Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/johnny-manziel-timeline
Body:

Johnathan Manziel is an incredible football player and the only redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

Where many of us would shrink under the pressure, he is most at home on the football field, between the lines, under center and in front of 100,000 screaming nut-jobs. This is where Johnathan Manziel can be himself.

But Johnny Football is a totally different person.

He parties with Mark Cuban, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Jessica Biel and the entire Duck Dynasty crew. He rubs elbows with hip-hop and NBA stars, vacations in Cabo and tees it up at Pebble Beach. But he also gets into meaningless twitter spats with people who buy the ink by the barrel (looking at you, Paul Finebaum and Matt Hayes). He trolls opposing fan bases, rips on his own college campus and gets kicked-out of prestigious summer camps.

Keeping up with Johnathan Manziel is easy for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. But keeping track of Johnny Football is a totally different task. And it all started well before Manziel played his first college football game against Florida last September.

June 2012: Manziel and best friend/handler/secretary Steven Brant are arrested in Northgate district of College Station after getting into a fight with 47-year-old Marvin McKinney. Brant reportedly used a racial slur and the fight ensued. Manziel was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing a false identification (two, actually) and failure to identify. This happened while Manziel was battling Jameill Showers for the starting job before he ever played a down of college football.

July 2012: Manziel was privately suspended indefinitely following the incident and, according to Sportsday, was going to transfer to another school had the suspension not been lifted. Manziel eventually won the appeal, was reinstated and became the official starting quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies.

Nov. 9, 2012: According to ESPN, the day before the historic Alabama-Texas A&M game that basically won Manziel the Heisman, the quarterback was in the Aggies team hotel signing more than 50 items for a “prominent autograph broker on eBay.” The broker added that more than 200 more items were signed a few days after the game. Friend and personal assistant Nathan Finch later informed the broker that he would no longer being signing things for free.

Dec. 8, 2012: The first redshirt freshman in NCAA history is awarded the Heisman Trophy when Johnny Manziel tops Manti Te’o and Collin Klein for sports most prestigious award.

Jan. 6, 2013: The reported massive signing of autographs for a huge five-figure paycheck takes place in Miami at the BCS National Championship game. More on this later. A few days earlier, Manziel was openly brazen about his “casino ballin'” when he instagrams a photo of himself and his buddies in an Oklahoma casino with handfuls of cash. This was his twitter response to the internet uproar: “Nothing illegal about being 18+ in a casino and winning money...KEEP HATING!” Let the trolling begin.

January 2013: Manziel teams up with trick shot superstars Dude Perfect Crew:

March 2013: Manziel takes a spring break vacation to Cabo, Mexico. A picture of Manziel shirtless and with a Texas Longhorns tattoo surfaces on the web. Many called the tattoo photoshopped, however, Manziel himself admitted it was a fake “henna” tattoo. More trolling.

March 2013: In spring practice, Manziel throws three interceptions, the last of which causes a defensive graduate assistant to jump up and down in celebration. Manziel was furious and shoves the GA and the two have to be broken up by teammates and coaches. It’s not all that unusual to see pushing and shoving on a football practice field, so take it for what it's worth.

April 2013: Manziel throws out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers home game.

May 2013: Manziel shoots a 79 at Pebble Beach and gets to throw out another first pitch, this time at a San Diego Padres game. Additionally, he heads out west to work with notable quarterback guru George Whitfield. Many big-time college quarterbacks have done this of late and, reportedly, Manziel completed 25-of-27 passes... blindfolded.

June 2013: It really isn’t worth sitting through, but Manziel and teammate Ryan Swope starred in Granger Smith’s music video “Silverado Bench Seat”. This isn’t part of the story at all, but it is funny that Manziel is featured in the video, of course, signing autographs.

June 10, 2013: Manziel tweets about being at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in South Beach. He is a Dallas Mavericks fan and grew up outside of San Antonio. Troll much?

June 2013: Manziel is given a parking ticket for parking the wrong way in front of his house and for his car windows being tinted too dark. He was out of town on a fishing trip and had the bizarre luxury of having a phone conversation with the police officer who wrote the ticket. Afterward, Manziel learns his new black Mercedes-Benz has been keyed. Manziel sent out the tweet heard ‘round the state: “Bull--- like tonight is the reason I can’t wait to leave College Station…whenever it may be.” It was immediately deleted and he followed that up with “Don’t ever forget that I love A&M with all of my heart, but please please walk a day in my shoes.” Yes, our bleeding hearts go out to you, kid.

July 2013: Johnny Manziel is sent home from the Manning Passing Academy. He was serving as a college coach and advisor where hundreds of kids from around the nation get the chance to work out with some of their heroes — undoubtedly Manziel was the biggest name. However, “after missing and being late for practice assignments,” he was sent home, by what most believe, was Archie Manning. Some say he was ill and others say he was out partying the night before. Either way, he got kicked out of the Manning Passing Academy. A few days later, Manziel is in attendance at the ESPY’s in Los Angeles.

July 2013: Manziel is the star of the show at the annual SEC Media Days circus in Hoover, Ala.

July 26-27, 2013: Manziel is kicked out of a frat party at the University of Texas. Video shows some (idiot) frat bros throwing beer cans at their arch-rival quarterback as he walks out. That doesn’t phase the young star, however, as he returns to another frat party the next day wearing a Tim Tebow jersey. Trolling at its finest.

July 30, 2013: Wright Thompson’s story about Johnny, his father Paul and the entire off-season is published online and in ESPN The Magazine. The story paints a bizarre and blindingly accurate portrait of Manziel’s upbringing, internal struggle and change in personality after gaining fame from his Heisman Trophy exploits. It is a brilliant piece of work from Thompson, but the timing is strange and no good could have come from it being published just weeks before camp opened for Texas A&M.

Aug. 4, 2013: “Outside the Lines” reports that Manziel is under NCAA investigation for accepting a five-figure flat fee for signing hundreds of autographs with a well-known memorabilia broker Drew Tieman back in January. Tieman met with the star quarterback at his residence in South Florida where the potential transaction took place. Multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN that this meeting happened, however, no one was in the closed-door meeting where money could have changed hands.

Aug. 5, 2013: Texas A&M opens camp and Kevin Sumlin speaks with the media. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies decide it’s best he doesn’t speak publicly at this time.

And that is where we stand in this Manziel media world we live in today. Most of the incidents listed above, if you want to call them that, are much to do about nothing. It actually IS just a kid being a kid, albeit a cocky, immature one. But when the NCAA gets involved and there is talk of major violations, things get serious in a hurry.

College football starts in 24 days and Texas A&M begins playing football in 26 days when Rice comes to town August 31. The Aggies expect to compete for an SEC and National Championship in 2013. Hundreds of millions are pouring into the ever-growing Kyle Field and its surrounding facilities in anticipation of the very bright future of TAMU athletics. 

But who will be playing quarterback? Will it be the guy who led the nation in total offense, scored 47 total touchdowns and miraculously defeated Alabama? Or will it be the guy who cusses his aunt and demands his daddy buy him a Mercedes?

Or will it be Matt Joeckel?
 

 

Teaser:
A look at Johnny Manziel's off-the-field antics.
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, Roto, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-baseball-bests-busts-and-waiver-wire-aug-5
Body:

August is here and that means fantasy playoffs are quickly approaching. Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies bring you last week's top hitters, some starting pitchers who are on a roll, and also identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on.

Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 29-Aug 4):

 NamePos.TeamRHRRBISBBAOPS
1Justin UptonOFATL9390.3871.246
2Andrew McCutchenOFPIT8172.3791.027
3Freddie Freeman1BATL9280.3751.038
4Matt HollidayOFSTL9062.4060.957
5Jason HeywardOFATL12170.3460.969
6Shane VictorinoOFBOS7260.4001.141
7Cody Ross*OFARI3152.5001.227
8Brian McCannCATL3390.3001.141
9Robbie Grossman*OFHOU6131.5001.269
10Chris Johnson1B/3BATL4180.4331.085
11Kendrys Morales1BSEA3150.5771.287
12Michael Saunders*OFSEA3380.3041.153
13Mike TroutOFLAA8120.5001.552
14Kole Calhoun*OFLAA5231.333.943
15Daniel Descalso*2/3/SSSTL5241.296.943
16A.J. Pierzynski*CTEX2271.308.846
17Nelson CruzOFTEX4350.2921.037
18Mark Trumbo1/3/OFLAA6380.138.642
19David Freese3BSTL6170.3201.052
20Mike Moustakas*3BKC3360.2921.041
21Ryan Raburn*2B/OFCLE3260.4121.326
22Erick Aybar*SSLAA6023.321.724
23Jacoby EllsburyOFBOS5142.290.787
24Anthony Rizzo1BCHC4340.3101.067
25Dustin Pedroia2BBOS5280.233.791

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Weekly Waiver Wire:

Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC (38% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
Tabbed as a preseason sleeper, Moose has disappointed any and all owners who took a chance on him. He is showing signs of life, however, as he is coming off one of his best weeks (No. 20 in Y!) and has been surging post-All-Star Break. He is hitting .278/.900 since the break with four HRs and nine RBIs in 14 games. Those numbers will play at a fantasy thin position.

Cody Ross, OF, ARI (14%)
Ross is a career .264/.779 hitter in the majors and might be worth taking a risk on after a really hot week. Ross hit 22 HRs and drove in 81 last year and while he hasn't posted those type of numbers this year in the desert, it proves he is capable of it. Should he start every night the rest of the way, Ross could provide some support.

Jonathan Villar, SS, HOU (5%)
This would be simply a speed play with some help in the runs scored department as well. He was called up last week by the Astros and was given the shortstop job full-time. He won't help much in other categories but he will help with his legs. He had 31 SBs in 91 minor leagues this year, 39 swipes in 86 games a year ago and already has six steals in 13 games in the majors. He is a deep reach but could offer big help in a couple of categories.

Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN (7%)
A former big-time prospect for the Reds, Mesoraco is showing signs of life as the full-time backstop. Over the last 14 days, he has clubbed four home runs and driven in 11 while hitting .304/.913 in 46 at-bats. He has upside but hasn't proven it yet so this could be the time to jump on the youngster. 

Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS (10%)
This isn't a new name for minor league and deep league fans as Bogaerts is one of MLB's top prospects. Why he is mentioned here, however, is that Boston is playing him at third base now on the farm instead of shortstop. This appears to be preparing him for a potential battle with Will Middlebrooks for the big league job. He has hit .282/855 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 47 games in AAA-Pawtucket this year for Boston. Bogaerts would be my pick over Middlebrooks. Plus, in keeper leagues, he could be a gem.

Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:

 NameTeamIPWKERAWHIP
1Jose FernandezMIA23.03351.570.70
2Max ScherzerDET21.23180.830.51
3Francisco LirianoPIT21.23220.420.83
4David PriceTB25.12171.070.47
5Yu DarvishTEX19.12290.470.83
6Tyson Ross*SD20.02221.350.70
7Mike MinorATL14.02110.640.43
8Jered WeaverLAA21.02201.590.79
9Lance LynnSTL21.02241.710.95
10Julio TeheranATL18.01231.000.89
11Doug FisterDET16.0280.560.69
12Justin MastersonCLE14.12150.630.98
13Scott Kazmir*CLE19.02171.890.84
14Clayton KershawLAD16.01130.560.69
15Mark Buehrle*TOR22.02152.050.82
16Bruce Chen*KC18.01172.000.67
17A.J. BurnettPIT23.01231.171.09
18Wade Miley*ARI14.02120.641.07
19Dan Haren*WAS19.02182.840.84
20Madison BumgarnerSF15.01180.601.07

* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues

Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):

1. Gerrit Cole, PIT (Thur.) vs. Miami (56% owned)
The former No. 1 overall pick has 10 career starts in the majors and has never allowed more than three earned runs in any game. He has only won one of his last six starts but should be more than capable of dominating the lowly Marlins offense.

