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Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-pac-12s-best-freshmen-transfers-and-more-2013-14

The new faces that will dominate the discussion in the preseason in the Pac-12 may be the new coaches in Los Angeles. In a quiet coaching carousel, UCLA’s Steve Alford and USC’s Andy Enfield were two of the biggest movers.

But they might not be the biggest movers among new faces in the Pac-12.

Arizona will build off a 27-win season and a Sweet 16 appearance with two of the best freshmen in the league and one of the Pac-12’s most important transfers. Indeed, Aaron Gordon, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and T.J. McConnell could put Arizona into Final Four contention.

Elsewhere, Oregon will once again look to a frontcourt transfer to remain among the top programs in the league. Arizona State hopes a guard transfer will get the Sun Devils over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament. And Washington will against pin its hopes on a freshman point guard.

Our look at the transfers, freshmen and players returning from injury last season continues with the Pac-12. Earlier, we’ve profiled the new faces in the ACC, American, Big 12, Big East and Big Ten.

Aaron Gordon, Arizona
The Pac-12’s most valuable freshman is getting used to the “most valuable” title. He was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and MVP of USA Basketball’s U19 gold-medal winning teams. Gordon will play small forward, but the 6-foot-8, 210-pound product of Archbishop Mitty in San Jose could also play power forward. Gordon was ranked the No. 3 prospect in the 247Composite rankings.

Mike Moser, Oregon
Transfer from UNLV
Before last season, hardcore college basketball fans knew Arsalan Kazemi was a good player stuck on a bad team at Rice. His transfer to Oregon gave him additional prominence and helped transform Oregon’s season. Moser is not nearly as anonymous. At UNLV, he was a preseason All-American before getting caught in a numbers crunch in the Rebels’ frontcourt. Moser isn’t replacing Kazemi as much as he’s replacing wing E.J. Singler's versatility in Eugune, a tall order unto itself. Moser averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds in 2011-12 before dipping to 7.1 points and 6.1 in 2012-13.

T.J. McConnell, Arizona
Transfer from Duquesne
Point guard was an issue last season for the Wildcats with neither Mark Lyons nor Nick Johnson being a natural fit for the position. That changes with McConnell. He was the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year in 2010-11 and averaged 4.9 assists and a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio in two seasons with the Dukes before sitting out last season. McConnell also averaged better than 50 percent shooting from the field and 2.3 assists in two seasons.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona
Hollis-Jefferson is another McDonald’s All-American in Arizona’s recruiting haul. Like Gordon, the 6-7 forward is a versatile defender whose offensive game is developing. Hollis-Jefferson is the brother of former Temple forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson.

Jermaine Marshall, Arizona State
Transfer from Penn State

Shooting guard Evan Gordon unexpectedly transferred to Indiana, but Arizona State may have upgraded in a de facto trade with the Big Ten. Marshall arrives from Penn State to team with potential All-American Jahii Carson in the ASU backcourt. Marshall’s a good fit. He averaged 15.3 points per game but struggled from 3-point range (33.9 percent on 174 attempts).

Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
The Huskies’ have had issues at point guard for a few years, but Williams-Goss brings a good package of size (6-4), passing and leadership on the floor. He’ll lead the Huskies' three-guard lineup. Washington seems to do better when its recruits fly under the radar. We’ll see if the trend continues with the four-star Williams-Goss.

Anthony Brown, Stanford
Returning from injury
Brown needed hip surgery in late November and missed all but five games last season. The Cardinal returns all five starters, but Brown’s return to the lineup will still be valuable. The fourth-year junior wing averaged 8.4 points per game as a freshman and sophomore.

Jabari Bird, Cal
Bird steps in to replace the Bears’ leading scorer last season, Allen Crabbe. Cal returns guard Justin Cobbs, but Bird could become a prolific scorer right off the bat. The 6-6, 190-pound guard from Richmond, Calif., is one of the top prospects Cal has signed in recent seasons.

Richard Amardi, Oregon
Junior college transfer
Amardi adds to a remade Ducks frontcourt that loses Arsalan Kazemi, E.J. Singler, Tony Woods and Carlos Emory. The 6-9 forward who originally signed with Iowa State will give the Ducks added athleticism up front.

Other new faces to watch:

Wanaah Bail, UCLA
Transfer from Texas Tech
UCLA’s all-namer has a handful of hurdles to clear before contributing in the Bruins’ frontcourt. He had knee surgery in June that will keep him out for four months, and he’s still seeking a waiver to play immediately after transferring form Texas Tech (even though he never played for the Red Raiders).

Pe’Shon Howard, USC
Transfer from Maryland
Howard is still seeking clearance to play this season after transferring West to care for an ill grandmother. Howard could start at point guard, where he averaged 3.6 assists per game for the Terps.

Joseph Young, Oregon
Transfer from Houston
The guard averaged 18 points per game at Houston, but he’s awaiting word on immediate eligibility in Eugene.

Brandan Kearney, Arizona State
Transfer from Michigan State
The small forward is a  key defender who won’t be eligible until the second semester.

Ricky Kreklow, Cal
Returning from injury
The Missouri transfer played only nine games last season before a foot injury. He was a potential starter for his energy and defense.

Angus Brandt, Oregon State
Returning from injury
Brandt missed most of last season with a torn ACL. Before his injury, the 6-10 center was averaging 11.2 points and 8.5 rebounds in four games.

Danny Lawhorn, Washington State
Junior college transfer
Lawhorn led junior colleges in assists last season and should become the Cougars’ point guard.

Arizona's Sean Miller will contend for Final Four with new arrivals
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 10:01
All taxonomy terms: GIF, Green Bay Packers, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/aaron-rodgers-makes-amazing-throw-training-camp

Pay attention fantasy football fans, Aaron Rodgers is looking sharp at the Packers training camp. How sharp? Watch as he throws a 50-yard strike with ease.

Aaron Rodgers Makes Amazing Throw At Training Camp


His reaction.

Source: Bleacher Report



Aaron Rodgers Makes Amazing Throw At Training Camp
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 08:35
Path: /caroline-wozniacki-madonna-and-10-other-bad-luck-wags-sports

Carolina Wozniacki

Two-time major championship winning golfer Rory McIlroy has gotten grief about his tennis starlet girlfriend from just about everyone, including Gary Player and Johnny Miller. Whether or not the 24-year-old golf phenom from Northern Ireland has been distracted by his 23-year-old 5'10" blonde Danish bombshell isn't really anybody's business. But until McIlroy contends again or wins another major championship, Wozniacki will be considered bad luck — which is better than a case of the yips, I guess.

Kate Upton

Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and America’s “it” girl Kate Upton kept it coy regarding their official relationship status until recently splitting up. But dating the voluptuous bikini model did not help JV’s pitching in the playoffs last year. Then the AL’s reigning MVP and Cy Young winner, Verlander was rocked by the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series, allowing five runs in four innings of a losing effort.

Clearly, every man alive would love to do the Dougie, or Cat Daddy, or just about any dance with the 20-year-old bombshell. But it would be hard to pay attention to your curve ball after attending to her curves. Ask Justin Verlander.

Jessica Simpson

Back when she was Tony Romo’s cowgirl, Simpson became Enemy No. 1 of Cowboy Nation. From wearing a pink jersey to taking a pre-playoff vacation to Cabo, Simpson made all the wrong moves. She is the perfect blueprint of what not to do as well as the definitive bad luck WAG.


Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp hit .249 with 28 HRs, 89 RBIs and had 19 steals the year he dated Barbados babe Ri-Ri. After the break up, Kemp was an MVP runner-up who hit .324 with 39 HRs, 126 RBIs and had 40 steals. Rihanna had more hits than Kemp did while they were dating.

Kim Kardashian

Both Reggie Bush and Miles Austin know the split stats with and without Ray J’s flick co-star and Kanye West’s current beautiful dark twisted fantasy. Kim K and her best asset end up putting football players on their backside.

Khloe Kardashian

After Lamar Odom married Khloe — who some have speculated to be O.J. Simpson’s illegitimate daughter — his life fell apart. He was traded from the L.A. Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks, berated publicly by Mark Cuban and had a bout with depression that bordered on mental breakdown. Other than that, though, things are great.

Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes

The late TLC star went chasing waterfalls and ended up with a scrub she didn’t want. In less lyrical words, volatile wide receiver Andre Rison cheated on her, so she set fire to his Atlanta mansion — the lowlight of a combustible relationship between two of Hot-lanta’s craziest residents.

Tawny Kitaen

Pitcher Chuck Finley filed for a restraining order against the actress after being attacked — a fight that allegedly included her stomping his foot with her high heel, pressing the car accelerator to the floorboard during the in-car domestic dispute. It’s a baseball superstition to leave your wife if she beats you up before going on Celebrity Rehab.

Anna Benson

Pitcher Kris Benson would have come and gone without anyone noticing him had it not been for his batwing crazy model wife. She was a dumpster fire with D-cups, telling Howard Stern that she would have sex with the entire Mets team if Kris ever cheated on her and generally sabotaging her husband’s middling career.



The Material Girl has an all-star roster of athletes she has vogued with. Jose Canseco, Dennis Rodman and Alex Rodriguez all got into the groove with Madge. Those dudes get worse reviews than Guy Ritchie’s 2002 Madonna vehicle Swept Away. Recently, Ozzie Guillen blamed the fall of A-Rod on Madonna. And judging by the beefed-up arms of the 54-year-old cultural icon, maybe A-Rod was sharing some of his alleged Biogenesis secrets with his ex-Kabbalah crush.

Cameron Diaz

Back to A-Rod, whose nickname apparently isn’t just a reference to his name. Remember when the Bad Teacher fed him popcorn at Super Bowl XLV? Nothing has gone right for lucky No. 13 since then. He hit a rock bottom .120 (3-for-25) before getting benched in the AL playoffs last year. And things have only gone downhill since then.

Evelyn Lozada

Who? Oh yeah, the wacko from Basketball Wives who coincidentally left the lives of both Antoine Walker and Chad Ochocinco Johnson in shambles. You still probably don’t know who she is, but ‘Toine is penny-less and shimmy-less while Ocho is clearly no bueno, jobless and allegedly resorting to Twitter stalking.

These beautiful women are bad luck WAGs, having seemingly ruined athletes' seasons, careers and/or lives.
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 08:01
Path: /college-football/opposing-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-notre-dame-2013

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year. In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2013, Athlon asked coaches around the nation to talk anonymously about Notre Dame.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Coaches Anonymously Scout Notre Dame for 2013

Notre Dame
Opposing coaches size up the Fighting Irish:

“Brian (Kelly) utilizes his personnel well. He plays well to the strengths of the team, and he adapted.” …

“The quarterback’s ability (Everett Golson) to make plays was why they went with him over the (older) quarterbacks. The other guys didn’t have that same ability or creativity.” …

“The tight end (Tyler Eifert) was the hardest matchup on the field. Linebackers couldn’t control him, defensive backs weren’t big enough to handle him. They’ll miss him. The way they used him in wideout sets, flexing him, they did a good job formation-ing you and trying to get a matchup. That’s why I think (Kelly) stayed with so many big formations, because the wide receivers weren’t ready for an offense that threw it 40 times a game. They’ll throw it 25 times per game unless they really develop those skill players.” …

“They are really big up front defensively. Really good there. They make it difficult.”

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Opposing Coaches Talk Anonymously About Notre Dame for 2013
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-breakout-players-2013

Every year, college football fans are introduced to a handful of players that become household names by the end of the season. Predicting which players will breakout any year is never an easy task.

The Pac-12 is filled with talent on both sides of the ball. But there's always room for another superstar or two from each team to emerge. USC receiver Nelson Agholor is off to a good start this fall and should fill the void left behind by Robert Woods. Three candidates are competing for time at California, but redshirt freshman Zach Kline should emerge as the team's top option.

Defining what is a breakout player is nearly impossible. Everyone has a different perspective on how players are viewed around the conference and nationally. Athlon's list of breakout players for 2013 tries to take into account which names will be known nationally (not just within the conference) by the end of season. So while some of these players on this list are known to fans of a particular team, the rest of the conference or nation might not be as familiar. 

