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There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.
Last but certainly not least, are the college traditions.
Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. The Pac-12 doesn't have the same entrenched passion of leagues from the East Coast but it has plenty of historic, entertaining and, for lack of a better term, gorgeous traditions. Some of the most picturesque settings in the nation are out West and the Pac-12 takes full advantage of ALL of the scenery.
Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites:
Each fall Saturday in Seattle, Husky Harbor on Lake Washington is filled with a University of Washington fan flotilla. Fans show up in every possible type of floating vessel and set up shop in the shadows of Husky Stadium to sailgate for the big U of W contest to come later in the day. This practice has been going on since shortly after the stadium opened in 1920 and is often imitated, but rarely duplicated. With the Cascade Mountains to the East and the Olympic Mountains to the West, the crystal clear blue water provides one of the most picturesque tailgating settings in the nation. Don't believe us, check out this NY Times slideshow.
One of the best live mascots in college football, Ralphie the Buffalo makes two big horseshoe runs around Colorado’s Folsom Field at the start of each half of each home game. It takes five “Ralphie Handlers” to make the sprint possible as she — yes, Ralphie is a girl — can reach upwards of 25 miles per hour if not restrained. The tradition began in 1934 when students used a bison as their mascot until Ralphie I made her debut in 1966 when she was donated to the university by a student’s father.
The USC Trojan Warrior began riding his gray horse named Traveler into the Coliseum in 1961 against Georgia Tech. Named after Robert E. Lee’s Civil War horse, the mascot is on its seventh generation (Traveler VII) and does not actually carry Tommy Trojan. The rider is simply a Trojan warrior, whose original costume was procured from a local studio and was the actual garb worn by Charlton Heston in Ben Hur.
Officially known as Charter Hill, Tightwad rises to the east of Cal’s Memorial Stadium and was formed from the dirt that was excavated during stadium construction. It offers a unique view of the action on the field should a game sellout or poor college students don’t feel like paying for tickets. Fans have been attending games on hill since 1924 and most take the opportunity to enjoy many recreational activities high in the trees of Tightwad Hill (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Cougars' Gameday Flag
Leave it to message boards to come up with stuff like flying a Washington State Cougars flag on College Gameday’s TV set every weekend for nearly a decade. No, it doesn’t always happen in the Pac-12 (obviously) but the Cougars' flag has made an appearance on the extremely popular Saturday morning program every week since the Red River Shootout on October 3, 2003 — which is more than 131 consecutive shows.
The tall tales about the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, or LSJUMB, are endless and mostly hysterical. It was founded in 1893 and has been picking on opposing teams, fans, coaches as well as societal injustices, with hilarious political satire and finely tuned musical prowess ever since. This is easily the most entertaining Band website in history (trust me, check it out) and the LSJUMB’s latest victim was the Wisconsin Badgers. The “Ode to Cheese” during last year’s Rose Bowl tested the sense of humor of many frigid Madison natives and upset many boring media members.
USC Song Girls
What isn’t to like about the arguably the most famous cheerleading squad in college football? The squad was first formed in 1967 when seven students began the Song Girls tradition in the L.A. Coliseum. Now the size of the team has grown to 12 but the trademark white sweaters and skirts haven’t changed over four decades of football. Few cheerleading squads in the nation have the talent pool to pull from like Southern California.
“Bear Down” is the official school motto of Arizona and it is featured prominently all over campus. "Bear Down" was created by Zona quarterback and student body President Button Salmon in 1926, after he was hospitalized after a terrible car wreck. Before he passed away from his neck injury, his last message to his teammates was delivered to coach Pop McKale: “Tell them to bear down.” It has been a part of the fight song, the stadium paint scheme, the Bear Down Gym and a variety of other important locations.
Best of the Rest:
The Rose Bowl
Not many college football teams play 45 minutes from campus. But not many teams play in the most historic venue in the nation. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena might be the most prestigious venue in all of college football.
Arizona State’s Student Section
This isn’t as much a tradition as it is an other-worldly experience. This might be the most beautiful student section in the nation.
Stanford's Dancing Tree
The smiling tree from Stanford looks like something out of a Johnny Depp movie and has been entertaining The Farm for decades. The aforementioned Stanford band actually created The Tree in 1975 without consent from the Stanford Board and it stuck.
Cal Card Stunts
The first card stunt of any kind is credited to the University of Cal during The Big Game of 1910. The first two card stunts of all time were the Stanford Axe and a massive blue “C.”
Oregon State First Downs
The stands at Reser Stadium can boast the most passionate and choreographed first down chant in college football. Check out this tutorial.
Utah's Block U
The Utes' famed block U was built over 100 years ago in the foothills bordering the Utah campus. The 100-foot-tall landmark is lit up for every home Utes athletic event and it sits at 5,300 feet above sea level.
When college football became big business just over a decade ago, Nike jumped full force into the game with its “hometown” Oregon Ducks. It now provides several different looks for the Ducks each year.
UCLA light stunts
Beginning in 1935, UCLA actually wired light bulbs into the bleachers. Due to cost and logistics, the actual light bulbs were replaced with flashlights in 1953.
The form of the Duck atop the motorcycle has changed over time, but Oregon football enters Autzen Stadium behind a Harley-riding mascot for every home game.
2013 Pac-12 Team Previews
Related College Football Content
A few weeks ago, there was some talk from recruits about Alabama adding a waterfall to its locker room. And it appears that chatter was correct.
The first photo of the waterfall has surfaced, which is a part of Alabama's renovated football facilities.
Check out this picture of the waterfall (tweeted out by @SEC_Logo)
Under 50 days until kickoff...but still so far away.
Feel free to contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)
College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, July 10th
Quarterback Connor Brewer has decided to transfer from Texas. The redshirt freshman is already receiving interest from other schools, including Notre Dame, Duke and Alabama.
Washington receiver Kasen Williams ran into some off-the-field trouble earlier this offseason.
The American Athletic Conference will likely have a bowl game at Marlins Park in 2014.
Receiver (and Miami, Ohio transfer) Nick Harwell still has some work to do in order to be eligible at Kansas this year.
Lost Lettermen ranks Conference USA's running backs for 2013.
Everett Golson discusses his future with Notre Dame.
The Pac-12 is planning to expand its reach into China.
Saturday Down South examines: Is the SEC the villain of college football?
Center Jake Jenkins is one of Oklahoma State's key players for 2013.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Tyler Ferguson will play for Penn State in 2013.
Speaking of the Nittany Lions, they are set to play UCF in a game in Ireland in 2014.
Tennessee self-reported a couple of secondary violations.
Which college football teams get the most from their recruiting expenses?
Should Clemson consider bringing in former Auburn running back Michael Dyer?
John Cassillo of Atlantic Coast Convos takes a look at Pittsburgh safety Jason Hendricks for 2013.
NC State has picked up a JUCO transfer that will be eligible to compete this fall.
Former Hawaii receiver Trevor Davis will transfer to California. He will be eligible to play in 2014.
As the countdown to kickoff for the 2013 season continues, more teams are releasing photos of new uniforms, helmets or anything else that will be worn on Saturdays this year.
