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Path: /college-football/does-nebraska-still-believe-bo-pelini
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The Osborne Athletic Facility is a double shot of nostalgia. Red remnants of those back-to-back titles from 1994 and ’95 are unmistakable from the lobby.

Inside this impressive place, gifted athletes dead-lift hundreds of pounds, sprint on turf and occupy cold tubs on a frosty Monday in March.

Bo Pelini oversees all of this. He’s not prominently displayed on these walls. There are no gaudy collages to honor Pelini’s 48 wins in five seasons.

This is Nebraska. Win titles, get on the wall.

Pelini is working on that.

“I think an overwhelming majority appreciates what he’s done here,” says Tom Osborne, the architect of those title teams and now athletic director emeritus, soon to retire. “I think the fans and Bo are hungry for a conference championship and a BCS game.”

These are the achievements that have eluded Pelini. And to some die-hard Nebraska faithful, they are still expected, even after the Frank Solich and Bill Callahan eras humbled the program.

Nebraska is like Notre Dame in that, to be elite, it must recruit nationally. Pelini is a solid recruiter who has the Huskers linked to the top-25 recruiting rankings the last four years despite the fact that his average signee lives nearly 1,000 miles away.

He’s also won at least nine games in all five seasons, a feat accomplished by 11 coaches in college football history among BCS automatic qualifying schools, according to a Nebraska spokesman. Eight head coaches have more wins than Pelini the last five years.

But the combined 3–6 record in the last three games of the last three seasons, punctuated by a curious 70–31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, has cast a pall over Lincoln that only late-season wins will erase.

Pelini hasn’t hid from Nebraska’s lofty expectations, and he isn’t about to start.

“You’d want it no other way,” Pelini says. “You grow in a job and understand what the challenges are.

I believe I’m a better coach now than five years ago.”

He can use that coaching growth to improve a defense that allowed 115 points and more than 1,200 yards in the final two games last season.

For a guy who bolstered his reputation as the coordinator of LSU’s vaunted defense from 2005-07, last year’s performance has to chafe Pelini.

Nebraska replaces several defensive starters, which might not be such a bad thing. The theme of spring practices was competition — seniors, freshmen, anyone can start if you’re ready to maximize your potential.

Pelini came out of spring firing, saying his team was “mentally weak” after a mid-week session.

Nebraska’s fourth-year starting quarterback, Taylor Martinez, has helped the Cornhuskers win 29 games with a dazzling array of 50-yard rushing touchdowns while setting a school record with 9,449 total offensive yards. But he has been erratic late in seasons (six touchdowns, six interceptions in the last three games of the last three years). The Nebraska legacies of Pelini and Martinez are intertwined, at least for now.

That won’t matter much if the defense keeps flailing. As a result, Pelini isn’t overreacting with a scheme change — he stays committed to a 4-3 while mixing in the occasional 3-4 packages at different points of a game — but he is jumping into the fundamental-teaching pool with both feet.

NU signed seven defensive linemen in 2013 who will compete for spots.

“I have a pretty good idea of what we have to do,” Pelini says. “I like the potential of this group defensively. I think we’ll have some guys coming in this class that have a chance to help us. I think we’ll be very athletic and deep. Sometimes the youth aspect is a good thing.”

In an environment where losing is unacceptable, Pelini hasn’t wavered in his approach to the job that mixes hard-nosed teaching with an open-door office policy for players.

The way the staff sees it, this consistency will eventually pay off late in a season. Take the Wisconsin game. There was devastation all around, yet Pelini immediately dove into the game film, addressed the concerns (outmuscled up front, bad tackling) and struck a positive note in the following weeks.

“It’s tough to come back in and say, ‘All right, guys, it’s going to be OK,’” offensive coordinator Tim Beck says. “To his credit, he always talks about maintaining the process. Make sure you’re doing the right things. He’s very approachable for our staff and players. They feel a lot of love from him. There’s a lot of respect. They don’t want to let him down. If they have problems, they can talk to him. We have fun as coaches and players. It doesn’t become such a grind.”

Pelini wasn’t having much fun when chewing out Martinez on the sidelines against Texas A&M in 2010 or being hospitalized in September after falling ill during the first half of the Arkansas State game.

Coaching often demands intensity by the truckload, and Pelini knows that well. But entering his sixth year, Pelini sounds like a man in a relaxed, optimistic state.

He takes his kids to school every day. If he can’t do that anymore, he says he’s getting out of the business.

The losses he takes personally — the Wisconsin game is no exception. They stay with you, he says. But he cares more about a complete body of work at Nebraska than hallway adoration.

“I don’t care about the recognition,” Pelini says. “It’s about the kids you’re coaching. I like to compete. I want to win. Most importantly, I want these kids to grow and win.” 


Written by Jeremy Fowler for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Big Ten Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Big Ten season.


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Teaser:
Does Nebraska Still Believe in Bo Pelini?
Post date: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 06:33
Path: /college-football/mike-macintyre-creates-hope-colorado
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In the days after Jon Embree was fired as head coach at Colorado last fall, the angry and frustrated former Buffaloes tight end went public with complaints about what he perceived was the school’s lack of commitment to winning.

Embree said that during his brief two-year tenure, he was forced to pay out of his own pocket for some of the travel costs of his assistant coaches to attend a summer camp in California where they could see potential recruits. He said he routinely paid for bottled water in the football offices because the school would supply only a few weeks’ worth each month. Embree said there weren’t enough chairs in the offensive line meeting room, and he couldn’t get more. He brought his own desk from home when CU balked at replacing the one left behind by his predecessor.

Colorado fans reacted with frustration of their own, believing Embree was blaming his inability to win games or field a competitive team on trivial issues. The Buffs went 4–21 in Embree’s two seasons, including a 1–11 mark in 2012 — the worst season in the modern history of the program.

Embree probably picked the wrong time to bring those issues to light, but some onlookers completely missed or ignored the underlying message he was trying to convey. Embree’s point was that while his bosses talked publicly about wanting a first-class football program, they weren’t always acting like it behind the scenes.

Even Embree’s former boss acknowledged at the time he fired the coach that the school needed to invest more in football to achieve better results, especially in light of the Buffaloes’ move to the Pac-12, which had six teams ranked in the top 25 late last season. Colorado has produced seven consecutive losing seasons and hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2007.

“We were exposed in this league,” former athletic director Mike Bohn said at the press conference announcing Embree’s dismissal. “So did we give Jon a big enough shovel? We tried to provide additional enhancements to that shovel. But is it enough? The answer is no. I think that’s the challenge that we have, and I think that’s why you hear the chancellor and the president saying that we will continue to try and add to that shovel to help.”

The school left no doubt about its commitment to improve its flagship program when it hired Mike MacIntyre away from San Jose State in December. Colorado made MacIntyre the highest-paid coach in its history with a salary of more than $2 million per year. No previous CU coach had made even $1.5 million a year. It also nearly doubled the total salary pool for the entire coaching staff by committing $5 million annually to MacIntyre and his nine assistants.

Colorado also agreed to a clause in MacIntyre’s contract requiring the school to complete certain steps toward major facilities upgrades over the next two years. If it fails to meet those deadlines, MacIntyre could leave for another job without having to pay a buyout.

“We’re going to give everything we have on the field, and we’re going to improve and we’re going to keep getting better, but to do what we want to do ... all of this has to start moving forward, and to be frank with you, it has to start moving forward pretty fast,” MacIntyre told the Colorado Board of Regents in February.

The school took the first step toward making good on those promised upgrades when it announced details of a plan to spend $170 million on a permanent indoor practice facility, a new academic center, weight room, coaches offices and closing in the north end of Folsom Field. CU is now in the early stages of raising the money but ­hasn’t committed to a start date.

This is a school playing catch-up in a conference in which its competitors have combined to spend more than a $1 billion on facilities improvements — most related to football — in the past three years.

“The university is definitely standing behind the athletic department,” says Frances Draper, Colorado’s vice chancellor for strategic relations. “We’ve had our ups and downs, and we really feel like we have them worked through to the point where we have a good system and we’ve brought in a great new coach and we’ve got very strong academic support. So we’ve got all the pieces to build this going forward.”

Dramatically increasing coaching salaries and committing to facilities improvements is no small undertaking at Colorado right now because the athletic department is $22 million in debt to the school.

Most of that debt — about $16 million — was caused by the move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12. CU forfeited approximately $7 million in Big 12 distributions when it left that league two years ago, and it did not receive a full share of Pac-12 revenue during its first year in the conference in 2011. The rest of the debt comes from paying buyouts to three former coaches — Gary Barnett, Dan Hawkins and Embree — in just seven years.

“This was a long-term commitment with long-term rewards that we’re anticipating being a big part of our resurgence,” Bohn says of switching conferences and having to bite the financial bullet to make it happen.

Colorado has a long and proud history on the football field. Only 12 FBS programs have played more seasons than Colorado’s 123. The Buffs are 23rd in the nation in wins and are one of only 25 schools since 1936 to win a national championship and have a Heisman Trophy winner.

It is no wonder Buffs fans are frustrated. They grew accustomed to winning and being a part of the national conversation every week throughout the 1990s and early 2000s before nosediving late in the 2005 season.

Colorado is modeling its plans to rebuild its football program on what it has done in basketball.

CU began investing more heavily in its basketball program with incremental improvements starting six years ago. The biggest piece of that investment was spending more than $12 million on a practice facility and other additions at the Coors Events Center.

Those additions have been in place for two years, and the basketball program is in the midst of a historic run of success with three consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in school history and two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Next year’s team could be the best in the modern history of the program. That success has made coach Tad Boyle the most popular guy in a town and state traditionally dominated by football.

“We made a commitment to the facility. We made a commitment to the young men. We made a commitment to the coach. We made a commitment to our fans, and everyone rallied around that,” Bohn says. “That intensity of interest is a combination of all the key elements that are vital for a team to be productive and be competitive and to represent us at the level we are at.  I know that conviction was extremely strong for basketball.

“...As we look around the Pac-12 Conference, everywhere we go, we see the commitment. We see what we are up against. The bar is raised high. It’s higher than it’s ever been. This is a monumental challenge for everyone.”
 

Wrote by Kyle Ringo for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Pac-12 Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 Pac-12 season.


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Teaser:
<p> Mike MacIntyre Brings Hope and a New Commitment to Colorado</p>
Post date: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 06:25
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /best-and-worst-times-be-auburn-football-fan
Body:

Auburn has had its share of dramatic ups and downs through its history. Just ask Gene Chizik.

Few may be as well versed in the highs and lows of being at Auburn. The coach presided over the school’s second national championship and third Heisman winner and two years later, he was fired after a 3-9 season.

Such is life at Auburn, where seemingly every good season or storyline is a double-edged sword. Two of Auburn’s undefeated teams (1957 and 1993) couldn’t test themselves in bowl games because of postseason bans and a third (2004) was the third wheel in the national championship race. Even the great Bo Jackson went 17-7 in SEC play, though the run included an SEC title in 1983.

But back to Chizik. Though he and quarterback Cam Newton led one of the best seasons in school history, his 2010 season doesn’t make our list of best eras for Auburn fans. Likewise, last year’s 3-9 flop doesn’t make the list of worst days to yell War Eagle.

Here are our picks for the best and worst times to be an Auburn fan.

BEST TIMES TO BE AN AUBURN FAN

1982-89
Record: 76-19-2
National championships: 0
Coach: Pat Dye
Notable players: Bo Jackson, Steve Wallace, Bill Tamburello, Terry Beasley, Tracy Rocker, Aundray Bruce, Gregg Carr, Kevin Porter
Anytime Bo Jackson was on the Plains was a good time to root for Auburn. Beyond having a once-in-a-generation athlete on campus, Auburn became a consistent top-10 program during the '80s. Only Miami, Nebraska and Oklahoma had a better win percentage than Auburn during this time. More than that, the Tigers turned the tide, so to speak, in the Iron Bowl. Before Jackson led Auburn to back-to-back wins over Alabama in 1982-83, the Crimson Tide had won nine meetings in a row. This era started with Bo Jackson and ended in 1989 with a 30-20 win over a second-ranked Alabama team in 1989 in the first game on the Auburn campus in series history.

1957-58
Record: 19-0-1
National championships: 1
Coach: Shug Jordan (pictured right)
Notable players: Zeke Smith, Red Phillips, Jackie Burkett
Ralph “Shug” Jordan brought Auburn its first national championship in 1957 and its only title before Cam Newton stepped on campus. The 10-0 championship team in 1957 was the most dominant in school history, outscoring opponents by a combined 207-28. No opponent that season scored more than a touchdown against Auburn in a season that included a 40-0 victory in the Iron Bowl. Alas, recruiting violations prevented the undefeated Tigers from going to a bowl game. Auburn went 9-0-1 the following season to extend an unbeaten streak that lasted 24 games.

