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Path: /college-football/memphis-tigers-2013-spring-preview
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While the final record was only 4-8, it was clear Memphis was an improved team in coach Justin Fuente’s first season. The Tigers suffered a disappointing loss to UT-Martin in the season opener but rebounded to win their final three games for 2012. After a disastrous tenure under Larry Porter, Memphis has found the right coach to lead the program into the Big East.

Memphis Tigers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 4-8 (4-4)

Spring practice dates: Feb. 28-April 9

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 8

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Jacob Karam, 176 of 274, 1,895 yds., 14 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: Brandon Hayes, 118 car., 576 yds., 6 TDs
Receiving: Keiwone Malone, 44 rec., 476 yds., 3 TDs
Tackles: Charles Harris, 79
Sacks: Martin Ifedi, 7.5
Interceptions: Lonnie Ballentine, 3

Redshirts to Watch: WR Daniel Hurd, OL Markeith Minnick

JUCO Transfers to Watch: OLB Kewan Alfred, LB Ryan Coleman, WR Joe Craig, WR Adrian Henderson, OL Kevin McIntyre, OL Nykiren Wellington

2013 Schedule

Sept. 7 Duke
Sept. 14 at MTSU
Sept. 21 Arkansas State
Nov. 9 Tennessee-Martin

Big East dates TBD

UCF
Cincinnati
SMU
Temple
at Connecticut
at Houston
at Louisville
at South Florida

Offensive Strength: There’s not a glaring strength on offense for Memphis, especially after averaging just 318.3 yards per game last season. Quarterback Jacob Karam was steady in his first year as the starter, and Brandon Hayes finished the year with back-to-back 100-yard efforts. Receiver Keiwone Malone is a solid go-to threat for Karam.

Offensive Weakness: Considering the Tigers ranked near the bottom of Conference USA in points and yards last season, Fuente needs more from this group in 2013. As a whole, Memphis needs more playmakers to emerge this year.

Defensive Strength: Eight starters are back from a unit that showed big improvement last season. The Tigers ranked 117th in yards allowed in 2011 but jumped to 50th last season. The defensive line should be the top unit on defense, led by potential all-conference performers Martin Ifedi, Johnnie Farms and Terry Redden.

Defensive Weakness: There’s room for improvement everywhere, but Memphis has to be better against the pass and force more turnovers in 2013.

Spring Storylines Facing the Tigers

1. Quarterback play? While quarterback Jacob Karam was solid in his first season in Memphis, the Texas native needs to show more progress in 2013. Karam did finish with seven touchdown passes over his final three games but topped 200 yards only twice. Backup Eric Mathews played sparingly last year, throwing five passes in eight appearances. Karam should be better in his second season as the starter, but Mathews and incoming freshman Brayden Scott will have a chance to push for snaps this preseason.

2. Movement on the offensive line. Memphis brings back three starters on the offensive line, but left tackle Jordan Devey (second-team All-Conference USA selection) is a huge loss. How will Devey be replaced? Center Antonio Foster, right tackle Al Bond and guard Chris Schuetz each started at least 11 games last season and will be the foundation for the line in 2013. Bond has the size to flip from the right to the left side, but sophomore Taylor Fallin was listed as Devey’s backup last year. The Tigers are also bringing in two junior college recruits to help on the offensive line, so this unit could be in flux until late in the fall practice session.

3. Are there difference makers on the roster? For the Tigers to take the next step in the win column, the offense needs to find a few more playmakers. Running backs Brandon Hayes and Jai Steib combined for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, but Memphis could use more consistency and production from the ground game. In the receiving corps, Marcus Rucker departs after earning honorable mention All-Conference USA honors in 2012. However, the cupboard isn’t bare at receiver, as Keiwone Malone, Kevin Wright and tight end Alan Cross is a solid trio to build around.

4. Taking the next step on defense. With eight starters back on defense, Memphis should be able to build on its 2012 numbers. The Tigers ranked 32nd nationally against the run and averaged 2.3 sacks a game last season. There’s plenty of room for this unit to improve, especially when it comes to pass defense and holding opponents out of the endzone. The Tigers allowed 30.3 points a game last year, which needs to decrease if this team wants to make a run at six victories. Linebacker Akeem Davis and cornerback Robert Steeples are tough losses, but Memphis has enough returning talent on defense to expect more progress in its first year of Big East play.


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Teaser:
<p> Memphis Tigers 2013 Spring Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 06:21
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-phoenix-international-raceway
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The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season rolls on to Phoenix International Raceway for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports will be offering up our best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing  game is arguably the most popular, we'll break down our picks according to its NASCAR driver classes—A-List, B-List, C-List.

So, without further ado, NASCAR scribe Dustin Long's fantasy predictions for Phoenix, ranked according to each driver's likelihood of taking the checkered flag (or at least finishing toward the front):

A-List Drivers

1. Jimmie Johnson — Has the highest driver rating (115.8) in the last eight years at Phoenix. Also has the best average finish among current drivers at 6.7, scoring 12 top-five finishes in 19 starts

2. Kevin Harvick — Has three top-four finishes in his last four Phoenix starts, including a win last fall.

3. Denny Hamlin — Took second in the fall Phoenix race (46 laps led) and won the spring race last year (61 laps led).

4. Jeff Gordon — In the last three spring races at Phoenix, he’s finished eighth, first and second

5. Brad Keselowski — Finished no worse than seventh in his last five races at tracks 1.1 miles and under last season, including a sixth-place finish at Phoenix.

6. Kasey Kahne — Joined Hamlin and Kyle Busch as only drivers to run every lap of last fall’s race in the top 15, finishing fourth.

7. Tony Stewart — Has never gone more than three consecutive races without a top-10 at Phoenix. Last two finishes there are 19th and 22nd.

8. Matt Kenseth — Last four finishes at Phoenix have been 14th, 13th, 34th and 12th. He’s led 52 laps during that time, leading 49 of those laps in November 2011 race before being eliminated in a crash.

9. Clint Bowyer — Has more finishes of 20th or worse (eight) in his career at Phoenix than he has top-10 finishes (five) there.
 

Teaser:
<p> Dustin Long ranks each driver on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit for this weekend's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 17:11
Path: /nfl/10-best-performances-nfl-scouting-combine
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Millions of dollars were made at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where the top prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft ran, jumped, lifted and interviewed in the most important job interview of their lives. These are the 10 biggest money-makers with the best performances at this year’s Combine.



1. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
As expected, “KeKe” was on another level in shorts and a cutoff at the Combine. An “Underwear Olympics” gold medalist, Mingo (6’4”, 241) ran a 4.58 in the 40, skied for a 37” vertical and exploded for a 10’8” broad jump. The long and lean Bayou Bengal is a boom or bust prospect who could become a beast off the edge as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

2. Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma
A high school quarterback turned tight end turned high-rising first-round potential franchise left tackle, L.J. was arguably the most impressive athlete in Indianapolis. The 6’6”, 303-pound dancing bear had 35 1/4” arms and 10 1/8” hands, ran a 4.72 in the 40, had 28 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, a 34” vertical and 9’10” broad jump.

3. Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
The Ghana native is a raw athlete who possesses arguably more untapped potential than any other pass-rushing prospect in this year’s class. At 6’5” and 271 pounds, Ansah ran a 4.63 in the 40 and had a 4.26 in the 20-yard shuttle, while also posting a 34.5” vertical and 9’10” broad jump.

4. Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The “Eastern Block” from Estonia is a giant at 6’8” and 277 pounds. But he’s also a freakish athlete who posted a Combine-best 38 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, ran an eye-popping 4.60 in the 40, skied for a 34.5” vertical and 10’1” broad jump.

5. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The mini-Mountaineer weighed in at just 5’8” and 174 pounds but showed off blistering speed, running a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash — the second-fastest time of the Combine, behind Texas wideout Marquise Goodwin’s 4.27.



6. Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Carolina’s Cooper looked better in shorts than did his top guard competition, Alabama’s Chance Warmack. The big fella from Chapel Hill posted a powerful 35 reps of 225 on the bench and ran a 5.07 in the 40-yard dash — nearly a half-second faster than Warmack’s labored 5.49 in the 40.

7. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
In line to become the third Trufant brother to play on Sundays, Desmond helped his draft stock look more like Marcus (No. 11 pick in 2003) than Isaiah (Undrafted in 2006). The youngest Trufant ran a 4.38 in the 40, posted a 37.5” vertical, 10’5” broad jump and a respectable 16 reps of 225 for a 6’0”, 190-pounder cover corner.

8. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
FSU’s latest elite cornerback prospect, the X-man showed elite explosiveness with a 40.5” vertical leap and an unbelievable 11’ broad jump, while also displaying a size-speed combination worthy of a first-round pick — running a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at 6’1” and 210 pounds.

9. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
A height-weight-speed extraordinaire, Patterson stood tall at the Combine, running a 4.42 at 6’2” and 216 pounds. The one-and-done Volunteer and former JUCO star also had a 37” vertical and 10’8” broad jump en route to establishing himself as the top receiver in this year’s draft.

10. Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
If the Golden Domer wasn’t already the top tight end prospect in the Class of 2013, he certainly is after putting on a show in Indy — running a 4.68 in the 40, ripping off 22 reps of 225, leaping for a 35.5” vertical and 9’11” broad jump, and slashing his way to a 4.32 in the 20-yard shuttle and 11.52 in the 60-yard shuttle.

 

Teaser:
<p> 10 Best Performances at the NFL Scouting Combine, including LSU's Barkevious Mingo, Oklahoma's Lane Johnson, BYU's Ziggy Ansah, SMU's Margus Hunt, West Virginia's Tavon Austin, North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper, Washington's Desmond Trufant, Florida State's Xavier Rhodes, Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson and Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 12:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-footballs-coaching-jobs-2013
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We have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money  — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach? After ranking each conference, Athlon turns the page to the overall power rankings. Texas ranks as the best job in college football, with Florida, Alabama, USC and Ohio State rounding out the top five. 

College Football Job Rankings: ACC | Big East | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

(Note: Current or impending NCAA sanctions were not a factor in these rankings.)

Ranking the Coaching Jobs in College Football for 2013

1. Texas

Pros: Texas offers the complete package: Great school in a great town with great tradition. Also, it’s located in a state that treats high school football like a religion.

Cons: Texas has a ton going for it (see above), but the Longhorns are only 22–16 in the last three seasons. The program is not immune to losing. And while Texas is a recruiting power, there are three other AQ conference schools in the state, and virtually every other national power dips into Texas to recruit as well.

Final Verdict: It’s easier said than done — just ask David McWilliams and John Mackovic — but everything is in place to win big on a consistent basis at Texas.

2. Florida

Pros: Location. Location. Location. Florida is a public university in a state that produces a tremendous amount of top-flight talent. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium offers one of the best atmospheres in college football, and the fan base is as rabid as there is in the nation.

Cons: Expectations are sky-high at a school that has won two national championships in the past seven seasons. If you don’t win — and win big — things can turn ugly very quickly. Just ask Ron Zook.

Final Verdict: Florida presents one of the elite coaching opportunities in college football. You have everything at your disposal to compete for national championships on an annual basis. There is no excuse not to be good at Florida.

3. Alabama

Pros: Tradition. With the possible exception of Notre Dame, no school in the country has more tradition than Alabama. The Tide have won 23 SEC championships and (depending on who you ask) 15 national titles. The facilities are top-notch, the fans are passionate and the recruiting base is strong.

Cons: Coaching football at Alabama is arguably the most stressful job in collegiate athletics. It’s takes a certain kind of coach to deal with that type of scrutiny.

Final Verdict: Alabama is unquestionably one of the premier jobs in the nation. The coach who can deal with the demands of the job — like Nick Saban — will win at a very high level in Tuscaloosa.

4. USC

Pros: The USC coaching staff has the ability to stock its roster with elite talent without ever having to jump on a plane. The program has a rich tradition, but it doesn’t live in the past; the Trojans were dominant in the 2000s, winning seven straight Pac-10 titles (2002-08) and two national championships.

Cons: USC is the top job in L.A., but the city does have another program with tremendous potential. It doesn’t take much of a dip to lose your status as the No. 1 program in your own town.   

Final Verdict: If you’re a West Coast guy, coaching the Trojans is as good as it gets. It’s the best job in the Pac-12 and you are in the most fertile recruiting area in the country.

5. Ohio State

Pros: There are eight FBS schools in Ohio, but there is only one school named The Ohio State University. The Buckeyes have been a consistent force on the field and in recruiting since Woody Hayes took over in the early 1950s.

Cons: Expectations are extremely high in Columbus. Consider the case of John Cooper: In 13 seasons, Cooper went 111–43–4, winning 10 games or more five times. But he went 2–10–1 against Michigan and lost his job after the 2000 season.

Final Verdict: Everything is in place to win a national championship at Ohio State. The facilities are top-notch, the fans are passionate, and the recruiting base is outstanding. Just don’t lose to Michigan.

6. Oklahoma

Pros: Oklahoma has been a dominant force in college football dating back to the late 1930s. The program has consistently been able to dip into Texas and steal more than its share of elite players on an annual basis. The Big 12, with no Nebraska and no conference title game, offers an easier path to a national championship for OU.

Cons: The state does not produce enough talent to stock the Sooners’ roster with the type of players needed to compete for championship. Recruiting at a high level out of state is a must.

Final Verdict: Not every coach has won big at Oklahoma — John Blake went 8–16 in three seasons (1996-98) — but it is clearly one of the marquee jobs in the nation. Winning a national championship is well within your reach.

7. Michigan

Pros: Michigan has as much tradition as any school in the country. The Wolverines have been a national power since the 1890s and they play in one of the largest venues in the country, 109,901-seat Michigan Stadium. The program’s success and the school’s academic reputation have allowed Michigan to be a major player in recruiting both in the Midwest and nationally.

Cons: Michigan is an old-school program that is very set in its ways. A coach who comes in with a new philosophy — for example, Rich Rodriguez — will have a tough time being accepted.

Final Verdict: Michigan is no doubt an elite job, but as we saw in the Rodriguez era — he won a total of 15 games in three years — you have to be the right fit to win big in Ann Arbor.

8. Georgia

Pros: Georgia has tremendous tradition and is located in arguably the finest college town in America — Athens. The Peach State might not produce talent at the same rate as Florida, Texas or California, but metro Atlanta is always strong, and small towns such as Columbus, Valdosta and Warner Robins consistently produce elite talent.

Cons: There are really no negatives to be found at Georgia, other than the fact that you are competing in the very difficult SEC, and you have a fan base that demands you win at a high level.

Final Verdict: Georgia is a great situation, but you clearly have to have the right guy in place to win big. After Vince Dooley won the third of three straight SEC crowns in 1982, the Bulldogs went nearly two decades — and went through two more coaches — before their next league title, won by Mark Richt in 2002.

9. LSU

Pros: It’s become a bit of a cliché, but there really is nothing like being in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night in the fall. That environment is one reason the Tigers are able to recruit so well. The other? The state of Louisiana is arguably the most underrated talent producer in the nation.

Cons: LSU has so much going for it, but why have so many coaches failed to win at a high level in Baton Rouge? From 1971 though 2000, the Tigers only won one outright SEC championship, in 1986 under Bill Arnsparger.

Final Verdict: It’s hard to find a reason why LSU would not be a desirable coaching position. Sure the competition is tough and the fans are demanding, but that comes with the territory. The school has won two national titles in the past 11 seasons.

10. Notre Dame

Pros: Notre Dame has three unique advantages compared to almost every school in the country — a national following, its own television contract and an unparalleled history that includes 11 consensus national titles.

Cons: Brian Kelly has returned Notre Dame to national prominence, but there was a long stretch in which the Fighting Irish struggled to compete at an elite level. From 1998-2011, ND went 99–72 with an unthinkable six non-winning seasons. The school’s relatively high academic standards can make recruiting more challenging. Also, Notre Dame lacks the home-state recruiting territory of other national powers. Indiana is not great state for high school football.

Final Verdict: Notre Dame might not be the same job it was 20 years ago, but this is still a great situation for the right coach. You can win a national title with the Fighting Irish.

11. Florida State

Pros: You can make the argument that Florida State offers all of the positives of Florida without the brutal competition of the SEC East. Would you rather battle Clemson, NC State and Boston College or Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina every year? 

Cons: Florida State has a nice following, but its fans can be on the fickle side. Last season, when the Seminoles had legitimate national title ambitions, Doak Campbell was “only” filled to 92 percent capacity. Not bad, but not quite up to standards of most programs of similar stature. Also, the ACC has been relatively weak in recent seasons; an undefeated ACC champ might not automatically play for a national title.

Final Verdict: Florida State enjoyed an unbelievable run of success from the late 1980s through the early 2000s. But the Noles lost five games or more three times from 2006-10. Winning is no longer automatic.

12. Oregon

Pros: As long as Phil Knight and the University of Oregon remain in good graces, this program will be blessed with tremendous financial resources. The Nike founder and former Oregon track athlete has donated over $100 million to the school’s athletic department. In addition, the Ducks have a tremendous home field advantage at 54,00-seat Autzen Stadium, regarded as the most raucous atmosphere in the Pac-12.

Cons: Right now, it’s difficult to find many good reasons why the head coaching position at Oregon would not be attractive. The school does lack tradition, but the Ducks have averaged nine wins per season since 1994.

Final Verdict: Ten or 15 years ago, Oregon wouldn’t be nearly as high on this list, but Knight’s money, Mike Bellotti’s recruiting and Chip Kelly’s offensive wizardry transformed this program. It is now clearly one of the most-desirable positions in the country.

13. Texas A&M

Pros: Texas A&M’s facilities are among the very best in the nation. Kyle Field is a bit on the old side and is set to undergo a renovation, but as far as the facilities for recruiting — football complex in the south end zone, the indoor practice facility — A&M has very few rivals. The recruiting base is among the best in the country, and the Aggies, the only SEC school in the state of Texas, should be able to battle the University of Texas for the best players in the state. 

Cons: Even with so much going for it, Texas A&M has had trouble sustaining success throughout its history.   

Final Verdict: Texas A&M is a very intriguing position. It has everything you would want in a job — great facilities, strong following, tremendous recruiting base — but the competition in the SEC West is fierce. If you win at A&M, you will have earned it.

14. Penn State (Note: These rankings do not take NCAA sanctions into consideration.)

Pros: Penn State is an enormous state university in an extremely fertile recruiting area. The Nittany Lions play in the second-largest facility in the country (Beaver Stadium, capacity 107,282), and they have won two national championships in the past 30 years

Cons: Penn State recovered nicely in the latter half of the 2000s, but it’s a bit disconcerting that a program with so much going for it was capable of having four losing seasons in a five-year span like Penn State did from 2000-04. Truly elite programs should not suffer through prolonged droughts.

Final Verdict: Penn State is difficult to evaluate at this point. Sanctions are not supposed to affect these rankings, but Penn State is a unique case. This is a great job, but the program will not compete at a high level until the sanctions are over.

15. Nebraska

Pros: Strong tradition. Amazing facilities. Passionate fans. Those three things don’t guarantee success, but they are a nice place to start. The Big Ten Legends Division has some good programs — Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State — but Nebraska should be in position to compete for a division title on an annual basis.

Cons: The Huskers won three national titles in the 1990s, but the program slipped a bit over the past decade. The state of Nebraska does not produce many high-end BCS conference players each year, and the program no longer has the sex-appeal to steal elite players from the East Coast like it did in the 1970s and 80s.

Final Verdict: Nebraska is a unique coaching position. You have everything in place to win big — except a local recruiting base. How big is that hurdle? Significant but not insurmountable. The Huskers are no longer a top-10 job but still very desirable.

16. UCLA

Pros: UCLA shares the same built-in recruiting advantages as its cross-town rival USC. The 2000s were relatively lean, but UCLA won or shared three Pac-10 titles in the 1990s and four in the ‘80s.

Cons: Life can be tough when you are forced to share a city with one of the elite programs in the nation. And while the Rose Bowl is a beautiful place to play, the facility is 30 miles from campus.

Final Verdict: The Pac-12 is a very good league, but USC and Oregon are the only programs that have enjoyed sustained success in the past 15 years. The right coach can have this program in contention for conference titles on a consistent basis.

17.  Auburn

Pros: Auburn and Georgia are the only two schools in the SEC with at least five winning conference seasons in each of the past four decades. Clearly, this program can be a consistent winner in the nation’s most difficult conference.

Cons: Auburn is a state school with a great following, but it will always be No. 2 in Alabama behind the Crimson Tide from Tuscaloosa.

Final Verdict: If your ego can handle being the second most important coach in the state, then Auburn can be a destination job. The school — with its fine tradition, strong facilities and outstanding recruiting base — has proven over time that it can compete on a national level. The Tigers, after all, won the BCS crown in 2010.

18. Tennessee

Pros: Who wouldn’t want to recruit to picturesque Neyland Stadium, with its 100,000-plus orange-clad zealots cheering on the Vols each week? And while Tennessee has struggled in recent years, the program enjoyed tremendous success in the not-too-distant past. From 1989-2001, the Vols went 80–20–1 in the SEC and claimed four league titles. During that span, they were ranked in the final top 10 of the AP poll seven times.

Cons: The Vols must recruit nationally because the state of Tennessee does not produce enough BCS conference players to stock the school’s roster. This is not a concern for UT’s chief SEC rivals Florida, Georgia, LSU, Auburn and Alabama.

Final Verdict: Tennessee is a great place to coach, but the Vols have slipped down the SEC food chain over the past decade. We now have Tennessee seventh on the list in the league.

19. Clemson

Pros: Clemson is an SEC-like school that has the luxury of playing an ACC schedule. The fans are rabid, the stadium is huge (capacity 81,500), and unlike many its ACC brethren, Clemson is a football school.

Cons: Clemson seemingly has so much going for it, yet the program has only won two ACC titles in the past 24 seasons. If you are a coach interested in the job, you’d have ask yourself the following question: Why is this program a chronic underachiever?

Final Analysis: Clemson presents a great opportunity. The program is a major player in the recruiting game, and it has so many built-in advantages compared to almost every school in the league. The Tigers have the ability to compete for the ACC title on an annual basis.

20. South Carolina

Pros: South Carolina is home to arguably the most loyal fans in the nation. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Gamecock fans routinely filled 80,000-seat Williams Brice Stadium even though their team averaged only six wins per season. In addition, the facilities are great, and the recruiting base is strong.

Cons: Steve Spurrier has broken through in recent years, but South Carolina football has historically been one of the nation’s most underachieving programs.

Final Verdict: South Carolina has won 17 SEC games in the past three seasons — by far its best stretch since joining the league — but we’re still not ready to put this program on the same level as SEC royalty like Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Florida.  

21. Virginia Tech

Pros: Virginia Tech has a very strong (and underrated) recruiting base, most notably the Hampton Roads-Tidewater area — better known as the ‘757’ by recruiting gurus. The Hokies also have a passionate fan base that creates a tremendous environment at Lane Stadium.

Cons: The school has only been relevant on the national scene under Frank Beamer’s watch. Can another coach recreate the magic?

Final Verdict: Virginia Tech isn’t quite college football royalty, but it’s not far off. Before last season’s 7–6 hiccup, the Hokies had won at least 10 games in at least eight straight seasons. You can win a national title in Blacksburg.

22. Miami

Pros: With the possible exception of USC and UCLA, no school in the country has a better local recruiting base. And while the Canes have struggled in recent years, the program won a national championship as recently as 2001 and played for a title in ’02.

Cons: Miami has the smallest fan base of the top 25 teams on this list. Last season, the Canes ranked 44th in the nation in attendance, averaging 47,719 per game at Sun Life Stadium. The facility is 20 miles from campus and lacks the big-time college football atmosphere.

Final Verdict: Miami is an intriguing job. The recruiting base is outstanding — which gives you a great opportunity to win — but the position lacks many of the other qualities that make coaching at a big-time school so attractive.

23. Oklahoma State

Pros: T. Boone Pickens is a very wealthy man, and he’s a big fan of Oklahoma State football. As a result, the Cowboys boast some of the best facilities in the nation. And these facilities help the O-State coaches tap into a fertile recruiting ground in nearby Texas.

Cons: Since Oklahoma State joined the Big Eight in 1960, the Cowboys have finished ahead of Oklahoma five times. The school will always be the No. 2 program in the state.

Final Verdict: In a vacuum, Oklahoma State would be a wonderful place to coach, but if you have your sights set on competing for a national title on a regular basis, Stillwater might not be the place for you. There’s a reason the school has only won two conference titles since the mid-1950s.

24. Washington

Pros: This is a proud program with great tradition. The Huskies won a national title in 1991 and claimed at least a share of five Pac-10 titles from 1990-2000. UW is in a great city (Seattle) and has an SEC-like following when things are going well.

