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Path: /college-football/arizona-wildcats-add-three-class-2017-recruits-one-day

went from barely having a pulse on the recruiting trail for the 2017 class to more than doubling its commitment list on Wednesday, landing defensive end Kylan Wilborn, defensive tackle Kurtis Brown, and tight end Bryce Wolma.




Wolma helped lead Saline (Mich.) High School to a 10-1 record in 2015 as a versatile weapon on offense. Lining up with a hand on the ground as a tight end or on the outside in the red zone, the large (6-4, 235) target showed great quickness and soft hands in the passing attack becoming a legitimate weapon for the Hornets against opposing Michigan high school defenses. At the end of his junior campaign, Wolma had 24 receptions for 351 yards with five touchdowns.


Arizona landed another rangy athletic talent in Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) High School’s Wilborn. He was utilized on offense as a running threat, picking up 185 yards on 35 carries with three touchdowns and was a constant presence in the backfield against Los Angeles-area teams as a defensive end.


Brown also was a two-way standout lining up for Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif. Brown is being lauded as a potential defensive tackle but possesses idea size (6-3, 260) to develop into a strong-side defensive end. Brown wasn’t as dangerous on offense as Wilborn or Wolma, catching just one pass for a 30-yard touchdown, but was a bigger presence on defense. Brown recorded a team-high 96 tackles with eight tackles for a loss and six sacks over 13 games played last season.


Wolma’s recruiting journey was atypical, committing to Northwestern on April 3 only to decommit three days later and siding with Arizona. The 3-star tight end from Michigan also had offers from Tennessee, Iowa State, Central Michigan, Buffalo, Western Michigan, Ball State, Wake Forest, Toledo, Bowling Green, Colorado, and West Virginia.


Wilborn was lightly recruited before verbally committing to the Wildcats with one other offer coming from Hawaii. Brown has double-digit offers from teams like Washington State, Nevada, Fresno State, Oregon State, Colorado State, Purdue, San Diego State, and Colorado.


Arizona’s 2017 class is now five strong, highlighted by Augustus Hawkins (Los Angeles) High School 4-star athlete Greg Johnson.


Arizona Wildcats 2017 Verbal Commitment List

DT Kurtis Brown, 6-3, 260, Liberty HS, Bakersfield, CA

DE Kylan Wilborn, 6-2, 236, Notre Dame HS, Sherman Oaks, CA

TE Bryce Wolma, 6-4, 235, Saline HS, Saline, MI

ATH Greg Johnson, 5-11, 183, Augustus Hawkins HS, Los Angeles, CA

QB Rhett Rodriguez, 6-0, 190, Catalina Foothills HS, Tucson, AZ


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, . Follow him on Twitter .

Arizona Wildcats Add Three Class of 2017 Recruits in One Day
Post date: Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-top-15-players-rise-2016

Breakout players and the emergence of new faces are one of college football’s annual traditions. Players can go from a backup position into a starting role to earn all-conference honors or produce a big season. Incoming or redshirt freshmen can also make an impact in their first season on campus. Regardless of how players arrive on campus, it’s no secret a new wave of standouts will emerge next season.


With spring practice underway across the nation, this is the first opportunity for coaching staffs to get a look at how their team stacks up for 2016. Additionally, this is also the first chance for players to step up into the spotlight and emerge as a breakout candidate.


Who are the names to watch in 2016 as players on the rise in the Pac-12? Here are 15 names to watch this spring:


Pac-12's Top 15 Players on the Rise for 2016


Jacob Alsadek, OL, Arizona

The offense is once again the clear strength for coach Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats must replace receiver Cayleb Jones, but quarterback Anu Solomon and running back Nick Wilson are back to anchor the offense. Rodriguez must replace two starters up front, but Alsadek’s return is a bright spot for this group. After starting 11 games in 2014, Alsadek started 12 games at right guard last year. He should be the anchor for Arizona’s line in 2016.


Jake Browning, QB, Washington

Washington returns 17 starters from last year’s team and should be in the mix to win the Pac-12 title in 2016. Browning’s development is another reason to believe the Huskies are poised for a big step forward after finishing 7-6 in a rebuilding year. Browning started 12 games as a true freshman in 2015 and threw for 2,955 yards and 16 touchdowns on 233 completions. He will be one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks this fall.




Soso Jamabo, RB, UCLA

Paul Perkins jumped to the NFL after recording back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but the Bruins are still in great shape at running back. Jamabo was a five-star recruit in the 2015 signing class and recorded 403 yards and four touchdowns on just 66 attempts. He should push for 1,000 yards this fall as UCLA’s go-to back.


Ronald Jones, RB, USC

New coach Clay Helton wants to build USC’s offense around its ground attack in 2016, and the Trojans should have one of the Pac-12’s top one-two punches in the backfield. Justin Davis returns after rushing for 902 yards last year and will be joined by a rising star in Ronald Jones. As a true freshman last season, Jones led USC with 987 yards and eight scores. The sophomore is one of the Pac-12’s most-talented runners and will take a big step forward in 2016.


Canton Kaumatule, DL, Oregon

New coordinator Brady Hoke plans on switching Oregon’s defense from a 3-4 look to a 4-3 approach. However, the Ducks need new standouts to emerge with the departure of six starters in the front seven. Kaumatule was a five-star recruit in the 2015 signing class and played sparingly in eight games. The Hawaii native recorded only two tackles last year, but he’s expected to take on a bigger role up front in 2016.




Derek McCartney, DL/LB, Colorado

Colorado’s defense quietly showed marked improvement last season. The Buffaloes limited opponents to 5.7 yards per play in 2015, which marked a healthy decrease from the 6.55 total from 2014. McCartney has been a key cog in the front seven over the last two seasons and should push for All-Pac-12 honors in 2016. McCartney ranked second on the team with 11.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks last year.


Darrien Molton, CB, Washington State

It’s not easy playing cornerback as a true freshman in any FBS league. However, the task is even tougher in the Pac-12 with the amount of high-powered offenses in the conference. Molton certainly wasn’t fazed by anything as a true freshman, as the California native started 11 games and recorded 44 tackles, three interceptions and six pass breakups.


Ryan Nall, RB, Oregon State

The Beavers ranked ninth in the Pac-12 (conference-only games) in rushing offense last season. But there’s reason for optimism in 2016 after Nall’s late-season emergence. After recording only 19 carries through the first six games, Nall rushed for 122 yards on 20 carries against Colorado and finished the year by gashing Oregon for 174 yards on 19 attempts. The sophomore will be a bigger part of Oregon State’s ground game in 2016.


Kareem Orr, DB, Arizona State

Arizona State’s pass defense had its share of ups and downs last year. The Sun Devils surrendered 35 passing touchdowns in 2015 and must replace three full-time starters. But Orr’s return provides a solid foundation for coach Todd Graham to start the rebuilding process. As a true freshman last fall, Orr recorded 38 tackles, two pass breakups and six interceptions. Orr’s six interceptions were the most by any Pac-12 player in 2015.




Dakota Prukop, QB, Oregon

For the second year in a row, the Ducks are tapping into the FCS graduate transfer ranks for an answer at quarterback. Vernon Adams was a huge addition for Oregon’s offense last season, and Prukop could have a similar impact. The Texas native earned first-team FCS All-America honors at Montana State in 2015 after throwing for 3,025 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushing for 797 yards and 11 scores. Prukop now inherits the controls of Oregon’s high-powered offense.


Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford

Stanford has developed its share of standouts at tight end in recent years, and all signs point to Schultz as the next star. After a redshirt season in 2014, Schultz backed up Austin Hooper in 2015 and caught 10 passes for 121 yards and one score. Hooper left early for the NFL, which leaves Schultz as the clear starter at tight end this fall.


Cameron Smith, LB, USC

Smith was an impact freshman for the Trojans last season but an ACL tear ended his year prematurely. In 10 games, Smith recorded 78 tackles (one for a loss), one sack, three pass breakups and three interceptions. All three of Smith’s interceptions came in a standout performance against Utah, and the California native was a first-team selection to Athlon Sports’ 2015 postseason all-freshman team. All signs point to Smith returning to full strength and performing at a high level in 2016.




Carlos Strickland/Melquise Stovall, WR, California

California’s receiving corps is facing a massive overhaul in 2016. The Golden Bears lose their top six statistical options from last season, with Chad Hansen (19 catches) the top returning receiver. While the receiving corps will be inexperienced for coach Sonny Dykes, there’s promising talent on the way. Strickland was a four-star recruit in the 2015 signing class and used a redshirt year last fall. Stovall was an early enrollee and has already earned a starting spot on the team’s spring depth chart.


Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

The line is arguably the biggest concern on defense for coach David Shaw. However, the question marks about this unit could be alleviated if Harrison Phillips returns at full strength from a knee injury, and Thomas emerges as an All-Pac-12 player. In his first year of snaps with the Cardinal, Thomas played in all 14 games and recorded 39 tackles (10.5 for a loss) and 3.5 sacks.


Joe Williams, RB, Utah

A strong offensive line and ground attack is critical for coach Kyle Whittingham with uncertainty at quarterback and receiver. Devontae Booker will be missed at running back, but Williams showed he was capable of handling 25-30 carries a game late last year. Williams rushed for 399 yards and three touchdowns over the final three games of 2015 and is slated to headline the Utes’ rushing attack next fall.

Pac-12's Top 15 Players on the Rise for 2016
Post date: Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-toughest-non-conference-college-football-schedules-2016

The sometimes gets criticized for its non-conference scheduling. It certainly doesn't help when the SEC's powerhouses schedule cupcakes in November. But over the past few seasons, the SEC has done a better job of scheduling major opponents outside the conference.


Coming into the 2016 season, there are a lot of highly anticipated matchups involving SEC teams. Alabama plays USC. Ole Miss plays Florida State. LSU plays Wisconsin. And of course, Tennessee plays Virginia Tech in a game that will probably break college football's all-time attendance record.  


Here is a ranking of the SEC's non-conference schedules from the most difficult to easiest.


1. Ole Miss

Sept. 5 vs. Florida State (Orlando, Fla.)

Sept. 10 vs. Wofford

Oct. 1 vs. Memphis

Nov. 5 vs. Georgia Southern


In one of college football's most anticipated out-of-conference matchups, Ole Miss takes on Florida State in week one. This will provide a great measuring stick for both teams, as both have realistic College Football Playoff aspirations. It will be fun watching two elite defenses on the field. It is a neutral site game, but it will be played in the state of Florida. The Rebels won't have any problems with Wofford or Georgia Southern, but they do take on Memphis again on Oct. 1. Memphis beat Ole Miss 37-24 last year.


2. South Carolina

Sept. 17 vs. East Carolina

Oct. 22 vs. UMass

Nov. 19 vs. Western Carolina

Nov. 26 at Clemson


The Gamecocks' only home game in the month of September is against East Carolina. South Carolina beat the Pirates 33-23 in 2014, but this Gamecocks squad has a lot of rebuilding to do. That game won't be easy for South Carolina. Next on the schedule is UMass, a team that will have played two SEC teams prior to that matchup. Western Carolina should be manageable. Then, of course, is the rivalry week game at Clemson. By that point in the season, the Tigers might have quite a bit riding on a win.


3. Auburn

Sept. 3 vs. Clemson

Sept. 10 vs. Arkansas State

Oct. 1 vs. ULM

Nov. 19 vs. Alabama A&M


Of all the SEC teams, Auburn has the toughest season-opening assignment. Auburn will take on Clemson, which not only is built like an SEC team in the trenches, but returns arguably the nation's best quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Clemson is ranked No. 1 in the country in several preseason polls. Auburn does have the advantage of playing that game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers' other non-conference matchups against Arkansas State, ULM and Alabama A&M will all be played at home.


4. Alabama

Sept. 3 vs. USC (Arlington, Texas)

Sept. 10 vs. Western Kentucky

Sept. 24 vs. Kent State

Nov. 19 vs. Chattanooga


Alabama's out-of-conference slate starts with a neutral site game against USC. The Trojans are projected to be a top-15 team coming into the season. USC's talented offense could cause problems for a rebuilding Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide also take on Western Kentucky, which returns multiple starters from a team that finished 12-2 last season. Kent State and Chattanooga likely won't provide much of a challenge for the Tide.


5. Georgia

Sept. 3 vs. North Carolina (Atlanta)

Sept. 10 vs. Nicholls State

Nov. 19 vs. UL Lafayette

Nov. 26 vs. Georgia Tech


With two ACC opponents on the slate, Georgia plays a pretty respectable schedule outside the SEC. The 'Dawgs open the season in Atlanta against North Carolina. The Tar Heels were a tough out in 2015 and look to be a top-20 team coming into this season. Georgia should cruise by Nicholls State, but UL Lafayette shouldn't be overlooked. The Ragin' Cajuns finally fell off a bit last year after four straight nine-win seasons. Georgia finishes the regular season at home against in-state foe, Georgia Tech.