2. Chris Archer, TB (Wed.) at Arizona (68%)
Few players have been as dominant over the last month as Archer has been for the Rays. Since the start of July, he has allowed seven earned runs in six starts (4-1). His latest start was the worst (7.0, 4 ER, 4 K) of the group, but a trip to the desert to take on the Diamondbacks should get him back on track.

3. Randall Delgado, ARI (Fri.) vs. NY Mets (8%)
Over his last three starts, Delgado is 3-0 with 12 K, four earned runs and just 12 hits allowed for the Diamondbacks. He will face the Mets without David Wright in the lineup coming up this weekend. Green light.

4. Jhoulys Chacin, COL (Thur.) vs. NY Mets (37%)
Chacin's last five starts have been extremely useful (2-2). Three times he allowed just one earned run and over his last nine outings he's yielded more than three earned runs just once. He gets the Wright-less Mets on Thursday after 11 Ks and just one walk in his last three.

5. Tony Cingrani, CIN (Sat.) vs. San Diego (56%)
Strikeouts are the name of the game for the young lefty. He has 97 punch outs in 82.2 IP this year, 35 whiffs over his last five starts (2-1) and he will get the Padres this weekend. He will walk some people (12 BB in his last four starts) but if you can survive the hit to the WHIP, he should win games and strike plenty of people out.

Closing Morsels
After more than a few trades involving closers — Jose Veras to Detroit, K-Rod to Baltimore — that means opportunity could arise from where you least expect it... The Pirates Jason Grilli is "making quality progress" and he has vowed to play again in 2013. However, he isn't throwing yet and Mark Melancon is a quality option to close (who likely isn't on your waiver wire)... Boston's Koji Uehara hasn't allowed a run since June 30 and has converted on his last five save chances. However, he has just two saves in his nine appearances... The Angels might be forced to go with a committee approach. Ernesto Frieri has sick strikeout numbers (69 in 46.2 IP) but has been downright atrocious of late. He has allowed a run in four of his last six appearances with a total of 10 ER in 4.1 IP.... Seattle took the closer's job away from Tom Wilhelmsen for the time being. However, there aren't many quality options backing him up: Charlie Furbush, Yoervis Medina, Oliver Perez or Danny Farquhar. My guess is Willy is back in the ninth inning soon enough.... Jim Henderson has been solid since reclaiming the job for the Brewers after K-Rod was traded to the Orioles. He is 5-for-5 in save chances in five appearances without a run allowed and just four base runners in that stretch.

Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid

Teaser:
Athlon Sports takes a look at what took place this past weekend on the fantasy baseball diamond
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-best-and-worst-logos-2013
Body:

Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.

 

Signature uniforms like Michigan’s winged helmet, picturesque monuments like Lake Washington in Seattle or historic personalities like Bear Bryant help separate one team from the next in the college football with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.

 

However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 

 

Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.

 

And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here are Athlon Sports Art Director Matt Taliaferro favorite football logos — and a few he can't stand.

 

College Football's Best Official Logos

 SchoolLogoThoughts
1.TexasThe best logo in college football, the Longhorn is classic, simple, unchanging but also unique and creative. There is nothing else to say.
2.ClemsonThere are tons of Tigers, Wildcats and Bulldogs in college sports but none use their mascot quite like Clemson. The Tiger Paw print is synonymous with Clemson athletics and is utterly simple but still edgy and creative. 
3.GeorgiaFind me a more effective marriage of color and simplicity of design and I'll hand these writing duties over to you. Georgia's logo is so timeless that I can't remember there ever being another that represented the football team. You see this, there's no confusion as to what you're looking at. If that's not a successful logo, I don't know what it.
4.BYUIt is one of the most recognizable logos in college sports. There is some creativity in the "Y" font and the inverted color scheme works very well on helmets, merchandise and the like.
5.North CarolinaThe interlocked N-C are as famous as any brand logo in the nation. There are simple touches of style — the font and black trim — that make this logo completely unmistakable.
6.TennesseeAs a logo, Tennessee's is as direct and to-the-point as it gets. Think what you will of the orange (personally, I'm no fan), but the unique working of the "T" is as good as it gets. As an aside, UT's retro Davy Crockett logo is badass.
7.Michigan StIt's clean, classic, gets the point across and is recognizable. It has some fierce edginess to it, the color scheme is perfect and there is no doubt it represents a Spartan.
8.WashingtonSimple, tasteful, unchanging and very obvious. This emblem with its signature gold trim is one of the best in the nation and leaves little doubt as to what it represents.
9.MiamiIt's as simple as it gets but also brings loads of creativity and history. No other logo turns into a hand signal like "The U" and the two-tone color scheme and pattern is unique.
10.Penn StHistorically speaking, few logos are as traditional as the Nittany Lions oval. The smooth looking Lions head has great lines and appears to be hunting... Wolverines or Buckeyes? Few logos combine classy and aggresive like PSU.
11.NebraskaAgain, simple and straight forward gets the point across. The colors and subtle trim are great and it appears that the Huskers have a monopoly on this letter. There is no doubting what this logo refers to.
12.UCLAThe script "UCLA" is one of the most well-known logos in all of sports much less college football. And the way the word Bruins is incorporated makes it one of the most informative in the nation while still being fairly simple.
13.StanfordMichigan State and NC State know exactly what the smart kids from Palo Alto were thinking when this logo was created. It's classic and simple with a touch of style in the stroked white/red trim. Stanford boasts one of the best brand logos in the nation.
14.MichiganIt doesn't get any more simple that the block "M" of Michigan. The font is excellent but it could use some blue trim or accents.
15.ColoradoThe Buffs logo balances all of the key aspects to a company logo. It's simple and classic but with just enough style and flair while also being incredibly unique. 
16.AuburnHard to find fault in the interlocking A-U. Again, trimming away all the waste and boiling a logomark down to its most basic typically nets the best results.
17.Kansas StAll of Kansas State's design work, color scheme and uniforms are underrated and the logo is the same. Aggressive, stylish but yet still fairly simple and clean.
18.OklahomaThere is no doubting what the interlocking "O" and "U" stand for, right? The smooth lines and lack of extras in the font make this a fantastic logo.
19.Texas A&MSomeone from A&M needs to call Texas Tech and explain how effective beveling is done. Like Vandy, Texas A&M's logo is simple and therefore works as a potent branding mark.
20.Ohio StateNormally, a name in a logo doesn't work, but the "S" is perfectly designed into the "O" and it works. It makes it busier than the cleaner, more classic logos above. The colors and trim are second to none.

Others receiving votes: West Virginia, Oregon, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, UConn, Louisville, Iowa

College Football's Worst Official Logos*

 TeamLogoThoughts
1.Oregon StOSU’s logo resembles some sort of odd flying wedge more than it does a beaver — although the inadvertent shark fin on the beaver’s head adds a touch of menace.
2.NorthwesternWas that wildcats drawn in with a Paper Mate? Working with purple already presents challenges and the overall design here isn’t helping.
3.South CarolinaIt’s not the chicken, it’s the “C.” A tweak to the hard inner angles and this logo is no longer in the bottom 5.
4.KansasThere may be some tradition associated with the Looney Tunes magpie but the primary colors scheme and cartoon-ish nature date the logo.
5.Texas TechSlow your bevel roll and quit stacking letters. That's my advice for the Red Raiders. Take a cue from instate rival Texas A&M about how to effectively bevel a logo.

* - Big 6, or "BCS," conferences only

Teaser:
College Football's Best and Worst Logos for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 5, 2013 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/12-young-nfl-stars-headed-hall-fame
Body:

Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Bill Parcells, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Dave Robinson and Curley Culp were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in February. They are some of the game's greatest players and their legacies and impact on the NFL will live forever in Canton, Ohio, as official members of the Hall of Fame.

Projecting the Hall of Fame is virtually impossible, especially for the youngest athletes in football, but as these seven men kick off the 2013 NFL season with Saturday's Enshrinement Ceremony, it is fun to look at the game's best young players. Rookies are expected to contribute quicker than ever on the NFL gridiron and a few have made a big splash in short order.

So, limiting the scope to players drafted in the last three rookie classes (not counting 2013), here are the most likely Pro Football Hall of Famers playing the game today:

Class of 2010: 

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants
In his first three seasons, JPP has yet to miss a game, playing all 48 for the Giants. He helped lead the Giants to a Super Bowl win in 2011 when he posted 93 tackles and 16.5 sacks. Pierre-Paul has 27.5 sacks, 181 total tackles and two Pro Bowls in three career NFL seasons. In 2012, he intercepted his first career pass and took it 28 yards to score his first career touchdown. He may be the most physically gifted defensive end in the NFL.

Mike Iupati, OL, San Francisco
The Niners have seen a remarkable turnaround under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Much of that can be attributed to what might be the best offensive line in the league. Iupati, drafted in the first round, has started every single game of his NFL career and has watched the 49ers' rushing attack flourish. After averaging 103.6 yards per game in 2010, SanFran rushed for 127.8 yards per game in '11 and finished fourth in the NFL a year ago at 155.6 yards per game en route to a Super Bowl berth. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound mauler should be a mainstay in the Bay Area for years to come.

NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco
The 2010 draft was a great one for the Niners as not only was the offensive line rebuilt with Iupati and Anthony Davis, but so was the defense with this third-round steal. Bowman was an All-American at Penn State and proved in his first season as an NFL starter that he was going to be around for a while. He posted 150 tackles in 16 starts in 2011 and, after getting a long-term contract extension, added another 144 total tackles. He earned his second Pro Bowl appearance in three seasons while leading the Niners to the Super Bowl. Along with Patrick Willis, Bowman is half of the best LB duo in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans
Sometimes it can be all about timing and Graham couldn’t have landed in a better spot at a better time. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound basketball player from Miami fell into a perfect position to succeed for the Saints. He finished third in the NFL with 99 catches, seventh with 1,310 yards and was one of only five players with double-digit touchdowns (11) in 2011. While he took a slight step back in 2012, Graham's 85 catches, 982 yards and nine TDs were still among the league's best by a tight end. With Sean Payton back on the sidelines, Graham should be a part of another Saints postseason run in 2013.

Others names from this class to consider:

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
If he could ever stay healthy and out of trouble, he could shatter all NFL TE receiving records.

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit
Elite-level player with all the tools to be an all-time great, but needs to mature.

Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati
A fourth-round steal on draft day is already an All-Pro performer.

Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh
Elite high school prospect, elite college prospect and now an All-Pro in the NFL.

Class of 2011:

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati
Few players have ever started their career like Green. The superstar talent from Georgia was one of the most coveted pass-catchers in the nation as both a recruit and draft pick. All he has done in two pro seasons is catch 162 passes for 2,407 yards and 18 touchdowns while leading the Bengals to the postseason both seasons. He is an elite red zone target, can stretch the field and has tremendous open field ability as well. He is the complete package at wide receiver.

Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, San Francisco
The youngster out of Missouri was looked at as a project on the NFL level but his elite talents were obvious. Well, the project turned into a star quicker than expected as Smith posted 14.0 sacks as a rookie without technically starting a game. He only got better in Year 2, posting 19.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and 65 total tackles for the NFC Champs. Smith is downright unblockable and has already set the 49ers' single-season sack record.

J.J. Watt, DE, Houston
From pizza boy tight end to Big Ten Rose Bowl star to NFL Rookie of the Year candidate to Defensive Player of the Year. The former Wisconsin Badgers end has started every game of his short career and made history by returning an interception for a touchdown in his first postseason game (and Houston’s first postseason win). He led the NFL in sacks in 2012 with 20.5 QB takedowns and has made an art form of deflecting passes (16 last year). He has 149 tackles, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in two pro seasons.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
The weapons Matt Ryan has in Atlanta are unreal. Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez certainly make life easier for Jones in the passing game, but make no mistake; the former Alabama star is the real deal. He was the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the nation coming out of high school and has only gotten better with age. He is an athletic freak at 6-4 and 220 pounds. He improved his production in every major category from his rookie season to last year, going from 54 receptions to 79, from 959 yards to 1,198 and from eight scores to 10 TDs. He is already one of the league's most impossible players to cover.

