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All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /news/texas-ams-welcome-sec-video-disaster

There's no question Texas A&M is fired up to be in the SEC. After dealing with the soap opera known as the Big 12, the Aggies finally have some stability in terms of conference alignment.

While it's a good thing Texas A&M is excited to join the SEC, this video is not. It's truly a disaster. The Aggies try to welcome each of their 13 new conference mates by repeating the school's chant and the results is an awkward and rather ridiculous video.

<p> Texas A&amp;M's Welcome to the SEC Video is a Disaster</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 09:38
Path: /nfl/nfl-quarterbacks-rewrite-record-books-2011

NFL training camps are set to open in three weeks, but before we set our sights on the upcoming season, let’s take a look back at 2011. Although the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots to capture Super Bowl XLVI, the 2011 NFL season may as well go down in the history books simply as the Year of the Quarterback.

Consider this, an NFL-record 11,356 points were scored last season, while games averaged an all-time high of 693.7 total net yards per game. Much of this offense was due to the increasing dependence on the pass as there were an average of 459.4 net passing yards per game.

To put it another way, more than 66 percent of the yards accumulated last season came via the pass. What’s more, the league-wide passer rating for quarterbacks was 84.3 last season, while the touchdown-interception ratio was 1.472:1, both of which are all-time highs.

The increase in offensive production is nothing new necessarily as the passing-related records that were set last season were previously broken in 2010. However, a closer look at last season’s quarterback production reveals that the men pulling the trigger put together some truly historic performances.

For starters, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees set the single-season record for passing yards with 5,476, breaking Dan Marino’s previous mark of 5,084 in 1984. He also set new single-season records for completions (468), completion percentage (71.2 percent), 300-yard passing games (13) and consecutive 300-yard passing games (seven).

Brees also became the first quarterback in NFL history to for throw for at least 350 yards in four consecutive games and finished the season with eight such contests. He has the opportunity to make even more history in the fall as he will enter this coming season having thrown at least one touchdown pass in 43 consecutive games. This is the second longest streak in NFL history, trailing only Johnny Unitas’ run of 47 games.

If not for Brees, Marino’s single-season passing mark would belong to New England’s Tom Brady. Brady passed for 5,235 yards last season, the second-highest single-season total in NFL history. Brady got off to a hot start last season, becoming the first quarterback in history to throw more than 900 yards in the first two games and more than 1,300 in the first three.

Brady also threw 39 touchdown passes in 2011, giving him 300 for his career. He became just the sixth quarterback in NFL history with 300 touchdown passes, joining Brett Favre (508), Marino (420), Peyton Manning (399), Fran Tarkenton (342) and John Elway (300).

Brees and Brady weren’t the only ones to break the 5,000-yard mark in 2011, however, as Detroit’s Matthew Stafford passed for 5,038. Entering 2011, only two quarterbacks in NFL history had ever thrown for at least 5,000 yards in a season — Marino (1984) and Brees (5,069 in 2008). In fact, six of the top 20 single-season passing totals in NFL history are from last season, and a total of 11 of them have happened in the past five seasons overall.

Stafford also connected on 41 touchdown passes in 2011, as he, Brees (46) and Aaron Rodgers (45) all threw for 40 or more scores. Until last season, no other season in NFL history had more than one quarterback with 40 or more touchdown passes.

What’s even more impressive about Rodgers’ performance is that the Green Bay quarterback threw those 45 touchdown passes in just 15 games. Rodgers sat out the Packers’ regular-season finale, which not only cost him a shot at 50 touchdown passes, the current single-season record set by Brady in 2007, but also the opportunity to join the 5,000-yard club.

Rodgers entered the final week of the regular season with 4,643 yards or 300.9 yards per game. Even though he still needed 357 yards for 5,000 on the season and five more touchdown passes for 50 remember this – his replacement, Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn torched the Lions for 480 yards and six scores in Week 17.

Although he didn’t get 5,000 yards or 50 touchdown passes, Rodgers did earn a spot in the NFL record books in two other places. He established a new single-season mark for passer rating (122.5), topping the previous record of 121.1 set by Manning in 2004, and he also took home league MVP honors after leading the Packers to a near-perfect 15-1 record in the regular season.

Collectively, there were 121 individual 300-yard passing games in 2011, the most of any season in NFL history. The previous mark was 104 such games in 2009. There also were 18 individual 400-yard passing performances, which broke the previous record of 13, set in both 1986 and 2004.

One of the quarterbacks who helped contribute to both of these record-setting totals was Cam Newton. The Carolina signal caller made history of his own when he passed for 422 yards in his NFL debut in Week 1 against Arizona. He followed that up with a 432-yard game against Green Bay in Week 2. Before 2011, no rookie quarterback had ever passed for more than 350 yards in his first NFL game, let alone more than 400 in his first two.

The NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year finished his inaugural season with a record 4,051 yards passing and 14 rushing touchdowns. The 14 rushing touchdowns were not only the second-most in the NFL in 2011, it was the most ever by a quarterback. And Newton wasn’t the only quarterback who showcased his dual-threat ability in 2011 either.

Former Denver quarterback Tim Tebow finished last season with 660 yards rushing, second only to Newton’s 706 among quarterbacks. However, Tebow did all of his ground work in just 14 games, 11 of those as the Broncos’ starter, compared to Newton’s 16.

Tebow also was second to Newton in rushing touchdowns with six. But Tebow accomplished something with one of those rushing scores that neither Newton nor any other quarterback in NFL history had done before.

In Week 11 against the Jets, Tebow had a 20-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter to propel the Broncos to a 17-13 win. It was the first game-winning touchdown run of at least 20 yards by a quarterback in NFL history and it came against the Jets, who Tebow was later traded to in the offseason.

Fittingly enough, Tebow also made his own contribution to the Year of the Quarterback with his arm even though his regular-season passing numbers (1,730 yards, 12 touchdowns) were pedestrian at best. However, in the wild card round of the AFC playoffs against Pittsburgh, Tebow became the first quarterback to average 30 yards per completion (minimum five) in a postseason game.

Against the Steelers, Tebow completed 10 of 21 pass attempts for 316 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. His second touchdown pass, an 80-yarder to Demaryius Thomas on the first play from scrimmage in overtime, not only gave the Broncos an improbable 29-23 victory over the Steelers, it also represented both the longest touchdown pass and the quickest (11 seconds) score in overtime history.

So between the exploits of gunslingers like Brees and Brady and the dual-threat playmaking ability of the likes of Newton and Tebow, 2011 was clearly the Year of the Quarterback. This coming season will no doubt feature its fair share of impressive aerial performances, especially with promising rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III scheduled to make their debuts, but the bar has already been set pretty high for the 2012 season to top what happened in 2011.

No doubt NFL fans can’t wait to see what happens when the 2012 NFL season kicks off this fall. September 5 can’t came soon enough.

Note: Research assistance provided by Elias Sports Bureau and Athlon Sports contributing writer Bruce Herman

— By Mark Ross, published on July 3, 2012

Related NFL Content

2012 NFL Quarterbacks: Ranking the Best and Worst Starters
Ranking the NFL’s Best Back-Up Quarterbacks

Miami Dolphins QBs Since Marino: An NFL Horror Story

Robert Griffin III Talks Heisman, Baylor and Redskins

<p> NFL Quarterbacks Rewrite Record Books in 2011</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-sec-wide-receivers

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the SEC's Receiving Corps for 2012

1. Tennessee
The SEC pass-catchers discussion has to begin with the Big Orange. Da’Rick Rogers has had off-the-field issues, but his powerful 6-3, 210-pound frame is dripping with ability. When focused (less often than not), Rogers has All-American talent. Yet, he isn’t the best receiver on his own team. That distinction goes to Justin Hunter, who returns to the field fully healthy after missing all but two games due to a torn ACL in 2011. When at full speed, there may not be a better wideout in the entire nation. Adding to this deep group is dependable tight end Mychal Rivera and senior Zach Rogers, giving Tyler Bray plenty to work with. And depth won’t be an issue as newcomers Cordarrelle Patterson - who appears to be ready to live up to his lofty No. 1 JUCO recruiting status - Drae Bowles, Alton Howard and Jason Croom give the Vols the SEC’s best collection of pass-catchers.

2. Georgia
The Dawgs have to replace two veteran tight ends in Orson Charles and Aaron White, but stud athletes Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome should be more than capable of filling the void at the position. Senior Tavarres King finally delivered on his immense talent with 705 yards and 8 TD last fall and leads the way for a deep corps of receivers. Marlon Brown, Michael Bennett and Chris Conley all have shown flashes of ability, but the upside of this group lies in the dynamic arms of Malcolm Mitchell. He was shifted to defense to account for suspensions and injuries this spring, but Mark Richt insists he will play wideout. But for how many plays per game? His electric, explosive play-making skill is unmatched by any other Bulldog and makes this group as dangerous as any in the SEC.

3. Texas A&M
The Aggies enter SEC play with a new quarterback and offensive scheme but return plenty of weapons on the outside. Senior Ryan Swope led the team with 89 receptions for 1,207 yards and 11 scores last year. He will be expected to provide leadership, as well as remain one of the offense’s top playmakers in 2012. Uzoma Nwachukwu has 126 receptions in his career and ranked third on the team with 639 receiving yards last season. Swope and Nwachukwu are entrenched as starters, with the third spot likely going to Kenric McNeal. Senior Brandal Jackson will also be in the mix, while sophomore Malcome Kennedy or freshman Mike Evans are potential breakout candidates.

4. Arkansas
It’s never easy replacing two first-team All-SEC receivers (Joe Adams and Jarius Wright), but Arkansas still has plenty of weapons for quarterback Tyler Wilson. Senior Cobi Hamilton averaged 15.9 yards per catch on 34 receptions last season and should be the new No. 1 option for Wilson. Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon are expected to grab the other two starting spots and have a combined 23 career catches. Both players have potential to be difference makers in 2012. With Adams and Wright departing, tight end Chris Gragg should exceed his 41 catches from last season. Depth is a concern at receiver, as sophomore Marquel Wade and junior Maudrecus Humphrey are facing felony burglary charges and may not return in 2012.

5. Alabama
With Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks departing, Alabama’s top returning wide receiver is Kenny Bell, who caught 17 passes for 255 yards last year. While the losses of Maze and Hanks are a concern, it’s possible the Crimson Tide will have more depth, speed and athleticism at receiver in 2012. Bell and Kevin Norwood took the early lead for playing time, but sophomores Christion Jones and DeAndrew White will be in the mix. Freshmen Marvin Shinn, Chris Black, Amari Cooper and Eddie Williams were all highly-touted recruits and will have a shot to crack the depth chart in the fall. Michael Williams is expected to start at tight end and should see his catches increase after nabbing 16 receptions last year. While this group has some youth, there’s also more potential than last season.

6. LSU
It took a few seasons but Rueben Randle finally developed into the elite talent many expected to see from the former five-star recruit. Replacing him won’t be easy, but LSU has plenty of options in 2012. In only one year, Odell Beckham Jr. proved to be one of the league’s top receivers and is a superstar in the making. He catches everything, can take the top off of any defense and plays a physical brand of football. Speedy counterpart Jarvis Landry played in every game as a freshman and will line-up opposite of Beckham. If Russell Shepard could consistently deliver on his big-play potential, Zach Mettenberger will have no trouble finding open Tigers. Chase Clement and Travis Dickson offer some upside at tight end and newcomer Avery Johnson, the younger brother of Patrick Peterson, is ready to contribute right away.

7. Missouri
Gone is Michael Egnew, Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson, but 14 different Tigers return after catching a pass last fall. T.J. Moe is the team’s top target after catching 146 passes for 1,694 yards over the last two seasons. Marcus Lucas started three games and tied for the team lead with five scores and has loads of upside. L’Damian Washington can contribute big plays as well after averaging 18.0 yards per catch in 2011. Eric Waters, who dealt with a knee issue all spring, will attempt to continue the long line of tight end success at Mizzou. The real kicker will be the addition of impact freshman Dorial Green-Beckham come the fall. Affectionately known as DGB, the newcomer comes to college as the most prolific and talented American prep receiver in history. His 6-6, 220-pound frame might be the most talented in the SEC the second he steps on campus in Columbia.

8. Vanderbilt
Going into last season, the Commodores ranked near the bottom of the SEC in receiver rankings. This group turned out to be a surprise, as two players caught over 31 passes and helped the offense produce more big plays. Jordan Matthews led the way with 41 catches for 778 yards. He also averaged 19 yards per catch in 2011 and could contend for All-SEC honors this year. Chris Boyd was impressive as a redshirt freshman, averaging 15.3 yards per catch and recording eight touchdown receptions on 31 catches. Jonathan Krause and Josh Grady are expected to make significant contributions in 2012, while Austin Monahan and Dillon van der Wal will battle to replace tight end Brandon Barden.

9. Auburn
With a switch to a pro-style attack and a quarterback question mark, the Tigers could rank near the bottom of the SEC in passing offense once again. There’s some talent returning in the receiving corps, but depth is a concern. Emory Blake led the team with 36 catches for 613 yards and will be the go-to option for quarterback Kiehl Frazier. Senior Travante Stallworth and sophomore Trovon Reed will likely be the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers, with Reed catching 21 receptions as a freshman last year. Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen only caught 24 passes in 2011, but made the most of those opportunities, as he took seven receptions for scores.

10. South Carolina
Alshon Jeffery is gone, but he failed to build on his huge sophomore season and was consistently out of shape last year. While no one is as talented as Jeffery, this group should be more balanced than last year. Ace Sanders is a versatile, speedy slot man who gets involved in a variety of ways. DeAngelo Smith will attempt to fill Jeffery’s shoes, with Damiere Byrd and Lamar Scruggs fighting for reps as well. The tight ends are in great shape as starters Justice Cunningham and Rory Anderson, as well as upside freshman Jerell Adams, give the Gamecocks one of the best tight end groups in the SEC.

11. Florida
It just feels weird to write, but the Gators desperately need play-makers to develop and step forward in this department. Andre Debose, Frankie Hammond and Quinton Dunbar must deliver on their immense talent that led to lofty recruiting status for all three. True freshman Latroy Pittman had a great spring but has yet to log an actual snap in game action. Solomon Patton and Ja’Juan Story will also get plenty of chances as new coordinator Brent Pease tries to find the right rotation. There are a lot of former four- and five-star prospects playing wideout for Florida, so someone has to emerge quickly if the offense is expected to improve. Tight end Jordan Reed is a stellar talent who needs to continue his growth and development.

12. Mississippi State
In order for the Bulldogs to finish higher than ninth in the SEC in scoring offense, the passing attack has to get better. New quarterback Tyler Russell is a better passer than the player he is replacing (Chris Relf), but the receivers also need to step up. Chad Bumphis has been solid, but has yet to become the difference maker most expected when he committed to Mississippi State. Seniors Arceto Clark and Chris Smith are expected to start, while redshirt freshman Joe Morrow is coming off a strong spring, and the coaching stuff thinks he can contribute significant snaps in 2012.

13. Kentucky
Finding personnel who can make big plays is a must for the Wildcats in 2012, considering they finished last in the nation in plays of 20 yards or more a year ago. Senior La’Rod King will be the top target and the most dependable one after a 40-598-7 line last fall. But names like sophomore Demarco Robinson and freshman Daryl Collins need to step into bigger roles if Joker Phillips’ offense is going to improve. Phillips also wants and expects to see more from his tight ends as Ronnie Shields and Anthony Kendrick provide some athleticism. Tyler Robinson will play plenty as well, but is closer to an offensive lineman than pass-catcher. 

