period. Gates’ public craving of a green jacket left even him on the outside for a while. To many members, the furor over admitting women was not about sexism; it was about being able to gather with friends to play golf, enjoy a meal and celebrate tradition. Now that women have been admitted, be they two or 200 in number, it’s unlikely that many of the older male members will be inviting females to join their foursomes on the course or share a drink with them after 18 holes, but the younger crowd (and we’re talking people in their 50s here, not 20s) will likely shrug it off as further evidence of progress.

“It was much ado about nothing,” Azinger says. “There still remain a few freedoms in this land. You can still have a private club. The fact that (Augusta) admitted women is fantastic. The timing was right.

“It was never an all-men’s club. Women have always been allowed to play golf there. There were just no single women members at the club.”

Now, there are two. And while it might make things a little awkward at this year’s Members’ Weekend, when 300 or so men and two women converge on Augusta National, it’s unlikely there will be any trouble in coming years. There probably won’t be an annual admission of women, although since Augusta National keeps its membership practices quiet, we won’t know for sure. But there will be more to come. Expect IBM CEO Ginni Rometty to get a call at some point, even though she doesn’t care much for the game, simply because one of the benefits of reaching her lofty perch is an Augusta National invite. Adding Carol Semple Thompson, perhaps the most decorated U.S. women’s amateur golfer, would be a strong move. This is the 21st century, after all, and though the pace may not suit Burk and others, the world is changing.

As for The Masters, don’t expect Rice and Moore’s inclusion to matter very much at all. Players will be asked about it. Some will respond positively. Others, like the 90 percent who anonymously told Golf Magazine in 2011 that they didn’t care too much that Augusta National didn’t admit women, will be non-committal. It didn’t hurt the cause that 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson told the publication in ’11: “Yeah, I care, and you can quote me on that.” And when Tiger Woods was asked about the move, he was enthusiastic and called it “important to golf.” For the most part, life will go on as usual. Players will rise and fall on the leaderboard, and the TV types will still treat the tournament as if it were High Mass.

Burk, on the other hand, will keep pushing.

“When they finally (admitted women), they did it after 10 years of resistance,” she says. “They haven’t done all that much. It was a small step, a very small step. What happens in the future is more important than one token gesture.”

But you have to start somewhere.



Listen to Condoleezza Rice talk about her game, and she sounds just like any other golfer. Says she’s good off the tee and pretty strong on the greens. It’s that last 150 yards that give her trouble. If she could just handle those better…

Rice does practice her craft, although she has only been at the game for about seven years. In addition to her newly minted Augusta National membership, she belongs to four other clubs.

During an interview last August, she said her handicap was “down to a 14,” while other reports have her at a 16. That doesn’t matter. What does is that she’s a fine athlete who was once a competitive figure skater and an excellent tennis player.
But while her tennis game is receding, her golf game is improving, especially now that she has more time to play since leaving her position as Secretary of State after George W. Bush’s presidential tenure ended.

“She’s a terrific player,” former PGA Tour member and current ESPN analyst Paul Azinger says. “She’s an athlete.”

In a 2011 interview with Golf Digest, Rice spoke of her desire to work on the game, saying she doesn’t do anything just as a diversion and that the “best part of golf is that unlike my tennis game, I can actually get better.”

She now has one heckuva place to pursue that improvement.

—by Michael Bradley

This article appeared in the 2013 edition of Athlon Sports' Golf Annual. Order your copy here.

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Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 16:02
Path: /golf/5-greatest-shots-masters-history

We don’t have footage of Gene Sarazen’s famous double eagle from 1935, but on Masters Sunday 2012, we saw something just as good and just as rare — Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle, the first at the par-5 second hole in Masters history. Later, Bubba Watson joined our countdown with his stunning recovery shot from the pine straw in the playoff. Here are our choices for the seven greatest shots in Masters history.

7. Louis Oosthuizen, 2012
Before Sunday, there had been 19,809 rounds at The Masters, but this was a first: a double eagle at No. 2. Had Oostie gone on to win, his shot would rank No. 1; as it is, he'll have to settle for second in The Masters and seventh on our list.

6. Sandy Lyle, 1988
Lyle had a front-row seat for Jack Nicklaus' charge to the 1986 Masters title. Two years later, he made history of his own with an incredible bunker shot on the 72nd hole, using the slope of the green to set up a clinching birdie. This is great execution for a Tuesday practice round; under Masters pressure, it's one of history's greatest shots.

5. Bubba Watson, 2012
After a day that included a double eagle and two holes in one, Bubba's shot at 10 will be the one they'll still be talking about at the 2050 Champions Dinner.

4. Jack Nicklaus, 1986
Jack’s near hole-in-one on 16 during his final-round 65 was only one of many magic moments that day — but it was pretty epic. As a bonus, this video includes his birdie putt on 17 (the putt that ultimately clinched his win) and his tap-in on 18, as well as commentary from the man himself.

3. Phil Mickelson, 2010
Mickelson’s 6-iron second shot to four feet on the par-5 13th was the kind of hero shot that only he and Tiger Woods would even attempt.

2. Larry Mize, 1987
Playing a few miles from his home, the quiet, unassuming Mize hit the shot of his life, or anyone else’s for that matter, holing an impossible 140-foot pitch shot on the second playoff hole to deny Greg Norman a green jacket.

1. Tiger Woods, 2005
It's a scenario apparently drawn up in the Nike marketing offices — the ball hanging tantalizingly on the edge of the cup, the Nike logo momentarily freeze-framed on our television screens before the ball tumbles into the cup, unleashing an awkward golfer high-five between Tiger and caddie Steve Williams that detracts only slightly from the moment. To answer your question, Verne Lundquist — no, in our lives, we’ve never seen anything like it.

<p> 7 Epic Moments from Golf's Greatest Tournament</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-nra-500-texas-motor-speedway

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads to the Lone Star state this weekend for the NRA 500 from Texas Motor Speedway. To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List.

So, without further ado, Dustin's fantasy predictions for Texas, ranked according to each driver's likelihood of taking the checkered flag — or at least finishing toward the front:

A-List Drivers
1. Matt Kenseth

Among the favorites at Texas. He’s scored five consecutive top-5 finishes at that track, including a win in April 2011. He’s led 274 laps in those five races. He won at Las Vegas — a similar 1.5-mile oval — last month. Finished seventh at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway, which crew chief says was their worst race of the year.

2. Jimmie Johnson
Points leader has nine top 5s in 19 career starts at Texas, including a win last fall there. Led 48.4 percent of the laps run in both Texas races last season. Finished sixth at Las Vegas in the only race so far on a 1.5-mile speedway this season. Coming off Martinsville victory.

3. Kasey Kahne
One of the hottest drivers on the circuit with four consecutive top-10 finishes. He placed second at Las Vegas (leading 114 laps), won at Bristol, took ninth at Auto Club Speedway and is coming off a fourth-place finish at Martinsville. Has two top 10s in his last three Texas starts.

4. Brad Keselowski
Finished second to Johnson in last fall’s race at Texas. It marked his first top-10 finish there in nine starts. Has finished worse than sixth only once this year. Placed third at Las Vegas in only race so far on a 1.5-mile speedway in 2013.

5. Clint Bowyer
Has four top-10 finishes in his last five Texas starts. Has three top-10 finishes this season but all have come on tracks 1 mile or less in length.

6. Kevin Harvick
Outside his 42nd-place finish in the Daytona 500, he’s finished between ninth and 14th in every race. He’s coming off a 13th-place finish — his third such finish in six races — last weekend at Martinsville. He finished ninth in both Texas races last year.

7. Jeff Gordon
Has two top 10s in his last seven Texas starts. Car seemed to be off at Las Vegas (where he was 25th) and Auto Club Speedway (11th) earlier this season.

8. Tony Stewart
Has two top 10s in his last six Texas starts but one was a win (Nov. 2011) and the other was a fifth-place finish in last fall’s race there. Struggled at Las Vegas with a late rally allowing him to finish 11th in only race so far at 1.5-mile track this season.

<p> Dustin Long ranks each driver on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit for this weekend's NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 11:23
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-125-college-football-head-coaches-2013

Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.

Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how all 125 college football coaches rank nationally.

Ranking the coaches in any college football conference or nationally is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an X's and O's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches for all 125 programs. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank nationally.

Coach Rankings for 2013: ACC | Big East | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Record at Alabama: 68-13 (2007-present)
Record at LSU: 48-16 (2000-04)
Record at Michigan State: 34-24-1 (1995-99)
Record at Toledo: 9-2 (1990)
Overall Record: 159-55-1 (17 years)

Saban is without question the best coach in college football. He started his career as a head coach in 1990 with Toledo, then spent the next four seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns. In 1995, Saban was hired as Michigan State’s head coach and guided the Spartans to a 34-24-1 record under his watch. Saban left East Lansing for Baton Rouge and LSU in 2000 and led the Tigers to a 48-16 record in five years, including a national championship in 2003. Saban had a two-year stint with the Dolphins but jumped at the opportunity to lead Alabama in 2007. After a 7-6 record in his first season, Saban is 61-7 in his last five years with the Crimson Tide, which includes three national championships. At 61 years old, Saban is still at the top of his game and should have Alabama in the mix for a SEC and national title every year he is on the sidelines.

2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 12-0 (2012-present)
Record at Florida: 65-15 (2005-2010)
Record at Utah: 22-2 (2003-04)
Record at Bowling Green: 17-6 (2001-02)
Overall Record: 116-23 (11 years)

Really the only thing left on Meyer’s resume is to defeat an SEC school in the national championship. In his first year at Ohio State, he took a 6-7 Buckeyes team and turned them into a perfect 12-0 program, proving his past successes were no fluke. He already claims two BCS National Championships, four conference titles (would have been five had OSU been eligible last year), three conference Coach of the Year awards, one Heisman winner and one national Coach of the Year honor. In each stop along the way, Meyer has proven to have an immediate impact on the program be it at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida or Ohio State. He is an elite recruiter and an elite talent developer. No, he isn’t the nicest or most honest guy in the business, but his teams are extremely well coached and they win big.

RELATED: Help us pick Athlon's 2013 Ohio State Preseason College Football Cover! 

3. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Overall Record at Kansas State: 
170-85-1 (1989-2005, 2009-present, 21 years)

Snyder doesn’t get the national credit like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, but there’s no denying he is one of the best coaches in college football. Prior to his arrival at Kansas State, the Wildcats had just one bowl appearance and recorded only one winning season from 1971-88. After Snyder’s arrival, Kansas State immediately went from a laughingstock to a consistent winner. The Wildcats won six games in Snyder’s first two seasons but recorded 10 years of nine victories or more from 1993-2003. Snyder retired after the 2005 season, but a failed three-year stint under Ron Prince brought him back to the sidelines. And just as Kansas State did in Snyder’s first stint, the program quickly emerged as a conference title contender and was in the mix to play for the national title last season. Snyder isn’t flashy, but his teams are always well-coached and prepared. As long as Snyder roams the sidelines in Manhattan, regardless of how many starters Kansas State loses, never count out the Wildcats from the Big 12 title discussion.

4. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Record at Notre Dame: 28-11 (2010-present)
Record at Cincinnati: 34-6 (2007-09)
Record at Central Michigan: 19-16 (2004-06)
Record at Grand Valley State: 118-35-2 (1991-2003)
Overall Record: 199-68-2 (23 years)

Not many coaches in college football can rival Kelly’s resume in four stops as a head coach. Kelly’s first head coaching gig came in 1991 at Grand Valley State, and he stayed in that capacity until 2003. During 13 years with Grand Valley State, Kelly went 118-35-2 and won two Division II titles. After his success with the Lakers, Kelly went 19-16 with Central Michigan, which included a MAC Championship in 2006. Kelly moved on to Cincinnati at the end of the 2006 season and guided the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East titles in 2008 and 2009. After back to-back 8-5 seasons with Notre Dame, Kelly led the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the BCS National Championship game at the end of the 2012 season. Despite the blowout loss to Alabama in the title game, Kelly clearly has the program back on track to be an annual top 10-15 team. 

5. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
Record at South Carolina: 66-37 (2005-present)
Record at Florida: 122-27-1 (1990-2001)
Record at Duke: 20-13-1 1987-89)
Overall Record: 208-77-2 (22 years)

After six consecutive seasons with at least five losses, Spurrier has delivered two (if not three) of the best seasons in South Carolina football history. It clearly took some time to build the Gamecocks into a consistent winner for the first time in program history. But there is no doubt the Gamecocks have become one of the league's top contenders. Not only is Spurrier extremely relevant in the league heading into the 2013 season at age 68 (April 20), but he has achieved at a high level over time as well. in a conference known for its ability to devour quality coaches, few have proven to be as adaptable and as consistent as Spurrier. He has an incredible 122-41 record in SEC play over his 20-year career in the league for an average of more than six conference wins per season (6.1). With one national championship under his belt from his time at Florida, should he bring a conference crown to Columbia, his name would belong with those two guys from Alabama as the SEC's greatest of all-time. The only problem is Carolina has gone from first to second to third in the East the last three seasons despite appearing to get better on the field.

6. Chris Petersen, Boise State
Overall Record at Boise State: 84-8 (2006-present)

There are few coaches in college football with a more impressive resume than Petersen. In seven years with the Broncos, Petersen has recorded at least 10 wins in every season. He has also never lost more than three games in a single season during his tenure in Boise. Also, Boise State has played in two BCS bowl games and has four finishes inside of the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll. Despites overtures from BCS programs, Petersen hasn’t showed any interest in leaving Boise State. Under his watch, the Broncos have upgraded their facilities and landed a favorable deal to stay in the Mountain West, instead of joining the American Athletic Conference (formerly known as the Big East). Even though college football’s postseason format will change, expect Boise State to remain a player on the national scene as long as Petersen is on the sidelines. And BCS programs will keep calling the California native, but Petersen seems pretty comfortable in Boise.  

7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Overall Record: 149-37 (1999-present, 14 years)

Stoops has been the picture of consistency and success during his Oklahoma tenure. The Sooners have won at least 10 games in 11 of Stoops’ 14 seasons in Norman and claimed the national title after the 2000 season. Under his guidance, Oklahoma has emerged as a national powerhouse once again. The Sooners have claimed at least a share of the Big 12 title nine times under Stoops and have eight BCS bowl appearances. And after a 10-3 record in 2012, which would be considered a successful year for most programs, Stoops didn’t sit idle. Oklahoma will have three new assistant coaches for 2013, which should inject some fresh energy into the program. Even though some may criticize Stoops for his 1-5 record in the last six BCS bowls, the Ohio native is still one of the nation’s premier coaches.

8. Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
Record at Western Kentucky: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Arkansas: 34-17 (2008-2011)
Record at Louisville: 41-9 (2003-06)
Overall Record: 75-26 (8 years)

Petrino’s tenure at Arkansas ended in disastrous fashion thanks to one motorcycle ride in April. After sitting out 2012, Petrino is back on the sidelines – with a job that’s a lot less high-profile than Arkansas: Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers made significant progress under former coach Willie Taggart, and Petrino should be able to build on that in 2013. At each of his stops as a collegiate head coach, Petrino built an instant winner. In his first season at Louisville, the Cardinals went 9-4 and finished 12-1 in 2006 with a Big East title and Orange Bowl victory over Wake Forest. Petrino had a failed stint in the NFL with the Falcons, but he returned to the sidelines at Arkansas and led the Razorbacks to a 34-17 record in four seasons. Make no mistake: Petrino isn’t going to be on the sidelines for very long in Bowling Green. However, until a BCS program decides to hire him, Petrino will be very successful at Western Kentucky

9. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Record at Virginia Tech: 216-104-2 (1987-present)
Record at Murray State: 42-23-2 (1981-1986)
Overall Record: 258-127-4 (31 years)

First as a player and now as the head coach, Beamer has been a part of Virginia Tech football for four decades, and his success has made “Beamerball” a recognized commodity both within and outside of the state. After a slow start to his coaching career at Tech, Beamer has led the Hokies to 20 straight bowl games dating back to 1993. During this time he won three Big East championships — including one memorable run at the national title with Michael Vick in 1999 — four ACC titles and five conference Coach of the Year Awards. In eight years of playing in the Coastal, Beamer has won the division five times. His seven-win 2012 campaign ended an eight-year run with at least 10 wins and it forced him to make some coaching changes. That said, he is still the longest tenured and winningest active coach in college football.

10. Gary Patterson, TCU
Overall Record at TCU: 116-36 (2000-present, 13 years)

Since 2000, TCU has played in the WAC, Conference USA, Mountain West and Big 12. The one constant and driving force behind the conference changes and rise of TCU as one of college football’s top-25 programs of the BCS era: Gary Patterson. The Kansas native had no FBS head coaching experience when he was promoted at TCU in 2000 but has eight seasons of 10 or more wins, including a 13-0 mark in 2010. The Horned Frogs dominated the Mountain West from 2005-2011, losing only seven conference games during that stretch. Moving to the Big 12 is a step up in competition for TCU. But the program has a lucrative recruiting base, and Patterson is clearly one of the top-15 coaches in the nation. As long as the Horned Frogs continue to recruit well, competing in the Big 12 won’t be a problem.