Pac-12 Breakout Players for 2013

Bralon Addison, WR, Oregon
With running back Kenjon Barner out of eligibility, and quarterback Marcus Mariota returning for his sophomore season, the Ducks may look to pass more in 2013. Oregon has no shortage of options at receiver, including senior Josh Huff and tight end Colt Lyerla. But the player to watch is Addison, especially after he caught 22 passes for 243 yards and three scores as a true freshman last year. Addison will also factor into the mix on returns, giving Oregon another dynamic playmaker on special teams. With the Ducks taking to the air, Addison, Huff and Lyerla are all in for big seasons.

Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
There’s no question that USC will miss Robert Woods, but the Trojans still have one of the nation’s top receiving corps. Marqise Lee is an Athlon Sports first-team All-American for 2013, and Agholor is poised to push for all-conference honors this year as well. As a true freshman last season, Agholor caught 19 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 17.9 yards per catch. The Tampa native had his best performance against Oregon, recording six catches for 162 yards and one score. With defenses aiming to stop Lee, look for Agholor to see more passes in his direction this year.

Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Injuries have hindered Bigelow throughout his career, but if can stay healthy, the junior is a threat to rush for 1,000 yards in coach Sonny Dykes’ wide-open offense. On 44 attempts last year, Bigelow recorded 431 yards and three scores. He also averaged 23 yards per kickoff return and caught seven passes for 92 yards and one touchdown. Bigelow is a dynamic playmaker when he has the ball in his hands, so expect Dykes and coordinator Tony Franklin to get him at least 20 touches a game – provided he can avoid the pesky injury bug.

Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
In an offensive-minded league like the Pac-12, it’s not easy for any true freshman to step onto the field at cornerback. However, Carter did just that last year, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in the process. In 14 games (with eight starts), the Virginia native recorded 46 tackles and three forced fumbles. With another offseason under his belt, Carter should continue to develop into one of the Pac-12’s top cornerbacks this season.

Tyson Coleman, LB, Oregon
The linebacking corps is Oregon’s biggest concern on defense, as Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso will be missed. But the cupboard is far from bare for coordinator Nick Aliotti. Coleman recorded 34 tackles in 13 contests last season and is poised to develop into the Ducks’ top linebacker in 2013. The sophomore suffered a foot injury in spring practice but is expected to be at full strength once the season begins. Coleman isn’t the only Oregon defender that could breakout, as sophomore lineman Arik Armstead is another player to watch this fall.

Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
Arizona State had three running backs record over 100 carries last season, but with Cameron Marshall expiring his eligibility, Grice is due for an increase in touches. In his first year after transferring in from a junior college, Grice rushed for 679 yards and 11 scores and caught 41 passes for 425 yards and eight touchdowns. The Texas native came on strong at the end of the year, gashing Arizona for 156 yards and three scores and Navy for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Although DJ Foster will see plenty of work, Grice should be Arizona State’s leading rusher and could push for All-Pac-12 recognition in 2013.

Jaxon Hood, DT, Arizona State
Will Sutton is one of college football’s premier defensive players, but the Sun Devils had another player turn some heads on the interior last season. Hood played in all 13 of Arizona State’s games as a true freshman, recording 26 tackles and three sacks. At 6-foot and 287 pounds, the Arizona native isn’t the biggest defensive tackle in the conference. However, his quickness off the ball is tough for opposing offensive linemen to match, and the sophomore will benefit from all of the attention Sutton will get from offenses.

Zach Kline, QB, California
It’s a new era in Berkeley in 2013. Jeff Tedford was fired after 11 seasons at California, and he was replaced by another offensive guru – Sonny Dykes. The Golden Bears struggled to get consistent quarterback play in recent years, but that should change under Dykes and coordinator Tony Franklin. Under their watch, Louisiana Tech led the nation with an average of 51.5 points a game last season. Can California replicate that total in 2013? Probably not. However, the Golden Bears should see improvement on offense, especially at the quarterback spot. Kline holds a slight edge over Jared Goff and Austin Hinder for the starting spot, and the winner of this battle will have a chance to post big numbers in this scheme. Kline ranked as the Pac-12’s No. 9 recruit by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class, and while the California native may have a few ups and downs, expect the redshirt freshman to emerge as a strength by the end of 2013.

Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
No, Mannion certainly isn’t a mystery or unknown product to most around the Pac-12. However, after throwing for 3,328 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011, Mannion took a step back in the production department last year. Mannion threw for 2,446 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012 and struggled to hold off Cody Vaz for the top spot on the depth chart. Mannion has all of the talent necessary to keep Oregon State’s offense averaging over 300 yards through the air each week. But can he cut down on the interceptions and hold off Vaz this fall?

Byron Marshall, RB, Oregon
Replacing Kenjon Barner is likely to be a three-man task in Oregon’s backfield. Junior De’Anthony Thomas is a dynamic all-around threat but won’t handle 25-30 carries a week. True freshman Thomas Tyner will see plenty of time, but the Ducks’ workhorse could be Marshall. As a true freshman last season, he recorded 447 yards and four touchdowns. Marshall had one 100-yard effort in 2012, gashing Tennessee Tech for 125 yards on 13 attempts. Expect the California native to factor prominently into Oregon’s ground attack this year.

Ellis McCarthy, DT, UCLA
With the departure of Datone Jones and Owamagbe Odighizuwa sidelined by a hip injury for 2013, UCLA’s front seven will require some remodeling this offseason. Senior Cassius Marsh is a good place to start the rebuilding effort, but the Bruins would like to see a standout year from McCarthy. The California native ranked as the No. 17 overall recruit in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100 and recorded 10 tackles and one sack in nine appearances last year. McCarthy will help anchor the interior of the line, and his continued development is crucial to UCLA’s defensive success.

Terrence Miller/Garic Wharton, WR, Arizona
The Arizona offense suffered a huge setback when Austin Hill was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the spring. With the Wildcats missing one of their key offensive weapons from last season, there’s pressure on Miller and Wharton to fill the void as the go-to target. Miller has played in 34 games in his career but was granted an extra season after participating in just four contests in 2012. Miller has 55 receptions in his career and his 6-foot-4 frame will be valuable for the new quarterback, while Wharton’s speed off the edge will help Arizona stretch the field.

Darryl Monroe, LB, Washington State
Yes, that’s correct. A defensive player gets the nod for Washington State’s breakout candidate even though the Cougars have one of the league’s top offensive-minded coaches. Monroe suffered an Achilles injury in 2011 but rebounded with 80 tackles and three sacks last year. With an offseason to continue building strength in the weight room, Monroe figures to be even more prepared for the rigors of defending Pac-12 offenses. If the sophomore builds on a successful freshman campaign, he should be in the mix for all-conference honors.

Ryan Murphy, S, Oregon State
Jordan Poyer expired his eligibility at the end of last season, but Oregon State’s secondary is still in good shape. Senior Rashaad Reynolds is the headliner, and junior college transfer Steven Nelson will team with Sean Martin to form a solid duo at cornerback. And the safety position should be solid for coordinator Mark Banker, as Tyrequek Zimmerman and Murphy are back. Murphy finished third on the team last season with 67 stops and two picks. The Pac-12 has a solid group of safeties returning, but the junior from California should work his way into all-conference contention.

Jordan Payton, WR, UCLA
Quarterback Brett Hundley is poised to become one of the nation’s best signal callers in 2013, and the sophomore has no shortage of weapons to utilize in the passing attack. Senior Shaquelle Evans is one of the Pac-12’s top receivers, while coordinator Noel Mazzone is hoping for a big season from Payton and fellow sophomore Devin Fuller. Payton ranked as the No. 19 receiver in the 2012 signing class by Athlon Sports and caught 18 passes for 202 yards and one score. With tight end Joseph Fauria and running back Johnathan Franklin moving on, Payton is expected to see a larger role in the UCLA offense.

Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
With four starters returning, Stanford’s offensive line is expected to be one of the best in college football in 2013. But what’s even scarier for the opposition: This unit still has room to improve, especially at left tackle. There’s where Peat comes into play. As a freshman in 2012, the Arizona native didn’t make a start but played in 13 games. With David Yankey sliding back to guard, Peat is poised to step into the lineup and solidify Stanford’s left tackle position.

Jeremiah Poutasi, OT, Utah
The Utes have a tradition of developing players on both the offensive and defensive lines in recent years, and Poutasi could be Utah’s next standout in the trenches. The Las Vegas native had a standout freshman season, starting the final 10 games at right tackle. Poutasi earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors and is expected to be even better in 2013 with a chance to work in the weight room for a full season. Poutasi will slide from the right side to anchor the left tackle spot this year.

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Richardson was well on his way to becoming one of the Pac-12’s top receivers prior to a knee injury suffered in spring practice last year. After sitting out last season, Richardson is due for a bounce-back campaign under new coach Mike MacIntyre. In 2011, Richardson caught 39 passes for 555 yards and five scores, including 11 receptions for 284 yards and two touchdowns against California. The Buffaloes need better quarterback play for Richardson’s numbers to significantly increase, but MacIntyre and coordinator Brian Lindgren should bright some improvement to the offense for 2013.

Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
After a freshman year that saw him garner honorable mention All-Pac-12 accolades, it’s time for the rest of the nation to take notice of No. 7 in Seattle. Thompson recorded 74 tackles, two sacks and three picks last season and ranked second on the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-2 linebacker’s speed and athleticism is crucial for Washington’s defense, especially when it comes to defending the spread offenses in the Pac-12. The Pac-12 already knows all about Thompson, but look for the sophomore to push for All-American honors this season.

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Pac-12 Football Breakout Players for 2013
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 07:16
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/usc-football-game-game-predictions-2013

USC was one of college football’s biggest disappointments last season. The Trojans were picked as a top-five team in the preseason but finished 7-6 and closed out the year with three consecutive losses.

Although USC was a major disappointment, there’s still plenty of talent in Los Angeles, and coach Lane Kiffin could have the Trojans back into contention for a Pac-12 South title in 2013.

USC returns 15 starters, including All-American receiver Marqise Lee and standout defensive end Morgan Breslin. But the big question for Kiffin will be under center. Max Wittek and Cody Kessler finished spring practice in a dead heat for the starting job, with true freshman Max Browne just behind.

With no Oregon on the crossover schedule USC has a favorable path to the Pac-12 South title. But can the Trojans quickly erase the disappointment from last year?

What will USC's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

USC's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/29 at Hawaii
9/7 Washington State
9/14 Boston College
9/21 Utah State
9/28 at Arizona State
10/10 Arizona
10/19 at Notre Dame
10/26 Utah
11/1 at Oregon State
11/9 at California
11/16 Stanford
11/23 at Colorado
11/30 UCLA
Final Projection9-49-49-48-5

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though coach Lane Kiffin got the vote of confidence from athletic director Pat Haden, there’s still considerable pressure for USC to win eight games in 2013. The Trojans won’t have to play Oregon and host Arizona, Stanford and UCLA. Even though quarterback Matt Barkley will be missed, USC still has enough talent to win the Pac-12 South. The Trojans have a solid group of skill players returning on offense, and the defense should be better under the direction of new coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Kiffin will have some time to find the right answers on offense before a huge South Division road game against Arizona State on Sept. 28. With plenty of talent returning, anything less than eight wins would be a major disappointment for USC.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The Men of Troy will be one of the most fascinating teams to track in 2013. Lane Kiffin enters a critical year with an extremely talented starting 22 and loads of expectations. His defense should be much improved and there are tons of playmakers for whoever is under center. And the schedule is equally as intriguing. There is no Oregon or Washington to deal with from the North and the UCLA game will come at home to end the year. But road trips to key division rival Arizona State, Achilles Heel Oregon State and arch-rival Notre Dame gives this team a limited upside. Pull an upset at home over Stanford or on the road in Corvallis and USC could easily win the division. Lose a couple it's not supposed to and Kiffin could be out on the street.

