Articles By Athlon Sports
When Robert Griffin III limped off the field last Sunday, it figured to be a devastating injury for the Washington Redskins. He’s their most dynamic player and the reason they’ve made a race out of the NFC East. His loss would’ve changed the outlook of the entire division.
Fantasy golf season is almost here, meaning that it's time to dust off the dumb, dirty and/or tasteless puns and come up with a team name. Here’s our list for 2013, in no particular order of awesomeness.
Weapons of Grass Destruction
This reference worked a little better in 2002.
Sure to induce a few giggles at the draft table.
This one’s almost too obvious.
Now we’re talking. That’s pretty creative.
The Fore Horsemen
The “fore” genre provides a deep well of name choices. Some of them are pretty crude. Use your imagination.
The ball genre is fertile ground for your golf fantasy team name. And for cheap laughs.
No. 1 Balls in Golf
Maybe your team could get a Titleist sponsorship.
Dude, Where’s My Par?
Nice. Golf clap for that one.
Sultans of Swing
Nothing says golf like a late 1970s Dire Straits reference.
Fairway to Heaven
Going even further into the music archives. Can’t go wrong with classic Zep.
Caddyshack references always work.
Ditto for Happy Gilmore references.
Working on my Putz
Sure, it’s stolen from that talking baby commercial. But it’s still solid.
Grip It and Sip It
Could be a good slogan for John Daly's new cocktail, which actually exists.
The Swinging Johnsons
What? We’re just talking about Dustin and Zach.
A Shingo Ate My Baby
Sure, Shingo Katayama's an obscure player, but his name's worth its weight in fantasy golf gold.
Brandt Awareness or The Grateful Sned
Brandt Snedeker's name brings fantasy possibilities.
May the Schwartzel Be With You
A Spaceballs reference combined with a Masters champ equals fantasy gem.
Fists of Furyk
Back to the Kuchar
The Bogey Men
The DrawShank Redemptions
Who's Your Caddy
Droppin' A Deuce
The Ball Washers
The Long Balls
The Happy Hookers
RELATED: 50 Funny Fantasy Football Team Names
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.
Manziel edged Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o to earn college football's most prestigious award.
The redshirt freshman received 474 first-place votes for 2,029 total points compared to Te'o's 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points, which was the most- ever scored by a purely defensive player in the history of the award.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein came in third place with 60 first-place votes and 894 points.
"This is a moment that I've dreamed about since I was a little kid," said Manziel. "I wish my whole team could be up here tonight, especially my offensive linemen and offensive teammates."
Manziel broke the SEC record for total offense by passing for 3,419 yards and rushing for 1,181 more while totaling 43 touchdowns -- 24 through the air.
In Texas A&M's first season in the vaunted SEC, Manziel led the Aggies to a trip to the Cotton Bowl behind a 10-2 record, which included a win over then- No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 10.
Aside from becoming the first Texas A&M player to win the Heisman since John David Crow back in 1957, Manziel also captured the Davey O'Brien award for the nation's top quarterback, the SEC Freshman of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors.
"I get the chance to stand up here when, really, there could be five offensive lineman standing up here in the spotlight because they really deserve just as much, if not more, credit," Manziel said after hearing his name called for the award.
Te'o was seeking to become the first true defensive player the win the Heisman and the eighth Notre Dame player to receive the award.
Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson captured the Heisman in 1997, but he also appeared as a kick returner and wide receiver for the Wolverines.
The senior amassed a team-high 101 tackles and a career-best seven interceptions for the top-ranked Irish, who are set the play No. 2 Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7.
Te'o, however, did become the first person ever to win both the Bednarik and Maxwell Awards, as well as capturing the Walter Camp Award, the Butkus Award, the Nagurski Award and the Lombardi Award this season, making him the most decorated player in college football history.
Klein was trying to become Kansas State's first-ever Heisman winner.
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award recipient passed for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding 890 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns for the 11-1 Wildcats, who will face off against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.
Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) - Butch Jones is leaving Cincinnati to become the head football coach at Tennessee.
Jones resigned from his position at Cincinnati on Friday morning.
The 44-year-old Jones was the coach of the Bearcats for the past three years, recording a 23-14 record during that span. He guided Cincinnati to back-to- back conference championships in 2011 and 2012 and was named Big East Coach of the Year in 2011.
"I would like to thank Butch Jones for his time at the University of Cincinnati," director of athletics Whit Babcock said. "With that said, we are excited about the future of this program and this job will be extremely attractive nationally. Our search will begin immediately."
Cincinnati named Steve Stripling interim head coach for the Belk Bowl.
Jones decided to go with Tennessee after reportedly turning down an offer to become the new coach at Colorado earlier this week.
At Tennessee, Jones will succeed Derek Dooley, who was fired on Nov. 18 following an embarrassing 41-18 road loss at Vanderbilt. Dooley posted a losing record in each of his three seasons in Knoxville.
The Volunteers went 5-7 this season with a 1-7 mark in the SEC.
"It is truly an honor and a privilege to be the head football coach at the University of Tennessee," Jones said. "I understand the values, traditions, and level of expectations that come with this position, and I look forward to being a part of the Vol Nation."
Prior to taking the job at Cincinnati, Jones spent three years as the head coach at Central Michigan. Jones went 27-13 as coach of the Chippewas, winning MAC Championships in 2007 and 2009.
Jones is a native of Michigan and spent two years as wide receivers coach at West Virginia before being named Central Michigan's head coach in 2007.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein has been named the winner of the 2012 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Klein was selected from an original field of 29 of college’s top quarterbacks, including finalists A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Geno Smith (West Virginia), Matt Barkley (USC), and E.J. Manuel (Florida State).
Named after the man many refer to as the greatest quarterback ever to play the game of football, The Golden Arm Award will be presented to Klein on December 7 at a ceremony held from 6-9 pm at The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore.
“Collin is not just a tremendous athlete and leader on the field, but an MVP off the field as well, who repeatedly has been recognized for his numerous contributions to the community and to the spirit of sportsmanship” says John C. Unitas, Jr., President of The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation.
As a player who will go down as one of the best in K-State history as both a passer and runner, Klein ranks in the top 10 in school history in rushing touchdowns (1st; 55), touchdown responsibility (1st; 84), scoring (2nd; 336), total yards (3rd; 7,028), passing efficiency (3rd; 141.05), rushing attempts (3rd; 588), rushing yards (5th; 2,455), completions (5th, 353), passing touchdowns (t6th; 29), passing yards (7th; 4,573) and pass attempts (8th; 572). His 55 rushing touchdowns also rank fourth in Big 12 history and second among quarterbacks.
This year alone, Klein has completed 180 of 272 passes for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Off the field, Klein has been a star as well, leading him to be named a finalist for the ARA Sportsmanship Award, honoring the player that best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship, and one of 11 FBS players selected for the AFCA Good Works team, recognizing positive impact in the community.
“Collin joins a prestigious list of top quarterbacks who embody the characteristics that made Johnny Unitas such an enduring legend, including many who have gone on to illustrious careers in the NFL,” says Unitas, Jr.
Former winners of the Golden Arm Award include Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Carson Palmer (USC, 2002), Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2003), Brady Quinn (Notre Dame, 2006), Matt Ryan (Boston College, 2007), Colt McCoy (Texas, 2009), and Andrew Luck (Stanford, 2011).
Candidates for the Golden Arm Award must be completing college eligibility or be a fourth-year junior, on schedule to graduate with his class. Candidates are judged upon character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments.
Proceeds from the Golden Arm Award help to support the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. The Foundation provides financial assistance to underprivileged and deserving young scholar-athletes throughout Maryland and Kentucky.
There are 22 teams in the NFL that can make at least a decent case to their fans that they’re still somehow in the playoff hunt, and maybe another handful that can at least stretch the definition of “in” with four games remaining in the season.
But the reality is the field isn’t that wide. Most of the division races are all but settled and the wild-card picture is starting to take shape. For more than half of the teams in the NFL this season is shaping up as a disappointment as they come to grips with the reality that they’ve already crushed their own Super Bowl dreams.
