Articles By Athlon Sports
Too often these days, fans and athletes alike focus on the negative side of sports, whether it's a fight that breaks out on the field or trash talk off the field. Still, there are many instances of athletes taking the high road and doing the right thing. Here are five perfect examples of athletes showing us what sportsmanship is all about.
Why isn’t the World Series trophy named after a person, like the Stanley Cup (NHL), Lombardi Trophy (NFL) and Larry O’Brien Trophy (NBA)? I think it should be named the Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson Memorial Cup.
— John Daneluk, Beverly, Mass.
Each year, MLB hands out the rather blandly named Commissioner’s Trophy to its champion. Like you, we think the name could use a little more personality. Your suggestion, while featuring two worthy candidates, is a little too cumbersome, but limiting it to one player is difficult. There’s no executive as worthy as the NBA’s O’Brien; the first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, would be a candidate if he hadn’t been a roadblock to integration. Here’s one thought: Casey Stengel, who managed the Yankees to 10 World Series appearances in his 12 years at the helm (1949-60). He’s baseball’s closest approximation to Lombardi. But we’re open to suggestions.
— Charlie Miller, Editorial Director
Why is it that the NFL is the only major sport that does not induct game officials into its Hall of Fame?
— Dr. Norman Jones, Crystal Lake, Ill.
We kicked this one over to veteran NFL writer Gordon Forbes, who had this to say: “A number of officials have been nominated over the years, but none has made it to the final 25 cut. Dr. Jones should know that fans can nominate players, coaches, contributors, etc., by simply sending a letter to the Hall of Fame, which is why there are usually 100 or more individuals nominated each year. Among today’s officials, the best-known and one of the most respected is Ed Hochuli, but the first official I would name to the Hall of Fame would be former referee Jim Tunney.”
Maybe nobody really knew Adrian Peterson would be on target to rush for 2,000 yards so soon after a devastating injury. But everyone knew that the talent and his ability were there. Before he got hurt he was the best running back in the league.
And maybe nobody expected Peyton Manning to return from a serious neck injury and play like the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Then again, that’s exactly what he was before he got hurt.
So yes, in some ways, those were unexpected – but not totally out of nowhere. To find those—the truly unexpected, shocking, surprising, or out-of-nowhere performances of the 2012 season—you have to look a little deeper.
Here are five players who no one was expecting to be major stars prior to the season. Yet with just two weekends to go before the playoffs, they have most definitely arrived.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson – There was no one anywhere who imagined Wilson to have the kind of breakout season he had, mostly because few imagined him as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback. They had bought Matt Flynn in free agency and it was all but certain that he would get the job.
Then Flynn hurt his elbow, Wilson won the job and the Seahawks became one of the biggest team surprises in the league, sitting at 9-5, in control of a wild-card spot, and nipping at the San Francisco 49ers’ heels. Wilson, meanwhile, has been a model of efficiency, completing 62.9 percent of his passes for a pedestrian 2,697 yards so far.
Less pedestrian are his 21 touchdowns against only 9 interceptions – an impressive ratio for a rookie who was never supposed to start.
Green Bay WR Randall Cobb – Everybody knew that Cobb had speed and breakaway ability, but on a team with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, he figured to be a nice fourth option in the passing game – maybe even fifth behind tight end Jermichael Finley.
Instead, thanks to an opportunity presented to him due to injuries by everyone ahead of him on the depth chart, Cobb was able to show he’s a true No. 1 receiver and not just a kick returner with offensive potential. His breakout season has included 77 catches, 892 yards and seven touchdowns so far. The Packers wouldn’t have expected much more from any of the other receivers had they been able to play in Cobb’s place.
Washington RB Alfred Morris – Two things were working against Morris when his rookie season began: The fact that he was buried on the depth chart, and Mike Shanahan’s penchant for playing musical running backs. But Shanahan saw something in Morris early in training camp and never looked back.
The result was the best season for a Redskins rookie running back ever. With two games still to go he’s at 1,322, nine touchdowns and a healthy 4.7 yards per carry. He’s as big of a reason as the more heralded Robert Griffin III for why the Redskins have revived their season and are sitting in first place in the NFC East. And some opponents believe he’s the bigger weapon in the Washington offense.
San Francisco LB Aldon Smith – Houston DE J.J. Watt got a ton of preseason publicity and a lot of early season hype after he recorded 9 ½ sacks in his first six games. Meanwhile, even though Smith was coming off a 14-sack season, he didn’t get nearly as much publicity – in part because with Patrick Willis on the 49ers, Smith wasn’t even considered the best linebacker on his own team.
That proved to be shortsighted because, after a slow start in which he had 4 ½ sacks in the first six games, he’s sitting at 19 ½ with two games to go – tied with Watt in their pursuit of Michael Strahan’s NFL record. Granted he’s been helped by one 5 ½ sack game against the Bears on Nov. 19, but he’s been a consistently disruptive force and has had 4 ½ sacks in the four games since that explosion against the Bears.
Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin – Maybe this should’ve been expected for a first-round pick, but he was no certainty to take the reins from LeGarrette Blount when he was drafted. But he did and has been a steady workhorse ever since. His coming out party, of course, was his 251-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Oakland Raiders that had fantasy football owners howling.
And while they haven’t all been like that, he does have four 100-yard games and 1,250 yards for a young and struggling team.
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
When Robert Griffin III limped off the field last Sunday, it figured to be a devastating injury for the Washington Redskins. He’s their most dynamic player and the reason they’ve made a race out of the NFC East. His loss would’ve changed the outlook of the entire division.
Fantasy golf season is almost here, meaning that it's time to dust off the dumb, dirty and/or tasteless puns and come up with a team name. Here’s our list for 2013, in no particular order of awesomeness.
Weapons of Grass Destruction
This reference worked a little better in 2002.
Sure to induce a few giggles at the draft table.
This one’s almost too obvious.
Now we’re talking. That’s pretty creative.
The Fore Horsemen
The “fore” genre provides a deep well of name choices. Some of them are pretty crude. Use your imagination.
The ball genre is fertile ground for your golf fantasy team name. And for cheap laughs.
No. 1 Balls in Golf
Maybe your team could get a Titleist sponsorship.
Dude, Where’s My Par?