Mark Ross
This much is clear: it can't get much worse for USC, because if it does, Lane Kiffin will definitely be looking for a new job. If anything, the Trojans should be able to bounce back from a disastrous 2012 campaign because the expectations for the '13 team are much lower. There is still plenty of talent on this roster, but the uncertainty at quarterback and a new defensive coordinator and scheme can't be ignored either. USC should run into little trouble jumping out to a 4-0 start, but don't forget last year's team started 6-1 before losing five of its last six games. The Trojans catch a break on their Pac-12 slate by missing Oregon, but I still expect they will run into some trouble in conference, especially on the road. Still, five Pac-12 home dates and a fairly light non-conference slate (with the obvious exception of Notre Dame) should provide enough opportunities for USC to get to nine wins in the regular season. It's now up to Kiffin and his team to capitalize on them and show that last season was the exception and not the rule.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Barring disaster, USC should be off to a good start. The first four games are all winnable, and for a team with USC-talent, winnable by a significant margin. And other than Hawaii, they’d all be decent wins. But as USC learned last season, the grind of the season can take a toll on sanction-limited depth. That may catch up with USC, but the Trojans just might not be as good as Arizona State or Oregon State, much less Stanford or Notre Dame. The Trojans will have an unproven quarterback and a line that may be a question without center Khaled Holmes. I think the difference is going to be on defense. I like the pieces of Morgan Breslin, Leonard Williams, Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard, but this is still the same group that was mediocre for most of that season. Was that a function of personnel or difficulty in leadership with Monte Kiffin? We’ll find out against Arizona State.

Related College Football Content

Pac-12 Football Predictions for 2013
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The Pac-12's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
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USC Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/20-good-players-bad-college-football-teams

When the 2012 season started, no one would have picked Eric Fisher as any kind of star. He played offensive tackle, and he did it for a team that went 3-9 the previous season.

But the Central Michigan lineman clearly was special as he ended up the top pick in the NFL draft after a 7-6 season with the Chippewas.

With 125 teams in college football, elite players are bound to fall through the cracks. They end up in mid-December bowl games, if they land in the postseason at all.

Here’s our list of the top players who won’t spend time in the top 25 or even the also receiving votes category. While not all these teams mentioned are truly awful, many of them may limp their way into a bowl if they make it that far. And even if none end up the No. 1 pick in the Draft, these players will be worth watching on Saturdays.

OTs Tiny Richardson and Ja’Wuan James and LB A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Tennessee only won one SEC game last season despite these three frontline players, plus departed quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. That says something about the situation Butch Jones inherits (and the Volunteers’ defense). The key number on Richardson, an Athlon first-team All-American, and James: Tennessee allowed the fewest sacks per game in the SEC last season, despite the most pass attempts per game. Johnson led the league with 138 tackles. These three could start for any contender in the conference.

C Travis Swanson and DE Chris Smith, Arkansas
Swanson will be a Rimington contender, but he plays on an untested offensive line. He’ll give Bret Bielema a rock for the power run game he’ll want to run at least. Meanwhile, Arkansas quietly has the makings of a solid defensive line with three starters returning, led by Smith. The senior had 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss last season, including six sacks in the final five games last year.

WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
The former No. 1 prospect is familiar to Missouri fans and recruitniks, but Green-Beckham didn’t look the part in 2012, especially early in the season. That said, he caught 14 passes for 242 yards with four touchdowns in November. His athleticism and 6-6, 220-pound frame still screams elite receiver. He should grow into that role this season, especially with more stability at quarterback and on the offensive line.

WR Paul Richardson, Colorado
On many other teams, this 6-1, 170-pound junior from Los Angeles would be a realistic Biletnikoff contender. But injuries and the mess of Colorado’s roster as overshadowed his career. Richardson returns after a knee injury kept him out of the 2012 season. He’s had few opportunities to match an 11-catch, 284-yard performance against Cal early in the 2011 season.

RB James Sims, Kansas
Sims was one the few — perhaps the only  — positive developments for Kansas last season. As KU gave up on the passing game, Sims kept racking up yards. The senior tailback rushed for 1,013 yards in nine games, including six consecutive games over the 100-yard mark.

DLs Bud Dupree and Donte Rumph, Kentucky
The defensive line isn’t a bad place to build a team that can win SEC games. Trouble is, Kentucky may have little else. Dupree had 12.5 sacks shuffling from linebacker to end, but now moves to the line full time. Rumph is a big body at tackle at 6-5, 323. Together, they combined for 10.5 sacks. No other UK lineman had more than three.

LB James Morris, Iowa
Iowa has three standout linebackers — all seniors, all returning starters. Morris is the best of the bunch. Morris finished with 113 tackles last season, putting him on a long list of productive Hawkeyes linebackers.

WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland
Imagine what Diggs would do if he played for a good quarterback — or even one mediocre quarterback through the course of an entire season. Despite Maryland’s constant injury problems at quarterback, Diggs still caught 54 passes for 848 yards. And when he wasn’t the only threat in Maryland’s passing game, he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, averaged 10.1 yards on punt returns and threw a touchdown pass.

CB Ricardo Allen, Purdue
Allen dealt with injuries last season, but when healthy, he’s one of the Big Ten’s best cover corners. Allen had six interceptions and three touchdowns in his first two seasons in 2010-11.

DT Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest
Whitlock was hampered by an ankle injury last season, but don’t forget how good he was as a freshman and a sophomore. Whitlock had 14 tackles for a loss in 2011 and 10.5 tackles for a loss in 2010.

RB Brendan Bigelow and WR Bryce Treggs, Cal
For whatever reason, Bigelow carried the ball only 44 times last season, despite averaging 9.8 yards per carry. The two seniors ahead of him are gone, and Sonny Dykes may be more apt to get one of his most explosive players the ball in creative ways. Treggs caught only 21 passes as a freshman, but he had better reasons to be buried in the game plan (Keenan Allen and subpar quarterback play).

DE Aaron Lynch, USF
Lynch was a rising star as a freshman at Notre Dame in 2011 when he led the Irish with 5.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hurries. He’ll restart his career with the Bulls, where he’ll be an All-AAC-caliber player on a solid front seven.

QB Brett Smith, Wyoming
Hopes are high Smith can help Wyoming turnaround a 4-8 record. He missed two games last season — losses to Cal Poly and Air Force, games decided by a combined three points. Smith had his ups and downs last season, but he still finished with 27 touchdowns to six interceptions. His 8.6 yards per pass attempt led the Mountain West.

QB Corey Robinson, Troy
Troy has fallen way behind other Sun Belt programs after winning at least a share of five consecutive league titles. Robinson still has a career completion rate of 63.8 percent as a three-year starter, topping the 3,000-yard mark each year.

K Cairo Santos, Tulane
How does a kicker on a 2-10 Tulane team win the Lou Groza Award? He makes 20 of 20 field goals, including two from 50-plus yards and 10 more from 40 or more yards.

We scoured the standings to find diamonds in the rough
Post date: Friday, August 9, 2013 - 07:14
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-8

Plenty of happenings from fall camps today.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Thursday, August 8th

The latest on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: Who is Nate Fitch?

Eddie Vanderdoes is happy to be at UCLA. And the Bruins may need Vanderdoes to play a lot, especially now that Owamagbe Odighizuwa is done for the year with a hip injury.

Two North Carolina defenders will miss the season due to an injury.

Georgia Tech safety Fred Holton has been dismissed from the team.

Ohio State is working to match the SEC's physical advantage on the defensive line.

TCU coach Gary Patterson disagrees with how Les Miles handled Jeremy Hill's suspension.

Which incoming freshmen could make an impact at LSU?

USF defensive end Ryne Giddins is poised for a big year.

Miami has added another transfer to its defensive line.

Penn State's rushing attack is expected to get a boost from Bill Belton. And here's a good breakdown of coach Bill O'Brien's comments on Penn State's media day.

Iowa State has quiet confidence in its rebuilt defensive line.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is frustrated with quarterback Bo Wallace.

Texas Tech is looking for the right pieces on the offensive line this fall.

College Football's Link Roundup: August 8
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 14:46
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-lsu-finalize-two-game-series

College football’s playoff has forced most BCS programs to upgrade their non-conference schedule. Good news isn’t it?

LSU and Wisconsin have agreed on a two-game series for 2014 and 2016. The Tigers and Badgers will meet in Houston in 2014. But the best part? Both teams are scheduled to play in Lambeau Field in 2016.

It would be great to see this matchup happen in the home stadiums for both teams. However, credit to both programs for scheduling this series, as it should feature matchups between top-25 teams.


Wisconsin-LSU Finalize Two-Game Series
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 13:18
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2013-where-should-you-draft-montee-ball

In a perfect world, the Broncos would name Montee Ball their starting RB tomorrow, give him all the starter’s reps in training camp and preseason and then feed him 300+ touches this year.

But that’s not how it works in the NFL. Ball is an unproven rookie. The coaching staff is going to make him earn his role. He ran behind Ronnie Hillman all spring and has stayed there through the first week of training camp.

Still, Ball remains the best bet to lead this Broncos backfield in carries this season. He’s a well-built 5-10, 217-pounder. Ball proved capable of a workhorse role at Wisconsin, carrying 307 and 356 times, respectively, in his final 2 seasons. He led the nation with 1,923 rushing yards in 2011 and went for 1,830 this past year. Ball set NCAA records with 77 career rushing TDs and 83 total TDs. He also totaled 59 catches across four seasons.

This is a well-rounded player with all the makings of an NFL feature back. Hillman, meanwhile, looks more like a change of pace. He’s packed on 15 pounds this offseason but still goes just 5-10 and 195 — 22 pounds lighter than Ball. He mustered just 3.9 yards per carry in his 2012 rookie campaign, struggling to run between the tackles.

We can’t completely count Hillman out in the race for Denver’s starting RB job. He’s obviously doing something right to have hung on to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart all offseason. He’s reportedly improved in pass protection, his biggest shortcoming last year.

Fantasy football is a forward-thinking, projection-based business, though. Just because Hillman is running with the 1s doesn’t mean he’ll stay there all season. And it certainly doesn’t mean he should be the first Broncos RB drafted.

Ball will “eventually” be the Broncos lead back, says the Denver Post. Fantasy owners should be — and are — drafting that way.

Of course, the question is how soon Ball takes over as the feature runner. If it happens by Week 1, the rookie will boast top-15 fantasy upside. Peyton Manning-led offenses have regularly produced fantasy stars at RB. In Manning’s 12 seasons in Indy, the Colts had 9 top-11 RBs. Willis McGahee was sitting 14th in fantasy points through 10 weeks last year before a leg injury ended his season.

But what if Ball opens the season in a timeshare? Maybe he splits early-down work with Hillman, with Knowshon Moreno also seeing action in passing situations. That’d leave Ball as just a RB3 or flex option. If he’s unable to capture a feature role all year, he’d have trouble cracking the top 30 among RBs. And he could finish anywhere between RB30 and RB10 if he takes over lead duties at some point during the season.

At this point, Ball’s potential 2013 fantasy output spans a wide range. That makes him a risk/reward pick in drafts, especially early-August drafts.

Ball’s current 12-team ADP of 4.05 seems fair. He’s the 24th RB off the board in average drafts. If he wins the Week 1 starting job, he’ll prove a bargain at that price. If he’s stuck in a timeshare all year, Ball will end up overvalued. Whether you roll the dice on him in the 4th round should depend on the makeup of your roster. If you’ve already locked up a couple of reliable RBs, you can afford to gamble on Ball. If you’re still looking for your first RB in the 4th, it makes more sense to target a safer option.

This article was written by Jared Smola and provided to Athlon Sports courtesy of Online since 1999, Draft Sharks won the 2010 and 2012 FSTA awards for the most accurate fantasy football projections in the industry.

Fantasy Football 2013: Where Should You Draft Monte Ball?
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-8-2013

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


Kaley Cuoco is dating some tennis player we've never heard of. That news is nothing more than an excuse to run a photo of the lovely Ms. Cuoco, who was an accomplished junior tennis player herself.


Fox gets the U.S. Open starting in 2015, meaning no more Chris Berman. Of course, Fox will probably replace him with a giant talking robot or something.


There was some classic garbage-time baseball last night courtesy of a catcher pitching and a pitcher hitting.


Gary Patterson sees a missed opportunity for Les Miles in the Jeremy Hill situation.


A nice refresher going into the final season of Breaking Bad. Spoiler alert, of course.


• Meanwhile, in the make-believe world of highly paid actors, Bruce Willis said no to "Expendables 3" because they wouldn't pay him $4 million for four days of work. So they turned to Harrison Ford, who's doing it for just under $1 million a day.


• Three weeks from tonight, college football will be played. Here's a poem to help you through the home stretch.


• This is something I've never seen: An angry minor league manager emptied his dip on home plate.


Kobe brought a grown man to tears. So he doesn't just make women cry.


Mike Trout homered on his birthday for the second straight year. Kid's got potential.