WORST TIMES TO BE AN AUBURN FAN

1947-52
Record: 12-42-4
Coaches: Carl Voyles, Earl Brown, Shug Jordan
Auburn emerged from the post-war era with a host of issues across the failed tenures of Carl Voyles and Earl Brown. The low point was the 1950 season when Auburn went 0-10 and was outscored 255-31. Auburn hired Shug Jordan the next season. The eventual Auburn legend won five of his first six games before going on a 2-12 stretch. Things would get better, though.

1927-30
Record: 6-29-2
Coaches: Boozer Pitts, David Morey, George Bohler, Red Floyd, Chet Wynne
In the pre-SEC era, Auburn was a mess. The Tigers went winless in 1927 (0-7-2) and was shutout seven times in nine games in 1928. The era, however, setup a miraculous turnaround as Auburn went 9-0-1 in 1932.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1993-2008
Record: 134-60-1
National championships: 0
Coaches: Terry Bowden, Tommy Tuberville
Notable players: Jason Campbell, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Karlos Dansby, Carlos Rogers, Rudi Johnson, Stephen Davis, Takeo Spikes
We’re sure Auburn fans look back fondly at the undefeated seasons under Terry Bowden (11-0 in 1993) and Tommy Tuberville (13-0 in 2004). That is, if they’re not complaining of Auburn drawing the short straw in the BCS in 2004 (USC and Oklahoma, both undefeated, played for the national title) or NCAA sanctions, which meant Bowden’s team faced a television and bowl ban. Still, Auburn has a tendency to let a good thing go sour. Both Bowden and Tuberville were unceremoniously ushered out of town despite unbeaten seasons. In the SEC, only Florida, Tennessee and Georgia won more games during this period.

Other best times/worst times:
Alabama
Miami
Nebraska
Notre Dame
Ohio State
Oklahoma
Texas A&M


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Teaser:
Best and Worst Times to be an Auburn Football Fan
Post date: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/matt-kenseth-finds-surprising-nascar-win-kentucky
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Matt Kenseth is reaching uncharted territory with Joe Gibbs Racing in just his first year driving the No. 20 Toyota. Sure, everyone knew he’d blow former driver Joey Logano’s numbers out of the water; Logano, still developing at age 23, was never consistently competitive in Cup after being brought up the ranks too quickly. But what the 2003 Cup champ is pursuing now, after a shocking late-race surge to victory at Kentucky, is a record-setting year for JGR that eclipses even the two titles won by the man who put Home Depot and this car on the map: Tony Stewart.

Check out the best stat lines with Stewart driving the car: six wins (2000), three poles (2005), and 1,845 laps led (also ’05). Kenseth? Through 17 races, this season he’s got four wins, two poles, and 960 laps out in front. Double those numbers and you’ll see a shocking truth. Even during the glory years, when Stewart and Greg Zipadelli all but added a shade of orange to every checkered flag, JGR has never seen success from the No. 20 car like it’s seeing now.

Clearly, motivation can be a powerful thing, a 41-year-old one-upping Ford and sponsors who felt he was expendable. But you’d have to think that even when Joe and J.D. Gibbs hotly pursued Kenseth, persuading him over a period of months to leave Roush Fenway Racing, they never anticipated the type of numbers he’s putting up right now — especially in Year One. With rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. still without a top-10 finish, by comparison, nearly halfway through the season at RFR you wonder if Jack Roush loses sleep at night over this one.

Speaking of losing sleep, as we go “Through the Gears” we know there’s one superstar guaranteed to do so this week. Here’s why:


FIRST GEAR: Jimmie Johnson needs to figure these restarts out
He’s a five-time champ who, 17 races through the 2013 season, has been on cruise control, leading Carl Edwards atop the standings by 38 points. He’s on pace for 1,961 laps led, his best in four years and the average finish of 9.4 would set a new career record. On paper, the No. 48 seems virtually invincible come Chase time.

The problem? That letter-sized sheet of paper with all those stats on it can’t press down the accelerator pedal. And lately, Mr. Johnson has had a huge problem figuring out exactly how to do that when the race turns green. It seems like Dover last month, when Juan Pablo Montoya slow-played a restart that got the No. 48 team penalized after a dominating day, is still stuck inside his head. It cost him at Kentucky, where a car that led 182 of 267 laps was second after pit strategy once again gave Kenseth control coming to the green. Johnson, in “follow the leader” position, had no idea when to come up to speed, lost several spots and then spun out.

“We were kind of in an awkward situation in that restart there,” he said. “The No. 20 (Matt Kenseth) broke the pace car speed, which you aren't supposed to, but, they aren't calling guys on that so I need to start trying that in the future. And then we were like three- and four-wide going in the corner, then something happened with the air and just kind of turned me around.”

Yes, the restarts at Kentucky were what second place Jamie McMurray characterized as “strange” — with added importance considering how difficult it is to pass. Sunday marked just the third year for Cup drivers at Kentucky, so many of them are also still trying to figure things out like that restart box. But no one seemed to struggle more than the No. 48, who’s now given away two victories in just one month.

For better or worse, restarts today define where you’re going to finish in NASCAR. Five laps into a green-flag run — especially at intermediate tracks — cars seem magnetically repulsed by each other, spreading out into their own personal space where passing becomes a game of chess. Johnson has to get more aggressive, realizing at Dover, if he sneaks ahead as the second-place car into Turn 1 all that’s needed is to sit back and let the leader pass back to avoid a penalty. He’s the rare guy who’s got a car fast enough to make up the ground lost.

Some might say Johnson doesn’t need these extra trophies. But the fact he’s in “testing mode,” already assured of a high seed in the postseason, is irrelevant. Practice makes perfect, and right now, this team is putting together all the best ways to lose a Chase where they should be an overwhelming favorite.


SECOND GEAR: As the Keselowski crumbles
Sunday’s big wreck involving Brad Keselowski was Kurt Busch’s fault — that much was clear after the No. 78 car tapped the No. 2 following a rough transition on the apron of the racetrack. But in a year where Kes has played innocent victim one too many times, that “bad luck moment” now puts him in position to be just the second reigning champ unable to make the Chase the following year. (Stewart, 2006).

“The one thing we do know is that we have struggled before as a team,” said crew chief Paul Wolfe, after the team tumbled to 13th in points. “And we have worked through that and put ourselves in position to be champions.”

But chemistry can only do so much with Fords that have been inconsistent in terms of speed. Daytona may be this duo’s best chance in the near future, considering the way plate races even things out. Did you know a Ford model hasn’t won at Loudon since 2008? Or at Indianapolis since 1999? Keselowski has also never won at a road course in Cup (Watkins Glen) and was uncompetitive at Pocono this June (16th). That crosses a lot of tracks off the list, and I don’t think this team can count on points to get them in with this black cloud that’s been following them.


THIRD GEAR: Toyota’s troubles solved?
Remember last month when at least one Toyota engine was almost guaranteed to go bust before the finish? They’re back to collecting trophies. Kenseth’s win was the second in a row for the Camry model, which also took three of the top-5 spots on this intermediate (Clint Bowyer was third while Kyle Busch, Kenseth’s JGR teammate, ran fifth). That gives Toyota seven victories on the season, tied with Chevrolet as it tries to overcome a decade’s worth of dominance by the Bowtie Brigade when it comes to the manufacturer’s title.

Most importantly, on a track where horsepower does play a big factor, there were zero blown engines from TRD, along with no complaints. Busch was also able to muscle his way back through the field after an early spin, showcasing the extra edge JGR has showed on 1.5-mile ovals. The jury’s still out, to a certain extent — we need to see months of this pattern before feeling safe the Chase won’t be a series of sad explosions — but it’s a huge confidence builder.


FOURTH GEAR: Bluegrass blues?
Yes, Saturday night’s race was rain-delayed, turning into the first Cup event postponed since 2012’s Daytona 500. But the number of empty seats at Kentucky was still disturbing, as tickets were available for a race that was sold out in its inaugural edition just two years ago. Traffic on that fateful weekend was horrific, as many fans were unable to make it to their seats before the start of the race and some have never forgiven the facility.

The racing, with Johnson out front and dominating most of the day, continued to be a bit of a mixed bag. Several drivers complained of ill-handling cars, with Kyle Busch also blaming a bad right-side Goodyear tire compound. But whatever the reason, this racetrack has yet to have a side-by-side, grinding battle to the finish that creates the type of memories fans will come back for. Now that the bloom is off the rose, it’s close to other historic speedways — like Bristol and Indianapolis — and has to fight for fans’ money in a tight economy. It was no accident certain questions were asked of drivers to get them praising what fans did come back after Saturday night.

The other issue concerns NASCAR’s Gen-6, still without a hang-your-hat race on this type of oval since Fontana. With these races making up half of the Chase, that’s a handling problem that needs to be fixed. Three minutes of restart action can’t be the only time fans see tough competition over a race that takes three hours — especially when it’s head-to-head with the mighty NFL.


OVERDRIVE
You had to shake your head at Clint Bowyer “moving over” for Jamie McMurray, conceding second place down the stretch at Kentucky. Afraid of being spun out? Puh-lease. Points racing or no, that’s not what the fans pay money to see, something I don’t think we’d have ever envisioned before NASCAR’s current postseason format that can sometimes encourage that type of conservatism. … While Keselowski struggles, teammate Joey Logano has six straight top-11 finishes to put himself 10th in points. Consider where he’d be without that 25-point penalty earlier this season; it’s been an impressive recovery. … The Carl Edwards to Penske Racing rumor, while strongly denied this weekend, was puzzling. New crew chief Jimmy Fennig has brought new energy to the No. 99 and they’re clearly back on the upswing. … Denny Hamlin says he’ll finish the season after a mid-race wreck left him 104 points outside the top 20 and shaken inside the Infield Care Center. Owner Joe Gibbs has Brian Vickers right on his roster, along with Cup veteran Elliott Sadler, but claims he’ll let Hamlin make the decision on staying in the car. You wonder, though if a man who’s seen football players overdo it needs to step in here, take the competitive athlete aside and warn him about short-term vs. long-term career implications.


by Tom Bowles
Follow Tom on Twitter:
 @NASCARBowles

Teaser:
Reaction from Matt Kenseth's win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Post date: Monday, July 1, 2013 - 10:52
Path: /college-football/high-expectations-have-returned-jimbo-fisher-and-florida-state-0
Body:

Brandon Jenkins scanned the media room in the bowels of Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, looking for old teammates preparing for the NFL Draft and having no problems finding them.

He realized that he could see more than a dozen reasons why Jimbo Fisher is the right coach for Florida State.

“We have 13 guys at the NFL Combine,” said the former FSU defensive tackle, one of those 13 working out for NFL teams in late February. “That says a whole lot about the coaching. Knowing Jimbo, it’s not slowing down. It’s just getting better.”

Jenkins is right about one thing — the train of talent cruising into Tallahassee isn’t slowing. FSU is losing players to the NFL, but the school will have another batch ready next year. If one ACC team is competing with the top SEC schools in recruiting, it’s FSU, and it’s probably not close (although Clemson might say otherwise).

This formula helped the Seminoles win their first ACC title since 2005, handily defeat Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl and shift national focus to Doak Campbell again.

But while FSU fans hope that Fisher is the man to package that talent into the school’s first true national title contender in more than a decade, there’s always been one thing — or one game — holding his teams back the last three years. There’s only one step left to take, and the Seminoles haven’t taken it.

When he took over for retired legend Bobby Bowden, Fisher was asked to rebuild a once-proud national power. With 31 wins in three seasons, it seems he’s on his way.

Yet, why did it feel like a 12–2 team that won a BCS bowl underachieved a bit last year?

Replay the NC State game, and you’ll understand why that question persists. The Seminoles led 16–0 at the half and 16–3 heading into the fourth quarter. They lost 17–16 — a game that basically eliminated them from the national title chase.

When discussing FSU’s season, an ACC assistant coach pointed to the “up and down” Seminoles — dominance tainted by curious lapses.

Since Fisher’s promotion in 2010, the Seminoles have defeated Miami, Florida, Notre Dame, Clemson and South Carolina — while also losing to five unranked teams, with three of those losses coming on the road.

Maybe demanding perfection is unfair. But those are the rules at Florida State, a program that enjoyed 14 consecutive 10-win seasons from 1987-2000.

 “We won the ACC championship. We went to a BCS bowl. You can’t ask for too much more,” Jenkins says. “We didn’t get to a title game, but you can’t really sit there and say we had a bad season — 12–2 is pretty good.”

Most programs would relish a 12–2 season, but the Seminoles in 2012, and other seasons, were predicted to do much more. Florida State started at No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press poll and rose to No. 3 before the loss to NC State. The Seminoles were ranked as high as No. 5 in 2011 but finished 23rd after the Champs Sports Bowl.

That’s the backdrop for Fisher’s fourth season, one that will be challenging with key veterans gone along with several members of his coaching staff.

Fisher must maximize FSU’s enormous potential while replacing 11 starters (including quarterback EJ Manuel) and breaking in six new assistant coaches this offseason.

