Articles By Athlon Sports

All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL
Path: /college-football/chip-kelly-named-new-coach-philadelphia-eagles
Body:

Chip Kelly, 49, has been named the new head football coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
 
Kelly, who went 46-7 and led Oregon to a BCS bowl game in each of his four years at the school, will become the 21st head coach in the team's history, replacing Andy Reid.
 
According to the Eagles website, Kelly met with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, team president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman early in the head coach search in Arizona after the Fiesta Bowl for almost nine hours. The conversations continued until Kelly decided he wanted to remain at the University of Oregon.
 
To the likely surprise of Oregon fans, Kelly continued to evaluate the opportunity to work for the Eagles in the NFL and accepted the position.
 
“Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,” said Lurie. “He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh, energetic approach to our team.”
 
This is Kelly's first coaching job in the NFL.
 
Athlon Sports will bring you more on this story later this afternoon. 
Teaser:
<p> Chip Kelly Named New Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 11:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll, News
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-final-year-end-rankings
Body:

For the second straight year and the third time in the past four years, the Alabama Crimson Tide has been voted No. 1 in the season's final Legends Poll.

After a dominating performance in the BCS championship game against Notre Dame, Alabama received all 17 first place votes. Most of the voting Legends Poll members would say they saw it coming, which is why the eight-year-old poll was the only human poll to have Alabama ranked ahead of Notre Dame entering bowl season.
 
"You look at the way the season has gone, and it's the same way every year," former Auburn coach Pat Dye said. "It's not who's the best team in November. It's who's the best team in January. And there's just no question Alabama is the best team in the country."
 
Oregon finished the season as the nation's No. 2 team and received good news this past week when Chip Kelly announced he would remain in Eugene to coach the Ducks next season.
 
Georgia finished at No. 3 followed by Texas A&M and Stanford. All three teams are expected to be contenders again next season. Heisman winner Johnny Manziel will attempt to continue breaking records after another spectacular performance against Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
 
No. 6 South Carolina finished its season with a thrilling last-minute victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl and moved up four spots in the rankings.
 
Notre Dame dropped five spots to No. 7 after suffering its first loss of the season against Alabama in the BCS title game. The Irish were followed by ACC foes Clemson and Florida State. LSU rounded out the top 10.
 
No. 11 Louisville jumped four spots after its surprise victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. No. 12 Kansas State fell six spots following its Fiesta Bowl loss to Oregon.
 
But no one fell further in the rankings than Florida, which dropped nine spots to No. 13. The Gators were followed by Oklahoma and Boise State.
 
No. 19 Baylor, No. 20 Oklahoma State, No. 22 Texas and No. 25 Tulsa were all newcomers to the final rankings. 
 
UCLA, Northern Illinois and Kent State fell out of the rankings.
 
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.
 
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
 
RK TEAM RECORD POINTS PV RK
1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 13-1 425 1
2 OregonOregon 12-1 400 3
3 GeorgiaGeorgia 12-2 385 5
4 Texas A&MTexas A&M 11-2 378 9
5 StanfordStanford 12-2 348 8
6 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 11-2 323 10
7 Notre DameNotre Dame 12-1 310 2
8 ClemsonClemson 11-2 305 13
9 Florida StateFlorida State 12-2 276 12
10 LSULSU 10-3 272 7
11 LouisvilleLouisville 11-2 259 15
12 Kansas StateKansas State 11-2 252 6
13 FloridaFlorida 11-2 239 4
14 OklahomaOklahoma 10-3 161 11
15 Boise StateBoise State 11-2 150 17
16 NorthwesternNorthwestern 10-3 148 22
17 Utah StateUtah State 11-2 142 21
18 VanderbiltVanderbilt 9-4 116 23
19 BaylorBaylor 8-5 112 -
20 Oklahoma StateOklahoma State 8-5 92 -
21 Oregon StateOregon State 9-4 88 14
22 TexasTexas 9-4 87 -
23 MichiganMichigan 8-5 81 20
24 NebraskaNebraska 10-4 57 24
25 TulsaTulsa 11-3 25 -
 

Others Receiving Votes: Wisconsin 25, UCLA 18, San Jose State 16, Northern Illinois 14, Cincinnati 7, Arkansas State 4, Rutgers 4, Kent State 3, Arizona State 2, Arizona 1

Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll: UCLA, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Kent State
 
* 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.
Teaser:
<p> The Legends Poll Top 25: The Year-End Rankings</p>
Post date: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/baseball-hall-fame-shuts-out-bonds-clemens-and-rest
Body:

A winning candidate did not emerge from the Hall of Fame balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. There were 569 ballots cast, the third highest total in the history of the voting, yet none of the 37 candidates in the 2013 vote gained mention on the required 75 percent for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Craig Biggio, who totaled 3,060 hits and was a seven-time All-Star while playing three positions (catcher, second base, outfield), topped the ballot with 388 votes – 39 shy of the 427 needed for election. His total reflected 68.2 percent of the electorate, which consists of BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of Major League Baseball coverage. Five blank ballots were among those submitted. Other players named on more than half the ballots were pitcher Jack Morris with 385 (67.7 percent), first baseman Jeff Bagwell with 339 (59.6), catcher Mike Piazza with 329 (57.8) and outfielder Tim Raines with 297 (52.2).
 
Commenting on the election, Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said, “The standards for earning election to the Hall of Fame have been very high ever since the rules were created in 1936. We realize the challenges voters are faced with in this era. The Hall of Fame has always entrusted the exclusive voting privilege to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. We remain pleased with their role in evaluating candidates based on the criteria we provide.”
 

This is the eighth election by the BBWAA that did not produce a Hall of Famer and the first since 1996. That year, the top three vote getters were Phil Niekro (68.3), Tony Perez (65.7) and Don Sutton (63.8). All were subsequently elected; Niekro in 1997, Sutton in 1998 and Perez in 2000. The other BBWAA elections without a winner were in 1945, 1946, 1950, 1958, 1960 and 1971.
 
Biggio and Piazza were each on the ballot for the first time, Morris for the 14th year, Bagwell the third and Raines the sixth. Players remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive five percent of the vote in any year. There were 19 candidates who failed to make the cut this year (29 votes) – 18 of the 24 players who were on the ballot for the first time, plus outfielder Bernie Williams, who was on the ballot for the second time. First-year candidates who received sufficient support to remain in addition to Biggio and Piazza were pitchers Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens and outfielders Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa. Outfielder Dale Murphy, in his 15th and final year on the ballot, received 106 votes (18.6).
 
Other holdovers that will remain on the ballot in addition to Biggio, Morris, Bagwell, Piazza and Raines are first basemen Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly and Rafael Palmeiro; pitcher Lee Smith; shortstop Alan Trammell; designated hitter-third baseman Edgar Martinez and outfielder Larry Walker.
 
As part of the Induction Weekend ceremony Sunday, July 28, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., in which three Pre-Integration Committee electees – umpire Hank O’Day, New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and 19th-century player Deacon White – will be inducted, the Hall of Fame will recognize 12 individuals previously counted among its roster of members who never had a formal induction due to wartime restrictions. They are BBWAA electees Lou Gehrig (1939) and Rogers Hornsby (1942), along with the entire class of 1945 selected by the Committee on Old Timers: Roger Bresnahan, Dan Brouthers, Fred Clarke, Jimmy Collins, Ed Delahanty, Hugh Duffy, Hughie Jennings, King Kelly, Jim O’Rourke and Wilbert Robinson. Paul Hagen, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for baseball writing, and the late Tom Cheek, the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting, will be honored during the Awards Presentation Saturday, July 27, at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
Teaser:
<p> No players were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 14:21
Path: /nfl/5-great-nfl-players-whose-careers-were-cut-way-too-short-due-injuries
Body:

The news out of Washington was devastating this week, even without all the Beltway drama of what did Dr. James Andrews tell Mike Shanahan about Robert Griffin III’s knee injury and when did he know it? They’re still working on the full extent of the injuries to RGIII’s knee.

But just the hint of possible injuries to his ACL and LCL and the idea that he might need a reconstruction that would force him to miss much, if not all, of the 2014 season, was frightening enough. It’s not only a blow to the future of the Redskins, but it cast a shadow over RGIII’s future.

Would he become another great player whose career ended – or was inexorably changed – by a devastating injury? Would this knee deprive us all of the privilege of watching a great career?

Those are unanswerable questions, especially this early, but it’s something to ponder considering the brutal nature of the NFL. Many, many careers have been cut short, some before we even had a chance to know if a player could be a great one. Sometimes we were only able to get a hint of the greatness to come.

With that said, here is a sample of what injuries have done to great, and potentially great players. Here are five great (or potentially great) ones whose careers were cut too short due to devastating injuries:

1. Bo Jackson—Listen to people who watched Bo play – it’s never “Jackson,” it’s always “Bo” – and they are wistful about the “What might been” part of his story. If only he had concentrated on just one sport instead of trying to play baseball too … If only he hadn’t suffered a devastating hip injury at age 27 in just his fourth NFL season.

There is believe that Bo could’ve been the greatest running back ever, and possibly one of the greatest athletes ever – something some already consider him to be. He had only 2,782 yards in his four-year career and never even reached 1,000 in a single season. But he never played in more than 11 games in any season and he averaged 5.4 yards per carry. He also seemed to just be getting started when he got hurt.

