Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/art-briles-fire-baylor-bears-football-tweets-sexual-allegations

Baylor is reportedly cutting ties with head football coach Art Briles after eight seasons together.


Amid the sexual allegations involving multiple football players, the school is firing the coach for somewhat allowing things to happen and not taking much of a stand to prevent them.





Briles had an 65-37 record during his time at Baylor. Players on the team didn't take the news too well.







Here's the last text Briles sent to his players before his dismissal. 



Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett is expected to be named interim head coach.

Post date: Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 11:57
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/12-college-football-playoff-sleeper-teams-2016

Defining a “sleeper team” for the College Football Playoff isn’t easy. The definition of a “sleeper team” can vary among fanbases, and each preseason prediction or ranking has different views on the upcoming season. While certain teams on this list may not be sleepers to everyone, Athlon Sports has tried to identify 12 teams who could make a surprising run to the College Football Playoff. The usual suspects – Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame – will be in the mix for a spot in the top four. However, the 12 teams mentioned below are ones who could steal the headlines throughout the year in the midweek rankings, pull an upset or two that impacts the top four or rates in December as a potential surprise in the final results. 


College Football's Playoff Sleepers for 2016



Florida was the SEC’s biggest surprise last season by winning the East Division in Jim McElwain’s first year. Could the Bulldogs get a similar bump in 2016? While Mark Richt won a lot of games in Athens, a fresh start and a new coaching staff isn’t necessarily a bad thing for this program. Kirby Smart has a lot to prove in his first year as the head coach, but he hired a standout staff and managed to keep five-star freshman quarterback Jacob Eason in the fold. Eason’s development, the health of running back Nick Chubb and the improvement of the offensive line under Sam Pittman are three areas to watch on offense this season. The defense returns only five starters and features a revamped front seven. However, there’s no shortage of talent waiting to emerge. The schedule is also in Georgia’s favor. Tennessee has to visit Athens, and the Bulldogs have a bye before playing Florida in Jacksonville.





Tom Herman set the bar high in his first season, guiding the Cougars to a 13-1 finish and a victory over Florida State in the Peach Bowl. However, an even better season could be in store for Houston in 2016. The Cougars return 11 starters, including dynamic quarterback Greg Ward and transfers Duke Catalon (RB) and Ra’Shaad Samples (WR) add firepower at the skill positions. The defense allowed only 20.7 points a game in 2015 and returns a strong core of talent in the front seven. A plus-21 turnover margin won’t be easy to replicate, but Houston should be favored in at least 10 of its regular season games. The only two matchups it could be an underdog? Oklahoma in the opener in Houston and the Nov. 17 showdown against Louisville. Making the playoff as a Group of 5 team isn’t easy, but the Cougars already have an advantage by starting 2016 high in the polls and there’s two huge opportunities on the schedule to build a playoff resume. Houston needs to finish the regular season 13-0 to have a shot at the playoff in 2016.



The Hawkeyes were a goal-line stand away from winning the Big Ten title and a playoff spot last season. And with 13 returning starters back for 2016, another run at the top four isn’t out of the question. Coordinator Greg Davis needs to find a few playmakers at receiver for quarterback C.J. Beathard, but the offensive line is one of the best in the Big Ten, and there’s a solid trio of backs leading the way on the ground. The defense is loaded with eight returning starters, including standout cornerback Desmond King and linebacker Josey Jewell. Another reason to like the Hawkeyes? The schedule. Iowa does not play Ohio State or Michigan State in crossover play and catches key conference matchups against Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin in Iowa City.





Clemson and Florida State are projected to be playoff teams in most preseason polls, but if there’s a team that could derail the Tigers or Seminoles in the ACC – it’s Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals. Louisville won six out of its last seven games last season and three of its five losses in 2015 came by seven points or less. Dynamic sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of college football’s rising stars and is due for a breakout year after a full offseason to work under Petrino. The Cardinals also return a host of proven skill players, and the offensive line should improve with three starters back. The defense has ranked among the ACC’s best in each of the last two seasons and should be strong once again with eight returning starters. Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey could be the best linebacker duo in the nation. If Louisville wants to challenge for a playoff bid, it should know where it stacks up by Oct. 2. The Cardinals host Florida State on Sept. 17 and travel to Clemson on Oct. 1. 


North Carolina

Larry Fedora’s fourth season in Chapel Hill resulted in a breakout year. The Tar Heels won the ACC’s Coastal Division with an 11-3 record and a perfect 8-0 mark in the regular season in conference play. The No. 15 ranking in the Associated Press poll was the program’s first finish in the top 25 since 1997. North Carolina should open 2016 as the favorite in the Coastal, but there are a few roadblocks to a repeat. The schedule is tougher this season, and the Tar Heels still need more improvement out of their defense. While there are question marks, there is reason to believe North Carolina could be a better team in 2016 than it was last year. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is a rising star in the ACC, and running back Elijah Hood returns after rushing for 1,463 yards last season. Additionally, four starters are back on the offensive line, and the receiving corps is among the best in college football. Question marks remain about the front seven, but the secondary boasts a talented cornerback duo in M.J. Stewart and Des Lawrence. As mentioned above, there’s little doubt the schedule is tougher. North Carolina has to play Georgia in non-conference play and catches Florida State in a crossover game with the Atlantic. However, those games offer an opportunity for the Tar Heels to pick up marquee wins and play their way into the playoff conversation.



Most preseason rankings indicate the Pac-12 is on the outside of the College Football Playoff picture for 2016. However, there’s plenty of time for a playoff contender to emerge. Oregon has won at least 10 games in seven out of the last eight seasons and just missed hitting the double-digit mark in 2015 with three losses by one score. Despite the departure of coordinator Scott Frost to UCF and a new quarterback taking over, the Ducks will have a high-powered offense once again. Running back Royce Freeman headlines a deep backfield, and there’s no shortage of playmakers at receiver. Shoring up the offensive line and deciding on a quarterback – FCS transfer Dakota Prukop or Travis Jonsen – are the biggest question marks for coach Mark Helfrich. The addition of Brady Hoke as the defensive coordinator should help a unit that surrendered 37.5 points a game last year. While the Ducks have road trips to Utah, USC and Washington State in league play, Stanford and Washington have to visit Eugene.





Oklahoma is widely considered the favorite in the Big 12, but a repeat trip to the College Football Playoff could be derailed by TCU. The Horned Frogs have won 23 games over the last two seasons and will be anchored by a standout defense and a talented group of skill players for 2016. Quarterback Trevone Boykin leaves big shoes to fill, but Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill and sophomore Foster Sawyer are talented options and should keep the offense performing at a high level. Even if TCU’s offense doesn’t match its scoring average from 2015 (42.1 ppg), the defense could carry this team to 10 wins. Seven starters are back from a unit that improved throughout 2015, while end James McFarland, cornerback Ranthony Texada, safety Kenny Iloka and linebacker Sammy Douglas are back from injury. With Oklahoma and Oklahoma State visiting Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs will have a chance to surprise in the Big 12.  



USC might have more overall talent than UCLA, but coach Jim Mora’s team has a few significant advantages over their crosstown rival. The Bruins return the Pac-12's most-talented quarterback (Josh Rosen), have a better coaching situation and feature a more favorable schedule. Rosen had a standout debut as a true freshman last fall and should be even better as a sophomore in 2016. Mora is tweaking the offense to help Rosen’s development, and the Bruins’ supporting cast is anchored by sophomore running back Soso Jamabo and standout left tackle Conor McDermott. Stopping the run was a challenge for the defense last season, but there’s hope for improvement with eight starters back, and the return of Eddie Vanderdoes from injury. UCLA will have a chance to prove right away it belongs in the playoff conversation. The Bruins play at Texas A&M to start the 2016 season and also play at BYU and host Stanford in the month of September. But the schedule gets a little lighter after that stretch, with Utah and USC visiting Pasadena in the second half of the season.



Entering Chris Petersen’s third season at the helm, expectations are rising for the Huskies. After an 8-6 record in Petersen’s debut (2014), Washington finished 7-6 last season. While seven wins may not seem like much, the Huskies were considered a top 25 team in advanced metrics. It’s easy to see where Washington could saw marked improvement this fall, as 17 starters are back, including talented sophomores Jake Browning (QB) and Myles Gaskin (RB). Browning was impressive as a true freshman last season, and the return of big-play receiver John Ross from a knee injury should bolster the passing attack. Despite losing a couple of key players from the 2014 unit, Washington’s defense led the Pac-12 in fewest points allowed (18.8 ppg). This unit could be even better in 2016, anchored by a secondary that features All-America candidates Sidney Jones (CB) and Budda Baker (FS). The schedule isn’t overly daunting, but the Oct. 8 trip to Oregon could play a huge role in deciding the winner of the Pac-12 North. Petersen’s rebuilding plan is on track entering year three. The Huskies are poised for a big jump in the win column – and the national polls.


Three Longshots



A lot would have to go right for a team outside of Notre Dame or a Power 5 conference to make the College Football Playoff. However, BYU is a team to watch in 2016. The Cougars have a challenging schedule with six Power 5 opponents, including games at Michigan State, Utah and a home matchup against UCLA. New coach Kalani Sitake has personnel concerns to address on both sides of the ball this offseason, but two proven quarterbacks – Tanner Mangum and Taysom Hill – are back to lead the offense. If BYU finishes 12-0 with its 2016 schedule, it has to earn consideration for the playoff.





Nebraska’s 6-7 record in coach Mike Riley’s first season was a disappointment, but final victory tally wasn’t as bad as it seemed. The Cornhuskers had bad luck on their side with a minus-12 turnover margin, which played a huge role in the team’s six losses by eight points or less. Bad luck usually turns around into good fortune the next season, so Nebraska could pick up a couple of wins just by showing some improvement in turnover margin. But that’s not the only reason to like the Cornhuskers in 2016. The offense returns six starters, including quarterback Tommy Armstrong and one of the Big Ten’s top receiving corps. The schedule isn’t too daunting, and Nebraska hosts Oregon in a key non-conference game, with road trips to Ohio State and Iowa on tap. Reloading on both lines of scrimmage will be critical if the Cornhuskers want to challenge the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten West Division.



UCLA and USC are the preseason favorites in the Pac-12 South, but don’t overlook Kyle Whittingham’s team in 2016. The Utes are coming off their best season (10-3) since joining the Pac-12 and inked the No. 37 recruiting class by the 247Sports Composite in Feburary. That’s the program’s highest finish on the recruiting trail since 2012. It’s no secret the strength of Utah rests with its ground attack and defense. The Utes lose standout running back Devontae Booker, but senior Joe Williams is a capable replacement, and the offensive line is one of the best in the Pac-12. Both starting linebackers must be replaced, but the defensive line and secondary are among the best in the nation. Improving the offense is a must if Utah wants to challenge for the South Division title. Junior college quarterback Troy Williams and freshman Tyler Huntley will push Brandon Cox for the starting job in the fall. The Utes have to play at UCLA this season, but USC, BYU, Washington and Oregon all visit Salt Lake City.  