Nice. Golf clap for that one.
Sultans of Swing
Nothing says golf like a late 1970s Dire Straits reference.
Fairway to Heaven
Going even further into the music archives. Can’t go wrong with classic Zep.
Caddyshack references always work.
Ditto for Happy Gilmore references.
Working on my Putz
Sure, it’s stolen from that talking baby commercial. But it’s still solid.
Grip It and Sip It
Could be a good slogan for John Daly's new cocktail, which actually exists.
The Swinging Johnsons
What? We’re just talking about Dustin and Zach.
A Shingo Ate My Baby
Sure, Shingo Katayama's an obscure player, but his name's worth its weight in fantasy golf gold.
Brandt Awareness or The Grateful Sned
Brandt Snedeker's name brings fantasy possibilities.
May the Schwartzel Be With You
A Spaceballs reference combined with a Masters champ equals fantasy gem.
Fists of Furyk
Back to the Kuchar
The Bogey Men
The DrawShank Redemptions
Who's Your Caddy
Droppin' A Deuce
The Ball Washers
The Long Balls
The Happy Hookers
RELATED: 50 Funny Fantasy Football Team Names
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.
Manziel edged Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o to earn college football's most prestigious award.
The redshirt freshman received 474 first-place votes for 2,029 total points compared to Te'o's 321 first-place votes and 1,706 points, which was the most- ever scored by a purely defensive player in the history of the award.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein came in third place with 60 first-place votes and 894 points.
"This is a moment that I've dreamed about since I was a little kid," said Manziel. "I wish my whole team could be up here tonight, especially my offensive linemen and offensive teammates."
Manziel broke the SEC record for total offense by passing for 3,419 yards and rushing for 1,181 more while totaling 43 touchdowns -- 24 through the air.
In Texas A&M's first season in the vaunted SEC, Manziel led the Aggies to a trip to the Cotton Bowl behind a 10-2 record, which included a win over then- No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 10.
Aside from becoming the first Texas A&M player to win the Heisman since John David Crow back in 1957, Manziel also captured the Davey O'Brien award for the nation's top quarterback, the SEC Freshman of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors.
"I get the chance to stand up here when, really, there could be five offensive lineman standing up here in the spotlight because they really deserve just as much, if not more, credit," Manziel said after hearing his name called for the award.
Te'o was seeking to become the first true defensive player the win the Heisman and the eighth Notre Dame player to receive the award.
Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson captured the Heisman in 1997, but he also appeared as a kick returner and wide receiver for the Wolverines.
The senior amassed a team-high 101 tackles and a career-best seven interceptions for the top-ranked Irish, who are set the play No. 2 Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7.
Te'o, however, did become the first person ever to win both the Bednarik and Maxwell Awards, as well as capturing the Walter Camp Award, the Butkus Award, the Nagurski Award and the Lombardi Award this season, making him the most decorated player in college football history.
Klein was trying to become Kansas State's first-ever Heisman winner.
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award recipient passed for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding 890 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns for the 11-1 Wildcats, who will face off against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.
Knoxville, TN (Sports Network) - Butch Jones is leaving Cincinnati to become the head football coach at Tennessee.
Jones resigned from his position at Cincinnati on Friday morning.
The 44-year-old Jones was the coach of the Bearcats for the past three years, recording a 23-14 record during that span. He guided Cincinnati to back-to- back conference championships in 2011 and 2012 and was named Big East Coach of the Year in 2011.
"I would like to thank Butch Jones for his time at the University of Cincinnati," director of athletics Whit Babcock said. "With that said, we are excited about the future of this program and this job will be extremely attractive nationally. Our search will begin immediately."
Cincinnati named Steve Stripling interim head coach for the Belk Bowl.
Jones decided to go with Tennessee after reportedly turning down an offer to become the new coach at Colorado earlier this week.
At Tennessee, Jones will succeed Derek Dooley, who was fired on Nov. 18 following an embarrassing 41-18 road loss at Vanderbilt. Dooley posted a losing record in each of his three seasons in Knoxville.
The Volunteers went 5-7 this season with a 1-7 mark in the SEC.
"It is truly an honor and a privilege to be the head football coach at the University of Tennessee," Jones said. "I understand the values, traditions, and level of expectations that come with this position, and I look forward to being a part of the Vol Nation."
Prior to taking the job at Cincinnati, Jones spent three years as the head coach at Central Michigan. Jones went 27-13 as coach of the Chippewas, winning MAC Championships in 2007 and 2009.
Jones is a native of Michigan and spent two years as wide receivers coach at West Virginia before being named Central Michigan's head coach in 2007.
Kansas State QB Collin Klein has been named the winner of the 2012 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Klein was selected from an original field of 29 of college’s top quarterbacks, including finalists A.J. McCarron (Alabama), Geno Smith (West Virginia), Matt Barkley (USC), and E.J. Manuel (Florida State).
Named after the man many refer to as the greatest quarterback ever to play the game of football, The Golden Arm Award will be presented to Klein on December 7 at a ceremony held from 6-9 pm at The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore.
“Collin is not just a tremendous athlete and leader on the field, but an MVP off the field as well, who repeatedly has been recognized for his numerous contributions to the community and to the spirit of sportsmanship” says John C. Unitas, Jr., President of The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation.
As a player who will go down as one of the best in K-State history as both a passer and runner, Klein ranks in the top 10 in school history in rushing touchdowns (1st; 55), touchdown responsibility (1st; 84), scoring (2nd; 336), total yards (3rd; 7,028), passing efficiency (3rd; 141.05), rushing attempts (3rd; 588), rushing yards (5th; 2,455), completions (5th, 353), passing touchdowns (t6th; 29), passing yards (7th; 4,573) and pass attempts (8th; 572). His 55 rushing touchdowns also rank fourth in Big 12 history and second among quarterbacks.
This year alone, Klein has completed 180 of 272 passes for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Off the field, Klein has been a star as well, leading him to be named a finalist for the ARA Sportsmanship Award, honoring the player that best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship, and one of 11 FBS players selected for the AFCA Good Works team, recognizing positive impact in the community.
“Collin joins a prestigious list of top quarterbacks who embody the characteristics that made Johnny Unitas such an enduring legend, including many who have gone on to illustrious careers in the NFL,” says Unitas, Jr.