Louisville has already upgraded its turf in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium this offseason, and now the team is getting an upgraded look in the uniform department. Sort of.
Here's a photo from Louisville coach Charlie Strong's twitter account for the new shoes Cardinals will wear in 2013:
Would you rather work for Jerry Jones or the people of Green Bay, Wisconsin? Would you rather live in Buffalo or Denver? Would you prefer to face Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati six times a year or Jacksonville, Tennessee and Indianapolis?
These are the sorts of big picture questions you have to ask when trying to evaluate NFL “jobs.” Depth charts and general managers come and go but, by in large, fan commitment, stadiums, cities and owners stay the same over long periods of time. It is these factors that define how good or bad an NFL head coaching gig is, not who is playing quarterback, how deep the defensive line might be or who is running the front office.
Facilities, commitment to excellence, history, tradition, prestige, ownership, fan support, earning potential, divisional alignment and location is how Athlon ranked each of the current NFL head coaching jobs.
Forbes 2012 total franchise valuation in parentheses
1. Green Bay Packers ($1.161 billion, 10th)
There is only one publicly owned franchise in major American professional sports and it is located in a small, sleepy town in northern Wisconsin. It means as a head coach, you answer to the fans first and foremost above all else and it creates a unique and committed relationship between the Packers and their supporters. No, Green Bay isn’t the best place in the country to live (most of the year) but the most historic and legendary football stadium in the world, Lambeau Field, rises high above the neighborhoods of Green Bay. This organization has won more NFL championships (13) than any other in league history and has won a Super Bowl in three separate decades. The Packers also play in a division with three of the best rivalries in football, including the twice annual bout with the Bears.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.1 billion, 14th)
Few fan bases and owners are as committed to being successful like Steeler Nation and the Rooney Family. The fans in Pittsburgh are second to none and will travel to great lengths to support their team while three generations of Rooney control has offered unique stability in a transient world. In 2001, the Steelers opened a beautiful new facility in Heinz Field. What it lacks in tradition and history it more than makes up for in technology and amenities. Top it all off with an NFL-best six Super Bowl trophies and 60,000 Terrible Towels and you have the best AFC job in the NFL.
3. New York Giants ($1.468 billion, 4th)
Since 1925, the red, white and blue football Giants have represented the biggest media market in the world. For the first seven decades of operation, the Giants were controlled exclusively by the Mara Family — father and founder, Tim, and his two sons, Jack and Wellington. Since 1991 when Tim Mara passed away, half of the franchise has been owned by the Tisch family. A massive new building has replaced the old Meadowlands and will provide a Northeastern setting for the Super Bowl for the first time in history. The Giants are third all-time with eight NFL championships, including four Super Bowls, and boast some of the most prestigious rivalries in the game.
4. New England Patriots ($1.635 billion, 2nd)
The Pats joined the NFL along with the rest of the AFL in 1970 when the two merged. And few franchises can offer the combination of fan support, quality ownership and team success like the Boston-turned-New England Patriots. This team has played for at least one Super Bowl in every decade since the '70s and Gillette Stadium has been packed since opening in 2002. And owner Robert Kraft proved to be a godsend for the organization when he purchased the team in 1994, likely saving the team from relocation to St. Louis.
5. San Francisco 49ers ($1.175 billion, 9th)
The Niners are the oldest major pro sports franchise to ever call San Francisco home, and starting in 1970, few teams have dominated a sport like the 49ers. Winning five Super Bowls in a 14-year span and dominating headlines west of the Rockies, the Niners own a unique place in the NFL’s hierarchy. And despite a public ownership feud between the two sides of the family — the DeBartolos and the Yorks — that resulted in John York taking control, the support from the owner has been excellent. The fans may not be among the league’s elite but they aren’t too far behind and an ambitious new Levi’s Stadium could push the San-Fran coaching job into Steelers and Packers territory.
6. Denver Broncos ($1.132 billion, 13th)
A great city in a beautiful setting with elite fan support and a rich history of winning football makes coaching in Denver a destination gig. Bought by the Bowlen family in 1984, the current ownership not only saved the franchise from certain bankruptcy but has built a thriving business as well as a new stadium (2001). Playing in the generally timid AFC West, Denver has been a fixture in the playoffs despite battling with rivals Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego since 1960. There is little doubt that Denver is one of the AFC’s preeminent franchises.
7. Chicago Bears ($1.190 billion, 8th)
Located in the Windy City in the heart of the football-crazed NFC North, the Bears are one of the most lucrative, most supported and most historic franchises in the NFL. Chicago boasts the best rivalry in the league with the Packers and trails only Green Bay with nine NFL championships. Originally owned by legendary George Halas, the Bears are now run by Halas’ daughter Virginia and her family. It has proven to be tough to win big in Chicago but when someone does (looking at you Ditka) he becomes a living legend.
8. Dallas Cowboys ($2.1 billion, 1st)
Located in the heart of a football-mad state, the most high-profile and valuable franchise in the NFL also plays in the biggest, baddest venue in the football world. However, coaching the Cowboys isn’t a cakewalk as meddling owner Jerry Jones never lets go of the reigns. The fishbowl of this job can also be too much to handle for most mere mortals. That said, this team has consistently won at an elite level, has great fan support and never is hurting for revenue. The second Jones sells this team (which he won’t ever do), Dallas becomes one of the top 2-3 coaching jobs in the NFL instantly.
9. Indianapolis Colts ($1.154 billion, 12th)
There have been some rocky moments — like leaving Baltimore under the cover of night — but since moving to Indianapolis, the Colts have been a perennial power. Yes, much of that is due to Peyton Manning, but the support from the Irsay family has been excellent. The Colts play in one of the nicest new facilities in the league and Indianapolis has slowly developed into a destination city for many in the Midwest. And getting to face the Jaguars and Titans four times a year would appeal to most any head coach.
10. Baltimore Ravens ($1.157 billion, 11th)
The Ravens haven’t been around for a very long time, but the franchise has proven to be a big winner with more than one coach. Since relocating under owner Art Modell in 1996 from Cleveland, the Ravens have won two Super Bowls under two different coaches and are now owned by Steve Bisciotti. The stadium is solid, the fans are committed and the rivalries in the AFC North are as good as any in the NFL.
11. Kansas City Chiefs ($1.008 billion, 20th)
Despite the small market moniker, coaching in Kansas City is one of the top jobs in the NFL. The fans are extremely dedicated, the town is great, Arrowhead is as historic as any venue in the league and there are games to be won in the AFC West. Plus, have you ever smelled a Chiefs tailgate?
12. New York Jets ($1.284 billion, 6th)
Despite being the second most popular and powerful team in New York, the J-E-T-S job is still an attractive gig. Playing in the biggest media market in the world with excellent fan support and a brand new building makes this job one of the more coveted. The rich history and tradition speaks for itself.
13. Houston Texans ($1.305 billion, 5th)
The Texans have quickly become one of the NFL’s top coaching locations. With loads of revenue and financial support deep in the heart of football-crazed Texas, Houston has become one of the better jobs. A relatively manageable division schedule and gorgeous stadium also help make up for lack of tradition and natural rivals. Owner Bob McNair is also one of the league’s best.