12 College Football Playoff Sleeper Teams for 2016
Post date: Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-american-athletic-conferences-college-football-coaches-2016

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.


This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.


A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?


Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking. Athlon's editorial staff has voted on a ranking of coaches for all 10 conferences. Here are the results for the American Athletic Conference:


Ranking the AAC's Football Coaches for 2016

1. Tom Herman, Houston

The H-Town Takeover for Herman and Houston’s football program is officially underway. In Herman’s first season, the Cougars won the American Athletic Conference, finished with a 13-1 record and defeated Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. And with a strong core of talent returning for 2016, Herman has Houston positioned as the top Group of 5 program once again this season. Herman was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistant coaches prior to his hire with the Cougars. Herman worked as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer from 2012-14 and was an instrumental part of the Buckeyes’ 2014 championship team. Herman also has stops as a play-caller at Iowa State, Texas State and Rice. Herman is the top coach from the Group of 5 ranks.




2. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

Navy embarked on a new era for its football program in 2015 by joining the American Athletic Conference. However, the change from being a FBS independent to a conference member didn’t have any impact on the Midshipmen. Niumatalolo guided Navy to a school-record 11 wins last season and finished No. 18 in the final Associated Press poll. Under Niumatalolo’s direction, the Midshipmen are 68-37 since the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl and have only one season of fewer than eight wins.


3. Willie Fritz, Tulane

Tulane made one of the offseason’s best coaching hires by bringing Fritz to New Orleans after a successful two-year stint at Georgia Southern. From 2014-15 with the Eagles, Fritz went 17-7 and helped the program complete a successful transition to the FBS level. Prior to taking over at Georgia Southern, Fritz guided Sam Houston State to 40 wins from 2010-13 and back-to-back appearances in the FCS Championship (2011-12). He also coached at Central Missouri from 1997-09, recording a 97-47 mark in that span. Fritz has been a winner at each coaching stop and should continue that track record at Tulane over the next few years.




4. Willie Taggart, South Florida

Taggart was feeling the pressure to produce after a 6-18 start to his tenure at South Florida. But Taggart certainly eased concerns about the direction of the program with an 8-5 mark and a trip to the Miami Beach Bowl last year. The 8-5 record improved Taggart’s overall mark at USF to 14-23, and the Bulls should start out 2016 as the favorite to win the American Athletic East Division. Prior to taking over at USF, Taggart went 16-20 in three years at WKU, which included back-to-back 7-5 campaigns. After a slow start to his tenure, Taggart seems to have this program trending up for 2016 and beyond.


5. Matt Rhule, Temple

Rhule delivered a breakout season for Temple in 2015, as the Owls tied a program record with 10 victories. Temple finished 10-4 overall last year and claimed the American Athletic East Division title. Rhule is no stranger to success at Temple, as he worked as an assistant under Al Golden from 2006-10 and again for one year with Steve Addazio (2011). Rhule also has one season of experience in the NFL, working with the Giants’ offensive line in 2012. After three years at Temple, it’s clear Rhule is one of the top coaches in the Group of 5 ranks.


6. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati

After back-to-back 9-4 seasons, Tuberville slipped to 7-6 in his third year at Cincinnati. The win total regression was largely due bad luck with a minus-19 turnover margin. A quick rebound to nine wins again wouldn’t be a surprise for the Bearcats, as there’s a track record of success for Tuberville. He went 20-17 at Texas Tech from 2010-12, 85-40 at Auburn from 1999-08 and 25-20 at Ole Miss from 1995-98. In Tuberville’s 20-year coaching career, he’s had only four seasons with losing records. 




7. Bob Diaco, UConn

Offense seems to be the focal point for a league that features coaches like Houston’s Tom Herman, SMU’s Chad Morris and Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery. However, defense leads the way at UConn with Diaco in charge. The New Jersey native was regarded as one of the nation’s top assistants during a stint as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator (2010-13) and helped the Fighting Irish reach the national championship game in 2012. Diaco went 2-10 in his debut (2014), but the Huskies showed improvement in 2015 by finishing with a 6-7 record. Diaco is building a stellar defense in Storrs, and with a little improvement by the offense in 2016, UConn could push for seven or eight wins this fall.


8. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa

Chad Morris and Tom Herman garnered most of the offseason attention among the coaching hires in the American Athletic Conference last year, but Montgomery quietly pieced together an impressive debut. Tulsa went 6-7 last season, which represented a four-game improvement from 2014. Prior to taking over as Tulsa’s head coach, Montgomery worked as an assistant under Art Briles at Houston (2003-07) and again at Baylor from 2008-14. Montgomery is a sharp offensive mind and should have Tulsa back in contention for a bowl trip in 2016.


9. Chad Morris, SMU

Expect to Morris move up this list in future seasons. The Texas native took over at SMU after spending four years guiding Clemson’s offense (2011-14). The Tigers’ offense emerged as one of the nation’s most-explosive attacks under Morris’ direction, including back-to-back seasons (2012-13) by averaging over 40 points a game. SMU finished 2-10 in Morris’ first season on the job, but the Mustangs should take a step forward in 2016. Prior to Clemson, Morris worked at Tulsa for one year (2010) and was a high school coach at five different stops from 1994-2009.




10. Mike Norvell, Memphis

Justin Fuente leaves big shoes to fill at Memphis after a 19-6 record over the last two seasons. However, Mike Norvell was one of the rising stars in the assistant ranks and should keep this program trending up for 2016 and beyond. Norvell worked as an assistant under Todd Graham at Tulsa (2007-10), at Pittsburgh (2011) and from 2012-15 at Arizona State. Norvell called the plays all four seasons for the Sun Devils, guiding the offense to an average of at least 34 points every year. Fuente set the bar high, but Norvell is an outstanding hire for this program.


11. Scott Frost, UCF

After a winless 2015 campaign, a new regime and direction should be a huge positive for UCF. There’s no shortage of potential for this program, and Frost’s background on offense and history with Oregon should attract plenty of recruits to Orlando. Frost arrives at UCF after spending seven seasons with the Ducks. He spent the last three years there as the team’s play-caller, guiding the offense to a top-10 finish in scoring each season. This is Frost’s first opportunity to be a head coach at the FBS level, but there’s a lot to like about this hire for UCF.


12. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina

Montgomery has been on a fast rise through the assistant ranks and lands at one of the better jobs in the American Athletic Conference for his first FBS coaching opportunity. The North Carolina native started his coaching career under David Cutcliffe at Duke from 2006-09 as a wide receivers coach and later spent three years (2010-12) with the Steelers in the same capacity. Montgomery returned to Duke in 2013, spending one year as a receivers coach before a promotion to offensive coordinator in 2014. This is Montgomery’s first head coaching opportunity, but he’s learned under one of the top FBS coaches (Cutcliffe) and his background on offense should be a good fit at East Carolina. 

Ranking the American Athletic Conference's College Football Coaches for 2016
Post date: Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/missouri-valley-strong-enough-6-fcs-playoff-teams

The Missouri Valley Football Conference could become the first FCS conference to have five playoff teams in three consecutive seasons in 2016. But the preeminent conference in the FCS appears strong enough to take its success to a higher level.


The MVFC could gain six playoff bids — one-quarter of the 24-team field — which would be a first.


Behind five-time reigning national champion North Dakota State, the MVFC has 18 playoffs wins over the last two years, when its playoff qualifiers have matched the FCS single-season record previously held by CAA Football. The CAA had five in both 2007 and ’08 when the field was only 16 teams deep, then again in 2011 when there were 20 qualifiers.


So the 10-team Missouri Valley would love to take the standard to a higher level.




“It would take a perfect storm for any conference to exceed five playoff teams in a single season,” said Missouri Valley associate commissioner Mike Kern, “but if it were to happen, the MVFC is poised to be the first.”


To gain six qualifiers in 2016, the MVFC will likely need to dominate non-conference opponents in the way it has done the last two regular seasons, but particularly 2014, when it posted a 23-1 record against non-conference FCS teams in the regular season.


A quick start to the season is vital because the 10 Valley teams will continually knock each other off in conference action, which will lower records and decrease the candidacy of teams for at-large playoff bids.


However, Western Illinois’ schedule was so impressive last season that it became the first 6-5 team to earn an at-large bid. The only other five-loss team to gain one was Indiana State, another Valley program, when it was 7-5 heading into the 2014 playoffs. Both teams validated their selections by winning first-round playoff games.


In 2016, let’s start with the obvious: North Dakota State will be one of the MVFC playoff qualifiers.


The Bison have separated themselves while setting not just an FCS record, but an NCAA mark, for consecutive national championships. Six might be their number this year as well as head coach Chris Klieman returns 14 starters to a team which will have a superb run game, defense and home-field advantage inside the Fargodome, and even an experienced quarterback because redshirt sophomore Easton Stick went 8-0 as a starter last season while Carson Wentz, No. 2 overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, sat out with a broken wrist.


The next wave of teams includes Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and Illinois State – all potential top-10 programs and similar in that they should have excellent offenses and will have to prove they haven’t lost too much on defense. All three teams have been eliminated by North Dakota State in one of the last two postseasons, including Illinois State in the 2014 national championship game, when the MVFC became the first FCS conference to field both finalists.


Western Illinois expects to build on last year’s success with the return of 17 starters, while Youngstown State has an experienced team that has been on the playoff doorstep in recent years. Last year, the Penguins joined the five playoff qualifiers in the top 30 of the NCAA’s Simple Ratings System, which is similar to the college basketball RPI.


Indiana State’s playoff bid has been hurt severely by quarterback Matt Adam sitting out this season to improve his academics. That has opened the door to South Dakota to be a dark horse under new coach Bob Nielson, who led Western Illinois to the playoffs last year.


Only Southern Illinois, the former MVFC power which is rebuilding its program, and Missouri State, whose only win last year was against a Division II team, don’t appear ready to contend for playoff bids.


That leaves eight possible hopefuls. Six making the playoffs from the FCS’ strongest conference isn’t out of the question.


— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for . He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter .


(Top photo by Richard Svaleson/NDSU)

Missouri Valley Strong Enough for 6 FCS Playoff Teams
Post date: Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Magazines
Path: /college-football/10-ways-first-issue-athlon-proves-sec-never-changes

If you’re one of the lucky college football fans out there who has already picked up this year’s Athlon Sports SEC preview (and if you haven’t, ), you may have noticed a notable anniversary.


This year’s SEC preview is the 50th edition Athlon has published. Back in 1967, the first issue of what became Athlon focused primarily on the SEC and Southeastern football. Over the years, we’d added editions featuring other conferences and sports, but in 1967, our bread-and-butter has been college football in the Southeast.


To mark our 50th edition, we’re looking back at Athlon’s early days. Over the next weeks and months, we’ll show off some of our archives — the good, the bad and the unintentionally funny.


For those of us who weren’t around back then, this is quite the illuminating exercise, if only because so little seems to have changed in 50 years.


In 1967, the SEC was then in its classic 10-team lineup — no South Carolina or Arkansas, never mind Texas A&M or Missouri. A year earlier, Florida quarterback Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy, the SEC’s first Heisman winner since LSU’s Billy Cannon in 1959 and last until Auburn’s Pat Sullivan in 1971.