Cons: The school has addressed the program’s only significant weakness — facilities — with the $250 million renovation to Husky Stadium. Washington’s in-state recruiting base is solid but lags signficantly behind the four California teams in the Pac-12.

Final Verdict: The past decade has proven that it can be difficult to win at Washington. But this is still a very good job. Is it a great job? Not anymore. But it is still a prestigious program that can attract elite talent. You can win at UW.

25. West Virginia

Pros: West Virginia has an SEC feel to it. There are no pro sports to share the spotlight with in the Mountain State; the Mountaineers are the game in town.

Cons: West Virginia’s recruiting base isn’t as strong as many of its rivals in the Big 12. The state simply doesn’t produce many elite-level prospects.

Final Verdict: History tells us that West Virginia is a very good job. The school has won at least 10 games six times since 1988. But it’s not a job without its challenges. It’s a strange geographic fit in the Big 12, which presents some difficulties on the recruiting trail.

26. Wisconsin

Pros: Wisconsin has been transformed into a football school over the past two decades. Badger faithful pack 80,321-seat Camp Randall Stadium each week and create one the best environments in the nation. Madison also is a great place to live.

Cons: The school’s local recruiting base isn’t strong; the state has not produced a national top-100 player in the past four seasons. Also, the Badgers have only been relevant on the national scene since the early 1990s. Wisconsin lacks the tradition of many of its Big Ten rivals.

Final Verdict: Barry Alvarez turned Wisconsin from a Big Ten afterthought to a significant player in college football. But the Badgers’ place as a top program is far from secure. Wisconsin, more than most of the other schools ranked in the top 25 on this list, needs the right coach in place to remain successful.

27. North Carolina

Pros: The school is an easy sell for a recruiter: It’s is one of the premier public institutions in the nation, and its location, in picturesque Chapel Hill, is ideal. UNC has also made a huge financial commitment to football in the past decade.

Cons: North Carolina is — and always will be — a basketball school. That is something that every football coach must accept. And while the school has enjoyed pockets of success, it’s been difficult to win consistently at UNC. Since Mack Brown bolted for Texas after the 1997 season, the Tar Heels have averaged 3.5 ACC wins.

Final Verdict: North Carolina’s lack of success over the years might surprise even a knowledgeable college football fan. The Tar Heels have not won an ACC Championship since 1980 and have not strung together back-to-back winning ACC seasons since the mid-1990s. Still, this is a desirable position for a coach. It’s a great school that has made a strong commitment to the football program.

28. Arkansas

Pros: Recently renovated Reynolds Razorback Stadium — with its 76,000 seats and 30x107-foot LED video screen — is one of the most underrated venues in the nation. Arkansas is the only BCS program in the state, giving the school an advantage in recruiting homegrown talent.

Cons: The Hogs have found it tough to win consistently since bolting the Southwest Conference for the SEC in the early 1990s. Arkansas is 85-89-2 in the SEC and has only once had back-to-back winning seasons in the league.

Final Verdict: Arkansas is quite similar to several of the non-elite coaching positions in the SEC. It’s a good job, but it’s not a destination job for a coach with national title aspirations.

29. Louisville

Pros: Louisville has solid facilities and is in a good spot geographically to consistently attract top recruits. Kentucky is not a great talent producer, but Louisville can recruit Ohio and Illinois due to its proximity to those states and has always done a good job recruiting Florida. Also, the school “survived” the realignment wars, finding a home in the ACC beginning in 2014.

Cons: The school lacks football tradition and doesn’t have the fan base that most of the other schools have ranked in the top 50 of this list. When the Cards are good, they draw well. But in 2009, in the final season of the Steve Kragthrope era, they ranked 71st in the nation in attendance, averaging 32,540 per game.

Final Verdict: Like many of the schools in the Big East, Louisville is only as good as its coach. Bobby Petrino won big in his four years. Kragthorpe flopped in his three seasons. Charlie Strong has done well in his three seasons. With the right fit, Louisville competes for league titles.

30. Michigan State

Pros: Michigan State seemingly has everything in place to be a major player in the Big Ten — great fan support (averaged 75,382 per game in ’12), good facilities, strong recruiting base and decent tradition.

Cons: Despite all of the positives listed above, Michigan State has only won one Big Ten title — in 2009 — in two decades and has only averaged 6.0 wins in the 47 seasons since claiming a share of the 1966 national championship. Also, there’s the Michigan thing: No matter how much success the Spartans enjoy, they will always be the second school in the state behind Michigan.

Final Verdict: Michigan State has been an underachiever and will never be the No. 1 program in its own state. Still, it’s a good job. If you can change the culture in East Lansing —which Mark Dantonio has apparently done — there is no reason Michigan State can’t contend for Big Ten titles on a semi-regular basis.

31. Pittsburgh

Pros: Pittsburgh is located in the heart of Western Pennsylvania, which gives the Panthers a solid recruiting base. The school also shares its football facility with the Pittsburgh Steelers — which can be a positive (NFL influence) or negative (no on-campus stadium).

Cons: It’s been tough to win consistently at Pitt over the past three decades. The Panthers have only had a winning record in 14 of the 29 seasons since Jackie Sherrill bolted.

Final Verdict: Former coach Dave Wannstedt proved that you can attract talent to play at Pittsburgh. But it’s a school with a ceiling. The Panthers should consistently win seven or eight games per season, but can you win a national title? Not likely.

32. TCU

Pros: TCU is located in the heart of the most fertile recruiting area in the country. The Horned Frogs have vastly improved their facilities over the past five years and now are a member of one of the nation’s top conferences.

Cons: TCU is now back in a power conference, but it’s still a small private school (8,000-plus undergrads) in league comprised mostly of massive state schools. The fan base will never be as large as many of its rivals.

Final Verdict: Perhaps no school other than Boise State has improved its national profile in the past 5-10 years as much as TCU. The school is back in a power conference after bouncing around for 16 years in the mid-major ranks (WAC to C-USA to MWC). This is not an elite job — TCU will always take a back seat to Texas, Texas A&M and even Texas Tech in its own state — but it’s a much better opportunity for a coach than it was 10 years ago.

33. Ole Miss

Pros: Historically, Mississippi produces as many Division I prospects per capita as any state in the nation. There is plenty of competition for these recruits (Mississippi State, Alabama, LSU, etc.), but a good coach will be able to keep the Rebels stocked with solid talent. Support for Rebel football is also very strong; the Rebs averaged 57,066 per game in 2012. Also, Ole Miss’ facilities have improved tremendously in the past five years.

Cons: You have to go back to the early 1960s to find a time in which Ole Miss was a major player in the SEC. The Rebels haven’t won a league title since 1963, and they are only team in the West (outside of SEC West newcomer Texas A&M) that has not played in an SEC Championship Game.

Final Verdict: Ole Miss has made the commitment to its football program, but it takes more than a commitment — and more than one top-10 recruiting class — to beat the elite SEC programs on a consistent basis. This job has great potential, but Ole Miss hasn’t “arrived” yet.

34. Iowa

Pros: Three key elements make Iowa an attractive job — it’s the top school in the state (sorry, Iowa State), it has a strong tradition of excellence (five Big Ten titles since 1981, two BCS bowls since ‘03) and it has great fan support (70,474 per game in ’12).

Cons: Iowa might be the top dog in the state, but the hunting grounds aren’t very fertile. To remain competitive, the Hawkeyes’ staff will always have to go into other teams’ home states to recruit.

Final Verdict: It’s difficult for a school that doesn’t have a strong local recruiting base to compete for national title. It can be done — Nebraska won three titles in the 1990s — but that is a very big hurdle to climb.

35. California

Pros: Cal is one of the premier public institutions in the nation located in a great area, giving the Bears a recruiting edge against most of the other schools in the Pac-12. The school is also located in the fertile recruiting area of Northern California. And the facilities, long time an issue at the school, have recently received a major upgrade.

Cons: Bears have had trouble winning consistently; they have two Pac-12 titles (none outright) since 1958.

Final Verdict: Cal is an intriguing job. There is a lot to like, but there are certain drawbacks. You can win in Berkeley, but the culture of the university will likely prevent the football program from ever reaching elite status.

36. Missouri

Pros: Missouri has an underrated recruiting base. There is a solid crop of instate talent every year, and Mizzou does a decent job landing players from Texas and Illinois.

Cons: It’s been tough to win consistently at Missouri. Dating back to the days of the Big Eight, the Tigers have only had seven winning seasons in league play since 1983. The SEC East presents several huge challenges on an annual basis.

Final Verdict: Missouri is a good job — but not a great job. You can average eight wins per season and go to decent bowl games, but the Tigers aren’t much of a threat to contend for SEC titles.

37. BYU

Pros: BYU has been one of the most consistent winners in college football over the past four decades. Since 1973, the Cougars have only had three losing seasons — all in the 2000s under Gary Crowton — and they have a national title (1984) on their resume. The school’s LDS Church affiliation gives it an inside track to land the elite Mormon recruits from all over the country.

Cons: The recruiting pool, while national to some degree, is somewhat limited at BYU; the school has trouble attracting black players. BYU’s decision to bolt the Mountain West and become an Independent was a bit risky.

Final Verdict: BYU is a unique position. For the right coach, it’s a great job. You can win a bunch of games in Provo, but it remains to be seen if the Cougars can become a national player as one of only four FBS independent schools.

38. Boise State

Pros: Boise State has dominated its league like no other school in the nation over the past decade. The Broncos won at least a share of the WAC eight times in the their final 10 years in the league, and they are 13–2 in their first two seasons in the Mountain West. The school has also been able to crash the BCS party two times in the past seven seasons.

Cons: The move from the WAC to the Mountain West is a plus, but the Broncos’ schedule strength — or lack thereof — will continue to be an issue as it fights for respect in the polls.

Final Verdict: With its blue turf and its deep bag of trick plays, Boise State has created a brand for itself on the college football landscape. This is a cozy job for someone not interested in all of the perks that come with coaching at a school with an SEC-type fan base.

39. Arizona State

Pros: The Sun Devils have made a significant investment in their facilities in recent years, with an indoor practice bubble and new weight and locker rooms. And recently, plans were announced to upgrade Sun Devil Stadium. Arizona State has won three Pac-12 titles in its 30-plus years in the league (1986, ’96 and ’07). Oh, we can’t forget about the weather.

Cons: While the school has experienced pockets of success (three league titles), the Devils have strung together back-to-back winning Pac-10 seasons only once since John Cooper bolted in 1987.

Final Verdict: Arizona State offers a pretty good situation for a school without a strong local recruiting base. The weather is great and the tradition is good enough. USC, Oregon and UCLA will always the top jobs in the league, but with the right coach in place, ASU can be a consistent force in the Pac-12.

40. Arizona

Pros: Arizona has never been a Pac-10 power, but the school has more than held its own for much of its 32 years in the league. The Wildcats had 11 winning Pac-10 seasons in a 13-year stretch from 1982-94. Good coaches have shown the ability to attract talent to Tucson.

Cons: Since 1994, Arizona has only had a winning Pac-12 record twice — 1998 and 2009.

Final Verdict: Being a good recruiter is obviously important at every school, but it is of paramount importance at Arizona. The school is without many of the built-in advantages (tradition, top facilities, etc.) that exist at some of the Pac-12 programs, so you have to convince players to come to Arizona for reasons other than the weather.

41. Texas Tech

Pros: Texas Tech has proven it can win consistently. Prior to 2010, the Red Raiders had been .500 or better in league play — SWC and Big 12 — 22 times in the previous 25 seasons. The school has recently invested in the program with an $84 million renovation to Jones AT&T Stadium.

Cons: While the program has managed to remain competitive, winning titles has been very difficult in Lubbock. The school has not won an outright conference title since 1955, when it claimed its third straight Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship. Also, recruiting to Lubbock — the outpost of the Big 12 — can be a bit difficult.

Final Verdict: Texas Tech might be the fourth most attractive job in its own state, but it’s still a very good program that has proven it can’t remain relevant in the Big 12.

42. North Carolina State

Pros: The facilities at NC State are among the finest in the ACC. The spectacular Murphy Center, a football-only building, houses coaches’ offices, the weight room and dining area for the players, among other things. The school’s recruiting base, the Carolinas and Virginia, is strong.

Cons: The school doesn’t have a strong record of success. NC State hasn’t won an ACC title since 1979 and has had only seven winning league seasons since 1990.

Final Verdict: This program has underachieved over the past decade. Everything is in place — facilities, fan support, recruiting base — to be a consistent winner in the ACC.

43. Rutgers

Pros: Rutgers’ location affords the coaching staff the opportunity to stock its entire roster with local talent. The facilities have been upgraded in recent years, most notably the $102 million expansion to Rutgers Stadium. Also, being just over 30 miles from New York City — the media capital of the world — can’t hurt.

Cons: The school has almost no tradition; prior to the mid-2000s, the program was irrelevant. And while support for Rutgers football has grown in recent years, pro sports will always be No. 1 in the metropolitan area.

Final Verdict: Long considered the sleeping giant on the East Coast, Rutgers has emerged as a consistent winner in the Big East. Whether or not this is a true destination job is up for debate, but it’s clear that you can win a bunch of games and go to bowl games at Rutgers.

44. Virginia

Pros: Virginia is great school in a great college town, and the state consistently produces a high number of BCS level recruits.

Cons: The school has a surprisingly bad track record in football. George Welsh had a nice run in the 1980s and 90s, but other than that, the Cavaliers have had a tough time fielding a consistently competitive program. UVa has won a total of two championships (both shared) in its 56 years in the ACC. Recruiting can also be tough at Virginia, based on the school’s relatively tough academic standards.

Final Verdict: This school should be able to be consistently competitive in the ACC. Other than its lack of tradition, everything is seemingly in place to elevate the profile of this program.

45. Georgia Tech

Pros: Georgia is annually one of the top talent-producing states in the nation, giving the Yellow Jackets’ staff an opportunity to land quality recruiting classes despite the fact that the University of Georgia is the top Dawg in the state. Tech has also proven over time that it can win consistently in the ACC; the Jackets have been .500 or better in league play in 19 straight seasons.

Cons: Georgia Tech will always be the second most popular program in its own city, which is probably more of a problem for the school’s fans than its players and coaches. The male-to-female ratio (about 2-to-1) at the school can’t help recruiting, either.

Final Verdict: Georgia Tech might not come to mind when you think about some of the top programs in the nation, but this is a solid football school with underrated tradition. It’s been proven that you can win titles — both ACC (2009, 1998, 1990) and national (1990).

46. Maryland

Pros: Maryland has enjoyed pockets of success over the last three decades. Bobby Ross won three straight ACC titles from 1983-85 and Ralph Friedgen went a combined 31–8 from 2001-03, and won eight-plus games in 2008 and 2010. And while it isn’t to the Oregon/Nike level, the school’s close ties with UnderArmour is a positive.

Cons: The impending move to the Big Ten will help the school in many ways, but it might have a negative impact on the football program’s recruiting. Maryland isn’t going to beat out many Big Ten schools for prospects from the Midwest, and the school won’t have the same appeal for many players in the Mid-Atlantic Region and Southeast now that the Terps won’t be playing an ACC schedule.

Final Verdict: Maryland is a lower-tier job in the ACC. And it will be a lower-tier job in the Big Ten. You can win games, but it will be very difficult for any coach to compete for championships in the current landscape.

47. Stanford

Pros: Stanford offers the best combination of elite academics (top 5 in U.S. News & World Report) and big-time college football. The school’s outstanding reputation allows the staff to recruit nationally.

Cons: Until recently, sustained success had been tough to achieve on The Farm. From the late 1970s through the late 2000s, Stanford was unable to string together more than two straight wining seasons. The school’s strict academic standards — even for athletes — shrinks the recruiting pool considerably.

Final Verdict: Stanford is not for everybody, but it is a great job for a coach who embraces the school’s mission. The Cardinal struggled for much of the 2000s, but this is a program that has emerged as a national power in recent years.

48. South Florida

Pros: South Florida has a tremendous local recruiting base and is a member of the conference with the least resistance to a BCS bowl (for now). The Bulls proved they can be a consistent winner in the FBS ranks, averaging 8.4 wins from 2006-10.

Cons: South Florida lacks tradition and does not have an on-campus stadium. The Bulls play their home games 15 miles from campus. And while the recruiting base is strong, South Florida will always have a tough time beating out the Big Three — Florida, Florida State and Miami — for top prospects.

Final Verdict: Many view South Florida as an emerging national power. The school does have a ton of potential, but it is difficult to get overly excited about a program that is the fourth-most relevant program in its own state — even if that state is Florida.

49. Illinois

Pros: Illinois’ local recruiting base — from Chicago down into St. Louis — is among the best in the Big Ten. The facilities (weight room, practice facility, locker rooms, etc.) are strong, and the stadium recently received a $200 million upgrade.

Cons: Basketball is — and will always be — the top sport at Illinois. Football, for whatever reason, has never been much of a threat to break into the upper echelon of the league. Also, the fan support at Illinois isn’t as strong as the top programs in the Big Ten. Last year, the Illini averaged only 45,564 fans per game.

Final Verdict: Despite being the fifth most populous state, Illinois checks in No. 8 in our list of the Big Ten’s most attractive coaching positions. There is a lot to like about the job, but there are also reasons why the school has only won three Big Ten titles (two outright) since the early 1960s.

50. Colorado

Pros: Colorado lacks the tradition of some of the Pac-12 powers, but this program has enjoyed strong pockets of success over the past 25 years. The Buffs won three Big Eight championships in a row from 1989-91 (along with a national title in ’90), and they won four Big 12 North titles in the 2000s. With the right coach in place, this is a school that will attract quality players.

Cons: The facilities at Colorado lag behind most BCS conference schools, and the school’s commitment to athletics has been questioned in recent years. The Buffaloes recently announced a $170 million facility upgrade proposal, which is a step in the right direction. Also, the CU fans can be fickle; Folsom Field (53,750) has rarely been filled to capacity over the past few seasons.

Final Analysis: Three different coaches have won 10 games in a season since 1990, so it’s possible to win big at Colorado. But until the school makes a significant commitment to the program — which it claims to be doing now — CU cannot be considered an elite job.

51. Baylor

Baylor’s recruiting base has always made it an intriguing job. There is more than enough talent in the state to stock a talented roster, even with Texas and Texas A&M grabbing most of the elite players. The school also will open a new, 45,000-seat Stadium on Brazos River in 2014. However, Baylor will always be down low on the food chain among the FBS schools in the state of Texas. As a small, private school, support will always be an issue. Art Briles is proving that Baylor can compete in the Big 12, as he has led the Bears to their best three-year stretch (25 wins) in program history. The new stadium and the university’s commitment to the program should allow Baylor to remain relevant if Briles ever bolts for greener pastures.

52. Kentucky

Kentucky has announced desperately needed facilities upgrades, while the pay scale for new head coach Mark Stoops' staff is significantly higher. So on the surface it appears the school is finally making a commitment to the football program. That said, pigskin will always take a backseat to basketball at UK and unilke other SEC members, the Bluegrass State doesn't boast near the quantity of elite high school prospects. Those two disadvantages alone make winning consistently difficult at Kentucky, especially considering it's in the nation's toughest and most cut-throat conference.

53. Purdue

Purdue is a program that has experienced consistent success in the Big Ten during the BCS era. The Boilermakers went 48–32 in league play during the first 10 years of the Joe Tiller era. Support is solid when the program is winning. This is not easy, however, because the Boilermakers have to compete with two other BCS programs for the top talent within its own borders to begin with. Purdue also doesn't have much margin for error when it comes to sustained success, as evidenced by the difference between the tenure of Tiller and the man who succeeded him, Danny Hope (22-27, 13-19 in Big Ten from 2009-12).

54. Cincinnati

Cincinnati is in a prime location when it comes to recruiting, being in Ohio and relativel close to Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. Despite the program's recent success, fan support has remained tepid at best and despite the school's best efforts, the Bearcats appear stuck in the Big East for the forseeable future. Still, this is a place where the right man can win, as four different coaches have won at least seven games twice since 2000.

55. Mississippi State

Mississippi State has shown an ability to field a competitive team on a semi-regular basis in the past two decades. The Bulldogs have had a winning overall record in 11 of the 22 seasons since the first wave of SEC expansion in 1991. Support for Mississippi State football is at an all-time high; the Bulldogs averaged 55,648 (100.99 percent of capacity) at Davis Wade Stadium last season. Starkville, however, isn't necessarily viewed as a prime desination for the top prospects, especially with SEC West foes Alabama, Auburn and LSU, not to mention in-state rival Ole Miss, always lurking nearby. One could argue that this is the toughest job in the SEC West, if not the entire SEC.

56. Minnesota

The Gophers have a relatively new stadium that provided a significant upgrade from the outdated Metrodome. As the only Division I (FBS or FCS) program in the state, Minnesota should land its fare share of in-state recruits. On the other hand, the school's location and climate make it a tough sell for out-of-state prospects. The Gophers also don't have much of an established football tradition and seems to be one of the few Big Ten schools with a clearly defined ceiling when it comes to success. Think five-to-eight wins, and not division or conference championships.

57. Oregon State

Thanks in large part to Mike Riley, Oregon State has shown that it can compete and remain relvelant in the Pac-12 for an extended period of time. That does not change the fact, however, that it's a distant second within its own state, as Oregon holds every advantage, most notably attractiveness to highly rated recruits and facilities. The Beavers simply can't compete on these levels with the Nike-funded Ducks, which also puts them behind the pecking order in the Pac-12.

58. Utah

Prior to its move to the Pac-12, Utah had emerged as one of the few non-BCS conference teams that was able to compete on the national scene. Now, as a member of the Pac-12 South — along with USC and UCLA —  the Utes should enjoy success recruiting in Southern California. Utah still has to compete with BYU for their state's top high school talent, and while the Utes changed their profile with the move to the Pac-12, it's tough to envision this program being a more desirable destination than USC, UCLA and both of the Arizona schools.

59. Syracuse

As recently as the early 2000s, Syracuse was a top-25 program. The Orangemen, as they were called then, won nine games or more eight times in a 15-year span from 1987-2001. Since that span, however, the program has gone the other direction, managing just two winning seasons in the past 11. Support has dwindled as well, and even though Syracuse will be moving into the ACC this fall, a new conference home doesn't "fix" the Orange's other primary disadvantages — location and its home recruiting base.

60. Kansas State

Kansas State has averaged 8.5 wins over the past 20 years and been ranked in the final AP poll 12 times over that span. Support for K-State football is very strong, especially when the team is winning. The only problem is that one man — Bill Snyder — has been able to win at Kansas State. Over two different tenures, Snyder has been able to overcome a bunch of hurdles  — poor recruiting base, remote location, lack of tradition prior to the 1990s — to win at a high level on a consistent basis. Can another coach succeed in Manhattan? We’ll find out soon enough. Snyder turns 74 this fall.

61. Kansas

While it’s difficult to win at Kansas, it can be done. The school has invested in facilities over the past decade. If only the fan base could get a little more behind the football team, as the crowd and atmosphere at Phog Allen Fieldhouse doesn't carry over to Memorial Stadium. That's the downside of being at a basketball school and i doesn't help that the Jayhawks usually come up second to in-state rival Kansas State when it comes to local high-level recruits. These are the main reasons why no coach since the 1950s has enjoyed sustained success in Lawrence.

62. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is an elite academic institution located in a great city. The school is spending more money than ever on athletics, from salaries for the coaching staff to the new indoor practice facility. Even though Vanderiblt is in the SEC, the pressure to win isn't near as great as elsewhere in the conference. Because of its academic reputation and the fact it is a private school, the Commodores will remain low on the totem pole in the SEC in terms of fan base and overall support. The good news is that James Franklin is proving that a recruit can have the best of both worlds — get a Vanderbilt education and win games in the nation’s best conference. Still, this is a very difficult job, maybe the toughest of any school in an AQ conference.

63. Northwestern

As the only private school in the Big Ten, Northwestern can be an attractive option for a top-flight recruit from the Midwest who is looking for an elite academic institution. The university has recently approved a $225-250 million facilities overhaul for all of the athletic programs. Football will no doubt be a huge beneficiary. However, no matter how much money is pumped into the program, Northwestern will always struggle to keep up with the elite programs in the Big Ten, from a recruiting and facilities standpoint. You can win at Northwestern, but it will always be a challenge.

64. Iowa State

Cyclone fans sure love Iowa State football. Last season, the school averaged 55,274 fans per game (100.5 percent of capacity) at Jack Trice Stadium. Not bad for a school that has had one winning season since 2005. It still trails in-state rival Iowa when it comes to attracting the Hawkeye State's top recruits. Competing in the Big 12, both on the field and off of it, with the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and others, doesn't help matters. There’s a reason the school has not won more than seven games in consecutive seasons since the late 1970s.