14. Seattle Seahawks ($1.040 billion, 17th)
The stadium is one of the hidden gems in the NFL landscape as the Seahawks fans are among the loudest and best in the league. Seattle is an amazing place to live and owner Paul Allen showed his commitment by saving the team from a move to Southern California when he bought the team in 1997. This gig is moving up the rankings quickly.
15. Philadelphia Eagles ($1.260 billion, 7th)
Powerful, lucrative, steeped in tradition, an excellent stadium and some of the best rivalries are what make coaching in Philly so attractive. Having to deal with Eagles fans every day is a large and taxing, but manageable, drawback.
16. Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion, 3rd)
One of the more powerful and lucrative franchises in the league has all of the bullet points needed for a great coaching job. Excellent fans, rich traditions, an excellent venue and great rivalries make this a great job. Having to work for Daniel Snyder, however, keeps Washington from being a top 10 job.
17. New Orleans Saints ($971 million, 23rd)
Tom Benson bought the Saints in 1985 and has had to deal with multiple hurdles en route to the 2009 Super Bowl championship. The fans are excellent and the city is full of culture, however, a long standing battle to upgrade or replace the Superdome is just one of many ancillary issues the Saints’ headman has to deal with.
18. Minnesota Vikings ($975 million, 22nd)
There is a lot to like about coaching in the Twin Cities. The Vikings have a rich tradition and passionate fan base to go with excellent regional rivalries and a picturesque hometown. However, this team is one of seven without any NFL championship of any kind, and the Vikings are desperately awaiting the completion of their new stadium to move out of the outdated Metrodome.
19. Cincinnati Bengals ($871 million, 26th)
This is a stable franchise with a great stadium located in a great location on the river in downtown Cincinnati. There is plenty of history and excellent rivalries with Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. However, this team has zero NFL titles of any kind and has failed to win big for long stretches of time.
20. Atlanta Falcons ($837 million, 28th)
In what isn’t a great pro sports town, the Falcons can dominate the sports headlines. Atlanta isn’t one of the more powerful, successful or lucrative franchises, but winning teams have proven capable of capturing the fans in the area. A massive new stadium could elevate this gig into the upper echelon of NFL jobs.
21. Miami Dolphins ($1.060 billion, 15th)
This is a once proud franchise that has experienced plenty of bad seasons in the last few years. There is plenty of tradition, pockets of winning and it is located in a thriving cultural hotbed in South Florida. But the owner is new to the scene and the stadium has no identity whatsoever.
22. Detroit Lions ($855 million, 27th)
There is stability in the owner’s box, as the Ford Family has controlled the franchise since 1963. Ford Field is an excellent venue and Detroit fans have supported terrible football for decades. However, there is little to no tradition of success and having to face perennial powers in Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota six times a year is daunting.
23. San Diego Chargers ($936 million, 24th)
Owned by the Spanos family since 1984, the Chargers have never realized their potential in the NFL. The stadium needs an upgrade and there is little to no history of winning big. Yet, the AFC West features long-standing rivalries and few places on the planet offer more comfortable living conditions than San Diego.
24. Cleveland Browns ($987 million, 21st)
The fans in Cleveland are some of the best in all of sports. Without sniffing a Super Bowl appearance in nearly 50 years, the Dawg Pound is consistently packed every Sunday. However, there is new, unfamiliar ownership and no coach has seemed capable of winning games consistently.
25. St. Louis Rams ($780 million, 31st)
The Rams organization has as many NFL titles (3) as it does home towns. There is no long-standing connection to the city of St. Louis after moving from Los Angeles (and Cleveland) and the Edward Jones Dome could use some upgrading.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($1.033 billion, 19th)
Owner Malcolm Glazer threatened to move the team on more than one occasion, but he also has built a new stadium. The gimmicky Sunday experience is lacking and the franchise has a long history of losing football games.
27. Tennessee Titans ($1.011 billion, 19th)
Owner Bud Adams has had plenty of Jerry Jones moments, can be a hassle to work for and has already moved his team from Houston to Nashville via Memphis. Music City is a growing, bustling metropolitan area and LP Field is a solid venue. However, fans are extremely fair weather and the game day experience is severely lacking.
28. Carolina Panthers ($1.048 billion, 16th)
The team is fairly lucrative as the 16th most valuable in the league and it is located in a football loving area of the country. However, with its expansion team roots, there is zero tradition, it has little history of winning and literally claims 15 different owners.
29. Arizona Cardinals ($922 million, 25th)
This is one of the oldest franchises in the league and one that has failed to succeed in any way for most of its 93 seasons. Bill Bidwell might be a quality owner but five playoff appearances during his 47-year tenure indicates winning isn’t a priority.
30. Oakland Raiders ($785 million, 30th)
The stadium is more of a costume party than anything else. And while the late Al Davis was once revered for his savvy influence on football, he had lost his edge for most of his final years. Unfortunately, his son and current owner Mark hasn’t done anything to change that trend.
31. Buffalo Bills ($805 million, 29th)
The fans are great and the atmosphere can be great and Ralph Wilson is largely well-respected. But Buffalo might be the worst NFL city in the league, the team hasn’t won in nearly two decades and the organization is worth less than half of the most prestigious franchises.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars ($770 million, 32nd)
It is the least lucrative team in the NFL. It has tarps covering empty seats. Ownership isn’t exactly committed to the team staying in Jacksonville. And the Jags have posted some of the worst records in recent memory. At least, there will be some new swimming pools and a snazzy new video board at EverBank Field.
To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s nine-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.
Far removed from the glitz and glamour — and the restrictor plates and multi-car crashes — of Daytona International Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to the far northeast for Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The "Magic Mile" is a tight, flat oval that's largely a big version of Martinsville Speedway. Sunday's race marks the first of two visits to the track with the second serving as the second race in this fall's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Here are the picks for the weekend:
B-List (pick four, start two)
1. Jeff GordonThis pick may seem a bit peculiar thanks to Gordon's last win at New Hampshire coming in 1998. Gordon, however, has been markedly consistent at the flat oval. His worst finish since 2005 is 15th, and he's picked up three top-5 finishes in the last six NHMS races. Further, Gordon's averaging running position (7.2) at NHMS in the last eight years is the best in the circuit. He'll be a solid choice Sunday.
2. Denny Hamlin
The only driver with a better average finish than Gordon in the last 16 races at NASCAR's lone New England stop is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin, trying to bounce back from consecutive weeks that ended in crashes, comes to NHMS with a win and four top-5 finishes in his last six starts. Last year, Hamlin dominated New Hampshire by leading 343 of 601 laps which resulted in a win and a runner-up finish.
Also consider: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart
B-List (pick four, start two)
1. Ryan Newman
Newman has three career wins in his career at New Hampshire (he won his first career race there in 2002 and then won again in ’05 and ’07) and figures to be in the running to at least trigger another free Bloomin' Onion giveaway from his sponsor with a top-10 finish. Driver No. 39 had a chance to sweep both NHMS races in 2011, but lost a tire and finished 26th in the September race. Without that failure, Newman would be riding a streak of seven straight NHMS top-10 finishes.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. The No. 88 hasn't been consistently stellar at NHMS in recent years, but Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s average running position of 11.9 on the one-mile track ranks best among B-List drivers in the last eight races. In 2012, Earnhardt finished fourth in the July NHMS race and 13th in September. On the downside, Earnhardt hasn't led at Loudon since 2008.