6. Arkansas

Sept. 3 vs. Louisiana Tech

Sept. 10 at TCU

Sept. 17 vs. Texas State

Oct. 1 vs. Alcorn State


The Razorbacks open the 2016 season with Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs went 9-4 a year ago and pummeled Arkansas State in the New Orleans Bowl. A week later, the Hogs will travel to Fort Worth to take on TCU. With most of Arkansas' offensive production gone to the NFL, it will be interesting to see if the early-season Hogs can keep pace on the road against TCU. Home games against Texas State and Alcorn State should be manageable.


7. LSU

Sept. 3 vs. Wisconsin (Green Bay, Wis.)

Sept. 10 vs. Jacksonville

Oct. 15 vs. Southern Miss

Nov. 19 vs. South Alabama


Two years ago, LSU and Wisconsin had a dog fight in Houston, in which LSU prevailed narrowly. This time, the Tigers will have to travel up north to take on the Badgers. It is a neutral site game at Lambeau Field, but essentially it will be a home game for Wisconsin. The Badgers will be a stout test. After that, it should be smooth sailing for LSU against Jacksonville, Southern Miss and South Alabama. None of those teams are equipped to stop Leonard Fournette.


8. Florida

Sept. 3 vs. UMass

Sept. 17 vs. North Texas

Nov. 19 vs. Presbyterian

Nov. 26 at Florida State


The Gators don't have much to be afraid of until November. UMass finished with a 3-9 record last season, while North Texas went 1-11 and Presbyterian went 2-9. Florida's relatively weak non-conference schedule is enhanced only by the usual rivalry week matchup against Florida State in Tallahassee. The Seminoles return a boatload of talent and appear to be a top-10 team. Florida has lost five of its last six games against FSU.


9. Texas A&M

Sept. 3 vs. UCLA

Sept. 10 vs. Prairie View

Oct. 29 vs. New Mexico State

Nov. 19 vs. UTSA


The best part about A&M's opener with UCLA will be watching the Aggies' offense, which will have a new quarterback, against UCLA's punishing defense, which returns nine starters. The game is at Kyle Field, which is a huge advantage for the Aggies. Finally, we get to see a marquee matchup between the SEC and Pac-12. The rest of A&M's non-conference schedule consists of home games against Prairie View, New Mexico State and UTSA. Hit the snooze button.


10. Missouri

Sept. 3 at West Virginia

Sept. 10 vs. Eastern Michigan

Sept. 24 vs. Delaware State

Oct. 22 vs. Middle Tennessee


Traveling to Morgantown is not something that very many teams look forward to. West Virginia is usually tough to beat at home, so that opener will be crucial for Mizzou. The Mountaineers won five of their last six games in 2015. Mizzou will be heavily favored against Eastern Michigan and Delaware State, but the Oct. 22 game against Middle Tennessee could be a little more entertaining. The Blue Raiders made it to a bowl game last season.


11. Tennessee

Sept. 3 vs. Appalachian State

Sept. 10 vs. Virginia Tech (Bristol, Tenn.)

Sept. 17 vs. Ohio

Nov. 5 vs. Tennessee Tech


With high expectations coming into 2016, Tennessee opens with Appalachian State. The Volunteers will easily be double-digit favorites in that one. A week later is the Battle at Bristol spectacle against Virginia Tech. Tennessee also will be favored in that game, but the Hokies will be ready to play. The atmosphere should be exhilarating. The Vols close out the non-conference portion of the schedule with Ohio and Tennessee Tech. Not too bad.


12. Kentucky

Sept. 3 vs. Southern Miss

Sept. 17 vs. New Mexico State

Nov. 19 vs. Austin Peay

Nov. 26 at Louisville


Southern Miss has a few weapons that could be tricky for Kentucky in week one, but the Wildcats will be favored. New Mexico State and Austin Peay aren't very enticing non-conference opponents. As is the case with Florida, Kentucky should have a pretty easy road until the last week of the season. The annual matchup with Louisville is on the road this year and the Cardinals return 17 starters. Louisville will likely be a preseason top-25 team.


13. Vanderbilt

Sept. 10 vs. Middle Tennessee

Sept. 17 at Georgia Tech

Sept. 24 vs. Western Kentucky

Oct. 22 vs. Tennessee State


From first glance, Vanderbilt's non-conference schedule looks pretty easy. However, Middle Tennessee nearly beat the Commodores last year and Western Kentucky actually did get the job done in week one. Vanderbilt fans probably aren't thrilled to see those two teams on the schedule. This season, the Commodores also have a difficult road test in week three at Georgia Tech. In late October, Tennessee Tech should provide Vanderbilt some relief.


14. Mississippi State

Sept. 3 vs. South Alabama

Sept. 24 at UMass

Oct. 14 at BYU
Oct. 29 vs. Samford


Interestingly, Mississippi State is going on the road twice in the non-conference. However, the catch is that the Bulldogs aren't playing any major non-conference teams. They should fare well against South Alabama and Samford at home. On Sept. 24, State travels to UMass, but the Minutemen aren't expected to be world-beaters. BYU has a solid program and could give the Bulldogs a tough game, especially in Provo, but this schedule leaves plenty to be desired.


— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for . Follow him on Twitter .

Ranking the SEC's Toughest Non-Conference College Football Schedules in 2016
Post date: Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/evaluating-fantasy-impact-running-backs-wide-receivers-new-teams-2016

We already looked at the potential impact for that have changed teams during free agency. Now it's time to look at the running backs and wide receivers. While the NFL Draft is still almost a month away, it's never too early to start thinking about fantasy football drafts. Here is how the fantasy values are affected for running backs and wide receivers on new teams as of the end of March.




Running Backs


Lamar Miller, Houston Texans

Even though he scored the same number of rushing touchdowns in 2015 as he did in ‘14 (eight), it was a rough year for Miller and his fantasy owners. With 872 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns, he was under-utilized in Miami. Houston does rely on the running game and the Texans appear to be a good fit for Miller, so this is definitely an upgrade. He's a RB1 this year and may drop slightly in drafts because of his performance last year.


DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans

Everyone expected a down year following his crazy 1,845-yard 2014 season in Dallas. However, few predicted he would only have 702 rushing yards in 2015 — without the season ending because of injury. He went from 12 games with 100 or more rushing yards… to one. It was a rough year for him, and it was primarily because of the way the Eagles used him. Yes, there were other backs in the mix, but Murray wasn't used as effectively as he could have been. With Tennessee, the offensive line isn't as good as Dallas', but he still should be used as the primary back. He's a RB2 with potential to be great — or a bust.


Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars

Ivory, in Jacksonville, joins T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson and Jonas Gray to form a running back mess. While Ivory and Yeldon will likely be the ones to carry the load, it has the makings of a timeshare situation. Yeldon had an injury-plagued rookie year, but he did show flashes of talent. He wasn't used at the goal line, so look for Ivory to fill in there. It's unclear who will get the early down work, but this is a situation to watch through the preseason. Ivory is likely a RB2 because of the potential for touchdowns.


Matt Forte, New York Jets

Forte will step in as the No. 1 running back for the Jets, but he will likely share the work more than he did in Chicago. Bilal Powell is still with the Jets, and he had 47 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns last year. He's more of a factor in the passing game than the running game, and that should stay the same this year. Forte is a solid back who had 44 receptions for 389 yards and three receiving touchdowns of his own last season.  If Powell wasn't there, Forte would be a RB1. Because the pair will split touches, Forte is a high-end RB2 this year.


Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys

With only Darren McFadden ahead of him on the depth chart, Morris is in line to at least share carries with the injury-prone McFadden. However, that is assuming that the Cowboys don't acquire another back in the draft. After his worst season since bursting on the scene as a sixth-round draft pick in 2012, Morris’ fantasy value is at an all-time low. With just 751 yards rushing and one touchdown last season, he certainly wasn't thriving in Washington. The Cowboys’ offensive line is better than Washington's, but Morris still is barely on the RB2 radar.


Wide Receivers


Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions

With Calvin Johnson deciding to retire, the Lions are scrambling for someone that can be their No. 1 wide receiver. Golden Tate is there, but he plays more of a complementary No. 2 role. The Lions are going to use Jones as their top wideout, but it's not clear if Jones is cut out for that kind of role. In Cincinnati, he always was second to A.J. Green. He was a WR3/4, not topping 1,000 yards in his career. He did have 10 touchdowns in 2014, but only four in ‘15. It's a gamble, but he could have WR2 value.


Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons

While it's not a question that the Falcons need a complement to Julio Jones, the question is if Sanu is truly the answer. He managed 394 receiving yards in 2015 and failed to find the end zone. He struggled with drops and while there were other mouths to feed in the Bengals’ passing game, Sanu certainly didn't make himself known. His best season was 2014, where he had 790 yards and five touchdowns. While it is possible he sees those numbers again, he's a WR3 at best.


Travis Benjamin, San Diego Chargers

Benjamin surprisingly put up almost 1,000 yards receiving in 2015, scoring five touchdowns in the process. He was very boom-or-bust, and while that might be a result of the quarterback situation in Cleveland, it also may be something that fantasy owners have to deal with in 2016 as well. Sure, San Diego he has a better quarterback, and Benjamin is now in a pass-first offense. However, he's still more of a deep threat receiver, so he's going to be hard to trust each week. He'll play the No. 2 role behind Keenan Allen, but for fantasy, he's a WR3.


Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans

With a career-high 662 yards in 2015, Matthews has left Miami for the Titans. He'll be playing behind Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham. The coaches have said that he will be the "Z" receiver on a team that still has Marcus Mariota throwing the ball. Mariota did show flashes of success in 2015, but it remains to be seen how the receivers will fare this coming season. Matthews does appear to have talent, but there may not be enough opportunity to showcase it. He's a WR4.


Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens

After having a career-worst season, Wallace reportedly wanted to play for a team with a stronger-armed quarterback. Going from Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota to Joe Flacco in Baltimore seems like it will benefit Wallace more, however, he is going to be 30 years old at the start of the season. About 65 receptions and 800 yards is the likely result of his 2016 season. He'll be average, and fine as a WR3 with some upside.


— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter .

Evaluating the Fantasy Impact of Running Backs and Wide Receivers on New Teams in 2016
Post date: Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/patriots-fans-sue-over-lost-draft-picks-stemming-deflategate-roger-goodell-nfl-lawsuit

Patriots fans are still feeling the repercussions from Deflategate. Yes, it's the story that will not die. 


Some fans have chosen to file a federal lawsuit against the NFL in order to attain the lost draft picks for their beloved team. The Patriots, as of now, are without their 2016 first-round pick and 2017 fourth-round pick due to issues stemming from Deflategate. The lawsuit has been brought by fans from Massachusetts, Florida, and New Jersey and signed by a lawyer in Maine. In it, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is accused of negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and racketeering.


"In short, after a three-month, multi-million dollar investigation, actual proof of a plot to deflate footballs was never found," Attorney Seth Carey writes. "In the absence of such evidence, it is difficult to under why [outside investigator Ted] Wells found such a plot 'more probable than not.'"


According to the , Deflategate has even caused a rift in a fan's own home. Todd Orsatti is a Patriots season-ticket holder and now claims his 7-year-old daughter is thinking of rooting for another team.


"Orsatti attends game with his 7-year-old daughter," Carey said. "She will no longer go to games with him because she thinks the games are fixed by the NFL after her team was punished based merely on conjecture. She is talking about finding another team, which has left Orsatti 'devastated.'"


It's a very serious matter.

Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 16:31
Path: /golf/best-shots-masters-golf-history-2016

To celebrate the , we look back at some of the tournament's greatest moments and amazing shots. Here are our favorites.


7. Louis Oosthuizen, 2012

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


6. Sandy Lyle, 1988

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


5. Bubba Watson, 2012

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

4. Jack Nicklaus, 1986

Jack’s near hole-in-one on 16 during his final-round 65 was only one of many magic moments that day — but it was pretty epic.


3. Phil Mickelson, 2010

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

2. Larry Mize, 1987

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

1. Tiger Woods, 2005

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

<p> 7 Epic Moments from Golf's Greatest Tournament</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 16:27
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/michelle-beadle-greg-hardy-espn-steve-smith-domestic-abuse-adam-schefter-sportsnation

ESPN absolutely hates internal conflict. Thanks to a "Greg Hardy Redemption Tour," that's exactly what it's getting.


NFL reporter Adam Schefter sat down with the free agent to discuss his domestic abuse issues, although Hardy never admitted to having any, and it painted a different side to Hardy that most wouldn't even recognize. Some came after the worldwide leader for making it seem as if Hardy as changed, and using Schefter as a hype man of sorts, going on The Dan Patrick Show to further prove his point. The photos of the abuse Hardy allegedly dished out have made the rounds many times before and now ESPN is trying to portray a completely different person.