The coordinator of last year’s stout defense, Mark Stoops, is Kentucky’s new head coach. Offensive coordinator James Coley joined Miami’s staff and should have more influence on the offense there, since Fisher calls the plays at FSU.

Fisher also lost quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig (now Auburn’s co-offensive coordinator), defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot (Kentucky defensive coordinator), linebackers coach Greg Hudson (Purdue’s defensive coordinator) and running backs coach Eddie Gran (Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator).

Fisher is a disciple of the Nick Saban School of Intensity, and that’s not always easy to handle for assistants day-to-day. But the departures seem more about opportunity —one head coach and five coordinator jobs — than discontent.

And despite the staff turnover, there was no drop-off in recruiting, where the Seminoles ranked in the national top 15 as usual.

That recruiting won’t matter much if Fisher doesn’t follow his belief that fundamentals win championships.

“You can be talented, but how can you be productive and how do you fit into the master scheme of things?” Fisher says.

Fisher sounds like he’s willing to allow his new defensive coordinator, former Alabama secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt, to be creative. Defensive ends will move inside on passing downs. Six or even seven defensive backs will be on the field at once. And linebackers will rush the passer more.

FSU has enough depth to be multiple. New starters will be moving into their full-time positions with experience. Replacing first-round pick Bjoern Werner, for example, is Giorgio Newberry, who recorded tackles in eight games last season and has created high expectations among his coaches.

“This is still a tremendous group of players,” Fisher says. “We’re establishing ourselves as a program again, with guys who played as much ball as anybody else stepping in.”

Fisher is asking a bevy of new coaches — Pruitt, defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, wide receivers coach Tim Brewster, running backs coach Jay Graham, linebackers/special teams coach Charles Kelly and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders — to ease the transition.

Fourth-year junior Clint Trickett entered spring practice as the starting quarterback, but he decided to transfer when it became clear redshirt freshman Jameis Winston, the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2012 class, was on the verge of winning the job.

Between Christian Ponder and Manuel, FSU has had a steady presence at quarterback under Fisher. The hope is that Winston, also an elite baseball player, is the next star at the most important position on the field. Fisher is willing to be patient to find out.

“You can’t try to force something to happen,” Fisher says. “You have to let it play out.”

Fisher knows this all too well regarding his own job. He had chances to parlay his three successful seasons into another job. A faction of FSU boosters wondered if Fisher would look into the Auburn job that went to Gus Malzahn. There were rumors about his candidacy at Tennessee.

But FSU is arguably a top-five national job. The recruiting base is too good. The program has proven itself to be national title-worthy.

Now, Fisher needs to prove it again.
 

Written by Jeremy Fowler for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 ACC Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 ACC season.
 

Related College Football Content

ACC Predictions for 2013
ACC All-Conference Team for 2013
Florida State Team Preview for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 61-80
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100
College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era
College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, July 1, 2013 - 06:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Big 12, News
Path: /best-and-worst-times-be-oklahoma-football-fan
Body:

For many of the installments in our “best and worst times to be a fan” series, it’s been difficult to parse the high points and low points.

Oklahoma’s best time was easy: Watching a team go without a loss for 48 consecutive games may be one of the best times to be a fan of any program anywhere. The Sooners demolished opponents in the 47 wins from 1953-57, winning two national titles along the way.

The Sooners’ lows, though, were just as obvious. The end of the Barry Switzer era brought off-field controversy, both from the law and the NCAA. The next three coaches brought futility.

The rest of Oklahoma history, though, has been successful for the most part. Before his fall as OU’s coach, Switzer kept the Sooners on top with three national titles. Bob Stoops resuscitated the program for the 21st century where it remains — more often than not — the class of the Big 12.

Other best times/worst times:
Alabama
Miami
Nebraska
Notre Dame
Texas A&M


BEST TIMES TO BE AN OKLAHOMA FAN

1948-58
Record: 107-8-2
National championships: 3
Coach: Bud Wilkinson
Notable players: Billy Vessels, Jim Weatherall, J.D. Roberts, Max Boydston, Tommy McDonald, Clendon Hughes, Stan West, Tom Catlin
Hard to believe one of the best eras in college football started with a loss to Santa Clara. After that, Oklahoma embarked on a 31-game win streak, culminating in the 1950 national title. That was child’s play. Oklahoma won a record 47 consecutive games starting Oct. 10, 1953. Perhaps the era was boring, though, as the Sooners earned those wins by an average of 28.6 points per game before losing 7-0 to Notre Dame on Nov. 16, 1957. Oklahoma won the Big 8 in 11 consecutive seasons, won the national title in 1950, ’55, and ’56 and took home a Heisman in 1952 (Billy Vessels). In 1956, Oklahoma players split national player of the year awards as Tommy McDonald won the Maxwell and Jerry Tubbs won the Walter Camp. As Oklahoma won 107 games during this span, no other team won more than 87. And as the Sooners won 92.3 percent of their games over 10 years, no other team won more than 80 percent.

1984-87
Record: 42-5-1
National championships: 1
Coach: Barry Switzer
Notable players: Brian Bosworth, Keith Jackson, Rickey Dixon, Tony Casillas
Bosworth and Switzer made up a intriguing duo of college football villains during this era when OU went 11-1 in three consecutive seasons, including the ’85 championship. This last hurrah for Switzer was spoiled by Miami (led by former Oklahoma State coach Jimmy Johnson), which handed OU its only losses each season from 1986-87.

1971-80
Record: 105-11-2
National championships: 2
Coaches: Chuck Fairbanks, Barry Switzer
Notable players: Billy Sims, Lee Roy Selmon, Mike Vaughan, Greg Roberts, Tom Braheney, Rod Shoate, Randy Hughes, Greg Pruitt, Lucious Selmon, Dewey Selmon
Switzer didn’t match Wilkerson, but he came close. This era produced back-to-back national champions in 1974 and ’75, a Heisman winner (Sims) in ’78 and a legendary defensive line of brothers Lee Roy, Lucious and Dewey Selmon in 1973. Dewey and Lee Roy played on OU’s next two title teams.

2000-08
Record: 102-19
National championships: 1
Coach: Bob Stoops
Notable players: Sam Bradford, Jason White, Adrian Peterson, Josh Huepel, Tommie Harris, Rocky Calmus, Teddy Lehman, Derrick Strait, Duke Robinson
Bob Stoops led Oklahoma back to national prominence as the former Wishbone team embraced modern offenses. Startign in Stoops' second season, OU won the Big 12 championship game in six of nine years and reached the national championship game four times, while claiming the 2000 title. Bradford and White won the Heisman while Peterson made a case to be the best freshman in college football history.

WORST TIMES TO BE AN OKLAHOMA FAN

1989-98
Record: 61-50-3
Coaches: Gary Gibbs, Howard Schnellenberger, John Blake
The ‘80s ended as Oklahoma players would hit a litany of legal troubles, including starting quarterback Charles Thompson arrested for selling cocaine. NCAA sanctions also cut into the program as Switzer resigned before the 1989 season. Under Gary Gibbs, Oklahoma went 44-23-2 as the Sooners dealt with sanctions. The worst was yet to come. OU hoped the outsider Schnellenberger would return the program to prominence, but he was ushered out after a 5-5-1 season. John Blake was even worse as he went 12-22 for the lowest win percentage (35.3) by any Oklahoma coach. The ‘90s ended up the first decade since the ‘20s in which Oklahoma failed to win a conference title.

1936-37
Record: 8-5-5
Coaches: Biff Jones, Tom Stidham
Not a particularly awful stretch for the era before Bud Wilkinson, but the prospect of five ties in two seasons sounds like no fun. Before the Sooners reeled off a four-game win streak at the end of the 1937 season, Oklahoma had gone through a 1-2-2 stretch in Norman. Oklahoma made up for it by going 10-1 the following season before losing in the Orange Bowl.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

2010-present
Record: 32-8
Coach: Bob Stoops
If 2013 is a down season for Oklahoma, the grumblings will start. Even though Oklahoma has the upper hand over Texas, a few ill-timed close losses have knocked the Sooners out of the national championship and Big 12 races. The “Big Game Bob” moniker has all but disappeared as Oklahoma has lost major bowl games to Boise State, West Virginia, Florida and Texas A&M.

Related College Football Content

2013 Big 12 Predictions
Big 12 2013 All-Conference Team
Athlon Sports' 2013 All-America Team
Big 12's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013

Teaser:
Best and Worst Times to be an Oklahoma Football Fan
Post date: Friday, June 28, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-ohio-state-football-fan
Body:

Best and Worst Times to be an Ohio State Football Fan

Pinpointing the best times to be an Ohio State fan are pretty plain: Competing for national titles, winning Rose Bowls, fielding Heisman Trophy winners and, most of all, beating Michigan.

Over the years, Ohio State fandom enjoyed great highs, from when Woody Hayes dominated the first battles of the Ten Year War with Michigan and Bo Schembechler. And though Jim Tressel’s tenure may be remembered as much for its futility against the SEC and the scandal that cost Tressel his job, rooting for the Buckeyes at the start of the 21st century was awfully fun.

The lows seem to be marked by uncertainty more than extended periods of losing. The lowest point in Ohio State fandom may have been the disappointing 1978 season that started in the top 10 and ended with the sudden demise of Ohio State’s legendary coach. Though the 2011 season didn’t make our list of the worst times to be an Ohio State fan, the 6-7 season and coaching and NCAA instability must not have been fun for the Buckeye faithful.


BEST TIMES TO BE AN OHIO STATE FAN

1968-75
Record: 73-11-1
National championships: 2
Coach: Woody Hayes
Notable players: Archie Griffin, John Hicks, Jack Tatum, Randy Grandishar, Crhis War, Tom Cousineau, Jim Stillwagon
Ohio State had already won two national championships under Woody Hayes in the 1950s, but this is when things started to get really interesting. The Buckeyes entered the ’68 season with limited expectations, but an upset of No. 1 Purdue in third game of the season changed everything. The class of “Super Sophomores” of quarterback Rex Kern, defensive back Jack Tatum and defensive lineman Jim Stillwagon led an undefeated national champion in ’68. Eleven players from that team would earn All-America honors one time or another in their careers. The following year, though, began The Ten Year War between Ohio State’s Hayes and Michigan’s Bo Schembechler. Ohio State went 5-2 in its first seven matchups including four consecutive wins from 1972-75. Ohio State went to six Rose Bowls in eight seasons during this period, and running back Archie Griffin became only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice (’74 and ’75).

2002-10
Record: 87-17
National championships: 1
Coach: Jim Tressel
Notable players: Troy Smith (left), Maurice Clarett, A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Chris Gamble, Ted Ginn Jr. (right), Chris Wells, Mike Doss, Quinn Pitcock, Terrelle Pryor
Ohio State rarely had long stretches of mediocre football, but the Buckeyes had tired of losing to Michigan when they hired Jim Tressel from Youngstown State. Tressel paid dividends against more than just UM in his second season when the Buckeyes won six one-score games during the regular season before upsetting a loaded Miami team in the Fiesta Bowl for the 2002 national championship. Ohio State, Tressel and the Big Ten became better known for near-misses at the hands of the SEC during this time as the Buckeyes lost back-to-back national title games to Florida and LSU in 2006 and ’07. Still, the run included eight BCS games, seven top-10 finishes and a Heisman Trophy winner (Troy Smith) in a span of nine seasons. Tressel also re-took the series against Michigan, winning nine of 10 games against the Wolverines. Moreover, the basketball program reclaimed national power status under Thad Matta reaching the Final Four in 2007.

1960-62
Record: 21-5-1
National championships: 1
Coach: Woody Hayes
Notable players: Bob Ferguson
Ohio State won a share of the national title in 1961, but we picked this time because of the two-sport exploits in Columbus during this time. As the football team fared well, the men’s basketball program won the 1960 title and reached the NCAA championship game in ’61 and ’62 with future Basketball Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek on campus.

1954-57
Record: 32-6
National championships: 2
Coach: Woody Hayes
Notable players: Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, Jim Parker
Hayes put his stamp on the program by leading Ohio State to a 10-0 season and national title in 1954, its first national championship since 1942 under Paul Brown. Hopalong Cassady also became Ohio State’s third Heisman winner in 1955. For the second (but not the last) time under Hayes, the Buckeyes won the UPI national championship and the Rose Bowl in 1957.