14. Ole Miss
The Rebels’ offense is littered with question marks, but there’s some upside with this unit. Donte Moncrief led the team in receptions (31), receiving yards (454) and touchdowns (4) as a freshman last year. Moncrief will be the No. 1 option once again, but the depth took a hit with Nickolas Brassell’s decision to transfer after spring practice. Ja-Mes Logan caught 20 passes last year and should fill the No. 2 role. Converted quarterback Randall Mackey will be in the mix for significant playing time in 2012 as the No. 3 receiver. Jamal Mosley and Ferbia Allen combined for 18 receptions last year, but tight ends were not featured prominently in Hugh Freeze’s offense at Arkansas State last year.

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

Related SEC Content

2012 SEC Predictions
Athlon's 2012 All-SEC Team
SEC Heisman Contenders for 2012

College Football Realignment Winners and Losers

Introducing Texas A&M to the SEC

Introducing Missouri to the SEC

How Many Wins Does Derek Dooley Need to Return in 2013?

<p> Unit Rankings: 2012 SEC Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 06:11
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/mlb-all-stars-who-should-be-teams

Every season just before the Fourth of July, I put together my two All-Star teams and marvel at how my rosters differ from the fan vote, and to some degree the players’ and managers’ choices. But it’s usually the fans that are most off base. But I get it. This is a popularity vote. No matter how much MLB tries to convince fans that “This Time it Counts,” or some similar slogan, fans vote for their favorite players.

But I must say, the fans did a much better job this year. As usual, the Yankees showed well at the ballot box, as did the Giants in the National League with Buster Posey leading with more than 7 million votes. More votes were cast than ever as Josh Hamilton shattered the record by topping 11 million votes.

My rosters have 34 players, at least one representative from each team, a starter and backup at each position, and I didn’t ignore setup men like the managers did. Oh, just for fun, the starters appear below in my suggested batting order as well.

So, without further setup, here are my two 2012 MLB All-Star rosters.

National League
CF Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh

Quickly, and awfully quietly, becoming one of the best all-around players in the NL, McCutchen has been clutch with the bat, his legs and with the glove for the surprising Pirates this season.

RF Carlos Beltran, St. Louis
The newest member of the 300-300 and 2,000-hit clubs leads the NL with 60 RBIs and is second to Ryan Braun with 20 home runs.

1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati
This may be the easiest selection of both leagues. Best pure hitter in the National League and best first baseman in baseball right now.

LF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
The Dodgers’ center fielder was having too good a season to leave off this team even though a balky hamstring has robbed him of more than a month.

3B David Wright, New York
The fans really blew this one. Wright, hitting .354, is leading all third basemen with 50 runs and 53 RBIs.

DH Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
The 2011 NL MVP had a rough offseason, but on the field picked up right where he left off last season.

2B Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
A handful of second sackers could start for the NL this season, but Phillips gets the nod because of his awesome defense.

SS Rafael Furcal, St. Louis
No one at the position especially stands out in the NL, but Furcal leads shortstops with 52 runs and has driven in 31 from his leadoff spot.

C Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia
Anytime a catcher is leading the league in batting average, you have to allow him to start. Ruiz is batting .356, handles pitchers well and is tough to steal on.

SP R.A. Dickey, New York
Forget about Dickey being the best feel-good story this season; he’s the best starting pitcher in the NL this year. The Mets are 13-3 when he starts, 30-34 when he doesn’t.

NL Reserves
C Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Molina has more home runs and RBIs than Ruiz, but his batting average is 44 points lower. A close call at backstop in the National League. Any of the three (with Ruiz and Posey) could start. All three can hit, handle pitchers and throw. But no catcher throws like Yadi.

C Buster Posey, San Francisco
I like having three catchers, but Posey offers some pop and is a tough out off the bench.

1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
After a slow start, Goldschmidt is batting .327 with 19 doubles and 10 homers since May 1.

2B Jose Altuve, Houston
Don’t think this is a token appearance by an Astro, because Altuve can really play. He leads second basemen with a .308 average, but only half as many homers and RBIs as Phillips.

2B Aaron Hill, Arizona
I guess hitting for the cycle twice in 12 days earns an All-Star spot.

3B Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
Even though the Panda missed 35 games with a wrist injury, he’s proven to be the second-best third sacker this year, keeping his average above .300 all season.

SS Ian Desmond, Washington
Desmond has the most pop at the position with 39 extra-base hits and 43 ribbies.

SS Starlin Castro, Chicago
Still learning nuances of the game, but he’s proving that his league-leading total of 207 hits last season was no fluke.

OF Melky Cabrera, San Francisco
With a .352 average, Cabrera deserves to start, but unfortunately, so do three other guys.

OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
Fans got to know CarGo in 2010 as he chased the triple crown. After an injury-plagued 2011, he’s resumed the chase this season and resides among the top six in each of the three categories.

OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
It took a while for Stanton to get going, but his .915 OPS is eighth in the league and his 38 total bases rank fifth.

OF Dexter Fowler, Colorado
I know he was awful the first six weeks, but since May 27 he’s hit .348 with a 1.055 OPS to bring his average up to .289 and his season OPS to .926.

NL Pitchers
SP Matt Cain, San Francisco
Tossing the first perfect game in Giants history is enough to get Cain on the team, but he also has two shutouts and a 0.950 WHIP.

SP Gio Gonzalez, Washington
The Nationals have the best rotation in the NL and Gonzalez has been at the top of the rotation all season.

SP Stephen Strasburg, Washington
Even though the Nats are trying to limit his innings, Strasburg deserves an inning in K.C. on Tuesday.

SP James McDonald Pittsburgh
The Dodgers probably regret trading this rising star for a month of Octavio Dotel back in 2010.

SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
With Roy Halladay on the shelf and Cliff Lee still winless, the Phillies have relied on Hamels to stay afloat during the first half.

SP Wade Miley, Arizona
The Diamondbacks are 9-4 in his starts. They supported him with two, one, zero and two runs in those losses.

SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
The reigning Cy Young just edges teammate Chris Capuano.

RP Sergio Romo, San Francisco
Called on for a few save opportunities, Romo has a sub-1.00 WHIP and ERA.

RP Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati
He may be the most feared pitcher in the game on Tuesday.

CL Tyler Clippard, Washington
Originally a setup man, Clippard is 13-for-13 in saves since taking over as closer in late May.

CL Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
Kimbrel has followed his tremendous rookie season with another dandy so far this season.

CL Huston Street, San Diego
He’s a perfect 12-for-12 in save opps and in 11 of those saves he’s faced no more than four batters. In 21 innings he has 28 Ks and given up only eight hits and six walks.


American League

CF Adam Jones, Baltimore
The Gold Glover in center is batting .302, has scored 52 runs and is now on the very short list for best player in the AL. Hamilton is the lone AL outfielder with more extra-base hits.

2B Robinson Cano, New York
The Yankees’ second baseman is arguably the best player in the league.

LF Josh Hamilton, Texas
Slowed some by injuries (surprise), Hamilton is having another MVP season.

3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Perhaps the closest call in either lineup, Cabrera just edges Adrian Beltre in runs, homers and RBIs.

1B Paul Konerko, Chicago
Two of the best first basemen in the NL last season — Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder — now play in the AL, but Konerko has been the best this season.

DH David Ortiz, Boston
Certainly Edgar Martinez has an argument, but Big Papi may be the best DH ever.

RF Jose Bautista, Toronto
Hitting only .239, but improving, Joey Bats still leads the league in bombs.

SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland
One of the best defensive players in baseball, Cabrera owns the highest OPS among AL shortstops.

C A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago
Evidently the White Sox veteran is not the most popular among fans or players given that he wasn’t even selected to the squad. He’s our starter.

SP David Price, Tampa Bay
The hard-throwing lefty is tied for the AL lead with 11 wins.

AL Reserves
C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Working on another batting title, Mauer is still among the elite catchers in the game.

C Matt Wieters, Baltimore
A defensive whiz, the switch-hitting Wieters can provide some punch at the plate. He’s batting .403 vs. lefthanders.

1B Prince Fielder, Detroit
The Tigers have been disappointing this season, but Fielder has not.

1B Albert Pujols, Los Angeles
First of all, how can you keep one of the game’s biggest stars out of this game? And secondly, he’s hitting .324 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 48 games since May 9.

2B Jason Kipnis, Cleveland
Leading the Tribe in hits, RBIs and steals, Kipnis is also one of the best defenders at his position.

3B Adrian Beltre, Texas
The reigning Gold Glove winner is a beast with the bat as well.

SS Elvis Andrus, Texas
The best team in the AL is full of All-Stars.

OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
He’s batting .339 with a .938 OPS and leads AL outfielders with 22 stolen bases even though he spent the first month of the season in the minors.

OF Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles
Manager Mike Scioscia has had trouble finding a position for Trumbo, but with a .981 OPS and 20 jacks, he must be in the lineup everyday.

OF Austin Jackson, Detroit
Buoyed by a .404 OBP, the rising star is fifth among AL outfielder in OPS.

OF Curtis Granderson, New York
He doesn’t consider himself a power hitter, but he’s followed his 41-homer season with 23 by the break.

DH Billy Butler, Kansas City
It’s a shame that there aren’t more stars for the hometown fans.

AL Pitchers
SP Justin Verlander, Detroit
The reigning Cy Young, MVP dude is having an “off” year with a 0.98 WHIP and 2.69 ERA.

SP Matt Harrison, Texas
He wasn’t selected merely as a favor from his manager. Harrison has a 1.42 ERA over his last eight starts — all Texas wins.

SP Jake Peavy, Chicago
One of four pitchers with a sub-1.00 WHIP in the AL.

SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles
A stint on the DL didn’t keep Weaver, who leads the AL with a 0.92 WHIP, off the team.

SP Chris Sale, Chicago
Drafted in 2010, Sale leagues the league with a 2.27 ERA.

SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle
King Felix is having a fine season, but honestly he is the only All-Star on either roster who made it solely because every team must be represented.

RP Ernesto Frieri, Los Angeles
Traded from San Diego in early May, he’s tossed 24.1 scoreless frames for the Halos.

RP Vinnie Pestano, Cleveland
He has 19 holds and only one blown chance.

RP Scott Downs, Los Angeles
If Ron Washington needs a lefty for a key out, Downs is one of the best.

CL Jim Johnson, Baltimore
He has been versatile throughout his career, but this season he’s proven he can close effectively.

CL Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay
After an awful 2011 season, the lights-out closer isn’t the first pitcher to re-establish himself with the Rays.

CL Ryan Cook, Oakland
Leads the A’s with 11 holds and is tied for team lead with seven saves. Didn’t allow a run in his first 21 appearances covering 23 innings.

- Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

<p> Forget the fan voting. Forget Tony La Russa shunning the Reds. Forget Ron Washington selecting the Rangers' entire roster. Here's who should be on the teams.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-examining-skyrocketing-coordinator-salaries

There’s more money than ever in college football, and assistant coaches are reaping the rewards, with compensation levels rising at a rapid pace

If you happen to score an invitation for dinner at Dabo Swinney’s house, expect a feast, complete with a fine entree, premium beverages and a nice dessert. The climate will be comfortably controlled, and the roof won’t leak. His children will be neatly dressed, and his car won’t be up on blocks in the front yard.

Swinney’s decision to give back some of the bonus he earned for leading Clemson to the ACC championship, in order to provide raises for some assistants and fund some truly remarkable salaries for his offensive and defensive coordinators, has led some to wonder whether that move will force Swinney to make some budgetary sacrifices. He and his family will have to scrape by on his $1.9 million salary in 2012, but major cutbacks are not on the horizon.

“I’m not missing any meals,” Swinney says. “For me, it was a business decision. I’m investing in my staff. I’m in really good shape in terms of my contract. It’s very important to take care of these guys.”

Swinney’s 2012 compensation package places him 46th among FBS coaches, despite the Tigers’ winning last year’s league title. But it doesn’t matter to Swinney that he’s about $3.7 million behind college football’s Rockefeller, Alabama’s Nick Saban, who will make $5.62 million this year. Thanks to a clause in his contract, Swinney was able to redirect $265,000 of the bonus he earned for taking the ACC title to the assistants’ pool to help fund a $450,000 increase for the staff, something he considers vital to Clemson’s long-term success. Some of that was spent on new defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who will make a reported $800,000 this season, and second-year offensive boss Chad Morris, whose salary vaulted from $450,000 a year to $1.3 million per, making him the highest-paid assistant coach in the country.

“(Head coach) is such a big, big job,” Swinney says. “It’s very public, especially at a school like this. We’re running multi-multi-million dollar corporations, and we’re only as good as the people we surround ourselves with.

“We have to delegate and have confidence in the people we delegate to. It’s very competitive to hire and keep coaches, and (the salaries) are just a result of how it has grown.”

Though Morris’ gigantic leap in compensation is rare, coordinators across the country are seeing significant gains in their paychecks. What was a largely anonymous position a couple decades ago is now a high-profile job that carries great responsibility and pays big-time cash.

Morris takes over the top spot on the offensive coordinator pay chart from Gus Malzahn, who also made $1.3 million last year at Auburn. Malzahn has moved on to be the head coach at Arkansas State, where he is making at least $450,000 year less than the Tigers paid him. Talk about a man who loves the Natural State. Though the only other coordinator to earn more than a million dollars in 2012 is USC defensive leader Monte Kiffin (at least $1.2 million), plenty are edging near the magical, seven-figure mark.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart received a $100,000 raise after the Tide’s national title season and will make $950,000. LSU’s John Chavis is expected to be north of $900,000 this season (and will be paid a reported $1.1 million in ’13 and $1.3 in ’14) after earning $708 grand last season. New Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri signed a three-year, $2.4 million deal. Georgia’s Todd Grantham received a significant raise from last year’s $755,900 salary. And so on. As TV money floods into the upper reaches of the college football world, coordinators at top programs are benefiting at unprecedented rates.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt says. “(Coordinator) is a very big responsibility, and you want a guy who can be at the top of the spear with his unit he’s responsible for.

“I think the market goes where it goes for a reason. It’s not just because somebody got a wild hair. There is value in these people. When you do your job with excellence, there’s a lot to be gained. They earn it.”

Coordinators aren’t the only ones making more dough. According to USA Today, all assistants’ salaries rose 11 percent from 2010-11, a rate of increase that surpassed that of head men, whose pay went up 7.3 percent. At a time when fans know more about coaching staffs than ever before, and recruiting is as competitive as it has ever been, it’s vital for bosses to have people around them capable of doing the job well. To get those good people, they have to pay, especially when it comes to the coordinators, who serve as the executive VPs of programs.

“If you look at a corporation of any size, the top executives are paid accordingly,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio says. “These are our top executives. They’re going to be head coaches some day.”

In part, that prospect has driven the coordinator salary surge. When small and mid-major programs look for new leaders, they often turn to coordinators at the top level. Although Malzahn took a big cut to head to Arkansas State, many other top assistants would prefer not to drop down a tax bracket, even if it does mean being in charge. By paying them a lot more than they could make at smaller schools, BCS head coaches can secure their services and the continuity that comes with their presence. Coaches and ADs have decided that in order to keep cashing in on the growing football revenue tide, they need the best people possible.

“The overriding factor here is that college football, particularly in the BCS conferences, is a huge business,” says a prominent agent who represents several BCS coaches and requested anonymity. “Programs are making a lot more money than they thought they would even five years ago. Since they don’t pay the players, who are they going to pay? The coaches.”

One of the reasons the salaries are growing so quickly is that the marketplace is highly competitive. Clemson had to give Morris such a huge raise because new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was reported to have offered him the same position for $1.5 million. Although the Tigers checked in a couple hundred thousand short of Meyer’s reported offer, Morris chose the familiarity of the Clemson program and the chance to continue what he started during his 2011 debut season, when he helped Clemson improve from 88th to 26th nationally in total offense.