Former winners of the Golden Arm Award include Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Carson Palmer (USC, 2002), Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2003), Brady Quinn (Notre Dame, 2006), Matt Ryan (Boston College, 2007), Colt McCoy (Texas, 2009), and Andrew Luck (Stanford, 2011).
Candidates for the Golden Arm Award must be completing college eligibility or be a fourth-year junior, on schedule to graduate with his class. Candidates are judged upon character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments.
Proceeds from the Golden Arm Award help to support the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. The Foundation provides financial assistance to underprivileged and deserving young scholar-athletes throughout Maryland and Kentucky.
There are 22 teams in the NFL that can make at least a decent case to their fans that they’re still somehow in the playoff hunt, and maybe another handful that can at least stretch the definition of “in” with four games remaining in the season.
But the reality is the field isn’t that wide. Most of the division races are all but settled and the wild-card picture is starting to take shape. For more than half of the teams in the NFL this season is shaping up as a disappointment as they come to grips with the reality that they’ve already crushed their own Super Bowl dreams.
Some disappointments, though, are much greater than others. Some players and teams have collapsed despite incredibly high expectations. So here’s a look at the five biggest underachievers in the NFL:
Panthers QB Cam Newton
His rookie year was so good, the expectations for Year 2 were going to be unreasonably high. But no one expected his Panthers to fall apart so badly. It’s not all Newton’s fault that Carolina has stumbled to 3-9, but he’s been unable to do what good quarterbacks are supposed to do – lift his team up.
His completion percentage has dipped, but what’s most alarming is his 14-to-10 touchdown to interception ratio. It’s alarming because it’s only that good because he’s thrown six touchdown passes and no interceptions in his last three games. His start was so poor it buried the Panthers in a hole they simply couldn’t climb out of. And in an extremely tough division it even has some worrying about Carolina’s prospects for next year.
The Saints defense
The spectre of BountyGate, the suspension of the head coach, his top assistant, the GM and several players all have made this a difficult season for the Saints, as evidenced by their 0-4 start. They’ve rallied nicely since then to get to the fringe of the playoff race, but it hasn’t been enough.
Why? Because the defense stinks, which is shocking considering it’s led by Steve Spagnuolo, a strong defensive coach who won a Super Bowl as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. His defense this year is statistically the worst in the NFL. It’s also the worst against the run and 30th against the pass.
If they were even just a little better, the Saints might have already secured a playoff berth – and nobody would want to play them in the NFC.
The Detroit Lions
For a couple of years this team has been like a sleeping giant in the NFL, loaded with weapons on both sides of the ball and finally a solid plan from the coaches’ office. When they went 10-6 in 2011 and secured a playoff berth they looked to be a legitimate contender in the NFC.
Then what happened? Controversies. Arrests. Ndamakong Suh’s anger issues. Comical miscues. And four straight losses that have made them what one scout called “the best 4-8 team we’ve had in years in the NFL.” That’s not much consolation to a long-suffering fan base that was expecting so much more out of Matt Stafford and co.
Eagles DE Trent Cole
The Philadelphia Eagles could have spent the last two seasons on this list after looking like a “Dream Team” a year ago. And individually you could put everyone from the coach to the quarterback on the list, too. But the most mystifying part of this team is the complete disappearance of its once feared defense, which is a shell of its former, aggressive self.
Cole is the poster child for their disappearance. In his previous six NFL seasons he never had fewer than 8 sacks. In the last three years he totaled 33.5 sacks. Then in the offsesason he signed a four-year, $48.5 million contract extension and what happens? Two sacks so far in 12 games. No one could have foreseen that.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez
He has had Jets fans clamoring for Tim Tebow and then he temporarily lost his job to Greg McElroy. That should be more than enough said. But keep in mind that this year was supposed to be the one that Sanchez finally took the big leap in his career. He had already led the Jets to two AFC championship games, and last year – which wasn’t great – he still threw for nearly 3,500 yards with 26 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
This year? The Jets are a disaster and Sanchez’s numbers have dipped across the board. His worst numbers are his 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He’s failing to justify the $60 million contract extension he got during the offseason and isn’t exactly inspiring faith in the tough Jets fan base. The Jets might have to go in another direction soon and Sanchez’s failures could cost coach Rex Ryan his job.
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
Even since his first season as a college head coach at UMass, John Calipari has thrived with freshmen. That season in 1988-89, Calipari had a rookie Jim McCoy, who averaged 19.8 points per game.
That freshman and that team didn’t resemble the recruiting empire Calipari built at Memphis and Kentucky where a glut of talented freshmen sign with Cal, win a ton of college games in one year and then go on to be NBA Draft picks.
No, McCoy put up big numbers but went 10-18 at UMass as a freshman. He’s certainly one of Calipari’s best freshmen, but he’ll have trouble landing in the top 10 from recent years.
Sorting through Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose, John Wall and more is a tall task, but we tried to tackle it here with Calipari’s top 20 freshmen.
We included three freshmen from this season’s team, but this early in the season, their grade is incomplete. We anticipate one or all three to make a move up this list, but for now, this elite group of rookies is tough one to crack.
JOHN CALIPARI’S TOP 20 FRESHMEN
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis didn’t simply have one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history -- he had one of the best seasons of any player. If there was an award to be won or honor to receive, Davis earned it. He was the consensus national player of the year, a unanimous All-American, the national defensive player of the year and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. After leading Kentucky to its eighth national title and first championship since 1998, Davis was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The only other players to win the Naismith Award, the Final Four MOP and then be selected first overall in the draft all the in the same season were Kansas’ Danny Manning and. UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With a 7-foot-four wingspan, Davis was a defensive force, setting an NCAA freshman record and Kentucky record with 186 blocks.
2. Derrick Rose, Memphis
Hard to believe as it is, Rose wasn’t the most decorated player on his own team as a freshman. That distinction went to All-American and Conference USA player of the year Chris Douglas-Roberts. Rose belongs on this list, though, as the point guard of a team that played for a national title before falling 75-68 in overtime to Kansas. Rose averaged 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6 assists per game in the NCAA tournament, but his missed free throws late in regulation of the title game sealed Memphis’ fate. Months later, Rose was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
It’s never bad when the team’s most competitive player and glue guy happens to also be the No. 2 player in the NBA Draft (behind only teammate Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick). Kidd-Gilchrist’s intangibles were second-to-none, a trait that was absent on some of Calipari’s most talented teams. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, earning Most Outstanding Player honors for the East regional as the Wildcats reached the Final Four and eventually won the national title.