11. Mark Richt, Georgia
Overall Record at Georgia: 118-40 (2001-present, 12 years)

Yes, Spurrier has been around longer than the Georgia coach, but along with Gary Pinkel of Missouri, Richt is your longest tenured coach in the nation's toughest league. And he added his sixth SEC East title and fifth SEC title game appearance to his resume in 2012. A model of consistency, Richt has won at least eight games in all but one of his 12 SEC campaigns and has never finished a regular season under .500 and never missed a postseason. Fans were restless following the low point of the tenure — a loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl following the 2010 season, but he made quality staff adjustments and has rebounded with back-to-back SEC championship game appearances. Richt returned the Dawgs to prominence with two SEC titles in 2002 and 2005, but after three straight losses in Atlanta, Georgia faithful are eagerly waiting to cap a season a with a win in the Georgia Dome rather than a loss. A win would likely earn Richt his third SEC Coach of the Year award.

Related Content: Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013

12. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Overall Record at Northwestern: 50-39 (2006-present, 7 years)

Fitzgerald is the perfect fit at Northwestern, and he continues to take the program to new heights. The Illinois native starred at linebacker for the Wildcats from 1993-96 and was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Fitzgerald had no coordinator experience when he was promoted to the top spot at Northwestern and took over the program in a difficult time, replacing Randy Walker after his unexpected death in 2006. Despite his inexperience on the sidelines, Fitzgerald has been a home-run hire for Northwestern. The Wildcats are 50-39 under his watch and have played in five consecutive bowl games. Northwestern earned its first bowl victory since the 1949 Rose Bowl by beating Mississippi State 34-20 in last season's Gator Bowl. Fitzgerald is never going to reel in top-25 recruiting classes, but he has done a good job of finding and developing plenty of talent during his tenure. As long as Fitzgerald stays on the sidelines in Evanston, expect the Wildcats to remain a consistent contender in the Big Ten Legends Division, and they could start 2013 in the preseason top 25.

13. Art Briles, Baylor 
Record at Baylor: 33-30 (2008-present)
Record at Houston: 34-28 (2003-07)
Overall Record: 67-58 (10 years) 

From 1997-2007, Baylor was one of the Big 12’s worst programs. The Bears compiled a 31-94 mark and did not record a bowl appearance during that stretch. Enter Art Briles. Since Briles’ arrival, the Bears have been much more competitive in the Big 12. Baylor has 25 victories over the last three seasons and has played in three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history. Briles’ success isn’t contained just to Baylor, as he took over Houston and went 34-28 in five years with the Cougars. Two different programs, two challenging and different reclamation efforts. Considering what Briles has done on the high school level, at Houston and now at Baylor, he’s easily one of college football’s top-20 coaches going into the 2013 season.   

Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013

14. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 19-7 (2011-present)
Record at San Diego State: 13-12 (2009-10)
Record at Ball State: 34-38 (2003-08)
Overall Record: 66-57 (10 years)

After turning around Ball State and San Diego State, Hoke was Michigan’s pick to lead the program back to national prominence. So far, so good. The Wolverines are 19-7 under Hoke’s watch and have back-to-back 6-2 records in conference play. Michigan also won the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech to cap its first season under Hoke’s watch and has finished each of the past two seasons ranked in the Associated Press top 25. Although Hoke posted an overall losing mark at Ball State (34-38), the program didn’t have a winning record in the six seasons prior to his arrival. He was able to guide the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, including a 12-1 regular season record in 2008. San Diego State was considered an annual underachiever prior to Hoke, but he led the Aztecs to the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl – their first postseason appearance since 1998. As a Michigan man, Hoke is a perfect fit in Ann Arbor. And after two seasons, Hoke has the Wolverines poised once again to be a threat to win the Big Ten title every year.

Related Content: Ranking the Big Ten Coaches for 2013

15. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Overall Record at Oklahoma State: 67-35 (2005-present, 8 years)

Even though Gundy ranks No. 5 in Athlon’s Big 12 coach rankings for 2013, there’s not much separating the former Oklahoma State quarterback from the rest of the coaches in the conference. And it’s also hard to find a coach in the nation that’s a better fit at their current program. Considering Gundy played at Oklahoma State and served as an assistant prior to being elevated to head coach, he’s the perfect leader for a program that has made significant gains over the last 10 years. After going 18-19 in his first three seasons, Gundy has led the Cowboys to five consecutive seasons of at least eight victories. Oklahoma State recorded a 23-3 mark from 2010-11, which included an outright Big 12 title in 2011 and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. Having a booster like T. Boone Pickens certainly doesn’t hurt Oklahoma State, especially when it comes to building new facilities. However, Gundy has elevated the Cowboys from battling just for bowl berths to conference titles in just a few seasons. 

16. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 11-2 (2012-present)
Record at Houston: 35-17 (2008-2011)
Overall Record: 46-19 (5 years)

Sumlin’s debut at Texas A&M was a rousing success. In the Aggies’ first season in the SEC, Sumlin guided Texas A&M to an 11-2 record, helped to propel quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Heisman, and had the Aggies on the doorstep of playing in a BCS bowl. Sumlin came to Texas A&M after a 35-17 record in four seasons at Houston, which included a 12-1 mark in 2011. The Alabama native built a strong resume as an assistant, making stops at Wyoming, Minnesota, Purdue, Texas A&M and at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. One of the underrated aspects of Sumlin’s hire was a top-notch coaching staff, which included Kliff Kingsbury and Brian Polian, who both departed for head coaching jobs in the offseason. However, Sumlin restocked his staff, and with Texas A&M reeling in a top-10 recruiting class, the future looks bright in College Station. Sumlin’s next priority? Cut into Texas’ hold on the state and elevate Texas A&M into a consistent contender in the SEC.

17. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Overall Record at Vanderbilt:
 15-11 (2011-present, 2 years)

Vanderbilt had never been to back-to-back bowl games in program history, but in just two short years, that is exactly what Franklin has done for the Commodores. It really is the only statistic that matters as Vandy has achieved at a higher level than ever before in the 117-year history of the program. With the only exception of attendance — which is still very strong compared to pre-Franklin standards — everything about this program screams S-E-C. Franklin has the Dores recruiting at an all-time rate, the offense is scoring at unprecedented levels and the program as a whole has a swagger never before seen on West End. Franklin is meticulous in his holistic and forward-thinking approach to selling a program and its exactly what a program like Vanderbilt has to have if it wants to continue to grow and contend with much more powerful SEC programs.

18. Charlie Strong, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 25-14 (2010-present)
Record at Florida: 0-1 (2004 Peach Bowl)
Overall Record: 25-15 (3 full years)

Strong had to wait a while for his first head coaching gig, but the Arkansas native has shown in just three full seasons he is one of the top 25 coaches in the nation. After stops as an assistant at Florida, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina, Strong was hired as Louisville’s head coach in 2010. He didn’t inherit a full cupboard from the previous coaching staff, so it was no surprise Strong went 7-6 in each of his first two years in Louisville. However, the Cardinals took flight in 2012, winning 11 games (including an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over Florida). Strong turned down overtures from other BCS programs and will be tough to pry away from Louisville. If the Cardinals finish in the top 10 as most expect in 2013, expect to see Strong’s name move even higher on the list of the nation’s best coaches.

19. Al Golden, Miami
Record at Miami: 13-11 (2011-present)
Record at Temple: 27-34 (2006-2010)
Overall Record: 40-45 (6 years)

Golden earned the Miami job after building bottom feeder Temple into a MAC contender. He didn’t have a losing league record in his final four seasons in Philly and earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2009. A massive NCAA scandal involving super booster Nevin Shapiro didn’t slow Golden’s recruiting efforts and his team showed improvement last fall by winning the ACC's Coastal Division. Yet, for a second straight year, Miami missed a bowl game due to self-imposed postseason sanctions. His tribute to Howard Schnellenberger — a dress shirt, tie, slacks and jacket gameday attire — has once again become an iconic symbol on the Hurricanes’ sideline. After more than 10 freshmen saw starting time in ’12, Miami could be the front-runner in the Coastal this fall. Golden still has much to prove in Coral Gables, but his resurrection job at Temple shows he's capable of elevating Miami back into ACC title contention - provided the program can dodge major NCAA sanctions from the ongoing investigation. 

20. David Shaw, Stanford
Overall Record at Stanford: 23-4 (2011-present)

Even after two years of winning at an 85-percent clip, there is still somewhat of an unknown factor with Shaw. He has finished tied for first in the Pac-12 North Division both seasons on the Farm, claimed a conference championship and won the school’s first Rose Bowl since 1972. Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck built the Cardinal program back to respectability, and, now that expectations have been elevated significantly, it will be no small feat to maintain this level of success. Shaw is steeped in Stanford tradition as a player and is one of the most well-liked men in the business. If he keeps recruiting at a high level, the Cardinal will remain a factor in the Pac-12 North for years to come. However, the bar has been set high after the last few years, and it’s easy to see just how valuable of a coach Harbaugh was after taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his second year in the NFL.

21. Mike Riley, Oregon State
Overall Record at Oregon State: 81-67 (1997-98, 2003-present)

Riley has one of the most unique career paths in all of football. He won big in the CFL before his first stint in Corvallis (8-14) led to an NFL job in San Diego. He returned to Oregon State in 2003 and posted six winning campaigns in his next seven seasons, including the school’s first 10-win season (2006) and a Pac-10 Coach of the Year award (2008). Yet, after two losing seasons in 2010-11, Riley started to feel some pressure to win entering 2012, and he delivered in a big way. Riley turned the league’s worst rushing defense into one of the Pac-12’s best in one offseason and returned the Beavers to a bowl game. There are few people more liked in the industry than Riley and he consistently gets more out of less than most of his coaching peers. There is a reason he is the winningest coach in Oregon State history. It can be tough to sustain success at a program like Oregon State, but Riley is the right man to keep the Beavers in contention for a winning record every year.

22. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Michigan: 15-22 (2008-10)
Record at West Virginia: 60-26 (2001-07)
Record at Glenville State: 43-28-2 (1990-96)
Record at Salem: 2-8 (1988)
Overall Record: 134-93-2 (19 years)

Although his lack of success at Michigan is an eyesore on an otherwise stellar resume, Rodriguez is still one of the Pac-12’s top coaches. And if there was any doubt about his coaching prowess, he answered those questions with an 8-5 debut at Arizona in 2012. The Wildcats’ eight victories were a four-game improvement from 2011 and three of their losses were by seven points or less, including an overtime defeat to Stanford. Rodriguez should win big at Arizona, as he is a much better fit in the desert than in the Big Ten with Michigan. In seven years with West Virginia from 2001-07, Rodriguez led the Mountaineers to 60 wins, including a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia in 2005. West Virginia also claimed at least a share of the conference title in four years under Rodriguez’s watch. Arizona must replace quarterback Matt Scott in 2013, but the Wildcats could be pushing for a spot every year in the top 25 as long as Rodriguez is on the sideline.

23. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Overall Record at Mississippi State: 29-22 (2009-present, 5 years)

Each BCS conference seems to have one coach that cannot be judged strictly on his record. Mullen fits that profile for the SEC, as he is coming off his fifth year in Starkville and has a 29-22 overall record. Although Mullen’s overall record isn’t overly impressive, Mississippi State is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. The Bulldogs have played in three consecutive bowl games under Mullen and are coming off a 4-4 conference record in the always loaded SEC. Mullen is 3-1 against rival Ole Miss and has won seven or more games in each of the last three seasons. Prior to taking the top spot at Mississippi State, Mullen worked as an assistant under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. There’s no question Mullen needs to consistently beat some of the top teams in the SEC West to climb higher in the coach rankings. However, it’s not easy to win the division right now, especially as Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M could all be top-15 teams in 2013. If Mullen was at one of the top jobs in the conference – Florida, Alabama, LSU or Georgia – he would easily win at a higher level.

Related Content: Ranking the SEC Coaches for 2013

24. Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 84-21 (2005-present)
Record at Oklahoma State: 28-21 (2001-04)
Overall Record: 113-42 (12 years)

Needless to say, Miles’ interesting personality sometimes distracts from his coaching ability. The Ohio native got his chance to be a head coach in 2001, as he was hired to lead Oklahoma State. The Cowboys went 4-7 in his first year but recorded at least seven victories in each of the next three seasons. Miles parlayed his success with Oklahoma State into the top spot at LSU, which he has held since 2005. Under Miles, the Tigers have had plenty of success – 84 victories and seven finishes in the Associated Press top 25 poll. LSU is 34-6 over the last three years and played for the national championship after the 2011 season. Although the Tigers have experienced plenty of success under Miles, there’s also a sense of disappointment. LSU went 10-3 with a team that was picked among the top two by most preseason polls last season. The Tigers also had a disappointing 8-5 2008 campaign and are 1-3 in their last four bowl games. There’s no question Miles is a solid coach, but he has plenty of talent at his disposal, and the Tigers have slightly underachieved.

25. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Wisconsin: 68-24 (2006-2012)
Overall Record: 68-24 (7 years)

Bielema’s decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas came as a surprise, but the lure of coaching in the SEC was tough to turn down. In seven years with the Badgers, Bielema had a 68-24 record, and led Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances. Bielema led the Badgers to five finishes in the Associated Press' top 25 and had four seasons of 10 or more victories. Although Bielema was a good coach in the Big Ten, the road is much tougher in the SEC. Arkansas is in for a transition year in 2013, and the team will have to contend with improving programs at Texas A&M and Ole Miss in the West. While Bielema isn’t likely to lead the Razorbacks to a 10-win season in 2013 or '14, he is a good pick for a program that should be a consistent bowl team. Bielema will need some time to adjust to the SEC, but he should be a good fit at Arkansas.

26. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 51-28 (2007-present)
Record at Cincinnati: 18-17 (2004-06)
Overall Record: 51-28 (9 years)

The Spartans underachieved in 2012, but Dantonio’s overall record in six years in East Lansing is a rock-solid 51-28. The Texas native has guided Michigan State to six consecutive bowl berths and recorded back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2010-11. Dantonio’s 2011 team played for the Big Ten Championship, and the 2012 squad tied for the conference title. Prior to his tenure with Michigan State, Dantonio recorded an 18-17 record in three years with Cincinnati, which included two bowl appearances. Michigan State has the resources to be a consistent top-25 program but was considered an underachiever before Dantonio’s arrival. Despite slipping to 7-6 in 2012, Dantonio will have Michigan State back in the mix for the Big Ten Legends Division. 

27. Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Overall Record at Penn State: 8-4 (Penn State, 2012-present)

Bill Belichick assistants haven’t exactly gone on to do big things as head coaches, but in one short year, O’Brien might be on his way to being the best of the Patriots' coach’s offspring. There is little viable evidence in favor of or against O’Brien as a head coach other than the job he did in his first year in Happy Valley. In the face of the worst NCAA scandal in history, he won eight games with an offense that was more creative and innovative than fans at Penn State had seen in nearly a decade. He also recruited extremely well considering the circumstances. The sample size is extraordinarily small and the situation is still difficult to quantify. That said, it's pretty clear that O’Brien has won most of Nittany Nation over in one quick season. And if his growing interest from NFL executives is any indication, Penn State has found a good one in the Brown University graduate.

28. Mack Brown, Texas
Record at Texas: 150-43 (1998-present)
Record at North Carolina: 69-46-1 (1988-97)
Record at Tulane: 11-23 (1985-87)
Record at Appalachian State: 6-5 (1983)
Overall Record: 236-117-1 (29 years)

Is 2013 a make-or-break year for Brown at Texas? It’s certainly a possibility. The Longhorns 11-15 mark in conference play over the last three years is unacceptable for one of college football’s premier programs. Brown transformed Texas into a national title contender, but it’s clear his best days as a head coach are probably behind him. Prior to coming to Austin, Brown worked as a head coach for one season at Appalachian State, three years at Tulane and for 10 years at North Carolina. In some regard, Brown is a victim of his own success at Texas. In his first 12 seasons in Austin, the Longhorns won at least nine games in every year and beat USC to win the 2005 national championship. However, since losing to Alabama in the 2009 BCS title, Texas hasn’t been the same program. The Longhorns have the talent to win the Big 12 title in 2013. If Texas fails to surpass its 2012 win total (nine), there will be plenty of calls for a coaching change in Austin.

Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013

29. Todd Graham, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 8-5 (2012-present)
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-6 (2011)
Record at Tulsa: 36-17 (2007-10)
Record at Rice: 7-6 (2006)
Overall Record: 57-34 (7 years)

With four head coaching jobs in seven years, it’s fair to poke fun at Graham’s job-hopping skills. However, what’s lost in his movement is the Texas native is a very good coach. In his only season at Rice, Graham improved the Owls’ win total by six games from the previous year. At Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane won at least 10 games in three of his four seasons. And at Pittsburgh, Graham led the Panthers to a 6-6 regular-season record and an invite to the BBVA Compass Bowl. Arizona State finished with an 8-5 record last season, the program's first winning mark since 2007. The Sun Devils were close to winning the Pac-12 South Division, as they lost to UCLA by just two points in late October. Under Graham, Arizona State also cut out the boneheaded mistakes and penalties that seemed to plague this program in recent years. The Sun Devils have the personnel to win the division in 2013, and Graham could have this team in the mix for a spot in most preseason top-25 polls.