“If you pay guys well, this is a place guys may stay a little longer and maybe for a little less money,” Swinney says. “There’s a great quality of life here.”

When David Brandon played linebacker for Michigan back in the mid-1970s, head coach Bo Schembechler would spend the first half of the practice with the defense and the second half with the offense. Under his watchful eye, the Wolverines waged a near-constant assault on the upper reaches of the Big Ten. And though his staffs produced 12 future head coaches — Bill McCartney, Gary Moeller, Don Nehlen, Jim Young and Les Miles among them — the identities of his assistants and even his coordinators were largely unknown to all but the most devoted U-M fans.

“It’s no longer Bo walking back-and-forth at practice,” says Brandon, who is now Michigan’s athletic director. “(Football) CEOs need leaders on both sides of the ball.”

Brandon understands the current climate of the coordinator salary race enough that when Wolverines coach Brady Hoke needed a big number to secure the services of Greg Mattison to run the defense when Hoke was hired in 2011, Brandon signed off on a $750,000 salary, then the highest assistant’s payday in the conference. The move paid off handsomely. In 2010, Michigan ranked 108th nationally in scoring defense; last season, it finished sixth. Without Mattison at the defensive helm, it’s unlikely Michigan would have played in the Sugar Bowl and received the fat BCS payout.

“You need to make this kind of investment to stay competitive at the top level,” Brandon says.

It’s interesting that Brandon and his fellow ADs had to be convinced that beefing up coordinators’ salaries was a good idea. Obviously, administrators keep a close eye on the bottom line, so any increase in expenses is going to cause a small disturbance in the force. But head coaches have become adept at convincing their bosses that the extra outlay is worth it.

“It’s a little different model,” Swinney says. “When I got the job here, I told them I didn’t care what they paid me. It was about trying to get things from a staff standpoint to where they have to be.”

That holistic approach to staff compensation is driving a lot of this. Alabama’s staff was paid a total of $3,866,350 last year, still short of the $5.62 million Saban will make this season but certainly a strong statement. At LSU, three assistants made more than a half-million in 2011, led by Chavis. Tennessee’s and Florida’s staffs both earned more than $3 million combined. UT defensive boss Justin Wilcox (who has since moved to the University of Washington) earned $625,000 last year, while offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was paid $525,000.

“It’s fair to say that coordinators don’t just necessarily run the offense and run the defense,” LSU coach Les Miles says. “There’s a lot more to it. It requires a specialization. When you’re competing at the highest level, you require a guy with great experience, ability and continuity.

“You have to find a guy who can represent a school well, recruit at the highest level and fulfill a role that will prepare the players.”

It’s no coincidence the lion’s share of the nouveau riche at coordinator positions can be found in the SEC, and many of the top salaried coaches are on the defensive side. With some exceptions — see Auburn, 2010 — the conference remains a defense-first concern, and that has been rammed home by Alabama’s two national titles in the past three seasons.

Since the last six national title winners have come from the SEC, it makes sense that coaches will pay top coordinators. “If you want to get the right guy and keep him, you have to pay him,” Richt says. It won’t be long before that philosophy will creep northward. Clemson is already on board, and if Meyer was willing to throw $1.5 million at Morris to lure him to Ohio State, and Mattison is collecting three-quarters of a million at Michigan, expect the Big Ten to adopt the model.

“A lot of it is driven by the market,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says. “It all trickles down and begins with the coordinators in the NFL. Things have started to escalate, and it showed up first in the SEC. That’s usually how it goes.”

When Monte Kiffin started coaching, back at Nebraska in the late 1960s and early ’70s, he certainly wasn’t a wealthy man. In fact, when he saw what his son, USC head coach Lane, made in his first coaching job three decades later, Monte wasn’t too happy.

“It wasn’t fair,” he says. “But that’s just life.”

Since the elder Kiffin is making north of a million bucks each season, he can afford to be philosophical about the escalating salaries in the coaching world. “Football hasn’t changed,” he says. “It’s just that the salaries have gone up, but everything has gone up.” 

There is no question, however, that his job is more demanding than it was when he was coordinating the Cornhuskers’ defense during Tom Osborne’s early years in Lincoln. First of all, Osborne was a lot more engaged in the daily operations of the program than many head coaches are today — and not because they are aloof or disengaged. For many years, Osborne called all the plays the Cornhuskers ran. Though some program chiefs have that level of hands-on involvement today (Saban comes to mind), few have the ability to run either side of the ball, not with all the fundraising and administrative responsibilities they have.

So, Kiffin and his coordinator brethren are charged with making the Xs and Os come to life on the field. We know who they are and are aware they make the big money. At their core, however, these guys are still ball coaches, and though they may harbor dreams of running their own programs some day and certainly don’t mind being well compensated, they care more about doing their jobs than anything else.

Last winter, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi removed himself from consideration for the vacant Akron head coaching spot to return to East Lansing. Though his $300,000 salary at MSU is less than the $375,000 former Zips coach Rob Ianello was paid annually to go 1–11 twice, Narduzzi decided it would be better to be a lieutenant in the Big Ten than a big cheese in the MAC. He’s happy and well compensated at MSU. And if the Spartans continue to play great defense, he may just find his paycheck heading toward those SEC totals. Narduzzi isn’t kidding you; he’d like that. But he’s more interested in doing a good job. “I’ve coached the same whether I was at Rhode Island (from 1993-99) or at Michigan State (from ’07-present),” Narduzzi says.

And he isn’t missing any meals, either.

This story appeared in Athlon's 2012 College Football Annuals.

Related College Football Content

Athlon's 2012 College Football Rankings
Athlon's 2012 College Football Predictions

College Fantasy Football 2012 Rankings

<p> College Football: Examining the Skyrocketing Coordinator Salaries</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 05:01
Path: /college-football/northwestern-football-revisiting-1995-wildcats-rose-bowl-team

It was midnight on the eve of the 82nd Rose Bowl in Pasadena. A lone figure sat in the partially lit stands gazing out at the fabled field in the near darkness.

Gary Barnett was fulfilling a personal wish to visit the stadium the night before the 1996 Rose Bowl game. Alone with his thoughts, the Northwestern coach couldn’t help but smile at seeing the purple-painted end zone that saluted his Cinderella Wildcats. “We’re taking the Purple to Pasadena,” he had boldly predicted four years earlier, when he first stepped onto the Evanston, Ill., campus. Few believed him then. Now, incredibly, Northwestern had burst from the constraints of a dead-and-buried program and shocked the world of college football. Twenty-four eternally long seasons had come and gone since the Wildcats’ last winning season. It had been 47 years since the school’s last bowl appearance, when halfback Frank Aschenbrenner was the hero in the 1949 Rose Bowl win over California; 59 autumns had intervened since Northwestern had last captured a Big Ten championship. But all that changed when the Wildcats went 10–1 through the 1995 regular season, stunning such perennial powers as Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State to claim the Big Ten title and the automatic Rose Bowl invitation that went with it.

“We were the school that wasn’t supposed to be able to do it,” says Barnett, now 66. “We took a lot of pride in that.”

It was easy to remember when there was little pride in the Purple. A deep-seated pigskin pall had fallen over the Northwestern student body in the preceding decades that had hardened into a shell of apathetic disinterest.

“We had given them really no reason to expect winning,” says Chris Martin, an All-Big Ten cornerback on that Rose Bowl team. “On most Saturdays, the library was more crowded than our football stadium.” Barnett, he said, had taken over “a moribund program.”

Far from being embraced, football was viewed as a scourge on campus. “We were a necessary evil, I suppose,” remembers Darnell Autry, a sophomore star that year, whose 1,785 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns brought him All-America recognition and a fourth-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting.

“And the professors there … you ­didn’t want to go in and tout that you were a football player,” recalls Mike McGrew, a fullback and ’96 co-captain.

Beating the odds

The season started with a shocking 17–15 victory over Notre Dame at South Bend. “We were 29-point underdogs,” remembers quarterback Steve Schnur. “There was a big third-down conversion we threw a pass on. Barnett let me call my own play and that was telling.”

Indeed, that belief in his quarterback and the game’s eventual outcome told a nation that Barnett, improbably, could field a team of winners at an elite academic institution. In the first year of full recruiting following his initial 1992 campaign at Northwestern, Barnett ran smack into the reality of what he was up against: Ninety-five percent of kids playing Division I football were athletes he could not recruit. Strict Northwestern standards demanded that players maintain a 3.0 GPA and score well over 1,000 on their SATs.

“We had Hines Ward and a bunch of guys we were recruiting,” recalls Barnett. “We took 100 applications over to the admissions office and they only let us have 10 of those in school.”

The Wildcats coach nearly made a fateful mistake. “We almost said, ‘Well, there you go. That’s why we can’t win here. We can’t get kids in school.’ But instead we said, ‘Okay, we now know what that profile looks like, so let’s not worry about those other 90. Let’s just make sure that the rest of the guys we recruit look like the profiles of these 10.’”

That meant Barnett and his staff would have to scour the country for their talent. The athletes they signed were not being courted by the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Michigan, but rather second-tier football programs like Tulane, Iowa State, Boston College, Syracuse, and Cincinnati. Still, to come to this center of football inertia, Barnett had to attract them in some way.

“We sold the city. We sold Michael Jordan. And we sold Mike Ditka,” says Barnett, laughing. “We just tried to make a city school into something attractive and looked at it from a different perspective than how it had been conventionally looked at.”

Some players came for a chance to play in the Big Ten; some came for the challenge of playing at a school like Northwestern. “Of course, we probably got a kid or two because of the academics, but for the most part it was just something within our program that we found a way to use to attract.”

That something, for many of the recruits, was the coaches. “We had Gary Barnett,” says Autry simply. “He had a different vision for what he saw in this program. He changed the culture in terms of how we thought about ourselves and how we thought about the program.”

Expect victory

Still, after all the players were assembled, something made that team of good-but-not-great athletes very special. “Great chemistry,” says Schnur, in a response echoed by McGrew and others. “Chemistry and teamwork can take you further than a collection of individual talents. That’s what signified that team. We got as high as third in the country and felt like we could compete with and beat anyone. It was just a bunch of guys who believed in each other. We were willing to outwork anybody.”

That philosophy has carried over into the adult lives of those ’95 Wildcats, who are now between 35 and 37 years of age and have displayed resounding success in their respective career fields (see below). Though 10 players eventually went into the NFL, only one (Barry Gardner) played more than four years. But all, regardless of profession, find parallels today with their Northwestern football experience.

“The ability to inspire and motivate people, to tap into things that resonate with them, to get the most out of your folks to help cultivate an atmosphere that helps get people working together and focused on a common goal, those are all things I went through as part of that team at Northwestern,” says McGrew, now with W.W. Grainger, a Fortune 500 company. “It prepared me in helping our people achieve their goals and objectives.”

For McGrew and the other ’95 Wildcats, a Northwestern diploma has been a degree of difference.

“When I look back on our team, the one thing that strikes me is that most of the guys are successful, whether they’re teachers or CEOs or presidents of companies,” notes Justin Chabot, an offensive lineman in ’95. “Northwestern offers a national degree. And it translates everywhere you go.”

Pat Fitzgerald, heading into his seventh season as head coach of the Wildcats, sees instances everywhere of the positive influences from his playing days at Northwestern. “We’re all incredibly successful professionally now not just because of what we experienced on the field but because of what we experienced together as a group and how we were able to earn our degrees at such a great school,” says the former two-time consensus All-America linebacker, a defensive mainstay on the ’95 team. “There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in recruiting, but I can say wholeheartedly everything that Coach Barnett and his staff sold us on has come true.”

“Expect victory,” Gary Barnett once preached. To a man, his 1995 Northwestern Wildcats still do.

The 1995 Wildcats: Where They Are Now

Darnell Autry, running back - Online radio show host, “Outside the Spotlight,” on VoiceAmerica

Gary Barnett, head coach - Broadcast analyst, Sports USA Radio Network

D’Wayne Bates, wide receiver - Football defensive assistant/special teams coordinator, Evanston (Ill.) Township High School

William Bennett, defensive back - Branch manager, Scottsdale, Ariz., Kelly Services, a global workforce staffing company

Paul Burton, punter - General assignment reporter, WBZ-TV News, the CBS affiliate in Boston

Justin Chabot, offensive lineman - College scout, Southeast area, San Francisco 49ers

Darren Drexler, tight end - Vice president of operations, Courtesy Products, St. Louis, Mo., a provider of operating supplies to hotels and motels in the United States and Canada

Pat Fitzgerald, linebacker - Head football coach, Northwestern University

Rob Johnson, center - Sales manager and overseer of purchasing, operations, and marketing for Illco, Inc., a Countryside, Ill.-based privately held wholesale distributor of refrigeration, air conditioning, plumbing, pvc, and hydronic supplies

Brian Kardos, tackle - Security and assurance manager, BP, Houston

Keith Lozowski, defensive end - Regional director, Bankers Life and Casualty Co., Jacksonville, Fla., an insurance needs provider for the retirement market

Chris Martin, defensive back - Football analyst, Big Ten Network

Mike McGrew, fullback - Director of communications for W.W. Grainger, the largest supplier of industrial supplies and maintenance equipment for businesses and institutions in North America

Tucker Morrison, linebacker - Chief operating officer, Flightstar Aircraft Services, Inc., a heavy aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul provider in Jacksonville, Fla.

Brian Musso, wide receiver - Co-founder and managing partner, Promus Capital LLC, a family wealth management and alternative investment group in Chicago

Ryan Padgett, guard - Seattle-area emergency room doctor

Steve Schnur, quarterback - Senior vice president, Chicago operations, Duke Realty, a public real estate investment trust

Sam Valenzisi, kicker - Director, Lincoln International LLC, Chicago, specializing in merger and acquisitions advisory services

Jason Wendland, tackle - Senior futures and options broker, JP Morgan Chase, New York City

This story appeared in Athlon's 2012 Big Ten Preview Annual.

Related Big Ten Content

Athlon's 2012 Big Ten Predictions
Athlon's 2012 Big Ten All-Conference Team

Northwestern Wildcats 2012 Team Preview

<p> Looking back at the 1995 Northwestern Wildcats team</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 04:48
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-football-2012-all-conference-team

The 2012 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at our first and second All-Conference USA teams for this season.