4. John Wall, Kentucky
Calipari started at Kentucky the same way he finished his time at Memphis – with an elite one-and-done point guard. Wall followed in the footsteps of Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis and preceded Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague at Kentucky. In leading Kentucky to a 35-3 season, Wall was the National Freshman of the Year and the Associated Press and coaches’ pick for SEC Player of the Year (Oddly enough, teammate DeMarcus Cousins was the coaches’ pick for SEC freshman of the year). Wall was blocked for most national player of the year awards by Ohio State’s Evan Turner, but Wall did earn the Adolph Rupp Trophy. Go figure.
5. Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Knight was a McDonald’s All-American, but his arrival wasn’t as heralded as John Wall’s to Kentucky or Derrick Rose’s to Memphis. Still, he brought similar results. Knight wasn’t a collegiate All-American like Wall, but he took Kentucky deeper into the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats first Final Four appearance since 1998.
6. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Before his devastating knee injury against Florida, Noel was having an award-worthy season even if his team paled in comparison to recent Calipari squads. When he did play, Noel was offensively limited but few were better on the defensive end of the floor. He could have challenged Davis’ blocked shots numbers and was a leading candidate for national defensive player and freshman of the year honors. The flat-topped center finished his season averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game.
7. Tyreke Evans, Memphis
After Calipari moved him to point guard, Evans had the unenviable task of stepping in for Rose, who had just led Memphis to the national championship game. Evans was a stat-sheet stuffer from the start with 17.1 points per game, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his single season at Memphis.
8. Dajuan Wagner, Memphis
Before the deluge of one-and-dones followed Calipari to Memphis and Kentucky, he had Wagner with the Tigers. He averaged 42 points per game in high school before landing in Memphis, where he averaged 21.2 points for the Tigers. Calipari revoked Wagner’s sophomore scholarship to persuade him to enter the NBA Draft, where he became the No. 6 pick. However, health and injury issues derailed his promising career.
9. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
What could Cousins’ ceiling be if he were able to tackle his maturity issues? Kentucky fans may ask the same thing. He was dominant in his single season alongside Wall in 2009-10, averaging 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds. His talent was undeniable, but so was his tendency to sulk on the sideline. Cousins and Wall went 35-3 in during the regular season before falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia.
10. Marcus Camby, UMass
Camby would go on to bigger things as a junior when UMass reached the Final Four and earning National Player of the Year honors, but his rookie season in Amherst wasn’t too shabby. Despite starting only 12 games, Camby was the Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.
Others of note:
11. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (2010-11)
12. Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky (2009-10)
13. Sean Banks, Memphis (2003-04)
14. Jim McCoy, UMass (1988-89)
15. Marquis Teague, Kentucky (2011-12)
16. Darius Washington Jr., Memphis (2004-05)
17. Will Herndon, UMass (1989-90)
18. Doron Lamb, Kentucky (2010-11)
19. Alex Poythress, Kentucky (2012-13)
20. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky (2012-13)
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Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself Saturday morning at the team's facility, moments after allegedly killing his girlfriend.
Belcher was 25 years old.
According to Kansas City police, Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times after the two had been engaged in an argument at home. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
Minutes after the first shooting, police said Belcher drove to the Chiefs' training facility at Arrowhead Stadium and spoke with team personnel, including head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, before taking his own life with a gunshot.
"When officers arrived (at Arrowhead Stadium), they observed a black male who had a gun to his head and he was talking to a couple of coaches out in the parking lot," police spokesman Darrin Snapp told reporters outside Arrowhead Stadium. "As officers pulled up and began to park, that's when they heard the gunshot and it appears the individual took his own life."
A report from the Kansas City Star said Belcher and his girlfriend had a daughter, who was only a few months old.
"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy," said Chiefs owner Clark Hunt in a statement. "We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted."
Belcher was in his fourth year with the Chiefs after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Maine. He started 10 of the 11 games he had played this season, registered 38 tackles.
The Chiefs will play Carolina on Sunday at Arrowhead and the game will go on as scheduled.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy," the NFL said in a statement. "We have connected the Chiefs with our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can."
A year ago at this time being the worst team in the NFL didn’t seem like such a horrible thing. Waiting for the ultimate loser (and the runner up) were two potential franchise quarterbacks for the ages.
Far Hills, NJ (Sports Network) - The United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced on Wednesday a proposal to ban anchored strokes.
At the core of the issue are long putters and belly putters, which have been used by three of the past five major champions.
Under Wednesday's proposal, long putters and belly putters would not be banned, just the act of anchoring any club against a player's body during a shot.
Golf's ruling bodies noted that they will take comments from the golf industry over the next three months, with an expected final decision to come in spring 2013. If the proposal is upheld, the ban will go into effect with the next official update of the Rules of Golf in 2016.
"Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball," said USGA executive director Mike Davis. "The player's challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club."
Long putters and belly putters have been around for several decades, but their use has noticeably increased in recent years, prompting Wednesday's proposal.
"Anchored strokes have very rapidly become the preferred option for a growing number of players and this has caused us to review these strokes and their impact on the game," said R&A's chief executive Peter Dawson.
Here is the proposed change, which will be listed under Rule 14-1b:
"In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either 'directly' or by use of an 'anchor point.'
"Note 1: The club is anchored 'directly' when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.
"Note 2: An 'anchor point' exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club."
While the change will not alter current equipment regulations, it will prohibit an integral part of the belly putter stroke -- anchoring.
Last year, Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship, becoming the first major champion to use a belly putter. Webb Simpson used the club to capture the U.S. Open title in June and Ernie Els anchored his way to a British Open victory in July.
Bradley has been openly opposed to the rumored proposal, but he relented somewhat on Tuesday at the 14th annual World Challenge.
"You know, I'm not -- obviously not happy with the ruling, but I respect the USGA, and especially Mike Davis," said Bradley. "They make the rules, and I'll adjust appropriately. But I'm going to accept the challenge and hopefully do well when they do ban it."