65. Washington State

The fact that the Cougars won 10 games in three straight seasons (2001-03) and played in the Rose Bowl in 2002 proves that you can win games in Pullman. It does not change, however, the fact that Pullman is the most remote outpost in the Pac-12. It can be difficult to attract prospects from California to play collegiately in Eastern Washington. The school also has upgraded facilities in recent years, but it still lags behind most schools in the conference on this front.

66. Houston
Houston is an elite area for high school talent, as is the whole state of Texas, but there also are plenty of mouths to feed and the Cougars are near the back of the line.

67. UCF
UCF is located in the heart of the talent-rich Sunshine State and near the bottom of the pecking order after Florida, Florida State, Miami and South Florida.

68. Boston College
Boston College was one of the most consistent programs in the nation from the late 1990s through the late 2000s, but times have changed and the schoool's northern location hinders its chances of a turnaround.

69. Fresno State
Prime location makes it the second-best job in the Mountain West.

70. Indiana
Whether it's basketball, the recruiting base or the conference, it's  tough to win in Bloomington.

71. Wake Forest
Jim Grobe has been the only one to win consistently at the academic-minded, small private school since the early 1950s.

72. Duke
Basketball, academics and a lack of support are the main obstacles to sustained success on the gridiron in Durham, N.C.

73. Connecticut
Conference realignment has not helped the Huskies when it comes to attracting the Northeast's top recruits.

74. SMU
SMU's location and recruiting base are the only reasons why the Mustangs aren't lower as brand recognition, tradition and fan base support are basically non-existent.

75. San Diego State
Sleeping giant has shown signs of life in recent years.

76. Southern Miss
No member of the reconfigured C-USA has a stronger tradition of winning.

77. Northern Illinois
Recruiting base will ensure that you will always have a talented roster at NIU.

78. East Carolina
Solid program with good support, recruiting base and tradition.

79. Temple
Back in the Big East, but this program has a long ways to go in terms of tradition, fan support and national perception.

80. Tulsa  
It’s the third best job in a decent state for high school talent.

81. Nevada  
Move to the Mountain West has made it harder to win in Reno.

82. Toledo  
Each of the last nine coaches have won at least eight games in a season at Toledo.

83. Navy  
The Midshipmen have emerged as the best option of the Military Academies.

84. Utah State  
Aggies are a distant third in their own state, but Gary Andersen proved you can win in Logan.

85. Colorado State  
There is plenty of tradition, but the Rams have had one winning season since 2003.

86. Air Force  
The Falcons are always good but never great. 

87. New Mexico  
Great location — unless you have to recruit.

88. Memphis
Move the to the Big East should make Tigers even more attractive... to basketball recruits.

89. Wyoming
Pokes have few built-in advantages, which makes it hard to sustain success.

90. Marshall  
Herd should be able to stock roster with players from Ohio and Pennsylvania.

91. Louisiana Tech  
Great talent base, but facilities are an issue.

92. Miami (Ohio)  
The Cradle of Coaches has lost its luster.

93. Troy  
It’s the top job in the Sun Belt — for whatever that’s worth.

94. UTEP  
Still in Texas, but El Paso is a long way from everything.

95. North Texas  
There are plenty of players, but it’s the ninth-best job in the state.

96. San Jose State  
Great location — if you a realtor.

97. Hawaii  
It’s tougher to recruit at Hawaii than most would imagine.

98. UNLV   
Getting players never seems to be an issue. Winning is.

99. Army  
Kids would rather play for Navy and Air Force.

100. Central Michigan  
Good coaches have proven they can win big at CMU.

101. Ohio  
Frank Solich is the first coach to win consistently since the 1930s.

102. FAU  
Strong recruiting base and a new stadium have raised FAU’s profile.

103. Middle Tennessee  
Decent location, but fan support has been low despite strong success.

104. Arkansas State  
Red Wolves have been able to hire good coaches. Retaining them is next step.

105. Western Kentucky  
Hilltoppers have made a steady climb since joining the FBS ranks.

106. FIU  
Great location. Little tradition.

107. UAB  
Have you seen Legion Field in the past 10 years?

108. Bowling Green  
Urban Meyer isn’t walking through that door.

109. Western Michigan  
It’s No. 4 in its own state and No. 4 in the MAC West.

110. UL-Lafayette  
Ragin’ Cajuns should be able to compete for Sun Belt titles.

111. Akron  
Zips have one league title in school history.

112. Kent State  
Only two winning seasons since 1987.

113. Rice  
It’s one of the toughest jobs in an elite state for talent.

114. ULM  
2012 was the school’s first with a winning record since joining FBS ranks.

115. Ball State  
It’s the fifth-best job in its own division.

116. Tulane  
Move to Big East, new stadium will raise Tulane’s profile.

117. Georgia State  
Panthers will move up the food chain if they can recruit well locally.

118. UTSA   
The Roadrunners are in a better league (C-USA) than Texas State (Sun Belt).

119. Texas State  
It’s got the potential to be one of the best jobs in the Sun Belt.

120. Buffalo  
Turner Gill proved winning is possible at Buffalo.

121. South Alabama  
Jaguars will have to start stealing some recruits from in-state Sun Belt rival Troy.

122. New Mexico State  
At least Las Cruces is a nice place to live.

123. UMass  
Minutemen need to build on-campus stadium to become relevant in the MAC.

124. Eastern Michigan  
The locals don’t exactly flock to watch the Eagles play on Saturday.

125. Idaho  
No league + Bad location = Very, very difficult job.


Related College Football Content

ACC College Football Job Rankings for 2013
Big East College Football Job Rankings for 2013

Big 12 College Football Job Rankings for 2013

Big Ten College Football Job Rankings for 2013

Pac-12 College Football Job Rankings for 2013

SEC College Football Job Rankings for 2013

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<p> Ranking College Football's Coaching Jobs for 2013</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 09:35
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-analysis-washington-huskies
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College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. Steve Sarkisian reworked his defensive coaching staff following the 2011 season and it paid immediate returns on the recruiting trail and eventual returns on the field. Defensive coaches Tosh Lupoi, Peter Sirmon and Justin Wilcox have had a year to recruit and this trio is clearly making a big impact as the Huskies finished second in the Pac-12 in the team rankings. 

Washington Huskies

National Rank: 15th
Pac-12: Second
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 1
National Signees: 6
Total Signees: 22

Where They Got 'Em:

California will be the foundation for most Pac-12 recruiting classes and the Huskies' 2013 haul proves that. Of their 22 new prospects, 17 of them hail from The Golden State, including all six nationally rated prospects in this class. Washington (4) is another solid state for talent nationally and it was the only other state that sent more than one prospect to Seattle. Arizona (1) and Oregon (1) are also Pac-12 recruiting posts and Texas (1) got into the mix as well. Coach Sark used just five states to sign 22 new players and only Texas wasn't a heavy Pac-12 territory.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

The defense has clearly been the area of focus under the new-look coaching staff the past two recruiting cycles. The 2013 haul features a balanced defensive class that will feature 12 of the 22 total prospects. The defensive line is what stands out. Elijah Qualls nearly landed in the AC100 and is an extremely versatile player. How many defensive tackles play running back in high school? Another nationally rated lineman, Joe Mathis, joins this class as well. He will play end and has been a part of a winning program for the last two seasons at Ontario (Calif.) Upland. Andrew Basham will join Qualls inside at tackle while Marcus Farria will play outside with Mathis. This group has to make Lupoi excited about the future of the D-line in Seattle.

Four linebackers and four defensive backs also signed in this class, but none were nationally ranked. Cornerback got lots of attention with Kevin King, Jermaine Kelly and Patrick Enewally joining the depth chart on the outside. All three are listed at least 6-foot-1 and all three bring great length and upside. Safety Trevor Walker is already enrolled in class. 

While the defense got the most attention in this class, the wide receivers might be the most talented group in this haul. Demor'ea Stringfellow is a special talent and is the highest-rated player in this class. John Ross and Darrell Daniels are fellow nationally ranked prospects, giving Washington one of the best wide receiver classes in the nation. Two (Stringfellow and Daniels) bring huge frames as each stand at least 6-foot-3 and check in between 215 and 220 pounds while Ross (5-11, 180) brings speed to the slot position. With tight end David Ajamu (6-5, 245) in this class as well, this is literally a massive pass-catching class.

Troy Williams is the lone quarterback signee and could be a star. The No. 8-rated signal caller in the nation is already enrolled after claiming 2012 CIF Los Angeles City Section D-I Player of the Year honors as a senior. He has excellent upside as a passer but he also brings above average athletic ability to the table. 

Coach Sark has proven he is able to develop quality running backs and the burly (220 pounds) Lavon Coleman should be the next. This back is a winner, playing on a team that won 32 straight games at one point.

The offensive line was a major concern due to injuries and depth in 2012, and ideally, this three-man class will help stabilize the position.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 1, WR: 3, TE: 1, OL: 3
Defense: DL: 4, LB: 4, DB: 4, ATH: 0, K/P: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
79. Demor'ea Stringfellow WR No. 9 Perris, Calif. 6-3 215
110. Elijah Qualls DT No. 20 (DL) Petaluma, Calif. 6-2 285
114. Troy Williams QB No. 8 Los Angeles, Calif. 6-2 205
186. John Ross WR No. 20 Long Beach, Calif. 5-11 180
199. Darrell Daniels WR No. 24 Pittsburg, Calif. 6-4 220
234. Joe Mathis DE No. 44 (DL) Ontario, Calif. 6-4 250

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
Trevor Walker S Arlington, Texas 5-11 180 --
Troy Williams QB Los Angeles, Calif. 6-2 205 No. 114

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. LSU Tigers
8. Texas A&M Aggies
9. UCLA Bruins
10. Auburn Tigers
11. Florida State Seminoles
12. Georgia Bulldogs

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Analysis: Washington Huskies</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 09:25
Path: /college-football/northwestern-wildcats-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Last season was historic for Northwestern Wildcats everywhere. Pat Fitzgerald led his alma mater to its first bowl win since the 1949 Rose Bowl. The Wildcats won 10 games for just the third time in the history of the program and the first since the famous 1995 Rose Bowl run. This team has been to 11 bowl games all-time and Fitzgerald has taken the Cats to five straight postseason appearances. Needless to say, it's a good time to be Northwestern fan. But expectations might be higher in Evanston, Ill., than ever before, so what can Coach Fitz do for an encore in 2013? 

Northwestern Wildcats 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 10-3 (5-3)

Spring practice dates: Feb. 27-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 8, Defense – 7

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Trevor Siemian, 128-of-218, 1,312 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Venric Mark, 226 car., 1,366 yds., 12 TDs
Receiving: Christian Jones, 35 rec., 412 yds, 2 TD
Tackles: Damien Proby, 112
Sacks: Tyler Scott, 9
Interceptions: Nick VanHoose, 3 

Redshirts to watch: DE/LB Ifeadi Odenigbo, OL Adam DePietro, OL Ian Park, OL Kenton Playko, DL Connor Mahoney, DL Greg Kuhar, CB Dwight Wite, S Joseph Jones, SB Jack Schwaba

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 at California
Sept. 7 Syracuse
Sept. 14 Western Michigan
Sept. 21 Maine
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Ohio State
Oct. 12 at Wisconsin
Oct. 19 Minnesota
Oct. 26 at Iowa
Nov. 2 at Nebraska
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 Michigan
Nov. 23 Michigan State
Nov. 30 at Illinois

Offensive Strength: Playmakers. Kain Colter is essentially a running back under center. Venric Mark is the best tailback to take hand-offs in Evanston since at least Tyrell Sutton. And a deep collection of wide receivers dot the offense.

Offensive Weakness: The offensive line. Three starters are gone from a unit that led the Big Ten in sacks allowed and finished 19th nationally in rushing a year ago.

Defensive Strength: Linebackers. With Damien Proby and Chi Chi Ariguzo both earning honorable mention a year ago, Coach Fitz's favorite position should be strong in 2013.

Defensive Weakness: Star power in the secondary. This team ranked last in the Big Ten in passing defense last fall and Jared Carpenter, Demetrius Dugar and Quinn Evans are gone. Ibraheim Campbell and Nick VanHoose need some help on the back end.

Spring Storylines Facing the Wildcats

1. Coping with injuries. Pat Fitzgerald will be without at least three starters and a host of other important contributors this spring. Starting cornerback Nick VanHoose, middle linebacker Damien Proby and offensive tackle Jack Konopka will miss all of spring ball. Offensive tackle Paul Jorgensen, wide receiver Kyle Prater, defensive tackle Will Hampton, defensive end Deonte Gibson and guard Matt Frazier are other key reserves looking to earn starting spots who won't get a chance to compete this spring. It will give Coach Fitz a long look at the deeper parts of his roster.

2. Plugging holes along the O-Line. All-Big Ten performers Brian Mulroe and Patrick Ward have moved on from the offensive line as well as Jack Deiters (11 starts). And without Konopka on the field this spring, the Wildcats will be focusing on the new faces blocking up front. This team is stacked with offensive skill talent and will only go as far against big, powerful Big Ten defensive lines as the offensive line takes it. Ironing out a rotation up front on offense has to be a top priority. 

3. Do the Cats need to pick a QB? Coach Fitz believes that he has two quarterbacks who can lead Northwestern to a Big Ten championship. Both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian did a lot of good things a year ago and each brings a different skill set to an already creative offense. Fitzgerald has stated his focus this spring is more fundamentals-based rather than scheme or depth chart, so he has no desire to tab a starter this early. However, most coaches prefer to have one quarterback and how each signal caller develops this spring will go a long way to determining playing time come the summer.

4. Find star power in the front seven. Much like the offensive line, the defensive front seven has to deal with departures and injuries this spring. There are a lot of bodies up front, namely All-Big Ten performer Tyler Scott and his nine sacks, but this coaching staff needs to find players. Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson could start at end opposite Scott while Chance Carter, Sean McEvilly and Max Chapman will battle on the inside. With Proby out for the spring and David Nwabuisi graduated, Chi Chi Ariguzo is the only linebacker with any extended experience at the key position. Fitzgerald won't have a good view of his front seven until summer once all of the injuries heal up, but finding playmakers up front on defense will be important this spring.

5. Will timing impact spring practice? It isn't a huge story but it is worth noting that Northwestern is breaking spring camp earlier than any other Big Ten team has in years. Starting spring practice in February has given Fitzgerald a variety of advantages. Essentially, he has been able to stretch his calendar to better help with balance, lifting, injuries and timing. Undoubtedly, Fitzgerald feels the extended spring schedule will help his team deal with the pressure to build on a 10-win season and help keep them grounded in the face of growing preseason expectations. 

Related College Football Content

Ranking the Big Ten Coaching Jobs for 2013
College Football's Top 5 Running Backs on the Rise for 2013

College Football's Top 5 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2013

College Football's Top 15 JUCO Transfers for 2013

Big Ten Team Recruiting Rankings for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Northwestern Wildcats 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 09:20
Path: /mlb/10-unlikely-nl-pitchers-who-could-win-cy-young
Body:

We all know the favorties to win the National League Cy Young award this season: Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and maybe closer Craig Kimbrel. But who are the longshots that could come out of nowhere and surprise baseball fans. Here's a quick list of 10.

Foreign Invasion
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles
The lefthander led Korean baseball in strikeouts five times in seven seasons, but domination in the Far East doesn’t always translate to the states. The Dodgers have committed $36 million over the next six years, plus a $25.7 million posting fee and are expecting big things.
 
Out of the Shadows
Mike Minor, Atlanta
The seventh overall selection in the 2009 draft showed over the final few months last season just how dominant he can be. While pitching in the shadows of fellow starter Kris Medlen and dominant closer Craig Kimbrel, Minor was 7-4 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.865 WHIP over his final 15 starts with 73 strikeouts in 93.2 innings.

Ross Detwiler, Washington
Overshadowed by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, Detwiler was a first-round pick two years before Strasburg. Opponents hit just .234 off the lefty during the second half last season, but issuing too many free passes remains a problem. Harnessing his control could put Detwiler among the elite pitchers in the league.

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati
It’s easy to fall in love with Bailey after his one-hit, one-walk, 10-strikeout performance against the Giants in the playoffs. But over his final seven starts of the regular season, he owned a 0.740 WHIP and 1.85 ERA.

Ready for Limelight
Jacob Turner, Miami
Long considered a top prospect in the Detroit organization, Turner finally received a chance in a regular rotation with the Marlins. In seven starts he had a sub-1.00 WHIP.

Matt Harvey, New York
Few fans outside of New York may recognize the name, but Harvey burst onto the scene last season. The seventh overall pick in 2010 made 10 starts for the Mets and allowed five earned runs once and three earned runs once with the rest zeros, ones and twos. He whiffed 70 over his 59.1 innings.

Jeff Samardzija, Chicago
The once promising wide receiver at Notre Dame transitioned from setup man in 2011 to starter last season. Over the past two years he has 267 Ks and allowed only 221 hits.

A Rookie Cy?
Wily Peralta, Milwaukee
In three starts in September against teams headed to the postseason, the 23-year old struck out 14 in 14 innings with a 2.57 ERA.

Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh
He will make his major league debut at some point this season. The former No. 1 overall pick won’t turn 23 until September.

Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis
With the injury to Chris Carpenter, another opportunity in the rotation awaits this flame thrower.

RELATED: 10 Unlikely AL Pitchers Who Could Win the Cy Young

Teaser:
<p> We all know the favorties to win the National League Cy Young award this season: Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and maybe closer Craig Kimbrel. But who are the longshots that could come out of nowhere. Here's a quick list of 10.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 08:45
Path: /nascar/8-amazing-stats-phoenix-international-raceway
Body:

After a Daytona 500 that catered to the more intelligent teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage — track position and strategy reigned supreme — one of the two duels this season in the Arizona desert greets America’s best drivers on Sunday.

There are a lot of unknowns with the Gen-6 car taking to a surface and configuration at Phoenix International Raceway that is just three races old. What we do know, and what we could anticipate, is revealed in the numbers.

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


78.8% Following his win in the Daytona 500, Jimmie Johnson currently has a 78.8 percent chance of making the Chase, the highest percentage in the series through one race.

And that’s a conservative figure based on past averages. If Johnson and the No. 48 team out-performs their past selves at a few tracks during the 26-race “regular season,” then they are even more of a lock to clinch a playoff berth for the 10th time in 10 years. One such track is Phoenix, where, when we last saw Johnson, he crashed in the penultimate race of last year’s Chase that served as the first blow of the self inflicted 1-2 punch that knocked him out of contention for the championship. He is followed by Brad Keselowski (68.7 percent) and Greg Biffle (53.1 percent) in the current race to the Chase.


7.500 According to PEER (Production in Equal Equipment Rating), Denny Hamlin, the winner of last year’s race, is the most productive driver at Phoenix, heading into the weekend with a 7.500.

Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb scored a win in their second race together as a driver-crew chief combination, leading the last 59 laps en route to the win in 2012. Additionally, he finished second there last fall after leading 46 laps and averaging a third-place running position.
 

Teaser:
<p> NASCAR Numbers Game: Phoenix</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 18:04
All taxonomy terms: Tyrann Mathieu, NFL
Path: /nfl/tyrann-mathieu-draft-stock-rising-nfl-combine
Body:

"Honey Badger" don’t care. But Tyrann Mathieu has made an effort to show his commitment to football during the NFL Scouting Combine.

The former LSU cornerback and Heisman Trophy finalist has put his old persona behind him and attempted a fresh start after being suspended for the 2012 season due to various failed drug tests and arrests.

“My best friend right now is honesty,” said Mathieu. “I’m trying to be as open as possible because I want to rebuild that trust.”

The 5’9”, 186-pound nickelback and return specialist ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 34” vertical leap. Those were more than respectable numbers following a disappointing four-rep effort on the 225-pound bench press — which tied for worst among defensive backs.

Mathieu is still rocking his bleach-blonde Mohawk, and he wants NFL decision makers to know he is still the same playmaker who had six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, two INTs and two punt return TDs as a Bednarik Award-winning, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, first-team All-America cornerback and return specialist as a sophomore at LSU.

At the same time, he wants to make it clear that he’s not the same person he was when he was the seemingly too-big-to-fail “Honey Badger” character. He’s a changed man.

“I’ve been to rehab. I’ve been to counseling. I have a sponsor,” said Mathieu. “I’m surrounding myself with people who want to do what I want to do, which is be a football player. To go back down that road? Not a chance in the world. Not a chance in this lifetime.

“I’ve got to be the best person that Tyrann can be.”
 

Teaser:
<p> Former LSU cornerback and Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu had only four reps of 225 pounds on the bench press but he ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and interview well at the NFL Scouting Combine, improving his draft stock in the process.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 13:41
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-power-rankings-gonzaga-georgetown-make-moves
Body:

For most of the season, the college basketball power rankings have been fairly consistent at the top: Two or three teams from the Big Ten, a team or two from the state of Florida, maybe Duke and/or Kansas every now and then.

Some of those trends remained true this week with Indiana and Michigan taking the top two spots and Miami sitting at No. 5. But the top four has a few newcomers.

After defeating Syracuse on the road, Georgetown shot up our rankings from No. 14 to No. 4. Beyond the rare win for a visiting team in the Carrier Dome, the Hoyas have won nine in a row since a perplexing loss to USF on Jan. 19. On Georgetown’s resume are wins over Notre Dame and Cincinnati on the road and Marquette and Louisville at home.

Making a smaller move, yet important nonetheless, is Gonzaga, moving up to No. 3. Mark Few's Bulldogs are making a case to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by reeling off 10 consecutive wins since the buzzer-beating loss to Butler on Jan. 19. The Zags haven’t played a game decided by single digits since defeating San Diego 65-63 on Feb. 2.

Related: Key stats from Feb. 18-24

COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS: FEB. 26

1. Indiana (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 1
Last week’s results: Defeated Michigan State 72-68
This week: Iowa
Buzz: The Hoosiers lead the nation in offensive efficiency.

2. Michigan (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 4
Last week’s results: Defeated Illinois 71-58
This week: at Penn State, Michigan State
Buzz: Trey Burke was at his best in big win over Illinois.

3. Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 West Coast Conference)
Last week’s rank: 6
Last week’s results: Defeated Santa Clara 85-42, defeated San Diego 81-50
This week: at BYU, Portland
Buzz: The Zags are becoming a strong contender for their first No. 1 seed.

4. Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 14
Last week’s results: Defeated DePaul 90-66, defeated Syracuse 57-46
This week: at Connecticut, Rutgers
Buzz: The Hoyas have road wins over Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Syracuse.

5. Miami (22-4, 13-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 2
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia 54-50, lost to Wake Forest 80-65
This week: Virginia Tech, at Duke
Buzz: Despite loss to Wake Forest, the Hurricanes still control their own destiny in the ACC.

6. Duke (24-3, 11-3 ACC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Last week’s results: Defeated Virginia Tech 88-56, defeated Boston College 89-68
This week: at Virginia, Miami
Buzz: Rasheed Sulaimon erupted for 27 against Boston College after scoring four points in the first meeting.

7. Arizona (23-4, 11-4 Pac-12)
Last week’s rank: 11
Last week’s results: Defeated Washington 70-52, defeated Washington State 73-56
This week: at USC, at UCLA
Buzz: Kevin Parrom scored a season-high 19 points vs. Washington State.

8. Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Last week’s results: Lost to Missouri 63-60, defeated Arkansas 71-54
This week: at Tennessee, Alabama
Buzz: The Gators are closing on their fourth outright SEC title in school history. 

9. Michigan State (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 3
Last week’s results: Lost to Indiana 72-68, lost to Ohio State 68-60
This week: at Michigan, Wisconsin
Buzz: Michigan State succeeded in containing Deshaun Thomas, but not Aaron Craft.

10. Kansas (24-4, 12-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 9
Last week’s results: Defeated Oklahoma State 68-67 (2OT), defeated TCU 74-48, defeated Iowa State 108-96 (OT)
This week: West Virginia
Buzz: Will Elijah Johnson shed criticism after 39 points against Iowa State?

11. Syracuse (22-6, 10-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 7
Last week’s results: Defeated Providence 84-59, lost to Georgetown 57-46, lost to Marquette 74-71
This week: Louisville
Buzz: The Orange have lost five of their last nine. 

12. Louisville (22-5, 10-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 10
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 79-61
This week: at DePaul, at Syracuse
Buzz: A tough closing stretch (Syracuse, Cincinnati, Notre Dame) awaits the Cards.

13. Kansas State (23-5, 12-3 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 12
Last week’s results: Defeated Texas 81-69, defeated Texas Tech 75-55
This week: at Baylor
Buzz: The Wildcats are eyeing their first league title since 1977.

14. Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4 Big 12)
Last week’s rank: 13
Last week’s results: Lost to Kansas 68-67 (2OT), defeated West Virginia 73-57
This week: at TCU, Texas
Buzz: Almost a quarter of Pokes’ points come from the free throw line.