3. Jeff Burton
Burton's NASCAR legacy includes being the last driver to lead every lap in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race — a feat he accomplished at New Hampshire when NASCAR slapped restrictor plates on cars for one race in 2000 after the tragic deaths of Kenny Irwin and Adam Petty. Thirteen years later Burton doesn't seem like a win threat, but he's the guy to go with if you're looking for a B-Lister with plenty of starts left to score a top 15. Six of Burton's last seven New Hampshire finishes have been between 12th and 16th.
4. Joey LoganoYou'll remember Logano's first career win came at NHMS in 2009 when he stayed out during a late caution for rain that wound up ending the race. He's back at New Hampshire this time in a bid to restart his quiet streak of six straight finishes of 11th or better that ended in a crash at Daytona. Logano was 14th and eighth last season in Loudon and has a career average finish of 15.3 at the track.
Also consider: Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch
C-List (pick two, start one)
1. Casey MearsQuietly this season Mears has become a steady performer in the C-List loaded with drivers who never seem to break 25th. Now 24th in points, Mears hasn't finished worse than 23rd since a crash at Darlington eight races ago. He's also scored three straight top-20 finishes. Most telling for the improved Germain Racing camp is that Mears ran 14th at Phoenix earlier this season — a track that has many crossover characteristics with NHMS.
2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
If you like what Mears has done this season, you certainly like what Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has accomplished as a C-Lister in 2013. He doesn't have a single DNF and has finished on the lead lap of all but four races. Still, Stenhouse is looking for his first top 10 of 2013. New Hampshire might be a good place for that, seeing as Stenhouse recorded a pair of top-5 finishes at the track in his last two Nationwide Series starts. Like Mears, his 16th-place run at Phoenix may be indicative of a solid day, too.
Also consider: AJ Allmendinger, David Ragan
Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
Even by recruiting class standards, the top prospects of 2012 ran the gamut.
On one hand, the class produced the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in UNLV’s Anthony Bennett (though fellow freshman Nerlens Noel of Kentucky seemed the more likely pick until draft day). On the other, it produced one bona fide bust in Alabama’s Devonta Pollard, who has already withdrawn from school amid legal issues.
The 2012 class gave us everything in between, including eight early entries to the NBA Draft. All eight early entries were drafted, though two will not receive guaranteed contracts after going in the second round.
For the 2013-14 season, the 2012 recruiting class will have its share of stars like Marcus Smart, a high-profile transfer in Rodney Purvis and a handful of wait-and-see projects.
Now that the draft is complete and teams are starting to look ahead to 2013-14, this is a good time to look back at how Athlon Sports’ top 25 recruits for the class of 2012 fared in the last year.
LOOKING BACK: THE TOP 25 RECRUITS OF 2012-13
1. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Freshman recap: Noel was a top candidate to be the national defensive player of the year, averaging 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals. He also crept close to averaging a double double at 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds before a season-ending torn ACL against Florida on Feb. 12. His presence kept Kentucky in NCAA Tournament contention, but the Wildcats lost four of their last five without Noel, including a loss to Robert Morris in the NIT. Despite his injury, Noel was the SEC’s freshman of the year and defensive player of the year.
For 2013-14: Considered a potential No. 1 overall pick, Noel slipped to sixth in the NBA Draft, selected by the New Orleans Pelicans before being traded to Philadelphia.
2. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Freshman recap: Muhammad began his season ineligible as the NCAA investigated impermissible benefits. He finished the season as it was revealed he was a year older than his father had been claiming. In between, Muhammad was named the Pac-12’s co-freshman of the year while averaging 17.9 points per game.
For 2013-14: Muhammad was the final pick in the lottery, drafted 14th overall by Utah before being traded to Minnesota. That’s probably a lower spot than was envisioned for Muhammad out of high school, but he became UCLA’s highest draft pick since Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love went fourth and fifth in 2008.
3. Isaiah Austin, Baylor
Freshman recap: Austin averaged 13 points and 8.3 rebounds for a disappointing Baylor team. The Bears won the NIT, but Baylor was expected to contend for a Big 12 title (Athlon ranked Baylor second in the Big 12 and 17th nationally). Austin, a 7-1 center, was expected to declare for the NBA Draft before surgery to repair a torn labrum meant he would not be able to participate in workouts. Austin instead elected to return to school.
For 2013-14: Hopes will be high again for a talented Baylor team. Austin will team with Cory Jefferson and Ricardo Gathers for one of the nation’s top frontcourts.
4. Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Freshman recap: Anderson wasn’t UCLA’s top-scoring freshman (that was Muhammad) or most important freshman (Jordan Adams), but he was the most well-rounded. Anderson averaged 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a rookie, earning a spot on the All-Pac-12 second team.
For 2013-14: Muhammad is gone, as is point guard Larry Drew II. New coach Steve Alford will look to Anderson to take the next step from one of the Pac-12’s most versatile players to simply one of the league’s best. The 6-foot-9 Anderson could take over point guard duties with Drew gone. Muhammad and Drew enabled UCLA to run a faster offense, but Alford likely will run things at a slower tempo.
5. Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
Freshman recap: Pitt coach Jamie Dixon historically hasn’t relied much on freshmen. That was the case even with Adams, one of the most high profile recruits to sign with the Panthers. Adams averaged 7.2 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds per game.
For 2013-14: The seven-foot New Zealander shot up draft boards before being selected 12th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
6. Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
Freshman recap: Tarczewski started all season, averaging 6.9 points and 6.1 rebounds as a back-to-the-basket center.
For 2013-14: Tarczewski will be a part of a stellar frontcourt on a potential top-five team with the 6-8 star freshman Aaron Gordon and 6-8 sophomore Brandon Ashley. A major progression for the seven-footer could make him an NBA Draft candidate.
7. Alex Poythress, Kentucky
Freshman recap: Like the rest of Kentucky, Poythress endured a disappointing season. His minutes dipped through SEC play, when he averaged 9.8 points per game and 6.2 rebounds.
For 2013-14: Kentucky coach John Calipari would like to see Poythress improve his consistency and maturity as a sophomore. Poythress shot 58.1 percent from the field, but he had his slumps (1 of 9 against Florida, 0 of 3 against Texas A&M, 3 of 9 against Vanderbilt). With a freshman cast capable of contending for a title, Kentucky will need Poythress to be one of the few veteran influences.
8. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Freshman recap: Bennett was in contention for national freshman of the year before inconsistent results in Mountain West play. Bennett averaged 12.1 points in conference games, but failed to score in double figures seven times against MWC competition.
For 2013-14: The Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the first shock of the draft when they picked Bennett No. 1 rather than Nerlens Noel or Maryland’s Alex Len.
9. Grant Jerrett, Arizona
Freshman recap: Jerrett turned in a lackluster debut season with 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
For 2013-14: His decision to leave for the NBA Draft was a surprising one, but Jerrett’s gamble resulted in being a second-round pick. Jerrett saw limited playing time as freshman, a trend that may have continued as a sophomore.