WORST TIMES TO BE AN OHIO STATE FAN

 

1978
Record: 7-4-1
Coach: Woody Hayes
Ohio State started the season in the preseason top 10 before a 19-0 loss to Penn State to open the season. Things would be downhill from there. Ohio State finished the regular season 7-3-1 with a 14-3 loss to Michigan. But the season would be infamous after a 17-15 loss to Clemson in the Gator Bowl. After Clemson’s Charlie Baumon intercepted the Buckeyes, Hayes punched Bauman and one of his own players who was trying to restrain the coach. Ohio State fired the best coach in school history the next day. Hayes was fourth all-time in career wins when he was fired. Earle Bruce went 11-1 with a Big Ten title in his first season replacing Hayes, but Ohio State fans were understandably shaken.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1995-98
Record: 43-7
National championships: 0
Coach: John Cooper
Notable players: Eddie George, Orlando Pace, Mike Vrabel, Joe Germaine, Terry Glenn, Korey Stringer, David Boston
Cooper’s tenure will be remembered partly for the coach’s futility against Michigan (he went 2-10-1 overall and 1-3 against the Wolverines from ’95-’98). But look at the star power from this era. George won the Heisman, and Pace was one of the best offensive linemen of all time. During Cooper’s best days with Ohio State, the Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl in 1995, twice reached the Sugar Bowl.

Teaser:
Which era under Woody Hayes was the best?
Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 10:36
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-kentucky-speedway
Body:

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s nine-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

It's back to the status quo this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. The third-year Saturday night 400-miler is the newest addition to NASCAR's top circuit schedule, though the racing is rarely much different than we'll expect at any other 1.5-mile venue. Kyle Busch won the inaugural race in 2011, and Brad Keselowski took race No. 2 last season.


A-List (pick two, start one)
Brad Keselowski
Last year's winner at Kentucky, Keselowski led 68 laps in the race that really set the stage for his surge to the Sprint Cup title. Coming in to the 2012 race, he had four consecutive finishes of 12th or worse. After the win, he reeled off six straight top 10s. Keselowski is on a current streak of three finishes of 12th or worse; will Kentucky mark his fourth top 10 on 1.5-mile tracks this year?

Kevin Harvick
The most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner on a 1.5-mile track (Harvick beat Kasey Kahne late to win the Coca-Cola 600), Harvick also holds the interesting distinction of finishing every non-restrictor plate race 14th or better this year. Harvick doesn't yet have a Kentucky top 10, but he did test there with Richard Childress Racing after the 600 win.

Also consider: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon


B-List (pick four, start two)
Kyle Busch
There are just four Sprint Cup drivers who have scored top-10 finishes in the first two races at Kentucky for the series, and Kyle Busch is the only one in the B-list. Busch has led nearly half of all the laps contested at Kentucky (243 of 534) and has a sterling average running position there of 3.6.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt isn't a Kentucky pick because of how well he's run there in the past (the No. 88 has the 11th-best average running position in the two Cup races), but more because of how good that team's intermediate program has been despite some poor finishes. Earnhardt had a top-5 car at Texas before a battery issue, seemed to have righted the ship in the Coca-Cola 600 before his engine failed and then had a dominant car at Michigan before the engine again cracked. That's three poor finishes, but three races where a team didn't tear up the car.

Joey Logano
Logano is another driver without terrific success in the two Sprint Cup races at Kentucky, but he's been riding a very hot streak since a poor outing at Darlington. For context on how good Logano has been, his 11th-place finish at Sonoma was his worst in five races. In Kentucky, he'll have access to Keselowski's notes from last year, and the confidence of three Nationwide Series wins at the track.

Martin Truex Jr.
I'm not sold on Truex's line of thinking that a single race win will suddenly change his ability to win races, but I do think that No. 56 is in for another good run at Kentucky thanks to its strength on similar tracks this year. Truex has a top 10 in every race at a 1.5-mile track this year, and should have won at Texas until a shock broke on the car late in the going.

Also consider: Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers
 

C-List (pick two, start one)
AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger returns to JTG-Daughtery Racing's No. 47 Saturday night for his second start of the season for that team in place of Bobby Labonte. His part-time C-List status makes him a good choice, especially if he can duplicate the top-20 run he had in the No. 47 at Michigan.

Casey Mears
Mears, if nothing else, has been remarkably consistent of late in the No. 13. Since a crash at Darlington, he's finished between 16th and 23rd in all five races. Charlotte and Michigan are the most comparable tracks of those five races to Kentucky, and he took 23rd and 21st, respectively. Expect another top 25 from Mears — a better day than most in the C-List world.

Also consider: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Ragan, Travis Kvapil


by Geoffrey Miller
Follow Geoffrey on Twitter:
@GeoffreyMiller

Teaser:
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch lead the way in tips for your NASCAR Fantasy squad at the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 11:08
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-quarterback-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses


Updated: August 22, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

Note: This is not a list of the best players in college football. This is a ranking of the best players in terms of fantasy value (players who will have the best numbers in college football for 2013.)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Quarterbacks

RankPlayerTeam
1Jordan LynchNorthern Illinois
2Braxton MillerOhio State
3Tajh BoydClemson
4Johnny ManzielTexas A&M
5Marcus MariotaOregon
6Brett HundleyUCLA
7Brett SmithWyoming
8Kolton BrowningUL-Monroe
9Rakeem CatoMarshall
10Derek CarrFresno State
11Shane CardenEast Carolina
12Bryce PettyBaylor
13Taylor MartinezNebraska
14Terrance BroadwayUL-Lafayette
15Cody FajardoNevada
16Chuckie KeetonUtah State
17David FalesSan Jose State
18Bo WallaceOle Miss
19Logan ThomasVirginia Tech
20Aaron MurrayGeorgia
21Clint ChelfOklahoma State
22Jameis WinstonFlorida State
23Teddy BridgewaterLouisville
24Clint TrickettWest Virginia
25Blake BellOklahoma
26Bryn RennerNorth Carolina
27Devin GardnerMichigan
28Vad LeeGeorgia Tech
29Tyler TettletonOhio
30Taylor KellyArizona State
31Taylor McHargueRice
32Casey PachallTCU
33Keenan ReynoldsNavy
34Garrett GilbertSMU
35Blake BortlesUCF
36Connor HallidayWashington State
37B.J. DenkerArizona
38Stephen MorrisMiami
39Keith WenningBall State
40Daniel SamsKansas State
41Michael BrewerTexas Tech
42Cody KesslerUSC
43Terrance OwensToledo
44Taysom HillBYU
45James FranklinMissouri
46Jared GoffCalifornia
47David PilandHouston
48Kain ColterNorthwestern
49AJ McCarronAlabama
50Sam RichardsonIowa State
51Matt SchilzBowling Green
52Anthony BooneDuke
53Keith PriceWashington
54Tyler RussellMississippi State
55Austin BoucherMiami (OH)
56A.J. SchurrArmy
57Joe SouthwickBoise State
58Cody GreenTulsa
59C.J. BrownMaryland
60Chase RettigBoston College
61Kale PearsonAir Force
62Kevin HoganStanford
63Corey RobinsonTroy
64Nick MarshallAuburn
65Tre RobersonIndiana
66Connor ShawSouth Carolina
67Tyler Van TubbergenWestern Michigan
68Eric SozaUTSA
69Austyn Carta-SamuelsVanderbilt
70Brandon AllenArkansas
71Logan KilgoreMiddle Tennessee
72Sean MannionOregon State
73Tyler BenzEastern Michigan
74Nick SherryUNLV
75Brendon KayCincinnati
76Jameill ShowersUTEP

 

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Quarterback Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 11:11
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-alabama-football-fan
Body:

When Alabama is on the top of its game, it tends to loom over the rest of the sport.

When the SEC is on top — as it’s been for several seasons — Alabama has been at the top of the mountain. When Alabama, USC and Oklahoma all finished No. 1, 2 and 3 in 1978 and ’79, guess which team claimed the top spot.

Coaches here tend to tower over the program — Wade, Bryant and Saban. And it doesn’t get any better when Auburn is firmly under the thumb of the Tide.

At the same time, the drive to be the best contributes to some of the lowest lows. Alabama spent the early part of the 2000s largely off the map, due to NCAA sanctions.

But Alabama came back with a vengeance in the last five seasons, reaching the same heights as the Tide did under the Bear.

With Alabama gearing up for potentially a third consecutive national title, this is a great time to wear a Houndstooth hat. Maybe it’s the best time to scream Roll Tide. The first half of the 2000s weren’t great for Alabama, but was it worse than the pre-Bear Bryant depths?

Here are the best and worst times to be an Alabama fan.

Other best times/worst times:
Miami
Nebraska

Notre Dame

Texas A&M


BEST TIMES TO BE AN ALABAMA FAN

1971-79
Record: 97-11
National championships: 3
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: John Hannah, Ozzie Newsome, Dwight Stephenson, Johnny Musso, Bob Baumhower, Marty Lyons, Barry Krauss, Don McNeal, Leroy Cook
Bryant’s second act as a national championship coach may be more impressive than the run in the ‘60s. The run includes the 1979 team, Bryant’s final title-winning team and Alabama’s only undefeated national champ before Saban’s BCS title in 2009. A year earlier, Alabama defeated No. 1 Penn State 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl on a goal line stand for the ages when Barry Krauss stuffed the Nittany Lions’ quarterback Chuck Fusina on fourth down and inches. The 1975 season ended a bizarre stretch of bowl futility when Alabama went 0-7-1 in bowl games, going back to 1968. As Alabama won more games than any other program during the ‘70s, Bryant showed he could change with the times. He adopted the Wishbone offense and more important, began to further integrate the SEC by recruiting black football players to Alabama.

Related: Alabama ranks first in 2013 countdown

2008-present
Record: 61-7
National championships: 3
Coach: Nick Saban
Notable players: Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Terrence Cody, AJ McCarron, Greg McElroy, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Dee Milliner, Mark Barron, C.J. Mosley, Chance Warmack, Dont’a Hightower, Mike Johnson, Javier Arenas
Alabama has been restored to its rightful place in college football, on the top of the sport. With three BCS titles in four seasons, the Tide have established a dominance the sport hasn’t seen since Miami of the 1980s and ‘90s. Over the course of the last five seasons, Alabama has defeated opponents by an average of 22.5 points per game. Even in the supposed down year of 2010, Alabama went 10-3 with two of those losses coming by a field goal or less. The Crimson Tide have taken over every corner of the sport even away from Saturdays — from recruiting national titles to the NFL Draft (11 first-round picks in the last three years to being the topic du jour of opposing coaches on the summer speaking circuit. This stretch also captured the lone piece of hardware Alabama lacked — the Heisman Trophy. At a time when the SEC is on top of college football, Alabama is the team the other 13 SEC programs want to be.

Related: Poisoning of Toomer's trees leads our list of infamous pranks

1961-66
Record: 60-5-2
National championships: 3
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Billy Neighbors, Lee Roy Jordan, Ray Perkins
Alabama began to flex its muscles under Bryant in 1961 when the Tide won their final seven games 161-3. From Joe Namath to Ken Stabler during this era, Alabama rarely had this much star power at quarterback. Alabama won three titles during this time, but the most satisfying may have been the 1965 title. The lone loss that season was a controversial one-point defeat to Georgia, but Alabama had a chance to redeem itself when title contenders Arkansas and Michigan State lost during bowl season. Alabama upset Nebraska 39-28 in the Orange Bowl to claim a second consecutive title.

Related: Alabama has 14 selections on preseason All-SEC team

WORST TIMES TO BE AN ALABAMA FAN

1955-57
Record: 4-24-2
Coach: Jennings Whitworth
Alabama was a power under coaches Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas and Red Drew, but passing the baton to the alum Whitworth was a disaster. Whitworth went 0-10 in his first season and didn’t get much better from there. More than that, Alabama lost three times to Auburn by a combined score of 100-7. The tenure wasn’t all bad though: Alabama fired a coach nicknamed "Ears" to hire a coach nicknamed "Bear."

Related: 2013 SEC predictions

2000-06
Record: 30-40
Coaches: Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula
Alabama showed signs of returning to prominence during this span, including 10-win seasons under each coach: DuBose, Franchione and Shula. But any strides were countered with disappointment. Alabama spent most of this period watching the rise of LSU and Auburn, who went 6-1 against the Tide from 2000-07. Alabama also spent most of these years under NCAA sanctions, including a postseason ban in 2002 when the Tide won the SEC West on the field (10-2, 6-2). After that season, Franchione spurned Alabama for Texas A&M. Alabama tried to replace him with Washington State’s Mike Price, but his when his trip to a Florida strip club went public, he was fired before coaching a game. A period of embarrassment on and off the field ended when Shula was fired in 2006.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1991-96
Record: 63-11-1
National championships: 1
Coach: Gene Stallings
Notable players: John Copeland, Eric Curry, Antonio Langham, Kevin Jackson
Few would call this era of Alabama football “bad,” but it is easy to overlook. Florida, not Alabama, was the SEC’s team of the ‘90s after defeating the Tide three of four times in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama won the national title in 1992, its only title in a 30-year period, and finished ranked in the top five two other times. Stallings ended up in the College Football Hall of Fame, but it’s tough to crack Alabama’s coaching Mount Rushmore when Bryant and Saban take up two spots already.