Michelle Beadle, host of ESPN's SportsNation and perhaps one of its most outspoken personalities, took to Twitter to express her disbelief in the situation.



It didn't stop there. Beadle went on to say this on Tuesday's episode of :


"I feel dirty in that this guy has no job right now, and for some reason we've decided as a network that we're going to give him the stage for his redemption tour as he basically goes out and tries to find some employment. I don't understand why we're doing that. If he wants to figure out a way to get his message out there — which by the way, he hasn't said he did anything wrong, so how is a man supposed to convince anybody he's changed and yet not admit to actually doing anything? I have no idea. But why we're giving him the forum to go out there and tell anybody that is where I'm a little bit confused."


This probably won't be the last we hear from Beadle on the subject, and it's even gaining the attention of other NFL players. Former teammate Steve Smith couldn't let Hardy's comments slide. 



What ever image ESPN is trying to portray of Hardy, it will have to do better to fool many of its viewers and employees.

Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime
Path: /college-basketball/mike-tyson-confuses-uconn-university-cincinnati-national-championship-syracuse-title-connecticut-huskies

UConn women's basketball team won its fourth national title in a row over Syracuse.


The world should be used to their dominance, but maybe some don't know as much as others. Boxing legend Mike Tyson sent a tweet out to congratulate the team with one error, he called them the University of Cincinnati. Not a good look. For a team that has won 75 games in a row, you think people would know them by now.



The school did have a little fun with the gaffe. 


Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 11:17
Path: /mlb/ranking-best-and-worst-mlb-logos-2016

Brand recognition is important in today’s business climate and that includes professional sports. One critical component to a team’s identity is its logo. While fans certainly relate to the players, it’s the team’s logo that’s displayed prominently on the uniform and pretty much every piece of memorabilia or merchandise.



So when it comes to , which teams have the best logos and which ones could use a little updating or touching up? To answer that question, we enlisted the help of Blake Copia, a Web designer for Athlon Sports, and someone’s whose eye is trained to find the finer details among the logos for MLB’s 30 teams.


  Logo Analysis
1. The Cubs’ logo is easily one of the most recognizable in baseball. The vibrant colors pop with the contrasting white space, and the typography is creative and modern.
2. The Mets’ logo has several nice elements. I like the subtlety of the baseball stitching. The typography is strong and could stand alone, but is enhanced by the contrasting skyline.
3. The script font for Orioles is a great choice. The outline adds interest. I also like the balance and playfulness the bird ads to the logo. All in all, I have nothing negative to say about this logo. 
4. This logo has the perfect combination of creativity and simplicity. It is easily recognizable and is classic and compelling.
5. The Braves’ logo is timeless. It is well balanced with the placement of the tomahawk, and you can’t go wrong with the blue and red color combination.

This logo is one of the more delicate baseball logos. The font is a classic and recognizable style. I also like the added interest the movement baseball lines give to the look of the logo.


The unique placement of the lettering makes this logo stand out. It is simple and effective. I can see why it has been around for so long.

8.  I like the interaction between all the elements in this logo. It has nice movement and a fun hand-drawn quality to it.

This is a strong typographic logo. An intriguing, modern design is created by the interaction of the S and D letters. I am a big fan of this change in logo design for the Padres.

10. The playfulness of the Yankees’ logo makes it memorable. I like the historical feel of this logo. 
11. The unique shape of the Reds’ logo is a nice change from a typical circle option. I like the use of the C as a border of the Reds. It is a simple and creative solution.
12. This is an all-around nice circle logo. The blue jay is a strong icon on its own, and is only enhanced by the thoughtfully placed text surrounding it.
13. I like the baseball diamond shape of this logo, and I even like the typography. But I’m not crazy about the design of the Liberty Bell. At first glance it isn’t easily recognizable with the text over the top of it. I like the alternate logo with the usage of the baseball much better.
14. I like that this logo can stand on its own, but I’m not a huge fan of the diamonds. It looks like the design is stuck in the ‘80s.
15. This logo has a lot of nice elements but could stand to be simplified for legibility. I think the typography is strong, but you lose some of the elements when viewed in a smaller format.

The Detroit Tigers’ logo is nice in that it can stand on its own without any other text. However, it is a little old school for my taste.

17. This logo would be much stronger if it was simplified to just the Twins text on top of the baseball. The additional text surrounding the baseball is difficult to read when scaled down.
18. The Marlins’ logo would look more modern without the text under the M. The color usage is unique, but paired with the font below, it gives an overall retro look.

The Rangers’ logo isn’t exciting. There is nothing to hate about it, but I would like to see something a little more creative.

20. The change to a C from Chief Wahoo as the Indians’ main logo is a nice change, but I find the font choice of the C to be boring. I would like to see something with more intrigue.
21. The interior design of this logo is very compelling, but gets lost in the thick blue circle. I would take the text and the dark outer circle away to let the best elements shine. 
22. The Rays’ logo is cheesy and I don’t like the way the Rays text gets lost in the diamond background. Removing the diamond could solve the problem.
23. This logo is boring and could use some added creativity.
24. I would like this logo better if the dark green circle was removed. The circle distracts from the most interesting part of the logo.
25. This logo looks dated. I don’t like much about it. I think they should lose the stroke on the text at the very least.
26. The elements in the Royals’ logo are very disconnected. I would remove the KC crown icon all together and find a way to incorporate the crown in a more creative manner.

I like the move away from the cheesy pirate. But I’m not in love with the simplicity of the P. I find the font a little strange.

28. I’m not a fan of using the Red Sox on their own. It looks like stock art. I think using just the B or a combination of text with the red sox would make for a more interesting logo.
29. The Nationals’ W looks too much like the Walgreens W. This logo needs to be rethought.
30. The Giants’ logo looks very amateur. Some of the past logos were stronger solutions.
Ranking the Best and Worst MLB Logos in 2015
Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Jordan Spieth, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2016-majors-no-2-jordan-spieth

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2016 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s .


No. 2: Jordan Spieth

Born: July 27, 1993, Dallas, Texas | Career PGA Tour Wins: 6 | 2015 Wins (Worldwide): 5 | 2015 Earnings (PGA Tour): $12,030,465 (1st) | World Ranking: 2


Gary Williams' Take: The 2015 season produced one of the greatest major championship seasons in golf history by the now-22-year-old Texan. Finishes of 1st-1st-4th-2nd in the majors put him in the company of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in terms of the greatest major championship campaigns. Spieth is determined to gain some length off the tee, but his changes are more nuanced than anything close to reconstruction in his swing. For all his short game genius, Spieth is an underrated ball striker and finished 1st on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole from the rough last season. However, when you make an ungodly percentage (about 28%) of putts from 15-20 feet, it is hard to focus on anything else. Spieth made par sexy again with memorable saves all year, highlighted by his up-and-down par save on the 18th on Saturday at The Masters. His hyper competitiveness should keep him in contention virtually every week. It will be fascinating to see how he backs up his year for the ages.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 12
Wins: 2
2015 Performance:
    Masters – 1
    U.S. Open – 1
    British Open – T4
    PGA Championship - 2
Best Career Finishes
    Masters – 1 (2015)
    U.S. Open – 1 (2015)
    British Open – T4 (2015)
    PGA Championship - 2 (2015)
Top-10 Finishes: 5
Top-25 Finishes: 7
Missed Cuts: 3

Athlon's 2016 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Zach Johnson, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/best-baseball-players-35-and-over-2016

Baseball may be shifting towards more of a young man’s game thanks to a , but still has plenty of “senior citizens” who are getting the job done. For example, David Ortiz, who is calling it a career after 2016, finished in the top 10 in the American League in both home runs and RBIs last season.




And Ortiz isn’t alone among those players who are at least 35 years old and still playing at a high level. In fact, three of the first five on the list below hit at least 40 home runs last season with the quintet combining for an impressive 194 round-trippers.


So who is the best of the best when it comes to baseball’s elder statesmen? Here is a list of MLB’s top players who were at least 35 years old as of Opening Day (April 4).


Note: Age as of Opening Day in parentheses


1. David Ortiz, DH/1B, Boston Red Sox (40)

This is Ortiz’ last season, but if 2015 was any indication, Big Papi still has plenty left in his bat. He hit 37 home runs, his most since a career-best 54 in 2006, and produced his ninth 100-RBI campaign (108). He became the 27th player in baseball history with 500 home runs last season (503 total) and could end up finishing his career just outside the top 10 in doubles (584, 18th entering the season). Statistics aside, what Ortiz really wants is to get back to the playoffs and get a chance at a fourth World Series title.


2. Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (35)

If not for David Ortiz’ overall body of work, Bautista would be at the top of this list. An All-Star each of the past six seasons, Joey Bats has averaged 38 home runs, 97 RBIs, 95 runs and just as many walks as strikeouts (96 apiece) during that span. Bautista posted his third 40-home run campaign last season, while leading the AL with 110 walks. Unlike Ortiz, Bautista is still an asset in the field, coming up with four assists and making just three errors in 2015 as the Blue Jays’ starting right fielder.


3. Alex Rodriguez, DH, New York Yankees (40)

After sitting out 2014 due to a suspension, many were wondering what Rodriguez would have left in the tank. It turns out, plenty, as he hit 33 home runs with 86 RBIs. He may no longer be a MVP-caliber player, but A-Rod will continue to chase history this season as he’s 28 home runs away from passing Babe Ruth (715) for third on the all-time list. Rodriguez also just needs 21 RBIs to surpass Cap Anson (2,075) for third and 61 runs to eclipse Willie Mays (2,062) for seventh all-time.


4. Nelson Cruz, OF/DH, Seattle Mariners (35)

After hitting 40 home runs in 2014 with Baltimore, Cruz brought his “Boomstick” with him to Seattle. He hit a career-high 44 long balls for the Mariners, including 17 at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. But Cruz was more than just power, as he also batted. 302 with 93 RBIs on his way to making his third straight All-Star team.


5. Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, Los Angeles Angels (36)

Somewhat quietly, Pujols slugged 40 home runs last season to bring his career total to 560. Injuries are starting to take their toll and he’ll probably log more time as a DH than at first base, but this future Hall of Famer can still get the job done at the plate. Another 40 home runs would give him 600 for his career, which would place him ninth all-time. He also will surpass 1,700 career RBIs and 1,600 runs scored early this season, while he has still yet to strike out 1,000 times despite logging more than 9,900 career at-bats.


6. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers (36)

Beltre dealt with some injuries last season, but still finished seventh in the AL MVP voting thanks to a torrid second half. After hitting just .255 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs prior to the All-Star Game, Beltre slashed .318/.376/.509 with 11 long balls and an impressive 61 RBIs over his last 74 games. Not bad for a guy who turns 37 on April 7, is in his 19th season in the majors, and can still pick it at the hot corner (four career Gold Gloves).


7. Victor Martinez, DH/1B, Detroit Tigers (37)

Martinez tore the medial meniscus in his left knee in February 2015 and even though he managed to play 120 games, he clearly wasn’t the same hitter. A year after finishing second in the AL MVP voting, Martinez hit just .245 with 11 home runs and 64 RBIs last season. But the track record of success is there, and the hope that with better health Martinez will return to the form that makes him one of the more productive DHs in the game.


8. John Lackey, P, Chicago Cubs (37)

Lackey went 13-10 with a career-best 2.77 ERA last season with the Cardinals. He struck out 175 over 218 innings, which allowed him to make 33 starts (tied for NL lead). Now with the Cubs, Lackey has been reunited with former Red Sox teammates Jon Lester and David Ross (as well as team president Theo Epstein) in hopes of ending another historic World Series drought.


9. Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (36)

A quadriceps strain in June pretty much ended Holliday’s 2015 season, as he played just 21 games after that and hit just .196 in them. But this is still a rock-solid veteran who is a career .307 hitter and is 25 home runs shy of 300. Always a team player, Holliday has accepted the challenge of playing first base, something he hasn’t done in his 13 major league seasons, to open up a spot for one of the Cardinals’ young outfielders.


10. Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets (35)

Granderson batted just .259 and only stole 11 bases, but he was the catalyst for a Mets team that made it all the way to the World Series. He scored 98 runs, thanks in part to 91 walks (sixth in NL) and his .364 on-base percentage. He will strike out a lot, but the power (259 career doubles, 263 home runs entering 2016) and ability to get on base makes him one of the more well-rounded leadoff men in baseball.


11. Carlos Beltran, OF/DH, New York Yankees (38)

The MVP-esque seasons are behind him, but Beltran is still fairly reliable when it comes to hitting in the middle of a lineup. His 19 home runs last season leaves him just eight shy of 400 for his career and he needs 57 RBIs for 1,500. A career .280 hitter with nearly 1,500 runs scored, 2,500 hits, more than 500 doubles and 300-plus stolen bases, Beltran has put together an impressive set of credentials for Hall of Fame consideration, and he doesn’t appear to be done yet.