First-Team Offense

QB David Piland, Houston

RB Zach Line, SMU

RB Charles Sims, Houston

WR Aaron Dobson, Marshall

WR Darius Johnson, SMU

TE Luke Willson, Rice

C Trent Dupy, Tulsa

OL Jacolby Ashworth, Houston

OL Joe Duhon, Southern Miss

OL Theo Goins, UCF

OL Jason Weaver, Southern Miss

First-Team Defense

DL Jamie Collins, Southern Miss

DL Cory Dorris, Tulsa

DL Victor Gray, UCF

DL Margus Hunt, SMU

LB Ja'Gared Davis, SMU

LB Trent Mackey, Tulane

LB Taylor Reed, SMU

CB D.J. Hayden, Houston

CB Deron Wilson, Southern Miss

S Kemal Ishmael, UCF

S Dexter McCoil, Tulsa

First-Team Specialists

K Chris Boswell, Rice

P Ian Campbell, UTEP

KR Rannell Hall, UCF

PR Tracy Lampley, Southern Miss

The Breakdown of Athlon's 2012 All-Conference USA Team

  First Second Overall
East Carolina 0 4 4
Houston 4 2 6
Marshall 1 2 3
Memphis 0 1 1
Rice 2 1 3
SMU 5 0 5
Southern Miss 5 2 7
Tulane 1 2 3
Tulsa 3 5 8
UAB 0 2 2
UCF 4 3 7
UTEP 1 2 3

Second-Team Offense

QB Blake Bortles, UCF

RB Orleans Darkwa, Tulane

RB Trey Watts, Tulsa

WR Bryan Burnham, Tulsa

WR Justin Hardy, East Carolina

TE Willie Carter, Tulsa

C Jordan Rae, UCF

OL Brander Craighead, UTEP

OL Rowdy Harper, Houston

OL Chris Hubbard, UAB

OL Will Simmons, East Carolina

Second-Team Defense

DL Michael Brooks, East Carolina

DL Troy Davis, UCF

DL Horace Miller, UTEP

DL Khyri Thornton, Southern Miss

LB Jeremy Grove, East Carolina

LB Shawn Jackson, Tulsa

LB Derrick Mathews, Houston

CB Bryce Callahan, Rice

CB Ryan Travis, Tulane

S Jacorius Cotton, Southern Miss

S Marco Nelson, Tulsa

Second-Team Specialists

K Ty Long, UAB 

P Tom Hornsey, Memphis

KR Andre Booker, Marshall

PR Andre Booker, Marshall


Athlon's 2012 Conference USA Team Previews

Related Content: Conference USA 2012 Predictions

East West
East Carolina Houston
Marshall SMU
Memphis Rice
Southern Miss Tulane
UAB Tulsa

<p> Conference USA Football 2012 All-Conference Team</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 03:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-best-players-mountain-west

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with The College Fantasy Football Site to provide in-depth coverage for 2012. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for Mountain West in terms of fantasy options for 2012:

2012 Preseason Mountain West All-Fantasy Team

Using a starting roster of 2-QB, 3-RB, 3-WR, FLEX, TE, K, Def/ST, All-Conference Fantasy Teams are projected using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)


QB—Brett Smith, So. (Wyoming)

Last season:  Passed for 2,622 yards and 20 TDs, rushed for 710 yards and 10 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 2-3-4; Toledo, Cal Poly, @ Idaho

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ New Mexico, @ UNLV, San Diego St


QB—Cody Fajardo, So. (Nevada)

Last season:  Passed for 1,707 yards and 6 TDs, rushed for 694 yards and 11 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; Northwestern St, @ Hawaii, @ Texas St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Fresno St, @ New Mexico, Bye


RB—D.J. Harper, Sr. (Boise State)

Last season:  Rushed for 568 yards and 9 TDs as the primary backup to Doug Martin.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; San Diego St, @ Hawaii, Colorado St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Hawaii, Colorado St, Bye


RB—Robbie Rouse, Sr. (Fresno State)

Last season:  Rushed for 1,607 yards and 13 TDs, 32 receptions for 228 yards and TD.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; Wyoming, @ New Mexico, Hawaii

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Nevada, Bye, Air Force


RB—Stefphon Jefferson, Jr. (Nevada)

Last season:  Rushed for 442 yards and 5 TDs as a backup to Lampford Mark and Mike Ball.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 3-4-5; Northwestern St, @ Hawaii, @ Texas St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Fresno St, @ New Mexico, Bye


WR—Matt Miller, So. (Boise State)

Last season:  62 receptions for 679 yards and 9 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 5-6-7; @ New Mexico, @ Southern Miss, Fresno St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Hawaii, Colorado St, Bye


WR—Chris McNeill, Sr. (Wyoming)

Last season:  42 receptions for 504 yards and 4 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 2-3-4; Toledo, Cal Poly, @ Idaho

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ New Mexico, @ UNLV, San Diego St


WR— Brandon Wimberly, Sr. (Nevada)

Last season:  Missed 2011 season due to injury (gunshot wound).

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; Wyoming, @ UNLV, San Diego St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Fresno St, @ New Mexico, Bye


TE—Gavin Escobar, Jr. (San Diego State)

Last season:  51eceptions for 780 yards and 7 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 4-5-6; San Jose St, @ Fresno St, Hawaii

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Air Force, Bye, @ Wyoming


FLEX—Chris Nwoke, Jr. (Colorado State)

Last season:  Rushed for 1,176 yards and 9 TDs, 23 receptions for 143 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 2-3-4; North Dakota St, @ San Jose St, Utah St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  UNLV, @ Boise St, New Mexico


K—Parker Herrington, Sr. (Air Force)

Last season: 15-for-18 on FG attempts, 45-for-48 on extra points.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 4-5-6; @ UNLV, Colorado St, Navy

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ San Diego St, Hawaii, @ Fresno St


DEF/ST—Boise State Broncos

Last season:  No. 12 scoring defense, No. 16 total defense, only two starters return.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; San Diego St, @ Hawaii, Colorado St

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Hawaii, Colorado St, Bye


Top 5 Reserves

QB—Derek Carr, Jr. (Fresno State)

QB—Joe Southwick, Jr. (Boise State)

RB—Mike DeWitt, Sr. (Air Force)

WR—Rashad Evans, Sr. (Fresno State)

WR—Colin Lockett, Jr. (San Diego State)


Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Related Content: Athlon's 2012 College Fantasy Football Rankings

<p> College Fantasy Football: Examining the Best Players in the Mountain West</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 23:32
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime, News
Path: /college-basketball/purdue-basketball-players-awesome-trick-shot-video

Purdue basketball players have put out a new video showing that they're keeping their skills sharp during the off season. Players Dru Anthrop and D.J. Byrd are joined by former player and now student assistant coach Ryne Smith at Mackey Arena, where they're showing off their best trick shots. The shots range from far-off bombs behind the basket to one hoppers from the stands.

<br />
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 23:30
Path: /mlb/baseballs-players-week-cabrera-hughes-zimmerman-latos

Each week Athlon Sports looks back at the previous week's best baseball players in the American and National Leagues and recaps the most outstanding pitching performances. Here are last week's — June 25-July 1 — standouts.

AL Player of the Week

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

The first baseman-turned-third baseman did his best work in bunches last week. He had three games with three or more hits, including 3-for-4, 4-for-5 and 3-for-3 games. He batted .462 and tied for the AL lead with six RBIs. Cabrera scored five times.


AL Pitcher of the Week

Phil Hughes, New York

With both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte injured, the Yankees were desperate for quality starting pitching. Hughes responded in a big way, tossing eight shutout innings against the Indians, and followed that with eight strong innings vs. the White Sox, allowing just a couple of runs. He totaled 12 strikeouts in his 16 innings of work for the week.


NL Player of the Week

Ryan Zimmerman, Washington

Mired in a season-long funk, Zimmerman emerged with the best week in the National League. He hit .364 with a 1.158 OPS. He enjoyed four multi-hit games and three multi-RBI games. Zimmerman, who plays exceptional defense, had seven extra-base hits and reached base in every game via a hit or walk.


NL Pitcher of the Week

Mat Latos, Cincinnati

Latos entered the week with a 5.20 ERA, tossed a pair of complete games last week, allowing just one run in each contest. He set down the Brewers on four hits, including a solo homer, then won at San Francisco, 2-1, by giving up just two hits. His weekly ledger reads: 2-0, 1.00 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 18 IP, 6 hits, 2 walks and 20 Ks.

<p> Athlon Sports looks back at the previous week's best baseball players</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 17:36
Path: /mlb/2012-major-league-baseball-power-rankings-july-2

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst baseball teams in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings for July 2, 2012.


 1. Rangers—First team to win 50 games.

 2. Yankees—Can they withstand injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte?

 3. Nationals—Best team in the National League? No one is arguing.

 4. Angels—Terrific June, but gained no ground on Rangers.

 5. Giants—Run of four shutouts propelled Giants into first place.

 6. Reds—Brandon Phillips not an All-Star? He would start on our team.

 7. Dodgers—Should have Matt Kemp back in lineup after All-Star break.

 8. Orioles—Traded for Jim Thome to boost offense.

 9. Rays—Team is batting just .232; desperately need Evan Longoria back.

10. Blue Jays—Best last-place team in baseball.

11. Braves—Mike Minor over Stephen Strasburg in only win of series.

12. White Sox—Pitching staff led by rookies.

13. Mets—Fans really blew the third base voting. #DavidWright

14. Pirates—Bullpen is tied with Reds for NL’s best ERA at 2.73.

15. Cardinals—No bridge between starters and late-inning relievers.

16. Red Sox—Best they could do was a split at Seattle?

17. Diamondbacks—Wade Miley pitching like an ace.

18. Indians—Hosting Angels and Rays in key series to finish first half.

19. Tigers—Should make some hay vs. Twins and Royals before break.

20. A’s—Closer Ryan Cook is well-kept secret.

21. Marlins—No team happier to see calendar turn from June than Marlins.

22. Brewers—Potential Zack Greinke trade in the making?

23. Twins—At .324, Joe Mauer is chasing another batting title.

24. Mariners—Scored nine runs in their last eight games.

25. Phillies—Sweep at Miami was painful.

26. Royals—Testing six-man rotation.

27. Astros—Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie impressive middle infield.

28. Padres—Yasmani Grandal switch-hits bombs for first two hits of career.

29. Rockies—Pitching staff performing at “worst ever” levels.

30. Cubs—Youngster Brett Jackson may be on way to join Anthony Rizzo.

<p> A look at the best and worst baseball teams in the league.</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 17:15
All taxonomy terms: News, Olympics
Path: /olympics/golden-girl-dara-torres

She's 50 meters — a single lap — away from history. 

Dara Torres, swimming's elder stateswoman at age 45, is more than just one of the hottest 40-somethings on the planet. She remains a threat to win an Olympic medal in a physically demanding sport at an age when most of us are struggling to get off the couch to let the pizza guy in.

Torres is 28 years removed from her first Olympiad — Los Angeles, 1984. She's 18 years removed from an appearance in Sports Illustrated's 1994 swimsuit issue, when she became the first athlete to be featured among the supermodels — a development that I think we can all support. 

Tonight, she aims to become the first American swimmer to compete in six Olympic Games when she swims in the finals of the 50-meter freestyle, a chaotic 24-second sprint to the finish that is swimming's version of the 100-meter dash. 

Age hasn't caught up with Torres yet, but it's chasing her. "It's much tougher this time around," Torres said. 

But after posting the third-fastest time in the semis, Torres is more than a sentimental choice. She's a legitimate threat. "It wasn't all I've got," she said of her performance in the semis. 

Tonight, look for all she's got, and a little bit more. It might be enough to put America's hottest 45-year-old mom on a flight to London later this month. 

Coverage of the swimming trials begins tonight on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 11:09
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-july-2

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and a Weekend Rundown every Thursday.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (6/25-7/01):

  Name Pos. Team R HR RBI SB BA OPS
1. Alex Rios OF CHW 7 2 6 3 .467 1.234
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B WAS 7 3 12 0 .364 1.158
3. Robinson Cano 2B NYY 5 4 10 0 .414 1.311
4. Michael Morse 1B/OF WAS 9 2 6 0 .484 1.210
5. Daniel Murphy* 1/2/3B NYM 5 3 10 0 .409 1.346
6. Ian Kinsler 2B TEX 8 2 5 2 .355 1.000
7. Hunter Pence OF PHI 6 3 7 0 .414 1.280
8. Ike Davis* 1B NYM 7 3 9 0 .320 1.188
9. Giancarlo Stanton OF MIA 6 3 6 1 .381 1.337
10. Carlos Ruiz C PHI 8 2 4 1 .234 1.175
11. Michael McKenry* C PIT 3 3 9 0 .455 1.435
12. Ian Desmond SS WAS 7 2 7 0 .414 1.383
13. Alexi Amarista* 2B SD 5 3 8 0 .412 1.412
14. Shin-Soo Choo OF CLE 7 2 6 0 .458 1.331
15. Andrew McCutchen OF PIT 8 2 6 0 .407 1.170
16. David Ortiz 1B BOS 9 3 5 0 .320 1.219
17. Edwin Encarnacion 1B/3B TOR 7 1 5 2 .391 1.113
18. Austin Jackson OF DET 10 1 5 0 .387 1.022
19. Mike Trout OF LAA 8 2 4 1 .345 .988
20. Jose Bautista 3B/OF TOR 7 3 8 0 .250 .966
21. Josh Hamilton OF TEX 5 3 9 0 .269 1.002
22. Freddie Freeman 1B ATL 6 1 6 0 .476 1.282
23. Miguel Cabrera 1B DET 5 1 6 0 .462 1.255
24. Elvis Andrus SS TEX 7 0 3 3 .357 .848
25. Tyler Moore* OF WAS 4 2 7 0 .381 1.172

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

The Waiver Wire

The Mets have been beaten and battered all season long but are starting to show signs of fantasy life. Only four players in the majors have more RBI over the last month than Ike Davis' 24. He has raised his average from .158 (June 8) to a still paltry .203 today. Yet, he has been moved to clean-up and David Wright is hitting in front of him. He should be in for a big second half. His teammate and position guru, Daniel Murphy (1B/2B/3B) is third in MLB in RBI over the last week. He finally connected on his first three dingers and can provide solid production across the board at weak positions (2B and 3B). Keep an eye on the Mets offense.

MLB Debuts

Anthony Rizzo appears to be the real deal in Chicago. He has five hits in his first 19 at-bats thus far in 2012, including four RBI and one huge home run. He may not help your team batting average much, but it looks like he can add some pop in the power cats. Trevor Bauer pitched four innings while allowing two runs with three whiffs and three walks. He gets a nice start this week against the Padres on Tuesday. Wil Myers connected on his 27th homer of the year and will be a busy man during the All-Star break. Can the Royals get this kid into the line-up please?

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

  Name Team IP W K ERA WHIP
1. R.A. Dickey NYM 23.0 2 26 1.96 0.65
2. Travis Wood* CHC 20.2 3 15 0.44 0.82
3. Felix Hernandez SEA 16.0 2 23 0.56 0.81
4. Tommy Milone* OAK 21.0 2 13 0.86 0.81
5. Michael Fiers* MIL 14.1 1 19 0.00 0.77
6. Hirok Kuroda NYY 21.0 2 24 2.14 0.95
7. Justin Masterson* CLE 22.0 2 18 2.05 0.82
8. David Price TB 21.0 3 19 2.57 0.95
9. Johan Santana NYM 20.0 2 14 0.90 0.95
10. Mat Latos CIN 22.0 2 24 3.68 0.73
11. Yu Darvish TEX 22.0 2 29 3.68 0.95
12. Zack Greinke MIL 15.0 2 7 1.20 0.67
13. Lucas Harrell* HOU 16.0 1 16 0.56 0.94
14. Travis Blackley* OAK 22.0 1 12 1.64 0.73
15. Matt Harrison TEX 19.0 3 14 1.42 1.26
16. Jered Weaver LAA 12.2 2 9 0.71 0.87
17. Clayton Kershaw LAD 21.1 1 24 1.71 1.10
18. Aaron Cook* BOS 14.0 2 2 1.29 0.57
19. Mike Leake* CIN 24.0 1 13 1.50 0.92
20. Chris Sale CHW 15.0 1 12 1.20 0.80

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Tues. - Sun.):

1. Max Scherzer, DET: Minnesota (Tues.)
He has won two of his last three starts with 26 Ks and only 3 BBs over that span.

2. Jarrod Parker, OAK: Seattle (Sun.)
The youngster has been stellar with two earned runs and 19 Ks over last three starts.

3. Trevor Bauer, ARI: San Diego (Tues.)
He was about as good as can be expected in a shorten MLB debut. Look for more on Tuesday.

4. Tommy Milone, OAK: Seattle (Fri.)
The soft-tosser has been the No. 4-rated pitcher in the league over last two weeks.

5. Edwin Jackson, WAS: San Francisco (Wed.)
Got shelled last time out (3.0, 8 ER), but posted nine straight quality starts before that.