 

2. Gale Sayers—The NFL hadn’t seen anything like the “Kansas Comet” when he broke into the NFL in 1965 with 2,272 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns. Then the next season, when opposing defenses were being designed to stop his triple-threat – runner, receiver, returner – he was even better, totaling 2,440 yards.

He was leading the league in rushing in 1968 when he tore several ligaments in his right knee, ending his season. He returned in 1969 to win the NFL rushing title with 1,032 yards. But he hurt his left knee in 1970 and that was it. He was forced to retire after an aborted comeback in 1971 at the age of 28 – already a four-time Pro Bowler. Five years after his last snap he became the youngest man ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

3. Troy Aikman—The Cowboys quarterback won three Super Bowls, threw for 32,942 yards and played until he was 34, so it’s a little tough to argue his career ended “prematurely.” But two years before he was cut in 2001 – in large part due to the 10-plus concussions he suffered during his career — Aikman had signed a contract extension that was expected to keep him with the Cowboys into his 40s.

Imagine what Aikman could’ve accomplished with seven more seasons – at least another two or three good ones, too. He might have won a fourth Super Bowl. He probably would’ve thrown for 40,000 yards. And instead of just calling him a Hall of Famer, he might have ended up in the discussion of the Top 10 quarterbacks of all time.

 

4. Sterling Sharpe—In seven seasons in the NFL, the Packers wide receiver never missed a game. He had five 1,000-yard seasons (including his last three) and was a five-time all-pro. Here’s the catch, though: In his first four NFL seasons his coach was Lindy Infante and his quarterbacks were Mike Tomczak and Don Majkowski.

It was only in his final three NFL seasons he had the coaching of Mike Holmgren and the ability to catch passes from a young Brett Favre.

In three seasons with Holmgren’s plays and Favre’s passes, Sharpe caught 314 passes for 3,854 yards and 42 touchdowns. Clearly he was just getting started. But he was forced to retire at age 29 with a neck injury. He could’ve put up sick numbers if he had played with Favre for another 4-5 years.

 

5. Robert Edwards—By no means is Edwards in the “great” category, but he certainly suffered one of the most unfortunate injuries in NFL history. The former Georgia running back was a first-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in 1998 and his rookie season was a success, with him rushing for 1,115 yards.

Then, during a rookie flag football game on a beach as part of the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, Edwards – who had a long history of injuries in college – blew out his knee. The injury was so bad, he nearly had to have his leg amputated. He was told he’d never play again.

He did, four years later for the Miami Dolphins – an inspiring, if short-lived comeback in which he touched the ball just 38 times in 12 games. He did play two all-star seasons in the Canadian Football League, though, each time rushing for more than 1,000 yards.

He was in his 30s then, his knee had been ravaged by injuries and time, and the competition wasn’t great. But it gave a glimpse at what maybe could’ve been had his NFL career not been over, for all intents in purposes, at age 24.

 

By RALPH VACCHIANO
Teaser:
<p> 5 Great NFL Players Whose Careers Were Cut Way Too Short Due to Injuries</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/20-awesome-photos-bcs-national-championship-game
Body:

The BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame might not have looked pretty to Fighting Irish fans, but we argue that it was full of beautiful moments. Unfortunately for the Irish, none belonged to them. Still, we pulled together our 20 favorite photographic snapshots of the Crimson Tide winning 42-14 over the Fighting Irish. 

(Photos by Tom DiPace)

BCS Championship Game: Alabama vs Notre Dame

 

BCS Championship Game: Alabama vs Notre Dame

 

 

BCS Championship Game: Alabama vs Notre Dame

 

BCS Championship Game: Alabama vs Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
<p> 20 Awesome Photos from the BCS National Championship Game&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/top-15-bcs-national-championship-performances
Body:

With the 15th season of BCS bowl action about to take place, Athlon reviewed the tapes of the four (now five) biggest bowl games in college football. Since 1998, teams have been fighting to land a spot in the BCS and here are the players who made the most of their opportunities.

Here are the Top BCS National Championship Performances (year is the date of the game):

Also receiving votes: Ali Highsmith, LB, LSU (2008), Percy Harvin, WR, Florida (2009), Kellen Winslow, TE, Miami (2003), Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama (2010), Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon (2011), Cam Newton, QB, Auburn (2011), James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State (2008)

15. Maurice Clarett, RB, Ohio State, 2003 (Fiesta Bowl)
The true freshman didn't gash the Hurricanes defense, but he made his touches count. No one touched the ball on either team more than Clarett (23), including two touchdowns. His 5-yard scoring run in double overtime turned out to be the game-winning score. Clarett also played a key roll on "defense" as he forced and recovered a fumble following a Sean Taylor interception in the Miami redzone. (Of course, line judge Terry Porter might also get some votes for this list as well.) The 11.5-point underdog Buckeyes finished the year 14-0.

14. Reggie Bush/LenDale White, RBs, USC, 2006 (Rose Bowl)
Bush holds the BCS title game record for all-purpose yards with 279 in the 2006 Rose Bowl loss to Texas. He carried 13 times for 82 yards and a touchdown, caught six passes for 95 yards and returned five kicks for 102 yards. White's 124 yards are the fourth-best total in title game history and his 18 points (three touchdowns) rank third all-time. Unfortunately, Vince Young played for the other team in Texas' 41-38 win over USC.

13. Matt Leinart, QB, USC, 2006 (Rose Bowl)
If it weren't for Vince Young's heroics, this game by Leinart might have gone down as the best title game passing performance. He threw for a BCS championship game record 365 yards while his 29 completions and 72.5% completion rate would have been title game records if not for Young's numbers in the same game. His touchdown pass to Dwayne Jarrett came with just under seven minutes to play and gave USC a 12-point lead — before Young took his rightful place in history.

12. Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida, 2007 (BCS National Title)
In the dominating 41-14 win over No. 1 Ohio State, Harvey was a force off the edge. He finished with four solo tackles, a BCS championship game record three sacks and a forced fumble. Harvey and company held Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith to four completions, 35 yards and no touchdowns.

11. Peter Warrick, WR, Florida State, 2000 (Sugar Bowl)
The Sugar Bowl MVP caught six passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns to go with 57 punt return yards and another touchdown. He also scored a two-point conversion for a BCS title game record 20 points. His 220 all-purpose yards are fourth all-time in a title game. His specatular catch in the endzone is still one of the most electric plays in BCS title game history.

10. Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn, 2011 (BCS National Title)
Cam Newton was the unquestioned leader for the surprising Auburn Tigers, but true freshman tailback Michael Dyer was the star of the 22–19 win over Oregon in Glendale, Ariz. Dyer rushed carried the ball 22 times for 143 yards, including 57 on the final drive that set up the Tigers’ game-winning field goal. His 143 yards and 22 attempts are third all-time in a BCS title game history.

9. Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami, 2002 (Rose Bowl)
Dorsey led an offensive explosion with 362 yards passing and three touchdowns in Miami’s 37–14 win over Nebraska at the Rose Bowl. The victory capped a perfect 12–0 season for the Hurricanes, who delivered a national title to first-year coach Larry Coker. His 362 yards are third all-time in a BCS national title game.

8. Peerless Price, WR, Tennessee, 1999 (Fiesta Bowl)
Price made the most of his four receptions, totaling 199 yards in Tennessee’s 23–16 win over Florida State in the first-ever BCS National Championship Game. Price set up one UT touchdown with a 76-yard catch and then scored the Vols’ final TD of the game on a 79-yard strike from quarterback Tee Martin in the fourth quarter. His BCS record 199 yards, combined with his 42 punt return yards, were the second highest all-purpose yardage total (242) in BCS championship game history (behind Reggie Bush's 279). His 49.8 yards per catch is still a BCS championship game record as well.

7. Andre Johnson, Miami (Fla.), 2002 (ROSE BOWL)
Johnson hooked up with quarterback Ken Dorsey seven times for 199 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Hurricanes past overmatched Nebraska, 37–14, in the first Rose Bowl that served as the BCS National Championship game. His 199 yards tied Price for the single-game BCS title game record and his 226 all-purpose yards are the third-best total in title game history.

6. Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, RBs, Alabama, 2010 (BCS National Title)
Alabama’s two-headed monster at tailback combined for 215 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries to lead the Crimson Tide to a 37–21 win over Texas. Ingram, the Heisman Trophy winner, rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns while his understudy, Richardson, added 109 yards and two scores.

5. Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State, 2000 (SUGAR BOWL)
Weinke outdueled Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Michael Vick by passing for 329 yards and four touchdowns as the Seminoles topped the Hokies, 46–29, in the first Sugar Bowl of the new millennium. With the win Florida State completed the first perfect season of Bobby Bowden’s career as a head coach and secured the Noles’ second national championship.

4. Torrance Marshall, LB, Oklahoma, 2001 (ORANGE BOWL)
It was only fitting that a defensive player was named the MVP of the lowest-scoring Orange Bowl in 30 years. Marshall, a senior linebacker, recorded six tackles and intercepted a pass to lead Oklahoma to a 13–2 win over Florida State to secure the first national title for the Sooners since 1985.

3. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida, 2009 (BCS National Title)
Tebow capped off one of the greatest single seasons in college football history with a superb performance on the biggest stage. The junior quarterback threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns and added 109 yards rushing to lead the Gators to a 24–14 win over Oklahoma at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

2. Matt Leinart, QB, USC, 2006 (ORANGE BOWL)
The Trojans staked a claim to their second straight national title with a surprisingly easy 55–19 win over No. 2 Oklahoma. Leinart completed 18-of-35 passes for 332 yards and tossed an Orange Bowl record five touchdowns without throwing an interception. Steve Smith was on the receiving end of three of Leinart’s TDs. Leinart is still the only player in BCS history to throw five touchowns in one game.