Also on Tuesday, Simpson stated that he has been practicing with a short putter for "a couple years" in anticipation of a rules change.
Tiger Woods, the host of this week's World Challenge, is a proponent of the anchoring ban.
"I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves and having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that's not in the traditions of the game," Woods said on Tuesday. "We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same. It should be a swinging motion throughout the entire bag."
Some of the game's organizations weighed in on Wednesday's ruling; generally taking a respectful wait-and-see approach.
Here are some excerpts:
"As with any rule change, we will go through our normal process of evaluating the potential impact this will have to all our constituents. It will be discussed at our next annual player meeting on January 22 in San Diego, and it is anticipated that it will be reviewed by our Policy Board during its March meeting. During this review process, we will provide periodic updates to our stakeholders."
PGA of America President Ted Bishop:
"The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment. We have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee and we have tremendous respect for the USGA in regard to their critical role in writing and interpreting the Rules of Golf. As our mission is to grow the game, on behalf of our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking them to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game."
LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann:
"The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as defined by the USGA and the R&A. We certainly respect golf's governing bodies and their long standing desire to protect and promote the best interests of the game. The proposed new Rule 14-1b prohibiting 'anchoring the club' in making a stroke is not yet final and the LPGA will wait with interest while the USGA and R&A consider further comments and suggestions from the golf community. In the meantime, we will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A."
Like Simpson, many golfers -- from those in the professional ranks, to weekend enthusiasts, will be forced to reevaluate their putting strokes following Wednesday's landmark announcement.
College hoopsters can be an honest bunch—even more so under the cover of anonymity. Athlon Sports talked to dozens of college basketball stars from coast to coast—at 50 schools in 18 conferences—and got them to open up on a variety of topics, from the hottest woman alive, to which coach (other than their own) they'd like to play for, to overrated opponents to improper benefits. Their replies are sometimes predictable (Kim Kardashian and Kate Upton, anyone?), sometimes provocative. Read on.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy closed his season in style as he birdied the final five holes to come from behind and win on Sunday in Dubai and that helped him increase his lead in this week's world rankings.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - World No. 1 Rory McIlroy closed his season in style as he birdied the final five holes to come from behind and win on Sunday in Dubai and that helped him increase his lead in this week's world rankings.
McIlroy's lead atop the rankings went from 3.53 average points to 4.33.
Luke Donald shared third behind McIlroy, but still lost ground in the rankings. Donald was again followed by Tiger Woods, who will host his World Challenge starting on Thursday.
Justin Rose took second behind McIlroy and moved up three spots to No. 4 in the latest rankings. Adam Scott remained in fifth, while Lee Westwood was down two to six and Louis Oosthuizen dropped one to seventh.
Jason Dufner held steady at No. 8 and was followed by Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker and Bubba Watson. Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson exchanged spots with Poulter up to 12th.
Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney remained in the 14th to 16th positions. Peter Hanson jumped two to 17, which bumped Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson down a spot apiece to 18 and 19. Ernie Els was 20th again this week.
But even though Notre Dame finished the regular season unbeaten and even though it received more first place votes (10) than Alabama (7), Alabama edged out Notre Dame for the No. 1 spot in the Legends Poll.
"I put Alabama No. 1, I put Notre Dame No. 2," former Ohio State coach John Cooper said. "I just think if Alabama plays Notre Dame anywhere, Alabama would beat them and that’s the reason I put them No. 1."
In one of the closest votes in the eight year history of the Legends Poll, he difference between the two teams was one point in the rankings.
For the second straight week, Georgia came in at No. 3, followed by Oregon and Florida.
No. 6 LSU remained the highest ranked two-loss team, one spot in front of Kansas State.
Texas A&M, Stanford and South Carolina rounded out the top 10.
No. 12 Florida State fell out of the top 10 after a home loss to Florida, tumbling five spots in the rankings.
No. 14 Clemson dropped four spots after losing to its in-state SEC rival South Carolina.
No. 24 Kent State and No. 25 Vanderbilt -- two of the week's newcomers to the rankings -- made their first ever appearances in the Legends Poll top 25.
Texas, Rutgers, Mississippi State and Washington dropped out of the rankings.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
|2||Notre Dame (10)||12-0||413||1|
Poor Auburn fans. They went from celebrating a national championship in 2010, to a horrible 3-9 season in 2012 that was punctuated by an embarrassing beating from in-state rival Alabama.
Back in 2010, when things were good, coach Gene Chikiz was writing books about his awesomeness, penning "All In." Now that he's been canned, we think we may have sneak peek of what his next book should look like. We like the title "All Out."
Which former athlete made the most successful transition into pop culture? My husband says former Rams defensive lineman Merlin Olsen (“Little House On The Prairie,” etc.), but I vote for Chuck Connors, who played pro basketball and baseball before turning to acting (“The Rifleman,” etc.). What do you think?
Are you looking for the perfect and unusual gift for the sports fan in your life? Welcome. You’ve come to the right place. Here’s a look at some of our favorites.
STOP ROOTING, START OWNING
Thanks to oneshare.com, you can actually give someone a framed share of real stock in a host of different companies. In the sports world, those companies include Churchill Downs, Callaway Golf, Manchester United and more. Talk about rooting…with interest!
Price: About $100
Found at: www.oneshare.com
A BIG GIFT: A MINI STADIUM
Bring the house in the house! These mini stadiums (approx. 7” x 6”) from the Danbury Mint are expertly crafted down the very last detail. Available for a host of pro and college stadiums, they’re a wonderful collectible for the fan who wants a game day stadium experience, everyday. Talk about a home field advantage.
Found at: www.danburymint.com
FOOTBALL, BY THE YARD
Some people want a tree on their lawn. Others want a defensive lineman. These giant inflatables football players (5-8 feet tall) come in two styles (lineman and TD scorer) and you can choose from NFL teams, many colleges and even college mascots. It’s a great way to show the world who rules in your house. At least on fall weekends.
Found at: amazon.com
THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT OF SPEED
Imagine giving someone the chance to enjoy the thrills and excitement of racing at the Richard Petty Driving experience. Available at 22 different tracks, attendees can choose to ride shotgun for a series of laps, or actually get behind the wheel and show off their skills. They’ll be so excited, they’ll be running in circles. Well, ovals.