Top 20 fantasy Relief Pitchers of last month:

1. Tom Wilhelmsen* SEA 16.2 2 6 21 0 0.00 0.72
2. Craig Kimbrel ATL 11.0 0 8 20 0 0.82 0.27
3. Tyler Clippard WAS 12.2 0 10 12 0 0.00 0.63
4. Huston Street SD 11.1 1 8 15 0 1.59 0.79
5. Joel Hanrahan PIT 11.0 1 7 11 0 1.64 0.91
6. Brayan Villarreal* DET 16.0 2 0 23 2 1.69 0.75
7. Ronald Belisario* LAD 14.0 3 0 7 2 0.64 0.64
8. Ernesto Frieri LAA 11.1 0 7 15 3 0.00 1.06
9. Jason Motte STL 15.0 0 9 16 0 3.00 0.93
10. Jim Johnson BAL 12.2 1 7 8 0 2.13 0.79
11. Rafael Soriano NYY 11.1 0 11 10 0 1.59 1.32
12. Kenley Jansen LAD 10.2 0 6 18 0 2.53 0.56
13. Joe Nathan TEX 12.0 0 7 16 0 1.50 0.92
14. Ryan Cook* OAK 11.0 1 7 16 1 3.27 1.18
15. Rex Brothers* COL 14.2 1 0 22 4 1.23 0.75
16. Casey Janssen* TOR 10.0 0 4 12 0 0.90 0.60
17. Sean Marshall* CIN 12.2 1 1 12 4 0.71 0.71
18. David Hernandez* ARI 10.2 1 1 20 1 1.69 0.75
19. Fernando Rodney TB 10.0 0 5 10 0 0.90 0.80
20. Jared Burton* MIN 13.1 1 2 13 5 0.68 0.98

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

- by Braden Gall


<p> Fantasy Baseball Bests, Busts and Waiver Wire: July 2</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 10:08
All taxonomy terms: NBA, News
Path: /news/charles-barkley-hoped-recruit-dirk-nowitzki-auburn

Dirk Nowitzki is one of the NBA's top players, but he switched in his sneakers for cleats and a bat for the 2012 Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game in Frisco, Texas. The event featured a handful of noteable athletes outside of Nowitzki, including Vince Carter, Terrell Owens, Mike Modano and Daryl Johnston.

While the game was a good way to pass the offseason time for the NBA players, the highlight has to be Charles Barkley's account of playing Nowitzki in Germany. 

In addition to dropping some memorable quotes about playing Nowitzki ("Dude who the hell are you?"), Barkley recounted his "pitch" to steer him to Auburn.

Barkley also jokes about the reported $200,000 that was offered to former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton as a "good d@mn investment." 

Needless to say, this video of Barkley dishing on Nowitzki in Germany, and hoping he would play for Auburn is another good one in Sir Charles' quotable library. 

<p> Charles Barkley Hoped to Recruit Dirk Nowitzki to Auburn</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 09:18
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-football-al-golden-has-hurricanes-back-track

Recruiting is a contact sport not meant for the weak-hearted. Al Golden knows this. But even with that in mind, Golden was startled by the level of malice he and his Miami Hurricanes staff encountered from fellow coaches last winter on the recruiting trail.

With the Hurricanes facing an NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits provided to athletes by rogue booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro, opposing recruiters went after Miami like a piñata at a kids’ party.

Golden says his coaching counterparts “absolutely crushed” Miami with attacks that “entered the realm of vicious.”

Players pursued by Miami were warned, not only of imminent NCAA-imposed scholarship cuts and bowl bans, but also of a potential death penalty ruling, a possibility few take seriously.

“There was a lot of negative recruiting,” Golden says. “We don’t have a lot of Achilles’ heels. They saw a soft spot and they took it.”

Golden reacted to the low blows — not by complaining, but by getting even.

Despite looming NCAA sanctions, a 6–6 record in 2011 and the cut-throat tactics applied by competitors, Golden pulled in a recruiting class listed in virtually everyone’s top 10 and one that includes six players ranked among ESPN’s Top 150.

Golden responded to Miami’s talent haul by taking a victory lap while warning his program’s detractors “to get your licks in now.”

“What has everybody else worried is that we did this despite everything that was being used against us,” Golden says. “Basically we told everybody, ‘Here’s the tee and here’s the ball,’ and we still were able to get a top-10 recruiting class.”

Those who have followed Golden’s coaching career are not surprised at what the 43-year-old coach was able to accomplish despite the circumstances. Long-time recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBSSports/MaxPreps says Golden built a reputation as “one of the top four or five recruiters in the country” while serving as Al Groh’s defensive coordinator at Virginia from 2001-05.

That rep was further bolstered during six seasons as Temple’s head coach, as Golden turned what was arguably the nation’s most decrepit program into one of college football’s unlikeliest success stories.

Golden brought Temple back from the dead by attracting prospects who prior to his arrival would never have considered the Philadelphia school and by finding unheralded players like Muhammad Wilkerson, a 2-star defensive tackle who developed into a 2011 first-round draft pick of the New York Jets.

But Golden says that what faced him at Miami last winter made the situation at Temple look easy. The NCAA investigation that resulted in the suspension of eight key players and a self-imposed bowl ban had nothing to do with Golden, but he was left to put out the fire while school administrators hid behind carefully crafted statements.

The Shapiro story had more than its share of lurid elements — prostitutes, abortion and strip clubs, to name a few — and provided chum for Miami’s competitors in the shark-infested waters of recruiting. Golden’s approach was to attack the NCAA issues proactively.

“We went after guys that understood we weren’t responsible for it, but understand that we’re responsible enough to clean it up,” Golden says.

The message resonated with recruits. Not only did Golden keep most of his oral commitments after the scandal broke in August, but he also closed like Mariano Rivera, guaranteeing a top-10 class on Signing Day by getting Miramar cornerback Tracy Howard, ranked as the No. 18 prospect nationally by Athlon Sports, to change direction and sign with the Hurricanes instead of Florida.

“There aren’t many guys that can pull that off,” Lemming says. “Golden is a younger version of Nick Saban and Urban Meyer as a coach and a recruiter. Like Saban and Meyer, Golden never stops working. He has an uncanny knack for knowing what kids are looking for, which requires a lot of time and effort. That, combined with a work ethic that is second to none and a great personality, makes Golden unique. There’s only a few of them like him.”

The Hurricanes signed 33 players, but Brennan Carroll, Miami’s national recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach, says the key pair were running back Randy “Duke” Johnson and defensive back Deon Bush, a couple of local area products.

Johnson, Florida’s 5A Player of the Year after leading Miami Norland to an undefeated season and state championship, committed to the Hurricanes as a junior in high school and didn’t budge despite the firing of coach Randy Shannon, two lackluster seasons, the NCAA investigation or the best attempts by other schools to sway him.

Bush, a consensus top-5 safety, committed to Miami a month before Signing Day, then worked hard to get Howard, his buddy and former teammate on a 7-on-7 all-star team, to ditch the Gators and stay in South Florida.

“Those were really two guys that were turning points for us — Duke Johnson, who was such a rock, and Deon Bush,” says Carroll, the son of Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “They were the story. They got some other guys to say, ‘Let’s do it right here.’”

Of Miami’s 33 signees — nine enrolled in January and technically count toward the 2011 scholarship limit — more than half are from the South Florida area. Golden has made it a point to re-connect with local coaches, some of whom felt like their schools and players were ignored during Shannon’s four seasons in charge of the Canes program. Whether that’s a legitimate beef or not, Golden has doubled down in South Florida by assigning his entire nine-man staff to recruit the area and personally communicating to his high school counterparts that “interaction, trust and communication with the local coaches has got to be elite. It can’t be good.”

Whatever the formula, it seems to have worked with the 2011 class, which includes most of South Florida’s best talent.

“We’re going to be tough to beat down here,” Golden says. “And we should be.”

Golden, who signed an extension in November that runs through the 2019 season, has gotten off to a fast start toward building next year’s freshman class. As of early May, Miami had received commitments from five players, including two ranked in ESPN’s Top 150 and Ray Lewis III, son of the NFL great and Hurricanes legend.

With recruiting going very well, Golden sees sunny days ahead despite an impending date with the NCAA Committee on Infractions and an expected rebuilding season.

“We just need to weather the storm,” Golden says. “Don’t flinch and just have a stick-to-it-iveness and determination that’s going to be able to overcome it.

“We are undaunted by this. At the end of the day, it’s still one of the most special places in college football.”

This article appeared in Athlon's 2012 ACC Preview Annual

Related ACC Content

Athlon's 2012 ACC Predictions
Athlon's 2012 All-ACC Team

Miami Hurricanes 2012 Team Preview

College Football 2012 Rankings: No. 48 Miami

<p> Al Golden has the Miami Hurricanes back on track</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 05:58
Path: /college-football/unit-rankings-2012-big-east-wide-receivers

Kickoff for the 2012 college football season is still two months away, but it's never too early to project how the year might play out. Athlon will be taking a look at how each position stacks up in the BCS conferences and nationally until the start of the season.

Each unit ranking was evaluated based upon how it will perform in 2012 - not how the team played in 2011.

Ranking the Big East's Receiving Corps for 2012

1. South Florida – The Bulls ranked second in the Big East in passing offense last season and could push for the conference lead in 2012. Quarterback B.J. Daniels threw for a career-high 2,604 yards last season, while tossing 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Daniels should eclipse those numbers in 2012, as South Florida returns nearly all of its pass catchers from last year. Despite missing four games due to injury, Sterling Griffin led the team with 43 catches for 530 yards. Griffin should push for All-Big East honors in 2012, and has plenty of help with the return of Victor Marc, Deonte Welch and Andre Davis. The wildcard to watch in the receiving corps will be Florida transfer Chris Dunkley. Tight end Evan Landi caught 29 passes last year and will be a dependable threat over the middle in 2012.

2. Rutgers – There’s really not a clear No. 1 receiving corps in the Big East, and a case could be made the Scarlet Knights should rank at the top. Mohamed Sanu departs after catching 115 passes last season, but the cupboard is far from bare for new coach Kyle Flood. Brandon Coleman finished 2011 on a tear, catching six passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Connecticut, while taking his only reception against Iowa State for 86 yards and a score. Joining Coleman as key contributors will be Mark Harrison, Quron Pratt and Tim Wright. Harrison caught only 14 passes last season after nabbing 44 receptions in 2010. If he returns to form and Coleman continues to emerge, Rutgers should be in great shape at receiver. Tight end D.C. Jefferson is another weapon to watch, and he has 22 receptions over the last two years.

3. Louisville – If there’s a group that could take a big step forward in 2012, look no further than Louisville. The Cardinals lose receiver Josh Bellamy and tight end Josh Chichester, but return a handful of talented youngsters. DeVante Parker only caught 18 passes as a freshman last year, but took six of those for scores and averaged 16.2 yards per reception. Eli Rogers also made a big impact as a freshman last season, leading the team with 41 receptions. Rogers and Parker will join fellow sophomore Michaelee Harris as the likely starters, while Jarrett Davis, Andrell Smith and Scott Radcliff will provide depth.

4. Syracuse – The Orange must replace running back Antwon Bailey, but the offense returns quarterback Ryan Nassib and All-Big East tackle Justin Pugh. Syracuse ranked fifth in the conference in total offense last year, so getting improvement from this unit will be crucial if the Orange want to return to a bowl game. Departing as key weapons in the receiving corps are receivers Van Chew and Dorian Graham and All-Big East tight end Nick Provo. Alec Lemon was the No. 1 target for Nassib last season and earned second-team All-Big East honors. He is once again expected to be the go-to target, while the receiving corps should receive a boost with the return of Marcus Sales, who missed all of 2011 due to a suspension. There’s not a ton of depth, but Syracuse should have one of the conference’s top duos with Sales and Lemon returning.

5. Pittsburgh – The Panthers didn’t suffer any huge losses from this group and with the arrival of offensive-minded head coach Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh could have one of the Big East’s most-improved offenses in 2012. Devin Street and Mike Shanahan are the headliners for this group and both players should be in the mix for All-Big East honors. Street led the team with 53 receptions and 754 yards last year. Cameron Saddler caught 19 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown in 2011 and is back in the mix as a No. 3 returner and weapon on special teams. Ronald Jones turned in a solid freshman campaign last year, catching 17 passes for 143 yards. Jones and Saddler will backup Street and Shanahan, but sophomore Darius Patton could work his way into playing time. Tight end Hubie Graham should have a breakout year in Chryst’s offense. 

6. Cincinnati – With quarterback Zach Collaros and running back Isaiah Pead departing, 2012 figures to be a rebuilding year on offense for the Bearcats. Cincinnati also loses receiver DJ Woods, but returns Anthony McClung (49 catches in 2011) and Kenbrell Thompkins (44 catches). In addition to leading the team in catches, McClung paced Cincinnati receivers with 683 yards and six receiving scores. Sophomores Alex Chsium and Dyjuan Lewis are intriguing talents, while tight end Travis Kelce is back after catching 13 passes last year. Another option to watch will be converted quarterback Jordan Luallen, who made the switch to receiver in spring practice. Coach Butch Jones would like to see more consistency and fewer dropped passes from this group in 2012, but there’s plenty of options to keep this unit ranked among the best receiving corps in the Big East.

7. Connecticut – Quarterback play was a huge issue for the Huskies last year, but the receiving corps didn’t give the passers much help either. Connecticut loses Isiah and Kashif Moore (the top two receivers from last season), but this group could be improved in 2012. Michael Smith led the Huskies with 615 receiving yards and 46 catches in 2010 but missed 2011 due to academic suspension. Smith is back in the mix, and is joined by transfers Shakim Phillips (Boston College) and Bryce McNeal (Connecticut). Senior Nick Williams caught only 11 passes last season but averaged 21.5 yards per catch. Tight end Ryan Griffin caught 33 passes last year and is a steady performer for whichever quarterback wins the job.

8. Temple – With the departure of running back Bernard Pierce, Temple will have to lean a little more on its passing attack in 2012. Matt Brown is a capable rusher, but the Owls need more from quarterback Chris Coyer and the receivers. No Temple player caught more than 35 passes last season, and the top two statistical leaders (tight end Evan Rodriguez and receiver Joe Jones) from 2011 have departed. Deon Miller averaged 14.1 yards per reception on 18 catches and needs to play a bigger role in the offense. Seniors Malcolm Eugene and C.J. Hammond are expected to have prominent roles in 2012, but keep an eye on Jalen Fitzpatrick. The sophomore had a good spring and should provide some big-play ability to the offense. 


Athlon's 2012 Big East Team Previews

Related Content: Athlon's 2012 Big East Predictions

Cincinnati Rutgers
Connecticut South Florida
Louisville Syracuse
Pittsburgh Temple

Related Big East Content

Athlon's 2012 All-Big East Team
College Football Realignment Winners and Losers for 2012
College Basketball Realignment Winners and Losers for 2012

Ranking the Big East's Running Backs for 2012

<p> Big East 2012 Wide Receiver Unit Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 05:38
Path: /college-football/college-football-history-acc-realignment

College football expansion has taken over the hearts and minds of college football junkies everywhere.

The sky is falling, rivalries are dead and the future of college football is in great peril. I am here to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. Conference realignment has been taking place for more than a century and it won’t stop anytime soon. Teams have been switching leagues, conferences have been created out of thin air and college football has powered through all the criticism and into the playoff era.

So just in case you don’t remember the days of Georgia Tech winning SEC titles or Grinnell College's 10-year stint in the Big 8, Athlon is here to show you conference realignment isn’t a new phenomenon.

The History of Big East Conference Realignment
The History of SEC Realingment

The History of Big 12 Realignment

The History of Big Ten Conference Realignment

The History of Pac-12 Conference Realignment

The History of ACC Realignment

The ACC Commissioners:

James Weaver, 1954-70
Robert James 1971-87
Eugene Corrigan, 1987-97
John Swofford, 1997-present

The ACC Timeline:

1953: After losing a multitude of members to the SEC in 1932, the once massive (23 member) Southern Conference loses eight key members to the formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The SoCon had a league-wide ban on postseason play and this is why many believe the ACC got started to begin with. Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina and, a few months later, Virginia became the charter members.