Some disappointments, though, are much greater than others. Some players and teams have collapsed despite incredibly high expectations. So here’s a look at the five biggest underachievers in the NFL:
Panthers QB Cam Newton
His rookie year was so good, the expectations for Year 2 were going to be unreasonably high. But no one expected his Panthers to fall apart so badly. It’s not all Newton’s fault that Carolina has stumbled to 3-9, but he’s been unable to do what good quarterbacks are supposed to do – lift his team up.
His completion percentage has dipped, but what’s most alarming is his 14-to-10 touchdown to interception ratio. It’s alarming because it’s only that good because he’s thrown six touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last three games. His start was so poor it buried the Panthers in a hole they simply couldn’t climb out of. And in an extremely tough division it even has some worrying about Carolina’s prospects for next year.
The Saints defense
The spectre of BountyGate, the suspension of the head coach, his top assistant, the GM and several players all have made this a difficult season for the Saints, as evidenced by their 0-4 start. They’ve rallied nicely since then to get to the fringe of the playoff race, but it hasn’t been enough.
Why? Because the defense stinks, which is shocking considering it’s led by Steve Spagnuolo, a strong defensive coach who won a Super Bowl as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. His defense this year is statistically the worst in the NFL. It’s also the worst against the run and 30th against the pass.
If they were even just a little better, the Saints might have already secured a playoff berth – and nobody would want to play them in the NFC.
The Detroit Lions
For a couple of years this team has been like a sleeping giant in the NFL, loaded with weapons on both sides of the ball and finally a solid plan from the coaches’ office. When they went 10-6 in 2011 and secured a playoff berth they looked to be a legitimate contender in the NFC.
Then what happened? Controversies. Arrests. Ndamakong Suh’s anger issues. Comical miscues. And four straight losses that have made them what one scout called “the best 4-8 team we’ve had in years in the NFL.” That’s not much consolation to a long-suffering fan base that was expecting so much more out of Matt Stafford and co.
Eagles DE Trent Cole
The Philadelphia Eagles could have spent the last two seasons on this list after looking like a “Dream Team” a year ago. And individually you could put everyone from the coach to the quarterback on the list, too. But the most mystifying part of this team is the complete disappearance of its once feared defense, which is a shell of its former, aggressive self.
Cole is the poster child for their disappearance. In his previous six NFL seasons he never had fewer than 8 sacks. In the last three years he totaled 33.5 sacks. Then in the offsesason he signed a four-year, $48.5 million contract extension and what happens? Two sacks so far in 12 games. No one could have foreseen that.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez
He has had Jets fans clamoring for Tim Tebow and then he temporarily lost his job to Greg McElroy. That should be more than enough said. But keep in mind that this year was supposed to be the one that Sanchez finally took the big leap in his career. He had already led the Jets to two AFC championship games, and last year – which wasn’t great – he still threw for nearly 3,500 yards with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
This year? The Jets are a disaster and Sanchez’s numbers have dipped across the board. His worst numbers are his 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He’s failing to justify the $60 million contract extension he got during the offseason and isn’t exactly inspiring faith in the tough Jets fan base. The Jets might have to go in another direction soon and Sanchez’s failures could cost coach Rex Ryan his job.
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
Even since his first season as a college head coach at UMass, John Calipari has thrived with freshmen. That season in 1988-89, Calipari had a rookie Jim McCoy, who averaged 19.8 points per game.
That freshman and that team didn’t resemble the recruiting empire Calipari built at Memphis and Kentucky where a glut of talented freshmen sign with Cal, win a ton of college games in one year and then go on to be NBA Draft picks.
No, McCoy put up big numbers but went 10-18 at UMass as a freshman. He’s certainly one of Calipari’s best freshmen, but he’ll have trouble landing in the top 10 from recent years.
Sorting through Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose, John Wall and more is a tall task, but we tried to tackle it here with Calipari’s top 20 freshmen.
We included three freshmen from this season’s team, but this early in the season, their grade is incomplete. We anticipate one or all three to make a move up this list, but for now, this elite group of rookies is tough one to crack.
JOHN CALIPARI’S TOP 20 FRESHMEN
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis didn’t simply have one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history -- he had one of the best seasons of any player. If there was an award to be won or honor to receive, Davis earned it. He was the consensus national player of the year, a unanimous All-American, the national defensive player of the year and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. After leading Kentucky to its eighth national title and first championship since 1998, Davis was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The only other players to win the Naismith Award, the Final Four MOP and then be selected first overall in the draft all the in the same season were Kansas’ Danny Manning and. UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With a 7-foot-four wingspan, Davis was a defensive force, setting an NCAA freshman record and Kentucky record with 186 blocks.
2. Derrick Rose, Memphis
Hard to believe as it is, Rose wasn’t the most decorated player on his own team as a freshman. That distinction went to All-American and Conference USA player of the year Chris Douglas-Roberts. Rose belongs on this list, though, as the point guard of a team that played for a national title before falling 75-68 in overtime to Kansas. Rose averaged 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6 assists per game in the NCAA tournament, but his missed free throws late in regulation of the title game sealed Memphis’ fate. Months later, Rose was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
It’s never bad when the team’s most competitive player and glue guy happens to also be the No. 2 player in the NBA Draft (behind only teammate Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick). Kidd-Gilchrist’s intangibles were second-to-none, a trait that was absent on some of Calipari’s most talented teams. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, earning Most Outstanding Player honors for the East regional as the Wildcats reached the Final Four and eventually won the national title.
4. John Wall, Kentucky
Calipari started at Kentucky the same way he finished his time at Memphis – with an elite one-and-done point guard. Wall followed in the footsteps of Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis and preceded Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague at Kentucky. In leading Kentucky to a 35-3 season, Wall was the National Freshman of the Year and the Associated Press and coaches’ pick for SEC Player of the Year (Oddly enough, teammate DeMarcus Cousins was the coaches’ pick for SEC freshman of the year). Wall was blocked for most national player of the year awards by Ohio State’s Evan Turner, but Wall did earn the Adolph Rupp Trophy. Go figure.
5. Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Knight was a McDonald’s All-American, but his arrival wasn’t as heralded as John Wall’s to Kentucky or Derrick Rose’s to Memphis. Still, he brought similar results. Knight wasn’t a collegiate All-American like Wall, but he took Kentucky deeper into the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats first Final Four appearance since 1998.
6. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Before his devastating knee injury against Florida, Noel was having an award-worthy season even if his team paled in comparison to recent Calipari squads. When he did play, Noel was offensively limited but few were better on the defensive end of the floor. He could have challenged Davis’ blocked shots numbers and was a leading candidate for national defensive player and freshman of the year honors. The flat-topped center finished his season averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game.
7. Tyreke Evans, Memphis
After Calipari moved him to point guard, Evans had the unenviable task of stepping in for Rose, who had just led Memphis to the national championship game. Evans was a stat-sheet stuffer from the start with 17.1 points per game, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his single season at Memphis.
8. Dajuan Wagner, Memphis
Before the deluge of one-and-dones followed Calipari to Memphis and Kentucky, he had Wagner with the Tigers. He averaged 42 points per game in high school before landing in Memphis, where he averaged 21.2 points for the Tigers. Calipari revoked Wagner’s sophomore scholarship to persuade him to enter the NBA Draft, where he became the No. 6 pick. However, health and injury issues derailed his promising career.
9. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
What could Cousins’ ceiling be if he were able to tackle his maturity issues? Kentucky fans may ask the same thing. He was dominant in his single season alongside Wall in 2009-10, averaging 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds. His talent was undeniable, but so was his tendency to sulk on the sideline. Cousins and Wall went 35-3 in during the regular season before falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia.
10. Marcus Camby, UMass
Camby would go on to bigger things as a junior when UMass reached the Final Four and earning National Player of the Year honors, but his rookie season in Amherst wasn’t too shabby. Despite starting only 12 games, Camby was the Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.
Others of note:
11. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (2010-11)
12. Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky (2009-10)
13. Sean Banks, Memphis (2003-04)
14. Jim McCoy, UMass (1988-89)
15. Marquis Teague, Kentucky (2011-12)
16. Darius Washington Jr., Memphis (2004-05)
17. Will Herndon, UMass (1989-90)
18. Doron Lamb, Kentucky (2010-11)
19. Alex Poythress, Kentucky (2012-13)
20. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky (2012-13)
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Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself Saturday morning at the team's facility, moments after allegedly killing his girlfriend.