Related College Football Content

2013 College Football Preview
Top 25
No. 26-40

No. 41-60

No. 61-80

No. 81-100

No. 101-125

Top Players of the BCS Era
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive line

Teaser:
<p> Best and Worst Times to be an Alabama Football Fan</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-team-defense-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Team Defenses

RankTeam
1Alabama
2Stanford
3Notre Dame
4South Carolina
5Michigan State
6Louisville
7LSU
8TCU
9Florida
10Clemson
11Texas
12Florida State
13Oregon State
14Wisconsin
15Vanderbilt
16Bowling Green
17Ohio State
18Boise State
19Northwestern
20Georgia
21Washington
22Michigan
23Oregon
24North Carolina
25Virginia Tech
26Miami
27Ole Miss
28Pitt
29Oklahoma State
30USC

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Team Defense Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:50
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-kicker-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Kickers

RankPlayerTeam
1Taylor BertoletTexas A&M
2Chandler CatanzaroClemson
3Aaron JonesBaylor
4Chris BoswellRice
5Jaden OberkromTCU
6Jeremiah DetmerToledo
7Andre HeidariUSC
8Cairo SantosTulane
9Jordan WilliamsonStanford
10Kyle BrindzaNotre Dame
11Ka’imi FairbairnUCLA
12Justin HaigMarshall
13Ross MartinDuke
14Mathew SimsNorthern Illinois
15Austin LopezSan Jose State

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Kicker Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:48
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-tight-ends-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Tight Ends

RankPlayerTeam
1Austin Sefarian-JenkinsWashington
2Gator HoskinsMarshall
3Eric EbronNorth Carolina
4Jace AmaroTexas Tech
5Chris CoyleArizona State
6C.J. FiedorowiczIowa
7Colt LyerlaOregon
8Arthur LynchGeorgia
9Clive WalfordMiami
10Ted BolserIndiana
11Dan VitaleNorthwestern
12Jake McGeeVirginia
13Jake MurphyUtah
14Kyle CarterPenn State
15Devin FunchessMichigan
16Nick O’LearyFlorida State
17Zane FakesBall State
18Alex BayerBowling Green
19Jacob PedersenWisconsin
20Xavier GrimbleUSC
21Rob BlanchflowerUMass
22Kaneauka FrielBYU
23Beckett WalesSyracuse
24Connor HamletOregon State
25Cole HubbleUTSA
Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Tight Ends Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:44
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-wide-receiver-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 22, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Wide Receivers

RankPlayerTeam
1Marqise LeeUSC
2Sammy WatkinsClemson
3Josh StewartOklahoma State
4Davante AdamsFresno State
5Eric WardTexas Tech
6Tommy ShulerMarshall
7Justin HardyEast Carolina
8Jordan MatthewsVanderbilt
9Bernard ReedyToledo
10Willie SneadBall State
11Brandin CooksOregon State
12Cody HoffmanBYU
13Noel GrigsbySan Jose State
14Quinshad DavisNorth Carolina
15Mike EvansTexas A&M
16Jamison CrowderDuke
17Amari CooperAlabama
18Michael CampanaroWake Forest
19Jalen SaundersOklahoma
20Alex NeutzBuffalo
21Stefon DiggsMaryland
22Ryan GrantTulane
23Donte MoncriefOle Miss
24Jeremy GallonMichigan
25Mario AlfordWest Virginia
26Der’rikk ThompsonSMU
27Jay LeeBaylor
28DeVante ParkerLouisville
29Allen RobinsonPenn State
30Dawan ScottMiami (OH)
31Alex AmidonBoston College
32Je’Ron HammUL-Monroe
33Keyarris GarrettTulsa
34David RichardsArizona
35Kasen WilliamsWashington
36Tevin ReeseBaylor
37Matt MillerBoise State
38Titus DavisCentral Michigan
39Deontay GreenberryHouston
40Dominique WilliamsWashington State
41Chris HarperCalifornia
42Phillip DorsettMiami
43Donte FosterOhio
44Jordan ThompsonWest Virginia
45Brandon CarterTCU
46Andre DavisSouth Florida
47J.D. McKissicArkansas State
48Chris GallonBowling Green
49K.J. MyersWest Virginia
50T.J. JonesNotre Dame
51Martavis BryantClemson
52Brandon ColemanRutgers
53J.J. WortonCentral Florida
54Bradley MarquezTexas Tech
55Jordan TaylorRice
56Mike DavisTexas
57Shaquelle EvansUCLA
58Robbie RhodesBaylor
59Robert HerronWyoming
60Eric ThomasTroy
61Rashad GreeneFlorida State
62Dorial Green-BeckhamMissouri
63Willie McNealWestern Kentucky
64Tracy MooreOklahoma State
65Nelson AgohlorUSC
66Michael BennettGeorgia
67Joe MorrowMississippi State
68Kevonte Martin-ManleyIowa
69Paul RichardsonColorado
70Kevin OzierArizona State
71D.J. ColesVirginia Tech
72Jamill SmithBall State
73Bruce EllingtonSouth Carolina
74L.T. SmithAkron
75Jamal RobinsonUL-Lafayette
76Kenny BellNebraska
77Quan BrayAuburn
78Sterling ShepardOklahoma
79Jarvis LandryLSU
80Jordan LeslieUTEP
81Jeremy JohnsonSMU
82Alonzo RussellToledo
83LeKendrick WilliamsTexas A&M
84Chandler JonesSan Jose State
85Gabe MarksWashington St
86Brandon WimberlyNevada
87Kofi HughesIndiana
88Dontre WilsonOhio State
89Ty MontgomeryStanford
90Tavarese MayeUL-Monroe
91Josh SchafferWestern Michigan
92Ronald CarswellWest Virginia
93Devin StreetPitt
94Josh HuffOregon
95Tommylee LewisNorthern Illinois
96Jared AbbrederisWisconsin
97Malcolm MitchellGeorgia
98Tyler LockettKansas State
99Darius JenningsVirginia
100Trey MetoyerOklahoma
101Isiah MyersWashington State
102Devante DavisUNLV
103William DukesFlorida Atlantic
104Albert WilsonGeorgia State
105Isaiah BurseFresno State
106Antwan GoodleyBaylor
107Shane Williams-RhodesBoise State
108Bennie FowlerMichigan State
109Shaun JoplinBowling Green
110Terrence MillerArizona
111Kenneth ScottUtah
112Chris BoydVanderbilt
113Quintin PaytonNorth Carolina State
114Daniel SpencerHouston
115Charlie MooreOklahoma State
116Drew DileoMichigan
117Christian JonesNorthwestern
118Charone PeakeClemson
119Damiere ByrdSouth Carolina
120Geraldo BoldewijnBoise State
121Blake JacksonOklahoma State

 

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Wide Receiver Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:33
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-running-back-rankings
Body:

Fall college fantasy football drafts are right around the corner and Athlon is here to help win your league in 2013. Athlon Sports has teamed with Joe DiSalvo of thecffsite.com to provide the latest rankings for the upcoming year.

Rankings will be updated right up until kickoff and expect plenty of tweaks to over the next couple of months.

Scoring system rankings based upon:

All draft values are based on a 12-team, 20-round draft using the following scoring system:

Passing—25 pass yds = 1 point
Passing TD = 4 points, INTs = -1 point

Rushing—10 rushing yards = 1 point
Rushing TDs = 6 points

Receiving—.5 points per reception, 10 receiving yards = 1 point, Receiving TDs = 6 points

Kicking—Extra Point = 1 point
FG 0-39 yards = 3 points, 40-49 yards = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points

Defense/ST—Defense, KR, and PR TDs = 6 points
Safety = 2 points, Fumbles and INTs = 3 points, Sack = 1 point,

Points allowed (0 = 15 points, 2-6 = 10 points, 7-10 = 7 points, 11-13 = 5 points, 14-21 = 4 points, 22-28 = 2 points, 29-24 = 0 points, 35+ = -2 points)

2013 College Fantasy Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Team Defenses

Updated: August 17, by Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)
 

College Fantasy Football 2013 Rankings: Running Backs

RankPlayerTeam
1Ka’Deem CareyArizona
2Adam MuemaSan Diego State
3Todd GurleyGeorgia
4David FluellenToledo
5Antonio AndrewsWestern Kentucky
6T.J. YeldonAlabama
7Duke JohnsonMiami
8Dri ArcherKent State
9Ameer AbdullahNebraska
10Zurlon TiptonCentral Michigan
11Lache SeastrunkBaylor
12Bishop SankeyWashington
13De’Anthony ThomasOregon
14Venric MarkNorthwestern
15Branden OliverBuffalo
16Darrin ReavesUAB
17Storm WoodsOregon State
18Charles SimsWest Virginia
19John HubertKansas State
20Kenneth DixonLouisiana Tech
21Kasey CarrierNew Mexico
22Beau BlankenshipOhio
23Melvin GordonWisconsin
24Storm JohnsonCentral Florida
25Jeremy SmithOklahoma State
26Mike DavisSouth Carolina
27Jay AjayiBoise State
28Orleans DarkwaTulane
29Carlos HydeOhio State
30Jamaal WilliamsBYU
31Isaac BennettPitt
32Jahwan EdwardsBall State
33James SimsKansas
34Andre WilliamsBoston College
35Ben MalenaTexas A&M
36Silas ReddUSC
37Damien WilliamsOklahoma
38Rod McDowellClemson
39Trey WattsTulsa
40David OkuArkansas State
41LaDarius PerkinsMississippi State
42Donnell KirkwoodMinnesota
43Stephen HoustonIndiana
44Alonzo HarrisUL-Lafayette
45Tim CornettUNLV
46Marlon GriceArizona State
47Brendan BigelowCal
48Jordan JamesUCLA
49George Atkinson IIINotre Dame
50Vintavious CooperEast Carolina
51Jeff ScottOle Miss
52Jordan ParkerMiddle Tennessee
53Jerome SmithSyracuse
54Jordan HopgoodBowling Green
55Wesley TateVanderbilt
56Jeremy HillLSU
57Tre MasonAuburn
58Kelvin YorkUtah
59Michael DyerLouisville
60Christian PowellColorado
61David SimsGeorgia Tech
62Romar MorrisNorth Carolina
63Lyle McCombsConnecticut
64Joe HillUtah State
65James WhiteWisconsin
66Matt JonesFlorida
67Byron MarshallOregon
68Bronson HillEastern Michigan
69Savon HugginsRutgers
70Marlin LaneTennessee
71Derrick GreenMichigan
72Chris NwokeColorado State
73Marteze WallerFresno State
74Jawon ChisholmAkron
75Dominique BrownLouisville
76James Wilder, Jr.Florida State
77Trayion DurhamKent State
78Johnathan GrayTexas
79Cameron StingilyNorthern Illinois
80Kenny WilliamsTexas Tech
81Kevin ParksVirginia
82Mark WeismanIowa
83Alex CollinsArkansas
84Don JacksonNevada
85Jyruss EdwardsLA-Monroe
86Noah CopelandNavy
87Glasco MartinBaylor
88Alfred BlueLSU
89J.C. ColemanVirginia Tech
90Marcus ShawSouth Florida
91Zach ZwinakPenn State
92Andrew BuieWest Virginia
93Nick HillMichigan State
94Raymond MaplesArmy
95Henry JoseyMissouri
96Nathan JefferyUTEP
97Raymond SandersKentucky
98Devonta FreemanFlorida State
99Brandon HayesMemphis
100Senorise PerryLouisville
101Josh HarrisWake Forest
102Malcolm BrownTexas
103D.J. FosterArizona State
104James WhiteIowa State

 

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: 2013 Running Back Rankings</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 23:12
Path: /nascar/nascars-new-king-road-hamlins-chase-chances-and-villeneuves-cup-return
Body:

1. NASCAR's new king of the road?
Remember back when you could basically predict a Jeff Gordon win at these road course events? Ah, those sure were easier times. But, alas, they've been gone for a long while.

Gordon hasn't won on the series’ two road courses since 2006 at Sonoma and 2001 at Watkins Glen. As a result, NASCAR has gone a while now without a resident "King of the Road."

For example, look no farther than Sonoma. Gordon's ’06 victory was the last for a driver who had previously won at the track. Since then, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer have been one-off and first-time Sonoma winners.

The story is a bit different at Sprint Cup's other road racetrack in Watkins Glen. Marcos Ambrose is a two-time defending winner there, and Tony Stewart has three wins at the New York track since 2004.

Should Ambrose win Sunday — his Richard Petty Motorsports team dedicated a test to Sonoma earlier in the season — it would mark three wins in the last four NASCAR road course races. It wouldn't quite match Gordon, but it'd put the V8 Supercars champion on a level pretty close in terms of road course dominance.


2. NASCAR finally decides to try something new in qualifying
If you've seen the attendance for NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at mostly every track in the last few years, you've realized that, to many, the format has lost its luster. NASCAR has yet to make a substantial change to fix some of that lost excitement on ovals, but it is making a change effective for this weekend's road course events.

It's about time.

Saturday, the Sprint Cup teams will qualify for Sunday's race at Sonoma Raceway in a group format. The cars will be evenly split in the groups and placed together based on practice speeds in the final practice session held Friday. Each group will have a set amount of time to qualify, and a driver's best lap during the timed period counts as the qualifying speed.