 

1. Vince Young, Texas, 2006 (ROSE BOWL)
Young was brilliant in the final game of his career, setting a Rose Bowl record with 467 yards of total offense to lead Texas to a 41–38 victory over favored USC to claim the school’s first national title since 1970. Young completed 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards but is remembered more for his work on the ground. He carried the ball 19 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns, highlighted by a nine-yard run on 4th down to give Texas the lead with 19 seconds remaining. His 20 total points scored (three rushing touchdowns, 2-point conversion), 30 completions and 75% completion rate are both national championship game records.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports ranks the best BCS National Championship performances.</p>
Post date: Friday, January 4, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-wild-card-teams-most-likely-win-super-bowl
Body:

The easiest path to the Super Bowl has always been through a division championship. That fact is indisputable. There have been 46 Super Bowls and 92 Super Bowl teams and through all that time only 10 wild-cards have ever played for a championship.

And only six have run the wild-card gauntlet to be crowned Super Bowl champions.

Maybe that’s gotten easier over time. In the last seven seasons, three teams – the 2005 Steelers, the 2007 Giants, the 2010 Packers – have won the title as wild-card teams. And in the last 15 years – including the 1997 Broncos, the 1999 Titans and 2000 Ravens – seven wild-card teams have gotten to the Super Bowl and six have won it all.

So there is, if nothing else, a decent chance for the four wild-card teams of 2012. Maybe the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks aren’t the favorite to win a title. But they can’t be counted out. So here, in order of their chances for making a run all the way to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, is a look at this postseason’s wild-card teams.

1. Seattle Seahawks If the Seahawks (11-5) had won one more game and finished as the 2 seed, people would be picking them to go the Super Bowl. Never mind their rookie quarterback (Russell Wilson), just look at what they’ve done the last five weeks. They’ve gone 5-0, averaged 38.6 points and given up an average of just 12 points.

And for all the attention Wilson gets, this team has a championship defense. They’ve given up 20 or more points just five times this season. They’ve given up more than 24 points once. Once.

Yes, they are buoyed by an 8-0 home record, which won’t help them in the playoffs. Their 3-5 road record is something to watch. But they play defense as well as anyone, have the third-best rushing attack in the NFL (161.2 yards per game), and a quarterback who has a hot hand.

What else do you need to make a run?

 

Andy Dalton2. Cincinnati Bengals Of the four wild-card teams, the best—and most trustworthy—quarterback resides in Cincinnati, where Andy Dalton has become a force for the Bengals (10-6) and he has an incredibly dangerous target in receiver A.J. Green (97 catches, 1,350 yards, 11 touchdowns). Dalton has just five interceptions in his last eight games.

And what’s happened in those games? Quietly, the Bengals have gone 7-1, with only a one-point loss to Dallas tarnishing their record. They’re not an overpowering offense and they’re more likely to win a slugfest. But they get a break going to the fading Houston Texans first, where Dalton could give them a chance to survive.

 

Andrew Luck3. Indianapolis Colts It’s kind of hard to figure the Colts (11-5) this season. They have a low-rated defense, a low-rated running game and they’ve given up 30 more points than they’ve scored this season. That’s not usually a formula that results in 11 wins, especially with a rookie quarterback at the helm.

But Andrew Luck has proven to be no ordinary rookie (4,374 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, despite being sacked 41 times), and the Colts have clearly been inspired by the heart-warming story of coach Chuck Pagano and his interim replacement, Bruce Arians. They play as hard as anyone, Luck has a magic touch, and they’ve got seven come-from-behind wins.

They head to Baltimore first, and that’s not exactly the hard landing spot it’s been in recent seasons. Their biggest problem is the top-heavy nature of the AFC. Luck is good, but beating Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in the second round of the playoffs isn’t easy for anyone – especially a rookie.

 

Adrian Peterson4. Minnesota Vikings The way Adrian Peterson has run the ball this season (2,097 yards), it’s hard to rule the Vikings (10-6) out of anything – especially after they ended the season with four straight wins, including back-to-back wins over Houston and Green Bay.

The problem is the quarterback. Christian Ponder is a game-manager and the Vikings’ passing offense is ranked 31st in the NFL. Worse, their top receiver (Percy Harvin) is on injured reserve. They don’t have a dominant defense either, so all their hopes rest on one player. And as good as Peterson is, you can’t win a Super Bowl by being a completely one-dimensional team.

 

By RALPH VACCHIANO

Teaser:
<p> NFL Wild-Cards Most Likely to Win the Super Bowl&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/top-50-individual-sports-performances-2012
Body:

Even in a year when records fell, athletes achieved famous firsts and the games changed, 2012 seemed to be a more eventful than usual year in sports. And thanks to an Olympics year, a portion of this occurred on a grand stage.

Usain Bolt furthered his claim as the World’s Fastest Man. LeBron James answered the question of if he’d be a world champion. And Pablo Sandoval etched his name in World Series history.

It was a year of great sports feats by the elite athletes of this generation, but also a year of monumental upsets and firsts.

Our 2012 Year in Review series already looked back at the top individual performances in a handful of sports. Now, here’s the complete picture.

From January to December, what were the most impressive and legendary performances by single athletes this year? Here is our look.

Top 50 Individual Performances of 2012:

1. Aug. 5: Usain Bolt makes history
Slow starts are relative when it comes to Usain Bolt, but the 6-foot-5 Jamaican didn’t start the 100-meter dash quite as well as he would have hoped. No matter. Bolt hit his top speed in short order and took the lead to catch up to countryman Yohan Blake, who had beaten Bolt in the Jamaican trials. Bolt set an Olympic record with a time of 9.63 seconds, only 0.05 short of his own world record. Three of the top five finishers in the race -- considered one of the best collections of world-class sprinters in Olympic history -- set personal bests, all to finish behind Bolt anyway. Bolt also provided the impetus for this graphic.

2. June 7: LeBron closes door on Boston
The win to send the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals would be a game away, but LeBron James turned in the signature performance of his playoff career with 45 points and 15 rebounds in a 98-79 win over Boston on the road to force a Game 7 in South Beach. In a playoff run that acted as a referendum on James’ ability to win the Big One, LeBron responded emphatically in the Eastern Conference finals.

3. Oct. 25: Panda becomes a World Series home run hero
Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols and Pablo Sandoval. Those are the four players who have hit three home runs in a World Series game. The Kung Fu Panda struck in Game 1 last October on his way to earning the World Series MVP award. The Giants' Sandoval performed large on the biggest stage of the season in an 8-3 win over Detroit.

Related: Top 10 Performances in Baseball

Bubba Watson

4. April 9: Bubba's Pine Straw Miracle
Bubba Watson trumped Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle with a miracle shot of his own, curving a wedge approach out of the trees and onto the green at No. 10 to set up a clinching two-putt par in his playoff with Oosthuizen, earning Bubba an emotional Masters win. Watson was spectacular down the stretch of his final-round 68, draining four birdies in a row from 13-16. His short birdie putt on the par-3 16th drew him even with Oosthuizen, who was unable to match Bubba's par on the second playoff hole. Fittingly for Watson and his famously home-made game, it was his heroic, creative recovery from the pine straw that they'll be talking about at the 2050 Champions Dinner. "I was there earlier today in regulation,” Watson said afterward. “I hooked it 40 yards. I’m pretty good at hooking it."

Related: Top Five Performances in Golf

5. Nov. 10: Johnny Manziel’s Heisman moment
Alabama wasn’t invincible after all. In a game that propelled Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel to the Heisman Trophy, Manziel stunned No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa for the Tide’s first defeat since LSU during the 2011 regular season. Manziel broke off miracle runs and bobbled a snap only to turn it into a touchdown pass early in building a three-score lead in the first quarter. Alabama crawled back into the game, but Manziel finished 24 of 31 for 253 yards with two touchdowns in the 29-24 win. He also rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries.

Related: Top 10 Performances in College Football

6. Jan. 14: Tom Brady truly terrific against Denver in AFC playoffs
Denver came into this AFC Divisional playoff matchup with New England riding a bunch of momentum after shocking Pittsburgh at home in its overtime win the previous Sunday. Brady and the Patriots’ offense made sure the Broncos knew who the best team was in this one, however, as No. 12 tossed five touchdown passes in the first half and added one more in the third quarter to tie the postseason single-game record. Brady broke his own franchise record for most passing yards (363) in a playoff game and climbed up the all-time postseason passing charts with arguably his best playoff performance yet.

Related: Top 10 Performances in the NFL

7. March 31: Anthony Davis’ Big Blue dominance
With one of the best seasons in college basketball history, at least in terms of the trophy case he filled in one year, Anthony Davis may have trouble picking out his own best game of the year. The one Kentucky fans may remember most, though, is his major role in vanquishing rival Louisville in the Final Four. Davis had 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting with 14 rebounds and five blocks against the Cardinals. Kentucky would win the national championship two days later.