10. Brandon Ashley, Arizona
Freshman recap: Like Tarczewski and Jerrett, Ashley’s contributions were limited on a veteran team with Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom and Nick Johnson. Ashley averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in conference play.
For 2013-14: Part of the reason the Wildcats will be a preseason favorite in the Pac-12 is the predicted improvement in the frontcourt with he and Tarczewski expected to take a major step as sophomores. He struggled in USA Basketball’s Under-19 tryouts, which could either be a motivator for offseason improvements or a troubling sign for his second season.
11. Cameron Ridley, Texas
Freshman recap: Ridley had 14 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to UCLA on Dec. 8 but was rarely a factor for the remainder of the season despite shedding weight when he arrived on campus. That was the last time all season he scored in double figures.
For 2013-14: Texas is in trouble with Myck Kabongo leaving for the Draft and a pair of transfers (Sheldon McClellan and Jaylen Bond) heading out of Austin. The Longhorns can ill-afford a top recruit on the roster who’s struggling to provide 10 minutes per game.
12. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
Freshman recap: Duke didn’t need Sulaimon to carry the Blue Devils, but he proved to be capable enough at times. He scored 21 against Creighton in the NCAA Tournament, 27 against Boston College and 25 against Maryland. He also had his freshman moments, going 0-for-10 in the first game without teammate Ryan Kelly against NC State and 1 of 10 in the Elite Eight against Louisville.
For 2013-14: Sulaimon will continue to be a standout perimeter defender, but Duke will look for him to improve from long distance (37.1 percent from 3-point range).
13. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Freshman recap: Smart was everything Oklahoma State expected him to be, taking a leadership role from Day One and manning the point guard spot. he finished with 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game as Oklahoma State returned to the NCAA Tournament before running into a hot Oregon team in the round of 64.
For 2013-14: Smart surprisingly returned for his sophomore season when he could have been the first point guard taken in the NBA Draft. The Cowboys will challenge for a Big 12 title and more with Smart leading a nucleus of Le’Bryan Nash, Markel Brown and Phil Forte. He’ll be on the short list for National Player of the Year honors when the season begins.
14. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
Freshman recap: Before the season started, there was talk Goodwin could be Kentucky’s best freshman. That never materialized, but Goodwin still averaged 14.1 points per game. He manned the point guard spot at times but finished with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio while shooting 26.6 percent on 64 3-point attempts for the season.
For 2013-14: Goodwin left school after one season to become the No. 29 pick in the NBA draft, selected by the Thunder and eventually landing with the Suns. He’s already been tapped as possible steal in the draft.
15. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Freshman recap: A rare big-time recruit for Wisconsin, Dekker was in contention for Big Ten freshman of the year for most of the season. He finished with 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while rankings seventh in the Big Ten in effective field goal percentage.
For 2013-14: Wisconsin is looking to Dekker to become the Badgers’ next great big man. Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans are all gone, so the spotlight will be on Dekker.
16. Gary Harris, Michigan State
Freshman recap: Like teammate Adreian Payne, Harris dabbled with going to the NBA Draft but elected to return to school to compete for a national title. Harris was one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, making 65-of-158 shots (41.1 percent) from long range.
For 2013-14: Harris played all of last season with a shoulder injury, and Michigan State still went 13-5 in the Big Ten. What can Michigan State do if he’s healthy?
17. Ricky Ledo, Providence
Freshman recap: Ledo sat out his entire freshman season as a partial qualifier.
For 2013-14: Hopes were high Ledo would help lead Providence back to relevance even as he was not eligible to play, but he left for the NBA Draft despite not playing a game. He was a second-round pick.
18. Rodney Purvis, NC State
Freshman recap: A disappointing season for NC State extended to Purvis, who was part of the inconsistency for the Wolfpack last season. Purvis was NC State’s sixth-leading scorer at 8.3 points per game.
For 2013-14: Purvis will sit out the season following his transfer to Connecticut.
19. DaJuan Coleman, Syracuse
Freshman recap: Coleman started the first 20 games of the season but eventually watched his role diminish. He missed eight games following knee surgery in January and played a grand total of 26 minutes after his return.
For 2013-14: Like many rookie big men, Coleman is struggling to find his role, but the Orange have had success in developing centers in their latter years, most recently Fab Melo.
20. Tony Parker, UCLA
Freshman recap: Parker struggled in his season under Ben Howland. A transfer wasn’t out of the question after Parker averaged 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 points.
For 2013-14: Parker elected to stay at UCLA to play for new coach Steve Alford, who will hope the leadership change will help Parker contribute more than 6.3 minutes per game.
21. Amile Jefferson, Duke
Freshman recap: Jefferson watched his role increase dramatically when Ryan Kelly was injured in January. The forward scored in double figures in five of 11 games when he played regular minutes with Kelly out of the lineup.
For 2013-14: Kelly is gone for good, and so is Mason Plumlee. Jefferson has added weight since he arrived on campus with the goal of stabilizing Duke’s post presence.
22. Robert Carter, Georgia Tech
Freshman recap: The hometown prospect helped Georgia Tech’s modest improvement in 2012-13. Carter was second on the Yellow Jackets at 9.9 points per game and 6.7 rebounds.
For 2013-14: With Carter plus Marcus Georges-Hunt, Georgia Tech should start to contend for a postseason tournament in Brian Gregory’s third season.
23. Kris Dunn, Providence
Freshman recap: A shoulder injury limited Dunn early in the season, and he never quite broke out. The guard finished with 5.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
For 2013-14: Vincent Council is gone, so coach Ed Cooley needs Dunn to assume point guard duties. Providence may be a postseason contender in 2013-14, but the Friars may wonder what could have happened if Ledo remained on the roster.
24. Semaj Christon, Xavier
Freshman recap: Christon wasn’t fully healthy last season and still led Xavier wtih 15.2 points per game and 4.6 assists.
For 2013-14: The Atlantic 10 rookie of the year should keep Xavier in Big East contention even though the Musketeers missed the postseason a year ago. Christon is looking to become a more complete guard, both as a floor general and outside shooter.
25. Devonta Pollard, Alabama
Freshman recap: Pollard averaged 3.9 points and didn’t score in double figures in SEC play or the NIT.
For 2013-14: Pollard withdrew from Alabama after being arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Pollard is accused of serving as the driver and an organizer to aid his mother in the kidnapping of a 6-year-old girl.
Sometimes we are powerfully reminded of how important sports can be to us all. Especially, in the college sports world where connections between fans and favorite teams almost always rank as the most dedicated and committed in all of major American sports.
Grant Reed is a 12-year-old Ohio State fan whose parents, Troy and Denise, are clearly raising him correctly. Reed was released from the Columbus, Ohio area Nationwide Children's Hospital last Friday after a 10-week recovery period following a 16-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor back in May. All of this after months of chemotherapy.
Well, as only our children can, Reed has inspired and entertained all of us all by putting a new twist on his battle with cancer by naming his tumor “Michigan.” For roughly two years, Reed has fought his way through this horrifying situation to come out victorious against “that team up North.”