Other names from this class to consider:

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
If he always played like he did against Atlanta, he will be special. Needs to learn how to win.

Von Miller, OLB/DE, Denver
Dynamic pass-rusher was a Pro Bowler as a rookie and has 30.0 sacks in two years. Needs to stay focused off the field.

Class of 2012:

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
The Colts were 2-14 in 2011 and it landed them Mr. Luck. All the rookie QB did in his first year was produce the best season by a rookie starting NFL quarterback in league history. He won 11 games, set an NFL rookie record with 4,374 yards passing and accounted for 28 total touchdowns. He was an elite, Top-100 prospect in high school and was considered by many the best pro prospect since John Elway. He has proven to be worthy of the top overall pick and literally has zero weaknesses to his game.

Matt Kalil, OL, Minnesota
The top tackle taken in the 2012 draft has played from Game 1 for the much-improved Vikings. According to Football Outsiders, Kalil allowed just two sacks in his first 721 snaps in the NFL. He paved the way for Adrian Peterson’s historic 2,000-yard season and helped lead the Vikings into the postseason. The bookend tackle was a coveted prospect in high school, had a great college career and is already a Pro Bowler in the NFL. Having an All-Pro older brother (Ryan) has helped as well.

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay
He wasn’t the first running back taken in the draft, but he was the most productive. The do-everything tailback was used all over the field as arguably the most successful Boise State runner in program history. His talents have translated instantly. He was fifth in the NFL in rushing (1,454), was fourth in attempts (319), fourth in all-purpose yards (1,926) and trailed only Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson in total offensive touches (368). His ability to catch passes makes him one of the most dynamic players in the league already.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina
The Boston College linebacker led the nation in tackles each season in college and was the top player taken at his position in his draft. All he did in his first NFL season was lead the league in tackles (164) by a wide margin. He picked off two passes, registered one sack and recovered three fumbles. The tackling machine is rarely out of position, doesn’t miss tackles and is the center building block on defense for the future of Panthers football.

Other names from this class to consider:

Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland
Elite player with rare skills, but will balky knees and playing for the Browns hurt his long-term stock?

LaVonte David, LB, Tampa Bay
Incredibly productive player on all levels is making quick impact for Bucs.

Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas
Elite lock-down coverman has lived up to his status as the best corner in the 2012 draft.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington
He is a supremely gifted athlete and remarkable leader — who cannot stay healthy unless he changes his style of play.

Mark Barron, S, Tampa Bay
Has already shown he is a big hitter who has stabilized the back end of the Bucs' secondary.

,

So, limiting the scope to players drafted in the last three rookie classes (not counting 2013), here are the most likely Pro Football Hall of Famers playing the game today:

Teaser:
So, limiting the scope to players drafted in the last three rookie classes (not counting 2013), here are the most likely Pro Football Hall of Famers playing the game today:
Post date: Friday, August 2, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-linebackers-bcs-era
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Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, level of competition, raw talent and overall athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.

So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest linebackers of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 linebackers since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

1. Lavar Arrington, Penn State
Few college players were as intimidating as the rabid Nittany Lions linebacker. Arrington was an elite leader who helped Penn State to a 28-9 record during his three-year tenure in Happy Valley. He was named as the Butkus and Lambert Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker and was the recipient of the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player after 72 tackles, 20 for loss, nine sacks and two blocked kicks in 1999. He was a consensus All-American and has arguably the most signature defensive play of the BCS Era when he leapt over the Illinois offensive line on 4th-and-1 to secure the win. Arrington consistently delivered crushing blows and wound up as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Redskins.

2. James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
Few players in the nation are as decorated, productive, talented and successful as the Minneapolis native. Laurinaitis won the Butkus, Nagurski, two Lambert Awards and two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards while being a three-time All-American. He posted three straight seasons of at least 115 tackles and helped Ohio State win a share of four Big Ten titles, including two trips to the BCS National Championship game. The Buckeyes tackler was taken in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

3. Patrick Willis, Ole Miss
The unheralded Tennessee native was overlooked by most of the SEC big boys and made them all pay by becoming the league’s best linebacker of the BCS era. Rising from utter poverty to the best LB in the nation, Willis claimed the Butkus and Lambert Awards in 2006. He posted 265 tackles and 21.0 for loss over his final two seasons, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and All-American status as a senior. He was taken with the 11th overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by San Francisco.

4. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
It’s possible that the Notre Dame linebacker is the most decorated college football player of all-time. As a senior, Te’o won the Butkus, Bednarik, Lambert, Lombardi, Nagurski and Lott awards while becoming the only defensive player of the BCS era to win the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Trophy as well. He posted 113 tackles and seven interceptions while leading Notre Dame to a perfect regular season and BCS title game berth. His legacy off the field was soiled by a bizarre catfish scandal but shouldn’t factor into his spectacular overall college career.

5. Derrick Johnson, Texas
The big-play machine from Waco, Texas, was one of the greatest linebackers in Longhorns program history. He finished his career with 458 tackles, 65.0 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, nine interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Johnson was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and a two-time All-American. He capped his career with the Butkus, Lambert and Nagurski national awards as well as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors before being taken 15th overall by the Chiefs in the 2005 NFL Draft.

6. E.J. Henderson, Maryland
Henderson left Maryland with multiple NCAA records and numerous awards and honors. He owns the career tackles per game record (12.5), career solo tackles per game (8.8) and the single-season unassisted tackle record with 135 in 2002. That year, Henderson won his second ACC Defensive Player of the Year award and was awarded the Butkus, Lambert and Bednarik Awards nationally. He was a two-time All-American, Chick-fil-A Bowl MVP and second-round pick by the Vikings in 2003.

7. Paul Posluszny, Penn State
As a junior, the Nittany Lions tackler was recognized as the nation’s top LB when he posted 116 tackles (11.0 TFL) en route to a Big Ten Championship, consensus All-American honors and both the Butkus and Bednarik Awards. He followed that up as a senior with a second Bednarik Award and second consensus All-American nod. The in-state Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopewell product was a second-round pick by the Bills in 2007.

8. Dan Morgan, Miami
Beginning his career as fullback, fans in South Florida are happy he ended up tackling instead of blocking. The superstar linebacker won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top LB in 2000 as well as Nagurski, Bednarik and Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors. In fact, he was the first college player to claim all three awards. When Morgan left The U he owned the school and Big East record for career tackles with 532 and was taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by Carolina.

9. Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Tackling. Machine. That is really all that needs to be said about the Boston College star defender. He was second nationally with 158 tackles as just a freshman, led the nation in tackles with 183 as a sophomore and led the world again in stops with 191 as a junior. So in just three seasons, Kuechly set the BC and ACC career tackle records en route to numerous awards. He was a two-time All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a first-round pick by Carolina in 2012 and won the Butkus, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott and Lambert national trophies.

10. Andy Katzenmoyer, Ohio State
His pro career notwithstanding, the Ohio State tackler was one of college football’s greatest tacklers during his time in Columbus. He was the first true freshman to ever start at linebacker for the Buckeyes, won the Butkus and Lambert Awards as just a sophomore and nearly led OSU to the inaugural BCS title game in 1998. He started all 37 games of his college career and finished with 18 sacks and 50.0 tackles for loss. He was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 1999.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

11. Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma
A three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and a two-time All-American, Calmus is one of the most important Sooners of all-time. He won the Butkus and Lambert Awards as senior in 2001 as the nation’s top linebacker but his play in '00 will go down in Oklahoma history. He led the vaunted Sooners defense to a perfect record and spearheaded arguably the greatest defensive performance of the BCS era by holding Florida State to zero offensive points in the BCS National Championship Game. Calmus was a third-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

12. Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma
The Tulsa, Okla., native played in all 12 games for the 2000 BCS National Champions as a freshman. He was a three-year starter for the Sooners after that, posting 117 tackles and 19.0 TFL and earning the Butkus and Bednarik Awards while leading Oklahoma back to the BCS national title game in 2003. He was a two-time All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was a second-round pick of the Lions in the 2004 NFL Draft.

13. Jonathan Vilma, Miami
During Vilma’s time on campus, the Hurricanes went an unbelievable 46-4 with wins in the Sugar, Rose and Orange Bowls. A three-year starter, including for the dominant 2001 National Champions, Vilma posted 377 total tackles and was a three-time, first-team All-Big East selection. He was honored with the Lambert Award in 2003 as the nation’s top linebacker. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.

14. Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M
Arguably the most decorated Texas A&M defender, Nguyen was a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and his 517 career tackles are an Aggies record. His career in College Station culminated in 1998 with a historic and adorned senior season. Nguyen was named the Bednarik and Lombardi Award winner and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors as well. The unanimous All-American was a third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2004.

15. A.J. Hawk, Ohio State
Yet another Buckeyes great, Hawk started 38 of his 51 career college games for Ohio State. He contributed to the 2002 BCS National Championship squad as a freshman before earning two-time consensus All-American honors in 2004-05. As a senior, Hawk earned the Lombardi and Lambert Trophies for his play and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his career with 394 tackles, 41.0 for loss, 15.5 sacks and seven interceptions. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Packers.

16. Al Wilson, Tennessee
Wilson isn’t as decorated as some of his BCS brethren but few players had as big an impact on their team as the Vols middle linebacker. He helped lead Tennessee to two SEC championships and the historic and unblemished 1998 national title. He was a consensus All-American, a consummate teammate on and off the field and was the 31st overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.

17. Rolando McClain, Alabama
His fall from grace aside, McClain was one of the BCS’s great defensive leaders. He started eight games and posted 75 tackles as a freshman before earning some All-American honors as a sophomore (95 tackles). As the unquestioned heartbeat of the Alabama defense, McClain led the Crimson Tide back to the BCS promised land with a perfect senior season. He posted 105 tackles, 14.5 for loss, four sacks and two interceptions. He earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, was a unanimous All-American and won both the Butkus and Lambert Awards. He was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

18. Brian Urlacher, New Mexico
Few players were ever as versatile as Urlacher was for the Lobos. He finished his career with 442 tackles, 11 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, caught six touchdown passes on offense and returned five kicks for touchdowns on special teams. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears and is a sure-fire lock for Canton.

19. Rey Maualuga, USC
The hard-hitting tackler was a freshman All-American on the 2005 USC team that barely lost to Texas in the national title game. He then started the next three seasons for the Trojans, earning consensus All-American honors, the Chuck Bednarik Award and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008. The Men of Troy went 46-6 during his time on campus and few players were as feared nationally as Maualuga.

20. Von Miller, Texas A&M
After an up and down but promising first two seasons, Miller exploded onto the scene as a junior in 2009. He led the nation in sacks with 17.0 and posted 21.0 tackles for loss. As a senior, despite being slowed by an ankle injury, Miller posted 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss en route to the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Chris Claiborne, USC
The three-year star for the Trojans was the first and only Butkus Award winner in USC history when he was named the nation’s top linebacker in 1998 — the same year both Wilson and Katzenmoyer were seniors. He was a consensus All-American and the No. 9 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.

22. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones was a Lambert Award winner, a two-time All-American, led the nation in sacks as a sophomore and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He also led Georgia to consecutive SEC East titles and was the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

23. Greg Jones, Michigan State
The stabilizing force for four years in East Lansing, Jones was a three-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection and a two-time, consensus All-American. Finished third in school history in tackles (465), second in tackles for loss (46.5) and sixth in sacks (16.5). He started 46 of 52 career games for the Spartans.

24. Dan Connor, Penn State
The Nittany Lions know something about playing linebacker and Connor is yet another elite tackler. He was a two-time All-American and won the Bednarik Award in 2007 and was a big part of the '05 Big Ten/Orange Bowl Championship team.

25. Brandon Spikes, Florida
Spikes' resume is virtually complete. He was a two-time, consensus All-American, a three-time, first-team All-SEC selection, won two BCS National Championships, was a second-round pick and dated Doc Rivers' daughter. He posted 307 total tackles and started 39 of his 47 career games as a Gator.

26. Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
Curry was a freshman All-American after starting 10 games as a freshman. He posted 83 tackles as a sophomore and tied an NCAA record with three interceptions returned for touchdowns as a junior. As a senior, we won the Butkus Award, was an All-American and made 105 tackles. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

27. D’Qwell Jackson, Maryland
The undersized tackler played in all 14 games as a freshman, started all 11 games as a sophomore and was an All-American as a junior and senior. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 after 137 tackles. Jackson finished with 447 tackles, good for fourth in school history and was a second-round pick of the Browns in 2006.

28. DeMeco Ryans, Alabama
The former three-star recruit outperformed all expectations for the Crimson Tide. In 2005 as a senior, he was a unanimous All-American, won the Lott Trophy and was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year. He just missed winning the Nagurski, Butkus and Draddy Awards as well before being a second-round pick in 2006 by the Texans.

29. D.J. Williams, Miami
After playing fullback in 2000 as a freshman, Williams switched to linebacker and contributed on the 2001 National Championship team. He was a two-time, first-team All-Big East pick as an upperclassman and finished with 190 tackles over that span. He was a first-round pick of the Broncos in 2004. The U was 46-4 during his time in South Florida.

30. Tank Carder, TCU
The leader of the 2010 unblemished Rose Bowl champs won back-to-back Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He finished his career with 228 total tackles, 25.0 for loss, 9.0 sacks and four interceptions in 39 starts over 50 career games. 

Related: The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era

31. C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mosley has already won two BCS titles and was named an All-American with one year still left to go in his college career.

32. Lofa Tatupu, USC
He started all 25 games during his USC career posting 202 tackles, winning one national title and playing for another.

33. Adam Archuleta, Arizona State
Two-time All-Pac-10 performer won Def. P.O.Y. honors. The former walk-on finished with 330 tackles, 14.0 sacks and 54.0 TFL.

34. Keith Bullock, Syracuse
Two-time All-Big East pick led the league in tackles (1999) during Syracuse’s heyday. He was a first-round pick and posted 375 career tackles.

35. Julian Peterson, Michigan State
He posted 140 tackles and 25.0 sacks in just 23 career games for the Spartans and was a first-round pick in 2000.

36. Mike Peterson, Florida
The Gators linebacker was an All-American and led the defense to the 1996 National Championship and two SEC titles.

37. Arthur Brown, Kansas State
After transferring home from Miami, Brown won Big 12 Defensive P.O.Y., was an All-American and led KSU to a Big 12 championship

38. Kirk Morrison, San Diego State
He claimed back-to-back Mountain West Player of the Year honors and was a four-time All-MWC performer.

39. Mark Simoneau, Kansas State
He was a consensus All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and finished with 400 career tackles.

40. Keith Adams, Clemson
The All-American won ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and posted 23.0 sacks in three years.

Related: The Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

41. Chad Greenway, Iowa
42. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
43. Rennie Curran, Georgia
44. Larry Foote, Michigan
45. Jordon Dizon, Colorado
46. Robert Thomas, UCLA
47. Keith Rivers, USC
48. Lavonte David, Nebraska
49. David Harris, Michigan
50. Mark Herzlich, Boston College

Related: The Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era

The Next 25:

51. Torrance Marshall, Oklahoma
52. Brandon Short, Penn State
53. Rufus Alexander, Oklahoma
54. Karlos Dansby, Auburn
55. Tommy Polley, Florida State
56. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
57. Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
58. Lawrence Timmons, Florida State
59. Ernie Sims, Florida State
60. Leroy Hill, Clemson
61. Barrett Ruud, Nebraska
62. H.B. Blades, Pitt
63. Boss Bailey, Georgia
64. Levar Fisher, NC State
65. Brian Cushing, USC
66. Odell Thurman, Georgia
67. Ian Gold, Michigan
68. Raynoch Thompson, Tennessee
69. Jamie Winborn, Vanderbilt
70. Nick Barnett, Oregon State
71. Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina
72. Mychal Kendricks, Cal
73. A.J. Klein, Iowa State
74. Nick Reid, Kansas
75. Roosevelt Colvin, Purdue

Top 50s of the BCS Era:
The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era
The Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era

Teaser:
College Football's Top 50 Linebackers of the BCS Era
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/top-10-west-virginia-football-teams-all-time
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West Virginia has taken a long and winding path to Big 12 competition. It hasn't had an undefeated season since the AP Poll was implemented in 1934, has played in three difference conferences and was an independent as well. The Mountaineers haven't won any national championships but have plenty of conference titles under their belt.\

So who was more difficult to stop, Major Harris or Pat White? Could Rich Rodriguez' best team defeat Don Nehlen's top squad? Which team was the best? The fact of the matter is no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in W-V-U history is virtually impossible. But we're going to try anyway.

1. 1988 (11-1)
Head Coach: Don Nehlen

The 1988 Mountaineers team went unbeaten in the regular season and is simultaneously the most revered and most painful team in school history. After rolling perfectly through the season led by dynamic quarterback Major Harris, West Virginia entered the national championship showdown with Notre Dame. Yet, three plays into the Fiesta Bowl, the Mounties' season unraveled when Harris separated his shoulder. The Irish won 34-21 and the game has left fans in Morgantown wondering "what if?" for more than two decades.

2. 2007 (11-2, 5-2)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez/Bill Stewart

Yet another "what if?" for Mountaineers fans came in 2007 when juniors Pat White and Steve Slaton led West Virginia to a No. 1 ranking entering the Backyard Brawl. An injury to White helped Pitt defeat WVU 13-9 in the regular-season finale and the loss knocked the Mounties out of the BCS National Championship game. This is the highest scoring team in school history (515 points), one that earned a Big East co-championship and eventually won the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma 48-28 — a game coached by Bill Stewart after Rodriguez took the Michigan job following the regular season. The sixth-place final AP poll finish is third all-time in school history.

3. 2005 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez

The ’05 team wasn’t supposed to be one of the school’s best but two freshman superstars changed all of that for WVU. Quarterback White and tailback Slaton were perfect fits for RichRod’s zone-read option and defenses didn’t know how to slow them down. The lone loss of the year came against No. 3 Virginia Tech and the Big East championship season was capped by a historic showdown in the Sugar Bowl with Georgia (in Atlanta). The 38-35 win over the Bulldogs gave the Mountaineers a fifth-place finish in the polls, tying the 1988 team for the best AP finish in school history.

4. 1993 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Don Nehlen

Nehlen’s 1993 team won its first 11 games, including wins over ranked Missouri, Louisville, Miami and Boston College, to reach the Sugar Bowl. The Big East champs, ranked No. 3 in the AP Poll, didn’t get to face either Florida State or Nebraska and instead lost to Florida in ugly fashion 41-7. This was the fourth highest scoring team in school history at the time and finished seventh in the polls.

5. 2006 (11-2, 5-2)
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez

The Mountaineers entered the season fifth in the AP Poll and rattled off seven straight victories to start the year. White and Slaton continued to churn out big yards until a mid-season road loss to Louisville cost this team a Big East championship. Another loss at home to USF led to a Gator Bowl berth (and win) against Georgia Tech. The 10th-place finish in the AP Poll is one of just six top 10 postseason rankings.

6. 2011 (10-3, 5-2)
Head Coach: Dana Holgorsen

Led by junior quarterback Geno Smith, the Mountaineers won a share of the Big East Championship with losses to No. 2 LSU, at Syracuse and Louisville. Smith and Holgorsen’s offense dropped 70 on Clemson in the Orange Bowl win to cap the year.

7. 1953 (8-2, 4-0)
Head Coach: Art Lewis

Playing in the Southern Conference, Lewis led the Mountaineers to a perfect league record and SoCon title. The only two losses came against South Carolina and No. 8 Georgia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

8. 1969 (10-1)
Head Coach: Jim Carlen

Still playing independent football, West Virginia lost just one game in 1969 — a brutal road loss to No. 5 Penn State. The season ended with a 14-3 win over South Carolina in the Peach Bowl.

9. 1954 (8-1, 3-0)
Head Coach: Art Lewis

The Mounties won their second straight SoCon Championship after wins over ranked South Carolina and Penn State. The only loss came against arch-rival Pitt in the Backyard Brawl 13-10.

10. 2010 (9-4, 5-2)
Head Coach: Bill Stewart

Geno Smith began his starting career under center for WVU with a co-Big East Championship and trip to the Champs Sports Bowl. This team lost three regular-season games, including road trips to LSU and co-champ UConn, by a combined 14 points.

 

2013 Big 12 Team Previews

BaylorOklahoma State
Iowa StateTCU
KansasTexas
Kansas StateTexas Tech
OklahomaWest Virginia

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Teaser:
Athlon Sports ranks the best Mountaineers teams since the AP debuted in 1934.
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 07:10
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-ranking-big-12s-logos
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Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.

Signature uniforms like the Sooners or Cowboys, unique hand signals or historic mascots like Bevo help separate one team from the next in the Big 12 with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.

However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 

Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.

And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newsstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our senior graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here is what is Art Director Matt Taliaferro has to say about the Big 12's football logos:

“The Big 12 football logos largely reflect the blue-collar toughness of its gridiron reputation: tough and no nonsense. And Texas easily leads the way on the Plains with a logo that is to college sports what the Nike Swoosh is to athletic wear. I don’t know if there’s a higher compliment a designer can bestow, so I’ll stop there.

“Oklahoma, West Virginia and Baylor go straight old school with strong symmetrical initials (always welcome as the safest collegiate default setting) while TCU shows Pitt over in the ACC how arched, serif’d type should be handled. OSU has successfully upgraded to a slanted, contemporary look that retains some classic block-letter charm. And while Kansas State’s wildcat graphic is nowhere near what Texas pulled off, it works — though there is an Arena Football League element that gives pause.

"Elsewhere, Iowa State continues to search for a mark that “fits” (is it the colors?), though they’re closer than ever; Kansas’ Looney Tunes magpie has tradition on its side, but little else. It’s time for a redesign in Lawrence that goes beyond “KU” or “Kansas” spelled out in Trajan; Lastly, Texas Tech is in worse shape than the Jayhawks, with stacked beveled “T’s” that reek of the 1980s’ obsession with 3-D. Take a lesson from the kids in Austin and College Station: Simplicity makes a logo easy on the eye as well as effective.”

Big 12 Official Football Logo Rankings

 

 TeamLogoThoughts
1.TexasArguably the best logo in college football, the Longhorn is classic, simple, unchanging but also unique and creative. There is nothing else to say.
2.Kansas StateAll of Kansas State's design work, color scheme and uniforms are underrated and the logo is the same. Aggressive, stylish but yet still fairly simple and clean.
3.OklahomaThere is no doubting what the interlocking "O" and "U" stand for, right? The smooth lines and lack of extras in the font make this a fantastic logo.
4.West VirginiaWhen it comes to creativity, this one gets high marks for the way the letters have been worked together without putting too much flair into the design. It also reminds fans of the WVU landscape as well.
5.Oklahoma StateThe letters are uniquely combined and the font is solid. The grey outline isn't the best and gives this logo a third unneeded color.
6.TCUThe block font will always be in style and the arched type works best with three letters rather than four or more. An underrated logo.
7.Iowa StateThe power "I" and arched State are very unique across all of college football. But nothing can be done about the color scheme.
8.Texas TechThe big-T, little-T combo is pretty cool but this logo is extremely busy. Beveled font and three different colors don't exude tradition.
9.BaylorNormally, block lettering is great but the Bears' font is just a little off and seems a bit antiquated. The color scheme isn't the best but is used well.
10.KansasThe cartoon Jayhawk is a signature logo but doesn't really create an intimidating image in any sense of the word. And why is it dancing?

2013 Big 12 Team Previews

BaylorOklahoma State
Iowa StateTCU
KansasTexas
Kansas StateTexas Tech
OklahomaWest Virginia

 

Teaser:
Who has the best football logo in the Big 12?
Post date: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-ranking-accs-logos
Body:

Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.

Signature uniforms like Clemson's alternate purples, picturesque campuses like Blacksburg, Va., or historic personalities like Bobby Bowden help separate one team from the next in the ACC with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.