12. Santiago Casilla, P, San Francisco Giants (35)

Casilla’s career-high 38 saves tied him for fifth in the NL last season. He’s just four shy of 100 for his 13-year career and has been a part of two World Series championship teams.


13. Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals (36)

Fractures in his wrist pretty much cost Werth the 2015 season. He suffered the injury on May 15 and when he returned in July he hit just .226 over the final 61 games. He did hit 10 home runs during that span (230 AB), so the hope is that he can return to the form that produced a .292-18-82 line in 2014.


14. Brad Ziegler, P, Arizona Diamondbacks (36)

Ziegler won’t strike out a ton (36 in 68 IP in 2015), but he’s also pretty reliable when it comes to finishing off games. In his first season as the Diamonbacks’ full-time closer, Ziegler blew just two of 32 save opportunities (93.8 percent).


15. R.A. Dickey, P, Toronto Blue Jays (41)

After struggling in the first half of last season (3-10, 4.87 ERA), Dickey figured it out after the All-Star break. The veteran and 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner went 8-1 with a sparkling 2.80 ERA over his final 15 starts to help the Blue Jays pull away in the AL East.


16. Marlon Byrd, OF, Cleveland Indians (38)

Byrd may not be an everyday player any more, but he has averaged 24 home runs and 82 RBIs over his last three seasons while playing for five different teams (Mets, Pirates, Phillies, Reds, Giants) during that span.  


17. Koji Uehara, P, Boston Red Sox (41)

Uehara has been replaced as the Red Sox closer by Craig Kimbrel, but the eight-year veteran from Korea will still play a key bullpen role. Entering this season, Uehara had a career ERA of 2.42 and WHIP of 0.852 with 86 saves over 390 2/3 innings.


18. Jason Grilli, P, Atlanta Braves (39)

Grilli was putting together a solid season (2.94 ERA, 24 saves) in 2015 before a torn Achilles on July 11 ended things. He recovered in time to make the Braves’ 2016 Opening Day roster, but could find himself pitching for a playoff contender before the end of this season.


19. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Chicago White Sox (37)

His MVP days are long past him, but Rollins won the starting shortstop job for the White Sox in spring training after signing as a free agent. His numbers weren’t great last season with the Dodgers but he did hit and run enough to produce his 12th season with double-digit home runs and stolen bases. Rollins should reach 2,500 hits for this career this season, which includes more than 500 doubles and 229 home runs to go along with his 465 steals, which place him among the top 50 all-time.


20. Bartolo Colon, P, New York Mets (42)

The oldest player in the majors, Colon may have lost his spot in the Mets’ starting rotation, but that’s more a testament to the wealth of young, power arms the team possesses. Now in his 19th season, Colon has won nearly 60 percent of his decisions (218-154) and last year he posted his fourth straight winning season (14-13) and 12th of his career.


Honorable Mention


Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Miami Marlins (42)

There is no denying that Suzuki is way past his prime. He got less than 400 at-bats last season while hitting just .229. However, he enters 2016 just 65 hits shy of 3,000 in his major league career. Don’t forget that he came over from Japan in 2001 after nine seasons overseas. For his entire professional baseball career, with 2016 being his 25th season, Suzuki has batted .325 with 4,213 hits, 2,006 runs scored, 552 doubles, 114 triples, 231 home runs, 1,267 RBIs, 697 stolen bases and 980 walks (through 2015). Regardless of where’s he played, that’s a pretty impressive resume.


Don’t Forget About

(alphabetical order)


Joaquin Benoit, P, Seattle Mariners (38)

Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics (36)

Rajai Davis, OF, Cleveland Indians (35)

Rich Hill, P, Oakland Athletics (36)

Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies (36)

Javier Lopez, P, San Francisco Giants (38)

Pat Neshek, P, Houston Astros (35)

Fernando Rodney, P, San Diego Padres (39)

David Ross, C, Chicago Cubs (39)

CC Sabathia, P, New York Yankees (35)

Chase Utley, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers (37)

Ryan Vogelsong, P, Pittsburgh Pirates (38)

C.J. Wilson, P, Los Angeles Angels (35)

Best Baseball Players 35 and Over
Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 10:30
Path: /10-greatest-masters-champions-ever-PGA-history

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


1. Jack Nicklaus

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


2. Arnold Palmer

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


3. Tiger Woods

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


4. Phil Mickelson

Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 1
Top 5 - 11
Top 10 - 15
Lefty's record at Augusta rivals Tiger's. His 2004 breakthrough was perhaps the most eagerly awaited major championship win in history. Phil still has a shot to move up this list given that he's finished out of the top 5 only five times since 2001 and always seems rejuvenated by the trip up Magnolia Lane.


5. Gary Player

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


6. Sam Snead

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


7. Ben Hogan

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


8. Tom Watson

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


9. Jimmy Demaret

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


10. Byron Nelson

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


Honorable Mention

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


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


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


• Ben Crenshaw - Crenshaw's Masters win in 1994, shortly after the death of longtime mentor Harvey Penick, provided one of the most emotional moments in golf history. Crenshaw, a two-time winner, finished in the top 10 11 times. He's announced that the 2015 Masters will be his last.


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


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


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


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


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


• Bubba Watson - Bubba has won two of the last four Masters. Add another Green Jacket to his closet this year, and Bubba works his way into the Top 10.

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Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-toughest-non-conference-college-football-schedules-2016

When looking over the non-conference schedules, the first few weekends offer some interesting matchups, particularly games with SEC opponents like Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia. On a less regional scale, Virginia's trip to Oregon sticks out.


The best of the rest tend to feature games with Notre Dame, perhaps the most intriguing matchup being the one with Miami, which brings back memories of showdowns in the 1980s when both were at the top of the college football world.




Overall, it should bring some exciting football as teams hope to build their resumes for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.


But which ACC team has the most difficult non-conference slate to navigate? Here is a ranking of all 14 teams from toughest to easiest.


1. Florida State

Sept. 5 vs. Mississippi (Orlando, Fla.)

Sept. 10 vs. Charleston Southern

Sept. 24 at South Florida

Nov. 26 vs. Florida


The opener against Ole Miss pairs the Seminoles with a program that has beaten Alabama two years in a row and has improved both in recruiting and on the field at a steady rate since head coach Hugh Freeze took over. As far as non-conference games go, it will be one of - if not the toughest - single non-conference games on the schedule for any ACC team. You can't overlook the trip to USF, either, a team that went to a bowl last year and returns several key playmakers. It's hard to predict exactly what Florida will be after how the Gators played down the stretch of last season. If the Gators do figure out their quarterback situation, though, they could be dangerous.


College Football’s Toughest Predictions in 2016

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2. Virginia Tech

Sept. 3 vs. Liberty

Sept. 10 vs. Tennessee (Bristol Motor Speedway, Tenn.)

Sept. 24 vs. East Carolina

Nov. 19 at Notre Dame


The Hokies don't get any favors in their non-conference schedule, as the two toughest games come outside of Blacksburg. The neutral site game against Tennessee will likely have a pro-Volunteers feel to it, and that's a team that many consider as the SEC East favorites going into the season. Although East Carolina is at home, the trip to Notre Dame will also be against a likely top-15 squad, so don't expect many breaks for new head coach Justin Fuente.


3. Clemson

Sept. 3 at Auburn

Sept. 10 vs. Troy

Sept. 17 vs. South Carolina State

Nov. 26 vs. South Carolina


On paper, this schedule looks a little tougher than it actually is, but most of that is dependent on the opener. Auburn is one of those teams that could be really dangerous or continue its downward slide from a disappointing 2015. Since the game is at Jordan-Hare, expect the atmosphere to be raucous as the hosts attempt to pull off the upset of a team surely to be ranked near the top of the polls. Troy and South Carolina State are auto-wins, while the rivalry game with South Carolina won't be as difficult as it was a few years ago, as the Gamecocks will be in rebuilding mode in Will Muschamp's first year in Columbia.


4. Virginia

Sept. 3 vs. Richmond

Sept. 10 at Oregon

Sept. 17 at Connecticut

Sept. 24 vs. Central Michigan


The Cavaliers will be going into the hornet's nest on the second week of the season when they travel to Eugene to take on the Ducks. Oregon dropped off a bit last year but will still be a formidable foe. The opener against Richmond should be a win, but the trip to Storrs, Conn., may be tougher than expected. Unlike most teams on this list, the entire non-conference slate will be over before October.


5. Pittsburgh

Sept. 3 vs. Villanova

Sept. 10 vs. Penn State

Sept. 17 at Oklahoma State

Oct. 1 vs. Marshall


Although the Panthers will be heavy favorites against Villanova, the rest of the non-conference slate has some landmines. The home date with Penn State will be critical not just for the season but also for recruiting against an in-state rival. The trip to Oklahoma State will be against a likely top-25 team, while the home date with Marshall to start October could present problems as well.


6. North Carolina

Sept. 3 vs. Georgia (Atlanta)

Sept. 10 at Illinois

Sept. 17 vs. James Madison

Nov. 19 vs. The Citadel


The opener against the Bulldogs in the Georgia Dome will be a huge test against a team that should vie for the SEC East title in Kirby Smart's first year as head coach. The Tar Heels then travel to face an Illinois team that they should beat, but a Power Five opponent nonetheless. The other two non-conference games, against James Madison and The Citadel, should be relatively easy wins.


7. Duke

Sept. 3 vs. North Carolina Central

Sept. 17 at Northwestern

Sept. 24 at Notre Dame

Oct. 8 vs. Army


The two big ones here come at the middle and end of September when the Blue Devils travel to face both Northwestern and Notre Dame. Northwestern is a game that could go either way, two similar programs in their respective conferences. Duke will be an underdog when it heads to South Bend to face the Fighting Irish, so being able to come away with a win against Northwestern will be that much more important. The Blue Devils should be heavy favorites in the other two games.


8. Louisville

Sept. 1 vs. Charlotte

Sept. 24 at Marshall

Nov. 17 at Houston

Nov. 26 vs. Kentucky


Those middle two games can be tricky, as Marshall is one of the more underrated mid-major programs in the region. Then there's the trip to Houston to face a Cougars team that has all the momentum in the world. Houston is coming off a Peach Bowl win over Florida State and will have a chance for another statement win against Oklahoma earlier in the season. If the Cougars win there, Louisville could be facing a team in the Playoff hunt. Kentucky may be an SEC team, but a bottom-dweller one. It will be a rivalry game that the Cardinals should win.


9. Syracuse

Sept. 2 vs. Colgate

Sept. 17 vs. South Florida

Sept. 24 at Connecticut

Oct. 1 vs. Notre Dame (East Rutherford, N.J.)


For where Syracuse is at right now as a program, this schedule is pretty difficult. The Colgate opener will be a relatively easy win, but South Florida, even though the game is at the Carrier Dome, won't be easy. The Bulls cruised past UConn last year, and the Huskies were a better team than Syracuse. Speaking of UConn, that game in Storrs will be against a team that returns a ton (as do the Orange, which simply have a longer road back to respectability at this point). The big attraction of having Notre Dame come to East Rutherford will be a great atmosphere, but it will more than likely end up being a virtual home game for the Fighting Irish based on fan support.


10. Georgia Tech

Sept. 10 vs. Mercer

Sept. 17 vs. Vanderbilt

Oct. 15 vs. Georgia Southern

Nov. 26 at Georgia


The Yellow Jackets should be favorites in all three of their home non-conference tests. Vanderbilt should probably be the toughest of those games, but the Commodores aren't a high-end SEC team. The end of the year battle with Georgia is always a tough game for Tech, and since the game is between the hedges this year, it will be that much more of a challenge. It remains to be seen however just how well the Bulldogs will fare in their maiden voyage under head coach Kirby Smart.


11. NC State

Sept. 1 vs. William & Mary

Sept. 10 at East Carolina

Sept. 17 vs. Old Dominion

Oct. 8 vs. Notre Dame


The Wolfpack will have a bit of an easy start to their season, as William & Mary and Old Dominion are two likely home wins. Although East Carolina isn't a bad program and that game is on the road, it’s another game NC State should be favored in. The only real major challenge here is against the Fighting Irish, and even that game is at home. In fact, each of the four non-conference games will be in the state of North Carolina, so even though Notre Dame should be favored in that matchup, the likelihood of the Wolfpack having a strong showing outside the conference is high.


12. Miami

Sept. 3 vs. Florida A&M

Sept. 10 vs. Florida Atlantic

Sept. 17 at Appalachian State

Oct. 29 at Notre Dame


The first three games for the Hurricanes are snoozers. Home dates with Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic should be wins, as should the road trip to Appalachian State. The big road test will be the trip to South Bend in late October, a game that has some good history behind it. Miami will likely come in as the underdog to that one, giving new coach Mark Richt a chance for a signature road win.