15. Ohio State (20-7, 10-5 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 17
Last week’s results: Defeated Minnesota 71-45, defeated Michigan State 68-60
This week: at Northwestern
Buzz: Defeating Michigan State was a major statement win for the Buckeyes.

16. New Mexico (23-4, 10-2 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 22
Last week’s results: Defeated Colorado State 91-82
This week: San Diego State, Wyoming
Buzz: The Lobos seized control of MWC with huge win at Colorado State.

17. Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 15
Last week’s results: Defeated Seton Hall 67-46, lost to Villanova 60-56, defeated Syracuse 74-71.
This week: Notre Dame
Buzz: The Big East title still alive after Monday win over Syracuse.

18. Memphis (24-3, 13-0 Conference USA)
Last week’s rank: 21
Last week’s results: Defeated Houston 81-74, defeated Southern Miss 89-73
This week: at Xavier, at UCF
Buzz: The Tigers are closing on 16–0 run through Conference USA.

19. Wisconsin (19-8, 10-4 Big Ten)
Last week’s rank: 16
Last week’s results: Defeated Northwestern 69-41
This week: Nebraska, Purdue
Buzz:The Badgers haven’t lost a game in regulation since Jan. 29.

20. Saint Louis (21-5, 10-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 24
Last week’s results: Defeated VCU 76-62, defeated Butler 65-61
This week: St. Joseph’s, at George Washington
Buzz: The Billikens all alone in first place in the Atlantic 10.

21. Notre Dame (22-6, 10-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 25
Last week’s results: Defeated Cincinnati 62-41
This week: at Marquette
Buzz: Jack Cooley averaging a double-double for steady Irish.

22. Pittsburgh (21-7, 9-6 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 20
Last week’s results: Defeated St. John’s 63-47
This week: USF, Villanova
Buzz: Panthers’ leading scorer Tray Woodall averaging only 10.9 ppg.

23. Colorado State (21-6, 8-4 Mountain West)
Last week’s rank: 19
Last week’s results: Lost to UNLV 61-59, lost to New Mexico 91-82
This week: Fresno State, at Boise State
Buzz: The Rams’ chance at a MWC title likely ended with two losses last week.

24. Butler (22-6, 9-4 Atlantic 10)
Last week’s rank: 18
Last week’s results: Defeated Duquesne 68-49, lost to Saint Louis 65-61
This week: at VCU
Buzz: The Bulldogs are finding A-10 grind a bit tougher than Horizon. 

25. Connecticut (19-7, 9-5 Big East)
Last week’s rank: NR
Last week’s results: Defeated Cincinnati 73-66 (OT), defeated DePaul 81-69
This week: Georgetown, at Cincinnati
Buzz: Kevin Ollie proving he is the right man for the job.

Out: No. 23 VCU

Teaser:
<p> Neither Gonzaga nor Georgetown have lost since Jan. 19, both enter top five of our power rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 09:40
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Overtime
Path: /mlb/weirdest-things-happen-baseball-2012
Body:

Baseball is filled with amazing statistics, bizarre coincidences and lots of oddball occurrences. Last season was no exception, so we pulled together the best of the best and put them into this handy Calendar of MLB Weirdness. Enjoy!

APRIL

April 6 Carlos Pena, who was a combined 4-for-46 off CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera, belts a grand slam off the former and the game-ending hit against the latter.

April 7 Prince Fielder hits his 232nd home run in his 1,000th game — exactly the same number poppa Cecil had in his first 1,000 games.

April 7 Ronny Paulino goes 4-for-4 in his Orioles debut, making him 13-for-17 in his initial starts with his four teams.

April 7 Jordan Schafer, who wasn’t yet born when Jamie Moyer allowed his first leadoff home run, tags Moyer for a leadoff home run.

April 8 For the first time in 46 years, the Yankees and Red Sox both start 0–3.

April 10 Yu Darvish is the first pitcher since 1910 to win a major league debut despite allowing at least four first-inning runs.

April 11 Jonny Gomes absorbs a walk-off hit-by-pitch in extra innings for the second season in a row.

April 13 The White Sox remain unbeaten in eight tries at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday the 13ths.

April 17 The Cardinals manufacture a walk-off run in the 10th against the Reds without an official at-bat (walk, sac bunt, intentional walk, walk sac fly).

April 18 Bartolo Colon throws 38 straight strikes during his eight shutout innings of the Angels.

April 19 Six batters into their game, the Astros already have lashed three triples in the same inning for the first time in their history.

April 20 The Blue Jays (who hadn’t turned one in 33 years) turn a triple play against the Royals (who hadn’t hit into one in 33 years).

April 20 Two of the four Red Sox pitchers (Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett) ever to allow five home runs in a game do so in a span of 12 days.

April 26 The Mets beat the Marlins in walk-off fashion after fielding a starting lineup consisting entirely of homegrown talent for the first time in 40 years.

MAY

May 2 Two 40-year-olds — Chipper Jones and Jason Giambi — stroke walk-off home runs on the same day.

May 5 Twenty-eight games into their season, the Angels finally get a home run from a first baseman — Mark Trumbo, not Albert Pujols.

May 8 A foul ball bounces into the cup of a Padres fan, who chugs his beer before removing it.

May 8 After not stealing a base in his first 219 major league games, catcher John Baker swipes one in the seventh and eighth innings.

May 8 Rod Barajas (hitting .127) and Brandon Inge (.128) rise up for walk-off home runs.

May 11 Brandon Inge (recently claimed off waivers by Oakland after starting 2-for-20 in Detroit) drives in exactly four runs for the fourth time in five games, giving him 16 RBIs on five hits.

May 18 The Elias Sports Bureau points out that Kevin Millwood is the third pitcher this season (following Barry Zito and Jerome Williams) to throw a shutout at least eight years after his previous one — something that had happened only once in the previous half-century.

May 20 All 15 of Max Scherzer’s strikeouts in seven innings against the Pirates are swinging.

May 21 Jamie Moyer pitches in his 50th different ballpark.

May 24 Michael Bourn’s three home runs in his last 11 at-bats are one more than he’d hit in his previous 925.

May 27 For the second time this month, a team’s only five hits are solo home runs.

May 28 For just the fifth time in history (but the second time in nine days), a pitcher (Chris Sale, duplicating Max Scherzer’s feat) strikes out 15 batters and allows as few as five base runners in a start of 7.1 innings or less.

May 29 Reds third baseman Todd Frazier saves the life of a restaurant patron with the Heimlich maneuver, then hacks up a double and a triple in a win over the Pirates.

JUNE

June 6 On a day they play each other, the Brewers and Cubs each draft their manager’s son.

June 12 The Giants’ 16-game streak without a home run at home — the longest in baseball since 1983 — is ended by a pitcher, Madison Bumgarner.

June 13 Of the night’s four shutouts, three are by a 1–0 score and the other is Matt Cain’s perfect game.

June 13 Bryce Harper’s camp applies for a patent on the phrase, “That’s a clown question, bro.”

June 15 Drew Hutchison is the third pitcher in the same turn through the Toronto rotation to land on the DL after a mid-game injury, two of which are season-ending.

June 17 Two games last 15 innings just one day after two had extended to 14, marking the first time in history there were a pair of at least that length on successive days.

June 24 Waiver claim Brooks Conrad collects as many hits (three) and just one fewer RBIs (five) in his first 10 innings as a Ray as he did in 25 games as a Brewer.

June 24 The White Sox must remove Brent Lillibridge in the 10th inning because he’s just been traded to Boston, and the player who replaces him (Eduardo Escobar) lines a walk-off single. 

June 27 Daniel Murphy, after not homering in 103 games over nearly 50 weeks, takes Cubs pitchers deep in consecutive innings.

June 27 The Yankees put 428 career pitching victories (Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia) on the DL on the same day.

June 27 The Dodgers are shut out by the Giants for the third straight day, making it the first time in the 129-year history of the franchise they failed to score in a three-game series.

June 27 The Diamondbacks suspend TV play-by-play man Deron Sutton, reportedly for refusing to wear the team’s logo shirt instead of a suit on air.

JULY

July 1 The Dodgers end a streak of 66 innings in which they never lead.

July 2 Two consecutive Pirates clank home runs off the right field foul pole at PNC Park.

July 9 Home Run Derby captains Matt Kemp and Robinson Cano combine to clear the fence one time in the annual competition.

July 13 Zack Greinke is the first pitcher since 1917 to start three consecutive games for his team, yet he pitches a total of only eight innings while allowing 10 runs. (Later, he misses his next start due to fatigue.)

July 21 On the same day the Cardinals score all 12 of their runs against the Cubs in one inning, the Pirates become the first team in 14 years to tally four times in an inning without a hit.

July 21 Starting pitchers Matt Cain and Cole Hamels take each other deep in the same inning.

July 22 The A’s make it eight walk-off wins in their last 16 home games.

July 23 One day after losing by five runs in extra innings, the Mets lose by six runs in extra innings.

July 24 Cliff Lee, a former AL leader in lowest home run frequency, becomes the first starter in 24 years to serve up four in one game after the sixth inning.

July 25 Tommy Hanson, who throws 108 pitches in five innings against the Marlins, allows three hits (all doubles — two of them leadoff), seven walks, seven stolen bases — and one run.

July 25 The Phillies complete a three-game sweep of the Brewers, with each victory by a 7–6 score.

July 30 On their 17th try, the Braves finally win a game on a Monday, ending a streak that had lasted nearly a full year.

AUGUST

Aug. 1 The Mets fail to score during an inning in which they draw three walks, get hit by a pitch and steal three bases.

Aug. 1 A Daytona Cubs intern is ejected from the game for playing “Three Blind Mice” over the PA system after a questionable call.

Aug. 2 Padres catcher Eddy Rodriguez, who was hitting .223 with 100 strikeouts in 87 Class-A games, not only homers in his first big-league at-bat, but also does it against Johnny Cueto, who had not allowed one to a right-handed hitter in 169 innings.

Aug. 3 The brothers Upton, B.J. and Justin, hit their 100th home runs within less than an hour of each other.

Aug. 5 On the day Oakland’s streak of 10 straight one-run wins concludes, the Orioles extend theirs to 10.

Aug. 6 Ichiro hits safely in his first dozen games as a Yankee, with exactly one knock in each contest.

Aug. 9 Joaquin Benoit surrenders his ninth hit since the All-Star break, seven of which are home runs.

Aug. 10 The same fan — a 15-year-old who lives in the United Arab Emirates — catches both of Manny Machado’s first two major league home runs.

Aug. 11 After not having a walk-off win all year, with 131 of them by other teams in the interim, the Astros celebrate one for the second straight day.

Aug. 15 Houston’s Jose Altuve singles three times, each followed by a Marwin Gonzalez double play.

Aug. 17 The Seattle pitching staff’s streak of 42 consecutive retired batters — the game’s longest in 38 years — concludes.

Aug. 19 Immediately after being “perfect gamed” by Felix Hernandez, the Rays set a team record for a four-game series by scoring 37 runs against the Angels.

Aug. 25 Carlos Quentin sets the single-season hit-by-pitch record for a second franchise in back-to-back years.

Aug. 29 Shelley Duncan ends his career in Cleveland having posted exactly 11 home runs and 29 runs scored in each of his three seasons there.

Aug. 31 The Rays conclude August having lost 12 of 14 one-run games since Friday the 13th in July, and as the first AL team since 1955 to drop four 1–0 contests in a calendar month.

SEPTEMBER

Sept. 1 After no game in more than a year had ended with an outfielder gunning down the tying run at the plate, Toronto and Tampa Bay do it to each other on back-to-back nights.

Sept. 1 Adrian Beltre is now batting .500 over his last 10 games, four of which have been hitless.

Sept. 4 White Sox outfielder Dewayne Wise enters a game in the fifth inning of an eventual 18–9 loss to the Twins. Before he’s through, he not only cracks the sixth and franchise-record 10th doubles of the game, but also pitches scoreless relief for his second different team this season.

Sept. 6 The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Braves are the first team since 1984 to win 1–0 games on successive days in which the only run is unearned.

Sept. 11 Tampa Bay loses a game by more than two runs for the first time in 38 days.

Sept. 15 Both Anibal Sanchez and Francisco Liriano — each of whom has pitched a no-hitter before — lose their chance for another with two outs in the seventh inning, but win by a score of 5–3.

Sept. 16 Chris Young of the Mets gives up back-to-back home runs in the very inning that earns him $250,000 for fulfilling his 100-inning incentive clause.

Sept. 18 Miguel Olivo, who had drawn four unintentional walks in his previous 384 plate appearances dating to August 2011, is free-passed three times in Seattle’s 18-inning loss.

Sept. 20 The Mets fail to score four runs for the 16th consecutive home game — the longest streak of futility by an NL team since 1908.

Sept. 22 The A’s lose to the Yankees despite going deep three times in the 13th inning.

Sept. 25 The Mariners get themselves off a 1-for-47 schneid with runners in scoring position.

OCTOBER

Oct. 2 Six days after Felix Hernandez becomes the first pitcher ever to fan Albert Pujols three times in the same game, teammate Hisashi Iwakuma replicates the feat.

Oct. 3 Despite not hitting a triple for the third season out of the last four, Miguel Cabrera wins the “Triple” Crown.

Oct. 10 Raul Ibanez of the Yankees becomes the first player in major league history to hit two home runs in a postseason game in which he did not start. 

Oct. 12 A Washington-based team plays a winner-take-all postseason game for the first time since 1925 and, just as it did 87 years ago, blows a 6–3 lead and loses 9–7.


 

Want more baseball? Check out Athlon Sports' 2013 Baseball Annual for the most complete preview available. Order your copy now! 

Teaser:
<p> An MLB calendar of oddball occurrences</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/acc-football-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

With the release of the 2013 ACC schedules, the countdown for the upcoming college football season has officially started. The ACC has expanded by two teams since last season, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the conference from the Big East. And the conference will undergo another change next year, with Louisville replacing Maryland (leaving for the Big Ten) in 2014.

The ACC is currently only the second BCS league to play with more than 12 teams and as conferences expand, it certainly creates some quirks in the scheduling. No team from the Coastal Division will play both Florida State and Clemson in 2013, while NC State catches a huge break in crossover play, missing Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Miami. The Wolfpack also only have to leave the state of North Carolina twice in 2013. 

Athlon has combed through the ACC schedule to point out the most interesting tidbits and notes of information to know before making your 2013 predictions and travel plans. 

ACC Football Schedule Analysis for 2013

Atlantic Division Analysis

Boston College

Aug. 31 Villanova
Sept. 6 Wake Forest (Friday)
Sept. 14 at USC
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 Florida State
Oct. 5 Army
Oct. 12 at Clemson
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at North Carolina
Nov. 2 Virginia Tech
Nov. 9 at New Mexico State
Nov. 16 NC State
Nov. 23 Maryland
Nov. 30 at Syracuse

* Thanks to some late movement on the schedule, Boston College will meet Villanova for the first time since 1980. The Eagles own a 29-15-1 series edge over the FCS Wildcats.

* If the Eagles want to make a bowl game, beating Wake Forest on Friday, Sept. 6 is a must. Both teams will likely be fighting just to get to six wins, and this game could be just enough for one team to reach that mark. The Eagles have lost their last two meetings to the Demon Deacons.

* Boston College travels to Los Angeles to play USC on the road for the first time since 1987. The Eagles last played the Trojans in the 2009 Emerald Bowl and have lost all three previous matchups to USC. Needless to say, this is a difficult road trip for new coach Steve Addazio’s team.

* After winning five straight games over Army, the Black Knights shocked Boston College 34-31 last season. As mentioned previously, getting to a bowl game will be no easy task in 2013. Consider Army a must-win game for the Eagles in 2013.

* Boston College has one of the most bizarre road trips in all of college football next season. The Eagles travel to New Mexico State on Nov. 9. Really? Shouldn’t Boston College play the Aggies in Chestnut Hill? This is the first meeting between these two schools.

* The Eagles drew one of the toughest crossover schedules in the ACC. Boston College travels to North Carolina on Oct. 26 and hosts Virginia Tech on Nov. 2.

* With Boston College and Syracuse back in the same conference, these two teams will restart their annual rivalry game. The Eagles and Orange played every year from 1971-2004 but stopped once Boston College left for the ACC. These two programs met in 2010, with the Eagles winning 16-7 in Syracuse.


Clemson

Aug. 31 Georgia
Sept. 7 South Carolina State
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 19 at NC State (Thursday)
Sept. 28 Wake Forest
Oct. 5 at Syracuse
Oct. 12 Boston College
Oct. 19 Florida State
Oct. 26 at Maryland
Nov. 2 at Virginia
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 14 Georgia Tech (Thursday)
Nov. 23 The Citadel
Nov. 30 at South Carolina

* Clemson opens 2013 with an opportunity to make a huge statement. The Tigers take on Georgia, which is a chance to pickup a victory against a top-10 team, and it's also a win that could help propel Clemson into the national title discussion. These two schools are separated by less than 100 miles but have not played since 2003. The Tigers have lost five straight to the Bulldogs and trail 41-17-4 in the overall series.

* Considering the magnitude of the Week 1 matchup, it’s a good idea Clemson scheduled South Carolina State in Week 2 and has a bye in Week 3. This will allow the Tigers plenty of time to put the game with Georgia in the rearview mirror before ACC play starts.

* The Tigers open ACC play with a game at NC State on Sept. 19. This will be the second consecutive season Clemson has a matchup on Thursday night. The Wolfpack lost a handful of key players from last year, including quarterback Mike Glennon and two All-ACC selections in the secondary. NC State won the last matchup against Clemson in Raleigh in 2011 but has lost eight out of the last nine in the series.

* Clemson takes on Syracuse on Oct. 5, which is the first meeting between these two schools as ACC opponents. The Tigers and Orange have met one time, with Syracuse winning 41-0 in the 1996 Gator Bowl.

* ACC Atlantic title? Florida State and Clemson will meet on Oct. 19 in Death Valley, which will likely decide the ACC Atlantic title. The Tigers have defeated the Seminoles five consecutive times at home but trail 18-8 in the overall series. The midseason matchup is better news for Florida State, especially with a handful of new starters breaking into the lineup on defense.

* The Nov. 9 bye week comes at a perfect time for Clemson. The Tigers have back-to-back road dates against Maryland and Virginia, before playing Georgia Tech on Nov. 14. Having an off date to prepare for the Yellow Jackets is crucial, while the bye also allows Clemson a late-season chance to get healthy.

* If Clemson starts 11-0, in-state rival South Carolina will be all that stands in the way from an unbeaten regular season. The Tigers have lost the last four matchups in the series with the Gamecocks and has not won in Columbia since 2007. Clemson is a legitimate national title contender but beating South Carolina could be a major roadblock in 2013.
 

Florida State

Sept. 2 at Pittsburgh (Monday)
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 Nevada
Sept. 21 Bethune-Cookman
Sept. 28 at Boston College
Oct. 5 Maryland
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 at Clemson
Oct. 26 NC State
Nov. 2 Miami
Nov. 9 at Wake Forest
Nov. 16 Syracuse
Nov. 23 Idaho
Nov. 30 at Florida

* Florida State will open ACC play with a Labor Day matchup at Pittsburgh. This will be the first meeting between these two teams as conference members and only the ninth overall matchup. The Panthers have a 5-3 series edge over the Seminoles, with the last game between these two programs coming on Oct. 8, 1983. Florida State’s last game on Labor Day was on Sept. 7, 2009, when it lost 38-34 to Miami.

* In order to play Pittsburgh in the season opener, Florida State was forced to shuffle its schedule. The Seminoles replaced Wofford with Bethune-Cookman, which went 9-3 in 2012.

* Florida State’s Sept. 14 meeting with Nevada will be the first matchup between these two programs. The Wolf Pack has been one of the most successful WAC/Mountain West teams in recent years, but legendary coach Chris Ault stepped down at the end of the year, and running back Stefphon Jefferson departed early to the NFL.

* ACC Atlantic on the line? Florida State and Clemson finished tied atop the division with a 7-1 record last season and another tight battle should be expected once again in 2013. The Seminoles knocked off the Tigers in Tallahassee last season but has not won in Death Valley since 2001. And we can’t forget about the bye week. Florida State catches a huge break in scheduling, as it has a bye just before playing its biggest conference game of 2013.

* Can Florida State continue its in-state dominance over Miami? The Seminoles have won four out of the last five matchups, including four in a row in Miami.

* The Seminoles catch a break in crossover scheduling, as they miss North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech from the Coastal Division.

* Taking a page from the SEC? With a key matchup against in-state rival Florida on Nov. 30, the Seminoles smartly scheduled Idaho for Nov. 23. The game against the Vandals is a guaranteed win and allows Florida State to rest some of its key players for the huge game against the Gators the following Saturday. 
 

Maryland

Aug. 31 FIU
Sept. 7 Old Dominion
Sept. 14 at Connecticut
Sept. 21 West Virginia (Baltimore)
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Florida State
Oct. 12 Virginia
Oct. 19 at Wake Forest
Oct. 26 Clemson
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 Syracuse
Nov. 16 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 23 Boston College
Nov. 30 at NC State

* In order for Maryland to get bowl eligible, it needs to sweep all four games in its non-conference schedule. The Terrapins have a good chance to accomplish that, especially with West Virginia rebuilding and Connecticut losing some key contributors from its defense.

* Maryland’s October slate isn’t easy, as the Terrapins have a road trip to Florida State, a home date against Clemson and swing games against Virginia and Wake Forest. Maryland should be favored to beat the Cavaliers and Demon Deacons, but both matchups have to be considered tossups for now.

* Part II of the Randy Edsall Bowl will take place on Sept. 14, as Maryland travels to Storrs to take on his old team (Connecticut). Edsall spent 12 years with the Huskies and led the program to one BCS bowl during that stretch. Connecticut defeated Maryland 24-21 last season, and this year’s matchup will be huge for both teams in terms of bowl eligibility.

* Maryland caught a break in crossover conference scheduling, missing Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami in 2013. The Terrapins do have to play at Virginia Tech but catching Virginia over Miami or North Carolina is a plus.

* Maryland’s meeting with Syracuse on Nov. 9 is the first between these two programs since 1994. The Orange own an 18-14-2 series edge over the Terrapins.

* Unless Maryland makes the conference championship, the Nov. 30 meeting with NC State will be the final ACC game for the Terrapins. Maryland trails NC State by one game in the overall series (33-32-4).
 

NC State

Aug. 31 Louisiana Tech
Sept. 7 Richmond
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 19 Clemson (Thursday)
Sept. 28 Central Michigan
Oct. 5 at Wake Forest
Oct. 12 Syracuse
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Florida State
Nov. 2 North Carolina
Nov. 9 at Duke
Nov. 16 at Boston College
Nov. 23 East Carolina
Nov. 30 Maryland

* For a program with a first-year coach and just eight returning starters, NC State has to be thrilled with its 2013 schedule. The Wolfpack leave North Carolina just two times – at Florida State and at Boston College – and plays a very favorable non-conference schedule. NC State catches a rebuilding Louisiana Tech team in the opener and catches a dangerous East Carolina squad late in the year, allowing Doeren and his staff plenty of time to find replacements for the departed starters.

* The Sept. 19 matchup against Clemson will be a huge test for NC State. The Tigers are expected to be a heavy favorite to win the ACC and could get in the mix for a national title. The Wolfpack aren’t expected to win that game, but a good showing as an underdog would be a nice boost for Doeren and this team in 2013.

* Considering how tight the ACC standings will likely be after the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, beating Wake Forest on Oct. 5 and Duke on Nov. 9 is crucial to NC State’s hopes of getting bowl eligible.

* The Wolfpack welcome ACC newcomer Syracuse to Raleigh on Oct. 12. NC State and the Orange have played six times, with the Wolfpack taking a 6-0 series edge. However, these two teams have not played since 1998.

* New life in the North Carolina-NC State rivalry? With two young coaches, the annual rivalry between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack should have some new energy. Larry Fedora led North Carolina to a 43-35 victory over NC State last season, while Doeren hopes to get revenge with a home victory over the Tar Heels in early November.

* ACC finale. Unless Maryland makes the conference championship, the Nov. 30 meeting with NC State will be the final ACC game for the Terrapins. Interestingly enough, the Wolfpack hold a 33-32-4 series edge over Maryland.
 

Syracuse

Aug. 31 Penn State (East Rutherford, N.J.)
Sept. 7 at Northwestern
Sept. 14 Wagner
Sept. 21 Tulane
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Clemson
Oct. 12 at NC State
Oct. 19 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Wake Forest
Nov. 9 at Maryland
Nov. 16 at Florida State
Nov. 23 Pittsburgh
Nov. 30 Boston College

* Syracuse and Penn State will meet for the first time since 2009 in East Rutherford, N.J. on Aug. 31. These two teams have a storied rivalry, as they played virtually every year from 1922-1990 and met in 2008 and 2009. The Orange has lost the last four matchups in this series and trail the Nittany Lions 42-23-5 in the overall series.