1971: South Carolina decided to leave for independence and would later join the SEC in 1991.

1978: After only containing seven teams for most of the 70s, Georgia Tech left the Metro Conference for the greener pastures of the ACC.

1991: Also from the Metro Conference, Florida State’s decision to join the ACC might have been the most important maneuver in ACC history. The Noles went on to dominate the league for the first decade and it played in the first three BCS National Championship games (1998-2000). The 1999 title is the league’s only BCS National Championship.

2004: Miami and Virginia Tech both officially joined in the summer of 2004. Adding the two football powers gave the ACC two more viable national championship football programs to package with FSU.

2005: Boston College comes aboard the next year, giving the ACC 12 teams and the opportunity to split the conference into two divisions and host a title game. After taking the Canes, Hokies and Eagles, the Big East countered with expansion of its own and is still on life support to this day.

2011: In an effort to get out in front of the curve, John Swofford continued to stabilize his league by adding two more Big East powers, Syracuse and Pitt, to the group. The ACC technically expanded to 14 before any other major BCS league.

2014: The Panthers and Orange are slated to join the league in 2014 — the same year that the new football playoff will go into effect.

ACC BCS Bowl History

Notes: Year is representative of the fall football season, not the actual date of the bowl
(#) = final national BCS ranking

1998 Fiesta (NCG): (1) Tennessee 23, (2) Florida State 16
1999 Sugar (NCG): (1) Florida State 46, (2) Virginia Tech 29
2000 Orange (NCG): (1) Oklahoma 13, (2) Florida State 2
2001 Orange: (5) Florida 56, (10) Maryland 23
2002 Sugar: (3) Georgia 26, (14) Florida State 13
2003 Orange: (9) Miami 16, (7) Florida State 14
2004 Sugar: (3) Auburn 16, (8) Virginia Tech 13
2005 Orange: (3) Penn State 26, (22) Florida State 23 (3 OT)
2006 Orange: (6) Louisville 24, (14) Wake Forest 13
2007 Orange: (8) Kansas 24, (3) Virginia Tech 21
2008 Orange: (19) Virginia Tech 20, (12) Cincinnati 7
2009 Orange: (10) Iowa 24, (9) Georgia Tech 14
2010 Orange: (4) Stanford 40, (13) Virginia Tech 14
2011 Sugar: (13) Michigan 23, (11) Virginia Tech 20 (OT) 
2011 Orange: (23) West Virginia 70, (15) Clemson 33 

Overall Record: 2-13
National Championships: 1-2

The History of the ACC:

Special thanks to for the above image. Please help keep Wikipedia free for all by donating here.

-by Braden Gall


More Conference Alignment and Playoff Content:

College Football Playoff: Did the BCS Really Get It Wrong?
Debate: What is the Biggest Unanswered Question Left In the College Football Playoff?

Debate: Did College Football Get It Right With A Four-Team Playoff?

Debate: How Should A Selection Committee Be Used?

<p> College Football: The History of ACC Realignment</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 05:03
Path: /college-football/history-big-ten-conference-realignment

College football expansion has taken over the hearts and minds of college football junkies everywhere.

The sky is falling, rivalries are dead and the future of college football is in great peril. I am here to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. Conference realignment has been taking place for more than a century and it won’t stop anytime soon. Teams have been switching leagues, conferences have been created out of thin air and college football has powered through all the criticism and into the playoff era.

So just in case you don’t remember the days of Georgia Tech winning SEC titles or Grinnell College's 10-year stint in the Big 8, Athlon is here to show you conference realignment isn’t a new phenomenon.

The History of Big East Conference Realignment
The History of SEC Realingment

The History of Big 12 Realignment

The History of Big Ten Conference Realignment

The History of Pac-12 Conference Realignment

The History of ACC Realignment

The Big Ten Conference Commissioners:

John Griffith, 1922-44 (died in office)
Kenneth “Tug” Wilson, 1945-61
William Reed, 1961-71 (died in office)
Wayne Duke, 1971-89
Jim Delany, 1989-present

The Big Ten Conference Timeline:

1896: The Big Ten is formed as the first major collegiate conference of universities. Purdue president James Smart is credited with spearheading the decision to regulate and control intercollegiate athletics. The seven founding members were the Univeristy of Chicago, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. Lake Forest College attended the 1895 meeting that eventually spawned what was then referred to as the Western Conference, but it did not join the league.

1899: Iowa and Indiana both join the Big Ten Conference three years after it’s inception. It was then commonly called the Big Nine.

1900: Both Iowa and Indiana would begin athletic competition the following year. Interestingly enough, Nebraska petitioned to join the league the same year (and would again request an invitation in 1911 to no avail).

1908: Michigan was voted out of the conference due to rules issues. The Wolverines failed to adhere to league-wide regulations and were subsequently ruled inactive.

1912: Ohio State joins the league.

1917: When Michigan was finally allowed back into the conference after the decade-long hiatus, the term Big Ten became an instantly popular way to refer to the conference.

1946: Due to the on-going World War in Europe, the University of Chicago had de-emphasized athletics in 1939 in a severe manner by discontinuing its football program. By 1946, Chicago withdrew from the league. The Big Ten went back to being referred to as the Big Nine.

1950: Michigan State is invited to join the Big Nine and does so to return the total number of league institutions to ten. The term Big Ten was re-adopted at this point. It would begin athletic competition in 1953.

1982: Penn State, currently an independent institution, asked to join the Big East but was denied inclusion in what was considered a basketball-centric league at the time.

1987: Technically, the league had been named the “Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives.” But since ICFR doesn’t roll off the tongue, the league officially changed its name to The Big Ten when it was incorporated as a not-for-profit business entity.

1990: After remaining unchanged for nearly exactly four decades of success, the Big Ten voted to expand to 11 schools and asked Penn State to join. The Nittany Lions were happy to oblige. It would begin Big Ten athletic competition in 1993.

2010: Nebraska applies for Big Ten membership and is unanimously approved as the league’s 12th institution.

2011: Nebraska played its first Big Ten conference schedule and the league splits into two divisions to accommodate the Cornhuskers. The Big Ten plays its first league championship game in Indianapolis.
Big Ten Conference BCS Bowl History

Notes: Year is representative of the fall football season, not the actual date of the bowl
(#) = final national BCS ranking

1998 Sugar: (4) Ohio State 24, (6) Texas A&M 14
1998 Rose: (9) Wisconsin 38, (5) UCLA 31
1999 Orange: (8) Michigan 35, (4) Alabama 34
1999 Rose: (7) Wisconsin 17, (ur) Stanford 9
2000 Rose: (4) Washington 34, (ur) Purdue 24
2001 Sugar: (13) LSU 47, (8) Illinois 34
2002 Fiesta (NCG): (2) Ohio State 31, (1) Miami 24 (2 OT)
2002 Orange: (4) USC 38, (5) Iowa 17
2003 Fiesta: (5) Ohio State 35, (10) Kansas State 28
2003 Rose: (3) USC 28, (4) Michigan 14
2004 Rose: (4) Texas 38, (13) Michigan 37
2005 Fiesta: (4) Ohio State 34, (6) Notre Dame 20
2005 Orange: (3) Penn State 26,* (22) Florida State 23
2006 NCG: (2) Florida 41, (1) Ohio State 14
2006 Rose: (5) USC 32, (3) Michigan 18
2007 NCG: (2) LSU 38, (1) Ohio State 24
2007 Rose: (7) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17
2008 Fiesta: (3) Texas 24, (10) Ohio State 21
2008 Rose: (5) USC 38, (8) Penn State 24
2009 Rose: (8) Ohio State 26, (7) Oregon 16
2009 Orange: (10) Iowa 24, (9) Georgia Tech 14
2010 Sugar: (6) Ohio State 31,* (8) Arkansas 26
2010 Rose: (3) TCU 21, (5) Wisconsin 19
2011 Sugar: (13) Michigan 23, (11) Virginia Tech 20 (OT)
2011 Rose: (5) Oregon 45, (10) Wisconsin 38

* - later vacated

Overall Record: 12-13
National Championships: 1-2

The History of the Big Ten:

Special thanks to for the above image. Please help keep Wikipedia free for all by donating here.

-by Braden Gall


More Conference Alignment and Playoff Content:

College Football Playoff: Did the BCS Really Get It Wrong?
Debate: What is the Biggest Unanswered Question Left In the College Football Playoff?

Debate: Did College Football Get It Right With A Four-Team Playoff?

Debate: How Should A Selection Committee Be Used?

<p> The History of Big Ten Conference Realignment</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 05:02
Path: /college-football/history-pac-12-conference-realignment

College football expansion has taken over the hearts and minds of college football junkies everywhere.

The sky is falling, rivalries are dead and the future of college football is in great peril. I am here to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. Conference realignment has been taking place for more than a century and it won’t stop anytime soon. Teams have been switching leagues, conferences have been created out of thin air and college football has powered through all the criticism and into the playoff era.

So just in case you don’t remember the days of Georgia Tech winning SEC titles or Grinnell College's 10-year stint in the Big 8, Athlon is here to show you conference realignment isn’t a new phenomenon.

The History of Big East Conference Realignment
The History of SEC Realingment
The History of Big 12 Realignment
The History of Big Ten Conference Realignment

The History of Pac-12 Conference Realignment
The History of ACC Realignment 

The Pac-12 Conference Commissioners:

Edwin Atherton, 1940-44
Victor Schmidt, 1944-59
Thomas Hamilton, 1959-71
Wiles Hallock, 1971-83
Thomas Hansen, 1983-2009
Larry Scott, 2009-present

The Pac-12 Conference Timeline:

1916: After a meeting at the Imperial Hotel in Portland, Ore., the previous year, the Pacific Coast Conference was founded. Cal, Washington, Oregon and Oregon Agricultural College, more commonly known as Oregon State University, were the founding members.

1917: Washington State quickly followed its in-state brethren into the PCC.

1918: Stanford then quickly followed its cross-town rival into the PCC as well.

1922: A third round of expansion took place when USC and Idaho joined the league, expanding the PCC to eight teams.

1924: Montana was added to grow the PCC to nine teams.

1928: The addition of UCLA makes the PCC a 10-member conference.

1950: Montana decided to join the Mountain States Conference and the PCC continued for nearly a decade as a nine-team league.

1959: After years of stability, the PCC was disbanded due to a massive pay-for-play scandal that involved Cal, USC, UCLA and Washington. Retired Admiral Thomas Hamilton stepped in and saved the league and the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) was formed the same year with Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington acting as charter institutions. It was commonly referred to as the Big Five. Idaho was essentially left out of the entire process.

1962: Washington State again followed its Evergreen counterpart into the new conference. The Cougars turned the Big Five into the Big Six.

1964: Two years later, Oregon and Oregon State joined the party and the league unofficially became known as the Pacific-8.

1968: The official name of the AAWU was changed to Pacific-8, or Pac-8 for short.

1978: The Pac-8 officially adds two WAC programs, Arizona and Arizona State, to return the league to 10 member institutions. The league renames itself the Pac-10.

2011: Utah and Colorado are invited formally and officially change the Pac-10 into the Pac-12. The league splits into obvious Northern and Southern Divisions and creates its first-ever Pac-12 Championship game. Unlike other leagues, however, the west coast conference decides to play the game at home sites. In fact, the Utes and Buffaloes played on the final weekend of the regular season with Utah having the chance to win the South Division in its first year. Colorado pulled-off the upset and the UCLA Bruins claimed the first-ever Pac-12 South title.

Pac-12 Conference BCS Bowl History

Notes: Year is representative of the fall football season, not the actual date of the bowl
(#) = final national BCS ranking

1998 Rose: (9) Wisconsin 38, (5) UCLA 31
1999 Rose: (7) Wisconsin 17, (ur) Stanford 9
2000 Fiesta: (6) Oregon State 41, (11) Notre Dame 9
2000 Rose: (4) Washington 34, (ur) Purdue 24
2001 Fiesta: (4) Oregon 38, (3) Colorado 16
2002 Orange: (4) USC 38, (5) Iowa 17
2003 Rose: (3) USC 28, (4) Michigan 14*
2004 Orange (NCG): (1) USC 55, (2) Oklahoma 19
2005 Rose (NCG): (2) Texas 41, (1) USC 38
2006 Rose: (5) USC 32, (3) Michigan 18
2007 Rose: (7) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17
2008 Rose: (5) USC 38, (8) Penn State 24
2009 Rose: (8) Ohio State 26, (7) Oregon 16
2010 NCG: (1) Auburn 22, (2) Oregon 19
2010 Orange: (4) Stanford 40, (13) Virginia Tech 14
2011 Rose: (5) Oregon 45, (10) Wisconsin 38
2011 Fiesta: (3) Oklahoma State 41, (4) Stanford 38 (OT)

Overall Record: 11-6
National Championships: 1-2*

* - USC earned a share of the 2003 National Championship

The History of the Pac-12:

Special thanks to for the above image. Please help keep Wikipedia free for all by donating here.

-by Braden Gall


More Conference Alignment and Playoff Content:

College Football Playoff: Did the BCS Really Get It Wrong?
Debate: What is the Biggest Unanswered Question Left In the College Football Playoff?

Debate: Did College Football Get It Right With A Four-Team Playoff?

Debate: How Should A Selection Committee Be Used?

<p> The History of Pac-12 Conference Realignment</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-footballs-conferences-2012

Once again, the SEC ranks as college football's best conference. LSU and Alabama are expected to be national title contenders, while Georgia and South Carolina should finish the year ranked as top-10 teams. While the SEC is college football's No. 1 conference, the Big 12 isn't too far behind. Oklahoma is the favorite to win the conference title, but Texas is on the rise, and the league welcomes West Virginia and TCU as new members in 2012. 

1. SEC
Favorite: LSU

The league has produced the national champion in each of the past six seasons. And while USC out of the Pac-12 is our preseason No. 1 team, there are four SEC schools in the top 10, so don’t be surprised if the league extends the streak to seven next January in Miami Gardens. The West will be a battle once again, with LSU and Alabama both well-positioned to make a title run. A favorable schedule — plus a talented roster — makes Georgia the favorite in the East, but don’t count out South Carolina, which welcomes back Marcus Lattimore. 

2. Big 12
Favorite: Oklahoma

The Big 12 isn’t as formidable as the SEC at the top — Oklahoma appears to be the only legit national title contender — but the league has great depth. Including OU, six league teams can be found in Athlon Sports’ preseason top 25, including newcomers West Virginia (No. 12) and TCU (No. 22).

3. Big Ten
Favorite: Michigan

If Michigan and Ohio State continue to recruit at their current rate, another ‘Ten Year War’ could soon be in store between these two traditional powers. Ohio State is ranked higher in the preseason top 25, but the Buckeyes aren’t eligible for postseason play and thus can’t play in the Big Ten title game. Nebraska and Michigan State figure to give Michigan a battle in the Legends Division, while Wisconsin poses the biggest threat to Ohio State in the Leaders.

4. Pac-12
Favorite: USC

The Pac-12 boasts two of the elite teams in the nation in USC and Oregon, but there is a significant drop-off after those two. Stanford figures to take a step back with Andrew Luck now with the Colts, but the Cardinal will still be strong. It should be a tight race for second place in the South. Utah is our pick, though UCLA should be improved under first-year coach Jim Mora.

5. ACC
Favorite: Florida State

Florida State once again looks rock-solid on paper, but we’ve been through this drill before. Is this the year the Seminoles finally break through? Clemson, the defending ACC champ, has the talent to return to a BCS bowl. Virginia Tech is once again the favorite in the Coastal Division.