Related Content: Ranking the Pac-12 Coaches for 2013

30. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Record at Ole Miss: 7-6 (2012-present)
Record at Arkansas State: 10-2 (2011)
Record at Lambuth: 20-5 (2008-09)
Overall Record: 37-13 (4 years)

After a successful debut in Oxford, a case could be made Freeze should be ranked higher on this list. The Mississippi native inherited an Ole Miss team that went 2-10 in the year prior to his arrival and guided the Rebels to a 7-6 finish with a victory over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. After finishing 2011 as the SEC’s worst team, Ole Miss was one of college football’s top 40 teams last year. Success and improvement hasn’t just been limited to one stop for Freeze, as Lambuth was 20-5 from 2008-09 under his watch, and Arkansas State went 4-8 prior to his arrival, only to win 10 games in Freeze’s only season in Jonesboro. Freeze is bringing in a top-five recruiting class to Oxford, and the program is clearly headed in the right direction. The Mississippi native has never been a head coach at one stop long enough to show he can sustain success for five or more seasons. However, considering his recruiting haul and track record so far, there’s little to doubt Freeze will continue to climb on this list in the coming years.

31. Mike Leach, Washington State
Record at Washington State: 3-9 (2012-present)
Record at Texas Tech: 84-43 (2000-09)
Overall Record: 87-52 (11 years)

Leach is an evaluation anomaly. He has more than a decade of elite-level coaching prowess loaded with some of the most prolific passing statistics in the history of college football. His quarterbacks litter the NCAA passing record books, but his off-the-field headlines have dominated his resume in recent years. A strange and bizarre ousting from Texas Tech led to a brief hiatus from coaching and a short radio career with SiriusXM. Leach took the Washington State job and immediately dealt with locker room upheaval as well as on-the-field deficiencies. His team lost its best player (Marquess Wilson) late in the season, and the rushing offense was the worst in FBS football. Yet somehow, he was still able to finish his first year with a monumental comeback against arch-rival Washington in the Apple Cup. However, more than three wins is needed to keep Leach in the good graces of the Cougars brass this fall.

32. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Record at Georgia Tech: 41-26 (2008-present)
Record at Navy: 45-29 (2002-07)
Record at Georgia Southern: 62-10 (1997-2001)
Overall Record: 148-65 (15 years)

After two I-AA National Championships at Georgia Southern, Johnson completely reinvented the Naval Academy before bringing his patented triple-option attack to the big leagues. Since showing up at Georgia Tech, Johnson has never posted a losing ACC record, has played in three ACC championship games and never missed the postseason. The Sun Bowl win over USC a year ago was his first at Tech and the school’s first bowl win since 2004. Needless to say, the long-time head coach has proven his option system is fully capable of winning at a high level.

33. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Utah State: 26-24 (2009-2012)
Record at Southern Utah: 4-7 (2003)
Overall Record: 30-31 (5 years)

Don’t be fooled by Andersen’s 30-31 career record. The Utah native is an excellent coach who should win big in Madison. Prior to his first head coaching job at Southern Utah in 2003, Andersen worked as an assistant at Northern Arizona and Utah. And after a one-year stint as the Thunderbirds head coach, he rejoined the Utes’ coaching staff and stayed in Salt Lake City until 2009, when he was picked to lead Utah State. Andersen turned the Aggies from WAC bottom feeder to a title contender, leading Utah State to an 11-2 record in 2012 with a top-20 finish in the Associated Press' poll. Andersen doesn’t have experience coaching in the Big Ten, but he is familiar with Urban Meyer since he served as his defensive line coach with the Utes in 2004. Despite his lack of familiarity with the Big Ten, Andersen has been successful at each of his coaching stops, and Utah State showed big improvement in each of his four seasons. With Meyer leading Ohio State, the Badgers may not match its recent run of three straight Big Ten titles in the near future. However, Wisconsin should be a consistent top-25 team under Andersen’s watch.

Related Content: Ranking the Big Ten Coaches for 2013

34. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette
Record at Louisiana-Lafayette: 18-8 (2011-present)
Record at North Alabama: 66-21 (2002-08)
Overall Record: 84-29 (9 years)

If you are looking for college football’s next rising star in the non-BCS ranks, look no further than Lafayette, La. Hudspeth has recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons and has two bowl victories since taking over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Before coming to Louisiana-Lafayette, Hudspeth went 66-21 and made five playoff appearances in seven years at North Alabama, a Division II member school. Hudspeth served as an assistant on Dan Mullen’s staff at Mississippi State from 2009-10 and spent one year as Navy’s offensive coordinator in 2001. As each of his two head coaching stops have shown, Hudspeth is a proven winner and is ready to jump to a BCS school in the next few years. 

35. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Overall Record at Nebraska: 49-20 (Nebraska, 2003, 2008-present)

Pelini is one of the most intriguing coaches to evaluate among all the BCS conferences, if not the entire FBS pool. He leads one of the most powerful and historic programs in the nation and has resources at his disposal that most schools only dream of. He has led the Cornhuskers to three conference championship games in six seasons in two different leagues and has never won fewer than nine games. He also posted his best conference record with a 7-1 mark a year ago. However, he has also had many uncomfortable (and possibly inappropriate) moments with his players on national television and has never lost fewer than four games in any season. Nebraska is back competing for league championships for the first time since the '90s, but is Pelini treading water at 9-4 each season or was 2012 a glimpse of more to come?

36. Will Muschamp, Florida
Overall Record at Florida: 18-8 (2011-present, 2 years)

The fiery Florida coach proved a lot in his crucial second season at the helm in Gainesville. His team was one lost fumble at the goal line away from playing for a national championship in the SEC title game. His teams play with fierce physicality and his side of the ball, the defense, has been a major strength. His track record of big-time success — two national championship game appearances as a defensive coordinator — under Nick Saban, Mack Brown and Tommy Tuberville points to his ability to grind it out in a brutal conference. Yet, at times, his teams tend to play out of control — much like his coaching style — and its the only thing keeping him from being one of the league's elite field generals. So with a reworked defense and third(-ish) year starter under center, Gators fans are anxiously awaiting Muschamp's third season. Finishing a game against Georgia would go a long way to proving Muschamp is the long-term answer.

37. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Overall Record at Florida State: 31-10 (2010-present, 3 years)

Under Fisher’s direction, Florida State has once again emerged as a top-10 program. The Seminoles slipped in the final years under Bobby Bowden but have won at least nine games in each of Fisher’s three seasons. Florida State also has three bowl wins under Fisher and is 1-1 in the ACC Championship game under his watch. Despite Fisher’s success, the Seminoles have yet to climb back into the national title discussion and have finished just once in the Associated Press' poll final top 10. So while Florida State has made strides under Fisher, it’s not back among the nation’s elite – at least right now. The Seminoles continue to recruit well, and there’s plenty of young talent to fill the voids by the departing players. Fisher has a revamped coaching staff and a new indoor facility is on the way. All of the pieces are in place for Florida State to win big once again. If Fisher can elevate the Seminoles into a consistent top-five team once again, he will move into the top three of the ACC coaching ranks. However, Florida State also has a few head-scratching losses under Fisher, including a 17-16 road loss to NC State in 2012 and a 14-13 home defeat to Virginia in '11. If Fisher wants to be considered elite, it’s time for the puzzling losses to end.

Related Content: Ranking the ACC Coaches for 2013

38. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Overall Record at Iowa State: 24-27 (2009-present, 4 years)

Rhoads is the textbook example of why coaches shouldn’t always be judged just by the wins and losses on their resume. Iowa State is arguably the most difficult job in the Big 12 and one of the toughest from a BCS conference. So while Rhoads 24-27 record isn’t going to wow anyone, it’s impressive what he’s been able to do during his time in Ames. The Cyclones have played in three bowl games under Rhoads, with a victory in the 2009 Insight Bowl against Minnesota. Iowa State has won two in a row over rival Iowa and under Rhoads’ watch, the Cyclones have scored upset victories against Texas and Oklahoma State. As a native of Iowa, it would take a lot of Rhoads to leave Iowa State for another program. However, as long as the Cyclones in contention for a bowl every year, Rhoads’ name will keep coming up in coaching searches for top BCS programs.

39. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Record at North Carolina: 8-4 (2012-present)
Record at Southern Miss: 34-19 (2008-11)
Overall Record: 42-23 (5 years)

Fedora cut his coaching chops at Baylor, Air Force, Middle Tennessee, Florida and Oklahoma State. After a four-year run at Southern Miss that culminated with a C-USA Championship in 2011, Fedora landed at a North Carolina program still reeling from the aftermath of the Butch Davis era. He led the Heels to a co-Coastal Division title last season, but bowl sanctions didn’t allow North Carolina to play in the postseason. His offensive scheme is a proven commodity, but can he rebuild a roster hurt heavily by NFL defections and scholarship limitations?

40. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
Overall Record at Clemson: 40-21 (2008-present, 5 years)

Swinney is one of the toughest coaches to rank in the ACC. He may not be the best X’s and O’s coach, but Clemson is 40-21 with two appearances in the ACC Championship under his watch. The Tigers seem to have turned a corner under Swinney’s direction and are the favorite to win the ACC in 2013. While Swinney deserves credit for the Tigers’ rise in recent years, having two of college football’s highest-paid coordinators hurts his case to be ranked higher on this list. Since Chad Morris arrived at Clemson, the Tigers are 21-6. Prior to his arrival, Swinney was just 19-15. Credit Clemson for giving Swinney the money to spend on quality assistants, which has clearly paid dividends for the program in recent years. Is Swinney an elite coach? Probably not. However, as long as he continues to recruit at a high level and hire good coordinators when Morris and Brent Venables leave for head coaching jobs, Clemson should remain one of the top programs in the ACC. 

41. Butch Jones, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee: First Season
Record at Cincinnati: 23-14 (2010-2012)
Record at Central Michigan: 27-13 (2007-2009)
Overall Record: 50-27 (6 years)

The book on Jones is fairly straight forward. His teams have won at least a share of a league championship in four of his six seasons as a head coach. Two of them were outright while at Central Michigan and two of them were co-championships in the always murky Big East with the Bearcats. He has an excellent win-loss record and has taken a forward-thinking approach in his short tenure at Tennessee and it has made for big waves on the recruiting trail. However, he took over programs built up by Brian Kelly at his previous two stops and it remains to be seen if he can compete with the likes of Spurrier, Richt and Saban every single season. There is some renewed energy in Knoxville but fans can't be in anything but wait and see mode with Jones, the Vols' fourth head coach since 2008. 

Related Content: Ranking the SEC Coaches for 2013

42. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Record at Missouri: 90-61 (2001-present)
Record at Toledo: 73-37-3 (1991-2000)
Overall Record: 163-98-3 (21 years)

Pinkel has a long and storied career on the sidelines at both Toledo and Mizzou with at least 70 wins at both. He built the Tigers football program to never before seen levels of success, both in the win column and in the box score. He is essentially responsible for Missouri being an attractive option for the SEC and needs to be given a lion's share of credit for the three-letter patch currently on their shoulder pads. He is No. 3 all-time in wins and is just 11 wins from becoming Missouri's winningest coach in history. That said, he never broke through in the Big 12 with a conference championship and watched his team post its worst finish in Pinkel's second season (2002). He has been around a long time and gets a lot of credit for building Mizzou football into what it is today, but now he is facing the biggest and best the game has to offer.

43. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
Record at Cincinnati: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Texas Tech: 20-17 (2010-2012)
Record at Auburn: 85-40 (1999-2008)
Record at Ole Miss: 25-20 (1995-98)
Overall Record: 130-77 (17 years)

First, Tuberville has coached at three power conference jobs and has a winning record at all three. Second, he has an undefeated season in the SEC to his credit and is 50 games over .500 in the country’s toughest league. Third, he has a bizarre off-the-field resume that includes traffic accidents, ponzi schemes and questionable recruiting tactics as well as two strange departures from quality jobs. He was never a clean fit at Texas Tech and the program’s first losing season since 1992 led to an unsettling relationship with the fans. He improved the Red Raiders' atrocious 2011 defense enough to return to a bowl game last fall but could see the handwriting on the wall and bolted for the Bearcats. If the Cincy fans can handle the good with the bad, Tuberville should be able to keep the Bearcats competing for league championships.

Related Content: Want to know more (stats, history, records) about coaches? Check out  

44. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at San Jose State: 16-21 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-21 (3 years)

MacIntyre has a tough job ahead of him at Colorado, but his previous stint at San Jose State shows he is up for the task. In three years with the Spartans, MacIntyre recorded a 16-21 overall mark and led the program to a top-25 finish in the Associated Press poll at the conclusion of 2012. San Jose State was not in great shape when MacIntyre arrived in 2010, as the program went 8-16 in Dick Tomey’s last two years and had just one winning season from 2001-09. After a 1-12 record in 2010, MacIntyre’s team showed steady improvement by winning five games in '11 and 11 last fall. The Spartans' only losses in 2012 came to Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Stanford and a very good Utah State team in mid-October. The Buffaloes are in need of major repair after seven consecutive losing seasons. It may take some time for MacIntyre to get Colorado in contention for a bowl game, but expect the Buffaloes to show marked improvement in 2013. 

Related Content: Ranking the Pac-12 Coaches for 2013

45. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
Overall Record at Washington: 26-25 (2009-present, 4 years)

Coach Sark has proven that he is adaptable during his four years in Seattle. Prior to his arrival in 2009, Washington hadn’t had a winning record since 2002. Sarkisian changed that with a 7-6 campaign in 2010, which included an unexpected win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. However, three straight 7-6/5-4 records have a stagnant feel to them. That said, he has shown the ability to make adjustments when one of the worst defenses in the nation became one of the best overnight when he hired Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi last season. Washington is moving back into a brand new Husky Stadium and the U of W brand is hotter than ever on the recruiting trail, so Sarkisian gets credit for rebuilding the program. However, he needs to take the next step and show that his team can compete for Pac-12 North Division titles.

46. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU
Overall Record at BYU: 74-29 (2005-present, 8 years)

Mendenhall has quietly amassed 74 victories in eight years in Provo, and BYU has won four consecutive bowl games under his watch. In addition to his success on the field, Mendenhall has guided BYU through its transition from the Mountain West Conference to football independence, which has resulted in an 18-8 mark for the Cougars the past two seasons. Mendenhall’s teams have produced plenty of firepower on offense, but the defense is usually a strength in Provo. BYU ranked third nationally in points allowed and in total defense last season and could have one of the nation’s top linebackers with Kyle Van Noy returning for his senior year. The only blemish on Mendenhall’s resume would be a 3-5 mark against rival Utah, as the Cougars have lost three straight to the Utes.  

47. Willie Taggart, South Florida
Record at South Florida: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Western Kentucky: 16-20 (2010-12)
Overall Record: 16-20 (3 years)

After a three-year stint as Western Kentucky’s head coach, Taggart essentially returns home to take over the top spot at South Florida. Taggart went 16-20 during his three years with the Hilltoppers, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. The 14 victories during that stretch was the best two-year stint for Western Kentucky since 2004-05. Taggart played his high school ball at Manatee in Bradenton, Fla., which is just an hour outside of USF. The 36-year-old coach is clearly one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks and should help the Bulls be one of the most-improved teams in the conference in 2013.

Related Content: Ranking the Big East Coaches for 2013

48. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Record at Wake Forest: 73-74 (2001-present)
Record at Ohio: 33-33-1 (1995-2000, 6 years)
Overall Record: 106-107-1 (18 years)

Grobe has done a lot of good things at Wake Forest, which includes leading the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship and a BCS bowl in 2006. The West Virginia native isn’t the flashiest coach, but he turned around Ohio during his six-year stint from 1995-2000 and has a 73-74 mark during his Wake Forest tenure. While a 73-74 record isn’t overly impressive, winning in Winston-Salem is no easy task, and Grobe needs just five victories to become the school’s all-time winningest coach. Despite making Wake Forest into a more competitive team within the ACC, there’s some concern Grobe may have slipped in recent years. The Demon Deacons have four consecutive losing seasons and won only one conference game in 2010. It's not easy to sustain success at Wake Forest. But considering Grobe's track record and the youth on this team last season, he should have the Demon Deacons back in the mix for a bowl game in 2013.

49. David Cutcliffe, Duke
Record at Duke: 21-40 (2008-present)
Record at Ole Miss: 44-29 (1998-2004)
Overall Record: 65-69 (11 years)

Cutcliffe has been an incredibly effective offensive coach — when he has a Manning under center. After coaching Peyton in Knoxville, he posted five winning seasons in six years at Ole Miss (three of which Eli quarterbacked) but was fired before his seventh season. After four years of coordinating at Notre Dame and Tennessee, he returned as a head coach at Duke. The Blue Devils haven’t posted a winning record in his five years and are 9-31 in ACC play under Cutcliffe. That said, his offenses have always been excellent, the team is much more competitive than it was prior to his arrival, and Duke finally returned to the postseason in 2012 for the first time since 1994.

50. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia 
Overall Record at West Virginia: 17-9 (2011-present, 2 years)

Holgorsen is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football, but his two-year stint as West Virginia’s coach has been a mixed bag of results. In his first season, the Mountaineers went 10-3 and claimed the Big East title. West Virginia capped off the 2011 season in style, gashing Clemson for 70 points in a 70-33 Orange Bowl rout. And the Mountaineers managed to ride that momentum early in 2013, starting 5-0 with exciting shootout victories against Baylor and Texas. However, the season took a nosedive with a road trip to Lubbock. West Virginia lost five consecutive games, before rallying to win the final two regular season contests of 2012. The Mountaineers played in the Pinstripe Bowl but were dominated 38-14 by former Big East rival Syracuse. So after two seasons, it’s hard to judge just how effective Holgorsen is as a head coach. He proved his mettle as an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State and helped to guide West Virginia to an average of 502 yards per game last year. However, the Mountaineers’ defense was a disaster, and the talent level on both sides of the ball needs to be upgraded to win in the Big 12. Holgorsen still has much to prove, but the 2011 season showed he is capable of elevating the program. With the transition to a tougher conference, some patience will be required in Morgantown. 

Related Content: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches for 2013

51. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 6-18 (2011-present)
Record at Connecticut: 74-70 (1999-2010)
Overall Record: 80-88 (14 years)

After a disastrous debut with Maryland in 2011, Edsall appears to have the Terrapins headed back in the right direction. Maryland went 2-10 in Edsall’s first season and navigated four season-ending injuries to quarterbacks in 2012 to finish with a 4-8 mark. Prior to taking the job at Maryland, Edsall spent 12 years as the head coach at Connecticut. Under his watch, the Huskies recorded a 74-70 mark and played in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. Before Edsall was picked as Connecticut’s head coach in 1999, he worked at Syracuse (1980-90), spent three seasons with Boston College (1991-93), served four years in the NFL with the Jaguars (1994-97) and one season as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator ('98). Edsall is just under .500 for his head coaching career, but he had to bring Connecticut from the FCS level to the Big East, which was no easy task. And Edsall’s job is only going to get tougher in the coming years, especially after Maryland joins the Big Ten in 2014.

52. Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh
Record at Pittsburgh: 6-7 (2012-present)
Overall Record: 6-7 (1 year)

The former Wisconsin quarterback has coached all over North America in the NFL (San Diego), CFL (Ottawa, Saskatchewan) and at numerous college programs. However, he blossomed as an elite offensive mind at his alma mater in Madison. For seven seasons, Chryst led arguably the greatest era of offensive football in Badgers history, culminating in a near national title berth in 2011. This led to his first head coaching job at Pitt in 2012. His first season leading the Panthers — a team faced with its fourth different head coach in as many years — began slowly but his team showed marked improvement over the course of the season and all signs point to being competitive in their new league.

53. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Arkansas State: 9-3 (2012)
Overall Record: 9-3 (1 year)

Although Gene Chizik was the head coach for Auburn’s national title team in 2010, it’s pretty evident much of the credit for the team’s success was due to quarterback Cam Newton and Malzahn. And after spending one year at Arkansas State, Malzahn is back at Auburn as the head coach. In his one season with the Red Wolves, Malzahn led the team to a 9-3 record. There’s no question Malzahn is one of college football’s top offensive minds, and his one year of experience at Arkansas State should have him better prepared for coaching in the SEC. However, Malzahn still needs to prove he can be a successful head coach at the SEC level. With more head coaching experience, Malzahn should rank higher on this list. And with his familiarity with the team in 2013, Auburn could be the most-improved team in the SEC.

54. Jim Mora, UCLA
Overall Record at UCLA: 9-5 (2012-present)

Mora wasn’t the most popular hire when he was picked to replace Rick Neuheisel at UCLA. After all, a 31-33 career record in the NFL isn’t anything special. However, the Bruins improved their win total by three games in Mora’s first season and lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game by just three points. Mora still has much to prove in the next few seasons, as he inherited a lot of talent from the previous coaching staff, and despite winning the division, UCLA lost its final three games of 2012. Mora has surrounded himself with a good staff, and the Bruins have recruited well in each of the last two years. If UCLA wins the South Division once again in 2013, Mora will more than likely rise in these coach rankings next season. 

55. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Overall Record at Utah: 71-32 (8 years)

As expected, the move from the Mountain West to the Pac-12 has made life a little more difficult for Utah. Whittingham has been a solid coach in his tenure, but can he elevate the program into Pac-12 title contention? It’s clear it’s going to take some time for the Utes to be an annual factor in the South Division, especially with UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State all showing progress last year. Whittingham led Utah to a 58-20 mark in six years (plus one Fiesta Bowl win in 2004) in the Mountain West. But the Utes are just 13-12 in two seasons in the Pac-12 and missed out on a bowl appearance in 2012 for the first time since 2002. There’s no question Whittingham was a key reason why Utah was successful in the Mountain West and is guiding the program through a tough conference transition. However, Utah took a step back in 2012, and Whittingham is just 7-11 in two years in Pac-12 games.

56. Sonny Dykes, California
Record at California: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Louisiana Tech: 22-15 (2010-2012)
Overall Record: 22-15 (3 years)

Dykes has a legacy synonymous with coaching as the son of Texas Tech’s legendary head coach Spike Dykes. He worked his way from up the high school and small college ranks before jobs at Kentucky, Texas Tech and Arizona, which led to his first head coaching gig at Louisiana Tech. Learning from his father and fellow Pac-12 North offensive guru Mike Leach, Dykes’ powerful offenses have been his signature. He won the WAC Championship and conference Coach of the Year honors in 2011 and then finished with the nation’s No. 1-rated total and scoring offense in ’12. He walks into a much better situation at Cal than when predecessor Jeff Tedford arrived, as facilities and stadium upgrades make the Bears job much more competitive.

57. Lane Kiffin, USC
Record at USC: 25-13 (2010-present)
Record at Tennessee: 7-6 (2009)
Overall Record: 32-19 (4 years)

There’s no question Kiffin is the toughest coach in the Pac-12 to rank. Kiffin has shown flashes of promise at each of his collegiate coaching stops, starting with a 7-6 record at Tennessee in 2009. The Volunteers were one of the SEC’s worst offensive teams in 2008, yet Kiffin turned Jonathan Crompton into a solid quarterback, and the offense averaged 29.3 points a game. Despite NCAA sanctions hanging over the program, Kiffin guided USC to an 18-7 record during his first two years, including a 2011 Pac-12 South Division title. However, the Trojans were banned from postseason play, so USC could not participate in the conference championship game. While those are the positives, the negatives for Kiffin largely center on the 2012 season. The Trojans were widely picked as a national title favorite but finished with a disappointing 7-6 record and were defeated by a 6-7 Georgia Tech team in the Sun Bowl. Kiffin has had his share of drama at each stop, including recruiting violations at Tennessee, and the deflated football scandal and jersey switch controversy in 2012. Can Kiffin succeed at USC? Absolutely. However, the Minnesota native should worry less about the media, injuries and off-the-field nonsense and concentrate more on the X’s and O’s. The Trojans have the talent to win the Pac-12 South Division. But if this team stumbles once again, Kiffin will likely be out of a job at the end of the year.

58. Troy Calhoun, Air Force
Overall Record at Air Force: 47-31 (6 years)

Regardless of personnel losses, it always seems Air Force finds a way to win seven or eight games every year. And that’s a big credit to the coaching of Calhoun, who has served as Air Force’s head coach since 2007. The Falcons have won 47 games under Calhoun and have made six consecutive bowl appearances. Prior to coming to Air Force, Calhoun coached in the NFL with the Broncos and Texans and worked in college with Jim Grobe at Ohio and Wake Forest. As a former Air Force quarterback, Calhoun isn’t going to be in a hurry to leave the service academy. And as long as Calhoun is on the sidelines, the Falcons will be a tough out in the Mountain West every year.

59. Dave Doeren, NC State
Record at NC State: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-4 (2011-12)
Overall Record: 23-4 (2 years)

NC State made one of the offseason’s top coaching moves by hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois. Although Tom O’Brien led the Wolfpack to four bowl games in five seasons, a 22-26 record in conference play wasn’t good enough. It’s tough to envision NC State consistently beating Clemson and Florida State, but the program can win more than it has the last few years. Doeren looks like the right coach to take NC State to the next level, as he comes to Raleigh after a 23-4 mark in two seasons with Northern Illinois. Although he inherited a good team from Jerry Kill, Doeren took the Huskies to new heights, including a berth in last season's Orange Bowl against Florida State. Prior to his two-year stint as Northern Illinois’ head coach, he served as a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Kansas and also spent time as a graduate assistant at USC. Doeren doesn’t have any experience in the ACC, so it may take some time to build connections on the recruiting trail. However, all signs point to Doeren’s hire being a home run for NC State.

60. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 100-74 (1999-present)
Record at Maine: 12-21 (1990-92)
Overall Record: 112-95 (17 years)

A few seasons ago, Ferentz would have ranked much higher on this list. However, Iowa has been going in the wrong direction over the last three years. After going 11-22 including an Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech in 2009, the Hawkeyes have watched their win total decrease in each of the last three years. This steady decline resulted in a 4-8 mark in 2012, which was Ferentz’s fewest wins since 2000 (3-9). While Ferentz has led Iowa to 10 bowl games and two BCS bowls, the program seems to have gone stale in recent years, and he certainly didn’t make anyone in Iowa City happy when he hired Greg Davis as his offensive coordinator in 2012. Are the Hawkeyes capable of getting back on track under Ferentz? Absolutely. However, with Ohio State and Michigan coming back to national prominence, along with a challenging division (at least for now), Iowa has a tough road to contend in the Big Ten. Ferentz has done a lot of good things for the program, but if the Hawkeyes have a few losing seasons in a row, it might be time for a fresh start for both parties.

61. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 9-16 (2011-present)
Record at Northern Illinois: 23-16 (2008-10)
Record at Southern Illinois: 55-32 (2001-07)
Record at Emporia State: 11-11 (1999-2000)
Record at Saginaw Valley State: 38-14 (1994-98)
Overall Record: 136-89 (19 years)

Kill isn’t flashy or exciting, but he enters 2013 with the most wins during his head coaching career among his Big Ten peers. The Kansas native started his career with Saginaw Valley State in 1994 and recorded a winning record in each of his five seasons. Kill took over at Emporia State in 1999 and left for Southern Illinois in 2001. He went 55-32 with the Salukis, which included five consecutive playoff appearances from 2003-07. After that, Kill led Northern Illinois to three straight bowl trips from 2008-10 and recruited many of the players who played in the Huskies’ Orange Bowl appearance last season. Minnesota went 3-9 in Kill’s first season but improved to 6-7 and earned a bowl berth in 2012. Kill knows how to develop talent and can uncover hidden gems on the recruiting trail. Minnesota isn’t an easy job, but Kill’s track record shows he can consistently produce a winner. Expect the Golden Gophers to only get better with Kill on the sidelines the next few seasons.

62. Frank Solich, Ohio
Record at Ohio: 59-44 (2005-present)
Record at Nebraska: 58-19 (1998-2003)
Overall Record: 117-63 (14 years)

Solich had a tough assignment in his first head coaching gig, as he had to take over for legendary coach Tom Osborne at Nebraska. Although Solich went 58-19 in six years with the Cornhuskers, he was canned following the 2003 season. After sitting out the 2004 season, Solich returned to the coaching ranks at Ohio. He led the Bobcats to a bowl game in his second year (2006) and has a winning record in each of the last four years. Solich isn’t flashy, but he’s clearly one of the top coaches outside of the BCS conferences.

63. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Record at Ball State: 15-10 (2011-present)
Record at Elon: 35-22 (2006-2010)
Record at Lehigh: 44-14 (2001-05)
Overall Record: 94-46 (12 years)

After producing winning records at three different programs, Lembo is one of college football’s rising stars in the coaching ranks. In five years at Lehigh, Lembo won 44 games and led the Mountain Hawks to two playoff appearances. At his next stop, Lembo won 35 games at Elon and made one postseason appearance. Ball State showed big improvement in Lembo’s first season in 2011 and won nine games in '12. Lembo should have the Cardinals in the mix for the MAC title in 2013 and could be on the short list for any BCS openings this offseason. 

64. June Jones, SMU
Record at SMU: 31-34 (2008-present)
Record at Hawaii: 76-41 (1999-2007
Overall Record: 107-75 (14 years)

Jones inherited two programs that were in need of major repair prior to his arrival. And despite his losing record at SMU, it’s clear the Oregon native has made the Mustangs a better team. Jones began his coaching career in 1983 as an assistant at Hawaii, before spending the next 14 seasons at the professional level, which included a 22-36 record as an NFL head coach. In Jones’ first season at Hawaii in 1999, the Warriors made a nine-game improvement in the win column. Hawaii played in a BCS bowl in the 2007 season and recorded three seasons of 10 or more victories during Jones’ tenure. He took over SMU in 2008, and the Mustangs went 1-11 in his first year. However, SMU has at least seven victories in each of the last four years, which is the best stretch in school history since the Mustangs won 10 games every season from 1981-84. Considering Jones has elevated two struggling programs to new heights, SMU has to be encouraged about competing in its new conference home in 2013 and beyond.

65. Mike London, Virginia
Record at Virginia: 16-21 (2010-present)
Record at Richmond: 24-5 (2008-2009)
Overall Record: 40-26 (5 years)

London is somewhat of a mystery at Virginia. He was one year removed from an FCS National Championship at Richmond when the Cavaliers hired him in 2010. He took an underachiever and turned them into an eight-win team in just one season on the job and has totally reinvigorated the Virginia brand on the in-state recruiting trail. However, his Wahoos took a major step back in 2012, finishing 2-6 in the ACC and 4-8 overall. Needless to say, London’s 2013 campaign will be carefully scrutinized.

66. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Overall Record at Texas Tech: 0-0 (First Season)

Kingsbury has been on a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and lands his first head coaching job at his alma mater. The San Antonio native had a prolific career as a starting quarterback under Mike Leach from 2000-02, finishing his career with just under 12,000 passing yards. Following his collegiate career in Lubbock, Kingsbury had a short professional stint, playing for five different teams in five seasons. Kingsbury joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Houston in 2008 and worked his way through the ranks, before becoming the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and guiding quarterback Case Keenum to nearly 20,000 career passing yards. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and produced a successful one-year stint as the offensive coordinator, which resulted in a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel). Kingsbury is young and unproven as a head coach, but he is the perfect fit at Texas Tech. For a program that never really embraced Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are in good hands with one of college football’s rising stars at head coach.

67. Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 0-0 (First Season)
Record at Kent State: 16-10 (2011-2012)
Overall Record: 16-10 (2 years)

No one can accuse Hazell of not paying his dues. Born in Cinnaminson, N.J., and playing his college ball at Muskingum University (New Concord, Ohio), Hazell spent 25 years as an assistant before getting his first head coaching gig at Kent State. Doug Martin posted nary a winning season with the Flashes in seven seasons prior to Hazell’s arrival. In just two years, Hazell built KSU into a division champion and set a school record with 11 wins. With heavy coaching ties to the Midwest and Northeast, Hazell should be able to recruit the Big Ten footprint well and clearly has the coaching chops to be successful at Purdue.

68. George O'Leary, UCF
Record at UCF: 60-55 (2004-present)
Record at Georgia Tech: 52-33 (1994-2001)
Overall Record: 112-88 (17 years)

Like Tuberville, O’Leary has a similarly bizarre resume. He has been a consistent winner at both coaching stops in his career, including three conference championships and four division titles in eight years in C-USA. His teams play well against upper tier competition and he took an 0-11 team and turned them into a division champ in one season. Yet, he also is infamously known for lying on his resume which got him fired from Notre Dame before coaching a game, as well as the death of Ereck Plancher — a player who passed away after being over-worked on the practice field. His teams have lacked consistency from year to year, going from 10 wins to four and back since 2007, but that doesn't change his overall winning percentage (.560) over his 17 years as a head coach.

69. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Overall Record at Indiana: 5-19 (Indiana, 2011-present)

Offense has long been the name of the game for Wilson, both at Oklahoma as a coordinator and now at Indiana. After grooming nearly a decade’s worth of elite passers in Norman, Wilson has quickly turned Indiana’s passing game into one of the Big Ten’s best. His team ranked fifth in the league in passing offense, but managed just one win in his first year in Bloomington. Last season, his team led the league in passing offense and improved to four wins with all signs pointing to even more success — and a possible bowl game — in 2013. There is still much to be accomplished for Wilson to be considered one of the league’s better coaches but more progress in Year 3 at Indiana would go a long way to proving that the Hoosiers made the right choice.