* Getting to a bowl game is going to be quite a challenge for Syracuse in 2013. The Orange should beat Wagner and Tulane and could be favored against Wake Forest and Boston College but there are few guaranteed victories after that. Even road games against NC State and Maryland will be tough, and Syracuse catches Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in crossover matchups with the Coastal Division.

* Syracuse has two back-to-back road trips on their schedule. The Orange play at NC State on Oct. 19 and then travel to Georgia Tech on Oct. 19. In November, Syracuse travels to Maryland on Nov. 9 and to Florida State on Nov. 16. Ouch.

* Syracuse and Northwestern meet on Sept. 7 for the fourth time in six seasons. The Orange are 1-2 in their last three meetings against the Wildcats, which includes a 42-41 shootout defeat in last season.

* How’s this for a welcome to the ACC? Syracuse hosts Clemson – the favorite to win the ACC – in its conference opener. The Tigers and Orange have played only once, with Syracuse winning 41-0.

* Syracuse will meet Florida State for the first time since 2005 on Nov. 16. The Orange has lost their last five meetings against the Seminoles, including a 38-14 blowout in Tallahassee in 2005. This will be the first meeting between Syracuse and Florida State as ACC members.

* From 1971-2004, Boston College and Syracuse met every season. Since the Eagles departed to the ACC, these two teams have met only once as non-conference foes (2010). With both teams back in the same conference, expect this Northeast rivalry to get some traction once again.
 

Wake Forest

Aug. 29 Presbyterian (Thursday)
Sept. 6 at Boston College
Sept. 14 Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 21 at Army
Sept. 28 at Clemson
Oct. 5 NC State
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Maryland
Oct. 26 at Miami
Nov. 2 at Syracuse
Nov. 9 Florida State
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Duke
Nov. 30 at Vanderbilt

* This is the second time in four years that the Demon Deacons have opened with Presbyterian. Wake Forest won 53-13 in 2010, which was the first meeting between these two teams since 1945. The Demon Deacons should have little trouble with the Blue Hose on Aug. 29.

* Wake Forest’s Week 2 matchup at Boston College could be a huge game in terms of bowl eligibility. The Demon Deacons don’t have a bevy of guaranteed wins, so beating a Boston College team coming off a 2-10 record is a must. Wake Forest has won the last two games against the Eagles, including a 28-14 victory in 2012.

* Upset alert? The Demon Deacons shouldn’t overlook their Sept. 14 contest against Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks knocked off Arkansas last season, took Auburn to overtime and lost to Baylor by just five points. This is a dangerous team and is capable of pulling off an upset in Winston-Salem.

* The Sept. 28 matchup against Clemson should be a good barometer test for Wake Forest. The Tigers handily won last year’s game 42-13 and should be picked to win the ACC in 2013. If Wake Forest keeps things closer, it’s a good sign this team is showing signs of improvement from 2012.

* The home team in the NC State-Wake Forest series has won the last six matchups. If that trend holds true in 2013, the Demon Deacons should beat the Wolfpack in Winston-Salem.

* With Maryland headed to the Big Ten in 2014, the Oct. 19 meeting between Wake Forest and the Terrapins will likely be the last for the foreseeable future. Maryland owns a 43-17-1 series edge over the Demon Deacons.

* Wake Forest meets Syracuse on Nov. 2, which is the first meeting between these schools as conference foes. These two teams have played twice, with each program winning once.

* The Demon Deacons Oct. 26 road game against Miami is the first away game against the Hurricanes since 2008.

* For the sixth time in seven seasons, Wake Forest will close its regular season against Vanderbilt. The Commodores have a 3-2 edge in the last five games in this series.   


Coastal Division Analysis

Duke

Aug. 31 North Carolina Central
Sept. 7 at Memphis
Sept. 14 Georgia Tech
Sept. 21 Pittsburgh
Sept. 28 Troy
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Navy
Oct. 19 at Virginia
Oct. 26 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 NC State
Nov. 16 Miami
Nov. 23 at Wake Forest
Nov. 30 at North Carolina

* David Cutcliffe has a manageable start to his sixth season as the Duke head coach. Two winnable non-conference games get the season started before three straight home games with a trio of teams that lost a combined 21 games. So with four of the first five at home, Duke needs to make hay in the first month if it expects to return to a bowl game.

* The first bye week comes in the first week of October. Regardless of how the first month of the season goes, the off week comes at a great time. Should Duke struggle, it gives Cutcliffe a chance to adjust. Should the Blue Devils start well, it gives this team a break to prepare for the brutal second half of the season. More importantly, it gives the defense two weeks to prepare for the triple option (Navy on Oct 12).

* Between the bye weeks in Week 6 and Week 10, the Blue Devils will be tested in a big way. The triple option of Navy is no easy task to slow considering what they have returning at quarterback in sophomore Keenan Reynolds. Packaged with back-to-back road trips to the Commonwealth of Virginia, this middle trio of games could determine the overall direction of the 2013 season.

* Following the second bye, four straight ACC games will finish the 2013 schedule for Duke. A pair of tricky in-state road trips will be a very difficult way to end the season. Of the four finishing games, only Wake Forest missed getting enough wins to be bowl eligible a season ago.
 

Georgia Tech

Aug. 31 Elon
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 at Duke
Sept. 21 North Carolina
Sept. 26 Virginia Tech (Thursday)
Oct. 5 at Miami
Oct. 12 at BYU
Oct. 19 Syracuse
Oct. 26 at Virginia
Nov. 2 Pittsburgh
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 14 at Clemson (Thursday)
Nov. 23 Alabama A&M
Nov. 30 Georgia

* Is having an open date in Week 2 a good thing for Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech? A layup in Week 1 against Elon gives this bye week a wasted feel. However, a trip to Durham to play a pesky Duke team in Week 3 might say otherwise. Anytime a coach can take two weeks to prepare for a conference opponent it’s a good thing. 

* And since the Yellow Jackets will play four straight brutal ACC games following the off week, Johnson is likely pleased with the timing of his first open date. Following the trip to Duke, a three-game stretch with North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami could set the entire tone for the season. It is very likely that these four teams are the top four teams picked in the division and any struggles early from Tech could be crushing in their quest to repeat as Coastal champs.

* The Tech-on-Tech battle has long been the most important game in the division and it should once again carry significant weight in the league. But just in case anyone overlooks this game in the summer, it has been placed in primetime on Thursday night. It means Frank Beamer has just five days to prepare for Johnson’s triple option attack.

* A long road trip to BYU comes at a horrible time for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech will have just worked its way through a brutal first month in league play before taking the long trip out West to Provo.

* With Syracuse and Pitt on the schedule, Tech is the only Coastal team that will play both new additions to the league.

* Should Tech make it through to the second bye week in contention, an ACC Championship game preview could take place in primetime in Death Valley. Georgia Tech will travel to Clemson on Thursday night to wrap-up ACC play on Nov. 14.

* The season culminates with Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate once again. Johnson needs to make a statement in the one-sided rivalry with Georgia. The Bulldogs have won four straight and 11 of the last 12. And Georgia has averaged 36.3 points per game over the last six meetings.


Miami

Aug. 30 Florida Atlantic (Friday)
Sept. 7 Florida
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 Savannah State
Sept. 28 at USF
Oct. 5 Georgia Tech
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 17 at North Carolina (Thursday)
Oct. 26 Wake Forest
Nov. 2 at Florida State
Nov. 9 Virginia Tech
Nov. 16 at Duke
Nov. 23 Virginia
Nov. 29 at Pittsburgh (Friday)

* All eyes in South Florida should be on Week 2 when the Florida Gators come to town in a big intrastate battle. Conference and state bragging rights are certainly on the line, but much more could be on the line. Florida always has national title aspirations but Miami could send a shot across the bow of the ACC with a huge non-conference win over an SEC power. All hands should be on deck for the Florida game with a bye week and then Savannah State following the showdown with the Gators.

* Fans of football and The Sunshine State alike should appreciate when the big boys get together and Miami will play three BCS Florida teams in 2013. In fact, three of the four non-conference games on the Canes schedule will take place against teams from the state of Florida.

* A big home game with Georgia Tech leads Miami into its second bye week. Al Golden better have his team rested and healthy following the second off week because there are no breaks after Week 7. Seven straight ACC games will end the season for Miami, as both open dates are in the first half of the year. Especially, considering how the second half begins...

* Miami will begin the second half of the season with a brutal four-game stretch that will likely determine where the Canes finish in 2013. A primetime road trip to North Carolina begins the stretch that also features a trip to Florida State and a pair of home games with Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

* Should Miami make it through that four-week span, the final three games are extremely winnable. Duke, Virginia and Pittsburgh combined for 22 losses a year ago and only Pittsburgh appears to have any upside in 2013. The season finale against the Panthers will be a primetime showcase the day after Thanksgiving.


North Carolina

Aug. 29 at South Carolina (Thursday)
Sept. 7 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 28 East Carolina
Oct. 5 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 17 Miami (Thursday)
Oct. 26 Boston College
Nov. 2 at NC State
Nov. 9 Virginia
Nov. 16 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 23 Old Dominion
Nov. 30 Duke

* Larry Fedora has a tall order facing him in Week 1. Jadeveon Clowney can literally block the sun, and Fedora has to figure out a way to block him with a rebuilt offensive line. Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking in Columbia, as ESPN will feature this game on Thursday night to kickoff the season. Best of luck, Tar Heels.

* Following the first bye week in Week 3, the Tar Heels will have to play their first two ACC games on the road against quality opponents. At both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will be brutal tests for the Heels. North Carolina was 2-3 on the road last year and allowed a total of 102 points to the Tech schools.

* Following those two road tests, the Heels will get another bye week before a primetime showdown with Miami on Thursday night. These two were the best teams in the division a year ago and could be the same again in 2013. This one is must-see TV on a weeknight.

* Watch out fans in Chapel Hill following the home game with Miami, because the rest of schedule is surprisingly manageable. The Tar Heels figure to be big favorites in home games with Boston College, Virginia, Old Dominion and Duke. Two road trips to NC State and Pittsburgh might be tricky but aren’t all that intimidating as the Wolfpack breaks in a new coach and Pitt will be near the end of its first ACC season.

* In perhaps one of the biggest scheduling breaks in the ACC, North Carolina won’t face either Clemson or Florida State from the Atlantic Division. Additionally, the Heels will face just three teams that won bowl games a year ago in South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Fedora will face one team that won more than eight games a year ago (South Carolina).
 

Pittsburgh

Sept. 2 Florida State (Monday)
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 New Mexico
Sept. 21 at Duke
Sept. 28 Virginia
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 19 Old Dominion
Oct. 26 at Navy
Nov. 2 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 9 Notre Dame
Nov. 16 North Carolina
Nov. 23 at Syracuse
Nov. 29 Miami (Friday)

* Welcome to the ACC, Pittsburgh. The Panthers will have to face the defending ACC champs on Labor Day night in not only their first ACC league game, but also as their first football game as an ACC team. Paul Chryst will have his work cut out for him in the debut of his second season.

* The good news is Pittsburgh gets a bye week to lick its wounds following the game against Florida State before a fairly easy three-week stretch featuring New Mexico, Duke and Virginia. This will end the Panthers’ first month of play with three ACC games and two bye weeks under their belt before Week 7.

* Mid-to-late season non-conference games are oddly located. Old Dominion (Week 8), Navy (Week 9) and Notre Dame (Week 11) gives the Panthers three non-conference games in a four-week period deep into November. Not only could playing non-conference games halt any ACC momentum, but it features a test against the defending national championship runner-up.

* Few teams in the nation will finish with a harder stretch than the Panthers' final five games. Heinz Field will be the place to be over the final month in the ACC as North Carolina and Miami will come to town as well as the Fighting Irish. Mixed in are road trips to Georgia Tech and Syracuse, two teams that played in a bowl game last season.
 

Virginia

Aug. 31 BYU
Sept. 7 Oregon
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 VMI
Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 5 Ball State
Oct. 12 at Maryland
Oct. 19 Duke
Oct. 26 Georgia Tech
Nov. 2 Clemson
Nov. 9 at North Carolina
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at Miami
Nov. 30 Virginia Tech

* If fans in Charlottesville want fireworks, they won’t have to wait long. Two brutal non-conference games with BYU and Oregon might be the toughest two-week start for any ACC team in 2013. The odds of winning both are slim and none so a 1-1 split would be considered a great start to the year. And at least Mike London’s team gets a bye week and VMI after the Ducks come to town.

* The Cavaliers will begin conference play in unfamiliar territory. Virginia has played at Pittsburgh twice all-time and only once since 1955 — a 38-13 loss in 2006. It will actually be the third ACC game for Pittsburgh but the first for Virginia in 2013.

* October offers some chances for London to get wins. Three of four will be at home and all four are winnable. Georgia Tech might be the only opponent that is favored over the Wahoos during the month.

* Virginia better win games in October because November is nasty. Road trips to North Carolina and Miami are going to be brutal while home tests against Clemson and Virginia Tech will likely feature large point-spreads. The good news is a bye week sandwiched directly in the middle of the five-week stretch. A small consolation.
 

Virginia Tech

Aug. 31 Alabama (Atlanta)
Sept. 7 Western Carolina
Sept. 14 at East Carolina
Sept. 21 Marshall
Sept. 26 at Georgia Tech (Thursday)
Oct. 5 North Carolina
Oct. 12 Pittsburgh
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 Duke
Nov. 2 at Boston College
Nov. 9 at Miami
Nov. 16 Maryland
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 30 at Virginia

* The ACC will get yet another chance at the SEC in the kickoff classic. While Clemson won twice against the SEC a year ago, the rest of the league failed epically against the best league in America. This does not bode well for a rebuilt Hokies offensive staff against the back-to-back defending BCS national champions. Needless to say, Virginia Tech will be a huge underdog. The season might as well start in Week 2 for Frank Beamer. Two easy non-conference games should allow for plenty of wound-licking before ACC play because…

* Conference play gets started right away for the Hokies. A road trip to Georgia Tech followed by two key home tests against North Carolina and Pitt could have Virginia Tech in control of the division after just three games – or teetering on the brink of missing a bowl — much like the first half of the 2012 season. The bye week will be a welcome sight after the first six games of the season.

* Of the final five games, only one appears to be difficult. Duke and Maryland at home should be wins. Road trips to Boston College and Virginia should be victories as well. So the trip to South Beach to face Miami in Week 10 is the only marquee matchup on the schedule following the first bye week.

* Virginia Tech misses both Florida State and Clemson this year.

* The second open date comes in Week 13 on the penultimate week of the year. It isn’t the most useful location for an extra week of preparation. However, the off week means Virginia Tech could be a heavy favorite in the Commonwealth Cup. 

* Hokies Athletic Director Jim Weaver requested that Virginia Tech not play a home game on Thursday night this year — something that has happened for 11 straight seasons in Blacksburg. The ACC and ESPN agreed.


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

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College Football Recruiting: ACC Team Rankings for 2013

Teaser:
<p> ACC Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 06:16
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-college-football-coaching-jobs-2013
Body:

We have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money  — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach? Today we focus on the Big Ten.

(Note: Current or impending NCAA sanctions were not a factor in these rankings.)

Ranking the Coaching Jobs in the Big Ten for 2013

1. Ohio State

Pros: There are eight FBS schools in Ohio, but there is only one school named The Ohio State University. The Buckeyes have been a consistent force on the field and in recruiting since Woody Hayes took over in the early 1950s.

Cons: Expectations are extremely high in Columbus. Consider the case of John Cooper: In 13 seasons, Cooper went 111–43–4, winning 10 games or more five times. But he went 2–10–1 against Michigan and lost his job after the 2000 season.

Final Verdict: Everything is in place to win a national championship at Ohio State. The facilities are top-notch, the fans are passionate, and the recruiting base is outstanding. Just don’t lose to Michigan.
 

2. Michigan

Pros: Michigan has as much tradition as any school in the country. The Wolverines have been a national power since the 1890s and they play in one of the largest venues in the country, 109,901-seat Michigan Stadium. The program’s success and the school’s academic reputation have allowed Michigan to be a major player in recruiting both in the Midwest and nationally.

Cons: Michigan is an old-school program that is very set in its ways. A coach who comes in with a new philosophy — for example, Rich Rodriguez — will have a tough time being accepted.

Final Verdict: Michigan is no doubt an elite job, but as we saw in the Rodriguez era — he won a total of 15 games in three years — you have to be the right fit to win big in Ann Arbor.
 

3. Penn State (Note: These rankings do not take NCAA sanctions into consideration.)

Pros: Penn State is an enormous state university in an extremely fertile recruiting area. The Nittany Lions play in the second-largest facility in the country (Beaver Stadium, capacity 107,282), and they have won two national championships in the past 30 years

Cons: Penn State recovered nicely in the latter half of the 2000s, but it’s a bit disconcerting that a program with so much going for it was capable of having four losing seasons in a five-year span like Penn State did from 2000-04. Truly elite programs should not suffer through prolonged droughts.

Final Verdict: Penn State is difficult to evaluate at this point. Sanctions are not supposed to affect these rankings, but Penn State is a unique case. This is a great job, but the program will not compete at a high level until the sanctions are over.
 

4. Nebraska

Pros: Strong tradition. Amazing facilities. Passionate fans. Those three things don’t guarantee success, but they are a nice place to start. The Big Ten Legends Division has some good programs — Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State — but Nebraska should be in position to compete for a division title on an annual basis.

Cons: The Huskers won three national titles in the 1990s, but the program slipped a bit over the past decade. The state of Nebraska does not produce many high-end BCS conference players each year, and the program no longer has the sex-appeal to steal elite players from the East Coast like it did in the 1970s and '80s.

Final Verdict: Nebraska is a unique coaching position. You have everything in place to win big — except a local recruiting base. How big is that hurdle? Significant but not insurmountable. The Huskers are no longer a top-10 job nationally but still very desirable.
 

5. Wisconsin

Pros: Wisconsin has been transformed into a football school over the past two decades. Badger faithful pack 80,321-seat Camp Randall Stadium each week and create one the best environments in the nation. Madison also is a great place to live.

Cons: The school’s local recruiting base isn’t strong; the state has not produced a national top-100 player in the past four seasons. Also, the Badgers have only been relevant on the national scene since the early 1990s. Wisconsin lacks the tradition of many of its Big Ten rivals.

Final Verdict: Barry Alvarez turned Wisconsin from a Big Ten afterthought to a significant player in college football. But the Badgers’ place as a top program is far from secure. Wisconsin, more than most of the other schools ranked in the top 25 on this list, needs the right coach in place to remain successful.
 

6. Michigan State

Pros: Michigan State seemingly has everything in place to be a major player in the Big Ten — great fan support (averaged 75,382 per game in ’12), good facilities, strong recruiting base and decent tradition.

Cons: Despite all of the positives listed above, Michigan State has only won one Big Ten title — in 2009 — in two decades and has only averaged 6.0 wins in the 47 seasons since claiming a share of the 1966 national championship. Also, there’s the Michigan thing: No matter how much success the Spartans enjoy, they will always be the second school in the state behind Michigan.

Final Verdict: Michigan State has been an underachiever and will never be the No. 1 program in its own state. Still, it’s a good job. If you can change the culture in East Lansing —which Mark Dantonio has apparently done — there is no reason Michigan State can’t contend for Big Ten titles on a semi-regular basis.
 

7. Iowa

Pros: Three key elements make Iowa an attractive job — it’s the top school in the state (sorry, Iowa State), it has a strong tradition of excellence (five Big Ten titles since 1981, two BCS bowls since ‘03) and it has great fan support (70,474 per game in ’12).

Cons: Iowa might be the top dog in the state, but the hunting grounds aren’t very fertile. To remain competitive, the Hawkeyes’ staff will always have to go into other teams’ home states to recruit.

Final Verdict: It’s difficult for a school that doesn’t have a strong local recruiting base to compete for national title. It can be done — Nebraska won three titles in the 1990s — but that is a very big hurdle to climb.
 

8. Illinois

Pros: Illinois’ local recruiting base — from Chicago down into St. Louis — is among the best in the Big Ten. The facilities (weight room, practice facility, locker rooms, etc.) are strong, and the stadium recently received a $200 million upgrade.

Cons: Basketball is — and will always be — the top sport at Illinois. Football, for whatever reason, has never been much of a threat to break into the upper echelon of the league. Also, the fan support at Illinois isn’t as strong as the top programs in the Big Ten. Last year, the Illini averaged only 45,564 fans per game.

Final Verdict: Despite being the fifth most populous state, Illinois checks in No. 8 in our list of the Big Ten’s most attractive coaching positions. There is a lot to like about the job, but there are also reasons why the school has only won three Big Ten titles (two outright) since the early 1960s.
 

9. Purdue

Pros: Purdue is a program that has experienced consistent success in the Big Ten during the BCS era. The Boilermakers went 48–32 in league play during the first 10 years of the Joe Tiller era. Support is solid when the program is winning.

Cons: Purdue is one of three BCS programs in a state that does not produce a high volume of elite recruits.

Final Verdict: Coaching is important at every school, but Purdue is the type of school that can win consistently with the right man in place (Joe Tiller) but will struggle with the wrong man (Danny Hope).
 

10. Minnesota

Pros: The Gophers have a relatively new stadium that provided a significant upgrade from the outdated Metrodome. As the only Division I (FBS or FCS) program in the state, Minnesota should land its fare share of in-state recruits.

Cons: Minnesota is a tough sell for out-of-state recruits. The weather is bad and the program lacks tradition. 

Final Verdict: Minnesota is a program with a ceiling — and Glen Mason hit that ceiling (winning five to eight games in most seasons with an occasional 10-win breakthrough).
 

11. Northwestern

Pros: As the only private school in the Big Ten, Northwestern can be an attractive option for a top-flight recruit from the Midwest who is looking for an elite academic institution. The university has recently approved a $225-250 million facilities overhaul for all of the athletic programs. Football will no doubt be a huge beneficiary.

Cons: It will always be a struggle to keep up with the elite programs in the Big Ten, from a recruiting and facilities standpoint.

Final Verdict: You can win at Northwestern, but it will always be a challenge.
 

12. Indiana

Pros: The school has increased its commitment to the football program in recent years, most notably an upgrade in facilities that includes a new weight room, a new scoreboard and an academic center, among other things.

Cons: Basketball is king at Indiana University and in the state of Indiana. The school’s recruiting base is weak, and there are two other BCS programs in the state.

Final Verdict: There’s a reason Indiana hasn’t had back-to-back winning seasons 1993 and ’94 and hasn’t won a Big Ten title since 1967. It’s tough to win in Bloomington.


Related College Football Content

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College Football's Early Top 25 for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big Ten's College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-analysis-clemson-tigers
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has quickly developed a reputation as a strong closer on the recruiting trail and 2013 only bolstered that thought. In fact, he landed two of the top three players ranked in this class on the final day of the cycle. And it helped Clemson finish with a top-15 class.

Clemson Tigers

National Rank: 13th
ACC: Second
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 1
National Signees: 6
Total Signees: 23

Where They Got 'Em:

The Palmetto State has long been an underrated location for football talent. With elite names like Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore hailing from South Carolina — and signing with the Gamecocks — Swinney knows how important winning in-state recruiting battles is for his Tigers. Nearly one-third of this class (7) are in-state prospects.

Otherwise, Clemson has long combed the talent-rich waters of neighboring states Georgia (5), Florida (4) and North Carolina (3). Alabama was another regional state to ship a prospect to Death Valley. All but three players in this class came from the Deep South with Hawaii, Maryland and New York (one each) also providing talent to Clemson. From the north, Maryland and New York each sent a nationally rated prospect to the Tigers too.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

The most noticeable aspect of this class is the defensive secondary. At least seven new players are slotted into the future depth chart as defensive backs with a chance that two "athletes" could play there as well. This group includes the top-rated player in the class, AC100 cornerback MacKensie Alexander. He was the biggest NSD victory for Swinney and his coaching staff and he has all the makings to be an elite player both on and off the field. He and Ryan Carter are locked into cornerback spots and the rest of this extremely deep secondary class has tremendous length. Five of the seven DBs are listed at 6-foot-1 or taller. 

There are only two linebackers in this class but both are nationally ranked. Dorian O'Daniel is the No. 2-rated prospect in this class and should be a star on the outside. Ben Boulware is considered by many to be the top player in South Carolina and he will line up inside. This obviously isn't a deep linebacking class, but it's one that has excellent upside.