Price: Ride-Alongs, $99-$159, Driving: $449-$3,499
Found at: www.drivepetty.com
WEAR YOUR HEART ON YOUR SLEEVE, LITERALLY
These sterling silver cufflinks are made from material salvaged from old baseball stadium seats, classic college basketball courts and more. From Fenway Park to the University of Kentucky to Ebbets Field, this is a one of a kind gift. Well actually, two.
Found at: www.uncommongood.com
NOT EVERY BASEBALL SHOULD BE CRUSHED
This beautiful Steuben glass crystal baseball celebrates the national pastime in style. It’s a very special gift for the baseball fan in your life and would be perfect suited for a desk, or a mantle. Catch in the yard? Not so much.
Found at: www.lbgreen.com
THE PERFECT GIFT FOR A HOCKEY FAN, OR JASON
At Masks from the Past, you’ll find exact fiberglass recreations of famous NHL goalie masks. From a replica of JacquePlante’s first ever mask, to Gerry Cheevers’ scarred beauty from the 70s, the hockey fan in your life will love having a remembrance of days gone by. Shoot. Score.
Found at: www.hockeymasks.com
GOING, GOING, GONE
Want to give someone a chance to show their allegiance to the bitter end? These MLB decorated caskets are velvet inside and have a half couch design with a matching pillow and throw, too. You can even have ashes placed in a MLB urn and then in a cremation casket. Either way, you’re outta here!
Price: Approx. $1,400-$2800
Found at: www.memorials.com/sport-caskets.php
YOU CAN’T SPELL “NICE” WITHOUT “ICE”
Turn the backyard into a winter wonderland with this do-it-yourself ice rink. The Rink-In-A-Box package from NiceRink provides everything anyone needs for a little slice of ice heaven—liner, support brackets, resurfacer, nets--the whole thing. Put it down. Freeze ‘er up. Triple axle here we come!
Found at: www.nicerink.com
“AND NOW, ENTERING THE RING: YOU”
It’s the perfect gift for the kid in all of us: pro wrestling title belts. Choose from a variety of shapes, sizes and titles. You can even have a name engraved on the removable plate. So why not give the gift that keeps on giving…body slams, that is. NOTE: folding chair and brass knuckles not included.
Found at: shop.wwe.com
For the fan wanting a great view no matter where they’re sitting, the Pentax 62555 might be just the ticket. These high-powered binoculars offer a bright image and reduced reflection and work well in extreme weather conditions. Big game in a December freeze? No problem. Big game in a July downpour? Did we mention they’re waterproof?
Found at: www.amazon.com
For you cold-weather tailgating fans, there’s nothing better than the warming effect of a great whiskey. Thankfully Jim Beam has brought forth three new taste sensations—Devil’s Cut Bourbon (a premium 90-proof whiskey packed with a flavorful punch, $23.99); Red Stag Spiced (a sweet, warm whiskey with hints of cinnamon, $17.99); and Knob Creek Rye (an aged, 100-proof whiskey that finishes with a lingering spiciness, $40.99). Game on!
Found at: www.jimbeam.com (Must be 21 or over)
These unique stools are made from game day bases used by many MLB teams, including the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers and Mets. It’s the perfect gift for the baseball lover in your life, who can slide into memorabilia. And sit on it, too.
Found at: www.uncommongoods.com
THE SPORTS VACATION OF YOUR DREAMS
At Sports Traveler, you can plan a trip to the sporting event of your choice...anywhere in the world. From pro football to international tennis to the Olympics and more, you can give someone a gift card to help them arrange their dream sports trip. Ready, set, go!
Price: Gift cards start at $100
Found at: www.sportstraveler.net
Nothing says “I love you, team” like an NFL recliner. Made from a sturdy hardwood frame, each chair is decorated in theteam’s main color and features their name and logo. Even better, when they score and the beer and salsa go flying, the microfiber makes it easily cleanable with soap and water.
Found at: www.nflshop.com
Custom-built irons from SCOR are uniquely designed from shaft to head guaranteeing a better short game. In fact, they’re so sure they’ll help, they promise that if you’re not happy, they’ll buy you a wedge you think you like better. Need more accuracy from fairway to green? Think SCOR? Need more accuracy from tee to green? Maybe they should consider tennis.
Price: Approx. $150 each. Set of 5 for $640
Found at: www.scorgolf.com
Wouldn’t it be fun to give someone the chance to play baseball with some of the all-time greats? Baseball fantasy camps offer fans a chance to play the game they love alongside some of the most memorable players on their favorite team. The good news: more than 20 MLB teams offer a fantasy camp (see the link below). The bad news: somebody you know just might get struck out by a 70-year-old.
Found at: www.baseballfantasycampdirectory.com
These 7” tall bobbleheads can be personalized for that special someone. Just upload a photo, and rockbobble will create a custom-ordered hoops player. They’ll even send you photos along the way to ensure it’s looking exactly the way you want. Will they like this gift? The head says yes!
Found at: www.rockbobble.com
Found at: www.fourroses.us (Must be 21 or over)
The racing is over. All that remains is for NASCAR to get together in Las Vegas next week, dole out some money and party. Before the banquet arrives, members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council take a look back at the sport’s TV coverage this season and the racing, while looking ahead to 2013. Here is what they had to say:
Grade the TV coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season by FOX, TNT, Speed and ESPN/ABC
48.1 percent said Good
31.1 percent said Fair
12.6 percent said Poor
8.2 percent said Great
What Fan Council members said:
• ESPN had one of the best with their side-by-side halfway through the races of the Chase. This should be done for all races so we do not miss any action. And this should be in place for the ENTIRE Daytona 500! The most important race should be seen in its entirety. All networks could improve on their pre-race show except for FOX; FOX keeps it short and sweet and that is what it should be.
• This season was the first time that I actually changed the channel during a race or left the house completely. I always used to look forward to the TNT races, but even they dropped the ball this year. I seriously hope the 2013 season is better. The broadcasters need to stop "phoning it in" and actually listen to the fans and fix their coverage.