70. Rocky Long, San Diego State
Record at San Diego State: 17-9 (2011-present)
Record at New Mexico: 65-69 (1998-2008)
Overall Record: 82-78 (13 years)

Long doesn’t get much credit on the national scene, but the Utah native has quietly had a solid career on the sidelines. After spending over 20 years as an assistant, Long was hired as the head coach at his alma mater (New Mexico) in 1998. In 11 years with the Lobos, Long won 65 games and led the program to five bowl appearances. His best season came in 2007, as New Mexico won nine games and claimed a bowl victory over Nevada. Long resigned as the Lobos’ head coach after the 2008 season and joined San Diego State’s staff as defensive coordinator. After serving for two years as the defensive playcaller under Brady Hoke, Long was promoted to head coach and has a 17-9 mark in two years. Long played quarterback in college but is known for his unique 3-3-5 scheme on defense. Although San Diego State has been a tough place to win in the past, Long seems to have helped the program turn a corner.

71. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Overall Record at Kentucky: First Season

The newest kid on the SEC block, Stoops' future as a head coach is anyone's guess. What we do know is this: He hails from Youngstown, Ohio and played defensive back for Iowa before he worked his way up through the ranks. Stoops was a defensive coordinator for Houston then Miami then Arizona (with his brother, Mike) and ultimately Florida State in 2010. He took the 108th-ranked defense and turned it into the 42nd-rated unit in one season before finishing fourth and second nationally in total defense in 2011 and '12 respectively. He did a great job finishing the recruiting cycle for the Wildcats, but at one of the toughest power conference jobs in the nation, it takes more than a few recruiting wins to be successful in Lexington.

72. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
Record at Bowling Green: 22-28 (2009-present)
Record at Richmond: 29-20 (2004-07)
Record at Fordham: 29-29 (1999-2003)
Overall Record: 80-77 (13 years)

Clawson’s one-year stint as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator didn’t go so well, but he has been a successful head coach at three different stops. At Fordham, he led the Rams to 19 wins over his final two seasons, while guiding Richmond to the FCS playoffs in two out of his four years on campus. The Falcons won seven games in Clawson’s first season but fell to 2-10 in 2010. However, Bowling Green rebounded quickly, as the Falcons are 13-12 in the last two years and finished second in the MAC East standings in 2012. Don't be surprised if Clawson gets a look from BCS programs after the 2013 season.

73. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Overall Record at Oregon: 0-0 (First Season)

After playing and coaching at small Southern Oregon, Helfrich landed with the Ducks in 1997 under Dirk Koetter. He then followed Koetter to both Boise State and Arizona State, returning to Eugene in 2009 as offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly. After two National Quarterbacks Coach of the Year Awards (2010, '12), Helfrich got his chance when Kelly departed for the NFL. He is the third consecutive offensive coordinator to be elevated to head coach at Oregon as the previous two — Mike Bellotti and Kelly — have proven the method for hiring is extremely effective. With a stacked roster returning on offense, all signs point to immediate success for the new headman in Oregon. However, Helfrich is largely an unknown and has never been a head coach prior to 2013. Even if Helfrich can keep Oregon performing at a high level this year, is he capable of keeping the Ducks in national championship contention in 2014 and '15? Oregon's method of promoting from within has worked well with its last two hires. However, Helfrich still has a lot to prove entering his first season as the head Duck.

74. Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Overall Record at Rutgers: 9-4 (2012-present, 1 year)

When Kyle Flood was given the head coaching job at Rutgers, it was his first leadership position since 1994 at St. Francis Prep. The offensive line coach has heavy ties to the Northeast and has proven to be an excellent recruiter for the Scarlet Knights. And all he did in his first season was win a share of the Big East title after being picked fourth in the conference in the preseason. Having said that, Flood’s bunch could have clinched an outright crown had they defeated either Pitt on the road or Louisville at home. Needless to say, the jury is still out on Flood’s long-term future at The Garden State’s state school.

75. Justin Fuente, Memphis
Overall Record at Memphis: 4-8 (2012-present, 1 year)

Fuente inherited a mess when he arrived at Memphis. The Tigers were coming off a disastrous two-year stint under Larry Porter, which resulted in a 3-21 record. And under Fuente’s watch, the Tigers showed big improvement in 2012. Memphis went 4-8 last season, which included a three-game winning streak to finish the campaign. The Tigers lost three games by 10 points or less and got better as the season progressed. Before taking over at Memphis, Fuente spent five years as an assistant at TCU, including the last three as the co-offensive coordinator. With the move to the American Athletic Conference (new name of the former Big East), Fuente’s job will get a little tougher in 2013. Memphis doesn’t quite have the talent to push for a bowl game this year, but the Tigers will continue to take another step forward under Fuente’s watch in 2013.

76. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
The Midshipmen have maintained course under Niumatalolo, winning eight games in four out of his five seasons. After dropping to 5-7 in 2011, Navy finished 8-5 in 2012 and returned to the postseason with a trip to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

77. Steve Addazio, Boston College
After two years at Temple, Addazio takes over a Boston College program that has fallen on hard times after 12 consecutive winning seasons from 1999-2010. Addazio had a solid two-year stint at Temple, which produced the program’s first bowl victory since 1979 and a 9-4 mark in 2011. With the departure of a handful of key players on both sides of the ball, along with the transition to the Big East, Temple took a step back in the win column in 2012. Addazio is a good recruiter and as a native of Connecticut, is a good fit in the Northeast. Boston College doesn’t have to be an ACC title contender in every season for Addazio to be successful. But the Eagles need to get back to contending for bowl games in the near future. Addazio looks like a good hire for Boston College, but the lack of head coaching experience and building a program keeps him from being ranked higher on this list.

78. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
DeRuyter went 9-4 in his Fresno State debut and has the Bulldogs primed to contend for the Mountain West title in 2013. Prior to coming to Fresno State, DeRuyter served as a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Air Force, Nevada and Ohio. All signs point to DeRuyter being a home-run hire for Fresno State.

79. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
Blankenship inherited a good team after Todd Graham left for Pittsburgh after the 2010 season. In two years, the Golden Hurricane is 19-8 under Blankenship’s direction. Can Blankenship keep Tulsa on the right track as the program makes the move to the American Athletic Conference in 2014?

80. Tim Beckman, Illinois
All signs were positive for Beckman when he took over for Ron Zook at Illinois last season. He learned under two respected names in Jim Tressel and Mike Gundy before building Toledo into a MAC contender in his three years leading the Rockets. Everyone knew it was going to take time to rebuild the Illini following the Zooker, however, no one expected a 2-10 debut season in Urbana-Champaign. He has his work cut out for him in a tough division loaded with solid coaches and powerful programs to prove he was the right choice for the job.

81. Terry Bowden, Akron
Bowden has a long road ahead to rebuild Akron into one of the MAC’s top programs. However, his track record at Samford, Auburn and North Alabama suggests he will eventually get the Zips into conference title contention. And if Akron continues to improve, Bowden could get another opportunity to lead a BCS team.

82. Dave Christensen, Wyoming
Christensen’s tenure at Wyoming has been marked by two bowl appearances, followed by losing seasons the next year. If that trend holds true, the Cowboys will be bowling in 2013. And getting to a bowl game would be a boost for Christensen, especially after last year’s embarrassing post-game tirade against Air Force’s Troy Calhoun.

83. Larry Blakeney, Troy
Blakeney has guided Troy from the FCS to the FBS ranks, winning 169 games with the Trojans since 1991. However, Troy is coming off its first back-to-back losing seasons in his tenure and have won only five Sun Belt games the last two years.

84. Matt Campbell, Toledo
At 33 years old, Campbell is one of college football’s youngest coaches. The Ohio native was a solid player during his career at Mount Union and is on the fast track as a head coach. After spending time as an assistant with Mount Union, Bowling Green and at Toledo, Campbell was promoted to the top spot after Tim Beckman left for Illinois. Campbell should be one of the MAC’s top coaches in 2013 and beyond.

85. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina
McNeill took over the top spot at his alma mater in 2010, and the Pirates are 19-19 over the last three years. East Carolina is coming off its best record (8-5) under McNeill and will be picked near the top of the C-USA East Division in 2013.

86. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
After a 2-10 record in 2011, Stockstill was on the hot seat entering 2012. However, Stockstill and MTSU rebounded with an 8-4 record, which put his overall mark with the Blue Raiders at 43-44. MTSU has six victories in four out of Stockstill’s seven years in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

87. Dan McCarney, North Texas
McCarney’s career record is 65-100, which is deceiving considering he spent 12 years on the sidelines at a difficult place to maintain success (Iowa State). McCarney is just 9-15 in two seasons with North Texas, but the Mean Green are on the right track as they make the move from the Sun Belt to Conference USA.

88. Paul Pasqualoni, UConn
Pasqualoni has deep ties to the Northeast and is on his third coaching stop in the region. After 11 consecutive winning seasons to start his Syracuse tenure, the program began to erode and the Orange made a move following the 2004 season. Pasqualoni went to work in the NFL as a defensive coordinator for both Dallas and Miami before returning to the college ranks two years ago at UConn. Clearly, he has been around the game for a long time and is in the twilight of his career — as his last winning season as a head coach was in 2001.

89. Bob Davie, New Mexico
After spending 10 years away from the sidelines, Davie left the booth and took over at New Mexico in 2012. The Lobos showed vast improvement in his first season, winning four games and losing five games by a touchdown or less. 

90. Jim McElwain, Colorado State
McElwain had a tough first season at Colorado State (4-8), but the Rams showed signs of life at the end of 2012. The Montana native served as an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11 and has NFL experience from one season with the Raiders in '06. Give McElwain some time and Colorado State should be return to being a consistent winner in the Mountain West.

91. Trent Miles, Georgia State
The Panthers quietly made one of the offseason’s best hires by pulling Miles away from Indiana State. The Sycamores were awful prior to Miles' arrival, but he won six games in each of his last three years. If Miles picks up where he left off at Indiana State, he will attract interest from bigger programs.

92. Dennis Franchione, Texas State
Franchione disappeared for a few years after his firing at Texas A&M in 2007 but resurfaced at Texas State in '11. In the last two years with the Bobcats, Franchione has a 10-14 record. However, Franchione is guiding the program through its transition to the FBS level, and he has been a successful coach at previous stops. Expect Franchione to have Texas State in competition for the Sun Belt title in the next few seasons.

93. David Bailiff, Rice
Bailiff has an interesting resume, as six of his nine seasons as a head coach resulted in a losing record. However, he has some high points, as Rice went 10-3 in 2008 and finished 7-6 with a victory over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl last year. It’s not easy to win at Rice, but Bailiff seems to have the Owls poised to contend for the C-USA West Division title in 2013.

94. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
After a 34-23 record at Connecticut and a 38-27 mark at East Carolina, most expected Holtz would be a good fit at USF. Instead, Holtz went 16-21 in three years with the Bulls. Considering his success at two previous stops, Holtz’s record at USF is the outlier. Can he get back on track at Louisiana Tech?

95. Larry Coker, UTSA
Despite a 60-15 record and a national championship in 2001, Coker was canned at Miami after six seasons. The veteran coach was hired by UTSA in 2009 to start its football program, and the Roadrunners have been very competitive in just two seasons on the field (12-10). Coker seems to be a good fit for UTSA as it transitions to Conference USA this year.

96. Todd Berry, ULM
Berry had a disastrous stint at Army (5-35) but led ULM to its first bowl game in program history in 2012. Berry has brought steady improvement to the Warhawks, who should be in the mix for the Sun Belt title in 2013.

97. Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State
Harsin, who served as offensive coordinator at Boise State and Texas, finally landed his first head coaching job with Arkansas State. He is a rising star and should keep the Red Wolves near the top of the Sun Belt. Don’t be surprised if Harsin is at a BCS program in three years.

98. Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Caragher was hired at San Jose State after a six-year stint at San Diego, which resulted in a 44-22 record. Caragher is walking into a good situation with the Spartans, as most of their core returns from last year’s 11-2 team.

99. Matt Wells, Utah State
Wells played quarterback at Utah State from 1993-96 and was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach after Gary Andersen left for Wisconsin. There’s a lot to like about Wells, and he should keep Utah State among the best in the Mountain West.

100. Brian Polian, Nevada
Polian, the son of former NFL executive Bill Polian, has cut his teeth as an assistant at UCF, Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M in recent years. Nevada is Polian’s first head-coaching gig, and he has a tough assignment taking over for legendary coach Chris Ault.

101. Doc Holliday, Marshall
Holliday is regarded as an excellent recruiter, but his three-year stint as a head coach still leaves a lot to be desired. Marshall is 17-20 under Holliday’s watch, although the Thundering Her should be picked to finish near the top of C-USA's East Division in 2013.

102. Garrick McGee, UAB
The former Oklahoma quarterback is considered one of the rising stars in the coaching profession and is coming off a 3-9 season in his first year at UAB. While three wins aren’t anything special, the Blazers showed some progress in 2012 and could be a bowl team in 2013.

103. Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Monken is a huge upgrade over former coach Ellis Johnson, who proved to be a one-year disaster for Southern Miss. The Illinois native has experience in the NFL and helped oversee one of the nation’s top offenses during his stint at Oklahoma State.

104. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Carey was promoted to the top spot after Dave Doeren left for NC State in early December. The Wisconsin native has no prior head coaching experience and has a tough assignment as he tries to keep Northern Illinois atop the MAC food chain. 

105. Scott Shafer, Syracuse
Shafer was promoted to head coach following Doug Marrone's departure to the NFL to lead the Bills. Shafer has more than 20 years of experience as an assistant coach, making stops at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Ilinois, Western Michigan, Stanford and Michigan along the way. However, this is his first shot at leading an entire program, and while he was a popular hire among the players, he still has much to prove as a head coach in 2013.

106. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Weis was considered by most to be a bad hire at Kansas. So far, he’s done nothing to dispel those thoughts. Weis didn’t inherit the best roster, but the Jayhawks recorded only one victory last year and ranked near the bottom nationally in scoring offense and defense. Don't forget his five-year stint as Notre Dame's head coach (19-6 the first two years, 16-21 the final three) didn't go exactly as planned either. Kansas could be more competitive in 2013, but Weis is not the answer to elevate the program into the Big 12 title contention.

107. Rich Ellerson, Army
Ellerson was a successful coach at Cal Poly and went 12-13 in his first two years at Army. However, the Black Knights are just 5-19 in the last two seasons. There’s no question Army is a difficult place to sustain success, and Ellerson’s track record suggests he will eventually get the program back on track.   

108. Tony Levine, Houston
Levine received a curious promotion to the top spot after Kevin Sumlin departed for Texas A&M. The Minnesota native had no head coaching experience prior to taking over at Houston, as his resume consisted of stops as an assistant at Texas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville and the Cougars. He was a popular pick to be head coach among Houston’s players, but the move didn’t work out well for the Cougars in 2012. Levine still has a lot to prove, especially as Houston makes the move to the conference formally known as the Big East.

109. Matt Rhule, Temple
There is plenty to like about the former Penn State linebacker’s resume. He is from the Northeast, has rich ties to the Temple program and was hired to work for respected coaching names like Tom Coughlin and Al Golden. Yet, he has never been a head coach at any level and is a complete unknown when it comes to leading a program. 

110. Joey Jones, South Alabama
Jones is guiding the Jaguars through their transition from FCS to FBS play. The Alabama native went 23-4 in his first three seasons with the Jaguars but was 2-10 last year. South Alabama wasn’t overwhelmed by its first year in the Sun Belt, so the future looks bright for Jones and the Jaguars.

111. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
The Bulls have increased their win total by one game in each of the last two years since going 2-10 in Quinn’s first season (2010). Quinn seems to have Buffalo on the right track, but his overall record as a head coach is just 10-28.

112. Curtis Johnson, Tulane
As a New Orleans native, Johnson is a perfect fit at Tulane. The Green Wave showed some promise in Johnson’s first season and should benefit from the construction of an on-campus stadium as the program moves to the American Athletic Conference.

113. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
The Chippewas were one of the MAC’s top programs under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. Despite a bowl appearance last year, CMU is trending in the wrong direction under Enos.

114. Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio)
Treadwell was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistants when he returned to his alma mater in 2011. However, the RedHawks are just 8-16 in Treadwell’s first two seasons at the helm.

115. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan is arguably the nation’s toughest job. English went 6-6 in 2011 but is 2-10 in each of his two other seasons.

116. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan
Fleck is college football’s youngest coach (32) and has brought some enthusiasm to the program after a 4-8 season. However, Fleck has no coordinator or head coaching experience.

117. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Hauck had a good run at Montana (80-17) but is just 6-32 in three years at UNLV.

118. Paul Haynes, Kent State
Haynes returns to his alma mater for his first head-coaching gig. And he has big shoes to fill, as former coach Darrell Hazell nearly led the program to a BCS bowl last year.

119. Carl Pelini, FAU
Pelini was a strange hire for FAU, but the Owls won two out of their last five games in 2012.

120. Sean Kugler, UTEP
As a former UTEP player, Kugler should be a good fit at El Paso. However, he was a so-so line coach in the NFL and has no head coaching experience.

121. Doug Martin, New Mexico State
The Aggies were left in a tough spot after DeWayne Walker left for the NFL in January. Martin won 29 games in seven seasons at Kent State (2004-10), and the road will be even tougher at New Mexico State.