A four-man defensive line class rounds out what could be a dynamite defensive haul for Clemson. Ebenezer Ogundeko is the highest rated of the bunch and is already enrolled in classes. Fellow defensive end Shaq Lawson is on campus already as well, while Dane Rogers Jr. rounds out a solid collection of new pass rushers. Scott Pagano is the lone interior defensive lineman in the class.

Jayron Kearse, T.J. Green and D.J. Greenlee are the three "athletes" in the class. Green will be an outstanding return specialist who could play wideout or cornerback. Greenlee has a huge frame and seems pegged for safety or outside linebacker. Kearse is listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds and was a star linebacker at South Fort Myers (Fla.) High School. It could turn out that 15 of 23 signees in this class could end be on defense.

That leaves just eight new offensive players. Running backs Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman will look to replace Andre Ellington after stellar prep careers. Dye was his region's Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 despite playing in only seven games while Gallman excelled as a two-way star at Grayson (Ga.) High School — Robert Nkemdiche's high school.

Three long, rangy pass catchers will provide talented depth to an already loaded skill position roster. Wide receiver Mike Williams is 6-foot-5 while tight end and early enrollee Jordan Leggett stands 6-foot-6. Kyrin Priester is the smallest of the bunch at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds.

Swinney signed just two offensive linemen in this class, including the No. 3-rated player in the class Tyrone Crowder. 

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 0, RB: 2, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 2
Defense: DL: 4, LB: 2, DB: 7, ATH: 3

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
29. MacKensie Alexander DB No. 6 Immokalee, Fla. 5-11 185
121. Dorian O'Daniel LB No. 13 Olney, Md. 6-1 205
135. Tyrone Crowder OL No. 19 Rockingham, N.C. 6-2 325
149. Ben Boulware LB No. 18 Anderson, S.C. 6-1 230
175. Jayron Kearse ATH No. 23 (LB) Ft. Myers, Fla. 6-4 205
201. Tyshon Dye RB No. 23 Elberton, Ga. 6-1 205
205. Ebenezer Ogundeko DE No. 37 (DL) Brooklyn, N.Y. 6-3 230

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
Jadar Johnson DB Orangeburg, S.C. 6-1 180 --
Jordan Leggett TE Navarre, Fla. 6-6 235 --
Ebenezer Ogundeko DE Brooklyn, N.Y. 6-3 230 No. 205
Shaq Lawson DE Central, S.C. 6-4 260 --

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. LSU Tigers
8. Texas A&M Aggies
9. UCLA Bruins
10. Auburn Tigers
11. Florida State Seminoles
12. Georgia Bulldogs

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Analysis: Clemson Tigers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 06:14
Path: /nascar/danica-patrick-impresses-daytona-nascars-gen-6-does-not
Body:

The Great American Race, for the first 180 laps, looked more like the Great American Parade. Cars ran single-file for much of the Daytona 500, content to ride in packs for fear that pulling out for a pass would leave them slower than the street cars the new Gen-6 models are supposed to resemble.

Just don’t expect Jimmie Johnson to complain. “Five-Time” saved his best for last, when the field bunched up inside the last 20 laps and the racing finally resembled some semblance of Sprint Cup competition. Out in front on the white-flag lap, he slammed on the gas pedal when cars wrecked behind him, easily outlasting teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the second Daytona 500 of his one-day Hall of Fame career.

This day, however, will never come close to those lofty standards, a disappointment for NASCAR during a time where plenty of extra eyes were paying attention. Their missed opportunity leads off this week’s “Through The Gears,” bringing you up to speed on the storylines that simmer following the 55th running of the Daytona 500.

First Gear: The Gen-6 needs work at Daytona. Serious, serious work
Daytona is NASCAR’s Super Bowl; but Sunday, the challenge for fans was nothing more than staying awake. That’s problematic. NASCAR’s Gen-6 model, while expected to improve the competition on intermediate tracks, sterilized it on a plate track. Strategy and track position — the latter an ugly word that’s castrated competition elsewhere — made its way into the restrictor plate world most thought it could never touch again. Whether or not NASCAR should be using the plates as a form of parity is a separate discussion. The fact this package caused cars to run single-file, repeatedly, with only 19 lead changes in the first 172 laps (mostly during cautions, restarts and green-flag stops) is a fact not easily ignored.

Some of that, whether NASCAR likes it or not, can be attributed to the plate package it built for the Gen-6 chassis. Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin tweeted the single-file racing was “frustrating,” attributed to the weakness of the inside line. Meanwhile, winner Johnson had another take – that the drivers themselves, sick of wrecking out of so many Russian Roulette, keep-the-pack-together-like superglue races had grown tired of actually trying to compete until the end.

“When we’re running single-file, we’re just trying to get to the finish,” Johnson said. “We’ve all crashed so many times and have torn up so much stuff … I feel for NASCAR, they’re trying to create a very competitive car.”

There’s a point to be made here, along with Saturday’s carnage that left 28 fans injured and many drivers clearly shaken. After 25 years, no matter the rules, these drivers know the name of the game. Did you know there has not been a plate race without a yellow (or several) within the last 20 laps since Daytona’s July 2004 Pepsi 400? Some of the drivers today hadn’t earned their high school diploma when that happened. That means the same type of pattern has been repeated, over and over; no matter what you do, no matter where you are on the track, as long as you stay on the lead lap a caution will bunch up the field with 20 to go (or less). After that … the real racing starts.

Competitors are smart and they adapt. So NASCAR needs to come up with a way where there’s a clear reason to race hard, from start to finish even in the sport’s Super Bowl, otherwise, drivers will just do it when it counts. NASCAR also needs to take a hard look at Johnson’s other point, how side-drafting permanently disabled the inside line Sunday. By all accounts, drivers pulled out of line and got railroaded because the Gen-6 car is so sensitive to that method of manipulation. Perhaps adjusting the spoiler will help? If NASCAR does that, it’s believed some form of tandem drafting would be the result. But as the Nationwide race showed us — before all hell broke loose — some hybrid version of that format isn’t all bad.

What NASCAR can’t have, whether the drivers like it or not, is a parade the likes of which was seen on Sunday — especially when the fan base is used to the heart attack that is Daytona’s last 20 laps. They say people are enthused about a style of racing that closely matches the early 1990s? Check the ratings: 1990 and ’91 were the two lowest-rated 500s since the race received full-time coverage in 1979.


Second Gear: Danica is the real deal … sort of
OK, raise your hand if you thought Danica would be a flop. She wasn’t. In truth, Patrick’s day surpassed most peoples’ expectations, becoming the first woman to lead a lap in the Great American Race and following it up with the best ever finish (eighth).

More importantly, Patrick remained consistent, running in the top 10 for the duration in a performance that she described perfectly: “steady.” If not for making a rookie mistake, in failing to follow Earnhardt with one lap left, she may have been on the podium.

“I definitely was a little uncertain how I was going to be able to do it pass for the win),” she said. “I think Dale did a nice job and I think he taught me something.”

What she needs to learn — much quicker — is how to get off pit road. At tracks where she won’t make track position back, like the intermediates, those mistakes could destroy a solid run. I do expect more Danica-mania to develop now, as the momentum train heads to Phoenix, where she was in position for a top-15 performance last November before a late wreck.


Third Gear: Johnson sets another milestone … to the detriment of Earnhardt Jr.
Johnson, taking advantage of track position opportunities, ran a smart, clean race. That’s expected when crew chief Chad Knaus can take center stage. He successfully kept the No. 48 out of drafting practice, gambling that this race was about who could stay in line, use pit strategy to stay up front and then make a calculated move when it counted.

The victory gives Johnson a victory in his 400th career start. In a weird quirk, five others have accomplished the feat, including Hall of Famers Lee Petty, Richard Petty, David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt. As if Johnson needing another notch on a resume that may see him reach 100 career wins (he’s at 61 now) before his career is complete.

You can’t say the same for Earnhardt, runner-up in this race for the third time in the last four years. It’s a huge win for Hendrick Motorsports, which runs the 48 and 88 out of the same shop. But you’ve got to wonder if the restrictor plate drought, now at eight-plus years, has Earnhardt wondering when it’ll finally be his turn again.

“Running second over and over is great and all for our team,” Earnhardt said. “But it’s been too long. I would love (to win), even having to go through all that (media) hassle that Jimmie is about to go through this week. It’s worth it.”
 

Teaser:
<p> Through the Gears: Five things we learned in the Daytona 500</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 15:17
Path: /nfl/star-lotulelei-heart-condition-hurts-draft-stock
Body:

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was not allowed to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine due to a heart condition that was discovered during his pre-draft medical screening in Indianapolis.

Lotulelei will return to Salt Lake City for a second opinion after his most recent echocardiogram showed a low Ejection Fraction, with his left ventricle pumping at a rate less than the normal 55-to-70 percent efficiency, according to reports.

Once thought to be a lock top-10 pick — and even a viable candidate to go No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Chiefs — Lotulelei’s heart condition could result in a steep fall down draft boards.

The best-case scenario is that the irregularity in heartbeat was caused by dehydration or possibly rapid weight loss experienced by Lotulelei, who weighed in at 311 pounds in Indianapolis. The worst-case scenario is a serious medical condition that could pose a long-term health risk.

Lotulelei is just the latest elite prospect in the Class of 2013 to experience a serious setback leading up to the April 25-27 NFL Draft. In addition to Lotulelei (heart), Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (neck), USC quarterback Matt Barkley (right arm), Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (DUI) and Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o (Catfish) all have serious red flags.
 

Teaser:
<p> Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was not allowed to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine after it was discovered that he has a heart condition.</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 14:15
Path: /college-football/california-golden-bears-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

After a disappointing 3-9 record last season, California made a coaching change, firing Jeff Tedford in favor of Sonny Dykes. Although Tedford did a lot of good things in Berkeley, the program had two losing seasons over the last three years and failed to build off its 28-9 stretch from 2004-06. Dykes is no stranger to life in the Pac-12, as he coached at Arizona from 2007-09. He went 22-15 in three seasons at Louisiana Tech and should be a good fit in an offensive-minded conference like the Pac-12.

California Golden Bears 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 3-9 (2-7)

Spring practice dates: Feb. 25-March 23

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Allan Bridgford, 31 of 68, 277 yds., 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing: Brendan Bigelow, 44 car., 431 yds., 3 TDs
Receiving: Chris Harper, 41 rec., 544 yds., 2 TDs
Tackles: Nick Forbes, 85
Sacks: Nathan Broussard and Chris McCain, 3
Interceptions: Michael Lowe, 3

Redshirts to Watch: QB Zach Kline, LB Hardy Nickerson Jr., LB Michael Barton, C Matt Cochran, OL Christian Okafor

Early Enrollees to Watch: K Matt Anderson, QB Jared Goff, WR Drake Whitehurst, DE Kyle Kragen, DE Sione Sina

JUCO Transfers to Watch: DE Kyle Kragen, WR Drake Whitehurst, DT Marcus Manley, DE Sione Sina

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Northwestern
Sept. 7 Portland State
Sept. 14 Ohio State
Sept. 28 at Oregon
Oct. 5 Washington State
Oct. 12 at UCLA
Oct. 19 Oregon State
Oct. 26 at Washington
Nov. 2 Arizona
Nov. 9 USC
Nov. 16 at Colorado
Nov. 23 at Stanford

Offensive Strength: With only four returning starters and the departure of its best receiver (Keenan Allen), California doesn’t have a glaring strength. Running back Brendan Bigelow is a potential star but will miss spring practice due to knee surgery. Assuming Bigelow is healthy, the Golden Bears should have a solid rushing attack and a promising group of young receivers.

Offensive Weakness: Quarterback. Zach Maynard never elevated his play to an All-Pac-12 level during his career in Berkeley, and California’s offense suffered as a result. Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin have a lot of work ahead of themselves this spring, as they need to identify a No. 1 quarterback, as well as address an offensive line that returns just two starters.

Defensive Strength: Considering California returned five starters from a defense that led the Pac-12 in total and pass defense, finishing 10th in the Pac-12 in yards allowed was quite a disappointment. This unit has experience coming back, including defensive ends Deandre Coleman, Chris McCain and Brennan Scarlett. Despite shifting McCain and Scarlett to defensive end, the linebacking corps should be solid, especially if Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt is ready to contribute.

Defensive Weakness: The secondary finished 89th nationally in pass efficiency defense and loses cornerbacks Steve Williams and Marc Anthony, along with safety Josh Hill. The Golden Bears have experience coming back at safety and will get a boost at cornerback with the return of Stefan McClure from injury.

Spring Storylines Facing the Golden Bears

1. Who starts at quarterback? The good news for Sonny Dykes: California has seven options to choose from at quarterback. The bad news: None have proven to be a capable starter. Senior Allan Bridgford has the most experience but has completed just 44 of 100 passes in his career. Bridgford’s experience could give him the edge to take the first snap, but expect junior Austin Hinder, redshirt freshman Zach Kline and true freshman Jared Goff to push him for time. Kline ranked as the No. 4 quarterback in the 2012 signing class by Athlon Sports and could be the answer under center. If the Golden Bears struggle to find a quarterback, finishing out of the Pac-12 North cellar will be very difficult.

2. Develop depth at running back. Brendan Bigelow should be ready for fall practice after offseason knee surgery, but he needs help in the backfield. Unfortunately for California, backup Daniel Lasco is also out for spring practice, as he recovers from shoulder injury. To help with depth this spring, Jeffrey Coprich is expected to move from defensive back. With Lasco and Bigelow sidelined, Coprich, Darren Ervin and Jonah Hodges need to take advantage of the spring reps and quickly get acclimated to the new offense.

3. Address the concerns on the offensive line. The Golden Bears return just two starters on the line, which may not be a bad thing considering this unit allowed 3.4 sacks a game last year. However, the losses were significant, as left tackle Tyler Rigsbee is gone after starting all 12 games last season, and center Brian Schwenke has exhausted his eligibility after picking up first-team All-Pac-12 honors last year. Finding the right answer at center is crucial in California’s offense, especially since that position plays a key role in making adjustments and checks at the line of scrimmage in Dykes’ offense.

4. Adjusting to the 4-3. After playing in a 3-4 scheme under former defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, California will be making the switch to a 4-3 this spring. To help with the transition, the Golden Bears have three junior college linemen joining the team, along with the move of Brennan Scarlett and Chris McCain from linebacker to defensive end. How will all of the pieces come together? California struggled on defense last season, so it’s important for this unit to quickly adapt to the new scheme.

5. Cornerback. With Steve Williams leaving early for the NFL Draft and Marc Anthony exhausting his eligibility, California is thin at cornerback. Kameron Jackson played in all 12 games and picked off three passes, and he should be a lock to handle one cornerback spot. The other side will likely go to Stefan McClure, who missed all of 2012 due to a knee injury. The Vista native was considered among the top 150 prospects coming out of high school, so talent isn’t an issue. Even if McClure returns to full strength, defensive coordinator Andy Buh needs more players to emerge as reliable options. Considering the talent on offense in the Pac-12, having a thin secondary is never a good thing.


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Pac-12 Team Recruiting Rankings for 2013

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<p> California Golden Bears 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 11:25
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After earning three consecutive BCS bowl appearances, the bar is set high for Stanford in 2013. And the Cardinal return 14 starters from a team that won 12 games last season, so it's not out of the question David Shaw's team can compete for a spot in the national championship this season. The Cardinal has a favorable path to a Pac-12 North title but play Oregon and USC in a challenging November slate. Even if Stanford doesn’t make for the national title in 2013, another appearance in the Rose Bowl is certainly within reach.

Stanford Cardinal 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-2 (8-1)

Spring practice dates: Feb. 25-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 8

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Josh Nunes, 124 of 235, 1,643 yds., 10 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Kevin Hogan, 55 car., 263 yds., 2 TDs
Receiving: Ty Montgomery, 26 rec., 213 yds.
Tackles: Shayne Skov, 81
Sacks: Trent Murphy, 10
Interceptions: Ed Reynolds, 6

Redshirts to watch: RB Barry Sanders, OL Nick Davidson, OL Johnny Caspers, WR Michael Rector, WR Conner Crane, LB Noor Davis, DE Jordan Watkins, C Graham Shuler, WR Dontonio Jordan, TE Alex Frkovic, TE Chris Harrell

2013 Schedule

Sept. 7 San Jose State
Sept. 14 at Army
Sept. 21 Arizona State
Sept. 28 at Washington State
Oct. 5 Washington
Oct. 12 at Utah
Oct. 19 UCLA
Oct. 26 at Oregon State
Nov. 7 Oregon
Nov. 16 at USC
Nov. 23 California
Nov. 30 Notre Dame

Offensive Strength: Quarterback Kevin Hogan still needs to develop as a passer, but there’s a lot to like about the Virginia native going into 2013. Hogan finished with 1,096 passing yards and nine scores, while adding 263 rush yards in 2012. Even though center Sam Schwartzstein finished his eligibility, the offensive line should be a strength. David Yankey is one of the best linemen in the Pac-12, while Khalil Wilkes, Kevin Danser, Cameron Fleming and a solid group of youngsters form one of the nation’s top offensive lines.

Offensive Weakness: The passing game. While Hogan is capable of guiding this team to another Pac-12 title, he has very little options in the receiving corps. Stanford’s top two receiving threats from last year – Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo – left early for the NFL, and Drew Terrell and Jamal Rashad-Patterson finished their eligibility.

Defensive Strength: Even with linebacker Chase Thomas and nose tackle Terrence Stephens finishing their eligibility, Stanford will have one of the best front sevens in the nation. The linebacking corps is stacked with talent, including senior Shayne Skov and first-team All-Pac-12 selection in Trent Murphy. The secondary also has first-team All-Pac-12 safety Ed Reynolds returning, along with rising star Alex Carter at cornerback.

Defensive Weakness: Is there really a weakness on this defense? Finding a replacement for Thomas will be a challenge, but the Cardinal has depth at linebacker. If there is an area of concern, it might be on the interior of the defensive line. Stanford gave up over 200 rushing yards in wins against UCLA and Wisconsin, which just happened to be two of the games Stephens missed at nose tackle.

Spring Storylines Facing the Cardinal

1. Upgrading the passing game. Considering Stanford’s strength in the trenches, it doesn’t need to throw the ball 35-40 times to win each week. However, with running back Stepfan Taylor gone, the Cardinal needs to find a spark in the passing game. Quarterback Kevin Hogan didn’t top more than 160 yards in each of his final three starts, but that’s not the biggest problem. With Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo departing at tight end, the receiving corps lacks weapons. Ty Montgomery was slowed by an injury last season, but he could be a go-to threat for Hogan. Outside of Montgomery, the Cardinal needs a big spring from receivers Kodi Whitfield, Kelsey Young, Michael Rector, Conner Crane and Dontonio Jordan. Sophomore Luke Kaumatule will likely work as the No. 1 tight end this spring.

2. A new go-to back? Stepfan Taylor capped off an excellent career at Stanford by winning offensive most valuable player honors in the Rose Bowl. During his four years with the Cardinal, Taylor rushed for 4,300 yards and 30 scores. Needless to say, Taylor will be missed. However, Stanford caught a break this spring, as Tyler Gaffney decided to return to school for his senior year. Gaffney left the team last year to play minor league baseball and recorded 449 yards on 74 carries in 2011. He will battle with Anthony Wilkerson, Remound Wright and touted redshirt freshman Barry Sanders for the starting nod this spring, but the Cardinal will likely lean on more of a committee approach. There’s plenty of depth and talent, but Stanford just needs to develop a pecking order this spring.

3. Who starts at center? It’s not a glamorous position battle, but Stanford has a large void at center with the departure of Sam Schwartzstein. He earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season and was a crucial part of Stanford’s success on the ground. Starting guard Khalil Wilkes is expected to slide to center this spring, with Conor McFadden, Kevin Reihner and Graham Shuler also getting snaps. The Cardinal also needs to figure out whether David Yankey sticks at left tackle or moves to guard, which would allow talented sophomores Andrus Peat or Kyle Murphy to win a starting spot. Stanford has depth and talent on the offensive front but cannot afford to have subpar play from center if it wants to win the Pac-12.

4. Replacing Chase Thomas at linebacker. Overall, Stanford is in great shape at linebacker with the return of Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov, A.J. Tarpley, Jarek Lancaster and James Vaughters. However, Thomas is a big loss from a leadership and production perspective. He recorded 7.5 sacks last season and ranked second on the team with 71 stops. Sophomore Kevin Anderson will get the first crack at replacing Thomas, but keep an eye on redshirt freshman Noor Davis.

 

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Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 11:15
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Although neither Danica Patrick nor Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Sunday's Daytona 500 (they did finish a respectable 8th and 12th), both made plenty of headlines leading up to the race. Besides Patrick making history as the first woman ever to win the Daytona 500 pole, she and Stenhouse Jr. publicly acknowledged that they are dating.

Now while it's entirely too soon to tell if NASCAR's new power couple will ever walk down the aisle, there have been plenty of superstar athletes and sports figures who have said "I do." Which got us thinking, who are the greatest husband-wife pairings in sports today?

For the purpose of this exercise, we tried to identify the “greatest” current married couples across the sports spectrum. While each has been successful in their respective sport, this ranking was determined by looking at their collective body of work.

Although it’s difficult to compare success on the baseball diamond compared to Olympic performances, for example, there’s no debating who tops Athlon Sports’ list as the No. 1 husband-wife duo in all of sports.

 

1. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf
Married: October 22, 2001
Children: son Jaden Gil and daughter Jaz Elle

With a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles (22 Graf, Agassi 8) and two gold medals, among numerous other accolades and accomplishments, Agassi and Graf are not only the king and queen of the tennis courts, but they are tops among such pairings across the sports spectrum.

Considered among the greatest to ever pick up a racket, both ascended to the No. 1 ranking in tennis at some point in their illustrious careers. In fact, Graf’s mark of 377 total weeks ranked No. 1 is the longest period for any player in tennis history. Graf also is second only to Margaret Court (24) in Grand Slam singles title, while Agassi is tied for eighth among his male peers. In addition to the big wins, this duo has a combined 1,772 career wins, more than 160 career titles, earned more than $50 million in prize money alone and both are members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

2. Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm
Married: November 22, 2003
Children: twin daughters Grace Isabella and Ava Caroline, son Garrett Anthony

Similar to Agassi and Graf, Garciaparra and Hamm enjoyed considerable success in their respective sports. Garciaparra started his major-league baseball career by being named American League Rookie of the Year in 1997. He followed up with two AL batting titles (1999, 2000) and was one of the junior circuit’s most feared hitters when he played in Boston from 1997-2003. Unfortunately, injuries started taking their toll on the sweet-swinging shortstop, who was traded by the Red Sox in a 2004 deadline deal and was never quite the same player the rest of his career. In 14 seasons, Garciaparra was a six-time All-Star who finished with a .313 career batting average. He has remained involved in baseball, serving as an analyst on ESPN for its MLB coverage and its telecasts of the College and Little League World Series.

As good as Garciaparra was on the diamond, however, he can’t compete with his wife’s status as the greatest women’s soccer player in history. A four-time NCAA champion at the University of North Carolina, Hamm’s indelible mark on her sport came as a member of the U.S. women’s national team. For her career, Hamm scored 158 international goals, which is more than any player, male or female, in soccer history. She appeared in 275 international matches, the third-most of any female player, and helped the U.S. team win the Women’s World Cup twice (1991, ’99), along with three Olympic medals – two gold (1996, 2004), one silver (2000). Following her retirement in 2004, Hamm was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007, the first year she was eligible.

3. Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci
Married: April 27, 1996
Children: son Dylan Paul

Another gold-medal winning couple, Conner and Comaneci won a combined seven in their collective careers as gymnasts. A two-time U.S. Olympian, Conner was a member of the gold medal-winning men's gymnastics team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where he also won an individual gold on the parallel bars. Comaneci is one of the greatest women’s gymnasts of all-time, a winner of five gold and nine combined medals for her native Romania at the 1976 (Montreal) and ’80 (Moscow) Summer Olympics. She secured her place in Olympic history at just 14 years old, when she became the first female gymnast awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event (uneven bars, ‘76). She retired from gymnastics in 1981 and five years after marrying Conner became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2001. Besides raising their son, Dylan Paul, Conner and Comaneci own and operate the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Okla.

4. Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards-Ross
Married: February 26, 2010

With two Super Bowl rings and four Olympic gold medals, Ross and Richards-Ross have each tasted victory at the highest level in their respective sports. Ross is a cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who also helped the New York Giants win Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Richards-Ross has won a total of four gold medals while competing in three different Summer Olympics. Two of these came last summer in London, when she won her third gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s 4x400m relay team, while also claiming her first individual gold (400m).