• Oh don't get me started! FOX might have good camera coverage, but I cannot stand the booth. TNT was just outright awful. SPEED has the most offerings, but they killed “Trackside” and “RaceDay” by making them way too silly. I love their programming, I just think sometimes it looks one step above cable access.
• It's nice to have the three TV crews covering the races because it’s a variety and they all do very good in their own way. I REALLY enjoy SPEED's pre-race and post-race coverage. I sure hope when they re-brand SPEED to FOX Sports they don't take away my NASCAR shows, including “Race Hub.’’
• Still a lot of room for improvement. Side-by-Side coverage = A+
• There's no better team than Bestwick, Jarrett and Petree. There's the gold standard right there. Mike Joy is another gem but the rest of the circus at FOX and SPEED are little more than a traveling carnival show, especially “Trackside,” which is no longer watchable. Oh yeah, TNT does broadcast a few races, but does anyone even recall them? Too little time on the schedule to be noticed or remembered.
• I said “good,” but in my opinion, it was borderline great. FOX is absolutely the best followed by ESPN/ABC. In Chris Myers' book, he explains that NASCAR really did listen to the fans when it came to TV programming. I've been a fan over 20 years, and I love the improvements the TV stations have done: more cameras, better announcers and most importantly the ability to listen to the drivers/crew chiefs/spotters radio communication. Mike Joy and Allen Bestwick are the best in the business! I also love the SpEED Channel and the pre- and post-race shows.
• “Great” for FOX because no matter how long the race goes over, they talk to the competitors. If it is short, then they go that much further to talk to others — not TNT or ESPN/ABC. They can have 15-30 minutes extra time and they'll go to some other stupid program.
Grade the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season
57.9 percent said Good
21.9 percent said Fair
16.8 percent said Great
3.4 percent said Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• This was a great season is so many ways. Having Brad win the championship was refreshing to see. What a great interview he gave on ESPN. He was real. Seeing Dale Jr. finally make it into Victory Lane in the Batmobile was awesome. Being in Victory Lane to celebrate with the No. 88 team was a thrill of a lifetime for me. Watching MWR teams do so well did a lot for the sport, too. Quite surprising to see Carl Edwards and Kyle Bush miss the Chase and Jeff Gordon just squeaking in. It was refreshing to see some emotions between drivers come to light this season. All in all, I enjoyed this season and am looking forward to the 2013 season.
• I have only been a fan since 200, but since then I have watched every race and have gone to at least one race a year. All I have to say is NASCAR has a serious problem on its hands, as this was the most boring season in memory. Do I have a solution to this problem? No. But something must be fixed.
• There were some good moments, but this year just did not seem to have the same buzz as last year. I enjoyed the Nationwide and Truck series races more this year.
• Flashes of brilliance followed by long stretches of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...
• Lots of drama, intensity, at times great racing, and there was always something new going on. I’m going to have withdrawals for the next few weeks.
• All in all, I would say this season has been good. I was almost leaning toward a “great,” because we got a new champion, but there were too many snoozer races to say it was great.
• Anyone who says anything less than great, must not remember Daytona, Watkins Glen, ‘Dega, Phoenix, among other great races, this year. Loved it and I hope next year is even better.
• I'm glad to see Keselowski as the champ. I'm glad to see Dale Jr. back in Victory Lane. But when I look back over the season, I don't have as many lasting images as I have from years past. There never seemed to be that "defining moment" of 2012. Maybe it's just me.
Grade Sunday’s Cup race at Homestead
53.1 percent said Good
26.9 percent said Fair
16.0 percent said Great
4.1 percent said Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• Most of the race was enjoyable, but I was disappointed that Jeff Gordon won. After his reckless behavior at Phoenix, I preferred that they take points away rather than suspending him for the benefit of sponsors and fans. However, the way everyone treated the win like it was some kind of vindication for his actions last week made me wish he'd been suspended. The championship race between Jimmie and Brad was great, and Brad's win made up for any other disappointment.
• I have to say great because Brad won. It is great that someone other than Jimmie or Tony won the championship.
• Not really a great race, other than I was thrilled at the ending. Very boring, at least on TV. As much as I loved seeing Brad K. and Jimmie J., it seemed like the whole race was just the two of them. Awful TV coverage.
• It was exciting to watch the 48 and the 2 battle for the championship. If that had not been going on, it would have been another boring race.
• It was typical of all the past races. Not a whole lot of excitement. Anti-climatic.
• The race had it all: Kyle leading but not winning again, Jeff winning at a track he never won at, Matt's last race in the No. 17, Jimmie about ready to make the biggest comeback in championship history and Brad topping the season off with the top prize and a cool 5 million bucks to boot! Not bad for a guy whose family was about ready to lose it all just a few short years ago because of their investment in their son. Wow!
How much faith do you have that the 2013 car will make the Cup racing better?
39.0 percent said Some
30.2 percent said A little
20.3 percent said None
10.5 percent said A lot
What Fan Council members said:
• They've been working on them a long time so hopefully they'll get them right. They have nailed the looks of the cars. They look great and I can tell them apart now. If they race as well as they look, we will have a very exciting 2013 season.
• It's not the cars that are at fault, it's the track configurations and NASCAR rules that hamper competition. Daytona and Talladega are little more than Barnum & Bailey near-death experiences. Nothing will change there until NASCAR kills its next driver.
• NASCAR is a corporation that is trying to promote a product. Sadly, I will have to see it to believe it.
• I don't quite understand why tighter competition is a good thing. If you make the cars the same, they all run around the track together and can't pass. Don't fans already complain about restrictor-plate racing forcing them into packs? Besides, I believe the problem is the TV coverage, and no change to the car will fix that.
• I give them the benefit of the doubt. As much as a few may have issues with NASCAR, they do a way better job at most issues than other sanctioning bodies.
• I had awesome faith for the CoT to be a lot safer for these drivers and we haven't had a death in NASCAR for a long time. Now we need to focus on tight racing cars and hopefully this new car will work. I have faith.
• Little faith but lots of hope. Soooo tired of hearing “track position is key.” I hope to hear that a fast car is key.
The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at [email protected]
Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 21:
• A basketball player went off for 138 points last night. Of course, it took 108 shots for him to get there. The game film is what Kobe Bryant now refers to as "porn."