Belcher was 25 years old.
According to Kansas City police, Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times after the two had been engaged in an argument at home. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
Minutes after the first shooting, police said Belcher drove to the Chiefs' training facility at Arrowhead Stadium and spoke with team personnel, including head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, before taking his own life with a gunshot.
"When officers arrived (at Arrowhead Stadium), they observed a black male who had a gun to his head and he was talking to a couple of coaches out in the parking lot," police spokesman Darrin Snapp told reporters outside Arrowhead Stadium. "As officers pulled up and began to park, that's when they heard the gunshot and it appears the individual took his own life."
A report from the Kansas City Star said Belcher and his girlfriend had a daughter, who was only a few months old.
"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy," said Chiefs owner Clark Hunt in a statement. "We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted."
Belcher was in his fourth year with the Chiefs after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Maine. He started 10 of the 11 games he had played this season, registered 38 tackles.
The Chiefs will play Carolina on Sunday at Arrowhead and the game will go on as scheduled.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy," the NFL said in a statement. "We have connected the Chiefs with our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can."
A year ago at this time being the worst team in the NFL didn’t seem like such a horrible thing. Waiting for the ultimate loser (and the runner up) were two potential franchise quarterbacks for the ages.
Far Hills, NJ (Sports Network) - The United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced on Wednesday a proposal to ban anchored strokes.
At the core of the issue are long putters and belly putters, which have been used by three of the past five major champions.
Under Wednesday's proposal, long putters and belly putters would not be banned, just the act of anchoring any club against a player's body during a shot.
Golf's ruling bodies noted that they will take comments from the golf industry over the next three months, with an expected final decision to come in spring 2013. If the proposal is upheld, the ban will go into effect with the next official update of the Rules of Golf in 2016.
"Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball," said USGA executive director Mike Davis. "The player's challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club."
Long putters and belly putters have been around for several decades, but their use has noticeably increased in recent years, prompting Wednesday's proposal.
"Anchored strokes have very rapidly become the preferred option for a growing number of players and this has caused us to review these strokes and their impact on the game," said R&A's chief executive Peter Dawson.
Here is the proposed change, which will be listed under Rule 14-1b:
"In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either 'directly' or by use of an 'anchor point.'
"Note 1: The club is anchored 'directly' when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.
"Note 2: An 'anchor point' exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club."
While the change will not alter current equipment regulations, it will prohibit an integral part of the belly putter stroke -- anchoring.
Last year, Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship, becoming the first major champion to use a belly putter. Webb Simpson used the club to capture the U.S. Open title in June and Ernie Els anchored his way to a British Open victory in July.
Bradley has been openly opposed to the rumored proposal, but he relented somewhat on Tuesday at the 14th annual World Challenge.
"You know, I'm not -- obviously not happy with the ruling, but I respect the USGA, and especially Mike Davis," said Bradley. "They make the rules, and I'll adjust appropriately. But I'm going to accept the challenge and hopefully do well when they do ban it."
Also on Tuesday, Simpson stated that he has been practicing with a short putter for "a couple years" in anticipation of a rules change.
Tiger Woods, the host of this week's World Challenge, is a proponent of the anchoring ban.
"I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves and having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that's not in the traditions of the game," Woods said on Tuesday. "We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same. It should be a swinging motion throughout the entire bag."
Some of the game's organizations weighed in on Wednesday's ruling; generally taking a respectful wait-and-see approach.
Here are some excerpts:
"As with any rule change, we will go through our normal process of evaluating the potential impact this will have to all our constituents. It will be discussed at our next annual player meeting on January 22 in San Diego, and it is anticipated that it will be reviewed by our Policy Board during its March meeting. During this review process, we will provide periodic updates to our stakeholders."
PGA of America President Ted Bishop:
"The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment. We have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee and we have tremendous respect for the USGA in regard to their critical role in writing and interpreting the Rules of Golf. As our mission is to grow the game, on behalf of our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking them to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game."
LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann:
"The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as defined by the USGA and the R&A. We certainly respect golf's governing bodies and their long standing desire to protect and promote the best interests of the game. The proposed new Rule 14-1b prohibiting 'anchoring the club' in making a stroke is not yet final and the LPGA will wait with interest while the USGA and R&A consider further comments and suggestions from the golf community. In the meantime, we will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A."
Like Simpson, many golfers -- from those in the professional ranks, to weekend enthusiasts, will be forced to reevaluate their putting strokes following Wednesday's landmark announcement.
College hoopsters can be an honest bunch—even more so under the cover of anonymity. Athlon Sports talked to dozens of college basketball stars from coast to coast—at 50 schools in 18 conferences—and got them to open up on a variety of topics, from the hottest woman alive, to which coach (other than their own) they'd like to play for, to overrated opponents to improper benefits. Their replies are sometimes predictable (Kim Kardashian and Kate Upton, anyone?), sometimes provocative. Read on.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy closed his season in style as he birdied the final five holes to come from behind and win on Sunday in Dubai and that helped him increase his lead in this week's world rankings.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - World No. 1 Rory McIlroy closed his season in style as he birdied the final five holes to come from behind and win on Sunday in Dubai and that helped him increase his lead in this week's world rankings.
McIlroy's lead atop the rankings went from 3.53 average points to 4.33.
Luke Donald shared third behind McIlroy, but still lost ground in the rankings. Donald was again followed by Tiger Woods, who will host his World Challenge starting on Thursday.
Justin Rose took second behind McIlroy and moved up three spots to No. 4 in the latest rankings. Adam Scott remained in fifth, while Lee Westwood was down two to six and Louis Oosthuizen dropped one to seventh.
Jason Dufner held steady at No. 8 and was followed by Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker and Bubba Watson. Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson exchanged spots with Poulter up to 12th.
Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney remained in the 14th to 16th positions. Peter Hanson jumped two to 17, which bumped Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson down a spot apiece to 18 and 19. Ernie Els was 20th again this week.
But even though Notre Dame finished the regular season unbeaten and even though it received more first place votes (10) than Alabama (7), Alabama edged out Notre Dame for the No. 1 spot in the Legends Poll.
"I put Alabama No. 1, I put Notre Dame No. 2," former Ohio State coach John Cooper said. "I just think if Alabama plays Notre Dame anywhere, Alabama would beat them and that’s the reason I put them No. 1."
In one of the closest votes in the eight year history of the Legends Poll, he difference between the two teams was one point in the rankings.
For the second straight week, Georgia came in at No. 3, followed by Oregon and Florida.
No. 6 LSU remained the highest ranked two-loss team, one spot in front of Kansas State.
Texas A&M, Stanford and South Carolina rounded out the top 10.
No. 12 Florida State fell out of the top 10 after a home loss to Florida, tumbling five spots in the rankings.
No. 14 Clemson dropped four spots after losing to its in-state SEC rival South Carolina.
No. 24 Kent State and No. 25 Vanderbilt -- two of the week's newcomers to the rankings -- made their first ever appearances in the Legends Poll top 25.
Texas, Rutgers, Mississippi State and Washington dropped out of the rankings.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
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Poor Auburn fans. They went from celebrating a national championship in 2010, to a horrible 3-9 season in 2012 that was punctuated by an embarrassing beating from in-state rival Alabama.
Back in 2010, when things were good, coach Gene Chikiz was writing books about his awesomeness, penning "All In." Now that he's been canned, we think we may have sneak peek of what his next book should look like. We like the title "All Out."
Which former athlete made the most successful transition into pop culture? My husband says former Rams defensive lineman Merlin Olsen (“Little House On The Prairie,” etc.), but I vote for Chuck Connors, who played pro basketball and baseball before turning to acting (“The Rifleman,” etc.). What do you think?
Are you looking for the perfect and unusual gift for the sports fan in your life? Welcome. You’ve come to the right place. Here’s a look at some of our favorites.
STOP ROOTING, START OWNING
Thanks to oneshare.com, you can actually give someone a framed share of real stock in a host of different companies. In the sports world, those companies include Churchill Downs, Callaway Golf, Manchester United and more. Talk about rooting…with interest!