The league also was in a relative national title drought. Alabama won a split national title with Michigan State in 1965. An SEC team wouldn’t win another championship until Alabama split the title with Notre Dame in 1973.


The league’s coaching lineup was dotted with legends: Bear Bryant was entrenched at Alabama, Vince Dooley was just getting started at Georgia, and John Vaught was entering his twilight years at Ole Miss.


This is a bygone era, but some things never change. Here are few clips from that first issue of Athlon that prove as much.


1. The SEC was already trolling the Big Ten



Long before satellite camps were the SEC’s way to needle a Big Ten team, Athlon put it right on the cover.


“The Really Big Ten” sure seems like an attempt to throw shade on the conference up north.


2. We were tired of Alabama being great



From this headline, it seems like there was a bit of Alabama fatigue even then. Even fans of the SEC might be a bit tired of Alabama being so darn good.


By 1967, Bryant had already led Alabama to national titles in 1961, ‘64 and ’65. He’d add three more titles in ’73, ’78 and ’79. The Tide had won at least a share of three straight SEC titles heading into the 1967 season and were Athlon’s preseason favorite. And guess what? The defense in Tuscaloosa was dominant.


3. We picked Alabama to win the league



Athlon’s pick of Alabama to win the SEC in 1967 probably wasn’t a great omen. Tennessee ended up winning the SEC that year.


So, yes, we were a little off even in our first issue.


4. Florida has a quarterback problem



“Florida seeks QB” could have been a headline in every issue of Athlon since 2009, only the main heading would have been “Come Back Tim Tebow.”


5. A prominent player for a prominent school had off-field questions during the offseason



Every season seems to have a key player or two who is an offseason liability. Some players are knuckleheads. Some are dealing with more critical issues.


In the past, the Johnny Manziel circus was the offseason storyline, and one that would become more serious in his pro career. This year, Alabama is dealing with legal issues surrounding Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson.


Back in 1967, these kinds of issues tended to be less public, but we nonetheless knew something was going on.


Coming off of his first full season as a starter, then-Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler was suspended during the offseason. He was already a star in his own right as the MVP of the Sugar Bowl and his record-breaking accuracy, which by the way was a whopping 64.9 percent on 114 passes in 1966.


The Snake, of course, played in 1967, passing for 1,214 yards and nine touchdowns on the way to an 8-2-1 season and trip to the Cotton Bowl.


6. An eight-team playoff was already on people’s minds



We’re entering the third year of the College Football Playoff, but coaches were talking about it even in 1967. And administrative types were worried about how payouts might impact the respective conferences (sound familiar, Big 12 fans?).


The “proposed NCAA playoff” mentioned here was courtesy of then-Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty. The Spartans coach noted the popularity of the early Super Bowls and thought the college game was falling behind with its traditional bowl games. It was no coincidence that in 1966 Alabama (11-0), Michigan State (9-0-1) and Notre Dame (9-0-1) all finished undefeated but only the Irish claimed a national title.


Daugherty’s vision was for an eight-team tournament that would start in November on the home field of teams ranked higher in the polls and end in the middle of December. The plan, though supported by many prominent coaches, was disregarded thanks to pressure from the bowls and television executives and resistance from administrators.


7. The SEC was “too tough”



Today, fans from the SEC like to think players from the Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12 could never withstand a full season in the SEC.


Back in 1967, even SEC freshmen weren’t tough enough for the SEC.


8. LSU also is seeking a quarterback



“LSU needs a quarterback most of all.” There’s another phrase that’s all too familiar in 2016.


Auburn, too, wasn’t satisfied with its starter early in the 1966 season, a storyline that’s familiar to the Tigers fans who watched Jeremy Johnson last season. That ill-fated ‘60s QB, Larry Blakeney, ended up getting moved to the secondary and then coached at Troy for more than 20 eyars.


9. SEC teams were looking to technology for an edge



Remember when coaches texting recruits was considered a major breakthrough? That was thanks to then-Florida coach Urban Meyer in the mid-2000s.


Now, we have Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin tweeting bitmojis and Texas A&M recruits calling out assistants on social media.


Those computers in 1967? Tennessee coach Doug Dickey used them to produce scouting reports. “Within 10 or 15 minutes, the computer will show an opponent is likely to do on third and 3 on his own 35,” this article read.


10. Vanderbilt was still waiting for its big moment



Unfortunately for the Commodores, James Franklin wouldn’t be born for another five years.

10 Ways the First Issue of Athlon Proves the SEC Never Changes
Post date: Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/dale-hansen-art-briles-failed-women-baylor-bears-football-assault-unplugged

Dale Hansen is a pretty tough Texas sports anchor.


The WFAA 8 anchor has laid into Greg Hardy among many other hot topics, and has his sights set on Baylor's Art Briles. During his famed Unplugged segment, Hansen says the Bears' football coach has failed women at Baylor, and he's shocked that more people aren't tired of the lack of actions the coaches take to protect them.


Post date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 12:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-mountain-wests-college-football-coaches-2016

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.


This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.


A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?


Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking. Athlon's editorial staff has voted on a ranking of coaches for all 10 conferences. Here are the results for the Mountain West:


Ranking the Mountain West's Football Coaches for 2016


1. Troy Calhoun, Air Force

Air Force has been a consistent winner under Calhoun’s watch, and the program is coming off its first trip to the Mountain West Conference title game. The Falcons won the Mountain Division last year and lost by three points on the road at San Diego State in the conference title game. Calhoun has recorded a 67-50 mark since replacing Fisher DeBerry in 2007. Air Force also has eight bowl appearances under Calhoun and just one season of fewer than six wins. Calhoun is also the Mountain West’s longest-tenured coach and the 18 victories over the last two years is the best mark by the program since posting 22 from 1997-98.




2. Rocky Long, San Diego State

With a fertile recruiting area in its backyard, San Diego State has been considered a sleeping giant. After having some sporadic success from 1986-2009, this program took a big step forward in 2010 with a 9-4 mark in Brady Hoke’s second year with the Aztecs. After Hoke left for Michigan, Long was promoted to the top spot. Under his watch, San Diego State continues to climb even higher in the Mountain West. The Aztecs have earned four consecutive bowl trips and finished 2015 by tying the school record with 11 victories. Long also worked as New Mexico’s head coach from 1998-08, guiding the program to a 65-69 record with five bowl trips. He’s also regarded as one of the top defensive minds in the Group of 5 conferences and should have San Diego State in contention for 10 (or more) wins in 2016.  


3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

The bar is set high at any program whenever nine wins is considered a disappointing year. That’s the standard set at Boise State, as the Broncos are one of the top Group of 5 programs and should challenge for the bowl spot in the New Year’s Six on an annual basis. Harsin did just that in year one, finishing 12-2 with a victory over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl in 2014. However, the Broncos slipped to 9-4 last year and lost the division title to Air Force. Don’t expect Boise State to be under 10 wins for too long, as Harsin has this program on the verge of a quick rebound in 2016.




4. Matt Wells, Utah State

Last season’s 6-7 record represented Utah State’s first losing mark since 2010. Even though the six victories was a disappointment, this program has progressed significantly after recording zero winning seasons from 1998-2010. Wells is 25-16 over the last three years and has not finished lower than second in the Mountain West’s Mountain Division. Additionally, Utah State has played in three consecutive bowl games. Injuries and turnover in the assistant coach ranks have hit the program hard over the last couple of seasons, but the Aggies are still in good shape with Wells on the sidelines.


5. Craig Bohl, Wyoming

Bohl is just 6-18 through two years at Wyoming, but there’s no reason to panic. After all, this is the coach that went 104-32 at North Dakota State and won three consecutive national championships from 2011-13. It’s only a matter of time before Bohl has Wyoming back in the mix for winning seasons, and 2015 was clearly a rebuilding year with youth littering the depth chart on both sides of the ball. Progress in the win column could be minimal in 2016, but Bohl is still the right coach for this program.


6. Bob Davie, New Mexico

Davie inherited a mess after Mike Locksley’s three-year stint at New Mexico. The Lobos won just three games from 2009-11, but this program showed immediate improvement under Davie’s watch, finishing with a 4-9 mark in 2012. After winning 11 games through the first three seasons, Davie had a breakthrough 2015 campaign. The Lobos finished 7-6 last year and claimed the program’s first bowl trip since 2007. 




7. Brian Polian, Nevada

Following Chris Ault wasn’t easy, but Polian has stabilized the program after a 4-8 debut in 2013. The Wolf Pack have recorded back-to-back 7-6 records and finished 2015 on a high note by beating Colorado State in the Arizona Bowl. Prior to taking over at Nevada, Polian was an assistant from 2005-09 at Notre Dame and at Stanford from 2010-11. He’s regarded as a good recruiter and has the Wolf Pack positioned for improvement with the return of nine starters on offense in 2016.


8. Mike Bobo, Colorado State

Bobo had big shoes to fill in Fort Collins last season. In 2014, Jim McElwain guided Colorado State to a 10-3 mark and an appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. But with some key personnel losses to overcome and a tough schedule, the Rams dipped to 7-6 in Bobo’s first season. However, Colorado State wasn’t too far from matching the 2014 win total, as the program lost three games by five points or less, including a three-point defeat against rival Colorado. After spending most of his coaching career at Georgia and as a first-time head coach, Bobo is still learning on the job. However, the future looks bright for Colorado State with Bobo at the helm.




9. Ron Caragher, San Jose State

Caragher hasn’t had the easiest of paths in his two stints as a head coach. He replaced Jim Harbaugh at San Diego but guided the Toreros to a 44-22 mark from 2007-12. Under Caragher’s direction, San Diego recorded at least eight wins in four out of his six seasons. He left San Diego to replace Mike MacIntyre at San Jose State – just one year after the Spartans won a school-record 11 games in 2012. Through three seasons, Caragher has compiled a 15-22 mark at San Jose State but guided the program to a bowl trip last year. With 15 starters returning this fall, Caragher should have his best team since taking over at San Jose State.


10. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State

DeRuyter appeared to be one of college football’s rising stars in the head coach ranks after a 20-6 start to his tenure at Fresno State. During that two-year run, the Bulldogs claimed a share of the conference title in 2012 and won the league championship outright in 2013. However, replacing Derek Carr has been a challenge. Fresno State is just 9-17 over the last two seasons and slumped to 3-9 in 2015 – only the fourth time since 1969 the program has won fewer than four contests. Can DeRuyter get this program back on track?


11. Tony Sanchez, UNLV

Hired from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Sanchez was one of the nation’s most intriguing first-year coaches in 2015. The Rebels finished 3-9 in Sanchez’s debut – a one-game improvement from 2014 – but lost four games by eight points or less, a clear sign the program is trending in the right direction. Sanchez also reeled in the Mountain West’s No. 4 recruiting class in the 2016 247Sports Composite and is positioned to push for a .500 mark in conference play in 2016.