Related: Top Five Performances in College Basketball

8. Oct. 14: Aaron Rodgers torches undefeated Texans in primetime
Green Bay entered the Week 6 Sunday night showdown with Houston at just 2-3, having blown a 21-3 halftime lead to Indianapolis Colts the previous week. The Texans were undefeated, boasted one of the league’s best defenses, and seemingly ready to make a statement on national television by taking down the mighty Packers. The reigning NFL MVP had something else in mind, however, throwing two touchdown passes in the first quarter to help his team jump out to a 14-0 lead. He would add four more in the next three quarters, tying the Green Bay single-game record with six touchdown passes, as the Packers would cruise to a convincing 42-24 victory. Rodgers finished with 338 yards and no turnovers, becoming just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions in a game.

9. June 14: LeBron again with a flair for the dramatic
James finished with 32 points in a 100-96 Game 2 win over Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals. The sheer numbers were important, but they key plays came late. With 1:26 remaining, James hit a jumper from with four seconds left on the shot clock to open a five-point lead. On a 12-for-12 day from free throw line, James hit two freebies in the final seven seconds to put the game out of reach and the NBA title in the Heat’s sights.

Josh Hamilton

10. May 8: Josh Hamilton punishes Baltimore pitching
Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton sandwiched a double between four home runs in his punishment on Baltimore pitching. Hamilton hit two homers and the double off Orioles starter Jake Arrieta. He then victimized Zach Phillips and Darren O’Day for a grand total of eight RBI. Hamilton raised his American League-leading batting average to .406 with his five hits and ended the day with 14 homers and 36 RBI, both tops in the American League at the time.

11. Aug. 2: Gabby Douglas becomes new gymnastics sweetheart
In addition to providing one of the most iconic photos of the London Olympics, the 16-year-old Douglas is on her way to being the next American sweetheart in gymnastics on par with Mary Lou Retton. Douglas became the first African-American to win the gold medal in the all-around event. Douglas took a narrow lead into the final event, but clinched her gold with a 15.033 score in the floor exercise.

12. Nov. 4: Rookie Doug Martin breaks out in Oakland
Martin, the No. 31 overall pick in April’s draft out of Boise State, entered the game in Oakland coming off of his best performance of his rookie season. He piled up 214 total yards and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s win in Minnesota the previous Thursday. Little did anyone know he would make that game seem minor, but that’s what happened as he piled up 251 yards on 25 rushing attempts in the Buccaneers’ Week 9 win against the Raiders. Besides posting the third-most rushing yards by a rookie in a game, Martin joined Mike Anderson as the only backs in NFL history with at least 250 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a single contest. Martin scored on runs of 70, 67, 45 and 1, making him the first back since 1940 to score on three runs of at least 45 yards in one game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

13. Aug. 12: Rory McIlroy at the PGA Championship
Call it the Snore by the Shore. Twenty-one years after the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island brought the world's greatest players to their knees at the 1991 Ryder Cup in the famed "War by the Shore," Rory McIlroy turned the tables on Pete Dye's seaside creation at the PGA Championship, subduing the Ocean Course and an elite field in winning his second major championship in two years. In posting 13-under and winning by eight strokes, McIlroy reprised his eight-shot win at the 2011 U.S. Open, becoming the first player in golf history to earn his first two major wins in such dominant fashion. Glory's Last Shot was Rory's personal showcase, as he destroyed the recent trend of late collapses with a textbook display of major championship golf — fairways, greens and made putts, with a few successful scrambles thrown in.

14. Oct. 10: Jarvis Jones’ party in Jacksonville
The Georgia linebacker took over a handful of games this season, but few were as impressive -- and important to the Bulldogs’ season -- as his effort against Florida. Jones finished with 13 tackles, three sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss in the 17-9 win over the Gators, which ended up clinching the SEC East for the Bulldogs. One of his two forced fumbles poked the ball away from Gators tight end Jordan Reed in the red zone, ending Florida’s final scoring chance.

15. Sept. 22: Manti Te’o’s grief and joy
The same week Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend died, the Notre Dame linebacker had his best game of the season against Michigan. Te’o finished with eight tackles and intercepted Michigan’s Denard Robinson twice.
Update: Deadspin reports Te'o's girlfriend was a hoax

16. May 18: Justin Verlander dominates the Pirates
Perhaps Verlander’s most notable start was his four-hit, one-walk shutout against the Oakland A’s in the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS. However, his most dominating effort came in May with a one-hit shutout of the Pirates. The no-hit effort wasn't broken up until Josh Harrison bounced a hit up the middle in the ninth inning. Verlander walked two and just two runners reached second base in the 6-0 Tigers win.

17. Oct. 10: Raul Ibanez takes over for A-Rod
It took guts for New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi to pinch-hit for star Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning with the game on the line in Game 3 of the ALDS. But Raul Ibanez was called off the bench to hit for A-Rod with the Yankees down 2-1 with one out and facing Baltimore closer Jim Johnson, who had been lights out all season. Ibanez rewarded his manager not once but twice. He took Johnson deep to tie the game, sending it to extra innings. Ibanez struck again in the 12th inning with a bomb to win it, giving the Yankees an edge in the series.

18. Aug. 3: Missy Franklin takes spot in USA swimming
With Michael Phelps gone in the next Olympics, there’s room for a new star in among American swimmers. Missy Franklin entered the Olympics with fanfare and delivered. The 17-year-old demolished the world record by finishing the 200-meter backstroke in 2:04.06, giving Team USA its first gold in the event in 40 years.

19. June 2: King Quick
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had a playoff run for the ages, but the best performance may have been a 32-save effort to give the Kings a 2-1 win in  overtime in Game 2 on the road against the New Jersey Devils in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.

20. Humber, Cain and Hernandez pitch perfect games

It seemed as if some pitcher flirted with a no-hitter every couple of nights. So, to honor the perfect games, three are presented as a three-way tie.
20a. The White Sox’ Phil Humber entered the season with a modest 11-10 lifetime record with just 214.1 innings in his six-year career. But in his second start of 2012, the journeyman righthander tossed a perfect game at Seattle, striking out nine in the White Sox 4-0 win.
20b. Matt Cain, the ace of the Giants, was at his best in a 10-0 whitewashing of the Astros. Cain struck out 14 in his perfect game. He had a three-ball count on just four hitters, striking out three of them in his masterpiece.
20c. Just 11 days after a masterful performance at Yankee Stadium in which Felix Hernandez needed just 101 pitches in a two-hit 1-0 win over the Yankees, he threw a perfect game at home against the Rays. Once again, there was little run support for King Felix as the Mariners won 1-0. Hernandez whiffed 12 Rays in the 113-pitch effort.

Matt Schaub

21. Nov. 18: Matt Schaub’s record-setting day helps Texans outlast Jaguars
Known for its running game, Houston relied on Schaub and the passing attack in Week 11 against AFC South rival Jacksonville. Thanks to Chad Henne’s impressive performance (354-4-0) off of the bench, the Texans found themselves in a closer-than-expected battle with the Jaguars. Schaub saved the day with his franchise-record 43 completions, 527 passing yards and career-high five touchdown passes. The yards tied Warren Moon for the second-most in a game in NFL history, second only to Norm Van Brocklin’s 554 (set back in 1951). Schaub threw two scoring strikes with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter to tie the game, and finally won it with a 48-yarder to wide receiver Andre Johnson with just 2:10 left in overtime.

22. Dec. 16: Adrian Peterson continues run for history with season-best effort in St. Louis
At this rate, you could make one impressive list of performances just using Peterson’s 2012 season, but for our purposes, we’ll go with this gem. Less than a year removed from a devastating knee injury, Peterson is redefining the term Comeback Player of the Year, and that’s with all due respect to what Peyton Manning is doing in his first season in Denver. Look no further than the Dec. 16  212-yard effort in Minnesota’s win in St. Louis, highlighted by a 82-yard touchdown run. Not only was it All Day’s second 200-yard game of the season, it was the fourth of his career. Only O.J. Simpson (six) and Tiki Barber (five) have more such games in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

23. June 7: Djokovic outlasts Nadal
Novak Djokovic outlasted Rafael Nadal in a grueling marathon of an Australian Open final with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 victory that took five hours and 53 minutes and didn’t end until 1:37 a.m. Djokovic won the longest finals match in Grand Slam singles history, and the victory came against an opponent in Nadal who specializes in winning long, grinding matches.

24. March 16: O’Quinn stuns Missouri
Missouri was one of the surprise teams of the season in 2011-12, but the Tigers ended the season with a shock of their own. Kyle O’Quinn scored 26 points with 14 rebounds as 15th-seeded Norfolk State of the MEAC upset No. 2-seed Missouri 86-84 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Norfolk State became the fifth No. 15 seed to win an NCAA Tournament game and the first since Hampton in 2001. “We even messed up my bracket,” O’Quinn said.

25. March 16: Speaking of messing up brackets...
Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum has been one of the nation’s highest-scoring players for four seasons, but he’s hardly a household name playing in the Patriot League. A win over Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Lehigh became the second No. 15 seed to win a Tournament game that day and sixth all-time when McCollum scored 30 points in the 75-70 win over Duke. McCollum added six rebounds and six assists.

26. Jan. 9: McCarron manages Mathieu
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was derided as a “game manager” all too often in 2011-12, but he proved the skeptics wrong by turning in the most critical individual performance in a 21-0 handling of LSU in the BCS Championship Game. McCarron’s 23-of-34 showing for 234 yards came seemingly from nowhere as the Alabama quarterback picked on Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu and the Tigers secondary.

27. June 8: R.A. Dickey strikes out the Orioles
The National League Cy Young winner also had two stellar performances seriously considered for our greatest list. After winning three consecutive starts without allowing a run, R.A. Dickey won back-to-back one-hitters over Tampa Bay and Baltimore. In the one-hitter against the Orioles, Dickey walked just two and struck out 13 in the 5-0.