Price: About $100
Found at: www.oneshare.com
A BIG GIFT: A MINI STADIUM
Bring the house in the house! These mini stadiums (approx. 7” x 6”) from the Danbury Mint are expertly crafted down the very last detail. Available for a host of pro and college stadiums, they’re a wonderful collectible for the fan who wants a game day stadium experience, everyday. Talk about a home field advantage.
Found at: www.danburymint.com
FOOTBALL, BY THE YARD
Some people want a tree on their lawn. Others want a defensive lineman. These giant inflatables football players (5-8 feet tall) come in two styles (lineman and TD scorer) and you can choose from NFL teams, many colleges and even college mascots. It’s a great way to show the world who rules in your house. At least on fall weekends.
Found at: amazon.com
THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT OF SPEED
Imagine giving someone the chance to enjoy the thrills and excitement of racing at the Richard Petty Driving experience. Available at 22 different tracks, attendees can choose to ride shotgun for a series of laps, or actually get behind the wheel and show off their skills. They’ll be so excited, they’ll be running in circles. Well, ovals.
Price: Ride-Alongs, $99-$159, Driving: $449-$3,499
Found at: www.drivepetty.com
WEAR YOUR HEART ON YOUR SLEEVE, LITERALLY
These sterling silver cufflinks are made from material salvaged from old baseball stadium seats, classic college basketball courts and more. From Fenway Park to the University of Kentucky to Ebbets Field, this is a one of a kind gift. Well actually, two.
Found at: www.uncommongood.com
NOT EVERY BASEBALL SHOULD BE CRUSHED
This beautiful Steuben glass crystal baseball celebrates the national pastime in style. It’s a very special gift for the baseball fan in your life and would be perfect suited for a desk, or a mantle. Catch in the yard? Not so much.
Found at: www.lbgreen.com
THE PERFECT GIFT FOR A HOCKEY FAN, OR JASON
At Masks from the Past, you’ll find exact fiberglass recreations of famous NHL goalie masks. From a replica of JacquePlante’s first ever mask, to Gerry Cheevers’ scarred beauty from the 70s, the hockey fan in your life will love having a remembrance of days gone by. Shoot. Score.
Found at: www.hockeymasks.com
GOING, GOING, GONE
Want to give someone a chance to show their allegiance to the bitter end? These MLB decorated caskets are velvet inside and have a half couch design with a matching pillow and throw, too. You can even have ashes placed in a MLB urn and then in a cremation casket. Either way, you’re outta here!
Price: Approx. $1,400-$2800
Found at: www.memorials.com/sport-caskets.php
YOU CAN’T SPELL “NICE” WITHOUT “ICE”
Turn the backyard into a winter wonderland with this do-it-yourself ice rink. The Rink-In-A-Box package from NiceRink provides everything anyone needs for a little slice of ice heaven—liner, support brackets, resurfacer, nets--the whole thing. Put it down. Freeze ‘er up. Triple axle here we come!
Found at: www.nicerink.com
“AND NOW, ENTERING THE RING: YOU”
It’s the perfect gift for the kid in all of us: pro wrestling title belts. Choose from a variety of shapes, sizes and titles. You can even have a name engraved on the removable plate. So why not give the gift that keeps on giving…body slams, that is. NOTE: folding chair and brass knuckles not included.
Found at: shop.wwe.com
For the fan wanting a great view no matter where they’re sitting, the Pentax 62555 might be just the ticket. These high-powered binoculars offer a bright image and reduced reflection and work well in extreme weather conditions. Big game in a December freeze? No problem. Big game in a July downpour? Did we mention they’re waterproof?
Found at: www.amazon.com
For you cold-weather tailgating fans, there’s nothing better than the warming effect of a great whiskey. Thankfully Jim Beam has brought forth three new taste sensations—Devil’s Cut Bourbon (a premium 90-proof whiskey packed with a flavorful punch, $23.99); Red Stag Spiced (a sweet, warm whiskey with hints of cinnamon, $17.99); and Knob Creek Rye (an aged, 100-proof whiskey that finishes with a lingering spiciness, $40.99). Game on!
Found at: www.jimbeam.com (Must be 21 or over)
These unique stools are made from game day bases used by many MLB teams, including the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers and Mets. It’s the perfect gift for the baseball lover in your life, who can slide into memorabilia. And sit on it, too.
Found at: www.uncommongoods.com
THE SPORTS VACATION OF YOUR DREAMS
At Sports Traveler, you can plan a trip to the sporting event of your choice...anywhere in the world. From pro football to international tennis to the Olympics and more, you can give someone a gift card to help them arrange their dream sports trip. Ready, set, go!
Price: Gift cards start at $100
Found at: www.sportstraveler.net
Nothing says “I love you, team” like an NFL recliner. Made from a sturdy hardwood frame, each chair is decorated in theteam’s main color and features their name and logo. Even better, when they score and the beer and salsa go flying, the microfiber makes it easily cleanable with soap and water.
Found at: www.nflshop.com
Custom-built irons from SCOR are uniquely designed from shaft to head guaranteeing a better short game. In fact, they’re so sure they’ll help, they promise that if you’re not happy, they’ll buy you a wedge you think you like better. Need more accuracy from fairway to green? Think SCOR? Need more accuracy from tee to green? Maybe they should consider tennis.
Price: Approx. $150 each. Set of 5 for $640
Found at: www.scorgolf.com
Wouldn’t it be fun to give someone the chance to play baseball with some of the all-time greats? Baseball fantasy camps offer fans a chance to play the game they love alongside some of the most memorable players on their favorite team. The good news: more than 20 MLB teams offer a fantasy camp (see the link below). The bad news: somebody you know just might get struck out by a 70-year-old.
Found at: www.baseballfantasycampdirectory.com
These 7” tall bobbleheads can be personalized for that special someone. Just upload a photo, and rockbobble will create a custom-ordered hoops player. They’ll even send you photos along the way to ensure it’s looking exactly the way you want. Will they like this gift? The head says yes!
Found at: www.rockbobble.com
Found at: www.fourroses.us (Must be 21 or over)
The racing is over. All that remains is for NASCAR to get together in Las Vegas next week, dole out some money and party. Before the banquet arrives, members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council take a look back at the sport’s TV coverage this season and the racing, while looking ahead to 2013. Here is what they had to say:
Grade the TV coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season by FOX, TNT, Speed and ESPN/ABC
48.1 percent said Good
31.1 percent said Fair
12.6 percent said Poor
8.2 percent said Great
What Fan Council members said:
• ESPN had one of the best with their side-by-side halfway through the races of the Chase. This should be done for all races so we do not miss any action. And this should be in place for the ENTIRE Daytona 500! The most important race should be seen in its entirety. All networks could improve on their pre-race show except for FOX; FOX keeps it short and sweet and that is what it should be.
• This season was the first time that I actually changed the channel during a race or left the house completely. I always used to look forward to the TNT races, but even they dropped the ball this year. I seriously hope the 2013 season is better. The broadcasters need to stop "phoning it in" and actually listen to the fans and fix their coverage.
• Oh don't get me started! FOX might have good camera coverage, but I cannot stand the booth. TNT was just outright awful. SPEED has the most offerings, but they killed “Trackside” and “RaceDay” by making them way too silly. I love their programming, I just think sometimes it looks one step above cable access.
• It's nice to have the three TV crews covering the races because it’s a variety and they all do very good in their own way. I REALLY enjoy SPEED's pre-race and post-race coverage. I sure hope when they re-brand SPEED to FOX Sports they don't take away my NASCAR shows, including “Race Hub.’’
• Still a lot of room for improvement. Side-by-Side coverage = A+
• There's no better team than Bestwick, Jarrett and Petree. There's the gold standard right there. Mike Joy is another gem but the rest of the circus at FOX and SPEED are little more than a traveling carnival show, especially “Trackside,” which is no longer watchable. Oh yeah, TNT does broadcast a few races, but does anyone even recall them? Too little time on the schedule to be noticed or remembered.
• I said “good,” but in my opinion, it was borderline great. FOX is absolutely the best followed by ESPN/ABC. In Chris Myers' book, he explains that NASCAR really did listen to the fans when it came to TV programming. I've been a fan over 20 years, and I love the improvements the TV stations have done: more cameras, better announcers and most importantly the ability to listen to the drivers/crew chiefs/spotters radio communication. Mike Joy and Allen Bestwick are the best in the business! I also love the SpEED Channel and the pre- and post-race shows.