6. Big East
Favorite: Louisville

West Virginia’s departure to the Big 12 makes Louisville the favorite in the Big East. Charlie Strong has done a masterful job in two short years and has his program well-positioned for the future. Rutgers and South Florida figure to be in the hunt as well, and don’t count out Pitt under new boss Paul Chryst.

7. Mountain West
Favorite: Boise State

Star quarterback Kellen Moore is gone, but Boise State remains the class of the Mountain West. The loss of TCU to the Big 12 will hurt, but the addition of Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State should add some beef to the middle of the league. This year, watch out for Wyoming, which returns 13 starters from a team that won eight games in 2011.

8. Conference USA
Favorite: UCF

Watch out for the usual suspects in the final year of Conference USA football as it’s currently configured. Houston and Tulsa are the favorites in the West, while UCF and East Carolina appear to be the teams to beat in the East.

9. MAC
Favorite: Ohio

Ohio is the easy pick to the win the MAC East, thanks to a talented roster and a schedule that does not include the top teams in the West. Western Michigan loses elite wideout Jordan White, but the Broncos’ attack should still be explosive with quarterback Alex Carder running the show. Toledo will also score a ton of points.

10. Sun Belt
Favorite: Arkansas State

Arkansas State, the defending Sun Belt champ, made big news in the offseason by hiring Gus Malzahn to replace Hugh Freeze. FIU should bounce back into contention after going 5–3 in the Sun Belt last year. And UL-Lafayette, which won nine games in ’11, will be strong again.

11. WAC
Favorite: Louisiana Tech

The WAC has been gutted in recent years, losing Boise State after the 2010 season and Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada after the ’11 campaign. Louisiana Tech is the best of the leftovers, followed by Utah State. 

Related College Football Content

Athlon's 2012 ACC Predictions
Athlon's 2012 Big East Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Big Ten Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Big 12 Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Pac-12 Predictions

Athlon's 2012 SEC Predictions

Athlon's 2012 MAC Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Mountain West Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Conference USA Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Sun Belt Predictions
Athlon's 2012 WAC Predictions

<p> Ranking College Football's Conferences for 2012</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 04:58
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-examining-top-players-c-usa

College fantasy football drafts will be heating up over the next few months and Athlon Sports has teamed with The College Fantasy Football Site to provide in-depth coverage for 2012. 

Here's a look at the best of the best for Conference USA in terms of fantasy options for 2012:

2012 Preseason Conference USA All-Fantasy Team

Using a starting roster of 2-QB, 3-RB, 3-WR, FLEX, TE, K, Def/ST, All-Conference Fantasy Teams are projected using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point, Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point, Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point, FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points, Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point, Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)


QB—David Piland, So. (Houston)

Last season:  Redshirted.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 5-6-7; Rice, North Texas, UAB

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Tulsa, @ Marshall, Tulane


QB—Rio Johnson, Jr. (East Carolina)

Last season:  Only 157 yards passing as QB #2 behind Dominique Davis.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; Memphis, @ UAB, Navy

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bye, @ Tulane, Marshall


RB—Zach Line, Sr. (SMU)

Last season:  Rushed for 1,224 yards and 17 TDs, 15 receptions for 139 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; @ Tulane, Houston, Memphis.

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  So. Miss, @ Rice, Tulsa


RB—Charles Sims, Jr. (Houston)

Last season:  Rushed for 821 yards and 9 TDs, 51 receptions for 575 yards and 4 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 8-9-10; @ SMU, UTEP, @ ECU

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Tulsa, @ Marshall, Tulane


RB—Orleans Darkwa, Jr. (Tulane)

Last season:  Rushed for 924 yards and 13 TDs, 37 receptions for 305 yards.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 9-10-11; UAB, Rice, @ Memphis

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ Memphis, ECU, @ Houston


WR—Darius Johnson, Sr. (SMU)

Last season:  79 receptions for a team-high 1,118 yards and 8 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8; @ UTEP, @ Tulane, Houston

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  So. Miss, @ Rice, Tulsa


WR—Justin Hardy, So. (East Carolina)

Last season:  Led the team in receptions and receiving yards (64-658), 6 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 7-8-9; Memphis, @ UAB, Navy

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bye, @ Tulane, Marshall


WR—Daniel Spencer, So. (Houston)

Last season:  12 receptions for 171 yards and 2 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 5-6-7; Rice, North Texas, UAB

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Tulsa, @ Marshall, Tulane


TE—Luke Willson, Sr. (Rice)

Last season:  29 receptions for 313 yards and 3 TDs.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 5-6-7; Houston, @ Memphis, UTSA

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Bye, SMU, @ UTEP


FLEX—Aaron Dobson, Sr. (Marshall)

Last season:  Led the team in receptions, yards, and TDs (49-668-12)

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 10-11-12; Memphis, @ UAB, Houston

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ UAB, Houston, @ ECU


K—Matt Hogan, Sr. (Houston)

Last season: 13 of 17 on FG attempts, 91 of 92 on extra points.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 5-6-7; Rice, North Texas, UAB

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  Tulsa, @ Marshall, Tulane


DEF/ST—Central Florida Knights

Last season:  No. 9 scoring defense and total defense, No. 16 rushing defense.

Best 3-game stretch of 2012:  Weeks 6-7-8; ECU, So. Miss, @ Memphis

Playoff Weeks (11-12-13):  @ UTEP, @ Tulsa, UAB


Top 5 Reserves

QB—Cody Green, Jr. (Tulsa)

QB—Jonathan Perry, Jr. (UAB)

RB—Latavius Murray, Sr. (UCF)

WR—Deontay Greenberry, Fr. (Houston)

WR—Dewayne Peace, Jr. (Houston)



Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)


Related Content: Athlon's 2012 College Fantasy Football Rankings

<p> College Fantasy Football: Examining The Top Players in C-USA</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 02:41
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /college-football/2012-college-football-fcs-top-25-and-predictions

College football isn't just about the FBS division and the BCS. The FCS division settles its national champion with a playoff and a familiar name tops the rankings for 2012.

1. Sam Houston State (14–1, 7–0 Southland)
After their perfect season was derailed in the national championship game, the Bearkats have one goal this year: Win it all. They return the Southland Player of the Year (running back Tim Flanders), Offensive Player of the Year (wide receiver Richard Sincere) and Defensive Player of the Year (safety Darnell Taylor). Quarterback Brian Bell is another of the 18 returning starters. Coach Willie Fritz’s squad will play Texas A&M and Baylor.

 2. Georgia Southern (11–3, 7–1 SoCon)
The only team more frustrated than Sam Houston State is Georgia Southern, which has been stopped in each of the last two national semifinals. To take the next step, the Eagles need a new quarterback — perhaps Jerick McKinnon — to be precise running the triple option. He will be sure  that backs Robert Brown and Dominique Swope get plenty of touches. Opposing offenses want no part of nose tackle Brent Russell. 

3. North Dakota State (14–1, 7–1 Missouri Valley)
Coach Craig Bohl is confident that the loss of 11 starters won’t prevent the reigning national champs from challenging for back-to-back titles. Junior cornerback Marcus Williams was electrifying for last year’s stingiest defense in the FCS (12.7 ppg). Third-year quarterback Brock Jensen keeps improving for an offense that will be run-heavy behind 1,000-yard back Sam Ojuri.

4. Montana State (10–3, 7–1 Big Sky)
The Bobcats have some flash with junior quarterback DeNarius McGhee, but their program is more about flexing its muscles. Cody Kirk (1,351 rushing yards and 14 TDs) is the key cog offensively, and defensive linemen Brad Daly, Zach Minter and Caleb Schreibeis and linebacker Jody Owens form the nucleus of a dominant stop-unit.

5. James Madison (8–5, 5–3 CAA)
The Dukes believe they have solved recent inconsistency. Quarterback Justin Thorpe, who came back strong after a university suspension last season, will team with versatile running back Dae’Quan Scott (1,304 rushing yards, 13 total TDs) on an improved offense. The defense has a star in middle linebacker Stephon Robertson and an emerging standout in safety Dean Marlowe.

6. Old Dominion (10–3, 6–2 CAA)
Year 2 in the CAA should be as good as last year’s debut for the Monarchs. Taylor Heinicke fired 25 touchdown passes with only one interception over the final nine games of his true freshman season, and he has plenty back in the skill positions. Craig Wilkins flies around at linebacker, and the special teams are always outstanding.

7. Towson (9–3, 7–1 CAA)
Coach Rob Ambrose led the Tigers to a stunning CAA title after going a combined 3–29 in conference in the previous four seasons. There won’t be a letdown with the return of running back Terrance West, who scored an FCS-high 29 touchdowns as a freshman, and fellow All-CAA standouts Frank Beltre (defensive end) and Jordan Dangerfield (safety).

8. Appalachian State (8–4, 6–2 SoCon)
A senior-laden defense, featuring linebackers Brandon Grier and Jeremy Kimbrough and defensive backs Demetrius McCray (five interceptions) and Troy Sanders, will get to the ball in waves. Veteran coach Jerry Moore will need some new playmakers to develop for quarterback Jamal Jackson.

9. Youngstown State (6–5, 4–4 Missouri Valley)
The only team to beat FCS champion North Dakota State last season, the Penguins are primed for their first playoff appearance since 2006. All-MVC selections Kurt Hess (quarterback) and Jamaine Cook (running back), along with big-play receiver Christian Bryan, return from the most prolific offense in school history.

10. New Hampshire (8–4, 6–2 CAA)
The Wildcats seek to extend the longest active streak of playoff appearances (eight) in the FCS, behind senior linebacker Matt Evans, the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award recipient. The transition of new quarterback — Andy Vailas or James Brady — will be eased by wide receivers R.J. Harris and Joey Orlando.

11. Delaware (7–4, 5–3 CAA)
The FCS version of Quarterback U is looking for better production at the position this season. No matter what, coach K.C. Keeler will put the ball in the hands of junior running back Andrew Pierce (2,934 yards in two seasons). Linebacker Paul Worrilow leads the defense.

12. Eastern Washington (6–5, 5–3 Big Sky)
Decimated by injuries last season, the 2010 FCS champions seek significant improvement. SMU transfer quarterback Kyle Padron will replace another former SMU Mustang, Bo Levi Mitchell, the 2011 Walter Payton Award recipient. Padron will have three different 1,000-yard receivers at his disposal — Nicholas Edwards, Greg Herd and Brandon Kaufman.

13. Jacksonville State (7–4, 6–2 OVC)
Having underachieved in recent seasons, the talented Gamecocks hope to put it all together. Coach Jack Crowe is patching up the defense, but his offense will be outstanding with 1,000-yard back Washaun Ealey and quarterback Marques Ivory, who will share time with Coty Blanchard.

14. Indiana State (6–5, 4–4 Missouri Valley)
Catch him if you can: Junior tailback Shakir Bell averaged 7.3 yards per carry while amassing 1,670 yards. The Sycamores’ defense will be led by end Ben Obaseki and linebackers Aaron Archie and Jacolby Washington.

15. Illinois State (7–4, 5–3 Missouri Valley)
Snubbed out of a playoff berth last season, the Redbirds plan to leave no doubt this year. They have a superb passing combo in Matt Brown-to-Tyrone Walker and get after opposing quarterbacks with defensive end Nate Palmer and linebacker Evan Frierson.

16. Stony Brook (9–4, 6–0 Big South)
Two running backs are better than one. Miguel Maysonet (1,633 yards, 15 TDs) has a new tag-team partner in Iowa transfer Marcus Coker, the Big Ten’s second-leading rusher in 2011. The Seawolves may lead the FCS in scoring once again.

17. Montana (11–3, 7–1 Big Sky)
The offseason firing of coach Robin Pflugrad rocked a national semifinalist squad that had lost nine defensive starters already. The running game remains strong with the undersized duo of Peter Nguyen and Jordan Canada.

18. Eastern Kentucky (7–5, 6–2 OVC)
A dominant offensive line, featuring 6'6" tackles Aaron Adams and Patrick Ford, will pave the way for fourth-year quarterback T.J. Pryor and running back Matt Denham, who averaged 184.5 rushing yards over the final eight games of last season.

19. Wofford (8–4, 6–2 SoCon)
Fullbacks Eric Breitenstein (3,695 career rushing yards) and Donovan Johnson get into opponents’ defensive backfields, and linebacker Alvin Scioneaux (16 tackles for a loss) gets into opponents’ offensive backfields. The Terriers have led the FCS in rushing for two straight seasons.

20. Northern Iowa (10–3, 7–1 Missouri Valley)
This perennial FCS power must work in 11 new starters against a brutally tough September schedule that includes Wisconsin and Iowa. Running backs David Johnson and Carlos Anderson fuel a strong ground attack.

21. Murray State (7–4, 5–3 OVC)
The Racers believe they have the FCS’ best quarterback in Casey Brockman, who threw for 3,276 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. Linebacker and leading tackler Sam Small leads a defense that must replace several key pieces.

22. Harvard (9–1, 7–0 Ivy)
Each of the Crimson’s Ivy League wins was by double digits last season. Quarterback Colton Chapple and running back Treavor Scales work behind a veteran offensive line. Harvard’s 37.4 points per game set a school record.

23. Stephen F. Austin (6–5, 5–2 Southland)
Opponents probably can’t believe that veteran wide receivers Gralyn Crawford and Cordell Roberson haven’t graduated yet. Sack specialist Willie Jefferson leads the defense of a team that won its final five games.

24. Chattanooga (5–6, 3–5 SoCon)
The Mocs need to start winning the close games behind quarterback Terrell Robinson, the 2011 SoCon Freshman of the Year. The defense is stocked with end Josh Williams, linebacker Wes Dothard and cornerback Kadeem Wise.

25. Lehigh (11–2, 6–0 Patriot)
Senior quarterback Mike Colvin hopes to run the Mountain Hawks’ high-flying passing attack and will target All-America wide receiver Ryan Spadola (96 receptions for 1,614 yards). They haven’t lost a league game since 2009.

2012 Projected FCS Playoff Qualifiers

Appalachian State (at-large)

Bethune-Cookman (MEAC champ)

Bryant (Northeast champ)

Delaware (at-large)

Eastern Washington (at-large)

Georgia Southern (Southern champ)

Illinois State (at-large)

Indiana State (at-large)

Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley champ)

James Madison (CAA champ)

Lehigh (Patriot champ)

Montana State (Big Sky champ)

Montana (at-large)

New Hampshire (at-large)

North Dakota State (Missouri Valley champ)

Old Dominion (at-large)

Sam Houston State (Southland champ)

Stony Brook (Big South champ)

Towson (at-large)

Youngstown State (at-large)

<p> Sam Houston State ranks as Athlon's No. 1 team in the FCS poll for 2012</p>
Post date: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 01:43
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlon%E2%80%99s-essential-eleven-links-day-5

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for June 29:

• Probably the best story of draft day. Hard not to root for this guy.

• So, David Stern. Job's not so easy without Michael Jordan, is it?

• All lovers of college football — in other words, everyone reading this — should add this link to their bookmarks.

• Not sure what a pimp cup is. Guess we'll have to ask Fred Davis.

• Turning internet memes into charity — nice work, bro.

• Reliving bite night

• Speaking of Iron Mike, this might be the greatest tweet in history.

• This clip has a little bit of everything you love about the NBA Draft — Adam Silver, Knicks fans going nuts after a pick and a chubby kid doing the Mutombo. 

• Hey, Elton Brand — stick to your day job.

• Mike Holmgren dodged the truth for as long as he could.

• Apparently, Danny Sheridan gambled and lost that he could buy Twitter followers without detection. 

June 28

 The NBA Draft, Nintendo version. This one really got us when Stephen A. Smith showed up. Even better than the real thing.