• Speaking of Kobe, naturally, someone went to him for a reaction to the 138-point game. Naturally, his reaction was pretty priceless.
• The Jon Gruden to Tennessee train has left the station for some hopeful Vol fans. This article and accompanying photo won't do anything to dampen speculation.
• The NCAA is playing hardball with Miami Hurricanes players, who are apparently guilty until proven innocent.
• Welcome to Montreal, a foreign city where pro sports are now a foreign concept.
• Not to pile on our neighbors to the north, but the mayor of Toronto beclowned himself for our enjoyment.
• If you ever wonder how the sausage is made at the Worldwide Leader, our friends at Deadspin are always happy to show you.
• Like coach, like QB. Matt Barkley's stand-in is guaranteeing victory vs. top-ranked Notre Dame.
• I didn't know that the Curse of the All-Star Game was a thing, but apparently it is.
• It's Thanksgiving Eve, and here are a few helpful hints for enjoying the holiday from our friends at The Onion. My favorite: Have children sit at a small table so they feel gigantic.
• Today's video honors a great American tradition: Barry Sanders running wild on Thanksgiving Day.
--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
• Last night, the Niners emasculated the Bears on national TV. Here it is, summarized in one GIF.
• Our Girl Gallery of the Day includes USC's finest cheerleaders.
• Remembering Metta World Peace's former identity as the scariest guy in the NBA (instead of just the weirdest). Hard to believe it's been eight years since the Malice in the Palace.
• Andy Reid draws a line in the sand: You want me gone? You gotta fire me.
• Gotta love the late-'70s disco font on this vintage Magic cover.
• Snoop Lion's latest inspiration. Not sure what he's thinking, but hey, weed's a helluva drug.
• Well, if it's good enough for Commissioner Bud, it's good enough for me.
• SI's already anticipating the post-Gruden era of Monday Night Football.
• FSU to Maryland: Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.
• Today's video features Sprint Cup champ Brad Keselowski living down to every NASCAR stereotype. Congrats on securing that lifetime beer sponsorship.
--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Until last week, crew chief Jimmy Fennig admits he had “very seldom’’ talked to Carl Edwards in their years together at Roush Fenway Racing.
“I’m the type of crew chief that I focus in on the job at hand and the driver I have and don’t really pay too much attention to other drivers,” said Fennig, who most recently was Matt Kenseth’s crew chief.
Next season, Fennig and his crew will partner with Edwards as Kenseth drives for Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s part of a series of changes taking place at Roush Fenway Racing. Two-time defending Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. replaces Kenseth in the No. 17 Cup car. Trevor Bayne takes Stenhouse’s Nationwide ride. The Cup team of Greg Biffle and crew chief Matt Puccia will remain intact.
Fennig, who became a crew chief in 1986 and won the 2004 championship with Kurt Busch, admits he doesn’t know Edwards too well but doesn’t see that as a hinderance in their pairing.
“My goal has always been to win races,” said Fennig, the winning crew chief in the 1988 Daytona 500 with Bobby Allison and this year’s Daytona 500 with Kenseth. “No matter who drives the car, that’s what I try to do every week and that’s something I know we already have in common.”
Fennig will be Edwards’ third crew chief since the start of the 2012 season. Bob Osborne started with Edwards. Osborne, citing health issues, stepped down as crew chief in July and was replaced by Chad Norris.
Edwards was winless this season and finished 15th in the points a year after losing the championship on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart. Edwards scored only four top-10 finishes in the 17 races with Norris as crew chief, thus a change wasn’t surprising.
“We all just sat down and looked at it and Chad and I talked at length about it,” Edwards said of the change. “Everyone agrees the opportunity to have the experience of Jimmy Fennig on the box to get ... back to Victory Lane is what we should do. It wasn’t something that I single-handedly requested or just that Jack (Roush) wanted to do it. As a team we thought this was the best thing to do. The biggest thing at Roush is that he has so many good people that we can move people around and do things like this and it is good for the whole company.”
Along with that move, Roush will pair Stenhouse Jr. with crew chief Scott Graves. Both will be rookies in Cup.
“I would normally not be an advocate for bringing a crew chief who hadn’t been established with a rookie driver into the Cup Series, but Scott Graves – in my words – he’s been a prodigy for the small amount of experience he’s had making the final decisions,” Roush said.
“He made great decisions for Carl at Watkins Glen and he’s made great decisions for Ricky when he’s been with him this year. So I think given the fact he’s a mechanical engineer as well as an experienced team engineer, he’s going to bring enthusiasm and creativity to Ricky that we might not otherwise be able to achieve with somebody that had more experience.”
It’s been a long road back, but Notre Dame has risen to the top of the Legends Poll for the first time ever.
And the top-ranked Irish are one win away from their first ever trip to the BCS championship game.
“You know, it’s hard to classify Notre Dame as a really, really good football team at this point,” former Virginia coach George Welsh said, “but they are undefeated. It’s not easy to win all of your games.”
Notre Dame received 13 of the 17 first-place votes in the Legends Poll and remains the only eligible unbeaten team in the FCS.
No. 2 Alabama received three of the remaining first-place votes and moved back into the driver’s seat for the BCS title game as well. The final top vote went to No. 3 Georgia.
If the Alabama and Georgia can both survive their in-state rivalry games, a BCS title game berth will be on the line in the SEC championship game.
No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Kansas State each fell three spots, following shocking upsets.
No. 6 LSU remained the top two-loss team after the Tigers outlasted Ole Miss Saturday night, 41-35.
Florida State, Florida, Texas A&M and Clemson rounded out the top 10.
No. 21 Oklahoma State moved back into the top 25 after a victory over Texas Tech. No. 24 Washington and No. 25 Utah State also made their way into the Legends Poll rankings, the first appearance for each team this season.
USC, Louisiana Tech and Wisconsin dropped out of the rankings this week.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
|1||Notre Dame (13)||11-0||420||3|
Others Receiving Votes: Louisiana Tech 19, Northwestern 14, USC 7, TCU 7, San Diego State 5, Wisconsin 2, Georgia Tech 2, Tulsa 2, Northern Illinois 1, San Jose State 1, Kent State 1
Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll: USC, Louisiana Tech, Wisconsin
* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.