28. Nov. 18: Tavon Austin’s switcheroo
West Virginia struggled to run the ball all year, so against Oklahoma, Dana Holgorsen changed his approach: He asked his best athlete to start running the ball. Tavon Austin  responded to his first day at tailback with 344 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. With 146 yards on kickoff returns and 82 receiving yards, Austin finished with 572 all-purpose yards, only six yards short of the FBS record in the 50-49 loss.

30. Jan. 1: Matt Flynn makes most of only start of 2011 season
With the top seed and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs already secure, Green Bay decided to rest eventual MVP Aaron Rodgers in the season finale against Detroit on New Year’s Day. Enter Flynn, making his first start of the season and only second of his NFL career. Turns out Flynn can do a pretty decent Rodgers impression, as he torched the Lions for 480 yards and six touchdowns, both Packers’ single-game records, in the 45-41 win. Flynn teamed with Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford to set some NFL history of their own, as it was the first time opposing quarterbacks each threw for more than 400 yards and at least five touchdowns in a game. It also set the mark for most net passing yards (971) in a single game.

Brad Keselowski

31. May 15: Keselowski pulls away in Talladega
Brad Keselowski clinched the Sprint Cup thanks to late-season mishaps from Jimmie Johnson, the only other contender for the Cup. So Keselowski’s signature performance in a consistent season may have been his win in Talladega. With a nifty move on the final lap, Keselowski whipped ahead of Kyle Busch to win by a 0.304-second margin.

32. March 4: Rajon Rondo’s doubly impressive feat
Triple-doubles aren’t all that uncommon for Boston Celtics guard, but this one in March against the Knicks is up there. Rondo scored 18 points and dished out 20 assists in the 115-111 overtime win. He also grabbed an astounding 17 rebounds giving Rondo the first triple-double with at last 17 in each category since Magic Johnson did it in 1989.

32. Aug. 9: David Rudisha’s world record
Not even Usain Bolt set a world record in London. Kenyan David Rudisha did with his gold medal in the 800 meters. Rudisha finished in one minute, 40.91 seconds, beating his own record by a tenth of a second.

33. April 15: A Quick sign of things to come
The L.A. Kings would go on to win the Stanley Cup, but in Game 3 of the first round against Western Conference regular season champion Vancouver, they were just shocking underdogs. Quick had 41 saves in the 1-0 shutout in Game 3 to set the tone for the remainder of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

34. Jan. 1: Matthew Stafford caps breakout 2011 season with record-setting day
Prior to the 2011 season, Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, had trouble simply staying on the field. In his first two seasons he missed more games (19) than he played in (13), raising all sorts of questions about his long-term future. He put many of these to rest after passing for more than 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns last season, helping the Lions end a 12-year playoff drought in the process. Stafford saved his best for last, throwing for 520 yards and five touchdowns against Green Bay in a 45-41 loss on New Year’s Day to close out the ’11 regular season. Even though he shared the Lambeau Field spotlight that day with Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn, it was Stafford who finished with the fifth-most yards passing in a single game and the most by a losing quarterback since Dan Marino had 521 back in 1988.

35. Feb. 4: Sure-handed Tony Parker
In a February game against would-be Western Conference champion Oklahoma City, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker finished with 42 points and nine assists. In a game in which Parker took 29 shots from the field, he also finished with no turnovers in his matchup with Russell Westbrook.

36. April 30: Ryan Braun blows up San Diego
Ryan Braun, the reigning NL MVP, had four of the Brewers’ seven hits and drove home six of their eight runs in Milwaukee’s 8-5 win at San Diego. After hitting home runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, Braun came to the plate in the ninth inning with an opportunity for a rare four-home run game. He tripled in a couple of runs with a shot to deep right-center. He finished 4 of 5 with six RBI and three runs.

37. Nov. 3: Kenjon Barner rips USC
Barner didn’t set a Pac-12 record (that would have been Ka’Deem Carey’s 366 yards against Colorado), but his 321 yards against USC was record-breaking nonetheless. Barner rushed for a school record and a record for a USC opponent with his 300-yard game against the Trojans which included five touchdowns in the 62-51 win. Being from Riverside, Calif., only added to Barner’s excitement (and USC’s misery).

38. July 22: Ernie Els Shocks Adam Scott at Royal Lytham

The agony and the ecstasy of golf were on full display at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and when it was over, Ernie Els had his second Claret Jug and fourth major, and Adam Scott had first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be Greg Norman. Or Jason Dufner. Els didn't back into it, though, posting a back-9 4-under 32 in the stiffening breezes of Royal Lytham and rolling in a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole before grabbing a sandwich and watching Scott implode with bogeys on the final four holes. It was an utterly shocking turn of events on a day that seemed like a Scott coronation until the heartbreaking conclusion. Els now has major championships in three different decades and four majors for his career, tying Phil Mickelson for second-most of the Woods era.


39. Sept. 29: West Virginia’s Big 12 welcome
Bash the Baylor defense if you must, but what Geno Smith did at the end of September would have been impressive in a summer 7-on-7. Smith threw more touchdown passes (eight) than he did incomplete passes (six) that day against the Bears in West Virginia’s first game as a Big 12 team. Smith completed 45 of 51 passes for a school-record 656 yards that day.

40. Aug. 13: Ambrose wins a thriller
In perhaps the most thrilling NASCAR race of the year, Marcos Ambrose came out on top in a wild final lap at Watkins Glen in which he battled with Kyle Busch and eventual Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. Busch spun out in the final lap, leaving Ambrose and Keselowski dueling for the checkered flag.

41. Nov. 18: Andre Johnson first declaws Jacksonville’s secondary then breaks Jaguars’ hearts in overtime
While Matt Schaub rewrote the Houston passing records in the Texans’ Week 11 win over Jacksonville, he would not have done so without a huge assist from Johnson. Schaub found his favorite target 14 times for 273 yards against the Jaguars, including a 48-yard game-winning touchdown with just 2:01 remaining in overtime. It was a career day for Johnson, as the All-Pro wideout set a franchise record for receiving yards and posted the seventh-highest single-game total in NFL history.

Marcus Denmon

42. Feb. 4: Denmon’s wild finish
Kansas and Missouri did their best to remind us what we’d miss with this rivalry going away as a casualty of realignment. Both games were classics, but Marcus Denmon’s wild finish in Columbia gets the nod. The Missouri guard playing out of position at small forward scored the final 11 points in the 74-71 win. Denmon converted a three-point play and hit two shots from beyond the arc in the final 2:05 for a thrilling finish. He finished with 29 points and nine rebounds.

43. June 28: Lukas Rosol’s Wimbledon upset
The second defeat of Rafael Nadal on our list, Rosol’s victory in five sets in Wimbledon was one of the biggest upsets of the year. Making his Wimbledon debut, Rosol defeated Nadal 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Nadal hadn’t lost before the third round of a Grand Slam since 2005.

44. Sept. 23: Old Dominion QB claims passing records
FCS football is often in the shadows of college sports, but not when one of its quarterbacks breaks NCAA all-division records. Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke set records for passing yards (730) and total offense (791) on 55-of-79 passing with five touchdowns against New Hampshire, which entered the game with the top defense in the FCS.
 
45. Jan. 14: Rob Gronkowski sets a new postseason standard for tight ends
Half of Tom Brady’s record-tying six touchdown passes (see No. 6) in last season’s AFC Divisional round victory over Denver went to Rob Gronkowski, his favorite tight end. Gronkowksi finished the game against the Broncos with 10 receptions for 145 yards and the three scores. Not only did the man affectionately known as “Gronk” tie the postseason single-game record for touchdown catches, he posted the most productive game by a tight end in the playoffs in 25 seasons. In fact, Jan. 14 was a big day for tight ends in general as New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and San Francisco’s Vernon Davis also had more than 100 yards receiving and caught two touchdowns in their respective games.

46. Nov. 19: Aldon Smith dominates Bears on Monday Night Football
Week 11 was set up to finish with a bang, as San Francisco was hosting Chicago in a matchup of two of the top teams in the NFC and toughest defenses in the NFL. Alas, the Monday Night Football showdown never materialized as the 49ers’ defense manhandled the Bears’ offense from the opening snap, highlighted by Smith’s 5.5 sacks. Even though it was backup Jason Campbell under center for the Bears in place of a concussed Jay Cutler, it didn’t matter to Smith and the rest of the 49ers, as the linebacker also chipped in seven total tackles and two forced fumbles in the convincing 32-7 whitewashing. The Bears may be the Monsters of the Midway, but Smith was an absolute beast that night.

47. Feb. 8: Rivers’ dramatic game-winner
Austin Rivers made sure his one season at Duke left a lasting impression. Rivers hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Duke’s 85-84 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Rivers ended a furious 10-point rally in the final 2:30 in one of the wildest finishes in the the history of the rivalry. The final 3-pointer was his sixth of the game and capped a 29-point effort against North Carolina.

48. Nov. 21: Jack Taylor’s controversial outburst
At first, Jack Taylor’s NCAA-record 138 points was a jaw-dropping stat line. Then the performance against Faith Baptist Bible College by the guard at Division III Grinnell College became subject for debate. The game was engineered to give Taylor a gaudy stat line has he took 108 shots from the field (making 52) and 71 from 3-point range (making 27).