• “Great” for FOX because no matter how long the race goes over, they talk to the competitors. If it is short, then they go that much further to talk to others — not TNT or ESPN/ABC. They can have 15-30 minutes extra time and they'll go to some other stupid program.
Grade the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season
57.9 percent said Good
21.9 percent said Fair
16.8 percent said Great
3.4 percent said Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• This was a great season is so many ways. Having Brad win the championship was refreshing to see. What a great interview he gave on ESPN. He was real. Seeing Dale Jr. finally make it into Victory Lane in the Batmobile was awesome. Being in Victory Lane to celebrate with the No. 88 team was a thrill of a lifetime for me. Watching MWR teams do so well did a lot for the sport, too. Quite surprising to see Carl Edwards and Kyle Bush miss the Chase and Jeff Gordon just squeaking in. It was refreshing to see some emotions between drivers come to light this season. All in all, I enjoyed this season and am looking forward to the 2013 season.
• I have only been a fan since 200, but since then I have watched every race and have gone to at least one race a year. All I have to say is NASCAR has a serious problem on its hands, as this was the most boring season in memory. Do I have a solution to this problem? No. But something must be fixed.
• There were some good moments, but this year just did not seem to have the same buzz as last year. I enjoyed the Nationwide and Truck series races more this year.
• Flashes of brilliance followed by long stretches of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...
• Lots of drama, intensity, at times great racing, and there was always something new going on. I’m going to have withdrawals for the next few weeks.
• All in all, I would say this season has been good. I was almost leaning toward a “great,” because we got a new champion, but there were too many snoozer races to say it was great.
• Anyone who says anything less than great, must not remember Daytona, Watkins Glen, ‘Dega, Phoenix, among other great races, this year. Loved it and I hope next year is even better.
• I'm glad to see Keselowski as the champ. I'm glad to see Dale Jr. back in Victory Lane. But when I look back over the season, I don't have as many lasting images as I have from years past. There never seemed to be that "defining moment" of 2012. Maybe it's just me.
Grade Sunday’s Cup race at Homestead
53.1 percent said Good
26.9 percent said Fair
16.0 percent said Great
4.1 percent said Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• Most of the race was enjoyable, but I was disappointed that Jeff Gordon won. After his reckless behavior at Phoenix, I preferred that they take points away rather than suspending him for the benefit of sponsors and fans. However, the way everyone treated the win like it was some kind of vindication for his actions last week made me wish he'd been suspended. The championship race between Jimmie and Brad was great, and Brad's win made up for any other disappointment.
• I have to say great because Brad won. It is great that someone other than Jimmie or Tony won the championship.
• Not really a great race, other than I was thrilled at the ending. Very boring, at least on TV. As much as I loved seeing Brad K. and Jimmie J., it seemed like the whole race was just the two of them. Awful TV coverage.
• It was exciting to watch the 48 and the 2 battle for the championship. If that had not been going on, it would have been another boring race.
• It was typical of all the past races. Not a whole lot of excitement. Anti-climatic.
• The race had it all: Kyle leading but not winning again, Jeff winning at a track he never won at, Matt's last race in the No. 17, Jimmie about ready to make the biggest comeback in championship history and Brad topping the season off with the top prize and a cool 5 million bucks to boot! Not bad for a guy whose family was about ready to lose it all just a few short years ago because of their investment in their son. Wow!
How much faith do you have that the 2013 car will make the Cup racing better?
39.0 percent said Some
30.2 percent said A little
20.3 percent said None
10.5 percent said A lot
What Fan Council members said:
• They've been working on them a long time so hopefully they'll get them right. They have nailed the looks of the cars. They look great and I can tell them apart now. If they race as well as they look, we will have a very exciting 2013 season.
• It's not the cars that are at fault, it's the track configurations and NASCAR rules that hamper competition. Daytona and Talladega are little more than Barnum & Bailey near-death experiences. Nothing will change there until NASCAR kills its next driver.
• NASCAR is a corporation that is trying to promote a product. Sadly, I will have to see it to believe it.
• I don't quite understand why tighter competition is a good thing. If you make the cars the same, they all run around the track together and can't pass. Don't fans already complain about restrictor-plate racing forcing them into packs? Besides, I believe the problem is the TV coverage, and no change to the car will fix that.
• I give them the benefit of the doubt. As much as a few may have issues with NASCAR, they do a way better job at most issues than other sanctioning bodies.
• I had awesome faith for the CoT to be a lot safer for these drivers and we haven't had a death in NASCAR for a long time. Now we need to focus on tight racing cars and hopefully this new car will work. I have faith.
• Little faith but lots of hope. Soooo tired of hearing “track position is key.” I hope to hear that a fast car is key.
The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at [email protected]
Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 21:
• A basketball player went off for 138 points last night. Of course, it took 108 shots for him to get there. The game film is what Kobe Bryant now refers to as "porn."
• Speaking of Kobe, naturally, someone went to him for a reaction to the 138-point game. Naturally, his reaction was pretty priceless.
• The Jon Gruden to Tennessee train has left the station for some hopeful Vol fans. This article and accompanying photo won't do anything to dampen speculation.
• The NCAA is playing hardball with Miami Hurricanes players, who are apparently guilty until proven innocent.
• Welcome to Montreal, a foreign city where pro sports are now a foreign concept.
• Not to pile on our neighbors to the north, but the mayor of Toronto beclowned himself for our enjoyment.
• If you ever wonder how the sausage is made at the Worldwide Leader, our friends at Deadspin are always happy to show you.
• Like coach, like QB. Matt Barkley's stand-in is guaranteeing victory vs. top-ranked Notre Dame.
• I didn't know that the Curse of the All-Star Game was a thing, but apparently it is.
• It's Thanksgiving Eve, and here are a few helpful hints for enjoying the holiday from our friends at The Onion. My favorite: Have children sit at a small table so they feel gigantic.
• Today's video honors a great American tradition: Barry Sanders running wild on Thanksgiving Day.
--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
• Last night, the Niners emasculated the Bears on national TV. Here it is, summarized in one GIF.
• Our Girl Gallery of the Day includes USC's finest cheerleaders.
• Remembering Metta World Peace's former identity as the scariest guy in the NBA (instead of just the weirdest). Hard to believe it's been eight years since the Malice in the Palace.
• Andy Reid draws a line in the sand: You want me gone? You gotta fire me.
• Gotta love the late-'70s disco font on this vintage Magic cover.
• Snoop Lion's latest inspiration. Not sure what he's thinking, but hey, weed's a helluva drug.
• Well, if it's good enough for Commissioner Bud, it's good enough for me.
• SI's already anticipating the post-Gruden era of Monday Night Football.
• FSU to Maryland: Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.
• Today's video features Sprint Cup champ Brad Keselowski living down to every NASCAR stereotype. Congrats on securing that lifetime beer sponsorship.
--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Until last week, crew chief Jimmy Fennig admits he had “very seldom’’ talked to Carl Edwards in their years together at Roush Fenway Racing.
“I’m the type of crew chief that I focus in on the job at hand and the driver I have and don’t really pay too much attention to other drivers,” said Fennig, who most recently was Matt Kenseth’s crew chief.
Next season, Fennig and his crew will partner with Edwards as Kenseth drives for Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s part of a series of changes taking place at Roush Fenway Racing. Two-time defending Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. replaces Kenseth in the No. 17 Cup car. Trevor Bayne takes Stenhouse’s Nationwide ride. The Cup team of Greg Biffle and crew chief Matt Puccia will remain intact.
Fennig, who became a crew chief in 1986 and won the 2004 championship with Kurt Busch, admits he doesn’t know Edwards too well but doesn’t see that as a hinderance in their pairing.
“My goal has always been to win races,” said Fennig, the winning crew chief in the 1988 Daytona 500 with Bobby Allison and this year’s Daytona 500 with Kenseth. “No matter who drives the car, that’s what I try to do every week and that’s something I know we already have in common.”
Fennig will be Edwards’ third crew chief since the start of the 2012 season. Bob Osborne started with Edwards. Osborne, citing health issues, stepped down as crew chief in July and was replaced by Chad Norris.