However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 

Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.

And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newsstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here is what Athlon Sports Art Director Matt Taliaferro has to say about the ACC's football logos:

“If the Big Ten is the gold standard for university logos and the Pac-12 is a strange amalgamation of classy and gaudy, the ACC sits somewhere (not surprisingly) in the middle.

Overall, its members subscribe to a more traditional design ethos (with one glaring exception!). Clemson, UNC, Miami, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Duke get high marks for being simple, yet creative; a combination that equates to being effective. Virginia Tech, NC State and Wake leave some intangible 'zing' on the table, yet their logos — for better or worse — have stood the test of time. Either that or university principles have failed to invest in an upgrade, take your pick.

Those yet to be mentioned are a mixed bag. FSU’s logo owes more to the school’s gridiron success than for being a standout in its own right; Pitt’s arched, blocked mark should work, but somehow comes across as clumsy and a bit sloppy; BC has gone contemporary, and that’s fine if that’s your thing (in this case, it’s not mine).

And then there’s Maryland … oh boy, I could write a thesis on what’s going on in College Park. Let me first say that what the Terps are doing with everything from logomarks to uniforms screams 'fun, fun, fun!' While many scoff at the radical look of the football unis, I give Under Armour a ton of credit for zigging while others zag, being innovative, and successfully tying it all together in an exciting presentation. Trust me, one day we’ll look at this as groundbreaking stuff in the sports realm. As for the logo, the new-school block “M” takes a traditional approach and adds a touch of today with a simple flick of the wrist. The total “Maryland package” is well conceived, well executed and — this being the end-game of UM’s madness — makes me want to tune in to see what happens next. Bravo.”

ACC Official Football Logo Rankings

 TeamLogoThoughts
1.ClemsonThere are tons of Tigers, Wildcats and Bulldogs in college sports but none use their mascot quite like Clemson. The Tiger Paw print is synonymous with Clemson athletics and is utterly simple but still edgy and creative. 
2.North CarolinaThe interlocked N-C are as famous as any brand logo in the nation. There are simple touches of style — the font and black trim — that make this logo completely unmistakable.
3.MiamiIt's as simple as it gets but also brings loads of creativity and history. No other logo turns into a hand signal like "The U" and the two-tone color scheme and pattern is unique.
4.Florida StateThe traditional Seminole logo is as recognizable as any in college football. It is a busy look but the subtle "Florida State" isn't too obvious and the lines are very smooth. Frankly, the tradition/success of the football team makes the logo in this case.
5.PittsburghFew teams have a logo that is simply the program's name. With drop shadows and arched font, the Panthers sport one of the cooler looks.
6.Virginia TechVirginia Tech has one of the best combination letter logos in the nation. It is hard to make it work but the simplicity and color pattern combines two letters that fit together nicely.
7.VirginiaThe Cavalier sabres crossed beneath the seraphed "V" is equal parts classic and creative. Few logos can combine these aspects of graphic design.
8.MarylandThe Testudo logo is excellent and this "M" standing alone is unique and fairly good looking. But the added obsession with the state flag in Maryland drops this one down a peg or two.
9.Georgia TechThe Ramblin Wreck's interlocking "G-T" is a historic look that isn't really good or bad. It's got some creativity but not too much.
10.NC StateThe block "S" is a popular logo for many college football teams (Michigan State, Stanford) but NC State takes it a step further by adding the N-C. The black trim is a nice touch and the overall package has good symmetry.
11.DukeThe font is bizarre, that is for sure — and that is what keeps it from being one of the league's top logos. However, it is a signature logo that everyone knows all across the nation.
12.SyracuseOnce again, the block "S" is a classic look and feel and is difficult to screw up. Adding the arched team name above it, however, takes away from what could be a classic, simple logo.
13.Wake ForestThe ACC seems to have more two-letter logos than any other league and Wake Forest is one of them. However, unlike Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, Wake hasn't really found a creative way to connect its "W" and "F."
14.Boston CollegeThe cartoon eagle and italicized/overlapped BC just doesn't exude tradition and excellence like some other logos. The colors aren't bad but it's too busy to be considered a great logo.

Related College Football Content

ACC Predictions for 2013

12 Steps to Fix ACC Football
ACC All-Conference Team for 2013
ACC's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
College Football's 2013 All-America Team
Virginia Tech's Struggling Offense Gets a Makeover

Teaser:
Who has the best football logo in the ACC?
Post date: Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /nfl/nfls-worst-10-teams-expansion
Body:

The Seattle Seahawks own the 16-game NFL record for fewest points scored with 140 in 1992. Seattle also owns the all-time mark for fewest yards in a game when it totaled minus-7 yards against the L.A. Rams in 1979. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers set the modern NFL mark for worst point differential by being outscored by 287 points in 1976. The Baltimore Colts allowed an NFL-record 533 points back in 1981. The Houston Oilers claim the NFL mark for most interceptions thrown in a single season with 48 picks tossed in 1962. And the Philadelphia Eagles own the NFL’s single-season sacks allowed mark with 104 back in 1986.

Needless to say, there are many ways to measure NFL ineptitude. So while offensive and defensive statistical production (or lack thereof) is a huge factor in measuring pathetic-ness, wins and losses are still the most important way to evaluate any team.

Who are the worst NFL teams since expansion in 2002?

1. 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16)
Point Differential: -249 (268 PF, 517 PA)
Offense (total, scoring): 30th (268.3 ypg), 27th (16.8 ppg)
Defense (total, scoring): 32nd (404.4 ypg), 32nd (32.3 ppg)

No other team has ever gone winless in the modern NFL era (16-game regular season), which means the Detroit Lions must be considered the worst team due in large part to the massive "0" in the win column. Winning is all that really matters in sports and the Lions failed in truly epic fashion. Top it off with the worst defense of the expansion era, as this team fell just 16 points shy of setting an NFL record for points allowed (533). This team posted an NFL-worst four interceptions on defense, was next to last in sacks allowed (52.0) and finished 14th in the NFC in turnover differential. Dan Orlovsky led a five-man QB platoon that featured 18 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and a combined 71.3 QB rating.

2. 2009 St. Louis Rams (1-15)
Point Differential: -261 (175 PF, 436 PA)
Offense: 29th (279.4 ypg), 32nd (10.9 ppg)
Defense: 29th (372.8 ypg), 31st (27.3 ppg)

This team redefined the term offensive struggles as its 175 points were only 35 away from the NFL mark set by Seattle (140) in 1992. It is the all-time low for a Rams team that played 16 games while the 261-point differential is the worst in franchise history as well. Marc Bulger was the leading passer with 1,469 yards, 5 TDs and 6 INTs. The team itself finished with 12 total TD passes and 21 INTs and a collective passer rating of 64.0. The Rams were shutout twice and scored 10 or fewer points in nine games. St. Louis also finished 31st in the NFL in turnover margin (-13) and 30th in team sacks (25.0). Steven Jackson was the lone bright spot on a team that won only once — against Detroit. The Rams were one of only three teams since 2002 to win one or fewer games.

3. 2009 Detroit Lions (2-14)
Point Differential: -232 (262 PF, 494 PA)
Offense: 26th (299.0 ypg), 27th (16.4 ppg)
Defense: 32nd (392.1 ypg), 32nd (30.9 ppg)

While the '09 Rams set offensive football back two decades, the '09 Lions continued to show its lack of defensive prowess. The Rams did defeat the Lions (17-10) that year, but for the season, Detroit scored nearly 100 more points and won twice as many games (over Washington and Cleveland). This Lions team also finished dead last in turnover margin (-18) and No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford missed the final six games of the season. The Lions went 0-6 after Stafford was lost. 

4. 2007 Miami Dolphins (1-15)
Point Differential: -170 (267 PF, 437 PA)
Offense: 28th (287.5 ypg), 26th (16.7 ppg)
Defense: 23rd (342.2 ypg), 30th (27.3 ppg)

This version of the Fish lost the first 13 games of the season before winning their only game of the year over Baltimore. Cleo Lemon was 1-6 as the starter, John Beck went 0-4 and Trent Green was 0-5. The trio combined to throw 12 touchdown passes, 16 fewer than the opposition. Ronnie Brown led the team in rushing after playing only seven games (602 yards) while Jesse Chatman actually got the most carries (128). The only shot Cam Cameron has had to be a head coach in the NFL was his one-win season at the helm of the Dolphins.

5. 2008 St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Point Differential:
-233 (232 PF, 465 PA)
Offense: 27th (287.3 ypg), 31st (14.5 ppg)
Defense: 28th (371.9 ypg), 31st (29.1 ppg)

The 233-point scoring differential was a franchise record at the time and would still be the Rams' worst-ever scoring season had it not been for the 2009 team that came along the next year. This team lost the final 10 games of the year and scored only 19 offensive touchdowns all season (11 pass, 8 rush). In fact, this offense was the most scored upon OFFENSE in the NFL. That is right, the Rams offense had seven turnovers returned for touchdowns, a number that tied for the league lead.

6. 2011 St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Point Differential:
-214 (193, 407)
Offense: 31st, (283.6 ypg), 32nd (12.1 ppg)
Defense: 22nd (358.4 ypg), 26th (25.4 ppg)

If not for the 2008 and '09 teams, this team would have been the most outscored Rams team in history. The 193 total points scored are the second-worst in team history for one that played 16 games. Losing Sam Bradford to an injury after 10 games certainly didn't help the offense as the team finished with nine touchdown passes and a paltry 53.2 percent completion rate. St. Louis also led the league in sacks allowed with 55.0 while the rushing attack contributed only seven scores of its own. The 28.1 percent third-down rate was the worst ratio in the NFL as well.

7. 2010 Carolina Panthers (2-14)
Point Differential:
-212 (196 PF, 408 PA)
Offense: 32nd (12.3 ypg), 32nd (258.4 ppg)
Defense: 18th (335.9 ypg), 26th (25.5 ppg)

The offense did little to contribute to this football team whatsoever. Not only were the 196 total points scored the worst in the 17-year history of the franchise, but this season also was the only time the Panthers failed to reach 250 points. Jimmy Clausen (1-9), Matt Moore (1-4) and Brian St. Pierre (0-1) combined for a nasty 9:21 TD:INT ratio while finishing 30th in 3rd downs (30.4 percent) and 25th in turnover margin. To top it off, the 408 points allowed were third worst in franchise history on the defensive side of the ball.

8. 2011 Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
Point Differential: -212 (196 PF, 408 PA)
Offense: 32nd (12.3 ypg), 32nd (258.4 ppg)
Defense: 18th (335.9 ypg), 26th (25.5 ppg)

Obviously, without Peyton Manning, the Colts experienced its worst season since 1998, No. 18's rookie year. If not for a torrid 2-1 finish to the year, the Colts were in danger of challenging the Lions of 2008. In the first 13 losses, Indy allowed less than 23 points only one time. The total points scored, which included only 14 total touchdown passes (or 12 less than Manning's career low), and point differential were the worst numbers for the Colts since the 1993 season. The top ball carrier, Donald Brown, led the team in rushing despite making just two starts all year (645 yards).

9. 2004 San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Point Differential:
-193 (259, 452)
Offense: 26th (286.6 ypg), 30th (16.2 ppg)
Defense: 24th (342.6 ypg), 32nd (28.3 ppg) 

San Francisco was two games worse than every other team in the NFL that year, and, technically, the 49ers were winless in regulation as both wins came in overtime. The Niners were 30th in the NFL in points scored and dead last in points allowed while finishing 31st in turnover margin (-19). Tim Rattay (1-8) and Ken Dorsey (1-6) were equally ineffective, throwing for 16 touchdowns against 21 interceptions and completing only 57.9 percent of their passes. The ground game was led by the great Kevan Barlow, who rushed for 822 yards at 3.4 yards per clip. The Niners finished 30th in the NFL in rushing at just over 90 yards per game. The 452 points allowed were one point shy of the franchise record set in 1999 (453) and the 193-point differential was an organizational record.