49. Sept. 30: Mike Napoli's 6 RBI against the Angels
With the Rangers struggling to stay on top of the AL West as the Oakland A’s surged, Texas fell behind the Angels 4-0 in the first inning. It was Mike Napoli to the rescue as he homered in the second and third innings before adding a double in the fifth. His six RBI helped the Rangers take an 8-4 lead in a game they would eventually win 8-7.

50. Feb. 2: Eight is great
Edmonton center Sam Gagner became the 13th person in NHL history to record at least eight points in a game when he had four goals and four assists as he played a hand in all of the Oilers goals in an 8-4 win over the Blackhawks.

-Rob Doster, David Fox, Charlie Miller and Mark Ross contributed to this report.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon takes a look at the top 50 individual performances in the sports world for the entire year.</p>
Post date: Friday, December 28, 2012 - 07:10
Path: /college-football/nicest-athletes-sports
Body:

With the holiday season upon us, we started thinking: If Santa can make a list, why can’t Athlon? So we asked dozens of athletes, agents, coaches, journalists and other experts to identify the nicest athletes in sports today. Here’s our roster:

 
Chris PaulChris Paul—Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul is more than just the player who turned the L.A. Clippers from punchline to powerhouse. Since being drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2005, Paul has tried to make everything around him better. Exhibit A: Paul celebrated turning pro by refurbishing a basketball court in his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. It was renamed for Nathaniel Jones, Paul’s late grandfather and ongoing inspiration. “He had the first African-American-owned service station in North Carolina,” Paul says. “People would say, ‘Mr. Jones, I don’t have the money. Can I still get some gas?’ And he would take care of them.”
 
Paul has continued this family tradition of good works. The All-Star known for on-court fierceness is renowned for off-court kindness. He regularly helps rookies adjust to NBA life and routinely attends the school plays and games of teammates’ kids. But his real focus is on the less fortunate. Example: Upon arriving in L.A., Paul promptly participated in a Feed the Children event that helped hundreds of local families, and he continues to make a difference in Southern California — focusing especially on kids health and education through his CP3 Foundation. But his heart remains in New Orleans, where in 2010 he helped launch an after-school program at KIPP Central City Primary School.
 
“He is so genuine about his commitment to the city of New Orleans,” says KIPP’s Korbin Johnson. “Even now that he’s gone.” Indeed, Paul’s CP3 AfterSchool Zone, which provides an enriching afternoon environment for kids in The Big Easy, is just one example of his ongoing efforts to stay involved in that city’s rebuilding. “I’m always gonna be there,” Paul says about New Orleans. “I love that city. I always will.”
 
Steven Jackson—St. Louis Rams
Nice guy cred: Steven Jackson Foundation provides various initiatives of community service. Received Key to the City of his hometown Las Vegas in 2007 for community work. Official spokesperson for NFL Play 60, which battles childhood obesity.
 
Larry Fitzgerald—Arizona Cardinals
Nice Guy cred: First Down Fund provides resources to 
various organizations nationwide. Visits the troops in the Middle East. Charitable trips to Africa.  
 
Torii Hunter—Detroit Tigers
Nice guy cred: Torii Hunter Project Education initiative helps youths across the country. Hunter’s Hundred provided scholarships for 1,000 students between 2009-12. Recipient of 2004 Carl R. Pohlad Award, 2007 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, 2009 Branch Rickey Award. 
 
Troy Polamalu—Pittsburgh Steelers
Nice guy cred: The Troy and Theodora Polamalu Foundation, 
Operation Once in a Lifetime, VA Hospital (Pittsburgh), various military-focused charities.
 
Teemu Selanne—Anaheim Ducks
Nice guy cred: Teemu Selanne Youth Sports Foundation. Recipient of 2007 Bill Masterston Memorial Trophy (honoring perseverance and sportsmanship).
 
CC Sabathia—New York Yankees
Nice guy cred: PitCCh In Foundation. Recipient of 2010 Bart Giamatti Award for compassion and community service. $100 contribution per strikeout towards “Strikeouts for Troops.” 
 
Pau Gasol—Los Angeles Lakers
Nice guy cred: Ambassador for Spain’s UNICEF committee. Partnership with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Recipient of 2012 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
 
Drew Brees —New Orleans Saints
Nice guy cred: The Brees Dream Foundation. Worked with Habitat for Humanity and Childrens Hospital in New Orleans. Part of USO Missions to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Okinawa. 
 
Hannah Teter—Two-time Olympic medalist snowboarder
Nice girl cred: Proceeds from maple syrup from her family farm help the needy in Kenya. Supports Boarding for Breast Cancer, Children International, Doctors Without Borders, PETA. 2006 USOC Sportswoman of the Year.
 
Phil Mickelson—PGA Tour golfer
Nice Guy Cred: Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation, Birdies for the Brave, Special Operations Warrior Operation, Homes for Our Troops.
 
Jeff Gordon—NASCAR driver
Nice Guy Cred: Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation. It supports children battling cancer by funding programs that improve patients’ quality of life, treatment programs that increase survival rates and pediatric medical research dedicated to finding a cure. A first of its kind in NASCAR, AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger serves as Gordon’s primary sponsor while working to battle senior hunger.
 
Barrett Jones—Center, Alabama 
Nice guy cred: Named to the All-State AFCA Good Works Team (and received the award while speaking to kids ages 18-21 with disabilities). Nominated for Senior CLASS Award. Volunteer work includes tornado relief in Tuscaloosa, earthquake relief in Haiti, local hospital visits.
 
Manti Te’o—Linebacker, Notre Dame 
Nice guy cred: Nominated for Senior CLASS Award. Eagle scout. Visited homeless shelter in South Bend, prepared Thanksgiving dinner. Participated in Irish Experience League with South Bend youths. 
 
Collin Klein—Quarterback, Kansas State 
Nice guy cred: Named to the All-State AFCA Good Works Team. Nominated for Senior CLASS Award. Participated in Read to Achieve. Took part in 5th Annual Special Olympics Sports Clinic on KSU campus. 
 
Michael Clay—Linebacker, Oregon 
Nice guy cred: Volunteer work for Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Valley. Pac-10/12 All-Academic honorable mention (2010, 2011).
Teaser:
<p> The Nicest Athletes In Sports</p>
Post date: Monday, December 24, 2012 - 08:35
All taxonomy terms: Golf, Monthly, Olympics
Path: /mlb/5-great-moments-sportsmanship
Body:

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. 

1. Bobby Jones, 1925 U.S. Open  Assessed himself a one-stroke penalty on the par-4 11th hole for an infraction nobody saw. He’d eventually lose in a playoff. Praised for his honesty, Jones said, “You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.” 
 
2. Armando Galarraga, Detroit Tigers, 2010  With Galarraga one out away from a perfect game, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call at first base to spoil the achievement. Rather than lash out, Galarraga defended Joyce and accepted his apology. 
 
3. Shawn Crawford, 2008 Beijing Olympics  Finished fourth, but was awarded silver in the 200 meters after two runners were disqualified for lane violations. Feeling that Churandy Martin of the Netherlands Antilles had rightly earned the honor, Crawford sent him his medal. 
 
“I know the rules are the rules. You step on the line, you’re disqualified. But when you’re running clear in your position and aren’t impeding in someone’s race and you barely touch the line? I felt that Churandy was robbed. He worked four years just like I did, went to practice and trained — probably threw up at practice like I did — nights of breathlessness and days where you wanted to sleep. For four years... I felt like he ran a second-place race. He beat us by a considerable margin, from second to third. I know I put in the work, and I go out there and expect to earn my position. I felt like I was beat fair and square.
 
“When Churandy received my medal, he was surprised. He couldn’t believe that I was doing it. At first, he didn’t accept it. He understood my argument, but wanted to make sure that’s really what I wanted to do. But he has so much respect for me now. We’re really cool, and it’s a great relationship. To me, that’s more important. If I had kept the medal, I probably never would have known much about him. Just ‘hi’ and ‘bye,’ every time I saw him. I like the relationship we have built. It’s important to have good relationships and friendships in life. You only live once, and it’s a short life.” 
 
4. Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace, Central Washington University women’s softball, 2008  After Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University hit her first career home run, she injured her knee rounding first base. Holtman and Wallace carried her around the bases, so she could receive credit for a four-bagger. 
 
5. San Francisco Giants, 2010 NLDS  After clinching victory in the series at Turner Field, the Giants broke off their victory celebration to join in a standing ovation for manager Bobby Cox, managing his last game of a 25-year run with the Braves. 
Teaser:
<p> 5 Great Moments in Sportsmanship</p>
Post date: Monday, December 24, 2012 - 05:40
All taxonomy terms: Monthly
Path: /monthly/why-isnt-world-series-trophy-named-after-person
Body:

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

Teaser:
<p> Why isn't the World Series trophy named after a person?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Friday, December 21, 2012 - 13:58
All taxonomy terms: Monthly
Path: /monthly/why-doesnt-nfl-induct-officials-hall-fame
Body:

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.” 

Teaser:
<p> <b>Why is it that the NFL is the only major sport that does not induct game officials into its Hall of Fame?&nbsp;</b></p>
Post date: Friday, December 21, 2012 - 13:53
Path: /nfl/5-most-unexpected-nfl-stars-2012
Body:

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.

 

Russell WilsonSeattle 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.

 

Randall CobbGreen 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

Teaser:
<p> 5 Most Unexpected NFL Stars in 2012</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 13:32
Path: /nfl/5-injuries-changed-nfl-season
Body:

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.