However, we don't know quite yet how many groups will run or how long the groups will be on the track. NASCAR's April news release on the subject says the race director will make that call. The weekend schedule has roughly one hour and 40 minutes set aside for Saturday's qualifying.

The Nationwide Series will use the same setup this weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.
 

Teaser:
<p> Geoffrey Miller highlights the five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota-SaveMart 350.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 10:22
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ole Miss Rebels, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/hugh-freeze-has-ole-miss-rebels-rise
Body:

Hugh Freeze is approachable by nature and has a disarming demeanor. On the surface, it’s hard not to like the Ole Miss football coach.

The same can be said, perhaps, for a used car salesman, and fans of opposing SEC schools were quick to cry foul — regardless of the validity of that cry — as Freeze and his staff compiled a consensus top-10 recruiting class in February.

It hadn’t been done at Ole Miss before. How could Freeze do it?

The Ole Miss class checked in at No. 6 in the Athlon recruiting rankings, but it takes more than a smile and handshake for sustained recruiting success, which is what Freeze must have to lift the Rebels from mediocre to meaningful in the SEC West, the toughest division in college football. In his mind, he has to build relationships, not only with prospects but also throughout his program. If he doesn’t, the players he’s trying to sign will discern the lack of authenticity.

The 2013 class indicates that Freeze and staff are off to a good start in all of the above.

National websites devoted to recruiting took ample notice of the 2013 class. Scout named D-line coach Chris Kiffin — Monte’s son and Lane’s younger brother — its Recruiter of the Year, while Kiffin and fellow assistants Wesley McGriff and Maurice Harris were named among the top 50 recruiters in the nation by 247Sports.

When the Rebels were first mentioned with some of the nation’s upper-tier talent, the idea of Freeze and his staff closing the deal seemed a little “far-fetched,” says Barton Simmons, who covers national recruiting for 247Sports. But there came a tipping point when those who follow the recruiting game began to think differently.

“Once it became clear that Robert Nkemdiche (the top-rated recruit nationally) was headed to Ole Miss, once it became clear that a 5-star receiver in Laquon Treadwell was joining the class, everything started to seem much more likely down that home stretch,” Simmons says. “As an industry it got to the point that nothing surprised us about that staff and what they were able to accomplish.”

Related: Freeze checks in at No. 9 in SEC coach rankings

The key? Relationships.

McGriff, who has left since Signing Day to become secondary coach with the New Orleans Saints, had a friendship with an assistant coach at Treadwell’s high school, and that gave the Rebs a shot with the No. 1 wide receiver.

Kiffin played a big role in the signing of Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, and also with No. 1 offensive tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil. In addition, Nkemdiche has a brother — All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche — already on the Ole Miss roster, while Treadwell has a friend and former high school teammate, defensive back Anthony Standifer, in Oxford. Those are examples of the “natural ins” Freeze references in how the entire 2013 class came together.

“People who criticize don’t understand that we have the brother of the No. 1 recruit in the country who just had an incredible experience at Ole Miss this year,” Freeze says.

“A lot of people talk about family, but we live it,” says offensive line coach Matt Luke, a former Ole Miss center who was also an assistant on Ed Orgeron’s staff. “People see that when they come here. They see us in person. They see that. We build relationships with our guys that are deeper than most. It’s not just, play your four years of football and get out of here.”

Related: Preview of No. 33 Ole Miss

People are attracted to that chemistry, Luke says. In a sport where vicious hits and physical play are applauded, Freeze uses respect for teammate, school and self — and often uses the word “love” — as his main motivating points.

Contact with each recruit from each assistant coach is meticulously planned, as is the Freeze in-home visit — down to what will be discussed and what assistant coaches will be with him.

The classroom discussion is always nearby. Freeze inherited an academic train wreck when he arrived at Ole Miss. Most players — not all — were able to get back on course and become eligible for 2012.

“Academics are non-negotiable in this process,” he says.

Freeze’s devout Christian faith is visible daily through his motivational phraseology and comments on Twitter. That can serve to strengthen a recruiting relationship, or in some cases have no effect.

“You get a mixture. Just like it is in society, but I’m not a guy that forces this on anyone. I tell you who I am,” he says.

The Ole Miss staff could see the momentum building for the class and could predict the reaction from so many who follow the sport of recruiting.

Allegations of cheating began to flood Freeze’s Twitter account to the point that he challenged anyone with evidence of wrongdoing to contact the school’s compliance office. Many did, and their claims were investigated. But nothing was found that raised red flags.

There was discussion with Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork and many others within the athletics department before Freeze issued his Twitter challenge.

“My whole point is, I know our coaches are doing it right,” Freeze says. “Certainly you’re going to do something where you have a secondary violation on something that is totally unintentional, but if somebody does have something that I’m unaware of, there’s too much at stake for me to sit blindly by. I’d like to know it.”

Many of the complaints came from those with ties to Georgia. Mark Richt and his staff had gotten pretty far down the road with Tunsil, and Freeze had no “natural in” with the tackle from Lake City, Fla.

“We had a plan. So we’re thrilled that it worked, but surprised is not a good word,” Luke says. “It’s like when I hit a good golf shot. That’s where I was aiming, it just ­doesn’t happen all the time. We had a lot of things fall right. We had some siblings, some teammates, some things to get the ball rolling.”

Related: 2013 SEC Preview

Freeze expects success in spite of the disadvantages that accompany a state with one of the smallest populations in the country, one that divides its small talent pool with another SEC school (Mississippi State) and a third FBS program (Southern Miss), and must withstand talent raids from more established conference brethren (say, SEC West rivals LSU and Alabama).

Ole Miss was able to do that by landing 4-star prospects Ryan Buchanan and Kailo Moore — a quarterback and running back, respectively — and 5-star safety Tony Conner.

Memphis is a nearby population center that Ole Miss considers “home” recruiting territory. Freeze focuses on advantages like that — and what he says is the ability of Ole Miss to sell itself — as opposed to a lack of numbers inside the state and the year-long battles through recruiting and public relations with SEC rival Mississippi State.

“The same people that (talk about our disadvantages are also) writing that it’s in the top five of most beautiful campuses in the nation or that the game-day experience is among the top three in the nation or that it’s the safest campus in America,” Freeze says.

“And we have a rich tradition in football.”

That tradition is also distant. John Vaught’s best years were five decades ago, and Ole Miss hasn’t won an SEC championship since 1963.

Related: 2013 Preseason All-SEC Team

Freeze contends that recruiting isn’t easy at Ole Miss but that it’s difficult everywhere “with the exception of three or four schools in the conference” and that the past should not dictate the future.

He was a part of three Orgeron teams that never had a winning season, and his 7–6 debut was hailed as remarkable because of the depths to which the program had quickly fallen after Houston Nutt led Ole Miss to Cotton Bowls in his first two seasons.

As with any coach and staff, wins and losses will impact length of tenure. Whether through relationship building or another method, Freeze has to win at recruiting, and winning there can be defined in different ways.

Freeze says he doesn’t need to sign a top-10 class every year, that he can rebuild Ole Miss football with “high 3-stars and 4-stars.”
 Simmons agrees and uses Auburn as an example of the great misconception of recruiting.

“They’ve recruited consistently in the top 10 and top five, and that’s not translated to wins on the field,” he says.

“There’s every reason to believe that if (Ole Miss’) evaluations and developments are right, that the program is headed in the right direction.”

Written by Parrish Alford for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 SEC Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 SEC season.

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Teaser:
<p> Hugh Freeze Has Ole Miss Rebels on the Rise</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 07:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-texas-am-football-fan
Body:

Texas A&M fans are an odd bunch, even for college football and even for the SEC.

No female cheerleaders, just Yell Leaders and Yell Practice. And then there’s Reveille, the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. She goes to class, she can decide with a single utterance if class is called off, and if she takes a cadet’s bed, the cadet sleeps on the floor.

Did we mention she’s a border collie?

This is also the home of the 12th Man and one of the best game-day atmospheres in college football. Texas A&M is part of what makes college football unlike any other sport — even in the way A&M’s identity is wrapped up in what rival Texas is up to.

Right now is a great time to be an A&M fan with Johnny Manziel running all over SEC defenses and the Aggies challenging for a conference and national title. Kevin Sumlin and Manziel pulled the Aggies out of mediocrity, but do these current teams already stack up to the Bear? And what of the lows under Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman? Were they really all that low in comparison to seasons past?

Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck! Here are the best and worst times to be a Texas A&M fan.

Other best times/worst times:
Miami
Nebraska

Notre Dame


BEST TIMES TO BE A TEXAS A&M FAN

1955-57
Record: 24-5-2
National championships: 0
Coach: Bear Bryant
Notable players: John David Crow (right), Charlie Kreuger, Gene Stallings, Jack Pardee
The Junction Boys are a part of college football lore, but it hardly started that way. Those brutal practices in 1954 yielded a 1-9 season. By 1956, the Junction Boys led one of A&M’s greatest teams when the Aggies that year went 9-0-1. The following season, Crow became the Aggies’ first Heisman winner and the only one before Manziel. The glory years under Bryant were short-lived when “Momma called” the coach back to Tuscaloosa. “And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’,” Bryant said.

Related: Texas A&M ranks eighth in 2013 countdown

2012-present
Record: 11-2
National championships: 0
Coach: Kevin Sumlin
Notable players: Johnny Manziel, Luke Joeckel, Damontre Moore, Jake Matthews, Ryan Swope
Only one year into the SEC era for Texas A&M, and, yep, this is one of the best times to be a Texas A&M fan. The Aggies are peaking just in time to play in the best conference in the country. The Heisman-winning Manziel has reached sports celebrity status, and the top-five finish was the best since 1956. Beyond the numbers, A&M with Sumlin and Manziel is video game-quality entertainment. The Aggies’ rematch with Alabama on Sept. 14 will have College Station at a fever pitch. And beyond that, Texas is struggling. All is well in Aggieland.

Related: Texas, Texas A&M exchange pleasantries in our list of infamous pranks

1985-94
Record: 95-24-2
National championships: 0
Coaches: Jackie Sherrill, R.C. Slocum
Notable players: Darren Lewis, Mike Arthur, Richmond Webb, Jerry Fontenot, Rod Bernstine, Sam Adams, Johnny Holland, Aaron Wallace, Aaron Glenn, Kevin Smith
Texas A&M’s investment in former Pittsburgh coach Jackie Sherrill in 1982 — for a then-outrageous sum of $267,000 — paid off by 1985 when the Aggies won their first of three consecutive Southwest Conference titles. Sherrill’s successor, R.C. Slocum, had similar success by going 42-5-1 over a four-year span. Overall, Texas A&M had the fourth-best win percentage (79.3 percent) in the country from 1985-94 behind only Miami, Florida State and Nebraska. Beyond that, Texas A&M went 10-1 against Texas from 1984-94, the only loss by one point in 1990. The records were great, but Texas A&M flourished only as the Southwest Conference crumbled. Led by the Wrecking Crew defense, the Aggies went 10-0-1 in 1994 despite being ineligible for the SWC title.

Related: Texas A&M has 10 selections on preseason All-SEC team

1939-41
Record: 29-3
National championships: 1
Coach: Homer Norton
Notable players: John Kimbrough, Joe Boyd
This was the first taste of national success for the Aggies as Texas A&M won its only national title in 1939, going 11-0 with a win over Tulane in the Sugar Bowl. The fullback Kimbrough was the runner up for the Heisman the following season.

Related: 2013 SEC predictions

WORST TIMES TO BE A TEXAS A&M FAN

1958-70
Record: 40-86-6
Coaches: Jim Myers, Hank Foldberg, Gene Stallings
The post-Bryant era brought Texas A&M to pre-Bryant depths. Foldberg was especially bad, leading Texas A&M to a 6-23-1 record in three seasons. Not even Stallings — a Junction Boy who eventually won a national title at Alabama — could win in College Station. He went 27-45-1, including 8-23 from 1968-70. Texas A&M defeated rival Texas only once from 1957-74.

1947-49
Record: 4-23-1
Coaches: Homer Norton, Harry Stiteler
Norton led Texas A&M to its only national championship in 1939, but the shine wore off less than a decade later. Norton went 3-6-1 in his final season, but it only got worse from there as A&M went 1-17-2 the following two seasons. Only Bear Bryant could dig A&M out of this hole.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1997-99
Record: 28-11
National championships: 0
Coach: R.C. Slocum (right)
Notable players: Dat Nguyen, Dante Hall, Seth McKinney
Slocum’s entire tenure probably went underappreciated at A&M, especially in light of the the failed tenures of Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman. The Aggies finished in the top 25 all three seasons from ’97-99, including an 11-3 season and the Aggies’ only Big 12 title in 1998. Slocum would be fired by 2002 with a 123-47-2 record in College Station.