His father said when he was released on Friday, “Our prognosis is very good. It shows that he has indeed beat Michigan.”
Troy and Denise met in the Ohio State Marching Band in college and got engaged at a Buckeyes game in 1994. Obviously, the family is very proud of its favorite team. But both Michigan and Ohio State fans should be proud of their rivalry and what it meant to this 12-year old boy.
Reed will enter the 7th grade this fall.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for July 10.
• It's the week of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue. It's okay to link to, because it's, you know, sports. That's drag racer Ashley Force in the picture.
• They take their bets seriously across the pond (NSFW ugly naked butt alert).
• We all like to think we know what will happen in the SEC this season. In a twist on the old prediction game, here are five things that will happen down south this season, and here are five things that won't.
• The Biebs continues to insert himself into sports-related situations. He must be stopped.
• Scary stuff: Anna Benson was armed for battle when she went to see Kris Benson. Hell hath no fury like a psycho chick scorned.
• The LolMets strike again. They could screw up a one-car funeral.
• Miguel Montero gave rookie hot-shot Yasiel Puig the old "not in my house" treatment, complete with a Mutombo finger wag.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
The Biebs meets THE CUP!!! pic.twitter.com/oh4AvDbYbT— Peter Hassen (@PJHASSEN) July 10, 2013
Apparently the Stanley Cup will pose with anyone these days. Peter Hassen, Sr. Director of Market Development and Community Affairs for the Chicago Blackhaws, tweeted out this picture of Justin Bieber (aka The Biebs) with the Stanley Cup.
If you listen carefully, you can hear hockey fans sobbing in the background.
Clemson is coming off the best two-year stretch in school history, but the program’s sights are set even higher in 2013.
With quarterback Tajh Boyd turning down the NFL for one more year in Death Valley, the Tigers are the preseason favorite to win the ACC title. In addition to Boyd, Clemson returns 12 other starters, including receiver Sammy Watkins and a handful of key defenders.
With a favorable schedule, the Tigers are positioned to make a run at the national title. A Florida State team that’s reloading on both sides of the ball will be Clemson’s toughest ACC opponent, while Georgia and South Carolina are in the non-conference portion of the schedule.
If Clemson can navigate its schedule for a 13-0 mark, this team should be in a good position to play for the national title. With games against potential top-10 teams in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State, the Tigers have opportunities for quality wins.
What will be Clemson’s record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
Clemson's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
|Game||Steven Lassan||Braden Gall||John Cassillo||Mark Ross||David|
|9/7 So. Carolina State|
|9/19 at NC State*|
|9/28 Wake Forest*|
|10/5 at Syracuse*|
|10/12 Boston College*|
|10/19 Florida State*|
|10/26 at Maryland*|
|11/2 at Virginia*|
|11/14 Ga. Tech*|
|11/23 The Citadel|
|11/30 at S. Carolina|
* Indicates ACC game.
John Cassillo, (@JohnCassillo), Atlantic Coast Convos
If you're an ACC team, this is exactly how you need to lay out your schedule in order to compete for a National Championship. The Georgia and South Carolina bookends keep you top-of-mind for the media at both the start and end of the season, making it very likely the Palmetto State will be hosting ESPN's College Gameday multiple times this season, too. Clemson also received a gift with a couple weeks or so in between each of the four real challenges on this slate (Georgia, Florida State, Georgia Tech, South Carolina). I see Clemson going 1-1 against the two SEC teams, and while I picked them to beat UGA and lose to SC, you could easily flip that around, too. Unsure which is better for the team's title hopes, though: losing in the first or the last game. But with Tajh Boyd at quarterback, they may not have to worry about losing either contest.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The opener against Georgia is a toss-up, but the Bulldogs have a checkered past with some of these high-profile opening games (see: Boise State and Oklahoma State). I like Clemson at home with the Bulldogs missing safety Josh Harvey-Clemons. Hard to believe Clemson hasn’t lost back-to-back games to Florida State in more than a decade, but I’ll take FSU coming off the bye week. The big surprise may be a loss to Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets give Clemson fits, handing the Tigers their first loss of 2011. Paul Johnson is 3-2 against Dabo Swinney, and Clemson has won seven of the last 10 overall.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Clemson might boast the best offense in the nation with an elite quarterback-wide receiver combination, a veteran offensive line and innovative play-caller pulling the strings. This team should be playing for an ACC title on Championship Saturday regardless of what happens in the two huge SEC bookends. The Tigers beat two such opponents last year — LSU and Auburn — and will have to do it again if it wants to be in the national title mix in 2013. While that seems unlikely, a one-loss, ACC title, BCS bowl bid campaign would have to be viewed as a major success.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Clemson has to be considered one of the top-10 teams to have a chance to win the national championship this year. Even though Florida State has plenty of time to reload on both sides of the ball by Oct. 19, I don’t see the Tigers losing in conference play. And if Clemson runs the table in the ACC, it essentially sets up a two-game schedule to stay in the national title picture. With Georgia’s defense breaking in a handful of new starters, the Tigers are playing the Bulldogs at the right time in the season opener. However, Clemson has lost four straight to South Carolina, and I think the Gamecocks make it five in a row in 2013.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Nothing too surprising out of my projections for Clemson this season. I don't believe the Tigers will go a perfect 8-0 in league play during the regular season, but I had trouble identifying which game (or games) they will lose. If you are looking for a potential upset, watch out for the trip to Maryland in late October. The opener against Georgia is obviously a huge game for both teams. It's a good time to play Georgia — the Dawgs will be breaking in a bunch of new starters on defense and will be without linebacker/safety Josh Harvey-Clemons — but it will hard for the Clemson defense to slow down the Georgia offense, which can be devastating on the ground and through the air.
I like Clemson a lot this season, especially on offense. The ACC Atlantic Division will most likely come down to the Tigers and Seminoles, and I am giving Clemson the edge based on the game with FSU being at home. Clemson's national title hopes will come down to the two non-conference games against the SEC, which just so happen to bookend its regular season. I think it's too much to ask of this Tigers team to beat both SEC powerhouses, as I have some skepticism of just how improved Brent Venables' defense will be. So I am going to play it safe and give Clemson a split against Georgia and South Carolina with the win coming over the hated, in-state rival Gamecocks. I know that's how Dabo Swinney would want it if he had to choose between the two.
Related College Football Content
ACC Predictions for 2013
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High Expectations Have Returned for Florida State
5 First-Year Starting QBs That Could Win the National Title
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College Football's Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era
College Football's All-Freshmen Team for 2013
College Football's All-America Team for 2013
How good is this No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team, really?
Do not misconstrue that question. I didn’t ask, ‘How good is Matt Kenseth?’ (Spoiler alert: pretty damn). I asked ‘How good is that team?’
How strong are those JGR-built Camrys? How much fuel can those suckers hold, legally or illegally? Can that Toyota Racing Development engine hold up? And this Jason Ratcliff character who took a big gamble with his still-rising star to secure the win at Kentucky … is he actually a good crew chief?
I ask these questions because I see the sum of the parts succeeding at a high level, with four victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year. How good are they, really? Are they fit to win a championship? Championships are won when a few of the parts can out-value, or carry, some other weaker parts.