13. Wake Forest

Sept. 1 vs. Tulane

Sept. 17 vs. Delaware

Sept. 24 at Indiana

Oct. 29 vs. Army


The first two games against Tulane and Delaware should result in victories, but the trip to Indiana will pose some problems. Although the Hoosiers aren't world beaters, their offenses lately have been explosive. Army may be difficult to prepare for with facing an option offense, but that's another game that the Demon Deacons should come out ahead in. A 3-1 showing in these games is very attainable.


14. Boston College

Sept. 10 at UMass (Foxboro, Mass.)

Sept. 24 vs. Wagner

Oct. 1 vs. Buffalo

Nov. 19 vs. Connecticut


This is a schedule built for a team that desperately wants to bounce back from a 3-9 season. The only "road game" is at Gillette Stadium, which is actually closer to Boston College’s campus than that of UMass, which is based in Amherst, a two-hour drive away. Although UMass is improving that game, Wagner and Buffalo should all be wins. The UConn game in Chestnut Hill will be an interesting regional showdown, as the Huskies made major strides in Bob Diaco's second year and return almost everyone. But this is a slate that could provide four wins and put this team on the doorstep of bowl eligibility.


— Written by Adam Kurkjian, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and is a reporter for the Boston Herald. He has covered the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Marathon and Little League World Series, among other events from the high school, college and pro ranks. Follow him on Twitter @AdamKurkjian.


(Justin Fuente photo by Dave Knachel - Virginia Tech Athletics)

Ranking the ACC's Toughest Non-Conference College Football Schedules in 2016
Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/5-most-exciting-finishes-mens-college-basketball-national-championship-history

Monday night's men’s national championship between Villanova and North Carolina gave us one of the most dramatic endings in history. Was it the most exciting? That’s up to you, but here is my opinion on where it ranks among the five best finishes in national championship game history.




5. Michigan 80, Seton Hall 79

April 3, 1989 (Seattle)


After being tied 71-71 at the end of regulation, the two teams went into overtime and Seton Hall led Michigan 79-86 with less than a minute to go. The Wolverines’ Terry Mills hit a jump shot to cut the lead to 79-78 and the Pirates’ Gerald Green fouled Rumeal Robinson with three seconds left. Robinson made both free throws and Seton Hall missed its last-second shot.


4. North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62

March 29, 1982 (New Orleans)


In one of the most talent-laden championship games in history, a freshman named Michael Jordan hit a jump shot with 17 seconds left to put the Tar Heels ahead 63-62. Georgetown’s Fred Brown led the Hoyas back down the court, but accidentally passed the ball to UNC’s James Worthy, who was immediately fouled. Worthy missed his free throws but the Hoyas had not timeouts and only two seconds left for a final shot. It missed and Dean Smith won his first title.


3. Indiana 74, Syracuse 73

March 30, 1987 (New Orleans)


The Most Outstanding Player in the 1987 NCAA Tournament was Indiana’s Keith Smart and he truly earned his award in the final game. Smart scored 12 of his team’s final 15 points, and most importantly, nailed a jump shot in the final seconds to win the game. Smart has had a prolific basketball career, but he is best remembered for one of the most dramatics shots in NCAA Tournament history.


2. Villanova 77, North Carolina 74

April 4, 2016 (Houston)


The Tar Heels rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final minutes of the game and then sank a three-point shot to tie the Wildcats with less than five seconds left. The game appeared to be headed into overtime, but Kris James nailed a three-pointer as time expired. While it was the first buzzer-beater to win a championship since 1983, it still can’t eclipse the moment it emulated.


1. NC State 54, Houston 52

April 4, 1983 (Albuquerque, N.M.)


First, the Wolfpack had to beat a gauntlet of great teams to win the ACC Tournament just to get into the Big Dance. Then they made the most dramatic run in NCAA Tournament history to face Houston’s “Phi Slamma Jamma” team in the final. After rallying to tie the Cougars at 52-52, N.C. State guard Derrick Whittenberg took the ball down the court and attempted a three-pointer in the final seconds. It missed the basket but center Lorenzo Charles rebounded and dunked the ball as time expired. It will take a very special ending to ever surpass the .


— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at .

5 Most Exciting Finishes in Men's College Basketball National Championship History
Post date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/peyton-manning-sings-rocky-top-lee-brice-whiskey-jam-winners-university-tennessee

Peyton Manning seems to be adjusting well to retirement life. 


The NFL Super Bowl champion was in Nashville recently and somehow ended up singing Tennessee's "Rocky Top" with country singer Lee Brice. 



It could've been a lot worse.

Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 15:03
Path: /college-football/power-five-conference-teams-under-performing-2017-recruiting-trail

The ink is barely dry on the 2016 recruiting class but is a year-round affair for coaches, their staff, and the next group of seniors ready to fill empty spots on various rosters nationwide. Some teams have embraced the recruiting process, seeing fantastic early returns on efforts while others, for whatever the reason, have not been able to kick start the process ,falling way behind their peer group.


Ohio State is among the early teams to jump out to a great start with 13 verbal commitments including two 5-star recruits in defensive back Shaun Wade (Jacksonville, Fla.) and offensive lineman Josh Myers (Miamisburg, Ohio). The Sooners, typically a late bloomer in recruiting efforts, have jumped all over top players within Oklahoma and in Texas landing an early haul of 11 commits with all but one considered a 4-star talent.


College Football’s Toughest Predictions in 2016

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While still very early in the process, a tell-tale sign of how a class could end up is predicated on how recruits are responding to the numerous events being held on college campuses for Junior Day, spring practices and spring games during the offseason. Other upcoming events, like one-day college camps, will typically help net players that might not be able to make it on campus during the school year, allowing family members time off work to travel here, there, and everywhere seeking next-level opportunities for their child.


The following is a list of Power Five Conference programs under-performing for one reason or another thus far.


Hovering Between Success and Mediocrity

It’s tough to draw the line at where to give a pass and where not to give a pass. Some schools could get a pass on a low census like TCU, which only has three commitments but has two 4-star recruits and one 3-star player, and is sure to benefit over time from being in the fertile recruiting grounds of the Lone Star State.


The Florida Gators are another team that should be doing better than they are with just three commitments, albeit all three are of a 4-star caliber. Auburn falls into a similar gray area with three recruits comprised of 5-star offensive lineman Calvin Ashley (Orlando, Fla.), 4-star athlete Alaric Williams, and 3-star defensive back Carlito Gonzalez (Stone Mountain, Ga.). TCU, Florida and Auburn always end up in the top 30, if not in the top 10 for Auburn and Florida, so rest assured all those programs will make up ground given time.


The Middle Ground

Texas Tech (3 verbal commitments), Arizona State (2), Pitt (2), and Cal (2) are in great recruiting areas and should have more commits than what each is showing. Juxtapose the position, SMU already has four commitments including 4-star offensive lineman Alan Ali (Keller, Texas) and two 3-stars in wide receivers Trestan Ebner (Henderson, Texas) and Tyquez Hampton (El Paso, Texas). Adding to the pile, Wake Forest, a team that does not historically get high recruiting rankings, already has four commits.


Other middle ground programs at this point include Ole Miss (3), with just one 4-star, and Tennessee, with three commits, two of them being 3-stars.


Pick It Up Already

Oregon is always slow out of the box, which has to be really annoying for the Ducks’ fan base. Oregon has two 4-star recruits in quarterback Ryan Kelley (Chandler, Ariz.) and defensive end Langi Tuifua (South Jordan, Utah). Another recruiting tool Oregon has over all other schools, the Nike Opening. Every summer, top recruits from around the nation are flown into the area and get a chance to see the Ducks’ top-notch facilities with Nike picking up the tab. Fair or unfair, it’s a great recruiting tool for Oregon.


Another Pac-12 team flying low is Arizona. The Wildcats have two verbal commits and one of them is Rich Rodriguez’s son, Rhett Rodriguez. Greg Johnson, a 4-star athlete out of Los Angeles, is a big “get” for any team.


Performing Under the Radar But...

Missouri (2), Kansas State (2), Syracuse (2), Maryland (2), Washington (2), and Illinois (2) could all be doing a little bit better... but each school has some difficulties to overcome for one reason or another. Barry Odom has taken over for Gary Pinkel in Columbia which could keep some recruits holding back from committing to the Tigers until they see the new product on the field.


Bill Snyder has always been slow and steady on the recruiting trail, picking up needed pieces from the Kansas junior college level as needed. There is more talent along the eastern U.S. coastline than many realize. Maryland, being in the Big Ten, should be showing progress every year in terms of its standing on recruiting boards. The state of Washington has great talent within but a lot of it ends up going out of state, forcing both the Huskies and Cougars to spend a lot of time in California to fill in National Signing Day spots.


It’s tough to figure out where to put the Fighting Illini. New head coach Lovie Smith seems like an instant magnet for recruits. Smith has a college coaching background with previous stops at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio State and led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl appearance. One would think recruits would flock to Champaign to get coached by a former NFL head coach. Maybe over time the trend will start to lean in Smith’s favor?


Immediate Help is Needed

West Virginia may not have the most fertile of areas to work with when it comes to its own backyard, but having just one recruit committed to the 2017 class has to be scary for Mountaineer fans. WVU has been a winning program for so long, more is expected. Since 2002, as a member of the Big East, the Mountaineers have had just one losing season and that was in 2013 when they went 4-8 in Dana Holgorsen’s second season in Morgantown.


Georgia Tech is another head scratcher. Paul Johnson has a lot of top players close to home to recruit and enough of a reputation and brand name to make inroads with in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. Being in Atlanta and at a great academic school, Georgia Tech’s low performance year after year on the recruiting trail may have fans at the end of their rope.


Since 2006, Virginia has posted two winning seasons, 2007 (9-4) and 2011 (8-5), making this ACC member a basketball school with a football problem.


End of the Line

Rutgers (2), Louisville (1), Purdue (1), Oregon State (1), Vanderbilt (0), and Minnesota (0) are each off to slow starts, especially when you compare them to Kansas. The Jayhawks, who have not had a winning season since Mark Mangino was stomping the sidelines in 2008, has four verbal commitments. Making matters worse, second-year head coach David Beaty went 0-12 in 2015. What’s the excuse for the other under-performers?


A pass can be given to Oregon State, Vanderbilt and Minnesota, to a certain extent, but the states of New Jersey and Kentucky produce a lot of great talent every year. Kentucky even borders seven states, which should make for an easier pitch to out-of-state kids. So what gives Bobby Petrino?


Minnesota has no other in-state rival, making this a bitter pill for Golden Gopher fans. Oregon State has big brother Oregon to compete against plus any other Pac-12 school that might want the upper-crust talent within the state. Vanderbilt had an easier time recruiting with James Franklin calling the shots. Recruiting under Derek Mason has dropped off, as he’s been unable to sell an academics-first program in the SEC the way he could at Stanford.


For the fan bases of the affected, time will tell if the coaching staffs needing help can sell your team over a regional rival. Great coaching is only great with the right players to run the system, making recruiting an all too important part of college football.


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, . Follow him on Twitter .

Power Five Conference Teams Under-Performing on the 2017 Recruiting Trail
Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/10-worst-mlb-contracts-2016

With the introduction of Sabermetrics and advanced analytics into baseball, no major sport has fallen under a numerical microscope like . Every fan can dissect the statistics of their favorite players down to a science, going so far as to see how many dollars per every hit a guy makes in a given year.


By now most baseball fans have heard about former New York Mets outfielder Bobby Bonilla. Bonilla, who retired before the 2000 season, is infamous for agreeing to receive $1.19 million every year from the Mets until 2035 in a buyout. He will be 72 years old when that contract expires.


Bizarre buyouts aside, nothing compares to the monstrous contracts players are signing nowadays. With that being said, let’s take a look at the worst player contracts for the 2016 season.


1. David Price, P, Boston Red Sox

Terms: 7 years, $217 million (2016-22)


Setting a new precedent for pitchers, Boston opened up the vault this winter and gave $217 million to the most coveted arm on the free agent market. Price is a 30-year-old, left-handed starter who has consistently been near the top of the American League in terms of pitches thrown over the last five seasons. He received the largest average yearly salary in baseball history, and he only plays every fifth game. To put it another way: Price started 32 regular season games in 2015. If he starts the same amount of games in 2016 he will make just under $1 million per start (based on $31 million/year average).


Price must deliver huge results to avoid being labeled a dud. Many pundits would disagree with this assessment, while they rip on the Yankees for CC Sabathia’s monstrous contract. Well, Price needs to deliver a World Series ring and 40 wins in his first two seasons just to match CC.


2. Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, Los Angeles Angels

Terms: 10 years, $240 million (2012-21)


There are certainly scenarios in which a player’s value is more than what he contributes on the field. Pujols is chasing baseball history in a handful of categories, and also is known to be a great presence in the locker room. Regardless, his contract with the Angels is out of control. The surefire future Hall of Famer has not been “The Machine” he was when in St. Louis, as his production over the past four seasons in L.A. has steadily declined in basically every major statistical category, with last year’s 40 home runs being the exception.


The 36-year-old slugger is under contract until 2021 with his annual base salary topping out at $30 million. The Angels currently have arguably the best player in the game in Mike Trout. Yet it’s Pujols who is getting paid like it, and will continue to do so until he’s 41.


3. Carl Crawford, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Terms: 7 years, $142 million (2011-17)


Crawford had a phenomenal start to his MLB career, with batting averages consistently above .300 to go along with 50-plus stolen bases each season. To say he has lost a step is an understatement. After a complete flop in Boston in which his WAR didn’t exceed 0.5 in two seasons, it makes no sense why the Dodgers picked up the remainder of his massive contract. Last season, Crawford was nothing more than a utility player, appearing in only 69 games. He made just shy of $300,000 per game last year, and was actually a detriment to the Dodgers, posting a -0.1 WAR.


There are just two years remaining on Crawford’s deal, and he should get a shot at some redemption as a recent injury to Andre Ethier (fractured tibia, out 12-14 weeks) opens up the possibility of more playing time to start the season.


4. Joe Mauer: 1B/DH, Minnesota Twins

Terms: 8 years, $184 million (2011-18)


The No. 1 overall pick of the 2001 draft, Mauer didn’t disappoint his hometown fans after making his major league debut in 2004. The AL batting champion in 2006, Mauer finished in the top 10 in MVP voting from 2008-10, winning the award in ’09. His production and consistency resulted in him signing the largest contract ever for a catcher. Unfortunately, troubles soon followed.


Mauer underwent knee surgery after the 2010 season, and suffered a variety of complications, including bilateral leg weakness. When Mauer finally returned to action in June 2011 he made his first career start at first base. Limited to just 82 games under his new $23 million annual salary, Mauer suffered through the worst season of his career. He bounced back in 2012 and ’13, making the All-Star team both times, but a new issue arose: concussions. Those and the wear and tear associated with being a catcher resulted in the Twins announcing after the 2013 season that Mauer would move to first base permanently.


A career .313 hitter, Mauer has seen his batting average tumble from an AL-leading .365 in 2009 (one of three batting titles he has won) to a career-low .265 last season. The power has declined as well, from a career-best 28 home runs in his 2009 MVP campaign to 47 total over the last six seasons combined. Mauer earned his contract prior to the string of injuries and bad breaks, but like every other professional sport, fans are more concerned with “what have you done for me lately?”


5. CC Sabathia, P, New York Yankees

Terms: 5 years, $122 million (2012-16/17)


One of baseball’s biggest and brightest stars through the first decade of the 21st century, Sabathia made headlines following a dominant second half for Milwaukee in 2008 (11-2). The power-pitching lefty signed a seven-year, $161 million deal with an AL East team around the age of 30, sound familiar? Sabathia helped lead the Yankees to a World Series title in 2009 and followed that up with a 21-win campaign. At the end of 2011, he re-upped with the Yankees, inking a five-year extension that included a vesting option for 2017.


The problem is that no matter how you assess starting pitchers, Sabathia has been among the AL’s worst the last three seasons. He will make $25 million this year and as long as he can stay healthy should have little trouble guaranteeing his $25 million vested option for 2017 (if not he gets a $5 million buyout). This despite diminishing returns that have seen him go 9-14 with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP over the last two seasons combined. Was all of the success early on worth the very-pricey struggle since?


6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Boston Red Sox

Terms: 5 years, $95 million (2015-19)


Pablo Sandoval has a proven track record of success in the postseason, receiving World Series MVP Honors in 2012 en route to his second of three championships while he was with the Giants. His ability to elevate his game in October had to appeal greatly to the Boston front office, unfortunately the club didn’t even sniff the playoffs last season after signing him as a free agent. With his extremely poor physical shape a possible factor contributing to a back injury, Sandoval is no lock to be the Red Sox’ everyday third baseman thanks to a strong showing in spring training by Travis Shaw. In 2015 Sandoval posted career lows in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs and RBIs. Will he even play enough in 2016 to get the opportunity to bounce back?



7. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers

Terms: 5 years, $125 million (2013-17)


This contract could easily rank No. 1 on this list. The Angels clearly are not the most frugal of franchises, especially considering Hamilton now plays for one of their division rivals. After two unproductive seasons with the Angels, ownership was not happy with the star outfielder. They were further angered and frustrated by Hamilton’s off-field issues and decided to cut ties with him at all costs. How unhappy were they? The Angels will pay Josh Hamilton $63 million of the nearly $70 million remaining (Hamilton restructured his contract as part of the trade) for his next three seasons playing for the Rangers. Forget poor production like some of the guys on this list, the Angels are paying Hamilton more than $20 million a year to compete against them on a consistent basis. Now that’s a bad deal.


8. Matt Kemp, OF, San Diego Padres

Terms: 8 years, $160 million (2012-19)


Like Hamilton, Kemp’s salary is being paid by two teams. Traded by the Dodgers to the Padres in December 2014, Los Angeles agreed to pay $32 million of the $107 million that was remaining on Kemp’s deal at the time. Starting this season and through 2019 the Dodgers are still on the hook for $14 million, with San Diego paying the remaining $72 million. When a team that’s as bad at spending on players as the Dodgers (see: Carl Crawford) works hard to get rid of a player, he must really stink. A physical after the trade revealed that 30-year-old Kemp has arthritis in both hips. He also has had surgeries on his shoulder and ankle in recent years, not great news considering Kemp received the largest deal in Padres history. After all of the money A.J. Preller spent in his first offseason as the Padres general manager, they still finished close to 15 games below .500. He better hope Kemp and company can right the ship.


9. Rick Porcello, P, Boston Red Sox

Terms: 4 years, $82.5 million (2016-19)


We return to the Red Sox rotation for another dicey contract shelled out during their 2015 offseason splurge. Porcello had a mediocre run in Detroit for six seasons, amassing an overall record of 76-63 and a 4.30 ERA. What enabled him to cash in big was his 2014 season, in which he set personal bests for wins, ERA and innings pitched. He also had three complete game shutouts in 2014, the only such occurrences of his career. Unfortunately for Boston, what appeared to be strong progression in a pitcher entering his prime was in reality a statistical anomaly. Porcello was 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA in his first season in Boston, and unless he can pull a complete 180 from his 2015 performance, this contract will be a major bust.


10. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals

Terms: 6 years, $100 million (2014-19)


We close out our list with one of several Nationals players who could have been featured. Zimmerman was arguably the first franchise player that the Nationals could claim as their own following their relocation from Montreal. The 31-year-old third baseman has been forced to convert to a first baseman as a result of several injuries and some throwing issues. Furthermore, those injuries have limited Zimmerman to just 156 games in the last two seasons combined. With young talent like reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper potentially signing the largest pact in MLB history, Zimmerman’s salary is a drain on the budget. He is owed $14 million each of the next three seasons, and $18 million in 2019 (with an $18 million club option or $2 million buyout in 2020). The Nationals certainly did not expect to miss the playoffs last season, and contracts like these are not aiding in their ability to fix personnel issues.

10 Worst MLB Contracts in 2016
Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Jason Day, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2016-majors-no-3-jason-day

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2016 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the ’s .


No. 3: Jason Day

Born: Nov. 12, 1987, Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia | Career PGA Tour Wins: 9 | 2015 Wins (Worldwide): 5 | 2015 Earnings (PGA Tour): $9,403,330 (2nd) | World Ranking: 1


Gary Williams' Take: After his major championship breakthrough and his FedExCup playoff run, it appears that Day is ready to butt heads with the very best as he enters the true prime of his career, with one hesitation: health. Even in his career year of 2015, he dealt with vertigo (caused by a viral infection in his inner ear) that was on display for the world at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. With few exceptions, Day has had his seasons interrupted with various ailments and injuries. Having come so close at multiple Masters, he will be a betting favorite this week, and his relationship with Tiger Woods is a fascinating study of both men and what advice Tiger can give him as he reaches a new level in the game. It is very possible that four or five players will wrestle for No. 1 in 2016, and no player has a better combination of driving distance and putting prowess than the man who currently holds that spot.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 21
Wins: 1
2015 Performance:
    Masters – T28
    U.S. Open – T9
    British Open – T4
    PGA Championship – 1
Best Career Finishes
    Masters - T2 (2011)
    U.S. Open - 2/T2 (2011, 2013)
    British Open – T4 (2015)
    PGA Championship - 1 (2015)
Top-10 Finishes: 10
Top-25 Finishes: 12
Missed Cuts: 2

Athlon's 2016 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Zach Johnson, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. .

Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 10:35
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-toughest-college-football-schedules-2016

The 2016 season is shaping up to be a wild ride in the with matchups in September against the SEC, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12 (and Notre Dame) highlighting the non-conference slate. Big Ten play will also open with a number of games that could set the tone for the division and conference championship hunt.


Ohio State and Michigan State may have some holes to plug, and they better figure out how to do that early. Meanwhile, Michigan continues to redeem itself under Jim Harbaugh, and the Wolverines may have some advantages schedule-wise. But which team has the toughest draw of the lot? The answer to that falls in the Big Ten’s West Division.


College Football’s Toughest Predictions in 2016

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* - neutral site


1. Wisconsin

Non-Con: LSU*, Akron, Georgia State

Big Ten Home: Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota

Big Ten Road: Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue


The Badgers have a tough road ahead this fall, and it starts at Lambeau Field against Leonard Fournette and LSU. Big Ten play opens with a gauntlet with back-to-back road trips to Michigan State and Michigan and continues after a bye week at home against Ohio State, which is followed by a road game at Iowa. If Wisconsin can survive that start, the back end of the schedule appears much more manageable, but will be no cakewalk.


2. Ohio State

Non-Con: Bowling Green, Tulsa, at Oklahoma

Big Ten Home: Rutgers, Indiana, Northwestern, Nebraska, Michigan

Big Ten Road: Wisconsin, Penn State, Maryland, Michigan State


After Wisconsin, you will not find a tougher schedule in the Big Ten than the one Ohio State will play. The Buckeyes hit the road to take on Oklahoma in mid-September and open the season against one of the top programs from the MAC, Bowling Green. The Buckeyes also make trips to Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State in conference play before ending the season at home against Michigan. Ohio State also hosts Nebraska.


3. Nebraska

Non-Con: Fresno State, Wyoming, Oregon

Big Ten Home: Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Maryland

Big Ten Road: Northwestern, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Iowa


The Huskers host the (Pac-12 championship contender?) Oregon Ducks in mid-September after hosting Mountain West opponents Fresno State and Wyoming. Nebraska then heads on the road against pesky Northwestern and makes back-to-back road trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State in late October into early November. Ending the season on the road against Iowa is always challenging for Nebraska too.


4. Michigan State

Non-Con: Furman, at Notre Dame, BYU

Big Ten Home: Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan, Rutgers, Ohio State

Big Ten Road: Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Penn State


The defending Big Ten champs get their two biggest division games (Michigan, Ohio State) at home, as well as a good non-conference matchup with BYU in October. Michigan State also renews its rivalry with Notre Dame in South Bend, one of the highlights of the Big Ten non-conference schedule this fall.


5. Penn State

Non-Con: Kent State, at Pittsburgh, Temple

Big Ten Home: Minnesota, Maryland, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State

Big Ten Road: Michigan, Purdue, Indiana, Rutgers


Penn State’s non-conference schedule is highlighted by the long-awaited revival of the in-state rivalry with Pitt and followed up with a revenge game against Temple (still weird to say that). Penn State’s Big Ten schedule gives the Nittany Lions the Buckeyes and Spartans at home, and Iowa also pays a visit this season, while James Franklin’s team must head to Ann Arbor early in the Big Ten schedule.


6. Northwestern

Non-Con: Western Michigan, Illinois State, Duke

Big Ten Home: Nebraska, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois

Big Ten Road: Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota


Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats get the short straw with road games against Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State but they get Nebraska and Wisconsin at home. Northwestern also gets prickly Western Michigan and ACC foe Duke at home in some good early contests.


7. Rutgers

Non-Con: at Washington, Howard, New Mexico

Big Ten Home:  Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Penn State

Big Ten Road: Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan State, Maryland


The new era for the Scarlet Knights opens on the west coast against Washington and has perhaps the toughest three-game stretch any Big Ten team will have in conference play: Iowa, at Ohio State, Michigan. Rutgers also gets Penn State at home after a road trip to Michigan State. Rutgers has been much more competitive at home than on the road since joining the conference.