12. Nick Rolovich, Hawaii

After the disappointing four-year run under Norm Chow, Hawaii’s program is in good hands with Rolovich. The California native has plenty of work to do over the next few seasons, but there’s not a better coach to rebuild the Rainbow Warriors into a consistent winner. Rolovich played at Hawaii from 2000-01 and also coached in Honolulu as an assistant under Greg McMackin from 2008-11. Since 2011, Rolovich has worked at Nevada as the offensive coordinator. This is Rolovich’s first opportunity to be a head coach and it’s not an easy job. However, the Rainbow Warriors should show improvement over the next few seasons.

Ranking the Mountain West's College Football Coaches for 2016
Post date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/peta-lsu-captive-live-mascots-tiger-mike-vi-animal-advocate

After hearing LSU's live mascot, Mike VI, was been diagnosed with terminal cancer, PETA felt it was time to step in.


The animal rights organization, along with LSU Animal Advocates,  calling for the school to stop using captive mascots. The letter states the damaging effects of having an animal caged, saying they could suffer psychologically when they are stressed and confined.


"People today realize that orcas don't belong in tanks, elephants don't belong in circuses, and tigers don't belong in cages in stadiums," Rachel Mathews, a member of the PETA Foundation, said. "PETA is calling on LSU to honor Mike VI and spare future tigers a lifetime of misery by ending the live-mascot program for good."


The letter goes on to state the tigers are being deprived and the only decent thing to do would be to stop the practice. A school spokesperson responded by saying they were focusing on Mike VI at the moment and it may not be the best time to dive deep into new mascot talk.


"This is not the time to discuss football season or a new tiger mascot. We are focused on Mike's health and well-being at this time."

Post date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 10:59
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-utah-can-be-dark-horse-pac-12-contender-2016

has moved up the South ladder each of the last two seasons. Can the Utes take the final step toward claiming a division title in 2016?


The door is wide open to move forward. Utah returns a fearsome defense loaded with playmakers up front and in the secondary. The Utes do have holes to fill at the offensive skill positions, but every other Pac-12 South title contender also has some reloading to do on offense or defense. If Utah's offense finally lives up to its potential in 2016, the Utes could become virtually unstoppable.




Here are five reasons why Utah can emerge as a Pac-12 South contender again in 2016:


1. Depth in the Trenches

Few teams in the nation, let alone the Pac-12, can match Utah's depth, experience and talent up front on both sides of the ball. The Utes return all but one starter on the offensive line from last season, led by senior right tackle J.J. Dielman – an All-Pac-12 second-team selection in 2015. Garrett Bolles, the nation's top junior college prospect in the 2016 class, also projects to be a major contributor on the offensive line.


Utah has to replace departed senior Jason Fanaika and graduate transfer Stevie Tu'ikolovatu on the defensive line. It should not be a problem with Kylie Fitts, Lowell Lotulelei, Pita Taumoepenu and Hunter Dimick all back for another season. They played a big role in leading a Utah rush defense that led the Pac-12 a season ago (108.6 yards per game). Fitts, in particular, led the Utes with seven sacks and paced the Pac-12 with four forced fumbles.


2. Promising Offensive Playmakers

Utah will be breaking in new full-time starters at both quarterback and running back this fall. Both players have potential to make the offense a bigger threat than in past seasons.


Joe Williams currently leads a loaded backfield, which also includes a healthy Troy McCormick. Williams stepped in late last season after a knee injury sidelined Devontae Booker. He rushed for 399 yards and three touchdowns over the final three games of 2015 and finished the season with 477 yards on 104 attempts.


Troy Williams is the favorite to start at quarterback with four-year starter Travis Wilson graduated. Williams, a transfer from Santa Monica (Calif.) College, threw for for 2,750 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. He sat out the bulk of spring camp with an arm injury, but is expected to be fully healthy in time for fall camp. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Cox and true freshman Tyler Huntley are also in the mix.




3. New Receivers Coach

Utah has plenty of new faces in the receiving corps. The biggest addition, though, might be on the coaching staff.


Guy Holliday, who came over to the Utes from BYU during the offseason, brings a track record for getting the most out of his receivers. In his 23-year coaching career, Holliday has sent 21 players to the NFL. BYU's passing offense ranked in the top 30 each of his final two seasons in Provo and Holliday tutored Cody Hoffman, the leading receiver in BYU history. That's welcome news for a Utah team that got inconsistent production from its receivers throughout the 2015 season.


4. Strong Secondary

Four starters return in Utah's defensive backfield and all of them are proven disruptive forces. It should help bolster a pass defense that only ranked ninth in the Pac-12 last season (258.2 yards per game).


Marcus Williams led Utah, and ranked second in the Pac-12, with five interceptions. The junior free safety also is the team's top returning tackler with 66 tackles a season ago. Dominque Hatfield, a senior, also has a good nose for the ball. He chipped in four interceptions in 2015, including a 46 yard pick-six against BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.


5. Aussie Punter Pipeline

One of Utah's biggest weapons in recent seasons has been its punting game. Two-time Ray Guy Award winner Tom Hackett could flip the field with precision and played a critical role in many close wins for the Utes.


Hackett, a unanimous consensus All-American, graduated and has taken his talents to the NFL. The Utes have another Australian punter waiting in the wings. Mitch Wishnowsky, a sophomore, joins Utah from Santa Barbara (Calif.) College. He averaged 39.8 yards per punt – with a career-long of 77 yards – as a freshman in 2014 before sitting out last season.


— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter

5 Reasons Why Utah can be a Dark Horse Pac-12 Contender in 2016
Post date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/pair-potential-blackshirts-there-taking-nebraska-summer

By now, most fans are familiar with Stevie Tu'ikolovatu’s name even if they can’t pronounce it. It appears that Tu'ikolovatu will take his 6-foot-1, 320-pound frame to one of three schools as a graduate transfer following his departure as a member of the Utah Utes.


Alabama, USC and Nebraska are all in the mix, but the Cornhuskers seemingly give him the best bang for his travelling buck. Already married and with a two-year LDS mission under his belt, Tu'ikolovatu no doubt wants to up his NFL stock. Who better to work with than former 12-year NFL veteran John Parrella, Nebraska’s new defensive line coach?


Even better, he’d nearly be guaranteed to start from day one as the and run defense is currently a major question mark. A rock solid 320 pounds, the mammoth ex-Ute would demand double-teams, just as Parrella would no doubt love.


While he may be familiar to Husker Nation by now, a new name has popped up: defensive end Raveon Hoston. The Los Angeles Valley College prospect now has a Nebraska offer and would be an immensely fortunate get for a defensive line that could use every bit of help it can get on the outside.



Hoston is a late academic qualifier for the 2016 cycle, would have two seasons of eligibility and – like Tu'ikolovatu – would look like a near lock at clinching a starting defensive end spot. His would likely be opposite sophomore Freedom Akinmoladun.


It’s a testament to this coaching staff that they’re not content to rest on their laurels while potential problem solvers like these two athletes could help strengthen an area of extreme need.


Not only that, but if the Huskers do get both wrapped up for the 2016 season, this allows younger players who’d have to step up in a big way immediately some breathing room and even more time to ease into their eventual roles which are likely to slowly increase as the year goes on.


— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to like his follow him on Twitter () and on Periscope ().

Pair of Potential Blackshirts There for the Taking for Nebraska This Summer
Post date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 10:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-podcast-others-receiving-votes-2016-athlon-top-25

Athlon Sports last week released its season. Now, it’s time to look at the teams that just missed the cut.


These are teams that we could see on the fringes of the top 25 this season or perhaps even contending for a division in a Power 5 conference. On this week’s podcast, co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox go conference-by-conference looking at teams ranked 26-50.


This includes teams like Arkansas, Miami, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Washington State, Nebraska, Utah, Wisconsin, Texas, Auburn, Penn State and many, many more.


What are these teams’ strengths and weaknesses and what would need to happen for these teams to crack the top 25?


Reminder: All of Athlon’s rankings and team previews are available in this year’s preseason magazines, which can be purchase  or on newsstands everywhere.



Send any ideas, questions or comments to  @AthlonMitch or @DavidFox615 or email . The podcast can be found on  and our .

College Football Podcast: The Others Receiving Votes in the 2016 Athlon Top 25
Post date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Houston Texans, J.J. Watt, NFL, Monthly, Life
Path: /life/jj-watt-pretty-fly-big-guy

J.J. Watt, 27, is 6’5” and 290 pounds, with 34” arms and shoulders as wide as his summer cabin in Wisconsin. But when he’s not lifting weights or crushing quarterbacks, the Houston Texans D-lineman and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is a pretty stylish guy. We chased down Watt to talk about what he wears after he takes off his football pads for the offseason.


How would you describe your personal style?

I’m athletic most of the time. When I do dress up I try to keep it clean cut. I don’t go terribly outlandish with it. I have before, but I’d say more recently I just try to keep it classy.


So you’re not going to wear the zebra-print pants Cam Newton wore on the flight to the Super Bowl?

I’m not sure you’re gonna catch me in zebra-print pants anytime soon. I think Russell Westbrook has changed the game a little bit, he’s made the outlandish outfit stylish. I won’t say never, but it’s fairly unlikely you’ll see me in zebra-print pants.


What kind of accessories do you wear? Sunglasses? Hats? Watches?

I do sunglasses from time to time. I casually wear hats every day, I like hats. I’m not a huge watch guy, not an accessory guy in general. I don’t really do all of the flashy stuff, I like to let the outfit speak for itself and let my self-confidence speak for itself.


How important is it for you to balance comfort with style?

It’s extremely important. When you’re on the road, you travel Saturday, you play a game Sunday, and then have to put the same clothes back on after the game. You don’t want something that’s going to wrinkle. You don’t want something that’s going to sweat through. You want something extremely comfortable that also looks good.


What type of shirts do you wear?

hits it on the head every single time. It’s perfect for what I need. I can throw it in my bag and it doesn’t wrinkle. I can wear it on the plane after a game. I don’t have to get it tailored, don’t have to get it dry-cleaned. It just made my life a lot easier.


Wait, you don’t get your shirts tailored? I would assume for a man your size that tailoring would be pretty important.

Tailoring for me is the only way I’d been able to go until Mizzen+Main. (Editor’s Note: Watt has ownership stake in the Dallas-based company.) Their 2XL Slim fits me perfectly. It’s crazy, because I buy almost nothing off of the rack. The ability for them to have my size is awesome.


You said you wear a 2XL Slim (XX-Large Trim Fit)?

Yeah, I was surprised at the slim myself, trust me.


You were under recruited out of high school, a two-star player. Now you’ve cemented yourself as a three-time NFL defensive player of the year. What advice would you give to kids with big dreams whose reality may not match those dreams right now?

It happened through hard work. It is a crazy story, to get to where I am now. It’s just daily commitment. There’s no magic pill, there’s no overnight success. There’s no one tip I can give to anyone. It’s just daily commitment to your goals. You have to have your big goal, but more important than that is, what are you going to do today to make that broad vision more possible? That’s the biggest thing that I tell people — what are you going to do today to make your dream come true? It sounds cliché and it is, but that’s the truth. Whatever you can do each minute of today to make your dream that much closer to being reality, that’s what it takes to be successful.