Edwards was winless this season and finished 15th in the points a year after losing the championship on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart. Edwards scored only four top-10 finishes in the 17 races with Norris as crew chief, thus a change wasn’t surprising.
“We all just sat down and looked at it and Chad and I talked at length about it,” Edwards said of the change. “Everyone agrees the opportunity to have the experience of Jimmy Fennig on the box to get ... back to Victory Lane is what we should do. It wasn’t something that I single-handedly requested or just that Jack (Roush) wanted to do it. As a team we thought this was the best thing to do. The biggest thing at Roush is that he has so many good people that we can move people around and do things like this and it is good for the whole company.”
Along with that move, Roush will pair Stenhouse Jr. with crew chief Scott Graves. Both will be rookies in Cup.
“I would normally not be an advocate for bringing a crew chief who hadn’t been established with a rookie driver into the Cup Series, but Scott Graves – in my words – he’s been a prodigy for the small amount of experience he’s had making the final decisions,” Roush said.
“He made great decisions for Carl at Watkins Glen and he’s made great decisions for Ricky when he’s been with him this year. So I think given the fact he’s a mechanical engineer as well as an experienced team engineer, he’s going to bring enthusiasm and creativity to Ricky that we might not otherwise be able to achieve with somebody that had more experience.”
It’s been a long road back, but Notre Dame has risen to the top of the Legends Poll for the first time ever.
And the top-ranked Irish are one win away from their first ever trip to the BCS championship game.
“You know, it’s hard to classify Notre Dame as a really, really good football team at this point,” former Virginia coach George Welsh said, “but they are undefeated. It’s not easy to win all of your games.”
Notre Dame received 13 of the 17 first-place votes in the Legends Poll and remains the only eligible unbeaten team in the FCS.
No. 2 Alabama received three of the remaining first-place votes and moved back into the driver’s seat for the BCS title game as well. The final top vote went to No. 3 Georgia.
If the Alabama and Georgia can both survive their in-state rivalry games, a BCS title game berth will be on the line in the SEC championship game.
No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Kansas State each fell three spots, following shocking upsets.
No. 6 LSU remained the top two-loss team after the Tigers outlasted Ole Miss Saturday night, 41-35.
Florida State, Florida, Texas A&M and Clemson rounded out the top 10.
No. 21 Oklahoma State moved back into the top 25 after a victory over Texas Tech. No. 24 Washington and No. 25 Utah State also made their way into the Legends Poll rankings, the first appearance for each team this season.
USC, Louisiana Tech and Wisconsin dropped out of the rankings this week.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
|1||Notre Dame (13)||11-0||420||3|
Others Receiving Votes: Louisiana Tech 19, Northwestern 14, USC 7, TCU 7, San Diego State 5, Wisconsin 2, Georgia Tech 2, Tulsa 2, Northern Illinois 1, San Jose State 1, Kent State 1
Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll: USC, Louisiana Tech, Wisconsin
* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.
Ten weeks into the NFL season and there’s a pretty clear line between who’s in and who’s out. There are patterns beginning to emerge, as well as powers. The playoff picture is beginning to take shape.
New York, NY (Sports Network) - There was never a doubt who was going to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Now Mike Trout has his sights set on a much larger prize.
The Los Angeles Angels' center fielder Trout and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper were named the Jackie Robinson Award winners as the top rookies in the American and National League, respectively, as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The 21-year-old Trout became the 18th unanimous rookie of the year victor -- eighth in the AL.
And he may not be done taking home trophies.
Trout, along with triple crown winner and Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, New York Yankees' Robinson Cano and Texas' Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton, is among the nominees for the AL MVP voting.
If Trout wins the MVP, he'd join Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) as the only two MLB players to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season.
Trout, the first Angel to win rookie of the year since Tim Salmon in 1993, is the only player in major league history to hit at least .320 with 30 home runs and 45 stolen bases in a single season.
In all, Trout batted .326 with a .399 on-base percentage, 30 home runs, 129 runs and 49 stolen bases.
He led all rookies in nearly every offensive category and was named the AL Rookie of the Month in May, June, July and August, becoming the first player to claim the award in four consecutive months.
It was also no coincidence that the Angels' ascension up the standings coincided with Trout's recall from Triple-A Salt Lake on April 28.
A pair of foreign-born stars, Cuban and Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers were the other two nominees for the award.
Harper narrowly edged Arizona Diamondbacks left-handed pitcher Wade Miley for the NL honor. Harper earned 112 points, compared to Miley's 105. Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier had 45 points.
Harper, one of the more hyped players in recent memory, burst on to the scene as a 19-year-old in late April.
The first overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft ended the year hitting .270 with 22 home runs, 59 RBIs and 98 runs scored. He also stole 18 bases and played all three outfield positions. He showed terrific range and tallied eight outfield assists.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
|2||Kansas State (7)||10-0||415||3|
Others Receiving Votes: Texas Tech 36, Oklahoma State 12, Northwestern 10, Kent State 7, North Carolina 6, Washington 5, TCU 5, San Diego State 4
Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll: Northwestern, TCU
* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.
Week 10 marks the unofficial start to the second half of the NFL regular season. Eight games remain until the NFL’s postseason, but it’s fewer than that when you take into consideration the start of your fantasy league’s playoffs. Week 10 also means that fantasy owners begin their stretch run without the services of Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, Larry Fitzgerald, Randall Cobb, the Arizona and Green Bay DSTs, among others.
Have no fear, Athlon Sports is here to help you make all of those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.
Bye week teams: Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay, Washington
Sneaky Start of the Week
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay vs. San Diego
Vincent Jackson is Tampa Bay’s No. 1 wide receiver and No. 8 at his position in fantasy scoring, but don’t discount the Buccaneers’ “other” starting wideout, Williams. While Jackson has a huge advantage on Williams when it comes to receiving yards (710 to 504), Williams has just two fewer receptions (29 to 31) and one less touchdown (5 to 6) than his well-paid teammate.
To put it another way, Williams is No. 22 among receivers in fantasy scoring, ahead of the likes of Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, DaSean Jackson and Torrey Smith, to name a few. Williams has scored 13.4 or more fantasy points five times, while managing 5.6 or fewer only twice.
With as well as Josh Freeman has been throwing the ball lately (11 TDs, 1 INT in his last four games), there should be enough passes for both Jackson and Williams to be viable starting options. On top of that, the Buccaneers host San Diego this Sunday. The Chargers are allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including 11 touchdown receptions.
This matchup also finds Jackson facing off against his former team. While Jackson will probably have a little extra juice headed into this game, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Chargers a little more fired up than usual either, as the defense attempts to limit the amount of damage done by their former teammate. The extra attention paid to Jackson, may present more opportunities for Williams, who is averaging 17.4 yards per reception.
Surprise Sit of the Week
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants at Cincinnati
Just when you thought Nicks may finally be over the hump with the issues related to his ankle/foot, word comes out that he experienced more swelling in his knee this week. The good news is that he was able to return to practice on Thursday, albeit in a limited fashion, and, for what it's worth, he has said he will play Sunday.
Injuries have consistently been an issue for Nicks, who broke his right foot back in May. He started in Week 1, but missed three games after experiencing soreness with his foot/ankle while also dealing with the knee issue. He’s played in the last four games, and while it appears he will continue that streak Sunday in Cincinnati, his owners have no doubt gotten a little tired of the will-he-or-won’t-he guessing game about his playing status.
If the injury bug and his constant “Questionable” or "Game-Time" designation haven’t been enough of a headache, there’s also the matter of Nicks’ lack of production. In Week 2 against Tampa Bay, he caught 10 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. In the other five games he’s played, he’s had a total of 17 receptions for 191 yards and no scores.
It also doesn't help that Eli Manning has been struggling lately too. He has only two touchdown passes compared to four interceptions in his last four games. I don’t really worry about this week’s matchup against Cincinnati as it applies to Manning’s outlook, but I do think this would be a good week to give Nicks a break and not worry about the will-he-or-won’t-he decision. Just put him on your bench and check back with him in two weeks (Giants are on bye in Week 11).
Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) at New England
Fitzpatrick had his best game of the season back in Week 4. Despite throwing four interceptions, he also piled up 350 yards passing and four touchdowns. Who was that game against? You guessed it, New England, who the Bills are playing in Foxboro this Sunday. As good as the Patriots’ defense has been against the run, the unit is 28th against the pass and is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. If this game looks anything like the 52-28 affair it was in Week 4, don’t be surprised if Fitzpatrick puts up similar, if not slightly better, numbers.
Alex Smith (SF) vs. St. Louis
Smith played arguably his best game of the season in Week 8 on “Monday Night Football” in Arizona. He only missed one of his 19 pass attempts for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Now coming off of the bye, Smith and the 49ers host NFC West division rival St. Louis. The Rams’ defense has held up pretty well, but gave up 304 yards passing to Tom Brady and 45 points to the Patriots in London in Week 8. Even though the Rams are also coming off of a bye and no one will ever mistake Smith for Brady, I see no reason why he can’t repeat his Week 8 numbers against the Rams. Especially considering I think the 49ers’ defense at home will do its part to give the offense plenty of chances to put points on the board.
Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. Tennessee
Tannehill didn’t let a bruised quad/knee keep him off of the field last week against Indianapolis. Not only that, he put up his second-highest yardage total of the season, as he had 290 passing yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 loss to the Colts. Another week away from sustaining the injury, Tannehill should be back to near 100 percent health this Sunday against Tennessee. And what better opponent to get “healthy” against than the Titans, who have allowed 20 touchdown passes and the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Tannehill may be a rookie, but keep in mind that the fewest fantasy points the Titans have surrendered to a starting quarterback thus far is 18.3 to Matthew Stafford in Week 3. Don’t’ forget, when it comes a start/sit designation here, 16 points is considered start-worthy for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.
Andy Dalton (CIN) vs. New York Giants
Dalton is just outside of the top 10 for fantasy scoring at his position, and he’s posted four games of 26 or more points. My concern with him is that he has a tendency to produce based on his opponent. By that I mean he has done a good job of feasting on teams with weak defenses, as his top performances have been against Washington, Cleveland (twice) and Jacksonville. On the other hand, he hasn’t fared as well against defenses that can bring consistent pressure, like Baltimore, Miami and Pittsburgh. The Giants (25 sacks) certainly fall into the latter category, and even though they are the road team, I like the defense this week (see below) to play with a chip on its shoulder, following last week’s disappointing home loss to the Steelers. Dalton can thank the schedule-maker for being cast in the role of prey this Sunday.
Matt Schaub (HOU) at Chicago
The Bears may be just 16th in the league in pass defense, but anyone who has watched the Monsters of the Midway play this season knows that this is merely a number. They are tied for the league lead in interceptions with 17 and have returned seven of them for touchdowns. The defense has scored more touchdowns on interception returns than it has allowed (six) to quarterbacks. The Texans run the ball more than they throw it anyway, which already makes Schaub more of a matchup guy than every-week starter. To that end, can you think of a worse matchup for him than this?
Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. Houston
While Cutler’s defense may be getting all the attention and blowing away the competition when it comes to fantasy scoring, Houston’s D, which he will face on Sunday, is certainly no slouch. The Texans are third overall in total defense (Bears are 6th), second against the rush and fourth versus the pass and in scoring defense. Statistically speaking, the Bears are only better than the Texans in scoring defense and takeaways. Cutler may be coming off of a three-touchdown game against Tennessee, but the only similarities between the Titans and the Texans is that they both play in the AFC South, have ties to Texas and their team names start with the letter T. When it comes to their respective defenses, there are no similarities just as there is no good reason, other than if you have no other option, to start Cutler this week against the Texans.
Stevan Ridley (NE) vs. Buffalo
Ridley has gotten 15 or more carries in every game but one this season. While his best game came in Week 5 against Denver when he had a season-high 28 attempts (151 yards), he also has shown he can do some damage with fewer chances. In his last game, Ridley ran for 127 yards against St. Louis on just 15 carries. Trying to figure out Bill Belichick’s running back rotation is a exercise in futility, but considering the Bills are yielding an average of 5.7 yards per carry, this seems like as good a week as any for Ridley to do some damage even if he doesn’t get the lion’s share of attempts. Don’t forget he went for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in Week 4 against these same Bills.
Chris Johnson (TEN) vs. Miami
Despite my best guess, Johnson was the lone bright spot in the Titans’ 51-20 shellacking at the hands of the Bears last week. Johnson went for 141 yards rushing, including an 80-yard touchdown, which is by far the most damage the Bears have allowed to a running back this season. Yes the game was well decided by the time Johnson broke off his 80-yarder, but it still counts all the same and he has now posted 91 or more yards on the ground in five of his last six contests. As well as the Dolphins have done against the run, they have yielded at least 91 yards rushing to running backs in each of their past three games. As hot as Johnson has been of late, I would have no hesitation plugging in him this week if he was on my roster.
Mikel Leshoure (DET) at Minnesota
A first glance at Leshoure’s stats last week show 70 yards rushing, which isn’t that great. But scan two more columns over and you see 3 under the TD heading. Even though Joique Bell out-gained (73 to 70) Leshoure on the ground and through the air (36 yards receiving to 0), Leshoure made the most of his opportunities, scoring three rushing touchdowns from eight yards and in, all in the second quarter. Bell will get his touches, but Leshoure also will certrainly get his fair share of carries and gets to face a Vikings’ defense that has allowed an average of 121 yards rushing to the last three No. 1 running backs they have faced – LaRod Stephens-Howling, Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch.
Jamaal Charles (KC) at Pittsburgh (Monday)
Charles ran for 140 yards against Baltimore in Week 5. In the three games since, he’s gained a total of 83 yards on the ground. It doesn’t help that he’s only had a combined 29 carries in those games, compared to the 31 he received against the Ravens, but the Chiefs constantly having to play from behind has contributed to the decline in production as well. There’s no reason to expect that the Chiefs won’t be playing from behind Monday night against the Steelers, who are tied for seventh in rush defense. The Steelers have allowed no more than 74 yards rushing to a team’s backfield over its last three games. Unless Charles can do some damage early, I think it will be another quiet outing for the guy who racked up 233 yards on the ground back in Week 3.
Ryan Mathews (SD) at Tampa Bay
Mathews has yet to top the 100-yard mark since his return in Week 4 from a broken collarbone. He also has scored a total of one touchdown. Tampa Bay is tops in the league in rushing defense, and given the Chargers’ offensive struggles throughout the season, there’s no reason to think they will solve them all, especially having to make the cross-country trip to play the Bucs on Sunday. If Mathews has a big game on Sunday, chances are it will be due to his production in the passing game. While that may end up happening, the Bucs’ track record says otherwise when it comes to his outlook as a rusher this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) at Cincinnati
Bradshaw has already shown what he can do when he gets a bunch of carries. Try 200 yards on 30 attempts against Cleveland and 116 the following week on 27 totes on the road against San Francisco. However, he’s also been a constant on the Giants’ injury report, as he can’t seem to get over issues related to his troublesome feet. While he’s only missed one game, he’s been a game-time decision on more than one occasion, which is the last thing an owner wants to worry about when it comes to finalizing their lineup. The team also seems to have grown somewhat weary with his injury issues, as his carries have declined since the 49ers game. Andre Brown is back and completely healthy, and he has been cutting into Bradshaw’s workload more and more each passing week it seems. Bradshaw’s been limited again in practice this week, and while there appears to be no real danger of him not playing against Cincinnati, it may be best to treat him along the lines of his teammate Hakeem Nicks (see above). That is, put him away for two weeks and then check back to see if it’s time to dust him off and give him another chance.
Kenny Britt (TEN) at Miami
If not for a fumble, Britt would have posted his best fantasy outing of the season after catching five passes for 67 yards against Chicago. Now while a possible maximum of 9.2 fantasy points may not seem like something to get that excited about, at least it’s a step in the right direction for Britt, who has 25 receptions and just one touchdown on the season. Two other things going for Britt his week are the matchup with Miami and the likely return of Jake Locker under center. The Dolphins are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including the second-most receptions (126), more than 1,600 yards and nine touchdown catches. Also, I think Locker suits Britt’s deep-threat ability more as he has a stronger arm than Hasselbeck. Health doesn’t appear to be an issue for Britt at this point, so hopefully some more production on the field is forthcoming.
Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) vs. Kansas City (Monday)
Antonio Brown is not expected to play after sustaining a high ankle sprain last week, which means Sanders will replace him as the starter alongside Mike Wallace. While Wallace is the dangerous vertical threat, Brown is leading the Steelers in receptions and yards, and there’s no reason why Sanders can’t assume that role against Kansas City. Opportunity is clearly knocking, and I think Sanders will answer the call this week.
Davone Bess (MIA) vs. Tennessee
The only thing missing from Bess’ stat sheet this season is a touchdown. He’s averaging nine targets over his last three games and has five games with four or more receptions. Touchdowns are the easiest way to rack up the points in fantasy, and the Titans have allowed 20 of them to wide receivers already. I think is the week when Bess finally puts together a complete stat line.
Percy Harvin (MIN) vs. Detroit
Earlier in the week, Harvin, who sprained his ankle last week against Seattle after re-aggravating a nagging hamstring injury earlier in the contest, pronounced himself “a long shot” to play this Sunday. I would go so far as to label him as a “no shot” for this week, especially considering the Vikings are on bye next week. As hard as it may be to sit Harvin, there’s no reason to take your chances and start him this week. He relies too much on his speed and big-play ability, as evidenced by his league-leading 517 yards after the catch, two skills that are greatly impacted by the health of one’s ankle and hamstring.
Andre Johnson (HOU) at Chicago
I’ve already opined how I feel about Matt Schaub’s chances on Sunday against Chicago, which not surprisingly, ties into Johnson’s outlook. Not only has the Bears defense picked off 17 passes and allowed just five touchdown catches to wide receivers, the secondary has done a pretty good job of shutting down top-flight receivers. Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith and Dez Bryant all have posted 100-yard games against the Bears, but the score in the game had a lot to do with their production. Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and company have also held the likes of Calvin Johnson (3 rec., 34 yds.), Jordy Nelson (6, 84), and Danny Amendola (5, 66) relatively in check. Considering I think this will be more of a defensive battle, I think Andre Johnson will put up numbers more along the lines of Calvin Johnson, Nelson and Amendola rather than Wayne, Smith and Bryant.
Dez Bryant (DAL) at Philadelphia
Bryant came fingertips away from helping the Cowboys beat the Giants and not only did his leaping catch in the end zone not count because his hand landed out of bounds, he took a hard hit on his hip when he landed as well. While the team and Bryant both acknowledged the blow to the hip, it didn’t prevent him from playing last week against the Falcons. Still, after catching just one pass for 15 yards, you have to wonder if his hip was more of an issue than he was letting on. Either way, his lack of production last week and Tony Romo’s struggles throwing the ball are enough reasons for me to recommend looking elsewhere for a starting wide receiver this week. The Eagles have had their issues on defense, but they have given up the third-fewest receptions and just eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers.
Jason Witten (DAL) at Philadelphia
Remember when Witten was catching just two passes a game? Yeah, those days are long past as Tony Romo has really locked onto his favorite target recently. Witten had 18 catches two weeks ago against the Giants and the last time he had fewer than six receptions was back in Week 3. The Eagles have only allowed two touchdown receptions to tight ends, but in Witten’s case, he has shown he can be productive without getting into the end zone.
Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. New York Giants
Gresham has scored 7.2 or more fantasy points in five of his past six games, including three double-digit performances. He has had at least five receptions four times during this same span, and in one of the other two games he had a touchdown catch. Although the Giants have surrendered just one touchdown catch to a tight end, they have allowed the second-most grabs (57) to the position. A.J. Green is Andy Dalton’s top target, and although I don’t think the quarterback will have a huge game this Sunday (see above), I still like Gresham’s chances of putting together a start-worthy (which is 10 points for tight ends) effort.
Brent Celek (PHI) vs. Dallas
Celek has caught a decent number of passes (33), but he still has just one touchdown so far. He’s only had one double-digit scoring game this season and I wouldn’t count on one this Sunday. Dallas is giving up an average of 6.0 fantasy points per game to tight ends, which ranks them 27th in points allowed to the position.
Jared Cook (TEN) at Miami
Cook’s scoring has dropped in each of the past five weeks, starting at 12.2 in Week 5 to a total of 0.6 (2 rec., 6 yds., fumble) last week. Now while I am fairly certain he will do better than 0.6 this week, the Dolphins have yet to allow a touchdown catch by a tight end. Even though I am looking for Kenny Britt to benefit from the return of Jake Locker (see above), I don’t have the same opinion when it comes to Cook. He’s simply been too inconsistent and too much of a disappointment (dare I say bust?) to trust right now.
Pittsburgh vs. Kansas City (Monday)
The Steelers are following a similar script from last season, a statistically dominant defense on the field, but not very productive when it comes to fantasy scoring. The Steel Curtain is ranked No. 1 in the league in total and pass defense, but are tied for 25th in fantasy scoring as a DST. That will probably change this week, however, with Kansas City coming to town. Not only do the Chiefs have a league-worst 29 turnovers, they are also allowing the most fantasy points to opposing DSTs. The Steelers’ DST has scored double-digit fantasy points just twice so far. I feel fairly confident this number will be three after this game.
New York Giants at Cincinnati
The Giants gave up 158 yards rushing to Pittsburgh last week in a 24-20 home loss that had their home coach using the dreaded four-letter word to describe their effort. No defense wants to be called “soft,” let alone that of the defending Super Bowl champs. True to their championship pedigree, I expect this defense, which is second only to Chicago in fantasy scoring among DSTs, to play with a little extra fire in its belly this week in Cincinnati. Pity Andy Dalton (see above) and the rest of the Bengals, who are in the Giants’ cross-hairs, and have allowed the third-most fantasy points to DSTs.
New England Patriots vs. Buffalo
While the Patriots came out on the winning end against the Bills in Week 4, the defense still gave up 28 points and 438 yards of offense. Six turnovers fueled the majority of the Patriots DST’s 15 fantasy points that week, and there’s no guarantee the unit will be able to generate that many this time around. I’m expecting another fairly high-scoring affair, especially due to the Patriots’ issue stopping the pass (see Ryan Fitzpatrick, above), and think this type of game is too risky to count on significant production from their DST.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Oakland Raiders
A Ravens defense that’s already missing two key pieces in linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb, could be down a few more as defensive linemen Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee and safety Ed Reed all missed practice on Wednesday. That’s not to say any or all won’t suit up on Sunday, but it’s not the type of news this defense needs either. The Ravens’ DST, who for years was one of the top scorers in fantasy, hasn’t reached double digits in three games. Not saying Carson Palmer will throw for another 414 yards against the Ravens on Sunday, but I do believe the Ravens are anything but a safe option at DST this week.
Shaun Suisham (PIT) vs. Kansas City (Monday)
Kansas City is giving up 30 points per game. The Steelers are scoring around 24 points per game. I expect both of these averages will go up after the conclusion of Monday night’s game. I’m not sure how cold it will be in Pittsburgh on Monday night, but I don’t think Suisham will have to worry about keeping his leg warm. The number of times he will have to use it on the field will do the job.
Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. Tennessee
The Titans are allowing more than 34 points per game and the most fantasy points to kickers. Six of the nine kickers the Titans have faced have scored 10 or more fantasy points. That’s the magic number that kickers need to score to be considered start-worthy. I fully expect Carpenter to join the double-digit kicker club this Sunday.
Stephen Gostkowski (NE) vs. Buffalo
Gostkowski got 10 fantasy points last time against the Bills in Week 4, but it came thanks to seven PATs and a 30-yard field goal. I expect the Patriots to score a fair amount of points, but not quite as many as they did in Round 1. And as long as the Patriots put six on the board, it means Gostkowski’s kicks count for just one point and not three.
Connor Barth (TB) vs. San Diego
The Chargers have given up a total of seven field goal attempts thus far, and while the Buccaneers have scored 28 or more points in four straight games, Barth hasn’t played a big role in this production. He’s scored more than eight fantasy points in only one of these games and also has missed four of his last eight field goal attempts. I expect more of the same, if not less, as the Chargers’ defense is ranked ninth overall and giving up less than 20 points per game.
— By Mark Ross, published on Nov. 9, 2012