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No. 26-40

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No. 101-125

Top Players of the BCS Era
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

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Offensive line

Teaser:
<p> The times when Kyle Field was especially rowdy</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 07:35
All taxonomy terms: fishing, outdoors, Monthly, News
Path: /overtime/how-fish-fishing-tips-pro-fishermen
Body:

If you’re a weekend angler preparing for a day on the banks or on the water, you’ve probably got your hooks, lines, sinkers and an assortment of bait and favorite lures. But what other essentials are you carrying? We asked some of the world’s top fishermen to help fill your tackle box with their “must haves” to ensure that your next fishing experience is fun-filled, safe and rewarding.

Polarized sunglasses: preferably Jimmy Houston glasses (or Bill Dance’s if they’ve sold out of mine!) 
— Jimmy Houston, Cookson, Okla., legendary pro angler and TV celebrity
 
Leatherman multi-purpose tool: Think industrial-grade Swiss Army knife. Indispensable for everything from cutting line to repairing reels to an emergency tracheotomy. 
— Steve Wozniak, San Ramon, Calif., holder of 68 International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world records, including most different species caught (1,192). Has fished in 77 different countries.
 
More clothes than you think you’ll need: Because it never fails; the weather always changes and you don’t want to be stuck out there freezing.
— JT Kenny, Palm Bay, Fla., Straight Talk pro angler
 
Baby wipes: They’re a must. Nobody can fish in dirty conditions!
— Scott Suggs, Bryant, Ark., 2007 Forrest Wood Cup champion
 
Lighter: Use it to fix rods and start a fire if an emergency arises. 
— Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla., FLW Tour Beaver Lake April 2013 winner, Forrest Wood Cup qualifier
 
Net: One that’s light and tough made by Beckman, because: 1) fish have teeth, 2) fish are slimy, and 3) fish flat out stink! 
— David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., all-time FLW leading money winner with more than $3 million; 2003 Forrest Wood Cup champion
 
Serious sun hat: I'm not talking baseball cap here but one of those ridiculous things that makes you look like the head of a religious cult. 
— Wozniak
 
Toilet Paper: I prefer camouflage-colored toilet paper, and make sure it’s scented.  By the way, it's all scented sooner or later! 
— Houston
 
First aid kit: If you don't know why you need this, then I'll hit you in the head with a tack hammer and you'll find out. 
— Kenny
 
A good rain suit: You never know when you might get wet. I prefer Gore-Tex to keep me warm and dry. 
— Suggs 
 
Life jacket: Always use a life jacket; you never know when something is below the water.  
— Christie
 
Extra drain plug: Worth the money at twice the price anytime and much easier than swimming to shore! 
— Houston 
 
Smartphone: If the fish aren’t 
biting, you can always watch YouTube and play games.
— Kenny
 
Sunscreen: 30 SPF. Apply before you make the first cast! 
— Houston
 
Digital camera: It’s nice to have photos to look at from previous trips when the current one is going badly. If it’s a smartphone, you can look up exactly what type of swamp minnow you just caught. 
— Wozniak 
 
12-pack of Keystone Light: You can either celebrate your big catch or drown your sorrows with it.  
 — Kenny
 
Bobber: Even though I’m a professional, I have A.D.D. and need a bobber to help tell me when I have a bite. Thill is the best bobber made. 
— Dudley
 
Visa card with high limit: Because after you put gas in your truck to get to the lake then put gas in your boat to fish, you're going to need a high limit! 
— Kenny
 
Super Glue: There is nothing that Super Glue won't fix. 
— Suggs
 
Jumper cables: If your battery dies, you can jump from a trolling motor
battery or have
someone jump you. 
— Christi
 
A good memory: Because you’re going to have the time of your life. 
— Kenny
 
*Photos courtesy of FLW Outdoors.
Teaser:
<p> 21 Fishing Tips from Pro Fishermen</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 12:50
Path: /college-football/virginia-techs-struggling-offense-gets-makeover
Body:

Within the first minute after taking the dais to introduce Virginia Tech’s new offensive coaches in January, Frank Beamer made clear his distaste for change, even a change that Hokies fans have requested for years.

In 27 years at his alma mater, Beamer has carved out a legacy in college football, one he’s attributed to the consistency of his coaching staff at Virginia Tech.

But after the Hokies bottomed out in 2012, barely making a bowl game and finishing 7–6, their worst record in 20 years, even he admitted it was time for an overhaul.

Enter offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, a trio tasked with fixing what for years has been an underachieving Virginia Tech offense.

“Change is not easy for me. I don’t like change,” Beamer said upon introducing the three. “But at the same time, you’ve got to do what you think is right for your overall organization, and that’s what I’ve done in this case.”

With Bud Foster’s defense having been among the nation’s best for the better part of nearly two decades, critics of Beamer have long held the belief that the offense’s production, particularly in the post-Michael Vick era, has held the Hokies back from becoming an elite college football program.

Tech’s offense under long-time Beamer ally Bryan Stinespring, who remains on the staff as a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, could never match the production of Foster’s defense.

In the 11 years after Stinespring was elevated to the coordinator position, the Hokies finished in the bottom half of the FBS in total offense six times. Only once in the last six years has Virginia Tech finished in the top four in the ACC in total offense, despite having either current pro Tyrod Taylor or future pro Logan Thomas at quarterback.

Nevertheless, the wins masked the issue. Eight straight 10-win seasons from 2004-11 and four ACC titles were all the justification Beamer needed for keeping things the same. When that wall came crumbling down in 2012, though, change was inevitable.

But it won’t be radical. In Loeffler, who cut his teeth at Michigan under Lloyd Carr, the Hokies have someone who Beamer believes is aligned philosophically with the style that has worked at Virginia Tech for years — control the line of scrimmage, run the football and pass off play-action. It’s an unsexy yet effective game plan.

“I think the marriage between what they’ve done in the past and what we want to do is excellent,” Loeffler says.

Still, Loeffler’s No. 1 task will be to fix Thomas, who is back for his senior season after a disappointing junior campaign that saw his draft stock drop from potential top-five pick to out of the first round.

Hardly a lost cause, Thomas still broke his own school record for total yardage in 2012, throwing for 2,976 yards and running for a team-high 524 yards. He accounted for 27 touchdowns, only three off his 2011 figure, but his efficiency numbers dropped significantly. His completion percentage fell from 59.8 to 51.3, and he threw 16 interceptions, tied for fourth-most nationally.

But Loeffler, who coached Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Drew Henson, John Navarre and Chad Henne at Michigan and Tim Tebow at Florida, might be the right guy to get Thomas on track in his quarterback-dependent offensive system.

“Some of the things that he does that are really, really difficult, he does them easy,” Loeffler says. “And you can’t coach that. I don’t care. There are some things that he does that are really, really hard. I watched him chin-over-toe escape to his left and make this freaky throw that not too many guys could do. So some things like that that are easy, I think we can make them a little easier for him to be more productive.”

Like Thomas, Loeffler had his own problems in 2012. After a successful season at Temple in his first year as a coordinator on any level, Loeffler was hired to replace Gus Malzahn at Auburn, where he was asked to install a pro-style attack with spread personnel. It didn’t go well. The Tigers finished 115th nationally in total offense en route to an 0–8 record in the SEC. Gene Chizik and his entire staff were fired.

Loeffler, a coaching itinerant who has made four stops in the last five years, remains unscarred by the experience, though.

“You’ve got to learn real quick that in this business — there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs,” he says. “There’s going to be times when you play really well. There’s going to be times when you don’t. There’s going to be times when you coach really well and there’s going to be times that you don’t. Obviously, one little setback is not going to define who I am or what I believe in. I’m good.”

For his part, Beamer looked past those struggles at Auburn, hiring Loeffler, in part, because of a recommendation from Carr.

Loeffler doesn’t come alone. He has a kindred spirit in Grimes, with whom he worked at Auburn. The baritone-voiced offensive line coach earned points with the Hokies faithful by declaring upon his arrival that his goal was for his group to be “the toughest line in the ACC.”

“I believe we’re the tip of the spear, so to speak, the first in to fight,” Grimes says. “And if we do our job with the right approach and the right mindset, then I think the other guys will follow.”

It was music to the ears of a fan base that identifies with Foster’s Lunch Pail defense and watched in disbelief last year as the Hokies’ offensive line struggled to run-block. J.C. Coleman led the running backs with 492 yards, the lowest rushing total for Virginia Tech’s leading back since 1967.

In Moorehead, plucked from the Stanford staff, Tech hired an energetic receivers coach who at 32 years old is among the youngest assistants Beamer has ever hired.

It’s part of an overall youth movement in Blacksburg. Including the post-2010 shakeup that saw Shane Beamer and Cornell Brown replace long-time Beamer assistants Billy Hite and Jim Cavanaugh, the average age of the Hokies’ coaches has dropped from 50 to 42.

At age 66, Beamer is nearing the finish line of his Hall of Fame career. Before the Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers, he admitted how much the 2012 season wore on him. He said he stopped eating and lost weight, looking gaunt and exhausted by the end of the season.

But in the spring, he looked re-energized, confident in what could be the last major shakeup to a coaching staff he’ll ever make, even if it went against his nature.

“The bottom line is that we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be,” Beamer says. “I feel like when things are not working as well as they need to, you need to change it around.”

Story written by Andy Bitter for Athlon Sports. This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 ACC Preview Edition. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 ACC season.

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Teaser:
<p> Virginia Tech's Struggling Offense Gets a Makeover</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 07:20
All taxonomy terms: Ask Athlon, Monthly
Path: /monthly/do-golfers-pga-tour-pay-their-own-travel-expenses
Body:

Do golfers on the PGA Tour pay their own travel expenses to and from Tour events? And what about rooming costs and meals?

— Larry Freeze, Topeka, Kan.
 
Yes, they do. And it can be pretty expensive. Some estimates place the annual expenditures on travel (including room and board) at upwards of $200,000 for a golfer who plays in events worldwide. In addition, pro golfers also have to pay their caddies each week. Not every deal is the same, but most caddies earn at least $1,200 per event, plus up to 10 percent of the weekly earnings. There is one caveat: Many of the top pros have their travel costs covered by their sponsors. But this is a perk enjoyed by only the best of the best. For some, playing on the PGA Tour can be an expensive endeavor. 
Teaser:
<p> Go on, ask us anything.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 17:38
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Monthly, Overtime, News
Path: /mlb/major-league-baseball-players-poll-revealing-results-about-gay-teammates-peds-and-more
Body:

We asked, they answered. Athlon Sports set out to gauge the opinions, tastes and preferences of major league baseball players, circa 2013. More than a fifth of all MLB players responded to our survey, sharing their opinions on fellow players, teams, managers, PEDs, women and more. Read on. 

Who was your sports hero growing up?
Ken Griffey Jr. (13.7%)
Derek Jeter (5.5%)
Michael Jordan (5.5%)
Cal Ripken (5.5%)
Nolan Ryan (4.8%)
Don Mattingly (4.1%)
Dale Murphy (3.4%)
Will Clark (3.4%)
Roger Clemens (2.8%)
Rickey Henderson (2.8%)
Barry Bonds (2.8%)
 
Who is the best manager in baseball?
Joe Maddon, Rays (14.3%)
Terry Francona, Indians (10.2%)
Jim Leyland, Tigers (8.8%)
Bruce Bochy, Giants (8.2%)
Buck Showalter, Orioles (8.2%)
Bud Black, Padres (6.8%)
Ron Gardenhire, Twins (5.4%)
Dusty Baker, Reds (4.1%)
John Farrell, Red Sox (3.4%)
Mike Scioscia, Angels (3.4%)
 
What percent of players are using PEDs?
No Idea (2.2%)
0 (6.0%)
1-5 (53.0%)
6-10 (15.9%)
11-20 (5.3%)
21-30 (2.2%)
31-40 (1.5%)
41+ (0.7%)
 
What was your BIG purchase after signing your contract?
Car or truck (67.6%)
House (12.6%)
Big dinner (3.5%)
Watch (3.5%)
TV (2.1%)
Engagement Ring (2.1%)
 
NOTE: Some interesting responses that only got one vote: Japanese Fighting Fish, microwave oven, and a zoom lens for a camera.
 