What’s your daily routine in the offseason? Walk me through a day. When do you get up? How many meals do you eat? What do you eat? What kind of exercise do you do?

I wake up probably at 6:30 every day. I eat breakfast, then I drive to the gym. I’m at the gym for probably three hours. I go home and eat lunch, generally either answer emails and do some business or take a nap after my morning workout and lunch. Then I will eat another meal and work out again. A lighter workout at the personal gym in my house. Then I’ll eat, answer emails or hang out with friends. Then I’m in bed by about 9:30, 10 o’clock at the latest in the offseason. That’s generally how my day goes, five days a week. Then there’s obviously the weekend and travel. There are times where I have business stuff that I travel for. For the most part when I’m here in Wisconsin that’s what my day looks like.


What do you typically eat for breakfast? Is it a big breakfast?

Breakfast is my biggest meal of the day. It’s my favorite meal of the day, I love breakfast. I load up on breakfast. Today I ate oatmeal, eggs, banana, apple, orange, milk, orange juice, water. I had wheat toast, one with peanut butter and one with seedless blackberry jam. That was my breakfast. My breakfast is generally around 1,500 calories a day.


Do you have any dietary restrictions you go by? Do you eat red meat? What’s your philosophy as far as feeding the fire?

I eat red meat. I know what my body needs and I’m not crazy about checking every single label and measuring everything out. I do understand how to eat properly and I understand what my body needs. If it’s something I normally eat, I’ll find the healthiest version of it out there. If it’s oatmeal, find the healthiest version of oatmeal out there and make sure that I get that. Same with milk, or for bread I go out there and find the healthiest whole wheat grain bread. I just try to make sure the stuff I’m eating is quality. Like pasta, I eat whole wheat pasta. Just making sure that I eat the best quality that I can. It takes a lot of food to fuel an athlete’s body, so I make sure I get enough. You have to make sure you get enough and get it at the right times. Then the little things like hydration, sleep and stretching. They’re boring and that’s why they’re often overlooked. Those are the things that can really make a difference for an athlete.


What’s an underrated exercise?

I think the things that are underrated are the boring things. I think rolling out every single day, hydrating properly is very underrated. I think sleep is very underrated, as well. Those are the things I tell my brothers, kids that ask me for advice, or even teammates. Training is extremely important, and there are things I can tell you about training, but outside of training is what I’ll tell people. Things like rolling out, stretching, sleeping and hydrating are the most important things you can do.


You mentioned recently that you would like to coach high school football when you retire. Tell me about that…

Definitely. My high school football coach had a profound impact on my life and my career. I still talk to him all the time. I want to have that impact on somebody’s life. I don’t really have an interest in coaching at any level higher than that. I like the high school level, I think you can mold young minds at that age. You can help kids reach their dreams, whether it’s football or not. Whatever it may be. I think you can help motivate and teach those kids morals and values that can help them far beyond the football field. That’s what I’d like to do.


What are your goals for this upcoming season?

I just want to do whatever I possibly can to help my team be successful. Every single day. Whether that’s being a leader or an outstanding personal performance, however I can help my team be successful that’s what I want to do.


Is there anything you’re adding to your game or focusing on this offseason?

This offseason is all about recovery and getting back from my injuries. Back to where I was and then above that level. It’s been going really well so far. It’s more about watching my film, and understanding my game and how I can improve that. It’s not necessarily adding things, it’s understanding what you do well and need to continue to do, then what you need to improve upon. I don’t think there’s one specific thing I’m adding, it’s more understanding how to utilize my game more successfully.


Are there any all-time greats or even current players whose film you watch?

Over the course of my career I’ve watched a bunch of the all-time greats. Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Deacon Jones and guys like that. L.T. (Lawrence Taylor) and Howie Long, a bunch of greats that came before me. You try and find the bits and pieces of their games that they do best and piece them all together. You got Howie Long’s rip, Reggie’s everything, Dwight Freeney’s spin move, stuff like that. You try to find guys that were really successful at one thing and try to add all of those things to your game.


What about opponents? Is there anyone who gives you trouble or is particularly challenging one-on-one?

Everybody in this league is challenging. Every single day. That’s why a sack is so special because it’s so darn hard to get. Everybody is good in this league. The difference between good, great and the best in this league is so small. Every week is a challenge, every guy you face is a challenge. I wouldn’t be able to say one guy is harder than the other, every guy in this league is hard to beat. Doesn’t matter who you’re going against, that’s why it’s so special when you do have success.

Houston Texans D-lineman J.J. Watt talks fashion and football
Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 14:23
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/josh-rosen-blasts-ncaa-ucla-under-armour-shoe-deal-quarterback

UCLA has signed a 15-year, $280 million contract with Under Armour. 


This is the largest apparel deal in the history of college sports. With money like that you would think they could kick a little back to the players. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen heard the news and took to Instagram to send this out. 


There's no guessing which side of the debate Rosen is on, fitted with the caption "We're still amateurs though ... Gotta love non-profits #NCAA"



Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/5-fantasy-football-team-name-generators-you-should-try

As fantasy football has evolved over the years, so too have the multitude of clever, witty and obnoxious team names. It's almost as important to have the best and/or , as it is to win your , ! or daily fantasy league. Okay, that’s not true, but you certainly don’t want to be the boring guy with the lame team name (that’s right, we are talking to you, guy who uses his own name!). That being said, it can be a difficult task to come up with a creative name that will impress your competitors and friends alike. Not to worry, you are in luck. We scoured the internet to come up with five of the best fantasy football team name generators to lend you a helping hand. At the very least, they should provide you with some inspiration to come up with something cool and unique on your own.


Sports Unlimited offers a pretty unique experience in that you can choose to generate a name based on your favorite NFL team or you can choose to use one of their thousands of randomly generated names. It could probably use a little updating in terms of some of the player's names, but you can still find some real gems. You can try it out here or  to visit their site.



We were able to generate some pretty funny names using the Razzball team name generator. You simply choose from a list of five clever adjective categories, which include: NFL Themes, Goofy Adjectives, Agitated Adjectives, Crayola and Mail Order Catalog Colors or Non-pro City Names. You then choose from seven different categories to create the noun for your team name, these include: Sounds Dirty But Isn't, War Terms, 80s Villains, Wrestling Moves, Hair Bands, Items That Include Ground Meat or Non-college Mascot Animals. The generator then combines your choice of category in the adjective and noun sections to come up with what should be a clever team name. Try it as many times as you like or until you come up with something that you love by clicking  or by clicking on the link above. Razzball also has team name generators for other fantasy sports.


Much like the Razzball generator, The Fake Football Team Name Generator creates names based on a two-part system. The categories in part one include: NFL Players, Annoying Sports Analysts, Ruthless Synonyms, Incompetent Synonyms, Large Synonyms, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Place Names or Mouth Sounds. The categories for part two include: Just Gross, NFL Team Names, Fishing Flies, Professions and Game of Thrones. You just choose a category from each section, click generate name, and voila!, your team name will appear. It may take a few attempts, but there are definitely some great names to be had using this generator. Give it a shot by clicking on the link above or by clicking


The generator has plenty of options. You can choose from a list of pre-determined names. You can have it generate a random name for you. You can also input things such as a country, city/state or a color to work in combination with the name generator. Many of the names generated using these categories can be kind of generic and hokey, but if you are looking for something a little more edgy, there is an option entitled "anything else" that will allow you to input a keyword of your own choosing to help generate a name. Based on some of the keywords we attempted in the "anything else" section, there are absolutely no filters. This is also a nice feature because it allows you to personalize it and become part of the process. You can try it out by clicking or by clicking on the link above.


You aren't going to find anything super edgy or on the obnoxious side with this generator (at least not that we could find), but it will probably serve its purpose for some of the younger fantasy footballers or someone that isn't looking to push the envelope too far. The FF Toolbox fantasy football name generator will give you a selection of 25 names to choose from right off the bat, which you can refresh as often as you would like at your leisure. It can also generate a name for you based on a drop box that includes several categories. In addition, there is an option that allows you to filter names by using specific letters of the alphabet. Again, most of the names generated on this site tend to be on the generic side, but we ran across a few that could inspire something unique provided you put a little thought into it. Check it out by clicking or on the link above.


— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter

Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-washington-state-can-be-dark-horse-pac-12-contender-2016

Football has risen from the dead in Pullman, Wash. For the first time in a decade, enters a season with a real chance to make some serious noise in the .




The Cougars are coming off their first winning season in 11 years. With so many pieces in place for 2016, delivering a satisfying encore should not be a problem. Washington State is not favored to win a Pac-12 North title with Oregon, Stanford and Washington all expected to have strong seasons. But things do line up for the Cougars to act as a spoiler.


Here are five reasons why Washington State could be a dark horse Pac-12 North contender in 2016:


1. Easy schedule

Washington State has arguably the . UCLA, Oregon, Washington and Arizona all visit Pullman this year. Stanford is the only truly challenging Pac-12 road game for the Cougars. Outside of conference play, Washington State's toughest game is a trip to Boise State.


2. Luke Falk is an elite QB

When Mike Leach has the right quarterback to run his Air Raid offense, it is practically unstoppable. Luke Falk is that quarterback. In his first full season as a starter a year ago, Falk torched one defense after another. The former walk-on totaled 4,561 yards and 38 touchdowns through the air while completing 69.4 percent of his passes. If Falk stays healthy, expect to see more of the same in 2016.




3. Receiver depth

Not only is Falk back, but so is the bulk of his supporting cast. Only one of Falk's top receivers from 2015 graduated. The Cougars got an extra boost when leading receiver Gabe Marks opted to return for another season instead of declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft. Marks is a true playmaker. He led the Pac-12 with 15 touchdown catches in 2015 while posting 1,192 receiving yards.


4. Sound running game

Running doesn't normally factor into pass-happy offenses under Leach. He is usually content to let quarterbacks throw until their arms fall off. That may change a little this season. Washington State has a stable of experienced and talented backs who can take a little defensive pressure off Falk. Freshman James Williams looked impressive in spring camp. He will join a trio of returning backs in Gerard Wicks, Jamal Morrow and Keith Harrington. Wicks led the group a year ago with 610 rushing yards on 5.7 yards per carry.


5. Winning culture now in place

Last season, the Cougars finished with nine wins for the first time since 2003. It also marked the second time in three seasons Washington State reached a bowl game under Leach. The program has finally risen from the abyss where it sank after Mike Price left Pullman more than a decade ago. Leach has the right players in place for his system and confidence is sky high now that these players know they can win in the Pac-12.


— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter

5 Reasons Why Washington State can be a Dark Horse Pac-12 Contender in 2016
Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Tech Hokies
Path: /college-football/why-justin-fuente-will-succeed-virginia-tech

Frank Beamer may not have been the father of Hokie football, but he is the person that brought into national prominence. Now Justin Fuente steps into the role as the head coach in Blacksburg and he knows that following a legend is never easy.


But the time was right for a change at Virginia Tech and the hiring of Fuente was on point as well. While it’s impossible to predict what will eventually happen, there are plenty of reasons for the Hokies to be bullish on the future.