Kenseth, a consummate producer and a contending driver independently of his team (he has a 2.722 season-long PEER, which ranks as the fourth-best in the series this season) is atrocious at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Awful. I’ll touch on the gravity of how bad below, but this weekend might be the first true test for the remaining parts of the No. 20 team’s total package. Can the rest of the parts carry Kenseth?
-0.083 Kenseth has a -0.083 PEER in the last 12 races at New Hampshire, ranking him as the 45th-most productive driver in that time frame out of 53 drivers with three or more starts.
So, JGR’s manna from heaven is fallible. What now? His average finish in completed races — which is 11 out of the last 12 events in Loudon, N.H. — is 15.6. Those came in Roush Fenway Racing cars. Roush Fenway — emphasis on the Fenway — puts a premium on running well at New Hampshire, which the usually astute Kenseth hasn’t historically been able to do. He earned zero top-5 finishes in the CoT era. Does the JGR No. 20 bunch have enough to lift its driver? A good day could transpire if the performance of a fellow JGR employee is any indication.
66.7% JGR’s Denny Hamlin passed with a superb 66.7 percent efficiency in two New Hampshire races last season.
Hamlin, who finished second and first in those races, has been horrendous in the passing game this season. He sports a 44.30 percent mark (anything lower than 50 illustrates that a driver is getting passed more than being passed) through the first half of 2013. Perhaps New Hampshire can change that and his overall run of bad finishes?
0.31 Hamlin’s terminal crash frequency, the per-race amount that he is crashing out of events, is a series-high 0.31.
Crashes, for the most part, can be avoided. When crashes do happen, the driver doesn’t have much of a say as to how bad the damage will be. In Hamlin’s case, he has had a bad run of luck with crashes that are irreparable. Not only is that 0.31 mark dangerously high — the series average is 0.12 — it’s historically high. In the last seven years, no other driver has had a terminal crash frequency higher than 0.25 (Ward Burton, 2007). Eventually, that frequency will shrink. Until then, it’s ruining the season for a No. 11 team failing week to week in its attempt to resemble a reliable Cup Series operation.
454 and 452 The two drivers that have led the most laps in the last 12 New Hampshire races are, surprisingly, Tony Stewart (454) and Clint Bowyer (452).
Go ahead and admit that you guessed Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson as the laps-led leaders. It’s okay. Stewart and Bowyer aren’t known for running out front, at least not recently. What this tells us is that Stewart and Bowyer have been able to nail car setups well enough to do such a thing, whereas others haven’t (Johnson is the next highest driver in laps led, but is over 200 laps below Stewart and Bowyer’s level). Bowyer’s 10.3-place average finish this season is backed by a relatively strong 8.9 finish deviation, meaning he’s entrenched near the front of the point standings. Stewart doesn’t have that luxury. With a 16.6-place average finish this year, he’s in need of some more insurance (i.e., a win) to continue his chase for a fourth championship.
100% Jeff Gordon has finished in the top half of the field 100 percent of the time in New Hampshire races dating back to 2007.
In fact, the lowest Gordon has finished in the last 12 races at NHMS is 15th. On eight occasions he finished sixth or better. He didn’t win, though, and for a driver who was bashed in the early part of his Cup Series tenure for “winning all the time and having a vanilla personality” — sound familiar? — not winning at all comes as a shock. This mile track might offer his best opportunity to win a race in 2013.
1.250 Expectations are high for Michael Waltrip Racing’s Brian Vickers, who holds a serviceable 1.250 PEER in nine starts at New Hampshire since 2007.
Why the expectations? Vickers’s Cup Series life is in limbo. It has been stated that MWR is interested in him becoming the full-time driver in the No. 55 following this season, but his on-track effort this season has been unbecoming of a potential free agent. He’s serviceable — barely at a 1.000 — but his 0.86 crash frequency is the worst in the series. With rumors swirling that MWR is giving long looks at other free agents-to-be, a solid New Hampshire effort of which Vickers is capable — he finished ninth there last fall — is almost required.
David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
• We knew Anna Benson was crazy, but not this crazy. Just as a refresher, here's a picture of Mrs. Benson in happier, saner days (relatively speaking).
• Urban decay: Meyer's rep has taken a hit in the wake of Gonzo's arrest. Of course, some say it's more than fair to question Meyer's methods at Florida.
• Colin Kaepernick wore a Dolphins hat on the Fourth, much to the consternation of Niner Nation. He's responded to Lid-Gate by saying he's gonna wear what he wants.
• Gary Player nude! Need we say more?
• Boy, the SEC's loaded — with coaches. Saturday Down South ranks them 1-14. When Dan Mullen's No. 11 after taking Mississippi State to three bowls in four years, you know it's a CEO's league.
• A young Ohio State fan named his brain tumor "Michigan" then proceeded to kick its ass. I suspect even Michigan fans can get on board with that.
• Horror isn't the only movie genre where they follow rules, Scream-style. Here are seven rules every sports movie follows.
• Not every athlete commands a high price tag on the trade market. Here are some athletes who were traded for a song (or a case of bats, or $1, or 15 kilos of pork…)
• Elvis Andrus loves to screw with Adrian Beltre on pop-ups. Not sure why, but it's GIF gold.
• Now this is a defensive play: Robbing your opponent of a go-ahead home run with two outs in the ninth inning.
• Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime. Teach an old man to fish with his hands, and he's an Essential 11 link.
1 box Crispix cereal
2 sacks dried apples: 1 sack Golden Delicious and 1 sack Granny Smith
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tblsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
Melt butter and add cinnamon & brown sugar. In Dutch oven (roasting) pan put in Crispix, pecans and apples. Pour butter, sugar, cinnamon mixture over cereal and stir well. Bake at 250 degrees uncovered for 1 hour,stirring every 15 minutes. After it is done, I spread it out on a cookie sheet to dry. Then put in a covered container, if it lasts that long. We love it!!
(Recipe submitted by Terry, Ela and Nicholas Tausch (# 40) Julie and Greg Eifert, Tyler Eifert “80”)
INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS
1 bag shredded lettuce
1 bag shredded cabbage
1 package slivered almonds
2 packages Ramon noodles
Sauté in butter until slightly brown
Pour on top lettuce
1 can mandarin oranges ( drain)
Pour on top lettuce
1/2 cup veg oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 slashes of soy sauce
Bring to a boil .. Take off heat and put over salad right before you serve the salad and toss..
4 large or 8 small apples, cored and diced
12 oz. cool whip
5 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
1 bag of small snickers bars, cut into small pieces
2 cups peanuts
1. Fold pudding mix into cool whip.
2. Add diced apples, cut up candy bars and peanuts.
3. Mix well.
4. Drizzle with caramel topping.
5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 c of crushed and grounded chocolate chip cookies and/or graham crackers crushed
1 c chocolate chip or semi sweet chocolate chips
1c pecan chopped pieces
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c or 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 c shredded coconut (sweeten)
Mix together cookie crumbs, sugar and butter
Press mixture in a non stick, square baking pan
Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Bake mixture about 10 mins.
Cool on wire rack for about 20 mins.