8. Michigan

Non-Con: Hawaii, UCF, Colorado

Big Ten Home: Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maryland, Indiana

Big Ten Road: Rutgers, Michigan State, Iowa, Ohio State


Michigan’s non-conference schedule may not be too intimidating (this isn’t 1994 Colorado), but the Big Ten slate starts fast at home against Penn State and Wisconsin and ends with three road games in the final five games against Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State.


9. Illinois

Non-Con: Murray State, North Carolina, Western Michigan

Big Ten Home: Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Iowa

Big Ten Road: Nebraska, Rutgers, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern


Lovie Smith gets a good challenge out of the gate in the non-conference portion of the schedule against defending ACC Coastal Division champion North Carolina and an emerging, confident Western Michigan program at home. He also gets the Spartans and Hawkeyes at home. Aside from a road trip to Ann Arbor, the road schedule may not be too difficult if Smith has the Illini playing well.


10. Minnesota

Non-Con: Oregon State, Indiana State, Colorado State

Big Ten Home: Iowa, Rutgers, Purdue, Northwestern

Big Ten Road: Penn State, Maryland, Illinois, Nebraska, Wisconsin


The Gophers get a favorable draw in cross-division play with Rutgers and Maryland on the schedule, and an early road trip to Penn State is not incredibly daunting at this point in time. With a favorable non-conference slate and Iowa at home, Minnesota could set itself up well for a challenging back-end of the schedule against Nebraska and Wisconsin on the road.


11. Indiana

Non-Con: at FIU, Ball State, Wake Forest

Big Ten Home: Michigan State, Nebraska, Maryland, Penn State, Purdue

Big Ten Road: Ohio State, Northwestern, Rutgers, Michigan


The Hoosiers draw a tough draw on the road against the Buckeyes and Wolverines, but the non-conference schedule includes three teams that went a combined 11-26 last fall.


12. Maryland

Non-Con: Howard, at FIU, at UCF

Big Ten Home: Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers

Big Ten Road: Penn State, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska


Maryland’s non-conference opponents went a combined 6-29 last season, and FIU won five of those games. In conference play, Maryland hits the road against Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska but gets Ohio State and Michigan State at home. The Terrapins have fared slightly better at home than on the road since joining the Big Ten, but they are a work in progress under a new head coach.


13. Iowa

Non-Con: Miami (Ohio), Iowa State, North Dakota State

Big Ten Home: Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska

Big Ten Road: Rutgers, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State, Illinois


North Dakota State is not your typical FCS opponent, but the Hawkeyes have a very favorable non-conference schedule leading into what may be the most favorable conference schedule. Iowa avoids Ohio State and Michigan State but gets Michigan at home. Iowa also hosts Wisconsin and Nebraska, perhaps the two top opponents in West Division play, and the road schedule is very manageable as well.


14. Purdue

Non-Con: Eastern Kentucky, Cincinnati, Nevada

Big Ten Home: Iowa, Penn State, Northwestern, Wisconsin

Big Ten Road: Maryland, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana


Purdue’s non-conference schedule could actually be pretty decent with Cincinnati and Nevada, and the Boilermakers are fortunate not to have Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State on the cross-division rotation this year. They also get Iowa and Wisconsin at home. The biggest road test may be Nebraska, the only team Purdue beat in Big Ten play last fall.


— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for , and hosts the . Follow him on Twitter .

Ranking the Big Ten's Toughest College Football Schedules in 2016
Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 10:33
Path: /college-football/acc-football-2016-returning-starters-analysis

Returning starter data in college football preseason charts or magazine pages isn’t an exact science. The numbers and data can vary among different websites, magazines or other resources. However, even if there’s some disagreement on the numbers, the data is an interesting early look at how teams are shaping up for the upcoming season.


The ACC had a busy 2015 season, as Clemson was on the doorstep of winning the national championship, Florida State won 10 games in a rebuilding year, and the conference as a whole improved with the offseason hires of Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech), Dino Babers (Syracuse), Mark Richt (Miami) and Bronco Mendenhall (Virginia). All four new coaches should have a positive impact on their team in 2016.


With spring practice underway across the ACC, it’s never too early to start looking at the depth charts and returning starters for all 14 teams in the league. In preparation for the 2016 College Football Preview magazine, Athlon Sports determines the returning starters for every team. A simple criteria is used as a baseline for returning starters. A player must start seven overall games or the last six of any season. However, that is not a hard-line rule for returning starters, and there’s plenty of flexibility (snaps or overall playing time as a backup, injuries or scheme) when taking into account the actual number. 


ACC Football 2016 Returning Starters Analysis


Atlantic Division
Team Offense Defense
Boston College 6 6
Clemson 8 4
Florida State 10 6
Louisville 9 8
NC State 6 8
Syracuse 8 7
Wake Forest 8 7

* Louisville returns the most starters (17) of any ACC team. However, that number could dip by one if linebacker Trevon Young does not recover from a hip injury suffered in the bowl game in time for the 2016 season.


* Clemson’s four returning starters on defense are the fewest in the ACC. However, three of those – linebacker Ben Boulware, cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and defensive lineman Carlos Watkins – were All-ACC selections last season.


* The only position not counted as a returning starter on Florida State’s offense is at quarterback. Sean Maguire started five games last season and is being pushed for the job by redshirt freshman Deondre Francois.


* Louisville returns all four starters in the secondary.


* NC State returns five of its six starters in the front six, but the one departure – end Mike Rose – is a big loss.


* The line of scrimmage is the biggest concern for new coach Dino Babers. The Orange must replace three starters from an offensive line that held opponents to 21 sacks last year. On defense, three starters are gone up front. Syracuse is thin on proven defensive ends.


* Four full-time starters depart, but there’s plenty of optimism for Wake Forest’s defense with five starters back in the front seven and standout cornerback Brad Watson.


* Boston College only returns 12 starters by the above criteria, but the Eagles get a couple of key players back from injury – running back Jon Hilliman and quarterback Darius Wade. Also, Kentucky transfer Patrick Towles should provide plenty of competition under center.


Coastal Division
Team Offense Defense
Duke 5 5
Georgia Tech 6 5
Miami 9 7
North Carolina 7 6
Pittsburgh 8 8
Virginia 5 5
Virginia Tech 8 6

* Duke and Virginia are tied for the fewest amount of returning starters for an ACC team in 2016.


* Duke’s number on offense could dip to four if quarterback Thomas Sirk does not return in time for the 2016 season (Achilles injury).


* Georgia Tech loses all four starters in the secondary.


* Miami’s offensive line enters the year with its share of question marks, but all five starters are back for coach Mark Richt.


* The Hurricanes have some retooling in the secondary to do with the departures of Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Artie Burns and Dallas Crawford.


* North Carolina loses standout guard Landon Turner, but there’s a good foundation in place with four returning starters on the offensive line.


* Stopping the run was an issue for the Tar Heels last season and three starters depart in the front six.


* Virginia Tech must replace three starters on the defensive line. End Ken Ekanem is the only returning starter up front.


* The back seven should be the strength of Virginia’s defense under new coach Bronco Mendenhall. The Cavaliers return five full-time starters in the back seven, including standout safety Quin Blanding.


* Pittsburgh returns four starters on the offensive line. Additionally, tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith is back after missing all of 2015 due to injury. The Panthers should have one of the top offensive lines in the ACC next year. 

Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, Overtime
Path: /college-basketball/unc-mascot-sucker-punched-villanova-buzzer-beater-ram-north-carolina

Villanova's buzzer-beater to beat North Carolina and win the championship sent the sports world into a frenzy.


As soon as the Kris Jenkins' shot went in and the buzzer sounded, everyone on the court was involved in chaos. During the melee, it seems like the Tar Heels' mascot may have gotten sucker-punched by someone on the court. In the lower left portion of the video you can see the mascot get punched, only to be restrained when he gets back up and tries to go after the person responsible.



No one knows for sure what the situation was, but it's definitely an unnecessary end to an unforgettable game.

Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 10:07
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/10-amazing-masters-records-could-last-forever

Consider this the appetizer before the main course. We scoured The Masters record book and found these amazing numbers:



The record for consecutive under-par rounds at The Masters belongs to Tiger Woods, who shot 10 consecutive rounds under par from the third round in 2000 through the final round in 2002. Not surprisingly, he won the green jacket in 2001 and 2002, after finishing fifth in 2000. Tiger's scoring average for those 10 rounds was 68.5.



Among many Masters records held by Jack Nicklaus is his astounding 37 cuts made at Augusta. That's especially remarkable when you consider that Tiger Woods has only been alive 40 years. Between 1960 and 2000, Jack played in 40 Masters, missing the cut twice (in 1967 and 1994) and withdrawing in 1983. Among Nicklaus' other Masters records: He won a record six Masters, was runner-up a record four times, and he finished in the top 5 a record 15 times, in the top 10 22 times, and in the top 25 29 times.



Gary Player and Fred Couples share the record with 23 consecutive made cuts at The Masters. Player didn't miss a cut between 1959 and 1982 (he didn't compete in 1973 due to illness). During that span, he won three times and finished in the top 10 15 times. Couples' streak ran from 1983 to 2008, although he didn't play in 1987 or 1994.



Arnold Palmer holds a record that will likely never be equaled, playing in 50 consecutive Masters from 1955 to 2004. Thankfully, the King is still a fixture in April at Augusta, although his health will prevent him from hitting a ceremonial tee shot along with fellow legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player this year.



That's the record score for a "Senior" player (age 50 or above). Fred Couples shot a 66 at age 50 in 2010's first round; and Ben Hogan, long past his prime at age 54, shot a 66 in the third round in 1967, going on to finish tied for 10th in his final Masters appearace.



The lowest score by an amateur was a 66 by Ken Venturi, in 1956's first round. Venturi actually held a four-shot lead entering the final round and was in prime position to become the only amateur winner in the event's history, until a windswept final-round 80 left him one shot behind Jack Burke.



The lowest total by a first-time Masters competitor was a 12-under 276 in 2011 by Jason Day, who finished tied for second, two shots behind Charl Schwartzel.


The largest lead lost after three rounds is Greg Norman's 1996 collapse from a six-stroke lead to a five-stroke loss to Nick Faldo following a final-round 78. Coming off the eighth green on that Masters Sunday, Norman was only 1-over par for the day and still held a three-shot lead over Faldo. But three bogeys and two double-bogeys down the stretch doomed Norman to the most painful failure of his star-crossed career.


Fred Couples won the 1992 Masters, but here's an interesting distinction for Boom-Boom: He's the only player to have never missed a Masters cut in the 20th Century. Couples first played in the tournament in 1983 and didn't miss a Masters weekend until 2008.



The highest 72-hole score in Masters history was a robust 340 by amateur Charles Kunkle Jr., who opened with a 78 that would be his best round of the tournament. He followed that with 82-85-95. This came in the era before a 36-hole cut, so we feel safe in saying this record will last forever.

<br />
Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Video, College Basketball, Overtime
Path: /college-basketball/charles-barkley-buzzer-beater-reaction-villanova-unc-national-championship-tnt

Charles Barkley is a Auburn alum, but he's just a big fan of college basketball in general. 


During the unforgettable buzzer-beater by Kris Jenkins to make Villanova national champions, Barkley seemed to be one of the most excited people in the venue.


Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 09:36
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-college-basketballs-national-champions-1985-2016

Not all national champions are created equal, especially in .


With 64 teams — and now 68 — competing for a national title, the odds for a random result in the postseason is almost certain.


In some ways, that makes sustained greatness through the course of the season even more impressive. Only one team since the field expanded has gone wire-to-wire as a No. 1 team in the country, far fewer than the number of .


Thanks to the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament, a handful of teams that won a national title might not end up on a list of the top 40 or 50 teams of the era. Instead, they got hot that the right time, caught the right matchups or got lucky that upsets in the bracket helped clear the way for a title.


In ranking the top national champions of the 64-team era, starting in 1985, we attempted to look at the entire picture — chiefly, how the team performed from beginning to end during the season, who each team had to beat in the Tournament and the overall talent on the roster.


1. 1992 Duke

Record: 34-2, 14-2 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Michigan 71-51

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Duke won the national title a year earlier, vanquishing undefeated UNLV in the Final Four. That was only the beginning. The Blue Devils went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country, ending the season with a rout of the Fab Five in the championship game. Before that, national player of the year Christian Laettner hit the the greatest shot in NCAA history for the Blue Devils to defeat Kentucky in overtime in the Elite Eight. In the next game, Mike Krzyzewski had to out-duel mentor Bob Knight in an 81-78 win over Indiana in the Final Four.