10. 2005 Houston Texans (2-14)
Point Differential: -171 (260, 431)
Offense: 30th (253.3 ypg), 26th (16.3 ppg)
Defense: 31st (364.0 ypg), 32nd (26.9 ppg)

There were some bad Texans team and David Carr paid a big price. After getting sacked a league-worst 76 times as a rookie, Houston once again led the league in sacks allowed in 2005 with 68. This franchise will be playing in just its 12th season this fall, but the '05 team set the benchmark for fewest wins, points allowed and point differential, all of which led to the firing of Dom Capers. Carr started every game and averaged a pathetic 155.5 yards passing per game, threw only 14 touchdowns to go with 11 interceptions and fumbled 17 times.

The...Worst of the Rest?

2012 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
This team was outscored by nearly 200 points (minus-189), yet beat the Tennessee Titans as well as a shocking early season upset of the Colts. This team ranked 29th in total offense and 30th in total defense in 2012.

2004 Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Began 3-3 before losing nine straight in which they scored more than 15 points only one time. Trailed only the Niners for worst record. The offense was led by Jeff Garcia for 10 games, Luke McCown for four and Kelly Holcombe for two.

2002 Houston Texans (4-12)
The lowest scoring team in franchise history (213 pts) finished last in total offense as well as sacks allowed with 76. The first year of the Texans was salvaged by two strange wins over playoff teams (NYG, PIT) and is the only thing keeping this team out of the top ten.

2011 Tampa Bay Bucs (4-12)
The Bucs led the league in turnovers (40) and posted the worst turnover margin (-16) in 2011. After starting 4-2, Tampa Bay crumbled down the stretch with 10 straight losses and set a franchise mark with 494 points allowed (keep in mind, that is a BUCCANEERS franchise record).

2008 Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
This team couldn't get off the field in 2008 as it was the worst 3rd down team in the league (47.4 percent) and dead last in sacks (10). It finished 31st in total defense and the 440 points allowed and -149-point differential are Chiefs single-season records.

2006 Oakland Raiders (2-14)
The Silver and Black defense was good enough to keep them out of the top ten, but the offense was nearly historic in its struggles. The 168 points scored were 28 away from the all-time NFL mark, these Raiders finished dead last in sacks allowed (72), turnover margin (-20) and both scoring and total offense. Oakland was also 31st in the league with 23 interceptions thrown.

Teaser:
Who are the most inept, least-productive NFL football teams since 2002?
Post date: Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-ranking-pac-12s-logos
Body:

Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.

Signature uniforms like the Bruins or Trojans of Los Angeles, picturesque landscapes in Seattle and the Bay Area or historic mascots like Colorado's Ralphie help separate one team from the next in the Pac-1w2 with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.

However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 

Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.

And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our senior graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here is what is Art Director Matt Taliaferro has to say about the Pac-12's football logos:

"The Pac-12 is filled with university logos that run the gamut of old-school class to (being brutally honest) new-school trash — with a little of everything in between. The traditional “blocks” of the conference — Stanford, USC, Washington … and OK, I’ll throw Oregon in there — are clean, bold and sure. Arizona, Colorado and Utah bring a graphic touch to this same concept, and thus, are effective (especially Colorado). Even UCLA, with its classic script — used in a way that shouldn’t work, but does — is a standout. The one “classic” logo that could use a tweak or two resides in Pullman, where WSU’s logo always struck me as a reach as amalgams are concerned.

"Then comes the trendy kids in the class that were wearing boot-cuts last month but are in skinny jeans now. Cal and Oregon State recently jumped on the slick, cartoon-art that will be seen as “faddish” within a decade, while Arizona State’s new trident logo brings an interesting, if not odd, update to the former Sun Smurf character. And then there’s Oregon State. Good God, where to begin? That aero-beaver will be changed quicker than they swap out unis down the road in Eugene."
 

Pac-12 Official Football Logo Rankings

 

 SchoolLogoThoughts
1.WashingtonSimple, tasteful, unchanging and very obvious. This emblem with its signature gold trim is one of the best in the nation and leaves little doubt as to what it represents.
2.UCLAThe script "UCLA" is one of the most well-known logos in all of sports much less college football. And the way the word Bruins is incorporated makes it one of the most informative in the nation while still being fairly simple.
3.StanfordMichigan State and NC State know exactly what the smart kids from Palo Alto were thinking when this logo was created. It's classic and simple with a touch of style in the stroked white/red trim. Stanford boasts one of the best brand logos in the nation.
4.ColoradoThe Buffs logo balances all of the key aspects to a company logo. It's simple and classic but with just enough style and flair while also being incredibly unique. 
5.OregonIt doesn't get any simpler than the Oregon "O." There is some subtle style to the font that makes it cooler than the average "O." The clean classic look works but some yellow trim might make it the best in the league.  
6.USCThe interlocking "S-C" is as famous as any logo in the nation and would likely be the best in league if not for the floating "Trojans." The team nickname doesn't look bad but isn't needed for a major brand like USC.
7.ArizonaIt's a clean, classic logo that hasn't needed upgrading for years. The use of two fonts is a bit odd but the two-tone, two-layered "A" leaves little doubt as to what this logo represents.
8.Washington StateAnyone who has watched College Gameday knows about this logo. It is creative in an effort to combine the W-S-U with the Cougar head emblem. It is busy and complicated but very solid nonetheless.
9.UtahThe standard block U is great and the school did an excellent job to incorporate Ute Nation into the look. However, the circle has an outdated helmet feel to it. An upgrade could make this pop.
10.CalCal updated their football logo this off-season and it has been met with mixed reviews. The traditional script "Cal" was a smooth look that had been around for some time. The new Bear looks much edgier and more aggressive. Which do you prefer?
11.Arizona StateThe pitchfork by itself is pretty solid looking with some edgy style. And the ASU is clean and classic. But together it feels a bit forced and busy. 
12.Oregon StateThe Beavers updated their look recently with a new edgier looking logo. And, frankly, they did a good job. This one is smoother and streamlined and is more aggressive. It's tough to make a beaver look mean, however.

 

2013 Pac-12 Team Previews

NorthSouth
CaliforniaArizona
OregonArizona State
Oregon StateColorado
StanfordUCLA
WashingtonUSC
Washington StateUtah


Related College Football Content

Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
Pac-12 2013 All-Conference Team
College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013
Ranking the Pac-12 Stadiums for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

Teaser:
College Football 2013: Ranking the Pac-12's Logos
Post date: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/has-running-back-become-troubled-position
Body:

Johnny Manziel was arrested last spring and has been a bit of a knucklehead ever since arriving in College Station. Zach Mettenberger was kicked off the Georgia Bulldogs for two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. Aaron Hernandez and Jerramy Stevens gave the tight end position a horrendously bad name both in college and the NFL.

But it appears the running back position has taken over as the dumbest position on the college gridiron and it seems to have culminated this summer.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde has been dismissed from the team stemming from an early morning arrest in Bloomington, Ind. Hyde scored 17 touchdowns last year and is now facing “preliminary charges of battery resulting in bodily injury.” He has cost himself a chance to play for a BCS National Championship and has hurt Ohio State's title hopes.

Hyde is the just the latest in what has become a long and distinguished list of big-time running backs to find themselves in off-the-field trouble over the past few seasons. I am talking about four-and five-star elite recruits who had the chance to live a dream at elite blueblood universities.

No, this obviously doesn’t mean that every single ball carrier in the world is an idiot. Trent Richardson, Montee Ball, Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy, De'Anthony Thomas and plenty of other big-time recruits have stayed focused, been extremely productive and helped their teams win big. And no, it doesn’t mean that other positions don’t act like morons too (see Mettenberger). So is this summer a sign of a developing trend or just a string of random unconnected incidents? You be the judge.

(Signing class in parenthesis)

Jeremy Hill, LSU (2011)
The four-star prospect from Baton Rouge is currently suspended indefinitely after his “legal entanglement” stemming from a simple battery charge this April. However, Hill was on probation at the time of the arrest after an illicit relationship with a minor when he was 18 years old. He rushed for 755 yards and 12 touchdowns last year and was poised to push T.J. Yeldon and Todd Gurley as the best back in the SEC this fall.

Michael Dyer, Auburn (2010)
The former five-star recruit was the No. 2 tailback in the nation coming out of the 2010 class. He signed with Auburn and played a huge roll on the unbeaten 2010 BCS National Champions. After a long list of arrests, traffic incidents, failed drug tests and gun issues, Dyer is still looking for a place to play ball.

Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona (2011)
Not only was Carey a big-time, four-star recruit back in 2011 but he led the nation in rushing a year ago. He also faced domestic abuse charges (which have since been dropped) and was kicked out of a basketball game last season. At least there is still time for this one.

Wes Brown, Maryland (2012)
The in-state prospect was one of the most highly-touted players to ever sign with the Terrapins. But his car was allegedly involved with a non-fatal shooting and he was then arrested for attempting to punch a police officer, fleeing from police and illegal wire-tapping this summer. Avon Barksdale would be proud.

Michael Holmes, Virginia Tech (2011)
Holmes wasn’t an elite recruit — a three-star prospect from Harrisonburg, Va. — but was expected to compete for starting time this fall for one of the ACC’s most prominent football programs. He was kicked off the team last month after being found guilty of misdemeanor assault.

Isaiah Crowell, Georgia (2011)
The local product was a four-star elite recruit who proved to be an excellent running back as a freshman (850 yards). But he also faced three weapons charges, including two felonies. He was dismissed from the team and landed at Alabama State.

Bryce Brown, Tennessee (2009)
Brown was the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation in 2009 and his saga is a well-known one. His recruitment was a joke as one seedy handler and leeches pushed and pulled him in every direction. After 460 yards rushing in his first season and a public spat with coach Derek Dooley, Brown returned home to Kansas State. He rushed for 16 yards at KSU before leaving early for the NFL.

Dillon Baxter, USC (2010)
The No. 1-rated, five-star all-purpose star signed with USC and rushed for 258 yards and six scores as a freshman. He was then ruled ineligible for accepting improper benefits and was later kicked off the Trojans roster. He then enrolled at San Diego State but was dismissed from his second team before ever playing a down last February.

Washaun Ealey, Georgia (2009)
After two solid but uninspiring seasons with Georgia, the former four-star recruit was dismissed from the team after multiple suspensions and one hit-and-run incident. He landed at Jacksonville State and was promptly arrested again before the 2012 season opener.

Jovon Robinson, Auburn (2012)
The four-star from Memphis enrolled early at Auburn last spring before the story broke about a potential grade-changing scandal. Robinson landed at Georgia Military College and is looking to get back into SEC football.

Marcus Coker, Iowa (2010)
A four-star prospect from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, Coker starred as a freshman and a sophomore for the Hawkeyes. He was then suspended for disciplinary reasons prior to the bowl game in 2011 and never played a down for Iowa again.

 

Teaser:
It seems like the most troubled position on the football field has become the running back.
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 17:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-2013-ranking-big-tens-logos
Body:

Brand image is a massive part of modern 21st century business and college football is big business.

Signature uniforms like Michigan’s winged helmet, picturesque monuments like The Horseshow in Columbus or historic personalities like Barry Alvarez help separate one team from the next in the Big Ten with clarity. Fans identify with these brand images and it helps build value — or brand equity — for every program in the nation.

However, official school logos have been and will always be the simplest and most important way for a college program to classify and separate itself from its peers. Some change dramatically over time while others are literally set in stone for decades. Some are edgy, exciting and extremely busy while others are clean, classic and simple. 

Every college football program in the nation has an official logo — and some are better than others — and the goal is to be the most recognizable brand in the nation.

And since Athlon Sports has been designing the best looking magazines on newstands for the better part of half a century, we'd thought we'd turn our graphic design guru loose on college football's logos. Here is what Athlon Sports Art Director Matt Taliaferro has to say about the Big Ten's football logos:

"When it comes to clean, classy and delivering a no-frills branding blow, the Big Ten leaves all other conferences in a Woody Hayes-style cloud of dust. You won’t find any cartoonish gunslingers (looking at you, New Mexico State) or streamlined, over-Illustrator’d beavers (guilty as charged, Oregon State) — and that’s the way it should be for a conference whose institutions are embedded in the Heartland.