5. Bret Hedican and Kristi Yamaguchi
Married: July 8, 2000
Children: daughters Keara Kiyomi and Emma Yoshiko

Hedican played in the NHL for 17 seasons (1991-2009) as a defenseman, appearing in a total of 1,039 games with St. Louis, Vancouver, Florida, Carolina and Anaheim. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and also was a two-time Olympian, playing for the U.S. national team in the 1992 and 2006 winter games. In fact, it was during the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville when Hedican and Yamaguchi, who won gold in women’s figure skating that year, first met. A proponent of early childhood literacy, Yamaguchi also is an accomplished author and was crowned as the champion of the sixth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” when she competed on the reality program in the spring of 2008.

6. Bob Kersee and Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Married:
1986

Kersee is a famous and successful track coach, whose roster of athletes he’s trained include Olympic champions Florence Griffith-Joyner, Gail Devers, Allyson Felix, Shawn Crawford, and of course, his wife, Joyner-Kersee. She is a three-time gold medalist and winner of six total Olympic medals from competing in the 1988, ’92 and ’96 Summer Olympics. Joyner-Kersee first won gold in the heptathlon at the 1988 games in Seoul and then again in the ’92 games in Barcelona. She also won the gold medal in the long jump in ’88. Sports Illustrated voted her the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.

7. Curtis Conway and Laila Ali
Married: July 23, 2007
Children: son Curtis Muhammad and daughter Sydney J., as well as twin sons Cameron and Kelton and daughter Leilani from Conway’s previous marriage

The No. 7 overall pick of the Chicago Bears in the 1993 NFL Draft, Conway played 12 seasons in the pros, posting three 1,000-yard campaigns as a wide receiver. Also playing for San Diego, the New York Jets and San Francisco, he finished with 594 career receptions for 8,230 yards and 52 touchdowns. The daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali went 24-0 in her professional boxing career, which lasted from 1999 to 2007. The championship boxer then embarked on her next career in television, which has been highlighted by a third-place finish on the fourth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” in the spring of 2007 and co-host of the revival of “American Gladiators.” She also has appeared on commercials and made other guest spots, including on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” last fall.

8. Shelden Williams and Candace Parker
Married: November 13, 2008
Children: daughter Lailaa Nicole

Williams was an All-American at Duke, who finished his college career as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. Drafted fifth overall by Atlanta in the 2006 NBA Draft, Williams played for seven different teams during his six seasons in the NBA. He is currently playing overseas in the French League. Parker is one of the most accomplished players in women’s basketball history, as she was a two-time Player of the Year and two-time NCAA champion at Tennessee. The No. 1 overall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Parker won both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in her first season. Parker remains a key player for the Sparks and also has won two gold medals (2008, ’12) as a member of the U.S. women’s national team.

9. Matt Treanor and Misty May-Treanor
Married: November 2004

Drafted by Kansas City in the 1994 MLB Draft, Treanor spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues before making it to the majors in 2004 with the Florida Marlins. A catcher, Treanor also played for Detroit, Texas and the Royals and was a member of the Dodgers last season. Treanor is a career .221 hitter with a .989 fielding percentage behind the plate and he was on the Rangers' AL pennant-winning team in 2010. May-Treanor was a two-time women’s volleyball Player of the Year and NCAA champion at Long Beach State. Along with her partner Kerri Walsh, May-Treanor is largely responsible for putting women’s beach volleyball on the map. Together the duo dominated the sport while helping it gain in popularity and notoriety, highlighted by three straight Olympic gold medals. May-Treanor retired from the sport last August, shortly after she and Walsh won their third straight gold medal at the Summer Olympics in London. May-Treanor’s 112 individual championship wins in both domestic and international competition currently stand as the most of any women’s beach volleyball player. May-Treanor, like two other wives on this list, also has appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” her turn coming in the reality program's seventh season in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately, her experience didn’t go as well as Yamaguchi’s or Ali’s, as she ruptured her Achilles tendon during a training session and had to withdraw early from the competition.

10. Casey Daigle and Jennie Finch
Married:
January 15, 2005
Children: sons Ace Shane and Diesel Dean, daughter Paisley Faye

A first-round pick (31st overall) of Arizona in the 1999 MLB Draft, Daigle pitched in 33 games in his major-league career for the Diamondbacks and Houston Astros. Like Daigle, Finch also is a former pitcher, one of the most dominant ones in softball history. She was a three-time All-American at Arizona, where she also played first base, and is a two-time recipient of the Honda Sports Award, which is given annually to the best collegiate female athlete in 12 different sports. Finch finished her Wildcats career with 119 wins and 1,028 strikeouts and had her jersey number 27 retired by the school. Finch also pitched for the women’s national team in the 2004 and ’08 Summer Olympics (the last time softball was played in the Olympics), helping the U.S. team win the gold medal in Athens in ’04 and silver in Beijing.

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<p> Greatest Husband-Wife Pairings in Sports</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 09:30
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With spring practice getting ready to start for all 125 college football teams, quarterback battles will now take center stage. For most national title contenders – Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Stanford, Georgia, Notre Dame and Clemson – quarterback isn’t a question mark. However, there are a handful of teams that could be a conference title contender that enter spring practice with uncertainty under center.

Oklahoma State is Athlon’s early favorite to win the Big 12, and the Cowboys have three quarterbacks vying for the No. 1 job. Wes Lunt began 2012 as the starter but suffered a knee injury early. Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh each made starts in relief of Lunt, with Chelf impressing late in the season. The Cowboys could be a top-10 team next season, so identifying their starting quarterback is tops on head coach Mike Gundy's spring to do list. Outside of Oklahoma State, Arizona, Auburn, Florida State, Kansas State, Michigan State and Oklahoma are some of the other top teams with quarterback battles this offseason.

College Football's Top 15 Spring Quarterback Battles for 2013

Arizona

The Candidates: Javelle Allen (FR), B.J. Denker (SR), Jesse Scroggins (JR), Anu Solomon (FR)

As Rich Rodriguez has proven from stops at West Virginia and Michigan, whoever is his starting quarterback is going to put up big numbers. Don’t expect that trend to stop in 2013, as Arizona looks to replace Matt Scott under center. Even though Scott is gone, having another offseason to work with Rodriguez and the coaching staff should be a huge boost to the entire offense. Denker came to Arizona via the JUCO ranks last season and made one start against Colorado, throwing for 136 yards and two touchdowns. He enters spring ball as the No. 1 quarterback, but redshirt freshman Javelle Allen and USC transfer Jesse Scroggins will get an opportunity to make a push. However, the competition will turn up a notch in the fall, as true freshman Anu Solomon arrives on campus. Solomon might be the best fit for the offense but lacks experience. Denker has the edge in experience within Rodriguez’s system, so he should finish spring as the No. 1 quarterback. However, this battle will likely extend into fall camp with Solomon having a good chance to steal the No. 1 spot.
Projected Spring Winner: Denker
 

Auburn

The Candidates: Kiehl Frazier (JR), Jeremy Johnson (FR), Nick Marshall (JR), Jason Smith (FR), Jonathan Wallace (SO)

Auburn’s offense was a disaster last season. Gus Malzahn left to be the head coach at Arkansas State, prompting Gene Chizik to hire Scot Loeffler as the team’s new coordinator. Loeffler tried to switch the offense to a pro-style approach, which wasn’t a good fit for the personnel. Chizik and Loeffler were dismissed at the end of 2012, and Malzahn has returned to the Plains as the head coach. Three quarterbacks made starts last season, with Frazier leading the way with 753 yards passing, while Jonathan Wallace topped the stat chart with four touchdown tosses. Frazier and Wallace should be a better fit in Malzahn’s spread offense, but both will face competition from junior college recruit (and former Georgia defensive back) Nick Marshall, along with incoming freshmen Jason Smith and Jeremy Johnson. Marshall’s skill set is a good fit for this offense, but Frazier and Wallace have an edge in SEC experience. Don’t be surprised if this battle goes deep into fall camp.
Projected Spring Winner: Frazier
 

California

The Candidates: Kyle Boehm (SO), Allan Bridgford (SR), Jared Goff (FR), Austin Hinder (JR), Zach Kline (FR)

Although Bridgford made three starts last season, it’s anyone guess who will take the first snap for California this year. Adding to the drama is a new coaching staff and a new scheme, which has clouded the quarterback battle going into the spring. Bridgford was unimpressive in his limited work in 2012, finishing with 277 yards passing and three interceptions on 31 completions. Hinder came to Berkeley as a big-time recruit but has yet to throw a pass in game action. Kline ranked as the No. 4 quarterback prospect by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class, while Goff was rated as a four-star recruit by most scouting services in 2013. Considering the new scheme and overall inexperience of the returning quarterbacks, this battle may not be decided until the first snap of the season.
Projected Spring Winner: Kline
 

Florida State

The Candidates: Jacob Coker (SO), Clint Trickett (JR), Jameis Winston (FR)

After a 12-win season and an ACC Championship, the Seminoles have momentum entering 2013. However, there are some significant personnel losses, including quarterback EJ Manuel. Trickett has two starts under his belt, as he threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-30 loss to Clemson in 2011. In a mop-up role in 2012, Trickett threw for 272 yards on 22 completions. While Trickett’s experience should give him the early edge, the coaching staff is excited to get a look at Winston – the No. 1 quarterback in the 2012 signing class. Coker has good size and intriguing ability, but he is probably behind Winston and Trickett entering spring ball. Trickett’s experience should give him an early edge, but Winston will be the quarterback as soon as Jimbo Fisher feels the Alabama native is ready to run the offense.
Projected Spring Winner: Trickett
 

Kansas State

The Candidates: Daniel Sams (SO), Jake Waters (JR)

Replacing Collin Klein is no easy task, but the Wildcats have two promising options on the roster. Sams played in eight games last season, throwing for 55 yards on six completions and adding 235 yards and three scores on the ground. He averaged 7.3 yards per rush, which ranked first on the team. Waters joins Kansas State from Iowa Western Community College after throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns last season. As if those numbers weren’t impressive enough, he tossed only three picks on 333 attempts and is already enrolled and will participate in spring practice. Regardless of which quarterback wins the starting job, Kansas State should be in good shape to win at least eight games in 2013. Sams has shown dynamic ability as a runner but still has much to prove as a passer. Waters had an excellent career at Iowa Western Community College but he has to adjust to the speed of play at the FBS level.
Projected Spring Winner: Sams
 

Michigan State

The Candidates: Connor Cook (SO), Andrew Maxwell (SR), Tyler O’Conner (FR), Damion Terry (FR)

Replacing Kirk Cousins wasn’t expected to be easy, but most thought Michigan State would eventually find some stability under center. That wasn’t the case in 2012 as the Spartans averaged just 209.9 passing yards per game and finished with just 14 touchdown tosses. Maxwell started all 13 games, but the offense got a spark from Cook in the bowl game, which turned the position into an open competition this spring. O’Conner and Cook will get a chance to unseat Maxwell this spring, while Terry will join the competition in the fall. Terry is a dual-threat option, and his mobility could add a spark to a rushing attack that loses running back Le’Veon Bell, but he has some ground to make up in learning the playbook. Cook should push Maxwell for the job, but the guess here is the senior begins the year as the starter – on a very short leash.
Projected Spring Winner: Maxwell
 

Oklahoma

The Candidates: Blake Bell (JR), Trevor Knight (FR), Kendal Thompson (SO)

Can Bell go from part-time player to full-time starter? That’s the big question in Norman this spring. If Bell can take his success in a part-time role and transform that into the course of a full season, Oklahoma won’t have much of a quarterback battle this spring. Bell has thrown for only 115 yards over the last two years but has rushed for 361 yards and 24 scores. Trevor Knight redshirted last season, but reports out of Oklahoma indicated he had an impressive year as the scout-team quarterback. Thompson is the third quarterback in the mix, but he did not play as a redshirt freshman last season. Make no mistake: This is Bell’s job to lose. If he stumbles, Knight figures to be Oklahoma’s starting quarterback this fall.
Projected Spring Winner: Bell
 

Oklahoma State

The Candidates: Clint Chelf (SR), Wes Lunt (SO), J.W. Walsh (SO)

Mike Gundy has a problem. But at least it's a good problem for a head coach to have. Oklahoma State has three quarterbacks that have shown the ability to win games. Lunt went into last season as the starter but a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette forced him to miss the next three games. Walsh replaced Lunt and threw for 415 yards and one touchdown in a win over Iowa State. However, Walsh suffered a knee injury in that game, forcing Gundy to go back to his true freshman. Lunt returned to the lineup against TCU on Oct. 27 but suffered an injury in the following week against Kansas State and didn’t play again until the bowl game. Chelf received the majority of his playing time in the second half of the year and was a pleasant surprise after starting the year No. 3 on the depth chart. He finished with 1,588 yards and 15 scores, which included 292 yards and four touchdowns in the 55-34 win over West Virginia. All three quarterbacks are proven winners and can lead Oklahoma State to a Big 12 title. If Chelf or Walsh win the job, should the Cowboys think about redshirting Lunt?
Projected Spring Winner: Lunt
 

Oregon State

The Candidates: Sean Mannion (JR), Cody Vaz (SR)

The Beavers were one of college football’s most improved teams last season, posting a 9-4 record after going 3-9 in 2011. Sean Mannion began last season as the starter, throwing for at least 270 yards in each of his first four starts. He also threw for 379 yards and two scores in a huge road win against UCLA in Week 4. However, Mannion was sidelined due to a knee injury in early October, which opened the door for Cody Vaz. Despite having little experience, Vaz proved to be more than capable of holding down the starting spot. He threw for 332 yards in a road win over BYU and 267 yards against Arizona State. Then in a role reversal, Vaz was bitten by the injury bug late in the year, which allowed Mannion to regain control of the job for the final three regular-season games of 2012. Vaz did return and started the Beavers' bowl game, but he struggled, throwing for only 194 yards and two interceptions. Mannion has the edge in talent, but this battle is virtually even.
Projected Spring Winner: Mannion
 

Penn State

The Candidates: Steven Bench (SO), Tyler Ferguson (SO), Christian Hackenberg (FR)

The Nittany Lions went from having one of the worst quarterback situations in the Big Ten to one of the best by the end of 2012. Matt McGloin thrived under new coach Bill O’Brien, throwing for 3,271 yards and 24 touchdowns, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Despite the departure of McGloin, with O’Brien’s tutelage and a solid supporting cast, the Nittany Lions shouldn’t slip too far on offense. Steven Bench completed 2 of 8 passes for 12 yards last season and opens spring practice as the frontrunner. Tyler Ferguson enrolled in January after spending one season at the College of the Sequoias. During his one season in the JUCO ranks, Ferguson threw for 2,614 yards and 22 touchdowns. While Bench and Ferguson will get a chance to impress this spring, the battle really won’t get underway until Christian Hackenberg arrives this fall. Hackenberg ranked as the No. 13 overall prospect in the 2013 Athlon Consensus 100 and is regarded as a perfect fit in O’Brien’s offense. Bench figures to hold onto the job in the spring, but all bets are off when Hackenberg gets to campus.
Projected Spring Winner: Bench
 

TCU

The Candidates: Trevone Boykin (SO), Casey Pachall (SR)

The battle to be TCU’s quarterback is one of the most intriguing in college football this spring. Pachall was the starting quarterback through the first four games of 2012 but was suspended from the team after a DWI arrest. Before he left the team, Pachall threw for 948 yards, 10 touchdowns and only one pick. Trevone Boykin was set to play some snaps at running back before Pachall’s suspension but proved to be a quality fill-in at quarterback. Boykin finished the year with 2,054 yards passing and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for 417 yards and three scores. Pachall gives TCU’s offense more of a downfield threat in the passing game, while Boykin is a better dual-threat option. Pachall is the right pick to start for TCU – and could lead the Horned Frogs to a Big 12 title in 2013.
Projected Spring Winner: Pachall
 

Tennessee

The Candidates: Joshua Dobbs (FR), Nathan Peterman (FR), Justin Worley (JR)

New coach Butch Jones has quite a task ahead of him this year. Not only do the Volunteers lose quarterback Tyler Bray, but receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter and tight end Mychal Rivera also depart. Worley made three starters in relief of Tyler Bray in 2011 and played in five games in 2012, throwing for 134 yards and two picks on 23 attempts. Peterman ranked as a four-star prospect by Rivals coming out of high school, while Dobbs was one of the key members of Tennessee’s 2013 recruiting class. Dobbs is a good fit for Jones’ spread attack but needs time to adjust to the FBS level. Worley’s experience should pay off and help him win the starting gig this spring.
Projected Spring Winner: Worley
 

USC

The Candidates: Max Browne (FR), Cody Kessler (SO), Max Wittek (SO)

The Trojans got an early look at their quarterback battle for 2013 when Matt Barkley suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against UCLA. Wittek started the final two contests and finished with 388 yards passing and three touchdowns, but he also threw five picks and completed just 52.2 percent of his throws. Wittek will open spring practice as the starter, but Browne and Kessler will get every opportunity to unseat him. Browne ranked as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2013 signing class by Athlon Sports and enrolled early to participate in spring practice. Wittek’s experience has to give him an early edge, but he is probably just keeping the seat warm until Browne is ready.
Projected Spring Winner: Wittek


West Virginia

The Candidates: Ford Childress (FR), Paul Millard (JR)

Whether it’s Childress or Millard taking snaps for West Virginia next season, don’t expect the Mountaineers to stray far from their pass-first attack. The receiving corps needs to be rebuilt thanks to the departure of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, but West Virginia should still be one of the top passing offenses in the Big 12. Childress is an impressive prospect, standing 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, and has excellent bloodlines as his father (Ray) earned five trips to the Pro Bowl during his NFL career. Millard threw 34 passes backing up Geno Smith over the last two years and is still a virtual unknown. Millard has the edge in experience, but Childress has more talent and should claim the starting job.
Projected Spring Winner: Childress
 

Wisconsin

The Candidates: Jon Budmayr (SR), Bart Houston (FR), Tanner McEvoy (JR), Danny O’Brien (SR), Curt Phillips (SR), Joel Stave (SO)

Despite three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances, change is coming to Madison in 2013. Head coach Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, and former Utah State coach Gary Andersen takes over. The Badgers won’t change much on offense, but expect Anderson and coordinator Andy Ludwig to make a few tweaks. O’Brien, Phillips and Stave each started games last season, with Phillips finishing the year as the No. 1 option. O’Brien was a disappointment after transferring from Maryland, while Stave was a pleasant surprise but was lost for the final four regular-season games due to injury. McEvoy joins Wisconsin in the fall, after spending the first part of his career at South Carolina and then Arizona Western College. His athletic ability is a plus in Ludwig’s scheme but he lacks experience on the FBS level.
Projected Spring Winner: Stave


Other Spring Battles to Watch

Arkansas

The Candidates: Brandon Allen (SO), Brandon Mitchell (JR), Taylor Reed (SO)

Allen made one start in relief of Tyler Wilson last year (Alabama) and finished 2012 with 186 yards passing. He is considered a heavy favorite to start for new coach Bret Bielema, but Mitchell (if he moves back from receiver) and Memphis transfer Taylor Reed will also get a chance this spring.
Projected Spring Winner: Allen
 

Baylor

The Candidates: Chris Johnson (FR), Bryce Petty (JR), Seth Russell (FR)

All signs point to Petty easily winning this job, but considering Baylor’s recent success, his progress in spring practice is worth watching. Johnson ranked among the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the class of 2013 and enrolled early to participate in spring ball.
Projected Spring Winner: Petty


Maryland

The Candidates: C.J. Brown (SR), Perry Hills (SO), Caleb Rowe (SO), Ricardo Young (JR)

Injuries hit Maryland’s signal callers hard last season, as linebacker Shawn Petty was forced to move under center for the final four games. The Terrapins are in better shape this year, but this battle likely won’t get underway until fall practice when Rowe, Brown and Hills should all be back to full strength. Young started his career at Virginia Tech and transferred to New Mexico in 2011. The Washington, D.C. native is Maryland’s healthiest quarterback this spring and is familiar with coordinator Mike Locksley’s offense.
Projected Spring Winner: Young
 

NC State

The Candidates: Manny Stocker (SO), Pete Thomas (JR)

New NC State coach Dave Doeren was one of the offseason’s top hires, but the former Northern Illinois coach has a huge question mark under center. Thomas started two years at Colorado State where he threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Stocker threw two passes in mop-up duty in 2012.
Projected Spring Winner: Stocker
 

Pittsburgh

The Candidates: Trey Anderson (SO), Tra’von Chapman (FR), Tom Savage (SR), Chad Voytik (FR)

Tino Sunseri wasn’t the most popular quarterback in Pittsburgh history, but he did finish his senior year with 3,288 yards and 21 scores. Replacing Sunseri appears to be a four-man race, including former Rutgers and Arizona quarterback Tom Savage. Voytik and Anderson will be the top competition for Savage in the spring, and the coaching staff is excited to see Voytik after a year of learning, as he was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation in the 2012 signing class.
Projected Spring Winner: Savage
 

South Florida

The Candidates: Bobby Eveld (SR), Matt Floyd (SO), Mike White (FR)

Not only was Skip Holtz’s time at South Florida one of the most disappointing tenures of the BCS era, he isn’t leaving a ton of talent under center. Eveld had an eventful 2012, as he was supposed to redshirt but an injury to B.J. Daniels forced him into action. Unfortunately for the Tampa native, he was lost for the season after getting injured in his only game. Floyd tossed five picks over the final three games, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see White finish the 2013 season as USF’s No. 1 quarterback.
Projected Spring Winner: Floyd
 

Syracuse

The Candidates: Ashton Broyld (SO), Terrel Hunt (SO), John Kinder (JR), Charley Loeb (SR)

As if breaking in a new coaching staff wasn’t enough of a challenge in Syracuse's first season of ACC play, the Orange also have to find a replacement for All-Big East quarterback Ryan Nassib. Broyld is an intriguing athlete, while Loeb was the top backup last year.
Projected Spring Winner: Loeb
 

Vanderbilt

The Candidates: Austyn Carta-Samuels (SR), Johnny McCrary (FR), Patton Robinette (FR)

Whether or not the Commodores can keep their recent success going will largely depend on what happens under center. Jordan Rodgers wasn’t the most prolific quarterback but he provided valuable leadership. Carta-Samuels was the Mountain West’s Freshman of the Year in 2009, made 11 starts in '10 with Wyoming and one with the Commodores last year. Robinette was Tennessee’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011.
Projected Spring Winner: Carta-Samuels


Virginia

The Candidates: Greyson Lambert (FR), Phillip Sims (JR), David Watford (SO)

Sims finished the year as the starter, but all bets are off this spring with a revamped offensive staff. Watford is an intriguing dual-threat option, while Lambert was a top-25 quarterback coming out of high school. Even in a new system, Sims should have the edge this spring.
Projected Spring Winner: Sims
 

Washington State

The Candidates: Austin Apodaca (FR), Tyler Bruggman (FR), Connor Halliday (JR)

Mike Leach’s debut season in Pullman didn’t go according to plan. The Cougars expected to have a high-powered offense but averaged only 20.4 points a game. The quarterback position deserves part of the blame, and there’s an open competition this preseason. Halliday played well in a loss against UCLA (five touchdowns) but tossed almost as many interceptions (13) as he did scores (15). Apodaca and Bruggman are intriguing and could get a look if Halliday struggles.
Projected Spring Winner: Halliday


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 5 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2013
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Top 40 College Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems

College Football's Top 15 Impact JUCO Transfers for 2013

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top Spring Quarterback Battles for 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 09:20
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime, NFL, Overtime
Path: /nfl/chunky-linemen-run-40-combine-chariots-fire-music
Body:

The NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis, where athletes of all shapes and sizes come to impress. Some are more impressive than others, but one thing that always holds true: we love watching the pudgy linemen run the 40. And what could possibly make it better? Apparently adding the theme music from "Chariots of Fire". 

 

Source: SB NATION

Teaser:
<p> Chunky Linemen Run 40 at Combine with "Chariots of Fire" Music</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 07:26
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-coaching-jobs-2013
Body:

We have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money  — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach? Today we focus on the SEC.

(Note: Current or impending NCAA sanctions were not a factor in these rankings.)

Ranking the Coaching Jobs in the SEC for 2013

1. Florida

Pros: Location. Location. Location. Florida is a public university in a state that produces a tremendous amount of top-flight talent. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium offers one of the best atmospheres in college football, and the fan base is as rabid as there is in the nation.

Cons: Expectations are sky-high at a school that has won two national championships in the past four seasons. If you don’t win — and win big — things can turn ugly very quickly. Just ask Ron Zook.

Final Verdict: Florida presents one of the elite coaching opportunities in college football. You have everything at your disposal to compete for national championships on an annual basis. There is no excuse not to be good at Florida.