Who is the best general manager in baseball?
Andrew Friedman, Rays (15.4%)
Billy Beane, A’s (8.4%)
Theo Epstein, Cubs (8.4%)
John Mozeliak, Cardinals (8.4%)
Terry Ryan, Twins (8.4%)
Brian Sabean, Giants (8.4%)
Jerry Dipoto, Angels (4.2%)
Dave Dombrowksi, Tigers (4.2%)
Kevin Towers, Giants (3.5%)
Jon Daniels, Rangers (3.5%)
 
What team would you take less money to play for?
Yankees (11.3%)
Braves (10.6%)
Rangers (7.0%)
Giants  (6.3%)
None (6.3%)
Dodgers (6.3%)
Red Sox (5.6%)
Angels (4.9%)
Padres (4.3%)
Cardinals (4.3%)
Twins (3.8%)
Diamondbacks (3.8%)
Rays (3.8%)
Cubs  (3.1%)
 
What team would you never play for?
None, would play for any team (30.5%)
Yankees (13.5%)
Marlins (13.5%)
Blue Jays (6.4%)
Pirates (5.0%)
Astros  (4.3%)
Indians (2.8%)
Mariners (2.8%)
Cubs  (2.8%)
 
Who is the best pure hitter?
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (61.0%)
Robinson Cano, Yankees (6.2%)
Joe Votto, Reds (5.5%)
Joe Mauer, Twins (4.8%)
Mike Trout, Angels (4.1%)
Ryan Braun, Brewers (4.1%)
Albert Pujols, Angels (3.4%)
 
Who is the best defender?
Yadier Molina, Cardinals (13.5%)
Mike Trout, Angels (10.6%)
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (9.2%)
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (5.7%)
Brendan Ryan, Mariners (5.0%)
Adrian Beltre, Rangers (4.3%)
Brandon Phillips, Reds (4.3%)
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (3.6%)
 
Percent of MLB players who are faithful to their spouses?
40 (2.6%)
50 (9.5%)
60 (11.3%)
70 (16.5%)
80 (31.3%)
90 (19.1%)
100 (7.8%)
 
Which city should have a team?
Las Vegas (15.3%)
Nashville (15.3%)
Portland (6.9%)
Indianapolis (6.1%)
San Antonio (5.3%)
Charlotte (4.5%)
Oklahoma City (3.7%)
Salt Lake City (2.9%)
Columbus (2.9%)
Charlotte (2.1%)
Montreal (2.1%)
San Jose (2.1%)
Vancouver (2.1%)
Austin (1.3%)
Birmingham (1.3%)
New Orleans (1.3%)
 
Which city should be replaced?
Oakland (31%)
Tampa Bay (27%)
Miami (14%)
Cleveland (8%)
Toronto (7%)
Houston (6%)
Milwaukee (3%)
 
What player would you take less money to have as a teammate?
Mike Trout, Angels (15.2%)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (13.8%)
Derek Jeter, Yankees (6.5%)
Justin Verlander, Tigers (5.8%)
David Price, Rays (2.9%)
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (2.9%)
Buster Posey, Giants (2.9%)
No one (2.2%)
Yadier Molina, Cardinals (2.2%)
Bryce Harper, Nationals (2.2%)
Robinson Cano, Yankees (2.2%)
 
Which player would I want my daughter to marry?
None (23.5%)
Derek Jeter, Yankees (6.5%)
Joe Mauer, Twins (3.3%)
Mike Trout, Angels (3.3%)
David Wright, Mets (2.4%)
 
Which player would I NEVER want my daughter to marry?
Any player (26.4%)
A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers (7.5%)
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (5.7%)
Jason Giambi, Indians (2.8%)
Nick Swisher, Indians (2.8%)
 
Would you have a problem with a gay teammate?
No Problem (69.8%)
Problem (28.7%)
Big Problem (1.5%)
 
Who is the hottest woman alive?
My wife (9.2%)
Kate Upton (7.1%)
Beyoncé (3.6%)
Jessica Biel (3.6%)
Rihanna (3.6%)
Jessica Alba (2.9%)
Halle Berry (2.9%)
Kate Beckinsale (2.9%)
Scarlett Johansson (2.9%)
Mila Kunis (2.9%)
Faith Hill (2.2%)
Jennifer Lawrence (2.2%)
Taylor Swift (2.2%)
 
NOTE: There were 63 different women who received votes, including “wife” as just one. One Kansas City outfielder said, “that new next queen of England.”
 
Teaser:
<p> Our off-the-record baseball player survey about managers, teams and more</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 12:20
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-sonoma-raceway-0
Body:

To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s nine-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.


The NASCAR road course races have become some of the best on the circuit each season thanks to the absurdity of NASCAR's heavy, over-powered cars trying to work delicately around tight, left and right turns. Road course racer Andy Lally recently said on Twitter that NASCAR is his favorite road course vehicle because it “handles like a school bus with the power of the space shuttle.” This week at Sonoma Raceway sounds fun!

Jump in, make your picks and, hopefully, make us look like we know what we’re talking about … if you took advantage of the free advice last week, you’ve got a race-win under your belt.


A-List (Pick two, start one)
Tony Stewart
Just when we were ready to write off Tony Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing bunch, he’s reeled off four top-10 finishes (a win included) in the last four races. He’s now leaped to 10th in points and figures to pile on this weekend at the Sonoma road course. Stewart leads all A-List drivers in the last eight years at Sonoma with an average running position of 10th.

Although he hasn’t won there since 2005, he’s picked up four top-5 finishes in the last five races and would've had a fifth in 2011, but wound up stuck on top of a tire barrier, courtesy of Brian Vickers. Obligatory note: Vickers is racing this weekend, too.

Jeff Gordon
Anyone who has paid attention to NASCAR’s road races in the last several years knows Jeff Gordon’s status as “King of the Road” has long since faded. However, banking on Gordon as a smart fantasy pick for Sunday is the intelligent play.

Gordon’s last road course win was in Sonoma in 2006, and since then he’s recorded a top 10 in every trip to Napa Valley. He led 13 laps a year ago — his first laps led at Sonoma since the win — and finished sixth. Don’t be concerned if things aren’t looking great for the No. 24 at halfway, either. In the last eight Sonoma races, he’s averaged 17th at the cross flags only to wind up with a series-best average finish of 8.3.

Also consider: Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson
 

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy NASCAR tips for the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 10:56
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes
Path: /college-football/best-and-worst-times-be-miami-football-fan
Body:

Believe it or not, there actually was a bad time to be a Miami fan before the decline in the last decade. And we’re not talking about the brief time on probation in the mid-90s.

We’re talking about the 1970s. It’s tough to remember a time when Miami was a non-factor in college football, but before the Hurricanes became the dominant program of the 1980s, they were on nobody's radar, let alone anyone's pick to become the first team from the state of Florida to win a national title.

Related: 2013 Miami preview

Enough about that bad times. Being a Miami fan during the Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson days was fun — as long as those fans didn’t mind rooting for college football renegades. And let’s face it, winning five national championships in less than 20 years makes it a little easier to root for any team.

Miami football fandom ebbs and flows just like any program. The Hurricanes may be on the rise under Al Golden right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy to get up for Hurricanes games over the last seven years (and judging by those crowd shots, it’s been quite tough).

Our series looking at the best and worst eras for college football fans continues with Miami. From the lean years of the 1970s to dominance on the field and draft day in the 80s, 90s and 2000s, here are the highs and lows for the faithful in Coral Gables.

Other best times/worst times:
Nebraska

Notre Dame


BEST TIMES TO BE A MIAMI FAN

1986-92
Record: 78-6
National championships: 3
Coaches: Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson
Notable players: Vinny Testaverde, Bennie Blades, Gino Torretta, Steve Walsh, Russell Maryland, Micheal Barrow, Michael Irvin (right)
This is when Miami became “The U” and one of the transformative programs in college football history. Johnson and Erickson built upon Schnellenberger’s groundwork to establish the preeminent football program of the 80s and early 90s. The Hurricanes earned all the confidence they exuded with three national titles in five seasons (’87, ’89 and ’91). The ’87 team was the first unblemished team in school history, defeating an unbeaten Oklahoma team in the Orange Bowl. Overall, the Hurricanes went 56-4 from 1987-91 and added Heisman winners in 1986 (Testaverde) and ’92 (Torretta). But this was also a time of near misses. In a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game to end the 1986 season, Miami lost 14-10 to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, a game preceded by Miami players showing up for dinner with the Nittany Lions in fatigues. Then, in the “Catholics vs. Convicts” game in 1988, Miami lost 31-30 to Notre Dame for its only loss of the year. Miami became the villains of college football, but the Hurricanes’ players and fans soaked up the image.

Related: Miami picked to win division in 2013

2000-03
Record: 46-4
National championships: 1
Coaches: Butch Davis, Larry Coker
Notable players: Ed Reed, Bryant McKinnie, Willis McGahee, Ken Dorsey, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow, Dan Morgan
Miami escaped NCAA probation as dominant as ever, thanks to Butch Davis’ ability to stockpile talent in Coral Gables. Miami lost 34-29 to Washington on Sept. 9, 2000 and wouldn’t lose again until the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State after the 2002 season (cue the groans about the pass interference call that aided the Buckeyes’ victory). The 2001 team was one of the best teams in college football history, defeating opponents by an average of 33 points per game on the way to a Rose Bowl rout of Nebraska for the national title in Coker’s first season. The program was awash in NFL draft picks during this era, including 19 first-round selections in the 2001-04 drafts.

Related: Bryant McKinnie tops list of best OL of the BCS era

1980-83
Record: 36-11
National championships: 1
Coach: Howard Schnellenberger
Notable players: Bernie Kosar, Fred Marion, Jim Kelly
Other coaches would have better records and more top-five finishes. Other teams would be more dominant. But no coach and no era meant more to Miami than Schnellenberger in the early 1980s. Miami’s program was hanging by a thread in the 70s when the former Bear Bryant assistant Schnellenberger came up with a recruiting plan to build a wall around South Florida for what he called the “State of Miami.” The ‘Canes went 9-2 in 1981 with Kelly at quarterback for Miami’s first bowl game in 13 years. Then, Miami upset Nebraska in the Orange Bowl in 1983 to become the first of 10 national-title winning teams from the state of Florida.

Related: Schnellenberger among notable Hall of Fame snubs

WORST TIMES TO BE A MIAMI FAN



2006-12
Record: 48-40
Coaches: Larry Coker, Randy Shannon, Al Golden
Miami appears to be on the right track, as Athlon projected the Hurricanes to reach their first ACC title game this season. Still, the last seven seasons have been lackluster by the standards Miami set since 1983. The Hurricanes have been mediocre on the field, finishing only one of the last seven seasons with more than seven wins and a top-25 ranking. Off the field, Miami has been embroiled in scandal with the Nevin Shapiro case -- even if the NCAA comes out of the whole affair looking even worse. In the stands, attendance has sunk to embarrassing levels. And in the NFL Draft, Miami’s presence has faded with no first-round picks since 2008. The biggest indignity was a 48-0 loss to Virginia in the final game at the storied Orange Bowl.

Related: 2013 Preseason All-ACC team

1968-78
Record: 46-72
Coaches: Charlie Tate, Walter Kichefski, Fran Curci, Pete Elliott, Carl Selmer, Lou Saban
Those born after 1980 or so have no recollection of how irrelevant Miami football once was. The Hurricanes went through six coaches over the course of the decade including the Selmer (5-15 overall) and Saban (8-13). The 1970 team under Tate and Kichefski was outscored by a total of 144 points in 11 games while the 1977 team under Saban was outscored by 120 points. Against Florida — Miami’s primary rival at the time — the Hurricanes went 2-9, including the infamous Florida Flop in 1971. Florida quarterback John Reaves was attempting to break Jim Plunkett’s career passing record in that game. With Reaves 10 yards short of the record and Florida up 45-8 late, the Gators’ defense flopped to the ground at the 8-yard line to allow Miami to score. Reaves broke Plunkett’s record as time expired.

IT WASN’T SO BAD WHEN...

1961-67
Record: 41-30-3
Coaches: Andy Gustafson, Charlie Tate
Notable players: Ted Hendricks, George Mira
Miami’s high and low points are so obvious it’s tough to pinpoint an underappreciated time in the Hurricanes’ history. Going 41-30-3 with four bowl games in seven seasons would get a Miami coach fired in 2013, but this was the high point of the pre-Schnellenberger era. The Hurricanes had two star players in quarterback George Mira and defensive end Ted Hendricks, the name of the latter now sits on a trophy presented to the nation’s top defensive end. Miami went 5-2 against Florida in this span, including a pair of wins against 1966 Heisman winner Steve Spurrier. Honorable mention for this category: Miami went 22-5-1 from 1954-56.

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Teaser:
<p> Fans went along for the ride as Miami went from doormat to dominant</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Monthly, News
Path: /monthly/whats-greatest-sports-themed-advertising-campaign-all-time
Body:

In your opinion, what is the greatest sports-themed advertising campaign of all time? I like ESPN’s “This is SportsCenter” spots.

— Sarah Crawley, Fairfax, Va.
 
Those SportsCenter ads, with their creative use of easily recognizable athletes, are pure genius. But for the best of all time, we have to go with Nike’s “Bo Knows” series featuring multi-sport legend Bo Jackson. Every now and then a product, a pitch man and an era come together in perfect harmony, and that is what happened when Nike was looking to promote its new cross-training product. Who better than a crossover superstar like Bo? The campaign blossomed into baseball cards, t-shirts, shoes and a permanent spot in the public consciousness. This might be one of the greatest marketing/advertising campaigns in the history of capitalism.
Teaser:
<p> <span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Helvetica, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.727272033691406px; line-height: 17.99715805053711px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Go on, ask us anything.</span></p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 07:15

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