Fuente is not just a winner; he’s also a program builder. When he was hired at Memphis following the 2011 season, Fuente was inheriting a team that had won just five games in three years. Moreover, other than a modicum of success in the mid-2000s under Tommy West, Memphis had accomplished very little in its football history.


Fuente brought an energy and excitement to the program that was felt immediately. Of course, it’s not unusual for optimism to arise when a new coach comes to town. But it was how the good feelings about Fuente lingered even after beginning his tenure with 4-8 and 3-9 seasons. His message was clearly understood by everyone involved and there was no doubt that the close losses that occurred in 2013 would eventually become wins.


In 2014, it all came together. Quarterback Paxton Lynch popped as a redshirt sophomore and the Tigers won 10 games for the first time in school history. Despite losing eight defensive starters from that Miami Beach Bowl championship team, Fuente guided Memphis to nine wins and the Birmingham Bowl last fall. Yes, Lynch remained but so did the attitude that Memphis was a winning football program.


While Fuente had a couple of fabulous seasons at Memphis, he also is aware that he does not know everything. He wants a new, electric energy around the program while still remaining in touch with the history and tradition of Virginia Tech. A sign that he truly understands how embracing the past can in certain ways aid the future is his decision to retain a member of the previous administration.


Many coaches would have come into Virginia Tech and cleaned house, getting rid of all the assistant coaches and bringing in those familiar with the new system. With many around the Virginia Tech community clamoring for defensive coordinator Bud Foster to replace Beamer, some coaches might have been threatened and felt the need to eliminate that lingering shadow. But not Fuente. He is secure enough to realize that his best chance for success is to have an experienced coach running the defense and Foster is one of the best in the country.


With Foster remaining in place, Fuente will spend much of his time doing what he does best: designing a potent offense. A noted quarterback guru that coached Andy Dalton at TCU along with developing Lynch into a high NFL Draft pick, Fuente also believes in a balanced attack. Virginia Tech has struggled on offense in recent years with inconsistent quarterback play and a sluggish running game being two of the main causes. Those two areas, with the help of a hopefully improved offensive line, are where strides should be made in short order.


Virginia Tech loses a considerable amount of talent, especially off the defense, and the that features . Winning right away will not be easy.


But Fuente is building a new culture the same way he did at Memphis. And when it is complete, victories will come in bunches.


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the  for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter .


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

Why Justin Fuente Will Succeed at Virginia Tech
Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 11:45
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-miami-hurricanes-can-win-acc-coastal-2016

When Mark Richt accepted the head coaching job at the University of Miami last December, many experts said he can have the competing for an championship as early as 2016. While Clemson and Florida State are the heavy favorites in the conference, Miami has an excellent chance to represent the ACC Coastal in Charlotte on Dec. 3.




One of the biggest reasons there’s so much optimism in Coral Gables these days is because of the number of starters that return from last season’s eight-win team. Nine starters on offense are returning in 2016, including all five offensive linemen from a year ago.


That along with these five other reasons are why the Hurricanes can win the ACC Coastal in 2016.


1. Brad Kaaya is back and healthy

Despite throwing for 3,238 yards, 16 touchdowns and only five interceptions, 2015 was a rough year for the Hurricanes’ signal-caller. The junior suffered a concussion in the 58-0 loss to Clemson, which was on the same weekend the head coach who recruited him to Miami (Al Golden) was fired. Once Kaaya returned to the field, it took him a few games to return to his previous form.


Now with Richt taking over play-calling duties this season, expect Kaaya to have the best season of his career, provided he remains healthy.



When he was the head coach at Georgia, Richt loved to run a lot of play action to open up deep ball opportunities and that fits Kaaya’s skill set very well. Now that Miami is finally running a scheme that puts Kaaya in the best position to win, the Hurricanes’ offense could be one of the best in the ACC, Florida State and Clemson included.


2. Hurricanes have a number of offensive playmakers

Besides Kaaya, Miami has a lot of other talented players that could shine in 2016. One of them is running back Gus Edwards. After missing the entire 2015 season because of a foot injury, Edwards was last month.


The junior from Staten Island, N.Y., rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown in the annual spring game as the most impressive running back in the scrimmage.


Also returning in the Hurricanes’ backfield is 1,000-yard rusher Joseph Yearby.


Miami will need talented wide receivers Stacey Coley, Braxton Berrios and Lawrence Cager to improve their play, but the potential is there.


3. The improving offensive line

To say Miami’s offensive line has been terrible the past couple of seasons would be an understatement. The horrendous play of the line played a role in Kaaya’s concussion against Clemson. While the offensive line appeared to have made some strides in the spring, that unit still has a lot of room for improvement.


One thing that was encouraging from watching spring practices was the team’s blitz recognition and reaction. Miami was often confused when defenses decided to blitz last season.


4. Defense should improve under Diaz

When Golden and former defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio ran their 3-4 defense during their regime, the team wanted to be bigger and stronger than the opposition’s offensive line. Under new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, team speed is more of a priority than size.


During the spring, players such as Gerald Willis and Shaquille Quarterman appeared to be much lighter and faster when pursuing ball carriers.


It’s no secret that the Hurricanes’ defense was among one of the worst in college football in the Golden era. With Diaz now running the defense, there’s nowhere to go but up.


5. The schedule is favorable 

Miami will play its first two games (Florida A&M, FAU) at home before going on the road to Appalachian State on Sept. 17. In ACC play, the Hurricanes will not play Clemson this season, but they will face NC State in cross-division play on Nov. 19.



What helps Miami is both Florida State and North Carolina come to SunLife Stadium. Even if the Hurricanes were to lose to the Seminoles, a win over the Tar Heels, which have question marks of their own to address, could determine the winner of the ACC Coastal Division.


— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley

5 Reasons Why the Miami Hurricanes Can Win the ACC Coastal in 2016
Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 10:45
Path: /college-football/5-things-need-happen-nebraska-be-top-25-team-2016

Consider 5Dimes Sportsbook to be a bigger fan of head coach Mike Riley than a few Big Red backers. 5Dimes has the Huskers sitting at an over/under of 9.5 wins for the upcoming season which would easily put them in 2016’s Top 25.




Here’s what they need to do to get there.


1. Tommy Armstrong Must Improve

Consider this to be No. 1 out of everything that absolutely must happen for the Cornhuskers to have the type of year they want. While Armstrong has a bevy of talented receivers, his feet are a more reliably dangerous weapon.


If he is going to continue heaving the deep ball, he has to up his accuracy or he’s handicapping his team with wasted downs. So far, he’s shown that he’s far better off hitting a 15-yard route and letting his receivers take over.


Using Armstrong as a dual-threat quarterback in the truest sense should bring wins and plenty of them. Keeping him to a sweet spot of 25 passes per game (30 tops) is the way to go if he can manage to get a hot hand and remain efficient.




2. Offensive Line Must Help Provide Balance

Despite being younger overall, this unit has the potential to not only keep Armstrong safe in the pocket but also provide running room for Devine Ozigbo, Terrell Newby and Mikale Wilbon.


Nick Gates and David Knevel at left and right tackle, respectively, looked fantastic this spring and Gerald Foster truly has come into his own at left guard. Tanner Farmer took over at the right guard spot, but the real question is who’ll play center?


Dylan Utter had been doing so through most of spring practice, but he didn’t participate in the Red-White Spring Game with redshirt freshman Michael Decker filling in and looking, well, really good in his place.


Regardless of who eventually claims the spot in the middle, this is a group that will be challenged to dig deep and find their inner road graders. Fortunately, they have what should be two relatively easy opponents in Fresno State and Wyoming as tune-ups before Oregon comes calling.


If they can open holes for their backs and keep Armstrong upright and able to scramble in space, good things are in the Huskers’ future.


3. Defensive Line Must Step Up

This statement nearly runs across the board. Defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun is poised for a big year, but new defensive line coach John Parella needs to find a complementary pass rusher.


In addition, Nebraska loses four defensive tackles with eligibility in Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine who are now on NFL rosters, Kevin Williams, who transferred to Michigan State, and Greg McMullen, who has hung up his cleats.


The good news is that Parella has quality talent to work with in Kevin Maurice, Mick Stoltenberg, brothers Carlos and Khalil Davis and Peyton Newell.


Parella’s going to earn his paycheck right quick.


4. Defense Needs to Get Back to Takeaways

Nebraska sat at a horrific minus-12 in turnover margin last season primarily thanks to Armstrong’s erratic passing. Regardless of whether or not he cuts down on interceptions, the Blackshirts need to get back to forcing the Husker offense back onto the field.


Creating fumbles and snagging interceptions must become far more frequent and the Huskers have recruited the types of athletes that can make this a reality. However, those plans need to materialize immediately.


5. Special Teams Must Be Reliable As a Whole

Drew Brown is as reliable as his brother when it comes to kicking and Sam Foltz is one of the best punters in the land. Nebraska will find someone electric to return kicks and punts either from the current roster or the crop of incoming recruits.


What needs to improve is the return game in its entirety. Special teams coordinator Bruce Read has already received a hefty dose of criticism after Nebraska ranked as one of the very worst teams in the country with 17.6 yards per kick return and a middling 10.4 taken back on each punt last season.


The Huskers have return threats at the ready, especially if De’Mornay Pierson-El comes back at 100 percent, but even he can’t take it to the house without proper blocking.


— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to like his follow him on Twitter () and on Periscope ().

5 Things That Need to Happen for Nebraska to be a Top 25 Team in 2016
Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 10:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-conference-usas-college-football-coaches-2016

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.


This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.


A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?


Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking. Athlon's editorial staff has voted on a ranking of coaches for all 10 conferences. Here are the results for Conference USA:


Ranking C-USA's College Football Coaches for 2016


1. Jeff Brohm, WKU

In just two seasons at WKU, Brohm has quickly emerged as the No. 1 coach in Conference USA. Brohm was promoted to head coach in 2014 after Bobby Petrino left to return to Louisville. The Hilltoppers finished 8-5 in Brohm’s first year but claimed the Conference USA title with a 12-2 mark in 2015. Additionally, Brohm has emerged as one of the top offensive minds in the Group of 5 ranks. WKU has ranked inside of the top 10 nationally in scoring offense over the last two seasons and finished third nationally by averaging 7.23 yards a play in 2015. Even with quarterback Brandon Doughty off to the NFL, WKU’s program is in good hands with Brohm leading the way.




2. Doc Holliday, Marshall

Holliday is known for his recruiting prowess, but he’s doing more than just winning on signing day for the Thundering Herd. Holliday is 50-28 in six seasons and has guided Marshall to three consecutive years of at least 10 wins. The Thundering Herd won the 2014 Conference USA title and finished No. 23 nationally in the Associated Press poll. Additionally, Marshall is 4-0 in bowl games under Holliday’s watch. 


3. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech

Holtz’s three-year run at South Florida ended after a 16-21 record, but the rest of his resume as a head coach features plenty of highlights. After a four-year stint as an assistant at Notre Dame from 1990-93, Holtz was hired as UConn’s head coach and recorded a 34-23 mark in five seasons. With a chance to work under his father Lou Holtz, Skip returned to the assistant ranks in 1999 at South Carolina and remained with the Gamecocks until 2004. Holtz took over East Carolina’s program in 2005 and guided the Pirates to a 38-27 record and four consecutive bowl trips. While the stint at USF was a disappointment, Holtz is back on track with a 22-17 mark in three years at Louisiana Tech.




4. Rick Stockstill, MTSU

Consistent. That’s the best way to describe Stockstill’s tenure at MTSU. Since taking over the program in 2006, Stockstill has guided the Blue Raiders to a 64-61 record and has four bowl appearances over the last seven years. MTSU has a winning mark in league play over the last four seasons and has only one year of fewer than six wins since 2009. With one of the league’s top quarterback-receiver combinations (Brent Stockstill to Richie James) in place, 2016 could be the perfect opportunity for Stockstill to break through and win the Conference USA East title.


5. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion

Old Dominion is a program with a lot of potential, and Wilder has the Monarchs poised to challenge for a bowl bid in their third season at the FBS level. Wilder is the first coach at Old Dominion since the program returned to the gridiron in 2009. The Monarchs went 9-2 in their first season, followed by an 8-3 mark in 2010. Wilder led the program to an 21-5 record from 2011-12, which included back-to-back trips to the FCS playoffs. After finishing 8-4 in a transition year to the FBS level, Old Dominion is 11-12 over the last two seasons and just missed on a bowl appearance last year. Wilder should have the Monarchs in contention for a winning record this fall.


6. David Bailiff, Rice

With its tough academic standards, Rice is one of the toughest jobs in the Group of 5 ranks. While Bailiff has experienced his share of ups and downs since taking over in 2007, the program has won 53 games in nine years and made four bowl trips. Additionally, the Owls won the 2013 Conference USA title and have recorded two winning marks in league play over the last three seasons. After a 5-7 record last year, Bailiff will be looking to guide Rice to its fourth bowl in five years in 2016.


7. Jay Hopson, Southern Miss

Hopson is stepping into one of the most favorable roster situations of any first-year coach in 2016. Southern Miss returns 12 starters – including star quarterback Nick Mullens – from last season’s 9-5 team that claimed the Conference USA West Division title. Hopson has several stops as an assistant on his resume, including stints at Marshall, Ole Miss, Michigan, Memphis and Southern Miss. The Mississippi native was hired as Alcorn State’s head coach in 2012 and guided the Braves to a 32-17 mark in four seasons. With previous experience at Southern Miss, success in his only head coaching stop and ties to the state, Hopson looks like a good fit in Hattiesburg.




8. Sean Kugler, UTEP

Injuries hit UTEP hard last season, including an early season-ending ailment to standout running back Aaron Jones. As a result, the Miners slipped to 5-7 in Kugler’s third year on the job. However, UTEP is just one season removed from a 7-6 mark and a bowl appearance in 2014, and a quick rebound should be anticipated for 2016. Kugler is 14-23 in three seasons with the Miners.


9. Ron Turner, FIU

Turner wasn’t the most popular hire after Mario Cristobal’s firing, but FIU has increased its win total in back-to-back years after a 1-11 mark in 2013. The Panthers finished 4-8 in 2014 and nearly qualified for a bowl with a 5-7 mark last season. Turner also has prior stints as a head coach from stops at San Jose State (1992) and Illinois (1997-04). His all-time record as a coach is 52-87, but he did lead the Fighting Illini to a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2001. With 13 starters back, Turner has a good chance to lead FIU to a bowl game in 2016.


10. Charlie Partridge, FAU

Partridge was known for his recruiting connections in the state of Florida when he was hired as FAU’s head coach in 2014. As expected, the Owls have recruited well over the last three classes, and there’s a strong core of promising players in place for 2016. The on-field results have been slow for Partridge, as he’s posted back-to-back 3-9 campaigns to start his tenure. Prior to taking over at FAU, Partridge was an assistant under Bret Bielema at Wisconsin and Arkansas and also had a stint at Pittsburgh from 2003-07. This is his first opportunity to be a head coach, so it’s no surprise Patridge is still learning on the job entering year three.


11. Brad Lambert, Charlotte

Building a program from scratch isn’t easy. And it’s even harder to accomplish that goal by transitioning from the FCS to the FBS level. That’s the challenge facing Lambert at Charlotte, as the 49ers are 12-22 over the last three seasons, including a 2-10 mark in their first year at the FBS level in 2015. Prior to taking over as Charlotte’s head coach, Lambert worked from 2001-10 under Jim Grobe at Wake Forest. The fourth-year coach seems to have this program trending in the right direction.




12. Seth Littrell, North Texas

Littrell looks like a good fit at North Texas, but he inherited a team in need of a lot of help after a 1-11 record in 2015. Littrell comes to Denton after two seasons at North Carolina, working under coach Larry Fedora as the program’s offensive coordinator. Prior to North Carolina, Littrell worked as an assistant at Indiana, Arizona and Texas Tech. The Oklahoma native’s background with the Air Raid offense should help North Texas attract plenty of offensive talent into the program.


13. Frank Wilson, UTSA

Wilson is regarded as an ace recruiter, and his ability to attract talent to a program should be a huge benefit to UTSA. There’s no shortage of talent in San Antonio and the surrounding area, but the first-year coach has to prove he’s more than just a recruiter. Wilson has never worked as a head coach or a coordinator at the FBS level. His only experience as a head coach came in high school, leading O.P. Walker High School from 2000-03. 


(Photos of Jeff Brohm courtesy of )

Ranking Conference USA's College Football Coaches for 2016
Post date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/eli-apple-mom-annie-espn-sunday-nfl-countdown-contributor-giants-rookie

ESPN is branching out when it comes to its talent.


The worldwide leader tapped Eli Apple's mom Annie for a new contributor role, and she happily obliged. 


"Annie caught our attention during the NFL Draft and when we met with her in-person at ESPN we were blown away by her relatability, her sense of humor and just how unafraid she is to speak her mind," an ESPN coordinator said. "Annie brings a very unique perspective as the mother of a current NFL player and as a fan, and we look forward to exploring a variety of different story ideas with her on Sunday NFL Countdown."



This is sure to liven up the show this fall. Annie even tweeted about her excitement. 


Post date: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 15:27
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-alabama-can-get-back-college-football-playoff-2016

Just when everybody thought they could finally write off last season after a 43-37 loss to Ole Miss on Sept. 19, the Crimson Tide reeled off 12 straight wins en route to a national championship. It was Alabama's fourth title in the past seven years. President Obama and Nick Saban have become quite familiar with one another.


So what now for Alabama? The Crimson Tide return only 11 starters from last year's championship team and will have to replace their starting quarterback and running back. It seems like this should be the year the Tide takes a step back, but haven't we been wrong in saying that for a few years now?


Truthfully, we know that Alabama reloads better than any team in football and we know the Crimson Tide will be in the mix to get back to the College Football Playoff in 2016. Why else would Alabama check in at ?




Here are five reasons why the Crimson Tide could very well end up with an opportunity to make it back-to-back national titles come January.


1. Big Uglies

Although long-time center Ryan Kelly and right tackle Dominick Jackson are gone, the offensive line is an area where Alabama has a ton of depth. The Crimson Tide return senior right guard Alphonse Taylor, and Ross Pierschbacher now has a full season under his belt. Pierschbacher will move from left guard to center to take over for Kelly. Having those two back will help Alabama tremendously in the running game, but it is the depth that will make the biggest difference. Alabama now has former prized recruits, such as Lester Cotton, Dallas Warmack and Brandon Kennedy eager to fill in. I would be remiss to not mention the situation with one of the best left tackles in the country, Cam Robinson, who is currently facing a felony weapons charge. Of course, it will benefit Alabama greatly on the field if Robinson is able to return. Regardless, this position group is a strength, which should help new running back Bo Scarbrough get rolling.


2. Wide Receivers

If the offensive line and running backs gel early, that will be great for Alabama. But, as strange as this may sound, Alabama may have to rely on its wide receivers to make plays early in the season. Of course, the Crimson Tide will need to settle on a quarterback, but fans should feel confident knowing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will make that happen. Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett both have progressed well over the offseason. Whoever Alabama's starting quarterback ends up being should feel confident in his receiving corps. The star of the group, Calvin Ridley, is back after setting Alabama's single-season freshman receiving record with 1,045 yards last year. ArDarius Stewart, who was stellar in spring practice, and Robert Foster will join Ridley on the outside. As an added bonus, the Tide returns tight end O.J. Howard, the offensive MVP of last year's national championship game. It's safe to say Kiffin and Saban feel good about this group going into the fall.


3. Defense (Nick Saban)

Yes, Kirby Smart finally left the nest and went to Georgia to be the Bulldogs’ head coach, but make no mistake about it, this is Saban's defense. And it always has been. While there may be some loss of continuity with Smart's departure, everything should be just fine. Saban has built plenty of depth on the defensive side, and he'll still be calling the shots when it matters. Plus, Saban brought in Jeremy Pruitt as Alabama's new defensive coordinator, which some would argue is actually an upgrade. Pruitt was born in Alabama, played at Alabama, and has already coached at Alabama. There is plenty of familiarity. He will get to work with some incredible talent, including the likes of defensive end Jonathan Allen, who decided to hold off a year on the NFL Draft. Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson will lead the way for a relatively young defensive line. Alabama loses Reggie Ragland to the NFL, but still retains plenty of depth at linebacker. The secondary should be scary with Eddie Jackson, Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick coming back.


4. Griffith & Scott

Chances are Alabama will be in a few close games this fall with road trips to Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU on the slate. The schedule really doesn't do the Crimson Tide any favors. Fortunately, Alabama will have an advantage over most of its opponents when it comes to special teams. Kicker Adam Griffith comes into his senior year after earning second-team All-SEC honors in 2015. Griffith has had some tough moments in his career, often struggling with consistency. But he's finally ready for a breakout year. His marked improvement last season supports that claim. After missing his first four field goals of the year, Griffith went 23-of-28, which included hitting all three of his attempts against LSU and going a perfect 5-for-5 against Auburn. Alabama also returns one of the nation's finest punters in JK Scott. Improving on his average yards per punt each week last season, Scott finished the year at 44.2 per kick. More importantly, he downed 25 of those inside the 20-yard line. Field position and clutch field goals late in games are two aspects of football that can't be overlooked.


5. Experience

Perhaps the most important reason Alabama has a chance to get back to the College Football Playoff is its experience in doing so. The Crimson Tide have made it to college football's final four in each of the past two seasons. The players on the team expect to be there and they know what it takes to make it happen. That is a real, intangible luxury that the Crimson Tide have over other teams. Alabama was tested in 2014 and ‘15, losing to Ole Miss early. But the Tide found a way to win the SEC championship both times, advancing to the Playoff each season. National championships are the standard in Tuscaloosa, and because of that, Saban and his players have figured out how to win when it matters most. There simply isn't a team in college football that is better on the big stage than Alabama. If the Crimson Tide can get through a gauntlet of a schedule either undefeated, or with only one loss, they will be right back where we're used to seeing them.