2. Alabama

Pros: Tradition. With the possible exception of Notre Dame, no school in the country has more tradition than Alabama. The Tide have won 23 SEC championships and (depending on who you ask) 15 national titles. The facilities are top-notch, the fans are passionate and the recruiting base is strong.

Cons: Coaching football at Alabama is arguably the most stressful job in collegiate athletics. It’s takes a certain kind of coach to deal with that type of scrutiny.

Final Verdict: Alabama is unquestionably one of the premier jobs in the nation. The coach who can deal with the demands of the job — like Nick Saban — will win at a very high level in Tuscaloosa.
 

3. Georgia

Pros: Georgia has tremendous tradition and is located in arguably the finest college town in America — Athens. The Peach State might not produce talent at the same rate as Florida, Texas or California, but metro Atlanta is always strong, and small towns such as Columbus, Valdosta and Warner Robins consistently produce elite talent.

Cons: There are really no negatives to be found at Georgia, other than the fact that you are competing in the very difficult SEC, and you have a fan base that demands you win at a high level.

Final Verdict: Georgia is a great situation, but you clearly have to have the right guy in place to win big. After Vince Dooley won the third of three straight SEC crowns in 1982, the Bulldogs went nearly two decades — and went through two more coaches — before their next league title, won by Mark Richt in 2002.
 

4. LSU

Pros: It’s become a bit of a cliché, but there really is nothing like being in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night in the fall. That environment is one reason the Tigers are able to recruit so well. The other? The state of Louisiana is arguably the most underrated talent producer in the nation.

Cons: LSU has so much going for it, but why have so many coaches failed to win at a high level in Baton Rouge? From 1971 though 2000, the Tigers only won one outright SEC championship, in 1986 under Bill Arnsparger.

Final Verdict: It’s hard to find a reason why LSU would not be a desirable coaching position. Sure the competition is tough and the fans are demanding, but that comes with the territory. The school has won two national titles in the past 11 seasons.
 

5. Texas A&M

Pros: Texas A&M’s facilities are among the very best in the nation. Kyle Field is a bit on the old side and is set to undergo a renovation, but as far as the facilities for recruiting — football complex in the south end zone, the indoor practice facility — A&M has very few rivals. The recruiting base is among the best in the country, and the Aggies, the only SEC school in the state of Texas, should be able to battle the University of Texas for the best players in the state. 

Cons: Even with so much going for it, Texas A&M has had trouble sustaining success throughout its history.   

Final Verdict: Texas A&M is a very intriguing position. It has everything you would want in a job — great facilities, strong following, tremendous recruiting base — but the competition in the SEC West is fierce. If you win at A&M, you will have earned it.
 

6.  Auburn

Pros: Auburn and Georgia are the only two schools in the SEC with at least five winning conference seasons in each of the past four decades. Clearly, this program can be a consistent winner in the nation’s most difficult conference.

Cons: Auburn is a state school with a great following, but it will always be No. 2 in Alabama behind the Crimson Tide from Tuscaloosa.

Final Verdict: If your ego can handle being the second most important coach in the state, then Auburn can be a destination job. The school — with its fine tradition, strong facilities and outstanding recruiting base — has proven over time that it can compete on a national level. The Tigers, after all, won the BCS crown in 2010.
 

7. Tennessee

Pros: Who wouldn’t want to recruit to picturesque Neyland Stadium, with its 100,000-plus orange-clad zealots cheering on the Vols each week? And while Tennessee has struggled in recent years, the program enjoyed tremendous success in the not-too-distant past. From 1989-2001, the Vols went 80–20–1 in the SEC and claimed four league titles. During that span, they were ranked in the final top 10 of the AP poll seven times.

Cons: The Vols must recruit nationally because the state of Tennessee does not produce enough BCS conference players to stock the school’s roster. This is not a concern for UT’s chief SEC rivals Florida, Georgia, LSU, Auburn and Alabama.

Final Verdict: Tennessee is a great place to coach, but the Vols have slipped down the SEC food chain over the past decade. We now have Tennessee seventh on the list in the league.
 

8. South Carolina

Pros: South Carolina is home to arguably the most loyal fans in the nation. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Gamecock fans routinely filled 80,000-seat Williams Brice Stadium even though their team averaged only six wins per season. In addition, the facilities are great, and the recruiting base is strong.

Cons: Steve Spurrier has broken through in recent years, but South Carolina football has historically been one of the nation’s most underachieving programs.

Final Verdict: South Carolina has won 17 SEC games in the past three seasons — by far its best stretch since joining the league — but we’re still not ready to put this program on the same level as SEC royalty like Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Florida.  


9. Arkansas

Pros: Recently renovated Reynolds Razorback Stadium — with its 76,000 seats and 30x107-foot LED video screen — is one of the most underrated venues in the nation. Arkansas is the only BCS program in the state, giving the school an advantage in recruiting homegrown talent.

Cons: The Hogs have found it tough to win consistently since bolting the Southwest Conference for the SEC in the early 1990s. Arkansas is 85-89-2 in the SEC and has only once had back-to-back winning seasons in the league.

Final Verdict: Arkansas is quite similar to several of the non-elite coaching positions in the SEC. It’s a good job, but it’s not a destination job for a coach with national title aspirations.
 

10. Ole Miss

Pros: Historically, Mississippi produces as many Division I prospects per capita as any state in the nation. There is plenty of competition for these recruits (Mississippi State, Alabama, LSU, etc.), but a good coach will be able to keep the Rebels stocked with solid talent. Support for Rebel football is also very strong; the Rebs averaged 57,066 per game in 2012. Also, Ole Miss’ facilities have improved tremendously in the past five years.

Cons: You have to go back to the early 1960s to find a time in which Ole Miss was a major player in the SEC. The Rebels haven’t won a league title since 1963, and they are only team in the West (outside of SEC West newcomer Texas A&M) that has not played in an SEC Championship Game.

Final Verdict: Ole Miss has made the commitment to its football program, but it takes more than a commitment — and more than one top-10 recruiting class — to beat the elite SEC programs on a consistent basis. This job has great potential, but Ole Miss hasn’t “arrived” yet.
 

11. Missouri

Pros: Missouri has an underrated recruiting base. There is a solid crop of instate talent every year, and Mizzou does a decent job landing players from Texas and Illinois.

Cons: It’s been tough to win consistently at Missouri. Dating back to the days of the Big Eight, the Tigers have only had seven winning seasons in league play since 1983. The SEC East presents several huge challenges on an annual basis.

Final Verdict: Missouri is a good job — but not a great job. You can average eight wins per season and go to decent bowl games, but the Tigers aren’t much of a threat to contend for SEC titles.
 

12. Kentucky

Pros: Kentucky, after firing Joker Phillips, has made a commitment to football. The school has announced facilities upgrades, and the pay scale for the new staff is significantly higher. And while the state of Kentucky doesn’t produce many SEC-level players, Kentucky should be able to recruit nearby Ohio and still can dip into Georgia and Florida because of the school’s membership in the SEC.

Cons: Football, while important, will always be the No. 2 sport at Kentucky. And even though the school has some recruiting advantages — see above — it’s tough to win at a high level in the SEC when you can’t depend on stocking your roster with in-state talent.

Final Verdict: The level of competition in the SEC is better than ever. For example, Vanderbilt has climbed ahead of UK — for now — on the food chain. Mark Stoops is off to a great start, but it will difficult to win consistently at Kentucky.
 

13. Mississippi State

Pros: Mississippi State has shown an ability to field a competitive team on a semi-regular basis in the past two decades. The Bulldogs have had a winning overall record in 11 of the 22 seasons since the first wave of SEC expansion in 1991. That’s not great, but it’s better than most college football fans might expect. Support for Mississippi State football is at an all-time high; the Bulldogs averaged 55,648 (100.99 percent of capacity) at Davis Wade Stadium last season.

Cons: Recruiting top players to Starkville can be difficult. Not only does MSU have to battle Ole Miss for the best of the best in the state, but Alabama, Auburn and LSU are almost always in play for Mississippi’s top players.

Final Verdict: This is the toughest job in the SEC West — and maybe the entire league. Good coaches have shown the ability to remain relevant in the league, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Mississippi State can win a division that includes Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn. 
 

14. Vanderbilt

Pros: Vanderbilt is an elite academic institution located in a great city. The school is spending more money than ever on athletics, from salaries for the coaching staff to the new indoor practice facility. While there is pressure to win at every school, expectations — even now after a nine-win season — will never be as great as other programs in the league. You aren’t going to get fired at Vanderbilt after one bad season.

Cons: Even with the recent upgrades, Vanderbilt trails the rest of the SEC in the facilities arms race. As the only private school in the SEC, the Commodores have the smallest fan base in the league — by far. Also, the academic requirements make recruiting that much more difficult for a staff that already has to overcome many hurdles. There is a reason that Vanderbilt went 29 years (from 1983 through 2011) without enjoying a single winning record in the SEC.

Final Verdict: James Franklin is proving that a recruit can have the best of both worlds — get a Vanderbilt education and win games in the nation’s best conference. Still, this is a very difficult job, maybe the toughest of any school in an AQ conference.


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Ranking the SEC Early Enrollees for 2013

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the SEC's College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 06:40
Path: /college-basketball/amazing-college-basketball-stats-week-feb-18-24
Body:

These days, it takes a special effort to defeat Syracuse or Colorado State on their home courts.

The Orange and the Rams have owned their arenas, with home winning streaks of 38 and 27 games, respectively. Both of those streaks ended Saturday thanks to dominating performances from two players.

One, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, was on everyone’s radar heading into a landmark game at the Carrier Dome. The other, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams, woke up Saturday morning averaging 12.6 points per game but went home with a 46-point outburst.

In another wild weekend of college basketball, some teams stuck to a true and tried formula (VCU) while others who flirted with disaster finally ran out of luck (Miami). And three teams in the SEC needed a little more time to either pad their postseason resumes (Kentucky and Tennessee) or potentially end their NCAA Tournament hopes (Alabama).

Here’s a roundup of the key numbers from another week of college hoops:

65. Combined homecourt winning streaks ended Saturday at Syracuse and Colorado State
Within minutes of each other Saturday, two of the three longest active homecourt winning streaks ended. Georgetown defeated Syracuse 57-46 to end the Orange’s 38-game home winning streak, and New Mexico defeated Colorado State 91-82 to end the Rams 27-game home winning streak. For a handful of reasons, the Hoyas’ win was especially notable:
• The last team to win in the Carrier Dome was also Georgetown on Feb. 9, 2011. The last non-Georgetown team to beat Syracuse on the road was Seton Hall on Jan. 25, 2011.
• The last time Syracuse failed to score 50 points at the Carrier Dome was Jan. 24, 2004 in a 66-45 loss to Pittsburgh.
• Georgetown also ended Syracuse’s 57-game home winning streak at Manley Field House in 1980.

33.3. Percentage of Georgetown-Syracuse field goals belonging to Otto Porter
Georgetown’s do-it-all forward Otto Porter entered himself into the National Player of the Year discussion with a dominating performance in the Hoyas’ 57-46 win over Syracuse to put his team in first place in the Big East. Not only did Porter carry Georgetown, he carried the entire game. He made a third of both team’s combined field goals with 12 of 36 in addition to carrying 32 percent of the total scoring in the game. No one on Porter's own team had more than two field goals or seven points. With 33 points in 40 minutes, Porter finished 0.825 points per minute. The national leader -- injured Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum -- averages 0.77 points per minute.

10. Three-pointers for Kendall Williams against Colorado State
Never mind player of the week, Georgetown’s Porter may not have been the player of his time slot Saturday. As Porter scored 33 on Syracuse, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams had an out-of-nowhere 46 points and 10 three-point baskets to defeat Colorado State 91-82. How unlikely was Williams’ breakout in Fort Collins? Before the game against Colorado State, Williams was 32 of 99 on three-point baskets this season, making an average of 1.3 per game. He was 10 of 13 on Saturday. Beyond that, Williams topped his previous career high (24 points) in the second half alone with 26 points after the break. Williams’ 46 points is the most for a Lobo since 1979 and the fourth-highest total in Mountain West history. Three of the four MWC single-game scoring totals better than Williams belong to BYU’s Jimmer Fredette.

37. Points to which Aaron Craft contributed against Michigan State
Yes, it’s possible for a guard who had been starting for nearly three season to hit a career high during his junior year. Aaron Craft scored a career-high 21 points in Ohio State’s 68-60 win over Michigan State on Sunday. With six assists (including four on three-pointers), Craft contributed to a total of 37 points against Michigan State. The lack of a supporting cast for Deshaun Thomas has been a season-long issue for the Buckeyes but not against the Spartans. Thomas tied his second-lowest scoring total of the season with 14 points and tied a season-low with only four field goals in a game in which Ohio State trailed by 9 early in the second half.

21. Extra scoring chances for VCU against Xavier
How did VCU erase a 17-point deficit in the second half to defeat Xavier 75-71 on the road? The Rams did what they do best and manufactured extra scoring chances through takeaways and offensive rebounds. VCU finished the game with a plus-11 edge in turnover margin and a 13-3 advantage in offensive rebounds, giving the Rams 21 more scoring chances (extra scoring chances per game are determined by offensive rebounds + opponent turnovers - opponent offensive rebounds - turnovers). VCU leads the nation in extra scoring chances per game with 12, but the Rams average only 7.7 extra scoring possessions per game on the road.

55. Points per game in the last three for Miami
Miami’s first ACC loss was a shocker with an 80-65 loss at Wake Forest, but the Hurricanes have been flirting with a letdown for the last week thanks to an offensive slump. Miami averaged 70.4 points per game through its first 23 games but averaged 55 points in its last three. Late-game heroics from Kenny Kadji and Shane Larkin lifted Miami against Clemson and Virginia, but the Hurricanes weren’t even in position for anything dramatic in the loss to Wake. In the last three games, Miami has shot 39.9 percent from the floor (down from 45.8 percent prior) and 32.4 percent from three-point range (down from 36.4 percent).

0. Points scored by TCU starters in the first half against Kansas
If TCU had any ideas of pulling another miracle upset of Kansas this season, those hopes were dashed quickly. TCU defeated Kansas 62-55 on Feb. 6 for its only Big 12 win and only victory since Dec. 30. The Horned Frogs had no such luck in the rematch: The TCU starting lineup went scoreless in the first half at Kansas, contributing to a 38-9 halftime deficit. TCU, at least, won the second half 39-36.

9. Overtimes in SEC play Saturday
For a major conference that may struggle to put at-large teams in the NCAA field, the SEC kept its fans waiting on pins and needles for most of the day Saturday. Four SEC games went to overtime, including two games decided in multiple overtimes. Kentucky had perhaps the most important SEC win of the day, defeating Missouri 90-83 in overtime to keep the Wildcats in the NCAA discussion after Nerlens Noel’s season-ending injury. Tennessee won a game it couldn’t afford to lose if it hopes to get on the NCAA bubble by defeating Texas A&M 93-85 in four overtimes on the road. Meanwhile, Alabama lost a game it couldn’t afford to lose by falling to LSU 97-94 in three overtimes. In a game only important to NIT selection, Georgia defeated South Carolina 62-54 in OT.

3. Double-doubles for NC State players in a loss to North Carolina
Indicative of NC State’s maddening season, NC State had three players with a double-double in a 76-65 loss to North Carolina: Richard Howell had 13 points and 17 rebounds, T.J. Warren had 10 points and 10 boards and Lorenzo Brown had 12 points and 12 assists. The Wolfpack, picked to win the ACC in the preseason poll, slipped to 8-6 in the conference with the loss to the Heels. A major reason for the turnaround from North Carolina’s 91-83 loss to the Pack in the first meeting on Jan. 26 was the development of freshman point guard Marcus Paige. After appearing lost in the first meeting, Paige had eight assists and no turnovers in the rematch.

16.7. Scoring average for Doug McDermott in the last six games
Is it fair to say a player who has scored 20 points in three of his last five games is in a slump? In Doug McDermott’s case, maybe it is. The Creighton forward has averaged 16.7 points per game in his last six. After a 74-66 loss at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, McDermott’s swoon has coincided with a 2-4 stretch for Creighton. Averaging 16.7 points per game would be great for just about anyone, but McDermott was averaging 24 points per game on Feb. 2 when Creighton was 20-3.

Teaser:
<p> Amazing College Basketball Stats of the Week: Feb. 18-24</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-recruiting-analysis-oregon-ducks
Body:

College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the best classes in the nation. The lead story in Oregon this recruiting season was Chip Kelly's departure for the NFL and the elevation of Mark Helfrich to head coach. At first, the loss of Kelly looked like it might have a devastating effect on the Ducks' recruiting class. Yet, Helfrich rallied the troops and the Ducks finished strong on NSD to claim one of the best classes in the Pac-12.

Oregon Ducks

National Rank: 20th
Pac-12: Fourth
Athlon Consensus 100
Signees:
 1
National Signees: 6
Total Signees: 19

Where They Got 'Em:

Helfrich's first full class will be the 2014 group, but since he was hired from within, he was a big part of putting together this class. The Ducks used nine different states to land 19 new prospects. California, as usual, was the most productive area for Oregon as it sent seven players, including three nationally rated kids from San Diego, north to Eugene. Other solid, underrated western states — Arizona (2), Nevada, Washington and Oregon (3) — for talent shipped players to Oregon as well.

Helfrich also continued the recent trend of dipping into Texas with two new players, including one of the top signees in this class. New Jersey, Georgia and North Carolina also are solid states for football talent and the Ducks went across the nation to get one player each from those three as well.

Related: Athlon Sports Top 25 Recruiting Classes for 2013

Areas of Focus:

The strength of this class may not be realized until all the players are slotted into the depth chart. A pair of nationally rated twins from San Diego — Tyrell and Tyree Robinson — are listed as "athletes" along with Juwaan Williams. The Robinsons are long, rangy athletes who want to play basketball and project at a variety of positions. Outside linebacker or wide receiver seem like the most likely spot for either and they could end up on different sides of the ball. Williams also could play receiver or safety. 

Should one or more of the "athletes" land at wideout, this receiving corps will be one of the best in the Pac-12. Two of the top six players in this class, Devon Allen and Darren Carrington, are wide receivers and should one of the Robinsons and Williams join them, this could be the best part of the '13 class. 

The offensive line also got much-needed depth with over a quarter of this signing class slotted to play along the offense's front line. None of the five signees are nationally rated but Oregon has done a great job developing the type of player they need for its offense. Smaller, more athletic prospects are what Kelly looked for and this group fits that mold. No offensive lineman weighs more than 290 pounds and four of the five check in at less than 280 pounds. This is a deep group that adds the most depth of any position on the field.

Thomas Tyner should be the star of the 2013 haul for Oregon. A record-setting in-state tailback who can run inside and out is the top-rated player in the class. He could easily play as a freshman and will be a more complete player than either former five-star signees De'Anthony Thomas or Lache Seastrunk. He speed, burst and big-play ability makes him a perfect fit for this offense. Tyner will be the next big star in the Ducks backfield.

Damion Hobbs, a 6-2, 195-pound dual-threat prospect, was the only quarterback in this class. He has a similar skillset to the last big Lone Star State quarterback Oregon signed, Darron Thomas. At least 11 and possible 13 or 14 of the 19 total signings in this class will play offense.

On defense, Oregon didn't sign a single defensive lineman. Tyrell Robinson excelled at defensive end in high school and could grow into the position, however. That said, the defense was largely left alone in this class. A trio of linebackers leads the way, including late pick up and nationally rated Torrodney Prevot. He was a steal on NSD and could be one of the top players in this class. He too could grow into a defensive end. Linebacker Danny Mattingly (no relation), junior college linebacker Joe Walker and safety Chris Seisay were the only other defensive signings in this class.

One has to think that with the depth on offense in this class, one Robinson and Williams will end up playing on the defense.

Related: National Signing Day 2013 Winners and Losers

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 2, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 5
Defense: DL: 0, LB: 3, DB: 1, ATH: 3, K/P: 1

AC100/National Recruits:

AC100 Name Pos. Pos. Rk Hometown Ht Wt
20. Thomas Tyner RB No. 2 Aloha, Ore. 5-11 201
131. Tyrell Robinson ATH No. 8 San Diego, Calif. 6-4 200
189. Devon Allen WR No. 21 Phoenix, Ariz. 6-0 187
202. Torrodney Prevot LB No. 25 Houston, Texas 6-3 215
209. Darren Carrington WR No. 26 San Diego, Calif. 6-2 186
212. Tyree Robinson ATH No. 11 San Diego, Calif. 6-4 200

Early Enrollees:

Name Pos. Hometown Ht Wt AC100
Joe Walker LB Palos Verdes, Calif. 6-2 225 JUCO

Athlon Sports 2013 Recruiting Classes:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. Florida Gators
5. Michigan Wolverines
6. Ole Miss Rebels
7. LSU Tigers
8. Texas A&M Aggies
9. UCLA Bruins
10. Auburn Tigers
11. Florida State Seminoles
12. Georgia Bulldogs

Teaser:
<p> 2013 College Football Recruiting Analysis: Oregon Ducks</p>
Post date: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 06:25
Path: /nascar/jimmie-johnson-wins-daytona-500
Body:

NASCAR’s new Gen-6 car gave way to a new style of drafting in the Great American Race, while newcomer Danica Patrick once again made history. The ultimate result, though, was all too familiar. Jimmie Johnson scored career Cup win No. 61 by holding off a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a frantic final lap to win the 55th Daytona 500.

“This Lowe’s Chevrolet was so fast,” said Johnson, a two-time 500 champion. “Chad (Knaus, crew chief) did an amazing job. We stuck to our plan all week long, kept the car straight through the practice sessions and the Duel and knew it was a fast car that would race well. We got that done here today.”

Johnson led 17 laps on the afternoon, but took the lead for good with 10 laps remaining, just prior to the event’s final caution.

“My lane was bunched up tight and helped me surge by the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) at the start-finish line when the (final) caution came out,” Johnson said. “That was the move that set things up for us.”

Leading the high line on the ensuing restart with six laps to go, Johnson, Greg Biffle and Patrick shoved their way out front. With Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer in tow, Keselowski attempted to pull the low line alongside Johnson, but three-wide racing took over as drivers scrambled for position, breaking up the run.

That’s when Earnhardt made his move — a move that would ultimately come up short.

The 2004 Daytona 500 winner lurked in fifth when the field took the white flag, but hooked up with Mark Martin in a sleek, two-car draft. Slicing low on the backstretch, the pair drafted under Patrick and Biffle, nearly pulling even with the leader.

“Once we came off of (Turn) 2, we just mashed the gas and got a run on Danica and side-drafted a little bit,” Earnhardt said of the last-lap move. “Once we come to (Turn) 4, we kind of ran out of steam. We didn’t have enough to get to Jimmie.”

“The end got exciting,” Johnson said. “The 88 (Earnhardt) got a big shove and was up the inside and I moved down to defend that.”

That move, combined with Earnhardt’s momentum stalling in Turns 3 and 4, allowed Johnson to shut the door. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates ran nose-to-tail through the tri-oval, with Johnson winning by .129 seconds. Martin, Keselowski and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 5.

“There’s no better way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500,” Johnson said. “I’m a very lucky man to have won it twice. I’m very honored to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport.”

Passing was at a premium over the course of the 200-lap, 500-mile race — and that suited Patrick, who qualified on the pole. She became the first female to lead a green flag lap in Cup competition — she led five laps total — and rarely dropped out of the top 10, backing up the speed her Chevrolet showed in qualifying.

“It was nice to lead laps in the race — just to have done that,” said Patrick, who finished eighth. “It was a steady day.”

A clean start to the race evolved into a largely single-file procession that was punctuated by a nine-car accident on lap 34 that eliminated many of the favorites. Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart were among those forced to the garage when Kyle Busch got into the back of Kahne, turning him in front of the field.

“The cars in front of us slowed up, so I was just slowing up right on Jeff Gordon’s bumper,” Kahne said. “I got hit from behind. Kyle was probably getting pushed and it all happened so quick.”

“To hell with the season,” a frustrated Stewart said. “I wanted to win the 500.”

The three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas took over at that point. Matt Kenseth led 83 of the next 115 laps with teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin neatly tucked in behind. But the complexion of the race changed on lap 149, when Kenseth — while leading — and Busch retired due to engine issues within two laps of one another.

Hamlin led the next 23 laps until Keselowski and Johnson began swapping the lead over the final 26 circuits.

The win was Hendrick Motorsports’ seventh Daytona 500 triumph and came in Johnson’s 400th career start. Johnson joins Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dave Marcis, David Pearson and Lee and Richard Petty in having won in their 400th starts.

“It’s a huge honor,” Johnson said. “There’s no other way to put it. Any time you’re mentioned with those greats, it’s a huge honor.”
 

Teaser:
<p> Johnson edges Earnhardt for second 500 crown.</p>
Post date: Sunday, February 24, 2013 - 19:33

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