Andrew McCutchen's mom sang the national anthem. Inspired, McCutchen homered.


• With the PGA teeing off today, enjoy this video of colorful golfer Rickie Fowler taking on the psychedelic golf challenge.




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

Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 10:38
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC North, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-game-game-predictions-2013

The Green Bay Packers have posted 10 or more wins in the regular season four straight years and have won the NFC North the past two. Unfortunately for Packer fans, they also have watched their team exit in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs in each of the past two postseasons.

Last season Aaron Rodgers and company ran into the buzz saw that was San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who torched the Packers defense with both his arms and legs (NFL-record 181 yards rushing) as the 49ers rolled up 579 yards of offense in the 45-31 victory.

The offseason saw the departure of both wide receiver Greg Jennings and defensive back Charles Woodson via free agency, while the draft brought in much-needed reinforcements for the running game and defense. As long as Rodgers is in there, the Packers should be a contender in the NFC North. He can't be expected to carry this team alone, however, as the offensive line needs to do a better job protecting him (sacked an NFL-high 51 times in 2012) and the running game needs to provide more support.

The defense also needs to do its part, especially along the line, if this Packers team wants to do more than just win a third straight NFC North title only to make yet another early postseason exit.

What will the Packers' record be at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:

Green Bay Packers' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

Evan "Tex"
1at San Francisco
6at Baltimore
8at Minnesota
9Chicago (Mon.)
11at New York Giants
13at Detroit (Thurs.)
15at Dallas
17at Chicago
 Final Projection10-611-511-511-511-511-5
 NFC North5-15-14-25-14-24-2

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
As long as No. 12 is under center, this team will likely be the frontrunner to win the NFC North. However, this team isn't nearly as talented or healthy as the 15-1 team from two years ago. The schedule is nasty with huge NFC tests with almost every other playoff contender as well as the toughest division from the AFC (North). The running game should be better and the front seven should be deeper but with injuries piling up already in the preseason, in particular along the offensive line, this team looks more like a three- or four-seed rather than a first-round bye.

Bill Huber (@PackerReport),
This is a challenging schedule but the Packers should be a better all-around team than they were in 2012, when they finished 11-5. In their first five games, the Packers face four playoff teams — including both Super Bowl participants. In fact, there really isn't a soft spot on the schedule. Of the 16 games, only Cleveland failed to post at least a .500 record in either 2011 or '12, and 11 of the 16 games will be against teams that reached the playoffs in one of those two seasons — a list that doesn’t include two matchups against Chicago, which won 10 games last year. An improved running game should lend to a better passing game, as well, thanks to better protection and the return of play action. A defense that finished fourth in sacks last season used a first-round pick on Datone Jones and will benefit from the return of last year’s first-round pick, Nick Perry, who missed the final 10 games. Over the last four seasons, the Packers have 17 more interceptions than any team in the league, so an improved pass rush should only accentuate that strength.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
It’s been a relatively quiet offseason in Green Bay. The Packers weren’t active in free agency and continue to build through the draft, while keeping their core Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews in Lambeau for the long haul. However, tackle Bryan Bulaga’s knee injury in training camp was a significant setback for a team hoping to improve its offensive line. Only one of Green Bay’s regular-season losses was by more than eight points, so with most of its core returning, Mike McCarthy’s team will be in the driver’s seat for the NFC North title. Road trips to San Francisco, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Dallas will be tough, but the Packers should emerge with another 10- or 11-win season. As long as Green Bay’s offensive line keeps Rodgers upright, the Packers will be a threat to win the Super Bowl.

John Rehor (@jrehor),
The Packers offense expects to be explosive again in 2013. QB Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best player in the league, leads a high-powered passing attack with WRs Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and TE Jermichael Finley all capable of producing at a high level. The much maligned running game should also receive a boost with the additions two RBs added in April’s draft bruising Eddie Lacy, and shifty Johnathan Franklin to go along with incumbents DuJuan Harris, James Starks, and Alex Green. The Packers offense should be even better in 2013 than it has been in the past few years and that is a scary thought.

The biggest question mark remains the defense. After being shredded by the 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs last season, Dom Capers’ squad enters 2013 with something to prove.  Clay Matthews and company will receive some help with the addition of first-round pick Datone Jones, and the continued maturation of up and comers such as Casey Hayward and Nick Perry. K Mason Crosby is hoping for redemption following a 2012 campaign he would like to forget. He will be pushed hard by his competition Giorgio Tavecchio during training camp to earn the kicking duties.

An 11-5 record should be enough to get the Packers into the playoffs, perhaps even win the NFC North for a third consecutive season. But if the defense plays the same as it did against San Francisco, which ended their 2012 season, it will be a quick playoff exit for the fourth time in five seasons under head coach Mike McCarthy.

Mark Ross
It's no secret. Green Bay's title hopes are tied directly to the right arm and legs of one Aaron Rodgers. As long as No. 12 is on the field the Packers should make the playoffs. Rodgers could use some help carrying the load, however, especially considering he was sacked an NFL-high 51 times last year. Unfortunately, he has already lost his left tackle (Bryan Bulaga) for the season, which is not how Packer fans wanted this season to start. It's even more critical now for draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin to help jumpstart the running game and the rest of the offensive line to jell.

The defense could help take some of the pressure off of the offense by increasing its level of play. Similar to Lacy and Franklin, the team is expecting big things from first-round pick Datone Jones along the defensive line. The secondary also must find a way to replace the experience and savvy of the departed Charles Woodson.

Schedule-wise, Green Bay has the unenviable task of opening on the road against the defending NFC champion 49ers. After the Week 4 bye, however, things open up somewhat and barring significant injuries to other key pieces, the Packers should be able to win more than enough games to get into the playoffs and claim a third straight NFC North crown.

Evan "Tex" Western (@acmepackingco), Acme Packing Company
Try as I might, I just can't convince myself to pick the Packers against recent nemeses San Francisco or New York on the road. However, the team's home schedule sets up well and I like the matchup with Atlanta in December. Even with an improved running game and pass rush, though, 11 wins and a third straight NFC North title sounds about right to me.

Related Green Bay Packers Content

Green Bay Packers 2013 Schedule Analysis
Ranking the NFL's Starting Quarterbacks for 2013
Ranking the NFL's Coaching Jobs for 2013
15 NFL Wide Receivers/Tight Ends on the Hot Seat in 2013

The NFL's 25 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time

Green Bay Packers: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, High School
Path: /high-school/should-college-football-have-early-signing-period

American Football Coaches Association Executive Director Grant Teaff has been tackling the early signing period issue for years.

“Tired is not a good descriptive word,” Teaff says of his on-again, off-again dialogue with coaches and commissioners. “Anxious is better. My goal has always been to try to make everything connected to football better, so it gets frustrating.”

Like many people, Teaff sees a need for an early signing period. As it stands, a player can’t sign with a school until National Signing Day — which is the first Wednesday in February. Until then, a prospective recruit is fair game, whether or not he has made a verbal commitment. Still, 70 percent of the top-rated football recruits do sign with a school they committed to before their senior season, sometimes up to 12 months early.

That means coaching staffs must babysit commitments. That translates into more money spent to keep those players close and greater intrusion into a player’s life even if he wants to end the recruiting process early.

Opponents of an early signing date raise concerns, such as a greater advantage for the big-money programs; college coaches juggling visits with games; recruits who could feel rushed into making a decision with no way out if a college coach leaves; and colleges that would sign players before seeing their first-semester, senior-year grades. If, as Teaff says, there’s a need for an early signing date, when should it be? How will those concerns be addressed?

And most important, can a consensus be found?

“That’s a really good question,” Teaff says. “Practically, there will probably be something done in the next couple of years. Don’t misunderstand me. It may not be an early signing date. There’s also talk of moving college football (Signing Day) further back from the second week of February. There are concerns by some of our coaches they don’t have enough time to really get to know players. It’s just going to be looked at.”

The early signing period talk is intertwined with examination of the football recruiting calendar, which is currently being studied by an NCAA recruiting subcommittee. Deregulation is the hot word these days for the NCAA, which is trying to shrink its rulebook.

“The NCAA has to reconcile maybe what basketball wants does not fit for football,” Teaff says. “Football coaches do not want to be on anybody else’s recruiting calendar.”

Back in 2009, the AFCA proposed an early signing period that was supported by 73 percent of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches. The date would have been the third week of December when junior college players can sign. But the conference commissioners, who control the National Letter of Intent process, rejected the idea.

“I wish they would start listening to coaches more,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez says. “Coaches seem to be in favor of it so it doesn’t pass, but you’ve got these other rules that coaches didn’t have any input and they threw those out there. I really thought we would get (an early signing period) in December.”

Some people have pushed for an early signing date in August. Teaff says the AFCA won’t support August, because the association also represents high school coaches.

The fear is that players who are signed prior to a high school season could tank their senior year. Yet college basketball has survived for years with an early signing period.

“You have to take high school coaches into consideration,” Teaff says. “They feel pretty strongly that’s somewhat detrimental. With the whole process, high schools are the ones that get the collateral damage. I’m a little skeptical about a real early signing date because the last time we ran that thing up the flag pole, the upper echelon didn’t salute it.”

Or as Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads describes the blowback from schools with money: “They want those kids available in January. They don’t want them signed, sealed or delivered.”

Rhoads supports an early signing period to end what a lot of coaches frustratingly describe as “babysitting” their commitments in January. When describing players who commit early, Rhoads doesn’t use the word “commitments,” but rather “reservations,” much like a hotel.

“It’s not a very clean or pretty month at times,” Rhoads says. “You’ve got kids that in large part are committed to a number of schools. Other schools are coming in and trying to raid those kids, and generally it’s the kid that leaves the recruitment open.”

How all over the map has the early signing date discussion been? Look no further than the SEC, winner of the past seven BCS national titles. Back in 2007, SEC coaches voted 9-to-3 against an early signing date. The next year they voted 9-to-3 in support of a November date as long as early signees did not take official visits. That idea was quickly shot down by SEC presidents and athletics directors, who questioned how a recruit could choose a school without an official visit.

More recently, the majority of SEC coaches have supported the December junior college date for early signees. There’s not a consensus, though.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn’t want any early signing period. “A lot of players want to do it, but I like how we do it now,” Spurrier says. “To me, there’s football season and then there’s the recruiting season, and the high school kids get their time on Signing Day. If we start doing it during the season, I think it takes away from your team and the players on your team. Then everybody is talking about a bunch of high school players who are future players.”

Georgia coach Mark Richt would be fine with an early signing period in December if those signees didn’t take official visits during the season.

“If a kid grows up knowing he wants to be a Bulldog, let him sign early and let him have an official visit afterward,” Richt says.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze favors an early signing date in December. But that comes with a caveat: He’s concerned that it would only mean that an already expedited recruiting process would start even earlier.

“We all feel we have to be on the 2015 class and the ’16 class right now,” Freeze says. “Whether that’s real or not, it’s your perception, and our perception is reality a lot. You feel like if you’re not somehow connected with these kids that far along, you’re behind. I don’t know if that’s healthy for us as coaches and certainly the young men and families. I’d like to just recruit one class at a time. To me, that early signing period is for a kid who knows he’s going to Ole Miss.”

One concern with an early signing period is coaching turmoil. What happens if, between an early August or December date and the regular February date, a coach is fired or takes another job? Would the schools allow the early signees to open up their recruiting? “That is a valid point,” Freeze says. “I’d say no. I don’t think there will be a large number of kids that do that. But if they do, they have a great understanding this is the university they want to attend. We did go back and forth on that and I have some mixed emotions on it. Maybe there is some merit having it in January and maybe some coaching changes are made.”

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald doesn’t buy the argument that an early signing date would be intrusive on coaches because of in-season official visits.
“You already do that now,” he says. “The official visit is more of an afterthought than I think a key decision-making piece (as it was) when I was going through this 20 years ago (as a player). A lot has changed.”

At Northwestern last year, 17 of the Wildcats’ 19 signees were verbally committed before their senior year. That kind of trend has Fitzgerald wanting an early signing date in December to avoid January babysitting.

“That would give kids an opportunity for normalcy to the second semester of their senior year academically and really just some normalcy in their lives,” Fitzgerald says. “This recruiting process is so intrusive on these families. I think it allows us to save some money and then move forward and really look at the kids that are not signed in January.”