"The mark of a great logo is that it stands the test of time; and let’s be honest, you won’t catch Michigan re-tooling the block ‘M’ any time soon because its appearance is timeless. Such is the case with the majority of the Big Ten schools’ logos, where simple yet effective typography reigns and even those who veer into the graphics realm have effectively cut away the fat (although you’re treading on thin ice, Northwestern). Even Purdue’s contemporary “slanted P” fits dexterously with the more traditional “straight block” M’s, N’s, I‘s and U’s.

"The SEC may rule the gridiron and the ACC can hoop, but when it comes to traditional school logos, the Big Ten is the gold standard."

 

Big Ten Official Football Logo Rankings

 

 SchoolLogoThoughts
1.Michigan StateIt's clean, classic, gets the point across and is recognizable. It has some fierce edginess to it, the color scheme is perfect and there is no doubt it represents a Spartan.
2.Penn StateHistorically speaking, few logos are as traditional as the Nittany Lions oval. The smooth looking Lions head has great lines and appears to be hunting... Wolverines or Buckeyes? Few logos combine classy and aggresive like PSU.
3.NebraskaAgain, simple and straight forward gets the point across. The colors and subtle trim are great and it appears that the Huskers have a monopoly on this letter. There is no doubting what this logo refers to.
4.MichiganIt doesn't get any more simple that the block "M" of Michigan. The font is excellent but it could use some blue trim or accents.
5.IowaIt also comes in yellow but the black is more stylish. While maintaining a simple and historic look, the Hawkeye emblen also brings some creativity. In fact, I've no idea what an actual Hawkeye looks like.
6.Ohio StateNormally, a name in a logo doesn't work, but the "S" is perfectly designed into the "O" and it works. It makes it busier than the cleaner, more classic logos above. The colors and trim are second to none.
7.MinnesotaThere is much more style to this "M" as compared to Michigan's but it's also busier. The seraphs are cool and the trim is solid. An underrated logo.
8.IndianaThe historic brand of Hoosiers athletics is well known. The intersecting, symmetrical "IU" is simple and clean with the added touch of block seraphs.
9.PurdueThe black and gold logo is the only one in the league that appears to be italicized. The overall wide shape of the letter gives it some style as well.
10.WisconsinLet's face it, the floating "W" isn't the best Wisconsin logo but it is synonymous with the only successful era of Badgers football. The drop shadow is cool but only adds to the cartoonish feel.
11.IllinoisThe "I" by itself is nice and the "Illinois" can stand alone — and both look good that way. Together, it seems forced and MAC-ish.
12.NorthwesternThe purple "N" has plenty of things going on around it. Not only is the font bizarre but the Nickelodeon wildcat characture isn't intimidating anyone.

 

 

Related College Football Content

2013 Big Ten Predictions
2013 Big Ten All-Conference Team
Big Ten's Top 2013 Heisman Contenders
College Football's Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
College Football's 2013 All-Freshman Team
2013 All-America Team

Teaser:
Who has the best football logo in the Big Ten?
Post date: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-nations-best-traditions
Body:

There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.


Last but certainly not least, are the college traditions.


Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. From Death Valley in Baton Rouge to Sailgating on Lake Washington in Seattle and every college town in between, there is no other sport in the nation like college football.


Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites (in the sake of fairness, no rivalry "game" is included except for one...)

 

1. Army-Navy

If there is one sporting event every person — not every fan, but every human — should attend, it would be the annual meeting of the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy. It has been played 113 times since 1890 and Navy leads the all-time series 59-47-7. This game stands above all games in sports and there are no words to describe how much more is on the line than a simply a football game.

 

2. Dotting the I

The culmination of "Script Ohio" during the pre-game festivities at Ohio State is a sight to behold. Once the word is spelled out by the marching band, the celebration comes to an end when one lucky sousaphone player dots the “I.” The crowd erupts and the lucky “dotter” puts on quite the show en route to their sacred position.

 

3. 12th Man


Born in January 1922, the phrase and tradition stemmed from one particular game with the nation’s top team at the time, Centre College. Because the team was so battered and injured, head coach Dana Bible had to call for E. King Gill, a basketball player at the time, from the stands to join the team. Texas A&M went on to win 22-14 and although Gill never made it into the game, he was the last and only man standing on the sideline. He answered the call to help his team and no one has ever forgotten about it.

 

4. Death Valley, La.


There is no singular way to describe a night home game in Tiger Stadium. The variety and flavor of an LSU tailgate is second to none with a wide-ranging menu from some of the best chefs in college football. And the stadium is arguably the loudest in the nation, especially when the Bayou Bengal fans have had all day to marinate. Who else makes the visiting team run out of the tunnel in the face of a 600-pound man-eater named "Mike"?

 

5. Song Girls

What isn’t to like about arguably the most famous cheerleading squad in college football? The USC Song Girls' squad was first formed in 1967 when seven students began the tradition in the L.A. Coliseum. Now the size of the team has grown to 12 but the trademark white sweaters and skirts haven’t changed in more than four decades. Few cheerleading squads in the nation have the talent pool to pull from like Southern California.

 

6. Howard's Rock and The Hill

Legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard was given a massive rock from Death Valley, Calif., back in the early 1960s. It sat in Howard's office for years until IPTAY executive director Gene Willimon placed it atop a pedestal in 1966 at the top of the east end zone on the "hill" that the team runs down before entering Memorial Stadium each home game — the legend says Howard actually asked Willimon to throw the rock away. The next year, the team started rubbing the rock for good luck in the season opener and have been doing it ever since. The crowd comes to a rolling boil before each game while the Tigers players gather atop the hill waiting for the word to charge the gridiron. Many have called it the most exciting 25 seconds in sports — and this guy proves it.

 

7. The Rose Bowl
Not many football teams play 45 minutes from campus, so this venue is just as much college football's as it is the UCLA Bruins. But not many teams play in the most historic venue in the nation. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena might be the most prestigious venue in all of college football. The connection Pac-12 and Big Ten fans have tied directly to "The Granddaddy of them all" — the sports' oldest bowl game — is virtually undefinable.

 

8. The Grove

It just might be the best place on Earth. This beautiful collection of oak, elm and magnolia trees surrounds a 10-acre plot adjacent to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. The party in The Grove has been going on since football began at Ole Miss, but became the Holy Grail of Tailgating by the 1950s. The gorgeous, um, scenery is second to none and the setting is historic. Everyone is undefeated in The Grove.

 

9. Beaver Stadium White Out
Black outs and blue outs and red outs are cool. But nothing makes a crowd standout like a white out. And when white is one of your primary colors and 110,000 people agree to wear the same color, the result is a stunning visual experience unlike any other in sports. Very few spectators rooting for Penn State will fail to comply with the dress code and the sheer size of the crowd is as intimidating as any in the nation. While other colors actually make the crowd look sparser, a good white out will make your crowd look much bigger.

 

10. War Eagle Flight

Possibly the best pregame, live mascot ritual in all of college football, Auburn’s Golden Eagle “Nova” performs the War Eagle Flight down through the rabid home crowd and onto its perch. Nova is officially the eighth such bird to grace Jordan-Hare Stadium as War Eagle I is said to have started the timeless tradition in 1892.

 

11. The Blackshirts
Nebraska has had a long-standing tradition of rewarding its defensive players for earning a starting spot. Since the 1960s, the starting 11, and maybe a few lucky other contributors on defense for the Big Red have donned black practice jerseys with pride. Midway through 2007, the defensive players and coaches voted to give up the uniforms due to subpar performance. They earned them back roughly a month later. The Cornhuskers also have a handful of other outstanding traditions, including the release of red balloons after their first score, and the tunnel walk as Nebraska gets ready to enter the field.

 

12. Sooner Schooner

White ponies named Boomer and Sooner pull the famous replica Conestoga wagon onto the field at every Oklahoma home game. It is managed and steered by the RUF/NEKS, the university’s all-male spirit squad. Every time the Sooners score, the RUF/NEKS drive the Schooner out onto the field in a large arc that tops out near mid-field. The Sooner Schooner debuted in 1964 and officially became the school’s mascot in 1980.

 

13. Ralphie’s Run
One of the best live mascots in college football, Ralphie the Buffalo makes two big horseshoe runs around Colorado’s Folsom Field at the start of each half of each home game. It takes five “Ralphie Handlers” to make the sprint possible as she — yes, Ralphie is a girl — can reach upwards of 25 miles per hour if not restrained. The tradition began in 1934 when students used a bison as their mascot until Ralphie I made her debut in '66 when she was donated to the university by a student’s father.

 

14. South Bend, Ind.
There is no other way to describe a football game at Notre Dame Stadium than simply "South Bend." Touchdown Jesus, The Grotto, historic rivals and the College Football Hall of Fame are just the headliners. There are just a handful of fan bases, college towns, rivalry games and traditions that can match the experience in South Bend. It's a cathedral of college football — almost literally.

 

15. The LSJUMB
The tall tales about the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, or LSJUMB, are endless and mostly hysterical. It was founded in 1893 and has been picking on opposing teams, fans, coaches as well as societal injustices, with hilarious political satire and finely tuned musical prowess ever since. This is easily the most entertaining band website in history (trust me, check it out) and the LSJUMB’s latest victim was the Wisconsin Badgers. The “Ode to Cheese” during last year’s Rose Bowl tested the sense of humor of many frigid Madison natives and upset many boring media members.

 

16. Toomer’s Corner

May it rest in peace… for now. The Harvey Updyke saga is one of the most bizarre tales of fandom gone wrong in history. At the corner of Magnolia Avenue and College Street in front of 130-year-old Toomer’s Drug store, Auburn fans have rolled the two massive southern live oaks for roughly six decades. While those trees have been poisoned and subsequently cut down, there is no reason to believe that those in charge on The Plains won’t rebuild some sort of replacement that will allow fans to start a new tradition.

 

17. Chief Osceola and Renegade

The planting of the spear at Doak Campbell Stadium is one of college football's finest traditions. Chief Osceola and his Appaloosa horse Renegade are the official symbols of the Florida State Seminoles, and they both ride out to midfield before each home game to slam a burning spear into the 50-yard line logo. With the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Osceola has been making this pre-game journey since 1978.

 

18. The Fifth Quarter
Win by 50 or lose by 50, home or away, any and all Wisconsin Badger supporter will celebrate the Fifth Quarter. Thousands of fans will remain in their seats working their way closer to the field until well after the game. The marching band will put on an impromptu show unlike any other, complete with the alma mater "Varsity," the "Beer Barrel Polka" and the "Bud Song." When you say Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.

19. Midnight Yell 
Originally an impromptu post-dinner get-together to “learn heartily the old time pep,” Midnight Yell Practice at Texas A&M didn’t officially start until 1931. Today, the tradition is held on Friday nights before home games at Kyle Field and Thursday before road games at The Arches. It is a fairly self-explanatory tradition as fans and cadets gather to practice cheering for the Aggies — and making out some too.

 

20. Touching the Banner
The Michigan Wolverines take the field in style at every home game by running out of the oddly placed (midfield) team tunnel. The players pour onto the field and underneath a historic and massive banner that reads “Go Blue: M Club Supports You.” The band plays "The Victors" and each player jumps to slap the banner as he enters the gridiron. The tradition began way back in 1962.

 

21. Sailgating
Each fall Saturday in Seattle, Husky Harbor on Lake Washington is filled with a University of Washington fan flotilla. Fans show up in every possible type of floating vessel and set up shop in the shadows of Husky Stadium to sailgate for the big U of W contest to come later in the day. This practice has been going on since shortly after the stadium opened in 1920 and is often imitated, but rarely duplicated. With the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west, the crystal-clear blue water provides one of the most picturesque tailgating settings in the nation. Don't believe us, check out this New York Times slideshow.