It appears now that RGIII is OK, and may even play this weekend, so the Redskins Nation can breathe a big sigh of relief. But his sprained knee ligament served as a reminder how one awkward step, one dangerous hit, one bad moment, one untimely injury can change absolutely everything for a team, especially this late in the season.
 
Sometimes the changes are good. Sometimes they’re bad. So here’s a look at 5 of the most season-changing injuries in the NFL this year:
 
Seahawks QB Matt Flynn’s elbow
Flynn wasn’t the biggest name on the free-agent QB market last spring, but he was one of the most intriguing. And when Seattle signed him to a three-year deal worth as much as $26 million in March, it made sense. It didn’t even bother anyone when they drafted Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson in the third round.
 
Now, maybe Wilson would’ve won the job outright anyway, but when he hurt his elbow in August it paved the way for Wilson to be one of the biggest surprises of the season. The rookie QB has completed 63 percent of his passes and has an unexpected 20 touchdown passes with just nine interceptions. More importantly, he’s led the Seahawks to an 8-5 record and has them nipping at the heels of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.
 
 
Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray’s foot
It’s hard to completely gauge what’s responsible for another middling season by the Cowboys, but the loss of their top rusher for six weeks didn’t help. They were only 2-3 when he suffered a sprained foot in October, but they had little chance to right their ship without him. They were 3-3 during his six game absence.
 
Notably, they’re 2-0 since his return. In an NFC East that suddenly became up for grabs when the New York Giants fell back to Earth, maybe Murray could’ve been enough to take some pressure off QB Tony Romo and help the Cowboys separate themselves from the pack.
 
 
49ers QB Alex Smith’s concussion
This might be one of the gustiest coaching decisions of all time. Smith had led the 49ers to a 13-3 season in 2011 and took them to the NFC championship game. And they were 6-2-1 and leading their division when he suffered a concussion … and lost his job to Colin Kaepernick.
 
The 49ers are 3-1 since, so it’s not like Jim Harbaugh’s gamble hasn’t paid off. But he’s replacing a playoff-tested, 8-year veteran with a second-year player who now has four NFL starts under his belt. That’s going to be a playoff risk for a team that had designs on winning the NFC.
 
 
Ravens Terrell Suggs torn Achilles/Ray Lewis torn triceps
Suggs tore his Achilles tendon and missed the first six games of the season, and just as he was set to return Lewis tore his triceps and was presumably lost for the season. If you want to know why the once fearsome Baltimore Ravens’ defense ranks 25th in the NFL, it’s because they haven’t had these two defensive stars on the field together all season.
 
With an offense that scores 25.5 points per game and a division crumbling around them, the Ravens should be running away with things and cementing themselves as an AFC power. They are 9-4 and likely will win the AFC North, but without Suggs and Lewis they have an unusually suspect defense and might be the third choice (behind New England and Houston) to get out of the AFC.
 
 
Eagles QB Michael Vick, concussion
In many ways, this injury could have the most wide-ranging and long-lasting aftershocks. When Vick left the game against the Cowboys on Nov. 11, Philly was already in a freefall, having lost four straight to fall to 3-5. But in a division that might produce a nine- or 10-win winner, they weren’t out of it at all.
 
Once Vick went down, though, they completed their fifth straight loss and then would lose their next three, bringing them to a dismal 3-8. They’re now playing out the string under Nick Foles, possibly fighting for a Top 5 draft pick. And by this spring, both Vick and head coach Andy Reid could be looking for a new job.
 
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
Teaser:
<p> If they stayed healthy, who knows what could have been</p>
Post date: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf, Overtime
Path: /golf/30-funny-fantasy-golf-team-names
Body:

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.

Putt Pirates
Sure to induce a few giggles at the draft table.

Tiger’s Wood
This one’s almost too obvious. 

Tiagra Woods
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.

Dimpled Balls
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.

Cinderella Boys
Caddyshack references always work.

Shooter McGavin
Ditto for Happy Gilmore references.

Working on my Putz
No comment.

Shankapotamus
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

The Strokers

The Wedgies

RELATED: 50 Funny Fantasy Football Team Names

50 Funny Fantasy Basketball Team Names

50 Funny Fantasy Baseball Team Names

Teaser:
<p> Here are some golf-inspired names sure to get giggles on Draft Day.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 04:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/manziel-becomes-first-freshman-capture-heisman
Body:

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.

Teaser:
<p> Texas A&amp;M QB Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win Heisman</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 9, 2012 - 05:24
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/butch-jones-leaves-cincinnati-tennessee-0
Body:

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.

Teaser:
Butch Jones is leaving Cincinnati to become the head football coach at Tennessee.
Post date: Friday, December 7, 2012 - 15:00
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-qb-collin-klein-wins-golden-arm-award
Body:

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.

Teaser:
<p> The prestigious award will be presented tonight in Baltimore.</p>
Post date: Friday, December 7, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /nfl/5-biggest-underachievers-nfl
Body:

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:

Cam Newton

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

Teaser:
<p> Some players and teams have collapsed despite incredibly high expectations.</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 12:27
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-john-caliparis-top-20-freshmen
Body:

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

Anthony Davis

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Season: 2011-12
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
Season: 2007-08
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
Season: 2011-12
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.

John Wall

4. John Wall, Kentucky
Season:
2009-10
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
Season:
2010-11
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
Season: 2012-13
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
Season: 2008-09
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
Season:
2001-02
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
Season:
2009-10
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
Season: 1993-94
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.

Terrence Jones

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)

Teaser:
<p> College basketball: John Calipari's top 20 freshmen</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 05:25
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-14
Body:
The top two teams are set.
 
After a thrilling victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game, Alabama finished the regular season as the No. 1 team in the Legends Poll.
 
Notre Dame remained No. 2 in the rankings and has earned the right to play the Crimson Tide in the BCS title game in Miami.
 
“That was on heck of a football game,” former Georgia coach Vince Dooley said of the SEC championship game. “Alabama and Georgia are two outstanding football teams. I think either of those teams could beat Notre Dame, and I just think Alabama is a better football team.”
 
Oregon finished the regular season at No. 3. And despite losing the head-to-head battle earlier in the season, No. 4 Florida moved one spot ahead of Georgia. The Bulldogs fell two spots after the SEC championship defeat.
 
No. 6 Kansas State prevailed over Texas, finishing its magical run and guaranteeing a BCS bowl bid.
 
No. 7 LSU slid one spot, followed by Pac-12 champion Stanford at No. 8. Texas A&M and South Carolina rounded out the top 10.
 
ACC champ Florida State finished the season at No. 12, one spot ahead of Clemson. In a surprising turn, the Seminoles will face MAC champion, No. 18 Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl.
 
Big East champion Louisville instead will face fourth-ranked Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl after finishing No. 15 in the rankings.
 
No. 19 Wisconsin vaulted back into the Legends Poll top 25 after an emphatic victory over Nebraska. The Cornhuskers fell 11 spots to No. 24.
 
Big 12 members Oklahoma State and TCU fell out of the top 25, finishing the season outside of the rankings.
 

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

 
RK TEAM RECORD POINTS PV RK
1 AlabamaAlabama (7) 11-1 414 2
2 Notre DameNotre Dame (10) 12-0 413 1
3 GeorgiaGeorgia 11-1 394 3
4 OregonOregon 11-1 371 4
5 FloridaFlorida 11-1 356 8
6 LSULSU 10-2 325 6
7 Kansas StateKansas State 10-1 323 5
8 Texas A&MTexas A&M 10-2 317 9
9 StanfordStanford 10-2 293 11
10 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 10-2 277 12
11 OklahomaOklahoma 9-2 243 14
12 Florida StateFlorida State 10-2 231 7
13 NebraskaNebraska 10-2 220 15
14 ClemsonClemson 10-2 211 10
15 UCLAUCLA 9-3 183 13
16 Oregon StateOregon State 8-3 154 16
17 LouisvilleLouisville 9-2 100 17
18 Oklahoma StateOklahoma State 7-4 98 21
19 Boise StateBoise State 9-2 88 22
20 MichiganMichigan 8-4 75 20
21 TCUTCU 7-4 67 -
22 Utah StateUtah State 10-2 54 25
23 Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois 11-1 54 -
24 Kent StateKent State 11-1 43 -
25 VanderbiltVanderbilt 8-4 42 -
 
 
Others Receiving Votes: Northwestern 37, Texas 34, Rutgers 27, USC 16, San Jose State 14, Mississippi State 9, North Carolina 7, Baylor 7, San Diego State 6, Connecticut 6, Cincinnati 5, Arizona State 4, Ole Miss 3, Louisiana Tech 3, Fresno State 1
 
Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll: Texas, Rutgers, Mississippi State, Washington
 
* 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.
Teaser:
<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 04:55
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
Path: /nfl/kc-police-chiefs-player-commits-suicide
Body:

Javon Belcher

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."

Teaser:
<p> Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself Saturday morning at the team's facility, moments after allegedly killing his girlfriend.</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 20:00
Path: /nfl/5-terrible-nfl-teams-most-likely-get-no-1-draft-pick
Body:

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.

In other words, how could you cry about a terrible season if the net result was a decade or more with Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck?
 
There is not the same excitement over West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith or even USC quarterback Matt Barkley, the two franchise-types sitting at the top of—or near the top of—most projections for the 2013 draft. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t help transform a downtrodden franchise, or that there aren’t other prizes awaiting the top losers in the NFL.
 