Boise State coach Chris Petersen also favors an early signing period.

“It’s usually when coaches get out in December when the mayhem starts and the kids get confused,” Petersen says. “My contention is if a kid is truly committed, then OK, let’s go ahead and sign. If not, don’t commit until you know. Right now, I don’t think it’s a good thing for anyone. Sometimes these kids are committed for eight months and know that’s where they want to go.”

Petersen wouldn’t mind a December signing date to end what he calls a waste of money and time on babysitting recruits.

“Commitment doesn’t mean a lot to some of these other coaches,” he says. “If they think there’s a chance, they’ll keep stopping by a kid, calling a kid, so everybody has to go and make sure everything is OK. We do it too. We used to not do it as much.”

This much Petersen knows: There won’t be a perfect answer.

“The bottom line is, what’s the best compromise?” he says. “I don’t want to see them visiting during the season either. But we do that because kids want to come to see games and it’s what we need to do. So what’s the best thing for the big process?”

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill says there has never been a recruiting calendar presented that makes sense for an early signing period. Contact periods and evaluation dates would have to be changed, he says.

In recent years, Middle Tennessee lost two committed players “at midnight before Signing Day” to SEC schools — an offensive lineman who is now a starter at Vanderbilt and a defensive end who signed with Kentucky, Stockstill says.

“I think for the schools with unlimited recruiting budgets, (an early signing period) probably plays to their advantage over schools that don’t have unlimited recruiting budgets,” Stockstill says. “The Florida States of the world can fly all over the country to see people. Sometimes I like the early signing period, and then other times I’m not really fired up about it. Until I see how a calendar works, I’m just not sure if we need an early signing period.”

Nonetheless, Stockstill believes an early period is inevitable. “Everybody talked about having a playoff, went back and forth, how can it work, we don’t need it, we need it,” he says. “The discussion went on for seven, eight, 10 years. Now we have one. This early signing period has been talked about for a while. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If you keep talking about it, it’s going to happen.”

Keeping the Door Open
As Bo Scarbrough speaks by phone in May, eight months have passed since he committed to the University of Alabama, and nine months remain until he can actually sign with a school.

He’s in the waiting period stage for a recruit. Scarbrough is an elite running back from Northridge High School in Alabama. In one breath, he says he’s committed to Alabama; less than a minute later, he says he doesn’t know if he can see himself signing with Florida until he visits.

In a perfect world, Scarbrough wishes there was an early signing period. But that’s not reality, so he continues to get visits from Florida assistant coach Brian White. And he gets letters from Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee and others — probably 30 letters a day, Scarbrough estimates.

“I wish there was an early signing period, because it gives you more time with school stuff that you actually have to work on,” he says. “School always comes first, not sports.”

Scarbrough says he committed to Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class in September 2012 because there wouldn’t be a better offer than the Crimson Tide, winners of three of the past four national championships.

“That’s a running team and I want to play running back, and they’ve got the best and I want to compete,” he says. “They have the major that I want to major in, and it’s right here at home. It’s a lot that comes with it that people don’t realize.

At the end of the day, I made my choice, and there wasn’t no sense holding it, so I just did what was best for me. It was a great school, so I thought it didn’t get better than that.”

Scarbrough says he also wanted to get recruiting out of the way before his junior season of high school.

“I didn’t want my team to be like, he’s putting us down for his recruitment,” he says. “I think if a player makes an early commitment, they did it for a reason. I hope not for the publicity of it all over the world. I don’t want people to think of me like that. I did it because it’s best for me. I don’t care about the publicity.”

A commitment doesn’t end recruiting. White visited Scarbrough’s high school and “told me he’s still going to recruit me and he wanted me to do good and wants the best for me,” Scarbrough says.

Scarbrough says he will visit Florida and Georgia over the summer and then Florida State in the fall.

“It probably would have stopped the recruitment if you sign,” he says.
That’s not how the recruiting game works. So Scarbrough is committed to Alabama. But he’s not exactly closing the door on other options, either.
by Jon Solomon

Order your copy of Athlon Sports High School Football Annual today!


The pros and cons of the hotly contested idea of an early signing period in college football.
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /high-school/alex-bars-family-tradition

As debate rages over the merits of providing college football players a full “cost of attendance” scholarship to cover all of life’s needs, consider the plight of one Sally Bars.

She’s now the mother of three FBS college football players, as her youngest son Alex has committed to play offensive line for Notre Dame. He’ll join brother Blake, currently an offensive lineman at Michigan, and eldest brother Brad, a defensive end for Penn State.

“We’ve always joked that when each one has gone off to school, we get a raise, but the times they’re all at home, it’s just crazy. I go to the store twice a day. You would think three gallons of milk would get you through a weekend,” she says with a laugh.

“And they’re always hungry. We’ll finish a huge dinner and then two hours later I’ll see one of them in the kitchen saying ‘I’m starving, mom!’”

You know those “House Divided” vanity license plates? The Bars family would need one the size of a windshield. When Alex, the 6'6", 287-pound offensive lineman, committed to the Irish in May, it meant that Sally and Joe Bars would be traveling between multiple college campuses for the near future.

“It’s definitely going to be a competitive house for the next couple years,” Alex admits.

Bars committed to the Irish over a slew of other offers, including Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Ohio State, as well as both of his brothers’ schools. Unlike other famous football siblings, the Bars family has gone in three distinct directions, and while it’s havoc on the parents, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“For us as parents it would’ve been great, certainly. They could’ve all gone to the same school, maybe one hour away, but I don’t know if they would’ve been happy with that.

We’ve always given our kids an opportunity to think for themselves,” says Joe Bars, who played at Notre Dame for Gerry Faust in the 1980s.

Indeed, Alex credits his father for helping him learn about Notre Dame, but says his decision to commit to the Irish had more to do with the fact that he loved the coaching staff and wanted to attend a top academic university.

“He is really happy, though,” Alex admits.

The youngest football Bars will get to skip the nonstop pressure that normally dogs an undecided top high school prospect in his senior season, but he’s adamant that he didn’t rush into his decision to go Irish just to alleviate pressure.

“For me, the decision was easy. I was going to take as much time as I needed, but I felt like it was the right time when I announced it.”

Having already guided his two oldest sons through the college football recruitment process, Joe admits that by the time Alex began to be courted by schools across the country, there was a comfort and familiarity in navigating a process that most parents don’t enjoy.

“We certainly knew how the process worked, and there’s a different way they go after highly ranked kids. We knew coaches at all different levels and where they had moved to over the years, so you could say that it helped,” Joe says.

“The difference with Notre Dame (now and the 1980s) isn’t that great in terms of recruiting. They’ve always recruited nationally. I would say that campus is about double its size since I was there, that’s about the biggest difference I noticed.”

In addition to an overflow of football talent, the Bars family is somewhat notable for sending three players north despite residing in the heart of SEC country. The family moved to Nashville in 2003, and Sally says her boys consider themselves country — “They wear camo, listen to country music, go to the CMA Festival every year, they love it,” she says — but there’s no shortage of local heat for eschewing the mighty Southeastern Conference.

“We’ve always heard it and still do. Vanderbilt’s maybe two miles from us, and Tennessee has a huge following here. Butch Jones has done a great job recruiting, so yes, you can say it’s definitely felt,” Joe admits.

“Yeah, we’ve been getting grief ever since my first brother went to Penn State. It’s SEC country here, no doubt,” Alex says. According to 247Sports, the youngest Bars was offered by 11 SEC teams.

With every son’s loyalties now locked, it’s just a matter of getting to the games.

Keeping three football players fed is hard enough, but this fall, Sally and Joe will manage two Big Ten football schedules, Alex’s senior season at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville and sister Lauren’s volleyball and basketball schedules.

“You’re making me nervous just talking about it,” Sally says. “There are some games I’m starting to panic over, especially getting to Penn State on a Saturday if there’s a Friday night game.”

The strategy will be to divide and conquer, with at least one parent attempting to make Penn State or Michigan games in addition to one or both watching Alex’s and Lauren’s high school games.

One game they’re very likely to make — Oct. 12, when Blake’s Wolverines travel to Happy Valley to face Brad’s Nittany Lions. That means that Blake, a 6'5", 284-pound guard who redshirted last season, could go head-to-head with Brad, a 6'3", 242-pound defensive end famous among Penn State fans for his blocked punt against Illinois in 2012.

“I’ll be very neutral,” Sally promises. “I’ll cheer for Penn State on defense and Michigan on offense, even though they’re on the field at the same time.”

“We’d prefer that they not go against each other, but if it happens they’re both going to compete hard and probably have a chuckle after the play. But they’ll definitely compete hard if it happens,” Joe says.

“They went up against each other in high school and would come home and talk about it, so I think it would be neat,” Sally says. “Honestly, they still go up against each other in the backyard, so it’s definitely not the first time.”

It won’t be the only time there’s a truly divided house. If Alex plays as a true freshman for the Irish, he could go up against brother Blake and the Wolverines when the two schools play for the final time (for now) in 2014.

For Alex, there’s a benefit to being the “baby” player in such a family, and that’s an abundance of built-in coaching.

“They’ve been great for me. They’ll come back from school and Brad will show me moves at defensive end and Blake will teach me offensive line moves he’s learned at the college level.

“It’s not so much technique, but it’s helpful to know what to expect for each game and how to handle yourself at that level, too.”

There’s certainly a personality difference between the defensive and offensive mindsets in his children, but former linebacker Joe isn’t quick to divulge exactly what makes his sons suited for one side of the ball or the other.

“Absolutely, there’s a mindset for each position, but I’m not going to talk about it,” he says laughing. “They’re all my kids, and I don’t want to single any one of them out. Certainly I could talk to Brad about certain things, and then it was an adjustment for Blake and Alex, but we’ve had great coaches here who have helped along the way.”

Alex is slightly more succinct in the difference: “Defense plays into the type of person that’s a little more crazy. You can’t go wild on the offensive line or you’ll miss your blocks.”

Both Joe and Sally emphasize letting their children find their own way. They encouraged the kids to play multiple sports throughout the year while growing up, both for the physical training and to break up mental fatigue.

“My advice for parents … shop online,” deadpans Sally. “But seriously, it’s to encourage your kids to become well-rounded. Whatever they’re interested in, encourage them to pursue their dreams and to find a passion.”

All four Bars kids play musical instruments, so if the thought of a menacing group of brothers playing on the line is too intimidating, Sally would have you know that both Blake and Brad played tenor saxophone in the band (Alex lucked out and got to play guitar, which was “cooler”).

Alex was away at a summer basketball camp while speaking for this story — despite the fact that, according to Joe, he’s up to around 300 pounds.

“No point guard for me,” Alex laughs. “A lot of center and forward.”

As any proud father would, Joe makes sure to tell the story about how Alex’s basketball coach stopped practice because the coaches and players were curious if Notre Dame’s next stud lineman could dunk the ball.

“And he did. One-handed, too,” Joe says.

by Steven Godfrey

Fathers, Sons and Signing Day

Alex Bars isn't the only legacy player heading into his senior year of high school. Here are a several other gridiron stars following in their famous NFL fathers' footsteps.

Randall Cunningham Jr.
Quarterback, Las Vegas, Nev. (Bishop Gorman)
Schools Interested: Baylor, LSU, UNLV, Mississippi State
Dear Old Dad: Cunningham’s father, Randall Sr., was a Pro Bowl QB with the Eagles and Vikings in the 1990s and helped to define the concept of the “dual-threat” run/pass quarterback at the professional level.
All In The Family: Jr. and Sr. share more than a name — the son has the same escapability and speed behind center as his old man. He could be a perfect fit for Art Briles’ high-octane Baylor offense.

Christian McCaffrey
Running back, Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Valor Christian)
Schools Interested: Committed to Stanford
Dear Old Dad: Christian’s father Ed ­McCaffrey is a Denver Broncos legend, serving as one of John Elway’s favorite targets through two Super Bowl wins in a 13-year career. Before that, McCaffery was an All-American at Stanford in 1991.
All In The Family: Already approaching 200 pounds as an all-purpose running back, McCaffrey packs a bit more punch than his lanky wideout dad. The 2012 All-Colorado Offensive Player of the Year looks to follow in the footsteps of Cardinal backs like Toby Gerhart in David Shaw’s power offense.