— 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 .

5 Reasons Why Alabama Can Get Back to the College Football Playoff in 2016
Post date: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/space-jam-2-caused-sports-report-get-awkward-kron-anchor

"Space Jam 2" is already ruining lives and it's not even in production yet.


A television station in San Francisco was a part of an awkward exchange between a sports reporter and news anchor. Apparently Gary Radnich, the resident sports guy at KRON 4, was a little annoyed by the fact that news anchor Catherine Heenan covered that topic beforehand.


At one point Radnich mentioned that she should "stay in her lane." Awkward.



Radnich claims he was just kidding but if that's true, it was the performance of a lifetime.


Post date: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 11:40
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-florida-state-will-make-college-football-playoff-2016

Big things are expected of in 2016 as the Seminoles look to win at least 10 games for a fifth consecutive year, reclaim the and try to work their way into the College Football Playoff.


Those expectations are reflected in , where FSU comes in second behind only defending national champion Alabama.




The non-conference schedule for Florida State is one of the nation’s toughest and FSU has its questions at quarterback, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that the Seminoles will be one of the four teams to reach the third Playoff. Here are five reasons why Florida State will be one of college football’s final four teams standing:


1. Dalvin Cook

In a country loaded with talented running backs, including Stanford’s Christian McCaffery, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, FSU may actually have the nation’s best in Cook, a junior.


Behind an offensive line with four new starters, Cook obliterated the single-season FSU rushing record in 2015, going for 1,691 yards on the ground and 19 touchdowns. Making matters more impressive is that Cook battled a hamstring injury for most of the season and missed one contest and almost all of another.


At 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, Cook is a complete back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, pick up the tough yards and outrun defenders to the goal line. Much of Cook’s damage a season ago came after contact.


2. Experience Up Front

What was a young position for Florida State last season will likely be one of its biggest strengths in 2016 as all five starters return along the offensive line.


Tackle Roderick Johnson (6-7, 307) is the best of the bunch and has . Guard Wilson Bell was the only other Seminole to start every game up front last season, but Kareem Are did enough in his nine games last year to earn third-team All-ACC honors from the conference’s coaches.


Alec Eberle will battle Corey Martinez and Ryan Hoefeld for the starting center spot while incumbent Brock Ruble and converted defensive end Rick Leonard will compete for snaps at right tackle. The Seminoles also have a lot of promising young linemen like Abdul Bello, Cole Minshew and Derrick Kelly who could see action this season.


3. Depth and Talent in the Secondary

Replacing Jalen Ramsey, the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, won’t be easy, but it is conceivable that the FSU secondary could actually improve in 2016. The Seminoles have a nice mix of youth and talent in the defensive backfield and are extremely deep.


Sophomore safety Derwin James is expected to while senior cornerback Marquez White performed admirably in his first season as a starter opposite Ramsey. Nate Andrews, a senior, has twice led the Seminoles in interceptions and junior Trey Marshall is back after missing the last half of 2015 with a bicep injury.


At the other cornerback position, Marcus Lewis made tremendous strides during the spring while Tarvarus McFadden, a sophomore, and incoming freshman Levonta Taylor are each former five-star prospects. Calvin Brewton, A.J. Westbrook and Carlos Becker are among other first- and second-year players who could make an impact.


4. The Pass Rush

After recording just 17 sacks in 2014, getting to the quarterback was a noticeable area of improvement last season. The Seminoles recorded 32 sacks and 24.5 of those, or about 77 percent, return this season.


The unit is led by DeMarcus Walker, who notched 10.5 sacks as a junior last season after tallying just one in each of his first two seasons in Tallahassee. Josh Sweat, a sophomore, is extremely talented on the opposite side of the line while the interior combination of Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas features two players capable of wreaking havoc.


The aforementioned James and linebacker Jacob Pugh both return after ranking second and third on the team in sacks with a combined 7.5.


5. Key Games at Home

Florida State will face four FBS schools that won at least 10 games a season ago, but fortunately for the Seminoles, none of them are on the road.


FSU will open the season in Orlando on Sept. 5 against an Ole Miss squad that was the only team to beat eventual national champion Alabama. The Rebels went 10-3 last year and defeated Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl.


The Seminoles also will face reigning ACC Coastal champion North Carolina on Oct. 1, reigning ACC champion and national runner-up Clemson on Oct. 29 and reigning SEC East champion Florida on Nov. 26. All three of those contests will be at home, where the Seminoles are 21-0 over the last three seasons.




- Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the editor of Like The Daily Nole on and follow Mike on Twitter

5 Reasons Florida State Will Make the College Football Playoff in 2016
Post date: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-ohio-state-will-contend-college-football-playoff-2016

At first glance, it would make complete sense for a casual college football fan to dismiss as a College Football Playoff contender during the 2016 season. Think about the talent lost — 12 players chosen during the 2016 NFL Draft, including five in the first 20 picks. Every single player drafted was a significant contributor to Ohio State's 2014 national championship team.


Peer closer, and you will see why Ohio State fans are brimming with a quiet optimism heading into the 2016 season. It’s a sentiment that’s supported by the fact that Urban Meyer’s team is ranked .




Below are five good reasons why Ohio State could very well be in the running for another national championship, even with such

a dramatic talent exodus to the NFL.


1. The Strength of These Buckeyes...

Is in the middle on both sides of the ball. Fifth-year senior Pat Elflein resisted the opportunity to jump to the NFL, and moved to center. A two-time All-Big Ten selection at guard, Elflein plays with a toughness and nastiness along the offensive line that will solidify the unit. On the defensive side of the ball, junior Raekwon McMillan has emerged as one of the better middle linebackers in the country, qualifying as a Butkus Award finalist during the 2015 season. And another one of the strengths in the middle is at the quarterback position with redshirt junior J.T. Barrett, which leads me to this point...


2. There is No Quarterback Controversy in Columbus This Season

For all of the talk last summer and early fall about how the quarterback battle between Barrett and former Buckeye/current Buffalo Bill Cardale Jones would not impact the team, the inconsistent offensive results displayed by the 2015 Buckeyes said otherwise. Barrett is the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes this season, and the offense will be completely focused around Barrett's strengths running an attack that should look more like 2014 than ‘15.




3. There is a Major Youth Movement in Columbus

And that is by necessity. More than half of the Ohio State roster is comprised of either redshirt freshmen or true freshmen, and head coach Urban Meyer has vowed to push his coaching staff to get the players ready to play and contribute this season. With recruiting classes that have been routinely ranked among the nation's best since Meyer arrived in Columbus in November 2012, these players are eager to show what they can do, if given the opportunity. This team will continue to get better and better each week of the 2016 season. Former Ohio State head coach John Cooper was fond of using an old Darrell Royal statement: "If a dog is going to bite you, it will bite you as a pup..." This is a young team, eager to show off its bite.


4. The Schedule is in Ohio State's Favor

Ohio State starts off with two home games, versus Bowling Green and Tulsa, before venturing to Norman, Okla., to take on the favored Sooners. Considering this game is in the third week of the season, Ohio State can use this game as a barometer of how it ranks against another highly-touted squad. Even if Ohio State loses, the Buckeyes can grow from this loss, rebounding in a manner comparable to what the 2014 squad did after the loss to Virginia Tech. Challenging games midseason are at night, on the road, at Wisconsin and at Penn State. Ohio State has to travel to East Lansing on Nov. 21, with revenge on the mind against the Spartans. The season concludes with "THE GAME" in Columbus, on Nov. 28 against Jim Harbaugh and "That Team Up North," the Michigan Wolverines. Look for the Wolverines to possibly be ranked higher when that game comes to pass. And that leads me to...




5. The Disrespect Card

Even if Ohio State is highly ranked by Athlon Sports, Meyer will seize upon the other publications and Web sites that do not view the Buckeyes in the same light, whether that’s in the the B1G or nationally. A master motivator, Meyer will repeatedly stoke the flames of disrespect and disregard within his squad, reminding them that the college football world does not believe these Buckeyes are ready to compete for the College Football Playoff this season.


Will Ohio State make the College Football Playoff after a one-year hiatus? For all of the reasons referenced above, I would not bet against Meyer and the Buckeyes.


— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Follow him on Twitter .

5 Reasons Why Ohio State Will Contend for the College Football Playoff in 2016
Post date: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /college-football/5-players-need-step-clemson-tigers-2016

With a Heisman Trophy finalist surrounded by a slew of talented offensive skill players returning, nothing short of a return trip to the College Football Playoff will be deemed a success for . For some, the expectations may be even higher for the Tigers, which check in at .




The offense will put up huge numbers; that can be counted on. But there are a couple spots on the offensive line that are open, and for the second year in a row defensive coordinator Brent Venables will have several new starters on his unit.


Here are five Clemson Tigers that will be looked upon to do more this coming fall.


Jake Fruhmorgen, Offensive Tackle (6-6, 280)

In his only year as a true starter for Clemson, Joe Gore did a nice job at right tackle. Now the torch is passed to Fruhmorgen. The sophomore came to Clemson out of Plant High School in Tampa as a highly regarded prospect that was coveted by the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Notre Dame. After a year in the system, Fruhmorgen will team with classmate Mitch Hyatt in bookending what should be another very strong Clemson offensive front.


Taylor Hearn, Offensive Guard, (6-5, 330)

After redshirting in 2014, Hearn (above, right) spent much of last season as Hyatt’s back up at left tackle. But his size and physicality make him a better option inside and he will shift over to the guard spot next to Hyatt. Fruhmorgen and Hearn have a higher ceiling than the departing linemen and if they can smoothly adjust to their starting roles, this Clemson offense could be very, very explosive.


Jadar Johnson, Safety (6-1, 205)

The Orangeburg, S.C., product played in all 15 games last year and registered 15 tackles. With Jayron Kearse now with the Minnesota Vikings, the Tigers have a void at strong safety and Johnson is next in line. A senior, Johnson knows this is his final season to display his talents for Clemson fans (and NFL scouts). He was very impressive this spring and the Tiger staff is hoping that he serves as one of the defensive leaders.


Christian Wilkins, Defensive Tackle (6-4, 315)

Wilkins was very active as a true freshman and Clemson will be looking for even more this season. The Longmeadow, Mass., native has the ability to play outside depending on the situation but his agility for his size makes him a difficult player to deal with on the inside, especially on passing downs. With Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson now in the NFL, it’s unlikely that Clemson will get the same production from its defensive ends. So they will need Wilkins to emerge and ease the burden on Austin Bryant and the other outside linemen.




Kendall Joseph, Middle Linebacker (6-0, 230)

Joseph had an opportunity to be the starting middle linebacker going into 2015. But he was injured twice during fall camp and by the time he was healthy, B.J. Goodson had cemented his place as the Mike backer. Now 100 percent once again, Joseph is charged with replacing Goodson and his 108 tackles. The talent is there, but as the middle linebacker Joseph must also be the quarterback of a defense that will feature several new starters.


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the  for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter .

5 Players That Need to Step Up for Clemson in 2016
Post date: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 10:30