So there are reasons for hope for these five terrible NFL teams who are jockeying for that No. 1 position. Here’s a look at their chances to land the top spot, and an extremely early look at who they might take.
 
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-10)
They have to be the odds-on favorite, especially since they haven’t topped 20 points in a game since Week 4 and they’ve scored 10 points or fewer in four of their last seven games. Their remaining schedule isn’t that bad (vs. Carolina, at Cleveland, at Oakland, vs. Indianapolis and at Denver in a game that might not mean much to the Broncos). But at this point, the Chiefs look like everyone’s bye week. It’s hard to see how they’ll get more than one win.
 
They are averaging 14.6 points per game and have the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing attack despite a strong rushing game (145.6 yards per game) and the presence of receiver Dwayne Bowe. If that doesn’t signal a strong need for a quarterback, I don’t know what does. So if they get the No. 1 pick, you can lock in Geno Smith or Matt Barkley to replace the much-maligned Matt Cassel in 2013.
 
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-9)
The switch to Chad Henne at quarterback won’t be enough to save the Jags’ season, but it should be enough to drop them farther than they deserve in the NFL draft. Two weeks ago he threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns in a near upset of the mighty Houston Texans, and last week he guided them passed the Tennessee Titans for their first win.
 
Oddly they next play four straight games against AFC East opponents, but the only seemingly unwinnable one is the one at home against the Patriots on Dec. 23. It’s not unreasonable, behind Henne, to see the Jags picking up another two to three wins.
 
That’s too bad, because unless you’re a believer in Blaine Gabbert, it seems clear they need a quarterback like Barkley or Smith. Instead, they might be forced to go defense with a player like Georgia LB/DE Jarvis Jones or something more local, like Florida State DE Bjoern Werner.
 
CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-8)
The Browns have actually shown some spunk this season. They’ve won two of their last four and been in every game this season, including a 41-27 loss to the Giants that wasn’t nearly as lopsided as it looked. Brandon Weeden has been decent at quarterback and running back Trent Richardson looks like a future star.
 
While they are facing an offseason overhaul, including possibly a coaching change, the future looks somewhat bright and it’s hard to imagine them losing enough to get the No. 1 pick. If it wasn’t for the fact that they finish with three teams in contention – the Redskins, Broncos and Steelers – they might even get out of the Top 5.
 
If they’re in it, though, they may get pressure to take Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o. But a dominant pass rusher, like Jones or Werner, would make more sense for a team that has no one with more than three sacks.
 
OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-8)
So much for the Raiders’ latest big breakthrough season. They seem to have at least a short-term quarterback in Carson Palmer, but they can’t run anymore, their offensive line is struggling and they definitely can’t stop anybody on defense. They catch a break with three straight home games coming up, including one each against the Browns and Chiefs, but they still seem headed for a Top 5 pick in yet another draft.
 
Thanks to their schedule they won’t have to make the decision on drafting yet another franchise quarterback. They would be wise, instead, to look to the trenches. They can draft an anchor tackle in Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or they could draft Utah NT Star Lotulelei to be an anchor in the middle of their defensive line.
 
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-8)
It is intriguing for many, many reasons that the Eagles are sitting within striking distance of one of the top picks in the NFL draft. For one thing, they are not without talent. It’s just that their “Dream Team” never meshed and Michael Vick quickly went from a near-MVP to a turnover machine.
 
Now they are an injury plagued mess that can’t score, can’t hold onto the ball, and are starting to feel like a Dead Team Walking with Andy Reid making cuts (see Jason Babin) before he possibly eventually takes the ultimate cut himself. Add in a remaining schedule that includes the Bengals, Bucs and all three NFC East opponents and it’s possible the Eagles could go from 3-8 to 3-13 pretty fast.
 
If so, a new regime might be making their pick for them in the Top 5, but they’d have to strongly consider Barkley if his shoulder is OK and if he’s there when the Eagles select. The NFC East is loaded with marquee quarterbacks – Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, Tony Romo – and as of right now Nick Foles doesn’t look like a candidate to ever join that group.
 
Scouts are split on how good Barkley can be, but the Eagles might have to roll the dice and hope he really is a franchise quarterback. They have a lot of needs, but in their division if you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance.
 
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
Teaser:
<p> Sometimes good things happen to bad teams</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/usga-ra-propose-anchoring-ban
Body:

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:

PGA Tour:

"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.

Teaser:
The United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced on Wednesday a proposal to ban anchored strokes.
Post date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 23:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-player-survey-record
Body:

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. 

Who was your favorite basketball player growing up?
Michael Jordan (17.8%)
Kobe Bryant (16.4%)
Allen Iverson (8.2%)
Kevin Garnett (6.8%)
Steve Nash (4.1%)
Shaquille O’Neal (4.1%)
Dominique Wilkins (4.1%)
Larry Bird (2.7%)
LeBron James (2.7%)
Tracy McGrady (2.7%)
J.J. Redick (2.7%)
 
Notable: 17 players received at least one vote. Some weren’t a surprise: Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce. Some were: Pete Maravich, who last played in the NBA in 1980, Bobby Jackson, Shuan Livington and Gordon Heyward. 
 
 
Who is the most overrated player you have faced?
Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (6.8%)
Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky (6.8%)
Michael Snaer, Florida State (5.5%)
Aaron Craft, Ohio State (4.1%)
Austin Rivers, Duke (4.1%)
Mason Plumlee, Duke (4.1%)
Patric Young, Florida (4.1%)
Trey Burke, Michigan (2.7%)
Pierre Jackson, Baylor (2.7%)
Josh Smith, UCLA (2.7%)
Cody Zeller, Indiana (2.7%)
 
Notable: 20 players received at least one vote, including 2012 NBA first-round draft picks Terrence Jones (Kentucky), Marquis Teague (Kentucky) and Royce White (Iowa State).
 
 
Have you ever received benefits from a booster?
Yes (13.7%)
No (86.3%)
 
 
How much time do you spend on your schoolwork per week (including classes)? 0-5 hours, 5-15 hours, 15-plus hours?
0-to-15 hours (57.5%)
15-plus hours (42.5%)
 
 
Would you rather have $1 million or win an NCAA championship? 
NCAA Championship (80.8%)
$1 million (19.2%)
 
 
Who would you like to trade places with for one day?
President Obama (19.2%)
LeBron James (11.%)
Floyd Mayweather (6.8%)
Bill Gates (5.5%)
Jay-Z (5.5%)
Michael Jordan (4.1%)
Justin Bieber (2.7%)
Anthony Davis (2.7%)
P Diddy (2.7%)
Shaquille O’Neal (2.7%)
Kanye West (2.7%)
 
 
Would you go to the same school if you had to do it over?
Yes (84.9%)
No (15.1%)
 
 
Have you ever had a grade changed because you were an athlete?
Yes (15.1%)
No (84.9%)
 
 
Would you still be in college if you weren’t playing basketball?
Yes  (75.3 %)
No  (24.7%)
 
 
Which other coach, other than your own, would you like to play for?
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (21.9%)
John Calipari, Kentucky (12.3%)
Brad Stevens, Butler (9.6%)
Roy Williams, North Carolina (6.8%)
Lorenzo Romar, Washington (4.1%)
Bill Self, Kansas (4.1%)
Shaka Smart, VCU (4.1%)
 
Notable: 18 other coaches received at least one vote, including Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Mike Davis, the interim head coach at Texas Southern. 
 
 
Which other coach would you never play for?
Billy Gillispie, Recently fired Texas A&M (23.3%)
Frank Martin, South Carolina (16.4%)
Bob Knight, Retired (9.6%)
John Calipari, Kentucky (6.8%)
Bob Huggins, West Virginia (4.1%)
 
Notable: 16 other coaches received at least one vote. 
Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari, Mike Davis, Randy Bennett, Bob Huggins and Rick Byrd were mentioned on both lists above. 
 
 
What is your favorite TV show?
Family Guy (9.6%)
Fresh Prince (6.8%)
Martin (6.8%)
Entourage (5.5%)
Everybody Hates Chris (5.5%)
SportsCenter (5.5%)
 
Notable: 29 other TV shows received at least one vote, including Boy Meets World, Seinfeld and The Price is Right. 
 
 
How much should college basketball players be paid?
$1-5,000 per semester (46.8%)
$5-10,000 per semester (22.6%)
Nothing (19.4%)
$10-20,000 per semester (6.4%)
$20,000 per semester or greater  (4.8%)
 
 
What is your favorite arena to play in, other than your own? 
Rupp Arena, Kentucky (12.3%)
Madison Square Garden (12.3%)
Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas (8.2%)
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke (5.5%)
FedExForum, Memphis (5.5%)
Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Washington (4.1%)
O’Connell Center, Florida (4.1%)
 
Notable: 23 other arenas received at least one vote, including the Lahaina Civic Center, home of the Maui Invitational. 
 
 
Who is the hottest woman alive?
Kim Kardashian (12.3%)
Kate Upton (9.6%)
Megan Fox (6.8%)
Paula Patton (6.8%)
Beyonce (5.5%)
Stacy Dash (4.1%)
Meagan Good (4.1%)
Marissa Miller (4.1%)
Gabrielle Union (4.1%)
 
Notable: 27 other women received at least one vote, including three over 40 years old— Jennifer Anniston (43), Halle Berry (46) and Jennifer Lopez (43). “My girlfriend” and “my mother” also received one vote each.
 
 
 
 
 
Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Player Survey: Off the Record</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 06:00

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