Orlando Brown Jr.
Offensive lineman,  Duluth, Ga. (Peachtree Ridge)
Schools Interested: Committed to Tennessee
Dear Old Dad: At 6'7", 360 lbs., Orlando Sr. was a monstrous tackle for the Browns and Ravens for 11 seasons. Brown was nicknamed “Zeus” for his imposing physicality. A bizarre incident in which he was struck in the eye with a ref’s flag interrupted his career in 1999. But Zeus returned to the league before retiring in 2005. Tragically, he passed away in 2011.
All In The Family: Brown is more than a chip off the old block at 6'7", 340 lbs., and after a fierce nationwide recruitment, he’s giving the Volunteers an elite offensive lineman who should be able to contribute early in his career.

Marlon Humphrey
Cornerback, Birmingham, Ala. (Hoover)
Schools Interested: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina
Dear Old Dad: Bobby Humphrey rushed for a then-school-record 3,420 yards at Alabama before being a first-round pick of the Broncos in 1989. Humphrey finished behind Barry Sanders in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting in 1989, was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1990 and retired after five seasons in 1993.
All In The Family: Marlon Humphrey is one of the top prospects in the nation, regardless of position. The 5-star stud headlines a nationally ranked Hoover club, as a lockdown cornerback who hits hard and runs like a track star — which he is. As expected, Alabama is the early favorite to land Humphrey, but South Carolina is making a big push.

Troy Vincent Jr.
Cornerback, Rockville, Md. (Gilman)
Schools Interested: Committed to Penn State
Dear Old Dad: Vincent Sr. was a standout at Wisconsin before his 15-year NFL run, earning five Pro Bowl trips playing for four different teams. He was also president of the NFLPA and named Walter Payton Man of the Year.
All In The Family: At the same position, the younger Vincent is three inches shorter than his dad, but just as physical a tackler and ball-hawking cover corner. He also sees a significant amount of time at running back for his high school team thanks to his natural speed.


Order your copy of Athlon Sports High School Football Annual today!



Notre Dame commit Alex Bars is the latest member of his family in line to play major college football.
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 08:05
Path: /college-football/big-ten-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-conference-foes-2013

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year. In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2013, Athlon asked coaches in the Big Ten to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Big Ten Coaches Anonymously Scout Their Conference Foes for 2013

Opposing coaches size up the Fighting Illini: 

“I don’t think Ron Zook left the cupboard bare there. Tim Beckman had some players to work with. They just need some time to understand what it takes to win." …

"It’s obviously a big year for Tim. Look for them to try to establish a toughness all the way around, because they didn’t really have anything to hang their hat on offensively or defensively. They struggled in a lot of areas." …

"These kids are going through another offense. Football is still football, but they have four quarterbacks, and those guys have had to learn several different offenses over the last few years. There’s only so much you can install during the spring when you have a new offense like that." …

"They have some talent. To sit here and say (4-star quarterback recruit Aaron) Bailey can come in and start, there’s no book written on that. There are so many variables." …

"At the running back position, they are focused on being a more downhill, north-south running team — get yourself a 4-yard gain, don’t worry so much about an 8-yard gain.”

Opposing coaches size up the Hoosiers:

“Although they showed flashes, they didn’t have the running game to help the quarterback all the time. The head coach (Kevin Wilson) is an offensive line guy and tough guy. I think they started to show that they were like their coaches. That’s probably a compliment to Kevin." 

"I know they threw the ball fairly well at times and tried to make the run game as simple as they could because of the young offensive linemen." …

"They played well against Ohio State and hung with those guys through four quarters. Then they lost to Navy the next week. That shows they have a long way to go to be consistent. It’s hard to play Division I football with young, inexperienced players." …

"Defensively up front they tried to be more firm, more attacking, get linemen to hold the point of attack. They got a few junior college linebackers with some guys that played last year." …

On special teams, they had a good kicker and good punter. And those guys got down and tackled you. You could at least see the effort on the film.”

Opposing coaches size up the Hawkeyes:

“My take on them, they surprised me in that they were pretty physical defensively. I thought those guys did a nice job against us defensively. They were good tacklers." …

"Offensively, they are similar to Wisconsin and Michigan State — run the football and play-action pass. They don’t have a tremendous amount of scheme throwing the football. But they are big and well-coached up front. They need a big back who can pound it up in there. They aren’t going to do zone reads and option at quarterback. That’s kind of who they are. When those quarterbacks play well, these sort of teams play well." …

"Iowa is always consistent running the ball. When they can throw it, which isn’t every year, it’s hard to defend them. Over the last five years or so, they’ve had some off-field issues that might have hurt them in recruiting." …

"They still played hard. They are not an easy game. You never go in saying, ‘Thank goodness we’ve got Iowa.’ They are a good team. They can beat you.”

Opposing coaches size up the Wolverines: 

“They are a physical group. I don’t know that they are as athletic as Ohio State is, but they are close." …

"They have a great package defensively. Their third down package — (defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison gives the illusion of pressure every time. You never know when they are really coming or not coming. It’s the different stuff that he does." …

"Their offensive line is very good, much like Ohio State and Wisconsin. Very physical up front, great defensive scheme. For two years, they were confusing us a little bit." …

"They have good skill players at the wide receiver positions — guys that can get downfield in a hurry." …

"They became a more balanced offense with Devin Gardner, but I don’t know if they have the same threat that they had with Denard (Robinson). Gardner runs well, but he wasn’t as big of a threat. They threw the ball well with him. So maybe he’ll provide more stability." 

"You can tell this is a Brady Hoke team by the way they play up front offensively. They’ll move a pile.”

Michigan State
Opposing coaches size up the Spartans:

“Defensively, they are one of the most physical teams. (Coordinator) Pat Narduzzi does a good job with them. They are physical and big." 

"Those two corners were really good. Those guys can cover. They’ll get Darqueze Dennard back, and he will be one of the best corners in the league, but they lost the other guy (Johnny Adams) and will need a young player to step up there. They’ve had a good run of safeties. They are a good team defensively, just really well coached and they play hard." …

"Offensively, as the nation saw, they struggled at times. They are kind of a Wisconsin offense. They want to run the football. They were probably not as good as Wisconsin up front, so that played into the struggles a bit." …

"They have good tight ends usually." …

"There were some games where (quarterback) Andrew Maxwell would make some mistakes and it really hurt them. They struggled because of it. When he was on, he was pretty good because Le’Veon Bell could run it. But they will really miss Bell. He was so consistent for them.”


Opposing coaches size up the Golden Gophers: 

“They are an athletic team — quick and fast, especially on defense. I thought they had a good secondary and a good pass rush, with at least two guys who were pretty good up front." …

"I think they will be a good football team this year, I really do. Jerry Kill does a good job with them. They are recruiting well, maybe not getting the 5-star guys, but getting the right kind of kids up there that can fit the system. They play hard. Kill is well-respected in the league. He does a really good job." …

"I think talent can be a problem there. But they’ve done a nice job of identifying those guys and getting the right pieces — a good mixture of tough-minded kids with some skill players sprinkled in from Texas and Florida. They’ve had some success with those kinds of players." …

"These guys can rush the passer and cover and do some good things." …

"They’ve got to find a way to move the ball more consistently, but that should come with another year in the system. They aren’t going to top the league, but they have a chance.”

Opposing coaches size up the Cornhuskers:

“Bo Pelini likes a rough-and-tough style of football. He’s always been himself, a very gritty football player and a damn gritty coach." …

"I forgot all about Taylor Martinez being a senior. He’s been around forever." …

"They are run first and run second, and will think about running third. The play-action pass is the big hit for them. You have to stop the run and be aware of the play-action pass. Martinez has made some big plays in the passing game." …

"They had those difficult losses, but they came back and had a nice road win against Northwestern and at Michigan State. They beat Michigan at home. Smoked Michigan, actually. The losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin, both were hard-fought games." …

"Nebraska is Nebraska — with people wearing those stupid hats. It will be fun and exciting. It’s a gritty football team." …

"They got smoked in a few of those games trying to stop the run. Like any good defense, it starts with the guys up front. And they have a lot of young guys there." …

"A lot of jobs will be up for grabs on that defense.”

Opposing coaches size up the Wildcats:

“They have some good receivers. They know what they want to do on offense. Their line functions well together. The combination of (Kain) Colter and (Trevor) Siemian at quarterback is unique. They are both good. And I like how they use them. It makes you prepare for both guys, which is hard to do. It’s two different gameplans. I know they have used them both in the game at the same time. Colter can be a weapon as a slot receiver who can make some plays."  …

"I don’t know if you can underestimate how good and how fast Venric Marc is. He was great last year." …

"I don’t think there’s any area that sticks out that makes you say, ‘Wow!’ one way or the other, good or bad, but they are becoming better athletically with their recruiting. They were always well-coached but didn’t always have the talent. They know how to get the best out of their talent." …

"They do a great job up front. They are very smart guys that pick things up well. … They don’t have an imposing offensive line, but they play to the scheme well.”

Ohio State
Opposing coaches size up the Buckeyes:

“Just a really athletic team, another well-coached team on both sides of the ball. Keeping Luke Fickell in there as the defensive coordinator was a good move. This helped them in Year 1 under Urban Meyer." …

"They’ve gotten more athletic and faster than from a few years ago. Just a really good team across the board." …

"They grew into a powerful offense. There was a learning curve for those guys, but Braxton Miller has developed into one of the best players in the country. He did everything for them. His decision-making has really improved." …

"I thought the secondary was okay. They pretty much played the chains on third down. They sat on some routes. That’s where you could get some things off them offensively. You probably could go after them a little bit more with the deep ball because of the way they played. I’m not sure if they’ll tweak that this year, but they gave up some yards by playing that way. But overall, they were a very sound defensive football team.”

Penn State
Opposing coaches size up the Nittany Lions:

“Penn State, to me, was the surprise team. Not so much because of the record, but they just played really hard. Defensively, I thought they were as good as anybody we played." …

"They were very physical, and bigger than I thought they would be. Obviously their strength was their front seven. They were a team where when we played them, they did a lot of things defensively. You could see a lot of NFL schemes that were in there. Maybe that’s because of (Bill) O’Brien, an NFL guy." …

"They were running a new offense, but that quarterback did a great job running it. They got a lot out of what guys they had. Their tailback (Zach Zwinak) wasn’t all-conference talent, but they got everything out of him. He was big, and he ran so hard." …

"The loss of scholarships will wear on them down the road. It’s not the (quality) of the guys that they are signing, but it’s the wear and tear, lack of depth — five scholarships here, five there. Next thing you know, you’re missing 15 guys. Injuries, things like that happen.”

Opposing coaches size up the Boilermakers:

“I look at Darrell Hazell and that staff — they’ve hired some damn good coaches. They have two really good coordinators in Greg Hudson on defense and John Shoop on offense. I respect both of those guys." …

"I don’t think this team is that far away. The games that were close, they just didn’t make that many plays. They played lousy against Minnesota. They went to Minnesota like they didn’t care. That might be the reason why Danny Hope got fired. But give the kids credit, after a disappointing loss, they responded with some victories." …

"They aren’t really scary in any area. They had a really good defensive line returning but didn’t play as well as they could have. A few of those players are gone. They probably underachieved there. That kind of explains the season they had." …

"I don’t know who their quarterback will be. That can solve a lot of problems if they can get the right guy there. Running back Akeem Hunt is a player and should help the young guy, whoever it is.”


Opposing coaches size up the Badgers:

“It will be interesting to see what happens with the new staff. I haven’t heard much. I’ve heard maybe a 3-4 defense. I know Gary (Andersen) did some spread zone-read option stuff at Utah State, which is definitely different than what (Wisconsin) has been." …

"Their linebackers are still great. Chris Borland is one of most underrated players in the country. He runs around. He’s fast. He’s smart. He’s instinctual. He’s got everything you want. I think they lose some depth there, but they’ll still be good." …

"I thought defensive end David Gilbert really came on. He’s a guy they’ll miss." …

"They’ve always been good up front." …

"The quarterback (Joel Stave) is very solid, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, not any more than anybody else. I don’t know if they have a great passing attack with play-action. If you can slow down the running game, force them to throw, they can struggle. Regardless of which offense they run, they’ll need the quarterback to make timely throws in key third down situations.”