122. Charley Molnar, UMass
Molnar has a tough assignment, as UMass is transitioning from FCS to FBS. As expected, the Minutemen were overmatched last season but did show signs of progress towards the end.

123. Paul Petrino, Idaho
Petrino is a good fit at Idaho, as he grew up in Montana and served as an assistant from 1992-94 with the Vandals. Petrino has no head coaching experience, so he has a lot to prove in 2013.

124. Norm Chow, Hawaii
Chow has an extensive career as an assistant, but his first head-coaching gig came at the ripe age of 65. As evidenced by his 3-9 mark in his first season, there’s a reason why Chow had to wait so long to be a head coach.

125. Ron Turner, FIU
FIU made a big mistake in firing Mario Cristobal. Turner had a 35-57 record in eight seasons (1997-2004) at Illinois and certainly isn’t going to inspire much enthusiasm from the  fan base.

by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

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Ranking the ACC Head Coaches for 2013
Ranking the Big East Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Big Ten Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Big 12 Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the Pac-12 Head Coaches for 2013

Ranking the SEC Head Coaches for 2013

anking the Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

<p> Ranking All 125 College Football Head Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-worst-coaches-2013

Ranking college football coaches is no easy task. Judging coaches simply on their record isn’t a true indicator of how successful they were at a particular program. Components such as resources, tradition, how the job stacks up against the rest of the conference and staff are valuable factors that are often lost in judging head coaches.

Athlon ranked all 125 college football coaches for 2013, with Alabama’s Nick Saban, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ranking as the top three.

However, on the other side of the rankings are a handful of coaches struggling to make their mark.

And considering there are 125 coaches, there’s plenty of bad options that just aren’t cut out to be a head coach.

With that in mind, Athlon is taking a look an in-depth look 10 coaches who rank near the bottom of the 125 rankings. Of course, these coaches don’t necessarily rank at the bottom of the 125 poll. Considering some coaches like Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck or Kent State’s Paul Haynes rank near the bottom of the 125 list and considering they are in their first season, it’s hard to consider them for this list. UMass’ Charley Molnar also deserves a pass, as the Minutemen are transitioning from the FCS to FBS level.

Put it this way, this is a list of 10 coaches we wouldn’t consider if we were the athletic director at any school needing to find a replacement for 2013.

College Football’s Top 10 Worst Coaches for 2013

Tim Beckman, Illinois
Considering Beckman’s 21-16 record in three years at Toledo, it’s hard to put him on this list. However, his one season at Illinois was simply a disaster. The Fighting Illini went 2-10, which included a 0-8 record in Big Ten play. While a transition can be expected under a new coaching, Illinois had too much talent returning to not win a game in conference play. Beckman made good adjustments to his staff this offseason, which should help the Fighting Illini improve their win total in 2013. However, if Illinois goes 2-10 or 3-9, there’s a good chance he won’t be back for 2014. Beckman deserves credit for his Toledo tenure, but a disastrous first season puts him on the list going into the 2013 campaign.

Norm Chow, Hawaii
Chow earned a lot of respect for his time as an assistant at BYU, NC State, USC, UCLA and Utah. However, he didn’t land his first head coaching opportunity until he was 65 years old. As a Hawaii native, Chow is a good fit for the Warriors, but his first season left a lot to be desired. The Warriors won just three games last season, and the only victory in conference play came against a struggling UNLV team. Hawaii has some nice pieces returning for 2013, so Chow could have the Warriors more competitive in the Mountain West. While it’s only Chow’s second season at Hawaii, the early signs are troubling for the Warriors.

Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Let’s give Dan Enos credit: He did get Central Michigan to a bowl game last year. However, the Chippewas were arguably the worst team to qualify for the postseason in recent memory. Central Michigan knocked off Iowa on the road, but its other four regular season wins in FBS play came against Akron, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and UMass – a combined 8-40 in 2012. Outside of last year’s 7-6 mark, Enos is just 6-18 as a head coach with the Chippewas. Enos made some gains last year, but we aren’t convinced he’s a top-tier coach in the MAC.

Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Hauck had a tremendous run at Montana, recording an 80-17 record in seven years. However, his tenure at UNLV has been a disaster. The Rebels are 6-32 under Hauck’s direction and have failed to exceed two victories in each season. UNLV has been a tough place to win at, so it’s hard to fault Hauck for everything that has transpired over the last three years. However, the Rebels really haven’t made a lot of progress and will be picked near the bottom of the Mountain West once again in 2013.

Tony Levine, Houston
Levine was tasked with a tough assignment when he was promoted to head coach, as Kevin Sumlin left big shoes to fill after a 12-1 season. Making matters worse for Levine was his lack of head coaching or coordinator experience, which certainly was tested after Houston’s 0-3 start. Levine served as a special teams coach under Sumlin and worked as an assistant special teams coach with the Panthers before coming to Houston. The Minnesota native was a curious promotion for a program that hit home runs with the hires of Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin. Levine was a popular hire among the players but still has much to prove after underachieving with a 5-7 record in 2012.

Doug Martin, New Mexico State
Considering the timing of DeWayne Walker’s departure to the NFL and New Mexico State’s conference situation, Martin is probably the best the Aggies could find in a head coach this season. The former Kentucky quarterback went 29-53 in seven years as Kent State’s head coach but never had a record over .500. It’s not easy to win at Kent State, but the Golden Flashes never showed much improvement under his watch. Martin is a good coordinator, but his lack of success at Kent State doesn’t bode well for his future at an even tougher place to win (New Mexico State).

Carl Pelini, FAU
Pelini’s debut at FAU had its share of highs and lows. He managed to avoid a disastrous loss to Wagner in the season opener and defeated Western Kentucky in mid-November. Despite losing nine games, the Owls did show some progress on the scoreboard in 2012, as three losses were by a touchdown or less. Considering how important recruiting is, hiring a coach that had no ties to Florida was a bizarre move for FAU. However, Pelini reeled in a class that ranked second in the Sun Belt according to FAU faces a tougher road in Conference USA in 2013, and the roster was hit hard by departures on the offensive line and at quarterback. Pelini did some good things in his first year, but the jury is still out on just how successful he will be as a head coach.  

Don Treadwell, Miami (Ohio)
As a former receiver at Miami (Ohio) and a successful stint at Michigan State as the team’s offensive coordinator, there was a lot of enthusiasm surrounding Treadwell’s hire in Oxford. However, Treadwell has fallen short of expectations in his first two years. The RedHawks recorded back-to-back 4-8 seasons and finished 2012 by losing six out of their last seven games. Treadwell inherited a team that won 10 games in 2010 and had quarterback Zac Dysert - a likely selection in the 2013 NFL Draft - leading his offense. Treadwell has a solid resume, so there’s a good chance he can turn Miami (Ohio) back into a consistent winner. However, eight wins in two years at a program with a lot of tradition is enough to earn Treadwell a spot on this list. 

Ron Turner, FIU
FIU made a colossal mistake when it decided to fire Mario Cristobal and replace him with Ron Turner. Although Turner has experience as a head coach on the collegiate level, his overall record at Illinois was 35-57. Over his last three seasons with the Fighting Illini, Turner recorded a 9-26 record, which included a horrendous 1-11 campaign in 2001. In fairness, Illinois isn’t the easiest job in the Big Ten. However, Turner went to just two bowl games and had only one winning season in Big Ten play. For a program that averaged just 13,634 fans at each home game in 2012, hiring a 59-year-old retread coach is simply a bad idea.

Charlie Weis, Kansas
After the failed two-year stint under Turner Gill, Weis was a strange hire for Kansas. The New Jersey native certainly isn’t a long-term answer for the program, especially after going 16-21 in his final three years at Notre Dame. While the Fighting Irish aren’t as dominant as they were in the past, it’s unacceptable to have two losing seasons over a three-year period. The Jayhawks were winless in Big 12 play last season and lost non-conference games against Rice and Northern Illinois. Although Kansas was more competitive in Big 12 games than it was in 2011, the Jayhawks are still clearly the league’s worst team. Making matters worse for Weis is a heavy reliance on junior college prospects in 2013. There’s a good chance Kansas will hit on a few impact transfers, but it’s risky to not build around freshmen. Weis clearly ranks at the bottom of Big 12 coach rankings.

Related College Football Content

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaches for 2013
ACC Coach Rankings for 2013
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SEC Coach Rankings for 2013

<p> College Football's Top 10 Worst Coaches for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 07:18
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/2013-masters-tv-schedule

Cue the piano music — it's time for A Tradition Unlike Any Other. Here's the schedule for Masters television coverage.

Thursday — ESPN 3-7:30 p.m. & 8-11 p.m. (re-air) 
CBS — 11:30-11:45 p.m. (highlights)

Friday — ESPN 3-7:30 p.m & 8-11 p.m. (re-air)
CBS — 11:30-11:45 (highlights) 

Saturday — CBS 3-7 p.m. 

Sunday — CBS 2-7 p.m. 


<br />
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 17:57
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/10-greatest-masters-champions

The Masters is the world's greatest golf tournament, so it's not surprising that it has produced an elite list of champions. We've identified the 10 greatest, who collectively possess 32 Green Jackets and have provided countless classic moments.

1. Jack Nicklaus
Wins - 6
Runner-ups - 4
Top 5 - 15
Top 10 - 22
Nobody owns Augusta like Jack. His six wins spanned 23 years of stunning brilliance. In the decade of the 1970s, he never finished lower than 8th. As if to put an exclamation point on his unparalleled career amid the Georgia pines, Jack made one final run in 1998 at age 58, finishing sixth and beating the defending champion, 22-year-old Tiger Woods. Here's a record that may never be broken: Nicklaus made an astounding 37 cuts at Augusta; for reference, Woods has been alive only 37 years.

2. Arnold Palmer
Wins - 4
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 12
Arnie came along at the perfect time, the dawn of golf's TV age, and he galvanized an army of fans with his domination at Augusta. Between 1957 and 1967, Palmer won four times and finished in the top 10 every year. He eclipses the No. 3 player on this list only because he made The Masters what it is today.

3. Tiger Woods
Wins - 4
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 10
Top 10 - 12
Woods' 12-shot demolition of the field at the 1997 Masters was one of golf's signature moments and ushered in the Tiger era in golf. His epic chip-in in 2005 was another classic moment, although entering 2013, that remains his last green jacket to date. Tiger is the all-time scoring average leader at The Masters for players with 50 or more career rounds.

4. Phil Mickelson
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 0
Top 5 - 10
Top 10 - 14
Lefty's record at Augusta rivals Tiger's. His 2004 breakthrough was perhaps the most eagerly awaited major championship win in history. Phil still has a shot to move up this list given that he's finished out of the top 5 only three times since 2001 and always seems rejuvenated by the trip up Magnolia Lane.

5. Gary Player
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 8
Top 10 - 15
Player made his Masters bones in the 1960s as part of golf's Big Three with Nicklaus and Palmer, but he had some of his greatest Augusta moments in the 1970s, winning in 1974 and charging from seven strokes back in the final round in 1978, shooting 64 to win at age 42.

6. Sam Snead
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 15
Slammin' Sammy enjoyed some of his greatest successes at Augusta, winning three Masters in a six-year span, including a playoff win over rival and defending champion Ben Hogan in 1954.

7. Ben Hogan
Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 4
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 17
The great Hogan set a Masters record during his Triple Crown season of 1953 with a 14-under total (it would be broken by Jack Nicklaus in 1965), part of an unparalleled run of golf in which he won six majors in eight appearances. In 1967, at age 56, he shot a 66 and finished 10th. His 17 Masters top 10s are second only to Nicklaus' 22.

8. Tom Watson
Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 3
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 15
Watson's Augusta exploits are overshadowed by his dominance at the British Open, but between 1975 and 1988, no one was better at The Masters — two wins, three runner-ups and 12 top-10 finishes.

9. Jimmy Demaret
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 0
Top 5 - 6
Top 10 - 8
One of golf's most colorful showmen, Demaret was the first three-time Masters winner and parlayed his quick wit and flamboyant wardrobe into an appearance on "I Love Lucy."

10. Byron Nelson
Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 7
Top 10 - 14
Lord Byron's love for The Masters was epitomized by the fact that he kept playing at Augusta even after retiring from competitive golf to run his ranch. He probably would have won one or two more Green Jackets had the tournament been held during World War II.

Honorable Mention
• Nick Faldo - A three-time Masters winner, Faldo gets penalized for benefiting from three meltdowns in his three Masters wins — Scott Hoch, who missed a two-foot putt in their playoff in 1989; Ray Floyd, who made a late bogey to fall into a playoff with Faldo and then hit into the water at 11 in Sudden Death; and most notoriously, Greg Norman, who squandered a six-shot lead over Faldo with a final-round 78. Plus, Faldo's three wins were his only Masters top 10s.

• Seve Ballesteros - The late, great Ballesteros won twice and finished second twice. He also had the decency to step aside and allow Nicklaus to charge to his sixth Green Jacket in 1986.

• Horton Smith - The event's first two-time winner, Smith won Green Jackets in 1934 (the tournament's first year) and 1936.

• Ben Crenshaw - Crenshaw's Masters win in 1994, shortly after the death of longtime mentor Harvey Penick, provided one of the most emotional moments in golf history. Crenshaw, a two-time winner, finished in the top 10 11 times.

• Jose Maria Olazabal - Less heralded than his countryman Seve Ballesteros, Olazabal was every bit Seve's equal at Augusta, winning in 1994 and 1999 and finishing the top 10 six other times.

• Bernhard Langer - Langer had his greatest major success at The Masters, winning twice and posting eight top 10s.

• Fred Couples - Couples made 23 consecutive Masters cuts between 1983 and 2008, although he didn't play in 1987 or 1994. He's the only Masters competitor not to miss a cut at Augusta in the 20th Century. He won the tournament in 1992.

• Gene Sarazen - His "Shot Heard Round the World" — a double eagle at 15 during the 1935 Masters — put the tournament on the map and helped establish its major bona fides. It also allowed Sarazen to claim a modern career Grand Slam, the first in history.

• Raymond Floyd - Floyd won the 1976 Masters by a dominating eight strokes, matching Nicklaus' record 17-under total (which would be broken by Woods in 1997). Floyd finished second at Augusta three times, including a crushingly disappointing playoff loss to Nick Faldo in 1990, and had 11 top-10 finishes.

<br />
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 13:59
All taxonomy terms: Rory McIlroy, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-1-rory-mcilroy

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2013 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 20 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 1: Rory McIlroy

Born: May 4, 1989, Holywood, Northern Ireland | Career PGA Tour Wins: 6 (5 on European Tour)  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 5 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $8,047,952 (1st) World Ranking: 2


Brandel Chamblee's Take

Rory McIlroy’s length and high ball flight are enough to separate him from the pack, but it’s his further ability to work shots comfortably left to right or right to left and his overall sense and feel for the game that make him destined to be one of the greatest players of all time. He is not without weaknesses — both off of the tee, where he misses in both directions, or on the greens, where he didn’t rank in the top 20 in a single putting stat for 2012. But those weaknesses are overcome by his ability to self-correct. Taught by a former player in Michael Bannon, Rory possesses a swing that is unfettered with complexities and is distinguished by a freedom of movement and rhythm that is as good as the game has ever seen. His talent appears to be matched by a maturity and perspective that will make him one of the most marketable athletes in the world for years to come.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 17
Wins: 2

2012 Performance:
Masters - T40
U.S. Open - Cut
British Open - T60
PGA Championship - 1

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T15 (2011)
U.S. Open - 1 (2011)
British Open - T3 (2010)
PGA Championship - 1 (2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 6
Top-25 Finishes: 9
Missed Cuts: 3

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

Athlon's 2013 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 20 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. BUY IT NOW.

<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 10:57
Path: /golf/masters-glance

MastersThe Masters at a Glance
Augusta National Golf Club • Augusta, Ga.
April 11-14 • Defending Champion: Bubba Watson

Brandel Chamblee's Take
The Masters Tournament is the only major played on the same course year after year. It is also the hardest major to get into, and as a result it has the smallest field of any of the game’s four biggest events. Given the small field, it stands to reason, however, that the Masters is also the easiest major to win multiple times, and the numbers back this up, as 16 men have won 45 of the 76 Masters Tournaments since the event’s inception in 1934. Perhaps it’s this familiarity, both with the course and its contestants that make this the most watched event in all of golf. Regardless of our reasons, we watch, ravenously, year after year, and the masterpiece design never disappoints.

One of those 16 men to have won multiple Masters is Tiger Woods, and he arrives in Augusta in 2013 trying to win his 15th major for the fifth year in a row. After witnessing a young Woods in the mid-1990s, no less a pair of authorities than Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer predicted at least 11 wins in this event for Tiger. Woods and Rory McIlroy will get the lion's share of attention, but both of them have a tendency to miss left, and Augusta National brutalizes shots missed left (remember Rory among the cabins at No. 10 in 2011?).

In my opinion, we should look for a new winner this year — perhaps Louis Oosthuizen, who came so close in 2012, or Keegan Bradley or Justin Rose.