• You think we've got lingering racial issues in the U.S.? This cartoon actually ran in an Italian newspaper. 

• Ever wonder what Anthony Davis would look like with other people's eyebrows? You're in luck.

• Bob, we love ya, Just no.

• You may be tired of cautionary tales in sports, but here's another one, and it's pretty sad. 

• This is just what you want to read about your franchise on draft day. 

• Potato, po-tah-to

• Can't wait for the new Spider-Man movie? These guys are here for you. 

• Is Drew Brees considering a career change?

• Fat guys launching home runs is what softball is all about — up to a point.

• Aaron Rodgers' peers voted him the best player for 2012. This was his reaction. 

June 22

• Joe Posnanski looks at LeBron James’ journey to a title with the Miami Heat.

• Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman does not believe a playoff is best for college football.

• SmartCar USA has a funny Twitter response to a critic.

• Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias looks at the implications for the conference with college football’s new postseason format.

• Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is tired of hearing about a team in turmoil.

• How big of an impact will rookie runner David Wilson make with the New York Giants?

• Would Maryland really play on gray turf?

• SportsGrid gives us some funny video of drunken Irish soccer fans just trying to find the Porta-Potty at the Euro2012.

• It sounds like Mets closer Frank Francisco is not a Yankees fans.

• A recent Mississippi State football billboard violated an NCAA rule.

• You knew LeBron James winning a title would not play well in Cleveland. Local
weatherman Mark Johnson cannot get through the forecast without showing his frustration with the Heat beating the Thunder.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

June 21

• The BCS commissioners have decided to recommend a seeded, four-team playoff to college football’s Presidential Oversight Committee. A playoff should be in place for the 2014 season, although there are many details still to be decided.

• CBS’ Tony Barnhart looks at the details of a college football playoff that still need to be worked out, including a selection committee for determining the four top teams.

• Rob Zombie’s next project will be writing, directing and producing a film about the mid-70s Philadelphia Flyers, known as the Broad Street Bullies. The idea has been described as “Rocky meets Boogie Nights on ice.”

• Just one win away from a title, LeBron James and the Heat are taking nothing for granted.

• Will Ohio State play its 2013 spring game in Cincinnati? ESPN Big East blogger Andrea Adelson looks at the Buckeyes “encroaching right into the heart of Bearcats territory.”

• Make sure to check if your “LinkedIn” password has been breached.

• Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch reflects on former Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile, who passed away 10 years ago. His death still affects many in the baseball world and in St. Louis.

• It sounds like free agent receiver Plaxico Burress is not a fan of either Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow of the Jets.

• tells Yankees fans not to sweat Phil Hughes’ clunker against the Braves.

• The next time you’re doing handstands, be careful out there.

• Many of you are not LeBron James fans, but the Heat superstar is on the verge of finally winning a ring. For those who do not like this fact, we recommend that you remember him as Alexander — the Solid Gold dancer.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

June 20

• Get ready America; the polarizing LeBron James is one win away from a championship ring.

• Lisa Horne looks at 11 college football teams that are difficult to figure out, including Texas, Florida, Notre Dame and Georgia.

• With Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter debuting this week, takes a funny look at what some other Presidential movies would look like.

• Is Brett Favre (you know, that former Vikings QB) the best Packer of all-time?

• Speaking of Minnesota, receiver Percy Harvin sounds less than enthused about the team.

• Would NBA teams spread bad health information on Jared Sullinger as a pre-draft smokescreen?

• Ryan Leaf admits being “lazy and dishonest and selfish” in court.

• Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee believes that LSU’s Les Milles needs to forget Notre Dame quarterback Gunner Kiel, a former Tigers verbal commitment.

• Check out the new Nokia HD trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.

• Will the Padres move in the fences at Petco Park like the Mets did this season?

Bryce Harper, the 19-year-old phenom of the Washington Nationals, has been very likeable for baseball fans this season. But then last night, he changed his walk-up song to Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend.” Ouch. Hopefully, it was just a rookie prank or a lost bet.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

June 19

R.A. Dickey of the Mets continued his stellar season last night with a second-straight 1-hitter. He’s probably the best story in baseball right now and should be the NL starter in the All-Star Game.

• ESPN SEC blogger Edward Aschoff is not sure that the powerful league will get its preferred selection criteria for a college football playoff.

• We had to get a couple of sports links in before this one. There is a distinct possibility that Kate Upton’s new Fourth of July photo shoot with GQ could crush the internet for a while.

• I’ll admit that our profession is guilty of some overkill when it comes to the polarizing Tim Tebow. But a story that includes a 28-year-old New Jersey man, a pillow fort in his Mom’s closet, 911 calls where he wanted to speak to the new Jets backup QB, and throwing a summons complaint on the ground at police in front of Dunkin Donuts? Now you’ve got us.

• Chadd Scott of questions the NCAA’s stance on supplements and protein.

• The former Blockbuster, Carquest, MicronPC, Tangerine and Champs Sports Bowl is now the Russell Athletic Bowl.

• Mike Tyson…. On Broadway?

• NHL legend Wayne Gretzky won four Stanley Cups as a player, and it looks like his daughter is a fan of the famed trophy as well.

• Be careful Massachusetts residents. There’s nothing quite like an early bike ride where a stranger pelts you with sausage. Seriously.

• The Lakers were taken out by the Thunder in the NBA playoffs, but the scary Metta World Peace still has it out for James Harden.

• I’m still not exactly sure why parents film their children watching games instead of enjoying the experience with them, but it does make for some entertaining video. This little man, a big Oklahoma City fan, just loses it about a minute in and states “I hate Miami!!”

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

June 18

• The great LaDainian Tomlinson, after 11 NFL seasons and 145 rushing touchdowns, will retire as a San Diego Charger today.

• The wait is over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his fans, as the popular driver broke a 143-race winless streak at Michigan.

• Webb Simpson became the third straight American to win a major with his victory in the U.S. Open.

• So apparently actress/model Jenny McCarthy, girlfriend of Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, likes to send nude pics. Accidently, her son’s dentist ended up with an exciting text.

• How sick are the Thunder after letting Game 3 against the Heat slip away?

• ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg breaks down Urban Meyer’s first big disciplinary action at Ohio State.

• Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times looks at the similar stories of Texans Roger Clemens and Lance Armstrong.

• Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News details what it will take for the Missouri and Texas A&M programs to compete in the SEC.

• The Nationals have released reliever Brad Lidge.

• Gizmodo has some images of the new iPhone 2012.

• The bonehead of the weekend has to go to tennis player David Nalbandian, who inexplicably did this while leading at the Queen's Club final in London.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 12:30
Path: /nba/2012-nba-draft-pick-pick-recap-0

As always, the NBA Draft started at breakneck speed. Commissioner David Stern came out from behind his almighty Oz curtain and was greeted as he has been for years — with aggressive booing from the Prudential Center crowd.

“Thank you for the warm reception,” Stern said, in a tone normally reserved for Jim Rome.

From there, the parade of bad suits, embarrassing family and awkward TV could not be stopped.

1. New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis, F/C, Kentucky
John Calipari’s best recruiting tool is the NBA Draft. The man has produced three of the past five No. 1 overall picks. Kids putting on caps is old hat for Coach Cal, who had one last huddle with the “Uni-blocker” and MKG.

“You hug mom, you hug dad, then you hug me, and I spin you around for the camera,” Calipari told the duo, who became the first teammates to go 1-2 in draft history.

2. Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
The new-look, Bob-less Cats take a Gerald Wallace-type hustle guy just one year after trading away the original Gerald Wallace.

3. Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
The BB gun celebrates his 19th birthday in the green room. Meanwhile, the SEC becomes the first conference to boast the top three picks in the NBA Draft since 1986 — a cursed draft that saw Len Bias die almost immediately after being picked No. 2 overall by the Celtics.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
The first shocker of the night. The “most NBA ready guard” Jim Boeheim has ever coached becomes the highest drafted Orange-person since Carmelo Anthony went third overall — behind LeBron and Darko, but ahead of D-Waiters most-comped pro, D-Wade — in 2003.

5. Sacramento Kings
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Heather Cox sets female sideline interviewers back several decades during a butchered conversation with T-Rob’s nine-year-old little sister — asking her if she’s ever seen her brother cry (“No”) and what she thinks about moving from D.C. to California (“It's far away from home”).

She saved the train wreck by telling the little girl that Sacramento is close to Disneyland. That’s right, it’s an easy seven-hour drive, just around the corner from Sac-town. Are we there yet?

6. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Introducing the next Antonio Daniels.

7. Golden State Warriors
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
Former No. 1 high school recruit joins Bay Area 3-point shooting contestants Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. “Moneyball” has a different meaning for this ABA crew neighboring Billy Beane.

8. Toronto Raptors
Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
One of many players wearing checkered dress shirts that look like picnic tablecloths. Ross also rocks the lime green bow tie to cap his geek chic disaster.

9. Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
The Drummond family is in tears. Soon, the Pistons fan base will weep over the next Kwame Brown.

10. New Orleans Hornets
Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
Doc’s son has Coach K’s blessing and now Anthony Davis’ protection. The charmed life continues.

11. Portland Trail Blazers
Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Listen close and you can already hear Bill Walton yelling “Throw it down, big man!”

12. Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Lots of guys cry after they get drafted. Lamb is the only one that looks like he’s near tears during his college highlights.

13. Phoenix Suns
Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Steve Nash’s heir apparent will take over immediately or learn from the two-time MVP for a few seasons, depending on the Canadian icon’s free agent decision.

14. Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson, PF, North Carolina
The last pick of the lottery needs to immediately go on a Wisconsin diet of beer, brats and cheese.

15. Philadelphia 76ers
Maurice Harkless, SF, St. John’s
Went by “Mo” until yesterday, when “his people” let it be known that Harkless is now to be referred to as “Maurice.” Sure, whatever Mo.

16. Houston Rockets
Royce White, SF, Iowa State
Afraid of flying, struggles with anxiety issues, lacks a clearly defined position; Houston may have a problem.

17. Dallas Mavericks
Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Traded to Cavaliers. “Your older brother won the D-League championship,” Tyler is told after becoming the fourth Tar Heel taken in the first round. Would have been better off leading with, “Your little brother Cody is better than you, right?”

18. Houston Rockets
Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
The Rockets complete their trifecta of head cases. The law firm of Lamb, White and Jones specialize in malcontent malpractice.

19. Orlando Magic
Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Canadian is a softer version of Ryan Anderson — just the type of pick that should convince Dwight to stay.

20. Denver Nuggets
Evan Fournier, SG, France
The lone international prospect selected in the first round is a French slasher who may or may not have been part of Tony Parker's entourage at the Drake-Chris Brown Rihanna glass fight.

21. Boston Celtics
Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Big Sully brings his below-the-rim, old man’s game to the graybeard gang in Boston. Could be a rich man’s version of Big Baby if his red-flagged bad back holds up.

22. Boston Celtics
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
The Brazilian big replaces the hotheaded unpredictability and “Flagrant 2” potential the C’s lost after the terrible Kendrick Perkins trade.

23. Atlanta Hawks
John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
J3’s shooting range already extended from Nashville to Atlanta; now it’s official.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jared Cunningham, SG, Oregon State
Traded to Mavericks.

25. Memphis Grizzlies
Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Washington

26. Indiana Pacers
Miles Plumlee, PF, Duke
Larry Bird goes out with his hand raised like he just won a 3-point contest. The Pacers’ strategy of “best available stiff white guy” continues to dominate on draft day.

27. Miami Heat
Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
Traded to 76ers.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder
Perry Jones III, SF, Baylor
The player everyone was afraid to take and afraid not to take goes to the team that never seems to make a mistake in scouting. If learning from Kevin Durant doesn't maximize PJ3's potential, nothing will.

29. Chicago Bulls
Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
With Derrick Rose recovering from knee surgery, Jeff’s little brother could see major minutes in Chi-town.

30. Golden State Warriors
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
The Nigerian nightmare locks down the last guaranteed contract of the night as the final pick of the first round. Stern is booed one last time, then steps aside as Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver is greeted with a standing ovation. 

31. Charlotte Bobcats
Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
Somewhere, Cats owner Michael Jordan told everyone at the poker table to shut up so he could watch the draft and see who Charlotte took.

32. Washington Wizards
Tomas Satoransky, SG, Czech Republic
Last year, Jan Vesley made out with girlfriend in the green room after being drafted by the Wiz. This year probably got just as hot when JV’s Czech mate Satoransky was picked.

33. Cleveland Cavaliers
Bernard James, C, Florida State
Traded to Mavericks.

34. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jae Crowder, SF, Marquette
Traded to Mavericks.

35. Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green, SF, Michigan State
Chris Broussard tells the world that Magic Johnson “loves” the pick of his fellow Spartan. Clyde Drexler is just waiting for Green to die.

36. Sacramento Kings
Orlando Johnson, SG, UC Santa Barbara
Traded to Pacers.

37. Toronto Raptors
Quincy Acy, PF, Baylor

38. Denver Nuggets
Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
Back-to-back Quincys from Baylor are taken; too bad neither wore neon suits like the highlighter yellow Baylor uniforms from the highlight-er reel.

39. Detroit Pistons
Khris Middleton, PF, Texas A&M

40. Portland Trail Blazers
Will Barton, SG, Memphis

41. Portland Trail Blazers
Tyshawn Taylor, PG, Kansas
Traded to Nets.

42. Milwaukee Bucks
Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky

43. Atlanta Hawks
Mike Scott, PF, Virginia

44. Detroit Pistons
Kim English, SG, Missouri

45. Philadelphia 76ers
Justin Hamilton, C, LSU
Traded to Heat.

46. New Orleans Hornets
Darius Miller, SF, Kentucky
The fifth-year senior Wildcat makes history as the sixth Kentucky player selected in the first two rounds — the most ever for one school.

47. Utah Jazz
Kevin Murphy, SG, Tennessee Tech

48. New York Knicks
Kostas Papanikolaou, SF, Greece

49. Orlando Magic
Kyle O’Quinn, C, Norfolk State

50. Denver Nuggets
Izzet Turkyilmaz, PF, Turkey
The Turkish spelling bee begins now.

51. Boston Celtics
Kris Joseph, SF, Syracuse

52. Golden State Warriors
Ognjen Kuzmic, C, Bosnia

53. Los Angeles Clippers
Furkan Aldemir, PF, Turkey
Could you use the word in a sentence?

54. Philadelphia 76ers
Tornike Shengelia, SF, Georgia
Traded to Nets.

55. Dallas Mavericks
Darius Johnson-Odom, SG, Marquette
Traded to Lakers. Mark Cuban probably wouldn't have yelled at this Odom from the stands. After the trade to L.A., Odom is in the market for a Kardashian reality show.

56. Toronto Raptors
Tomislav Zubcic, C, Croatia

57. New Jersey Nets
Ilkan Karaman, PF, Turkey
Are there any alternate definitions of the word?

58. Minnesota Timberwolves
Robbie Hummel, SF, Purdue
After two ACL injuries, Hummel celebrated gingerly on draft night.

59. San Antonio Spurs
Marcus Denmon, PG, Missouri

60. Los Angeles Lakers
Robert Sacre, C, Gonzaga
Mr. Irrelevant hopes to have an Isaiah Thomas-type impact with the Lake Show. Or at least learn the art of neck-beard from Pau Gasol.

by Nathan Rush

<p> The madness of the 2012 NBA Draft, from Dion Waiters' rise to Kentucky's historic six-man draft class.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 12:27
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/kid-makes-awesome-foul-ball-catch-popcorn-bucket

Who needs a glove? During last night's game between San Diego and Houston, a young fan made an awesome foul ball grab using his tub of popcorn. It was a sweet catch. Check out his excitement in the video below.

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Post date: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 09:17