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Big Ten Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/12-ex-head-coaches-who-will-make-impact-assistants

The SEC leads college football in many things, but one of the strangest categories may be former head coach reclamation projects.

Not all assistants are cut out to be head coaches, but the five aforementioned programs clearly see strengths that didn’t translate into being program CEOs. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and LSU all hired previously fired head coaches to work on some of their biggest deficiencies.

That’s not a surprise, of course, even guys like Ellis Johnson and Joker Phillips were doing something right to be named head coaches in the first place.

The SEC isn’t alone, but it was the most prominent example of a league recycling former head coaching on its staffs. Here are 12 former head coaches hired as assistants for the 2013 season.

Tim Brewster
Former head coach at: Minnesota
Now: Florida State tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator
After all the changes on Florida State’s coaching staff, Brewster gives Jimbo Fisher a coach who has been around the block, most recently the wide receivers coach at Mississippi State. Brewster was a standout recruiter for Mack Brown at North Carolina and Texas and gives the coaching staff the bit of frenetic energy it needed to replace when James Coley left for Miami.

Cam Cameron
Former head coach at: Miami Dolphins, Indiana
Now: LSU offensive coordinator
Cameron returns to his first college head coaching job since he went 18-37 at Indiana from 1997-2001. LSU intended to hand the offense to another former head coach last season in Steve Kragthorpe before the ex-Louisville coach was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Greg Studrawa led the offense last season, but he has been returned to his former position of coaching the line. Cameron’s job now is to help develop Zach Mettenberger. Cameron has a strong reputation of working with quarterbacks, but LSU has struggled in this area since Matt Flynn led the Tigers to the BCS title in 2007.

Mario Cristobal
Former head coach at: FIU
Now: Alabama offensive line coach
FIU made the puzzling decision to fire the best coach in its brief history, a coach who happened to have deep Miami ties. Alabama scooped him up quickly to coach the team’s greatest weakness on the offensive line. Before becoming a head coach, Cristobal coached tight ends and offensive line with great success at Rutgers (2001-03) and Miami (1998-2000). This may only be a quick stop for Cristobal before his next head coaching opportunity, but for now, he’s one of three former head coaches on Saban’s coaching and support staff — Bobby Williams (Michigan State) coaches tight ends and special teams, and Kevin Steele (Baylor) is the director of player personnel.

Bill Cubit
Former head coach at: Western Michigan
Now: Illinois wide receiver coach
Offense was rarely an issue during Cubit’s eight seasons at Western Michigan. With the Broncos, Cubit did a good job of developing young quarterbacks (Tim Hiller, Alex Carder) and playing them through their veteran years. At Illinois, Cubit inherits two veterans in Nathan Scheelhaase and Reilly O’Toole, who have started during the last two seasons.

Dennis Erickson
Former head coach at: Arizona State, Idaho, San Francisco 49ers, Oregon State, Seattle Seahawks, Miami, Washington State, Wyoming
Now: Utah co-offensive coordinator
A true football lifer, Erickson can’t stay out of the game. After being fired at Arizona State, Erickson landed at Utah where he’ll make up half of one of the most interesting assistant coach pairings. The Utes’ other co-coordinator is Brian Johnson, who was born the same year as Erickson’s first Pac-10 coaching job in 1987 at Washington State. Utah has ranked 11th and 12th in yards per play since joining the Pac-12. Whether that’s personnel or youth on the coaching staff could be determined with Erickson on board.

Steve Fairchild
Former head coach at: Colorado State
Now: Virginia offensive coordinator
Tom O’Brien
Former head coach: NC State, Boston College
Now: Virginia associate head coach for offense/tight ends coach
Part of a coaching staff overhaul in Charlottesville, O’Brien and Fairchild will try to turn around an offense that ranked ninth in the ACC in yards per pass attempt and eighth in yards per carry. With the background of both — Fairchild was an NFL offensive coordinator before a 16-33 stint at Colorado State, O’Brien ran a balanced offense at NC State and Boston College — Virginia is going to run a traditional pro-style offense. Fairchild will have to settle on a quarterback after the competition between Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims dragged on through last season.

Ellis Johnson
Former head coach at: Southern Miss
Now: Auburn defensive coordinator
Johnson’s first FBS coaching gig could not have been much worse as Southern Miss went 0-11 in his lone season in Hattiesburg. Before that debacle, though, Johnson’s defenses at South Carolina and Mississippi State ranked fifth or better in the SEC in four of five seasons. The 2011 Gamecocks defense ranked third in the country in total defense. In contrast: Auburn hasn’t ranked better than seventh in total defense in the SEC since 2007.

Hal Mumme
Former head coach at: New Mexico State, Kentucky
Now: SMU passing game coordinator
Do you think SMU wants to throw the ball around a bit in the American Athletic Conference? The Mustangs coaching staff now has the godfather of the Air Raid offense (Mumme) with one of the most successful run-and-shoot coaches (Jones). They’re not exactly the same, but they’re not all that different. As Mumme told’s Bruce Feldman: “Air Raid is an attitude, not a playbook.” Worth noting: SMU was merely fourth in Conference USA in pass attempts in the last two seasons.

Joker Phillips
Former head coach at: Kentucky
Now: Florida wide receivers coach
Florida’s wide receivers coach position has been a revolving door in recent years, so the hope is that Phillips will bring stability. The Gators need it. Florida hasn’t produced a first-team All-SEC receiver in four seasons. Phillips played receiver at Kentucky and was a highly regarded offensive coordinator before his disastrous tenure as the Wildcats’ head coach. He’s also made an impact on the recruiting trail with is eccentric “#ComePlayWRfortheJoker” Twitter posts.

Larry Porter
Former head coach at: Memphis
Now: Texas running backs coach
After a 3-21 stint at Memphis, Porter quietly returned to a comfort zone as a running backs coach. He worked with Marion Grice, Cameron Marshall and D.J. Foster at Arizona State last season, helping them become a prolific trio as runners and pass-catchers. He’ll do fine at Texas, but the Longhorns have more pressing issues than running back.

Ron Prince
Former head coach at: Kansas State
Now: Rutgers offensive coordinator
Prince has coached two NFL starting quarterbacks in college (Virginia’s Matt Schaub and Kansas State’s Josh Freeman). Rutgers coach Kyle Flood is hoping for that tutelage to work on Gary Nova, who started last season with a steady hand before a late-season turnover binge. After three seasons in the NFL as an offensive assistant, Prince is back in the college ranks for the first time since coaching special teams at Virginia in 2009.

Randy Shannon
Former had coach at: Miami
Now: Arkansas linebackers coach
Shannon spent only five months as the linebackers coach at TCU before leaving to Arkansas. The Razorbacks can use all the help they can get on defense after regressing in each of the last three seasons. For a program with scant amounts of local talent and a head coach with little experience recruiting in the Southeast, the addition of Shannon and his deep Miami roots could be a major asset.

Joker Phillips was fired at Kentucky, but Florida scooped him up quick
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Arkansas Razorbacks, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/arkansas-football-game-game-predictions-2013

Arkansas had a year to forget in 2012. After crashing his motorcycle and lying about the details of the incident, Bobby Petrino was fired as the team’s head coach in April. Athletic director Jeff Long hired former assistant John L. Smith to be the interim coach, but the Razorbacks weren’t the same team.

Fast forward to 2013 and there’s a different feeling surrounding this team.

After a successful seven-year run at Wisconsin, Arkansas pulled Bret Bielema away from Madison. And Bielema should be a good fit in Fayetteville, especially with his run-first mentality on offense.

Arkansas was ranked by most a top 10-15 team before Petrino’s dismissal, so there’s still talent in the program.

Can Bielema get the Hogs back on track in 2013?

What will Arkansas' record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Arkansas' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/31 UL Lafayette
9/7 Samford
9/14 Southern Miss
9/21 at Rutgers
9/28 Texas A&M
10/5 at Florida
10/12 South Carolina
10/19 at Alabama
11/2 Auburn
11/9 at Ole Miss
11/23 Mississippi State
11/29 at LSU
Final Projection5-75-74-85-74-8

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
New coach Bret Bielema didn’t get many favors from the schedule makers in 2013. Arkansas drew Florida and South Carolina – two top-15 teams – in crossover play with the East Division, and the Razorbacks have to play at Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss. Additionally, Arkansas has tough non-conference games against UL Lafayette and Rutgers. Considering the Razorbacks have a new coaching staff and must break in a new quarterback, getting to a bowl game would be a successful year in Fayetteville. Arkansas does have some pieces to work with, including freshman running back Alex Collins, along with one of the SEC’s best offensive lines. I have the Razorbacks beating South Carolina – Arkansas has won the last three in Fayetteville – but it’s more of a feeling this team only wins one game in SEC play. The Razorbacks certainly have some potential. But the transition to a new coaching staff and the first year for Brandon Allen at quarterback will keep the Razorbacks out of a bowl game. 

SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
This could be the most difficult SEC team to figure out, new QB, coach and all. In 2011 they went an impressive 11-2 and followed that up last year going 4-8. Getting Bret Bielema was the biggest hiring surprise of the off season. What does Bret get in return? These 5 games starting week 4: at Rutgers, Texas A&M, at Florida, South Carolina, at Alabama. Now with that stretch laid out, I feel they could go 4-0 to start the season in their non-conference game. I like the direction of the program under Bret (Stay away from motorcycles), just not this season. Name to remember:  Alex Collins, RB 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

The cupboard is more stark than fans in Fayetteville realize and it could mean a long, rough season for Arkansas this year. Bobby Petrino is an elite coach who levels the "talent' playing field with his game management on Saturdays, but he destroyed the roster in the process. Huge swing games like a road trip to Rutgers could shape this season very quickly. Otherwise, there are very few chances for upsets for this rebuilt team — Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, at best. One or two upsets and the Hogs have an outside chance at a bowl game, but make no mistake, six wins is the high water mark for this team.

Mark Ross

Arkansas reeled in a pretty big fish when it lured Bret Bielema from Wisconsin, but the former Big Ten coach is going to find out two things fairly quickly - 1) the cupboard is a little more bare right now in Fayetteville compared to Madison and 2) why the SEC is considered the toughest league in the country. Whether Bielema can build a Wisconsin-type program at Arkansas and succeed in the SEC is its own separate question, and one that will have to wait because it's going to take a few recruiting classes for him to even get to that point.

As far as 2013 goes, the season may get off to a promising start thanks to a light non-conference slate, although that road trip to Piscataway to play Rutgers will be tough, but that is probably the lone highlight that Razorback fans can look forward to. Otherwise, it could be a long and painful three months of SEC play, especially with Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama lined up out of the gates. With the lack of experience and production returning on offense and a lot of unproven options on defense, Bielema may be "one and done" this season, in terms of SEC wins.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
We said the same thing about Kentucky and Ole Miss: The SEC schedule does these teams no favors in helping them trying to reach the next step. Arkansas can’t even catch a Kentucky, Missouri, Auburn or Mississippi State during late September and October. Arkansas is going to struggle, but there’s a glimmer of hope there, especially once Bielema gets things moving. He’ll have an OK defensive line and an elite center, which isn’t a bad place to start. Trouble is, he has little else. Arkansas may have some success later in the season if they can get through that October gauntlet in one piece. But facing the Sun Belt favorite in the opener and a quality AAC team on the road in September will be problematic.


Related College Football Content

SEC Predictions for 2013
SEC 2013 All-Conference Team
Pivotal Players to Determining a SEC Championship
South Carolina Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Florida Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Texas A&M Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Georgia Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Getting to Know the SEC's New Coaches for 2013
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Arkansas Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 8, 2013 - 06:23
Path: /overtime/rod-being-bad-highlight-reel
The combination of Alex Rodriguez lowlights and the "Karate Kid" music really makes it come alive. Enjoy.

VKMTV - The Alex Rodriguez Anti Highlight Reel by vkmtv

The A-Rod Being Bad Highlight Reel
Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 17:41
Path: /college-football/new-mexico-state-upgrades-helmets-pistol-pete

New Mexico State is likely in for a long season in its first (and only) season as a FBS Independent.

But the Aggies scored a victory this week with the release of their new helmets for 2013.

These helmets are a major upgrade over last year’s version, as New Mexico State has its mascot Pistol Pete on the side, as well as a white stripe in the middle of the helmet.