Masters Notebook
• Bubba Watson won The Masters in dramatic fashion last year, and crafted a shot for the ages in the process on the first playoff hole — a 154-yard wedge shot that he hooked out of the trees lining the 10th hole and onto the green to make par and win over Louis Oosthuizen. Watson won despite needing 120 putts over the four rounds, tied for 37th in the field. Bubba was fourth in driving distance at 290 yards and tied for fourth in greens in regulation, hitting 53 of 72 greens. He was tied for third with 19 birdies, and he minimized other mistakes.

• Patrick Cantlay was low amateur of the 2012 Masters despite a wild final round that saw him make two eagles, five birdies, six pars, three bogeys, one double bogey and a quadruple bogey. That added up to par-72 and helped him squeak past Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama for the low amateur title.

• Tiger Woods will look to rebound from his worst Masters performance as a pro. In his 16th appearance, after having been a constant contender for most of the past decade, Woods was inexplicably a non-factor. The four-time champion tied for 40th — along with another pre-tournament favorite, Rory McIlroy. Woods' worst previous finish as a pro at Augusta was a tie for 22nd in 2004.

• After making a double-eagle at the second hole during the final round of The Masters, Louis Oosthuizen inexplicably tossed the ball to a fan in the gallery. The man, Wayne Mitchell, ended up giving the ball to Augusta National, which in turn tried to return it to Oosthuizen — who gave it back to the club. Oosthuizen’s albatross was the first ever made at Augusta’s par-5 second hole.

• There have now been four double eagles in Masters history, one at each of the par-5s. The first, of course, came in 1935, Gene Sarazen’s “Shot Heard Round the World." It came at the 15th during the final round and helped him get into a playoff with Craig Wood, which he won. Bruce Devlin had a 2 at the eighth in 1967, and Jeff Maggert holed a 3-iron second shot at the 13th in 1994.

• At age 52, Fred Couples became the oldest second-round leader in Masters history, eclipsing Lee Trevino, who was 49 in 1989.

• Phil Mickelson, bidding for a fourth green jacket, had two triple-bogeys during the tournament — and missed a playoff by two strokes. His first triple came during the opening round courtesy of a lost ball on the par-4 10th hole. And the second came Sunday at the fourth, when his tee shot hit a grandstand, ended up among the trees, and he twice tried to play shots right handed. Imagine if Mickelson had simply been able to minimize the damage on both those holes.

• The 75 by Tiger Woods in the second round was his highest second round in a major since the 2006 U.S. Open, shortly after the death of his father Earl, when he went 76-76 to miss the cut. It was only the third time in 66 competitive rounds at Augusta National that Woods did not birdie a par-5 hole.

• After blowing the 2011 Masters with a final-round 80, Rory McIlroy again put himself in position last year through two rounds — only to stumble with a third-round 77. He added 76 in the final round to tie for 40th.

• Robert Garrigus tied a dubious record in his Masters debut by making a 7 on the first hole. That matched the highest opening-hole score by a first-time competitor. Bill Ogden did the same thing at the 1954 tournament. “Well, I guess that’s kind of cool, actually," Garrigus said afterward. He ended up shooting 77-75 to miss the cut.

<p> Golf’s Sistine Chapel annually gives us the most-watched tournament of the year.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 09:48
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-seven-stats-texas-motor-speedway

I hope you all enjoyed restrictor plate action (or in this year’s case, inaction), short track madness and whatever it is we’re calling Fontana now, because all of that is in the rearview mirror. The intermediate tracks, referred to by some fans as “cookie cutters,” provide a semblance of statistical normalcy. Speed and strategy reins on these 1.5- and 2-milers, and while last year’s fall race at Texas Motor Speedway — this weekend’s destination — was an action-packed affair, the top finishers at these tracks are anything but random. We know who the key players will be, thanks to their statistical history on the tracks that comprise the bulk of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.

This week’s statistical cavalcade bridges Martinsville, where Jimmie Johnson showcased his short track mastery, to Texas, a track favored by a certain blue oval-backed racing organization.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, I refer you to my glossary of terms on

69.2%  Jimmie Johnson led a whopping 346 laps (69.2 percent of the race) last Sunday at Martinsville, en route to this eighth win at the facility.

We are used to Johnson’s sheer dominance on the half-mile paperclip-shaped track, but in seven previous wins he never threw down a performance like the one witnessed last weekend. It was a showing of team strength and driving expertise. As he did last fall, Johnson departs Martinsville’s Victory Lane for Texas, where he won following an exciting late-race battle with Brad Keselowski.

64.56%  Danica Patrick recorded her best single-race passing efficiency, winning 64.56 percent of her pass encounters in her debut race at Martinsville.

The 12th-place finish was aided by her plus-passing — her pass differential for the day was plus-23 — after starting from the rear of the field due to an engine change. On a track that isn’t often kind to first-time racers (ask Ricky Stenhouse), Patrick had, arguably, her best Cup Series performance to date.

5.700  In the 10 CoT races that took place at Texas Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth amassed a series-high 5.700 Production in Equal Equipment Rating.

A beacon of consistency in the Lone Star State, Kenseth has finished ninth or better in nine of the last 10 races for an incredible 6.2-place average finish (backed by an amazingly consistent 5.5 finish deviation). Strangely, his average green-flag speed and his finishes at TMS don’t often coalesce; the one time he had the fastest car at Texas, he won (April 2011), but it is more typical that he radically out-performs his equipment, like his fourth-place finish last fall while averaging the 10th-best green-flag speed, or under-performs, like his ninth-place score while averaging the fourth-fastest speed in the spring of 2008.

<p> David Smith crunches the numbers and finds the key NASCAR stats for the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 15:50
Path: /golf/10-best-players-never-win-major-championship

Most golfers would rather be the worst player ever to win a major championship than to be given the title of “best player never to win a major.”

Sure, the BPNTWAM post was most famously held by Phil Mickelson, who was a 33-year-old with 22 PGA Tour wins, 46 major appearances and 17 top-10 finishes in majors before finally breaking through at the 2004 Masters. Lefty is now a four-time major champion, and his days as BPNTWAM are a distant memory from another era.

Here are our picks for the BPNTWAM most likely to win his first jacket, jug or trophy at the 2013 Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and/or PGA Championship.

Next Tiger?
The Aussie bomber and Spanish waggler were both called the “next Tiger” at one point. Each has missed a career-altering putt on the final hole of a major. The time is now.

1. Adam Scott, Australia
Age: 32
World Ranking: 7
PGA Tour wins: 8
Major Appearances: 47
Best Finish: 2 (’12 British), T2 (’11 Masters)
Top 10 Finishes: 8

2. Sergio Garcia, Spain
Age: 33
World Ranking: 16
PGA Tour wins: 8
Major Appearances: 57
Best Finish: 2 (’07 British, ’99 PGA), T2 (’08 PGA)
Top 10 Finishes: 17

American Dream
Since Tiger Woods won his 14th and most recent major at the 2008 U.S. Open, five Americans have claimed their first major championship. Is this foursome up next?

3. Dustin Johnson, USA
Age: 28
World Ranking: 19
PGA Tour wins: 7
Major Appearances: 16
Best Finish: T2 (’11 British)
Top 10 Finishes: 5

4. Brandt Snedeker, USA
Age: 32
World Ranking: 5
PGA Tour wins: 5
Major Appearances: 21
Best Finish: T3 (’12 British)
Top 10 Finishes: 4

5. Matt Kuchar, USA
Age: 34
World Ranking: 10
PGA Tour wins: 4
Major Appearances: 29
Best Finish: T3 (’12 Masters)
Top 10 Finishes: 4

6. Steve Stricker, USA
Age: 46
World Ranking: 8
PGA Tour wins: 12
Major Appearances: 57
Best Finish: 2 (’98 PGA)
Top 10 Finishes: 10

English Curse
A different sort of announcer jinx has been cast upon the blokes across the pond, as no Englishman has won a major championship since Nick Faldo won the 1996 Masters.

7. Lee Westwood, England
Age: 39
World Ranking: 13
PGA Tour wins: 2
Major Appearances: 59
Best Finish: 2 (’10 Masters, ’10 British)
Top 10 Finishes: 14

8. Luke Donald, England
Age: 35
World Ranking: 4
PGA Tour wins: 5
Major Appearances: 38
Best Finish: T3 (’05 Masters, ’06 PGA)
Top 10 Finishes: 7

9. Justin Rose, England
Age: 32
World Ranking: 3
PGA Tour wins: 4
Major Appearances: 35
Best Finish: T3 (’12 PGA)
Top 10 Finishes: 7

10. Ian Poulter, England
Age: 37
World Ranking: 12
PGA Tour wins: 2
Major Appearances: 40
Best Finish: 2 (’08 British)
Top 10 Finishes: 6

<p> 10 Best Players Never To Win a Major Championship, including Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 12:17
Path: /mlb/14-amazing-mlb-stats-week-march-31-april-7

Baseball is a numbers game. Always has been. Always will be. And here are a few notable numbers for the opening week of the season: March 31-April 7.

15    Earned runs allowed last Sunday by reigning Cy Young winners
David Price and R.A. Dickey dominated last season and won the 2012 Cy Young awards. Neither was himself last Sunday though. After teammates Alex Cobb and Matt Moore shut down the Indians the two previous games, the Tribe took it out on Price. The lefthander lasted just five innings and surrendered 10 hits and three walks while giving up eight runs. Dickey’s story is similar in that the team he faced was shut out the day before as well. J.A. Happ and three relievers shut out Boston, but Dickey’s knuckler was doing very little dancing on Sunday. He gave up eight runs — seven earned — on 10 hits and two walks before he was lifted with two out in the fifth.

17    RBIs for Baltimore’s Chris Davis
It took the Baltimore DH just four games to reach 17 ribbies. Last season, the first player to drive in that many was Andre Ethier, who reached the mark on April 17 in the Dodgers’ 11th game. His teammate, Matt Kemp, drove in his 17th the following day. Nick Swisher was the first in the American League with 17 RBIs last season. He did so on April 21 in the Yankees’ 15 contest. Josh Hamilton, then of the Rangers, was the only other player to drive in 17 in his team’s first 17 games.

.099    Batting average for the Pittsburgh Pirates infield
First baseman Gaby Sanchez (.063), second baseman Neil Walker (.100), third baseman Pedro Alvarez (.091) and Clint Barmes (.154) are a combined 7-for-71 with three RBIs and only two extra-base hits, both doubles by Barmes. As a team, the Pirates ended the week batting .119 with one home run. They scored just eight runs in their first six games. No wonder why they finished the week 1-5.

69    Win/save combinations for Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera
The two 40-somethings have been toiling in pinstripes for what seems like forever. Actually, it goes back only to 1996 when Mo’s first career save was a win for starter Pettitte. The total of 69 is the most all-time and does not include the 11 postseason win/save combinations for the pair of likely Hall of Famers.

14.05    Combined ERA for five aces last Sunday
It wasn’t just the reigning Cy Young winners who were knocked around last Sunday. In addition to David Price and R.A. Dickey, Matt Cain, Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels struggled as well. The quintet allowed 38 earned runs in just 24.1 innings.

26    Consecutive batters retired by Yu Darvish
Darvish, the emerging ace of the Texas Rangers mowed through the Houston lineup for eight innings before allowing a hit to shortstop Marwin Gonzalez to fall one batter short of a perfect game.

16    Scoreless innings by the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw
While some aces were getting beaten up in their second starts, Kershaw picked up where he left off on Opening Day. In the opener, Kershaw tossed a complete game shutout over San Francisco and helped himself with a home run in the eighth inning to break a scoreless tie. For an encore, he threw seven shutout frames in a win against Pittsburgh.

0-17    Dodgers infielder Luis Cruz goes 0-for-the week
Luis Cruz, filling in for the injured Hanley Ramirez, struggled through a forgettable week. Of the 204 players with enough qualifying plate appearances, Cruz is the only one hitless. He walked once and whiffed four times.

.500    Batting average for Jed Lowrie
The sandwich-round pick of the Boston Red Sox (45th overall) in 2005 was traded to Houston along with Kyle Weiland for Mark Melancon prior to last season. This spring, he was dealt to Oakland with Fernando Rodriguez for Max Stassi, Chis Carter and Brad Peacock. The Oakland shortstop has reached safely in all seven games for the A’s with three three-hit games and a 1.000 slugging percentage.

12    Players with 12 (or more) consecutive Opening Day starts
Most fans could get pretty close to naming the dozen players with a dozen straight starts to open the season. Todd Helton leads the list with 16. Torii Hunter has made 15 straight OD starts with Minnesota, the Angels and this season with the Tigers. Aramis Ramirez, primarily with the Cubs but dating to his days in Pittsburgh, has 14 straight. Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Placido Polanco, Albert Pujols and Jimmy Rollins have 13 in a row. Adrian Beltre, Adam Dunn, Alfonso Soriano and — perhaps the most surprising — Vernon Wells have 12 each.

16    Consecutive Opening Day starts by Todd Helton
The Rockies’ first baseman has indicated that 2013 would be his final season. He carries the longest consecutive Opening Day starting streak at 16. Amazingly, he and Andres Galarraga are the only two players in history to start at first base for Colorado on Opening Day.

27    All-Star appearances among current Tigers
All 10 players in Detroit’s Opening Day lineup claim at least one All-Star honor. Led by Miguel Cabrera’s seven and Justin Verlander’s five, the Tigers’ opening lineup totals 27 All-Star appearances, the most of any team’s Opening Day lineup.

10    All-Star appearances by Ichiro
New York Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is the only player who started Opening Day for any team with 10 All-Star Games to his credit. All 10 appearances were made wearing a Seattle uniform.

+2    Games over .500 for the AL Central
Only one division in the American League played winning baseball during the season’s first week — and it wasn’t the vaunted AL East. The AL Central finished four games over the breakeven mark with the other two divisions each two games under.

<p> Baseball is a numbers game. Always has been. Always will be. And here are a few notable stats for the opening week of the season: March 31-April 7.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 11:45
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-2-tiger-woods

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2013 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 20 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 2: Tiger Woods

Born: Dec. 30, 1975, Cypress, Calif. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 77  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 3 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $6,133,158 (2nd) World Ranking: 1


Brandel Chamblee's Take

Tiger is still a threat to win every week, as he's shown with his three wins so far in 2013. And as he showed last year at the Memorial, when he pitched in on the 70th hole from behind the green en route to winning, he is still capable of producing mind-blowing magic. He is learning how to play a more conservative, less explosive and less versatile game, but that game was still good enough for three wins in 2012, and only Rory McIlroy was better. Still, he was plagued by inconsistencies on the weekend in the majors and with his short irons all year. The race for him to fully incorporate all the swing changes he and Sean Foley continue to work on before time runs out provide a sense of urgency to every round. That, combined with his quest to overtake Rory in the world rankings and win another major, makes it seem as if no one plays under more pressure than Tiger.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 66
Wins: 14

2012 Performance:
Masters - T40
U.S. Open - T21
British Open - T3
PGA Championship - T11

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005)
U.S. Open - 1 (2000, 2002, 2008)
British Open - 1 (2000, 2005, 2006)
PGA Championship - 1 (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007)
Top-10 Finishes: 36
Top-25 Finishes: 52
Missed Cuts: 4

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

Athlon's 2013 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 20 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. BUY IT NOW.

<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 10:52
Path: /college-basketball/picking-12-losers-2013-ncaa-tournament

Legacies are made in March. Or in this case, unmade.

For all the accomplishments for coaches, players and teams through the 2012-13 season, so much of the perception and reputations are built on the stage of the NCAA Tournament.

Through the 2012-13 season, we watched Indiana return to No. 1 status. We watched Gonzaga reach No. 1 for the first time in school history. And we watched the Mountain West compete at the highest level.

But the story of the season won’t be complete without mentioning the final images of the season -- Indiana’s struggling to score on Syracuse, Gonzaga’s getting burned by a three-point shot against Wichita State, and the conspicuous absence of any Mountain West team in the second week of the Tournament.

By Monday night, 67 teams finished the NCAA Tournament on the losing end, but here are those who especially may want to hide their heads during the offseason.

Related: 2013 NCAA Tournament winners


Tom Crean, Indiana
The job Tom Crean has done to resuscitate Indiana is admirable. His sideline demeanor, though, is not. The master of the blow-by handshake breezed by Jim Boeheim after the loss to Syracuse after a woeful offensive performance in the Sweet 16. Arguing about the decorum of a handshake can be tiresome, but Crean’s habit of speeding through the handshake line after losses, taking his time to to arrive at postgame press conferences and sparring with an opposing assistant threatens to make the IU coach unlikeable to anyone outside of Bloomington.

Cody Zeller, Indiana
The preseason player of the year and potential NBA lottery pick looked like he needed a little more seasoning in the Hoosiers’ loss to Syracuse. Zeller looked lost against the Syracuse zone and had more shots blocked (five) than he had field goals (three) against the Orange.

March was not a good month to be an administrator in college athletics. Away from the NCAA Tournament, Rutgers fired its athletic director after video of Mike Rice’s mistreatment of players was aired on ESPN. The Pac-12 coordinator of officials resigned after an “inappropriate joke” about targeting Arizona coach Sean Miller. At the Tournament, NCAA president Mark Emmert sparred with reporters at his Final Four press conference. And too many games featured questionable officiating in the final minutes, most recently the held ball the prevented Wichita State from taking a final shot against Louisville in the Final Four.