2. 1996 Kentucky

Record: 34-2, 16-0 SEC

Championship game: Defeated Syracuse 76-67

Coach: Rick Pitino

“The Untouchables” outscored opponents by 22 points, and their only regular season losses came to teams that reached the Final Four. Kentucky atoned for one of those losses by defeating UMass, national player of the year Marcus Camby and coach John Calipari in the national semifinal. Led by Tony Delk, Ron Mercer and Antoine Walker, Kentucky finished off Syracuse in the title game for the Wildcats’ first national title since 1978.


3. 2001 Duke

Record: 35-4, 13-3 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Arizona 82-72

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

The Blue Devils featured two national players of the year in Shane Battier and Jay Williams, who won the award a year earlier. Duke spent the entire season in the top five but needed the biggest comeback in Final Four history to that point to advance to the title game. Duke trailed Maryland by 22 in the first half before rallying for a 95-84 win to face Glibert Arenas and Richard Jefferson for Arizona in the title game.


4. 2012 Kentucky

Record: 38-2, 16-0 SEC

Championship game: Defeated Kansas 67-59 

Coach: John Calipari

Perhaps the Kentucky team with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe a year earlier was more talented, but this squad was pretty darn close. Anthony Davis won pretty much every award in the sport before being the No. 1 overall draft pick. Despite the two losses, Kentucky defeated every team it faced — the Wildcats lost in the SEC tournament to Vanderbilt, a team it had defeated twice during the regular season, and then atoned for its one-point loss to Indiana in December with a 102-90 win over the Hoosiers in the Sweet 16. Teammates Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were the top two picks in the following NBA draft.


5. 2009 North Carolina

Record: 34-4, 13-3 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Michigan State 89-72

Coach: Roy Williams

Led by national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, North Carolina was a dominant team for most of the season but especially in the postseason. The Heels’ 72-60 win over Blake Griffin and Oklahoma was their closest game in the NCAA Tournament.


6. 1990 UNLV

Record: 35-5, 16-2 Big West

Championship game: Defeated Duke 103-73

Coach: Jerry Tarkanian

The 1991 team that went to the Final Four with a 34-0 record was the better UNLV team of the two during this stretch, but the 1990 squad won the national title behind the play of Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony. The Rebels stunned Duke 103-73, setting the stage for the Blue Devils’ win over UNLV the following year in the Final Four.


7. 2005 North Carolina

Record: 33-4, 14-2 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Illinois 75-70

Coach: Roy Williams

North Carolina’s first championship team since 1993 and Roy Williams’ first title-winning team spent most of the season in the shadow of 37-2 Illinois. The Tar Heels settled that once and for all with a 75-70 win over the Illini in the national title game. In the following NBA draft, four Tar Heels (Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants) were lottery picks.


8. 2008 Kansas

Record: 37-3, 13-3 Big 12

Championship game: Defeated Memphis 75-68 (OT)

Coach: Bill Self

Kansas’ first championship team in 20 years wasn’t quite a sure thing, even though the Jayhawks spent all but one week of the season ranked in the top five. To reach a Final Four that included all No. 1 seeds, Kansas had to survive Stephen Curry-led Davidson with a 59-57 win in the Elite Eight and then needed a Mario Chalmers miracle shot and missed free throws from Memphis to clinch the title.


9. 1999 UConn

Record: 34-2, 16-2 Big East

Championship game: Defeated Duke 77-74 

Coach: Jim Calhoun

After knocking on the door several times, UConn won the national title in its first trip to the Final Four. Led by Rip Hamilton and Khalid El-Amin, the Huskies spent the entire season ranked in the top four before defeating Elton Brand, Shane Battier and Duke in the national title game.


10. 2004 UConn

Record: 33-6, 12-4 Big East

Championship game: Defeated Georgia Tech 82-73

Coach: Jim Calhoun

Calhoun’s second national title team was loaded with NBA Draft picks. Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon were selected second and third overall, respectively, in the 2004 draft, and Charlie Villanueva followed as a first-round pick in the 2005 draft. Josh Boone and Marcus Williams, late first-rounders in 2006, were both freshmen on this team.


11. 1987 Indiana

Record: 30-4, 15-3 Big Ten

Championship game: Defeated Syracuse 74-73

Coach: Bob Knight

The first season with the 3-point shot was indeed a game-changer as this Final Four was marked more by run Rick Pitino’s Providence team made to the national semifinal. Knight’s team, led by Steve Alford, showed plenty of ability to adjust, defeating UNLV 97-93 in the semifinals and Syracuse 74-73 in the title game.


12. 2015 Duke

Record: 35-4, 15-3

Championship game: Defeated Wisconsin 68-63

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

This Duke team will be remembered for what it accomplished for Krzyzewski — his fifth national title and his 1,000th career win, among other records broken this season. It was also one of his most unique teams, starting three freshmen and playing zone from time to time. The Blue Devils spent all season in the top five and lost twice after Jan. 13, both to the same Notre Dame team that took Kentucky to the wire in the Elite Eight. All-American Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow could be top-five picks, and Tyus Jones could be a first-rounder.


13. 1991 Duke

Record: 32-7, 11-3 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Kansas 72-65

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

The Blue Devils made up for a 30-point loss to UNLV in the title game a year earlier by spoiling UNLV’s undefeated season in the Final Four. Though this was a team amid a run of five Final Fours and on the front end of back-to-back titles, this Duke team spent most of 1990-91 chasing UNLV, Ohio State, Arkansas and Indiana in the rankings.


14. 2007 Florida

Record: 35-5, 13-3 SEC

Championship game: Defeated Ohio State 84-75

Coach: Billy Donovan

The second of Florida’s back-to-back champions had the tougher mountain to climb, not just because the Gators were the preseason No. 1. This Florida team needed to defeat Aaron Brooks-led Oregon in the Elite Eight, UCLA in the Final Four and then a Greg Oden/Mike Conley Ohio State team in the championship game.


15. 1994 Arkansas

Record: 31-3, 14-2 SEC

Championship game: Defeated Duke 76-72

Coach: Nolan Richardson

Arkansas and the 40 Minutes of Hell won the first title for the SEC since 1978, going through Michigan (with four of the Fab Five still remaining), Arizona and Duke (led by Grant Hill).


16. 1993 North Carolina

Record: 34-3, 14-2 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Michigan 77-71

Coach: Dean Smith

Smith’s final national championship run had to go through four coaches who would finish their careers with national titles or Hall of Fame inclusion or both: Nolan Richardson, Bob Huggins, Roy Williams and Steve Fisher. The title game would end on Chris Webber’s infamous timeout blunder.


17. 2016 Villanova

Record: 35-5, 16-2 Big East

Championship game: Defeated North Carolina 77-74

Coach: Jay Wright

After two years of gaudy records, high seeds and early NCAA Tournament exits, Villanova answered with a run for the ages. The Wildcats knocked off Iowa, Miami as well as Big 12 champion and No. 1 overall seed Kansas to get to the Final Four. Once there, Villanova handled National Player of the Year Buddy Hield for a 44-point win over Oklahoma and then saved the best for last with Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating 3 to beat North Carolina. Villanova didn’t have a roster stocked with draft picks, but the Wildcats had an unforgettable season.


18. 2002 Maryland

Record: 32-4, 15-1 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Indiana 64-52

Coach: Gary Williams

This might not be the most memorable national champion for a handful of reasons. Juan Dixon lost out on national player of the year to Duke’s Jay Williams, and the team had few other prominent players (Steve Blake ended up as this team’s best pro). The Terrapins lost only one ACC game (at Duke) during the regular season before defeating Kentucky, UConn, Kansas and Indiana in the Tournament.


19. 1995 UCLA

Record: 31-2, 16-2 Pac-12

Championship game: Defeated Arkansas 89-78

Coach: Jim Harrick

UCLA’s championship team and the only Bruins title team not coached by John Wooden was saved in the second round by a layup from Tyus Edney for a come-from-behind win over Missouri.


20. 2013 Louisville

Record: 35-5, 14-4 Big East

Championship game: Defeated Michigan 82-76

Coach: Rick Pitino

The 2013 Cardinals were the rare national champion to endure a three-game losing streak at some point during its championship season (to Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown in January). The Cards also faced only one top-three seed (No. 2 Duke in the Elite Eight) in its Tourney run.


21. 1998 Kentucky 

Record: 35-4, 14-2 SEC

Championship game: Defeated Utah 78-69

Coach: Tubby Smith

For Kentucky’s second title in three seasons, the Wildcats needed to overcome double-digit deficits in each of their final three games. 


22. 2010 Duke

Record: 35-5, 13-3 ACC

Championship game: Defeated Butler 61-59

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Duke has had better championships teams and better teams that didn’t win a title. That said, Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler gave us a classic title game that was also one of the sport’s great what-if moments when Gordon Hayward’s final shot attempt fell short.


23. 1989 Michigan

Record: 30-7, 12-6 Big Ten

Championship game: Defeated Seton Hall 80-79

Coach: Steve Fisher

One of the truly bizarre national championship runs in the history of the sport. Michigan was a preseason top-three team and then went through a 5-5 stretch in the conference season. All of that was before athletic director Bo Schembechler replaced coach Bill Frieder, who had accepted the job at Arizona State, with Steve Fisher for the NCAA Tournament.


24. 2003 Syracuse

Record: 30-5, 13-3 Big East

Championship game: Defeated Kansas 81-78

Coach: Jim Boeheim

One may ask why a Syracuse team led by Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara is this low. Before the Tournament, this was was not one of Boeheim’s best teams. Those three great players lost to Rutgers in January and spent the first two months of the season unranked.


25. 1997 Arizona

Record: 25-9, 11-7 Pac-10

Championship game: Defeated Kentucky 84-79 (OT)

Coach: Lute Olson

Even with Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson, Arizona didn’t have many guarantees entering the 1997 Tournament. They lost seven conference games during the regular season but defeated three No. 1 seeds and a handful of future pros on the way to the title — Kansas (with Paul Piece and Raef LaFrentz), North Carolina (with Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison) and Kentucky (with Scott Padgett, Ron Mercer and Nazr Mohammed)


26. 2000 Michigan State

Record: 32-7, 13-3 Big Ten

Championship game: Defeated Florida 89-76

Coach: Tom Izzo

This was the high point of Izzo’s magic touch in March. The Spartans won the Big Ten and earned a No. 1 seed, but they were hardly a dominant team all season. They also had a draw that included a No. 8 seed and a No. 5 in the Final Four.


27. 2006 Florida

Record: 33-6, 10-6 SEC

Championship game: Defeated UCLA 73-57

Coach: Billy Donovan

Between his first Final Four and his first national title, Donovan was snakebit for several years in the first weekend of the Tournament. This run from a team that lost six games in the SEC was a major surprise.


28. 1988 Kansas

Record: 27-11, 9-5 Big 8

Championship game: Defeated Oklahoma 83-79

Coach: Larry Brown

How can a team coached by a Hall of Famer and led by a national player of the year, Danny Manning, be this low? Danny and the Miracles were 18-11 and unranked entering the NCAA Tournament.


29. 1986 Louisville

Record: 32-7, 10-2 Metro

Championship game: Defeated Duke 72-69

Coach: Denny Crum

A great nickname (“Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison) and an upset of Duke in the title game made this Tournament run memorable. Otherwise, Louisville spent only three weeks of the season ranked in the top 10.


30. 2011 UConn

Record: 32-9, 9-9 Big East

Championship game: Defeated Butler 53-41

Coach: Jim Calhoun

The Big East was loaded in 2010-11, so that .500 league record has to be taken in context. Still, UConn went 4-7 in its last 11 games before the Big East Tournament. Kemba Walker caught fire in the postseason before a dud of a national title game against Butler.


31. 2014 UConn

Record: 32-8, 12-6 American

Championship game: Defeated Kentucky 60-54

Coach: Kevin Ollie

A pedestrian regular season became special when Shabazz Napier led UConn to wins over No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Iowa State, No. 4 Michigan State, No. 1 Florida and No. 8 Kentucky. The latter was the last time the Wildcats lost a game.


32. 1985 Villanova

Record: 25-10, 9-7 Big East

Championship game: Defeated Georgetown 66-64

Coach: Rollie Massimino

A Big East team winning a title wasn’t a surprise in a year when Georgetown and St. John’s spent time as the No. 1 team in the rankings. Villanova, led by top-10 draft pick Ed Pinckney, remains the lowest-seeded team to win the national championship (eighth).

Ranking College Basketball's National Champions since 1985
Post date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/villanova-wins-national-championship-incredible-buzzer-beater-kris-jenkins-marcus-paige-villanova-unc

The National Championship game between UNC and Villanova ended in a thriller. It was hands-down the best game of the tournament.


Marcus Paige came up big with a huge double-clutch three-pointer to tie the game at 74.



With 4.7 seconds left, Kris Jenkins hits a shot that no one will ever forget.


Post date: Monday, April 4, 2016 - 23:56