Pistol Pete Returns to New Mexico State Helmets
Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-7

Plenty of happenings from fall camps today.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, August 7th

Autograph gate: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has been cleared by the school over some autographs that showed up online. And Ohio State found no NCAA violations with autographs by Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.

Jeff Woollard of takes a look at West Virginia in 2013. Does Dana Holgorsen feel confident about his team?

Florida receiver Andre Debose is out this year due to a torn ACL.

Colorado receiver Tyler McCulloch sports the "Wild Thing" haircut in fall practice.

Here's an interesting story: California is sending its former season ticket holders Rocky Road candy bars.

ESPN The Magazine has an interesting player survey.

Saturday Down South takes a look at the top freshmen to watch in the SEC West.

Cody Kessler, Max Browne and Max Wittek present an interesting debate for USC coach Lane Kiffin.

Florida State has a new athletic director.

Florida State running back Mario Pender was not at practice on Tuesday due to a grade issue. The redshirt freshman was cleared to practice on Wednesday. 

Another Oklahoma defender is out for a few games this year.

The Seminoles also opened up their new indoor practice facility.

Another Georgia linebacker is dealing with an injury.

Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder has agreed to a new five-year contract.

What a difference a few months can make: Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf was ready to quit last year.

Virginia Tech running back/receiver Joel Caleb has been suspended for the season opener.

LSU receiver Avery Peterson suffered an ankle injury in practice this week.

JUCO transfer Randy Gregory has been impressive in fall practice for Nebraska.

Ole Miss' offensive line is starting to take shape.

Rutgers defensive end Jamil Merrell isn't worried about his position change this year.

Bidding for the 2016 and 2017 college football championship is now open.

Who is impressing for Michigan State at running back this fall?


College Football's Link Roundup: August 7
Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 13:38
Path: /college-football/boise-state-football-game-game-predictions-2013

Boise State has seven consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins and is 84-8 under coach Chris Petersen.

The Broncos had to replace a handful of key players last season – including quarterback Kellen Moore and running back Doug Martin – yet still finished with an 11-2 record. Boise State’s only losses came by four points to Michigan State and by two points against San Diego State.

Although Boise State returns only nine starters, there’s plenty of talent for Petersen to lead this team to a BCS bowl once again. The offense has plenty of firepower, especially with the return of quarterback Joe Southwick and receiver Matt Miller. Five starters return from a defense that ranked eighth nationally in points allowed, but cornerback is a position of concern for coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.

Boise State’s schedule is challenging, but Petersen should have his team in the mix for an unbeaten record. 

What will Boise State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Boise State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

8/31 at Washington
9/7 UT Martin
9/13 Air Force
9/20 at Fresno State
9/28 Southern Miss
10/12 at Utah State
10/19 Nevada
10/25 at BYU
11/2 at Colorado State
11/16 Wyoming
11/23 at San Diego State
11/30 New Mexico
Final Projection11-110-212-011-111-111-1

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Even though Boise State returns only eight starters, this team still has plenty of talent to make a run at an unbeaten record and a BCS bowl. In a “rebuilding year” last season, the Broncos finished 11-2, with their only losses coming by four points or less. Quarterback Joe Southwick should be more comfortable in his second year as the starter, and the rest of the supporting cast on offense is solid. The biggest concern for coach Chris Petersen is a secondary that will have two new starters at cornerback. Boise State’s schedule isn’t easy, especially with road dates at Washington, Fresno State, Utah State, BYU and San Diego State. The opener in Seattle is a revenge game for the Huskies, but the Sept. 20 date against the Bulldogs could decide who hosts the Mountain West title game. I think Boise State loses once during the regular season. However, the Broncos will play in a BCS bowl this January.

Drew Roberts, (@MyBrainIsSmart),
Do I actually think Boise State will go undefeated this year? Probably not, but it's well within the realm of possibility and even though they could drop roadies at Fresno, Utah State, BYU or UW—I honestly don't know which one is "most lose able" because frankly, they're all winnable. Boise State is used to being the best team in the league and I don't think this year is any different, but all the toughest games this year happen to be on the road. Generally, that's a recipe for an upset or two, but I think Boise State can get on a roll if they handle business in Husky Stadium at the end of the month. Even if my belief in an undefeated season is tepid, you need at least one homer on this thing and Bronco fans are known to never stop believin', just like that Journey song "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin.'"

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Boise State lost two games a year ago while in complete rebuilding mode and fans are ready for more. Nothing could indicate more where expectations have been placed in Idaho than that. The schedule is more intriguing this year than last and the team, especially on offense, should be better as well. The Mountain West has gotten much better around the Broncos and it will create a few more "tougher" challenges than this team is accustomed too. That said, a perfect league record is well within reach. In fact, road non-conference games with Washington and BYU are more likely to determine the overall upside of this team. Look for this team to be on the fringe of the BCS with an outside shot at something special.

Mark Ross
Even with just eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, I fully expect Chris Petersen to do what he has done in his previous seven seasons leading Boise State — win a bunch of games. In my opinion, the Broncos only have to truly worry about three games on their schedule. The season opener at Washington won't be easy, especially if the Huskies are able to move the ball early and often on the Boise defense, and the trip to Provo to face BYU also will be a tough test.

Outside of those two games, the Sept. 20 date in Fresno to play the Bulldogs is probably the only other matchup all season in which the Broncos won't be favored. Fresno State has more than enough offense to make things tough for the Petersen's defense, and it remains to be seen if the Broncos can match the Bulldogs' firepower. Win or lose, this most likely will be just the first of two meetings between Boise State and Fresno State, with the other coming in the inaugural Mountain West championship game in early December. If the Broncos don't want to make a return trip to central California, then they need to make the most of their first one.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Boise State’s conference opponents — chiefly Fresno State, San Diego State and Nevada — have improved at the same time the Broncos have dipped ever so slightly. Still, I think Boise State gets out of 2013 with only one blemish against a Fresno State team that stacked on offense. I like Boise in the opener against Washington simply because its tough to bet against Chris Petersen in an opener, despite an ugly-for-both-teams loss to Michigan State before last season. Road trips to BYU and San Diego State will be tough, but Joe Southwick has had a year as the starter. People forget he threw nine touchdown passes and no interceptions in the final four games last year.

Related College Football Content

College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
College Football's Top 15 Quarterback Battles to Watch in Fall Practice
Mountain West Predictions for 2013
Mountain West All-Conference Team for 2013
Which Conference Has the Best Quarterbacks in 2013?

12 Things You Should Know From College Football's Offseason

Boise State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-august-7-2013

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


• Elsewhere on this website, you can find this gem: the Houston Texans cheerleaders engaging in something called "Freestyle Friday." We heartily endorse the concept.


Raul Ibanez, professional outfielder.


• As a palate cleanser from that last atrocity, enjoy this GIF of Elvis Andrus making a nice play from his butt.


• Finally, an area of SEC football where Alabama's not No. 1: The SEC fanbases, ranked.


• You've seen this by now, but I can't not link to it: The Manning bros (and Archie) pimp for Sunday Ticket.


Is the Manziel affair a tipping point in the whole paying players debate? For his part, Jay Bilas is doing what he can to expose the NCAA's hypocrisy in the deal.


• Deadspin whipping boy Jay Mariotti, who for some is the epitome of all that is wrong with sports media, is getting into the branded website game.


• We bring you stories you can actually use: Cartoons that are fit for adults.


• Did you know RG3 collects superhero dolls? That, and other weird facts about athletes.


• It's Shark Week, which gave Mensa member Tara Reid the opportunity to drop some knowledge about whale sharks.


• Bryce Harper didn't take kindly to getting plunked. Enjoy.




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

Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 10:39
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-5-amazing-stats-watkins-glen

So this is it. It has to be.  Marcos Ambrose

Marcos Ambrose is having a horrible NASCAR Sprint Cup season by his standards. His replacement-level Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) of 0.738 is the third-worst of his career, on track to be his first sub-par results-getting season in four years. The struggle, slump, or off year — whatever you prefer to call it — isn’t totally a career death knell or a sign of decline. Regression is natural in sport, and that is what has happened to the 36-year-old Richard Petty Motorsports driver in 2013.

The timing, however, is brutal.

Ambrose isn’t guaranteed a return to RPM after this season and a poor final impression won’t do wonders for his job prospects. If the season concluded today, it is likely his next NASCAR contract wouldn’t look as appealing as his current one does. His destiny could all change this weekend. Frankly, it has to.

2.0 Ambrose has a career average finish of second in five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen International.

With a Glen-specific PEER (a measure of drivers’ performance in equal equipment) of 10.000, Ambrose is arguably better on the New York road course than any driver on any other track in the series. With this level of dazzling production ability comes dizzying expectations. Ambrose hasn’t finished lower than third at Watkins Glen and was a winner in the last two Cup Series events there. He has three NASCAR Nationwide Series victories to his credit at the track. He’s so good there that anything less than a win on Sunday — and yes, racing is a team sport, but it’s often not viewed that way, even within the industry — is a failure. He should win this race. It’s ironic that, for Ambrose, even winning provides a no-win situation, but in the instance he isn’t victorious, it could have a tremendous effect on his next contract and immediate future in the sport.

26.5 On laps led per race basis, Kyle Busch is the runaway leader at Watkins Glen in the CoT/Gen-6 era.

Busch, a winner at WGI in 2008, has led 159 laps in the last six races. That mark nearly doubles the next-best number by Juan Pablo Montoya (13.5), and even trumps Ambrose (9.2). That Busch leads laps by the barrel full isn’t a surprise, but his name isn’t one that conjures images of elite road course-racing talent. Something about Watkins Glen clicks for him, though, and he wasn’t far away from a win in last year’s race before the epic slip-and-slide conclusion.

4.5 Montoya’s average finish in completed races dating back to 2007 is 4.5.  Juan Pablo Montoya

I offer the completed race average finish because this span of outings is bookended by crashes that affect the normal average. He won the pole last year, but was caught in a crash that ended his day on lap 63. Montoya, especially this season with a top 15 efficiency — the difference of percentage of races finished in the top 15 and the percentage of laps run in the top 15 — of -18.6 percent, is an aggressive sort. While it’s thrilling for fans, high-octane aggression on road courses doesn’t automatically win races. Some semblance of composure and nifty pit strategy would be the likely key to scoring his first Glen win since 2010.

5.417 Keselowski ranks third in PEER at Watkins Glen with a 5.417 rating.

What that number indicates is that Keselowski, albeit in a small three-race sample size, has been stalwart on this particular road course. He doesn’t have a win to his name, at least not yet, which can also be said about his 2013 season. If you were looking for an irregular face on road courses to breakthrough with a win, you would be best served to look no further than the 2012 series champ. He finished second in each of the last two years’ events at Watkins Glen and his 20th-place finish in his maiden Cup visit (2010) was a showing in which he ranked seventh in the race in NASCAR’s “fastest laps” tally.

14.4 Ron Fellows has an average finish of 23.2, a wildly inconsistent number per his 14.4 finish deviation, in five Watkins Glen races dating back to 2007.

The Canadian road racing legend is, according to PEER, the top “road course ringer” at the Glen going into the weekend; however, his entry in the No. 33 Circle Sport car isn’t attractive for those hoping for an upset victory. That’s been the primary issue with the ringers of late; their cars aren’t prime equipment, which often leads to overdriving and aggressive choices that don’t typically sit well with the regular Cup Series drivers. Compared to the likes of Boris Said and Robby Gordon, Fellows’s participation has been innocuous, but a driver can only take so much when limited by an imperfect race car.

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

David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.

Photo by Action Sports, Inc.

David Smith crunches the numbers to reveal some revealing NASCAR stats for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 10:01
All taxonomy terms: GIF, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/elvis-andrus-makes-amazing-tag

The Rangers' Elvis Andrus slipped while covering second, but still managed to tag Erick Aybar while laid out on the dirt. The smile on his face afterwards says it all. 


Elvis Andrus Makes Amazing Tag
Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 08:58
All taxonomy terms: Seattle Mariners, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/mariners-raul-ibanez-makes-worst-outfield-throw-baseball-history-gif
I love it when professional athletes do something horrendously bad. Such was the case with Seattle Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez, who chased down the ball during a game against the Blue Jays, picked it up and threw it directly at the ground, allowing Toronto to score.

Mariners' Raul Ibanez Makes Worst Outfield Throw in Baseball History
Post date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 08:43