This was supposed to be Mark Few’s best chance to reach his first Final Four. Instead, he never made it out of the first weekend and was lucky to avoid being the first coach of a No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. The best team in school history lost to Wichita State in the round of 32, which doesn’t seem quite so bad after the Shockers defeated Ohio State in the Elite Eight and gave Louisville trouble in the Final Four. Still, the loss has given Gonzaga its third consecutive loss in the round of 32.

The Mountain West
This was a banner season for the Mountain West with the league sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament. For the Tournament, though, the league went home with a participant trophy. No MWC team reached the second weekend, but what’s more startling is the list of teams that eliminated the league’s team from the tournament: No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, No. 14 Harvard, No. 13 La Salle and No. 12 Cal. Only Colorado State could leave the tournament holding its head up high, and the eighth-seeded Rams lost in the round of 32 to Louisville.

Georgetown and Pittsburgh’s luck
Georgetown and Pittsburgh are going to be criticized for their tendency to exit the NCAA Tournament early, but let’s consider for a second that both teams have run into the hot hand in the postseason. That's especiall true for the Hoyas. Georgetown lost to Florida Gulf Coast in 2013, NC State in 2012, Final Four-bound VCU in 2011 and Stephen Curry-led Davidson in 2008. Only the 2010 loss to 14th-seeded Ohio in the first round is truly egregious in this string of early exits. The same could be said for Pittsburgh, which last lost to Wichita State (a Final Four team) and Butler (a national runner-up) in two of the last three tournaments.

The Big 12
The league wasn’t at its best this season, but the Big 12 did not distinguish itself in the Tournament. The last team standing -- No. 1 seed Kansas -- coughed up a 14-point lead in the final 6:51 of regulation before losing in overtime to Michigan. Even if Oregon was not a typical No. 12 seed and La Salle ended up in the Sweet 16, Oklahoma State and Kansas State still lost to double-digit seeds. Meanwhile, Oklahoma was a no-show against the same San Diego State team that lost by 10 to Florida Gulf Coast. But, hey, at least Baylor won the NIT.

Marshall Henderson
The 2013 NCAA Tournament probably marked the end of Marshall Henderson being a compelling college basketball villain to just a villain. Henderson flipped off the entire arena on his way to the locker room after he said fans in Kansas City taunted him. He was photographed spending some time on the town in K.C. after the upset of Wisconsin, and he’s fond of using the word “HOES” on Twitter. After leading Ole Miss to its best season in more than a decade, Henderson apologized to Rebels fans.

The Tigers were a top-10 team at one point this season. Seems crazy, doesn’t it? Missouri went 11-7 in a lackluster SEC and then lost by 12 to Colorado State in the round of 64.  Frank Haith may be having regular season success with Mizzou, but this loss comes a year after the Tigers lost to No. 15 seed Norfolk State.

The UCLA-Minnesota game
The round of 64 game between UCLA and Minnesota turned out to be more like a December bowl game than playoff game as the Bruins and Gophers fired Ben Howland and Tubby Smith, respectively, before the following Monday.

NC State
A Sweet 16 appearance in 2012 raised expectations for Mark Gottfried’s second team in Raleigh, expectations the Wolfpack never matched. After limping through an 11-7 season in the ACC, NC State lost 76-72 to Temple in the round of 64, and no one was really shocked. A team stocked with pro potential, NC State lost three of its final five games.

Low-majors not named Florida Gulf Coast
The talking heads, Athlon included, pinpointed all their favorite mid-major and low-major upset picks when the brackets were released, and almost none of the trendy picks panned out. Right after the Selection Show, you were more likely to hear pundits talking about Belmont, Bucknell and South Dakota State than Florida Gulf Coast or Harvard. Belmont, Bucknell and South Dakota State all lost their round of 64 games by double figures.

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Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 08:25
Path: /college-basketball/picking-12-winners-2013-ncaa-tournament

Only one true winner will be happy at the end of the NCAA Tournament, so the cliche goes.

That much may be true. All but one locker room at the end of the tournament will have its share of sad faces and tears.

We disagree that only one winner will be left standing after the championship game, though. Coaches, players, schools and entire conferences are among the winners in the NCAA Tournament, whether it’s reaching an important milestone, scoring a major victory, improving NBA draft stock or building momentum into next season.

Here are our picks of who -- besides the national champion -- had reason to smile at the end of the NCAA tournament.

Related: 2013 NCAA Tournament losers


Rick Pitino, Louisville
To recap The Week of Pitino:
• On Monday night, he won his second national title.
• On Monday morning, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
• On Saturday morning, a horse he owns, Goldencents, won the Santa Anita Derby to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
• On Wednesday, his son Richard Pitino was hired at Minnesota.
This week of professional and personal achievement would have been tough to fathom in 2009 during the depths of the Karen Sypher scandal. Not that Pitino need media validation, but columnists are noting that he’s basically a nicer guy than he was several years ago, too.


Mitch McGary, Michigan
Three weeks ago, would anyone have picked McGary as the transformative player for Michigan, much less the entire NCAA Tournament? In Michigan’s pre-game notes before the Tournament, one of the first mentions of McGary notes that he was twice the Big Ten’s freshman of the week. Three weeks later, we wondered if McGary could have a triple-double in a Final Four game (he finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against Syracuse).

Wichita State
Just as the Missouri Valley’s top program, Creighton, leaves for the Big East, the league has a new frontrunner. Wichita State has been consistent for several seasons, but the Final Four appearance should change perception. The biggest victory, though, may be the Shockers keeping Gregg Marshall, though he was not a serious candidate for major-conference openings this season. Wichita State lost five seniors from a team that won the MVC last season and still reached the Final Four with an identity based on physical defense and rebounding.

Florida Gulf Coast
Two wins will be the greatest advertisement in school history for the little-known school in Fort Myers. Few basketball fans even knew of the existence of FGCU, but after a week everyone knew of its coach, his wife, his prior career, the nickname Dunk City, the personalities of Sherwood Brown and Brett Comer, the Eagles’ style of play and the school’s location on the beach. Florida Gulf Coast may never reach the Sweet 16 again, but administrators have to be thrilled about the wave of applications they’re about to receive.

Andy Enfield, USC
The Florida Gulf Coast coach gets his own note here for taking advantage of his week in the spotlight to take the USC job. It may be a stretch for the Trojans to hire a coach from the Atlantic Sun with no West Coast recruiting connections, but for Enfield to multiply his salary by 10, it’s a no-brainer.

Buzz Williams, Marquette
Williams has progressed from quirky personality to underrated coach to simply a one of the best coaches in the country. With Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom gone, this was not one of his better teams, but Marquette reached the Elite Eight for the first time since Dwyane Wade led the way to the Final Four. Marquette was fortunate when Davidson collapsed in the round of 64, but from there the Eagles defeated Brad Stevens-led Butler and a 29-7 Miami team.

Josh Pastner, Memphis
The Tigers’ coach finally has a big win under his belt at Memphis. Saint Mary’s was a No. 11 seed that had played in the First Four two days earlier, but Pastner finally got his first tourney win in four seasons as the Tigers’ head coach. If Matthew Dellavedova hits that three-pointer to win the game, it would have been an awfully long offseason for the Memphis coach.

Ole Miss
Marshall Henderson can be a handful, but Andy Kennedy and the Rebels owe him a free lunch (once his eligibility expires, of course). The nation’s most divisive player led Ole Miss to an SEC Tournament title for its first NCAA appearance since 2002 and an upset of fifth-seeded Wisconsin for its first NCAA win since 2001. The run likely saved the job of Kennedy, who had taken Ole Miss to the NIT in five of his first six seasons in Oxford.

La Salle
The Explorers won two national titles in the ‘50s with Tom Gola and won 80 games from 1987-90 with Lionel Simmons, but other than that, La Salle hasn’t been very relevant. John Giannini’s long rebuilding project at La Salle, though, culminated with a trip to the Sweet 16 before a loss to Wichita State.

Iowa State
This was not a shining tournament for the Big 12, but Iowa State has reason to celebrate. Iowa State won a tournament game for the second consecutive season and gave a top team fits in the round of 32. Iowa State lost 87-71 to eventual national champion Kentucky in 2012, but kept it close early in the second half. This year, Ohio State needed Aaron Craft’s late three-pointer to put away the seventh-seeded Cyclones. And better yet, Fred Hoiberg agreed to a 10-year, $20 million contract to remain The Mayor.

With only one season in the rotation in 2012-13, next season was supposed to be the year for Harvard to make a move. Instead, the Crimson upset third-seeded New Mexico 68-62 in the round of 64. Next season, Harvard will be the “it” team in the Ivy League, same as Cornell was before its run to the Sweet 16 in 2010.

Steve Alford, UCLA
How can a coach of a team that lost to a No. 14 seed still be a winner? Landing at UCLA, for starters.

<p> The Week of Pitino, the rising stock of McGary and more highlighted this year's March Madness</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 08:20
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-quarterbacks-hot-seat-2013

Most college football fans associate the word “hot seat” with coaching changes. While that term mostly applies to the men on the sideline, it can also factor into the discussion of quarterbacks. Every coach preaches competition under center in the spring, but the reality is only a handful of quarterback battles are really open.

Quarterback play isn’t solely to blame for the struggles of some teams last season, but there’s no question it can play a significant role in why a team fails to meet preseason expectations.

With spring drills underway, now is the time for struggling quarterbacks to either reclaim their starting job or open the year on the hot seat. Here are 10 quarterbacks that need a big preseason after failing to meet expectations last year.

10 Quarterbacks on the Hot Seat for 2013

David Ash, Texas
With 18 starters returning, everything is in place for Texas to win the Big 12 title in 2013. Of course, there’s one glaring question mark that could decide whether or not the Longhorns improve on last season’s nine wins: Quarterback play. Since Colt McCoy left Austin, Texas has struggled to find a quarterback. Ash has shown flashes of potential, including back-to-back 300-yard performances in September against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. However, he didn’t play well against TCU (104 passing yards) and started slow in the bowl game but finished with 241 yards and two passing scores. Major Applewhite will call the plays this year for Texas, and if he can get Ash on track, the Longhorns should easily surpass last year’s nine victories.

James Franklin, Missouri
Much like some of the other quarterbacks on this list, Franklin’s 2012 season isn’t entirely to blame for Missouri’s struggles. Transitioning to the SEC was the toughest challenge for the Tigers, but the offensive line never found any consistency, and Franklin was never 100 percent after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. After recording 3,846 yards of total offense and 36 touchdowns in 2011, Franklin managed just 1,562 passing yards and 10 passing scores in 2012. The Tigers should be better in their second tour through the SEC, but Franklin’s health and the return of running back Henry Josey should help this offense find a much-needed spark. The Missouri coaching staff planned on getting an extended look at redshirt freshman Maty Mauk this spring, but Franklin shouldn’t have any trouble holding onto the starting nod. Missouri probably won’t ask the senior to run as much as he did in 2011, but his dual-threat ability should be featured more in 2013.

Connor Halliday, Washington State
Mike Leach’s first season in Pullman brought high expectations, but the Cougars were one of the nation’s biggest disappointments. Leach’s high-powered passing attack never got on track, and Washington State won just three games and averaged a paltry 20.4 points a game. Quarterback play was a huge issue for the Cougars last season, as Jeff Tuel and Halliday shared time under center. Tuel expired his eligibility, leaving Halliday as Washington State’s No. 1 passer for spring practice. The Washington native finished 2012 with 1,878 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he also threw 13 picks. Halliday isn’t guaranteed the starting job, as redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca and true freshman Tyler Bruggman will have an opportunity to push for time this preseason. Halliday showed some flashes of promise last year, including four performances of at least 300 passing yards. If the Cougars want to contend for a bowl game, Halliday needs to take command of the offense and show he’s the No. 1 quarterback this spring.

Jake Heaps, Kansas
Heaps ranked as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the 2010 recruiting class and started 10 games as a true freshman at BYU, throwing for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns. Despite his experience as a freshman, Heaps failed to build on his performance in 2011 and was benched after a slow start. The Washington native transferred to Kansas after the 2011 season and has two years of eligibility remaining. Heaps is clearly the most talented quarterback on the Jayhawks’ roster, but his performance at BYU certainly wasn’t up to his recruiting hype. Kansas has a good stable of running backs, but the offensive line and receiving corps is still a work in progress. After spending last year on the sidelines, is Heaps ready to take the next step in his development?

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State
The first year in the post-Kirk Cousins era did not go well for Michigan State. The Spartans needed a win in their regular season finale against Minnesota just to get bowl eligible and finished 108th nationally in scoring offense. Maxwell completed only 52.6 percent of his throws, while passing for 2,606 yards and 13 touchdowns. Despite his struggles, Maxwell remained the starter for the full season but lost playing time in the bowl game to Connor Cook. Coach Mark Dantonio and co-coordinators Dave Warner and Jim Bollman are giving Maxwell the first chance to win the starting quarterback job this spring. The senior won’t have All-Big Ten running back Le’Veon Bell to lean on in 2013, but the receiving corps and offensive line should be solid. If Maxwell struggles early in the year, Dantonio shouldn’t hesitate to give Cook a chance to spark the offense.

Zach Mettenberger, LSU
As expected with any first-year starter, Mettenberger experienced his share of ups and downs. The Georgia native finished 2012 with 2,609 passing yards and 12 touchdowns and threw for 298 yards in the 21-17 loss to Alabama. While Mettenberger’s performance against Alabama was one of his best of last season, he also threw for only 97 yards against Texas A&M and struggled in a 12-10 victory against Auburn. With another spring practice under his belt, along with the arrival of former NFL coordinator Cam Cameron, the pressure is on Mettenberger to take the next step in his development. LSU has one of the SEC’s best rushing attacks, and the receiving corps is among the best in the conference. The Tigers suffered some significant losses on defense, which makes improvement on the passing attack a priority if they want to contend in the SEC West.

Gary Nova, Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights were on the doorstep of an outright conference title last season but losses at Pittsburgh and against Louisville prevented a berth in a BCS bowl. With a defense that ranked fourth nationally in fewest points allowed per game, the Scarlet Knights didn’t need their offense to average 40 points a contest. However, Rutgers never seemed to show improvement on offense last year, as it didn’t score more than 17 points in each of its final four games. Nova had a few solid performances (397 yards against Arkansas, 232 yards and four touchdowns against Temple), but he did not play well against Pittsburgh or in the bowl against Virginia Tech. With running back Jawan Jamison moving onto the NFL, the Scarlet Knights need Nova to carry more of the offensive workload in 2013. Rutgers will have a new coordinator (Ron Prince), but wholesale changes aren’t expected. If Nova can regain his early 2012 form – 17 touchdowns, three interceptions in six games – Rutgers should push for a finish in the top three of the Big East.

Keith Price, Washington
With an offensive line that struggled to provide consistent protection, it’s unfair to blame Price for all of Washington’s offensive struggles last year. After averaging 33.4 points a game in 2011, the Huskies posted only 24 points per contest in 2012. Price simply wasn’t the same player that was touted as a darkhorse Heisman candidate in the preseason, as he threw for 2,728 yards and 19 touchdowns. With the line expected to be better in 2013, and the return of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and receiver Kasen Williams, Price should be in for a bounce-back campaign. However, if the line struggles, once again, Washington’s offense could finish near the bottom of the Pac-12 in scoring and total yards for the second year in a row.

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
Make no mistake: 2012 was simply a disaster for Illinois. The Fighting Illini went backwards in Tim Beckman’s first season, with the offense hitting rock bottom by averaging just 16.7 points a game. It’s unfair to blame Scheelhaase for everything that went wrong last year, especially since Illinois had very little production from the running backs or any protection from the offensive line. Entering his senior year, Scheelhaase has thrown for 5,296 yards and 34 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,795 yards and 15 scores. New coordinator Bill Cubit should improve Illinois’ offense, but the surrounding cast has to step up and help Scheelhaase more than it did in 2012.

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
2013 certainly didn’t go according to plan for Virginia Tech. The Hokies had ACC title aspirations but needed victories over Boston College and Virginia in late November just to get bowl eligible. Thomas was a second-team All-ACC selection in his first year as a starter, so expectations were high going into 2013. Instead of taking a step forward in his development, the Virginia native regressed. Thomas watched his completion percentage dip from 59.8 percent in 2011 to 51.3 percent in 2012. His interceptions also increased from 10 in 2011 to 16 in 2012. After Virginia Tech’s offensive struggles last year, coach Frank Beamer decided to shake up the offensive staff, hiring Scot Loeffler as the new coordinator. Loeffler’s stint at Auburn did not go well, and he’s stepping into a situation where Virginia Tech has a questionable offensive line and lacks proven playmakers at receiver and no No. 1 running back. Thomas recorded more yards of total offense in 2012 than he did in 2011, but the Hokies need their senior signal-caller to play more mistake-free ball in 2013.

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<p> College Football's Top 10 Quarterbacks Under Pressure for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 07:50