Sprinkle cooled crust evenly with pecans and chocolate chips
Pour condense milk over the top and sprinkle with coconut
Bake 10 to 15 min or until coconut is toasted
Cool on rack, and cut into squares.
The steps are quite simple, but it is knowing how the meat looks, feels, etc. so there is a lot of expertise in the cooking. The actual steps are:
bone in Boston butt (best fresh and never frozen)
salt the entire butt
put on smoker with fat side up
smoke with hickory wood
cook at about 275 degrees for 8-10 hours
For the BBQ, you can say it was Boston butts hickory smoked for 8-10 hours. It is award winning BBQ from the Gibson's BBQ restaurant family of Decatur, Al. which has won the World's Championship 5 times. Don Gibson, Cody Gibson's father, has won the state of Florida championship and competed at Memphis in May. When Cody comes home for visits, he sends butts back with him for his roomies and teammates to enjoy. One of his roommates, Marcus Lattimore, even asks Cody if his dad can ship them some, since he loves it so much.
(Recipe submitted by Jean Gibson, mother of South Carolina Gamecocks Cody Gibson.)
The Gibsons also made award-winning BBQ beans. A recipe that makes enough for a big crowd of tailgaters:
3 #10 cans pork n beans
1 1/2 boxes brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup Worchestershire sauce
1 cup sweet BBQ sauce
2 large onions chopped
1 cup water
garlic powder (lightly sprinkled over mixture)
cinnamon powder (sprinkled over mixture)
add chopped BBQ pork to mixture
Thoroughly mix all ingredients and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. If there is room, cook on the pit with the pork.
1 1/2 cup butter
3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tbs fresh lemon zest
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 dash of salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
Pre-heat oven 325 degrees. Grease and flour 10 inch tube pan. Beat butter in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add sugar creaming well. Stir in extracts and lemon zest. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add flour, baking powder and salt to creamed mixture, add milk. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 80 minutes
Drizzle with your favorite Cream Cheese Icing while still warm.
(Recipe submitted by Yolanda Smith, mother of Marcus Lattimore)
8 1/2 inch Pork Chops
Honey BBQ Kraft Sauce
Weber N'Orleans Cajun Seasoning
• Clean meat lightly sprinkle salt and pepper
• Add bbq sauce
• Cover meat with Cajun seasoning
• Marinate for an hour
Grill until meat is tender.
Quick, easy, finger licking good and sticks to your ribs!
(Recipe submitted by Linda Gilmore, mother of South Carolina Gamecocks’ Stephon Gilmore #5)
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup pepper sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot®)
1 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
2-3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and hot pepper sauce until well blended. Mix in the Ranch dressing, chicken and Cheddar cheese. Spread into a medium oval casserole dish.
3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. If oil collects on the top, dab it off using a paper towel. Make sure it is browned on top before taking out of oven.
4. Serve with Fritos or Tortilla Chips.
(Recipe submitted by Joy Rosner, Mom to former O-Lineman, #65 Michael Rosner )
A tailgate favorite! Can’t make enough. Easy to prepare and easy to eat at a tailgate party before game time. I pre-cook the Horned Frog Eggs on my barbeque smoker before the tailgate. The cooked Horned Frog Eggs can be refrigerated and then warmed on a tailgate grill. You can also prepare the Horned Frog Eggs and cook them directly on the tailgate grill if you don’t have time to pre-cook (smoke) the Horned Frog Eggs.
Jalapeno peppers Cream cheese
Yellow food coloring
Pan Sausage (I like to use Jimmy Dean Sausage) Bacon Strips (optional)
Barbeque rub (I like to use Rudy’s Barbeque rub)
Ranch Style dressing (optional)
Cut stems off jalapenos, cut jalapenos in half (cross cut, not length cut). Core and remove the jalapeno seeds and veins. Place soften cream cheese in a bowl and mix the yellow food coloring into cream cheese (until the cream cheese looks the color of an egg yolk). Stuff each jalapeno half with some yellow cream cheese.
Finely dice a small onion. Mix onion, sausage and garlic powder (to taste). Pat sausage until flat, then wrap each stuffed jalapeno half with the sausage mixture into a ball shaped like an egg, about 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter. Don’t make the sausage too thick around the stuff jalapeno, but make sure the jalapeno is sealed so the cream cheese does not leak out during cooking. Sprinkle the ball with your favorite barbeque rub. Optional: Wrap the ball with ½ slice of bacon (can secure with a toothpick).
Smoke the Horned Frog Eggs at 225-250 until done. The cooking time on the smoker will generally be about 1 to 1 ½ hours. You can cook (or reheat) on the tailgate grill until done (or warm). Remove toothpicks before serving.
With the toothpick removed, slice the hot Horned Frog Eggs in half before serving. The sliced halves will resemble eggs! Serve hot off the grill! Some like to dip them in Ranch Style dressing (optional). Post-game, I cook Horned Frog Eggs for the Offensive Line, but the players eat them before I have time to cut them in half! Horned Frog Eggs are true tailgate favorites! Enjoy….GO FROGS!
Recipe submitted by By John T. Wooldridge, Sr. (Dad of TCU Offensive Lineman, John Wooldridge, Jr., #75)
4 Portobello mushrooms
1 cup gorgonzola cheese
Sprig of fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat.
Put the portobello mushroom caps on a platter and brush both sides with olive oil.
Grill the caps, top side down, directly over high heat until liquid forms in the gills and the top is grill marked., 2-4 minutes.
Turn over, emptying any liquid into the fire. if flare ups occur, move the mushrooms to a cooler part of the grill.
Grill for 1-2 minutes longer, and turn again.
Spoon 1/8 -1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese into each mushroom (amount varies according to size of mushroom -the bigger the mushroom the more cheese!) and add a few leaves of fresh crushed rosemary and drizzle with more olive oil.
Cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
Transfer to platter and season with salt and pepper.
These can be served just as they are or on a grilled hamburger bun!
Football and food go hand in hand on game day. There’s nothing better than getting to your favorite game early, hanging out with friends and family and celebrating the game ahead while chowing down on an assortment of amazing food.
Champion No-Bean Chili
3 lbs of ground sirloin
2 lbs of lean ground pork
2 to 3 medium onions depending on taste preferences
2 29 oz cans of tomato sauce
3 29 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
3/8 cup of chili powder
1/4 to 1/3 cup of paprika
2 to 3 T of cumin
3 to 4 T of granulated garlic
1 to 2 t of chipotle chili powder
1 to 2 t of ancho chili powder
1 t of cayenne pepper
Heat a small amount of olive oil in pan to keep meat from sticking as the meat browns. Brown ground sirloin and ground pork in batches. Salt with small portions of kosher salt. Add chopped onions as the meat gets close to being done. Finish cooking until all meat is done and onions are clear. Drain meat and onions.
In large dutch oven, add tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, chili powders and garlic. Start on the low side of the chipotle, ancho, and cayenne peppers. Add chipotle, ancho, and cayenne pepper powders, granulated garlic, and kosher salt to match the taste of the intended audience. Add drained meat and onions. Simmer on low for several hours, stirring to prevent sticking. Add water to thin if needed. Add instant potatoes to thicken, if needed. (This is easier than flour or corn starch and is gluten free.)