 

22. The Hokie Slab and "Enter Sandman"

There is little history or tradition with the "Enter Sandman" entrance theme for the Virginia Tech Hokies. In 2000 after playing the BCS title game the year before, Virginia Tech put up a massive new video screen and outsourced the pre-game video production. However, the powers that be in Blacksburg had to pick the song and, clearly, they chose wisely. Besides the signature entrance music, the players also gather in a long tunnel from the lockers to the field and slap a slab of signature Hokie Stone before emerging into a frenzied Lane Stadium.

 

23. Tightwad Hill
Officially known as Charter Hill, Tightwad rises to the east of Cal’s Memorial Stadium and was formed from the dirt that was excavated during stadium construction. It offers a unique view of the action on the field should a game sellout or poor college students don’t feel like paying for tickets. Fans have been attending games on this hill since 1924 and most take the opportunity to enjoy many recreational activities high in the trees of Tightwad Hill (sorry, couldn’t resist).

 

24. War Chant/The Chomp
There are various historical takes on when, where and how the Florida State tradition began, but many point to a big game against Auburn in 1984. The band played the traditional cheer but the student section continued chanting after the band finished and it stuck. By the next season, it was a stadium-wide phenomenon that birthed the now-historic tomahawk chop. The Gator Chomp stemmed from Mississippi State’s band’s version of "Jaws" in 1981, some Florida band members modified the tune slightly and added the famous vertical chomping motion. It eventually spread across the stadium and is now synonymous with Gators football.

 

25. "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk
"
It may not have a sexy beginning — the science club came up with the rousing cheer in 1886 — but it might be the most famous cheer in all of college sports. The phrase “Rock Chalk” stems from chalk rock, which is a type of limestone prevalent in middle and western parts of Kansas.

 

Best of the Rest:

Uga

Nine different English Bulldogs have stood on the Georgia sideline dating back to 1956 with Uga I. However, this pup gets the royal treatment between the hedges, residing in his own air-conditioned dog house (situated on top of an ice bag most of the time). The marble mausoleum near the entrance of the Southwest corner of Sanford Stadium is the resting place for Ugas of yesteryear.

Cougars' Gameday Flag
Leave it to message boards to come up with stuff like flying a Washington State Cougars flag on College Gameday’s TV set every weekend for nearly a decade. No, it doesn’t always happen in the Pac-12 (obviously) but the Cougars' flag has made an appearance on the extremely popular Saturday morning program every week since the Red River Shootout on October 3, 2003 — which is more than 131 consecutive shows.

"Rocky Top
"
It might be the most recognizable fight song in the nation. Yes, visiting teams and fans get tired of the jingle after the 30th or 40th rendition on any given Saturday but Big Orange Nation never tires of the Felice and Boudleaux Bryant song written back in 1967.

"Jump Around"
The student section at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium between the third and fourth quarters is a rare sight. The well-known number by House of Pain hits the speakers and the entire section bounces up and down for the entire song. Not only do opposing fans and players get involved in the jumping, but Camp Randall Stadium also has been known to shake on occasion. It’s a sight to behold

The Ramblin' Wreck

When that 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe comes peeling across Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field, the Yellow Jackets faithful go berserk. Bearing the same name as the student body population, The Ramblin' Wreck has been leading the football team into home games since 1961. With cheerleaders draped all over the sides and crisp, whitewall tires, the car is not only an amazing college football tradition but also a work of art.

The Smoke Tunnel

Using plumes of billowing smoke isn't some new or unique tradition reserved for Miami alone. However, the U is one of the originals, as the Hurricanes have been charging the field before home games through a cloud of smoke since the 1950s. Led by Sebastian the Ibis, powerhouse teams in South Florida have been demoralizing opponents by simply running out onto the field.

Woo Pig Sooie
There isn’t a clear story as to when or how this one came about but since at least the 1920s, Arkansas fans have been Calling the Hogs. The high-pitched chant echoes throughout the hills of Arkansas over and over and over again every Saturday.

The Mountaineer
The most loved fixture at West Virginia sporting events, the Mountaineer first showed up in 1936. Each year The Mountaineer is selected by “The Mountain,” the school’s prestigious senior honorary. The customary brown leather outfit is custom tailored each year and bushy beards are strongly encouraged.

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Teaser:
From coast to coast, college football is America's most tradition-rich sport.
Post date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-big-12s-best-traditions
Body:

There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.

Last but certainly not least, are the college games' traditions. Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a deeper connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. The Big 12 itself isn't all that old or historic in the grand scheme of college conferences. However, the teams themselves have deeply entrenched game day traditions and on campus sights.

Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites:

Red River Shootout (Rivalry)
The Texas Fair is a monstrosity and the largest state fair in the country is highlighted by the annual Red River Shootout. It’s one of the nation’s best rivalry games and features two fan bases that complete despise one another. The Cotton Bowl is split down the middle at the 50-yard line with Crimson and Cream on one side and Burnt Orange on the other, daring fans to cross over. This deep-fried football game has been played 107 times dating back to 1900.

Sooner Schooner
White ponies named Boomer and Sooner pull the famous replica Conestoga wagon onto the field at every Oklahoma home game. It is managed and steered by the RUF/NEKS, the university’s all-male spirit squad. Every time the Sooners score, the RUF/NEKS drive the Schooner out onto the field in a large arc that tops out near mid-field. The Sooner Schooner debuted in 1964 and officially became the school’s mascot in 1980.

Baylor Freshman Line
Before each home game at Baylor all new students are asked to gather at one end of Floyd Casey Stadium and form a human tunnel to welcome the team. With flags in hand, the Baylor Line leads the entire freshman class out of the tunnel and onto the field all the way to the opposite end zone. This pre-game ritual began in 1970.

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk
It may not have a sexy beginning — the science club came up with the rousing cheer in 1886 — but it might be the most famous cheer in all of college sports. The phrase “Rock Chalk” stems from chalk rock, which is a type of limestone prevalent in middle and western parts of Kansas.

Hand Signals
Texas has the most well-known hand gesture with their signature “Hook ‘Em Horns.” But the Baylor Bears have “Sic ‘Em,” Texas Tech has the “Guns Up” and TCU has the “Horned Frog.” All of which can be seen in abundance all over campus and at games on Saturdays.

The Frog Horn
ESPN once dubbed this trademark as “the most unique in all of college football.” It’s a mix between a locomotive and a trailer, as the 3,000-pound flashing mechanical horn churns out clouds of white smoke and 100-decibel horn blasts. It is used after each TCU score at homes games.
The Mountaineer
The most loved fixture at WVU sporting events, the Mountaineer first showed up in 1936. Each year The Mountaineer is selected by “The Mountain,” the school’s prestigious senior honorary. The customary brown leather outfit is custom tailored each year and bushy beards are strongly encouraged.

Best of the Rest:

"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
John Denver was adopted into WVU lore following the release of the family 1971 hit single. He was on hand to dedicate Mountaineer Field in 1980 and the song has become a game day anthem in Morgantown.

Waving the Wheat
The wave is a popular sports cheer but Kansas puts a little twist on it by slowly waving their outstretched arms back and forth over their heads simulating wheat in the wind.

Oklahoma State’s Homecoming
Known as “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration,” the Pokes take this fairly normal celebration to a new level. The Walkaround highlights the weekend’s action.

Iowa State’s Cannon
The Cyclones fire off their cannon after every Cyclone touchdown or field goal. It is operated by the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.

Will Rogers and Soapsuds
The wrapping of the statue of Will Rogers and Soapsuds, by the Saddle Tramps, is a prominent tradition at Texas Tech.

Bevo
Texas’ massive and signature Longhorn mascot stands calmly in the end zone during each and every Texas home game.

"The Wabash Cannonball"
The famous American folk song about a fictitious train is the unofficial second fight song of the Kansas State Wildcats.

Bullet and the Spirit Rider
Since 1984, the Spirit Rider and Bullet, who has his own stall in the West End Zone at Boone Pickens Stadium, leads the Spirit Walk, the Oklahoma State marching band and rides to the 30-yard line after each TD.

"The Eyes of Texas"
At the end of every Texas game — win, lose or draw — the entire crowd and team sing "The Eyes of Texas" in unison before departing the stadium.

Waving Song
A modified version of “In Old New York” written by H.G. Seldy Seldombridge, "The Waving Song"  has been an Okie State tradition since the early 1940s. OSU fans rise and wave one arm rhythmically after each score.

Secret Willie Wildcat
The student mascot for the Kansas State Wildcats is selected by the cheerleading coach but, traditionally, the identity of the student inside the costume is kept a secret.

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Teaser:
From hand signal to the Red River Shootout, the Big 12 has plenty of historic traditions.
Post date: Monday, July 15, 2013 - 07:17
Path: /college-football/college-football-secs-best-traditions
Body:

There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.

Last but certainly not least, are the college games' traditions. Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a deeper connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. The SEC has dominated all aspects of college football from the national headlines to attendance totals and the BCS National Championship Game. So it should come as no surprise that it dominates in the historic traditions department as well.

Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites:

12th Man
Born in January 1922, the phrase and tradition stemmed from one particular game with the nation’s top team at the time, Centre College. Because the team was so battered and injured, head coach Dana Bible had to call for E. King Gill, a basketball player at the time, from the stands to join the team. Texas A&M went on to win 22-14 and although Gill never made it into the game, he was the last and only man standing on the sideline. He answered the call to help his team and no one has ever forgotten about it.

The Grove
It just might be the best place on Earth. This beautiful collection of oak, elm and magnolia trees surrounds a 10-acre plot adjacent to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. The party in The Grove has been going on since football began at Ole Miss, but became the Holy Grail of Tailgating by the 1950s. The gorgeous, um, scenery is second to none and the setting is historic. Everyone is undefeated in The Grove.

Death Valley, La.
There is no singular way to describe a night home game in Tiger Stadium. The variety and flavor of an LSU tailgate is second to none with a wide-ranging menu from some of the best chefs in college football. And the stadium is arguably the loudest in the nation, especially when the Bayou Bengal fans have had all day to marinate.

Toomer’s Corner
May it rest in peace… for now. The Harvey Updyke saga is one of the most bizarre tales of fandom gone wrong in history. At the corner of Magnolia Avenue and College Street in front of 130-year-old Toomer’s Drug store, Auburn fans have rolled the two massive southern live oaks for roughly six decades. While those trees have been poisoned and subsequently cut down, there is no reason to believe that those in charge on The Plains won’t rebuild some sort of replacement that will allow fans to start a new tradition.

Cockaboose Railroad
Since 1990, 22 immovable cabooses have sat dormant on an unused railroad track behind the south end of Williams-Brice Stadium. Each caboose is privately owned and features running water, restrooms, working television, air condition and heat. The set-up offers a perfect way to tailgate in style before each Gamecocks home game and provides a cool resting spot afterwards while traffic clears out.

Vol Navy
It isn’t nearly as picturesque as Sailgating on Lake Washington, but Tennessee has its own fan flotilla every Saturday. The tradition of floating to the game instead of driving actually began when former broadcaster George Mooney didn’t want to sit in traffic and instead traveled by boat down the Tennessee River to Neyland Stadium.

Chants/Cheers:

Midnight Yell
Originally an impromptu post-dinner get-together to “learn heartily the old time pep,” Midnight Yell Practice at Texas A&M didn’t officially start until 1931. Today, the tradition is held on Friday nights before home games at Kyle Field and Thursday before road games at The Arches. It is a fairly self-explanatory tradition as fans and cadets gather to practice cheering for the Aggies — and making out some too.

Rocky Top
It might be the most recognizable fight song in the nation. Yes, visiting teams and fans get tired of the jingle after the 30th or 40th rendition on any given Saturday but Big Orange Nation never tires of the Felice and Boudleaux Bryant song written back in 1967.

Woo Pig Sooie
There isn’t a clear story as to when or how this one came about but since at least the 1920s, Arkansas fans have been Calling the Hogs. The high-pitched chant echoes throughout the hills of Arkansas over and over and over again every Saturday.

Hotty Toddy
Supposedly, the origin of Ole Miss’ famous chant remains unknown only adding to its mystique. Some claim it was taken from Virginia Tech’s “Highty Tighties,” which was an old World War II cheer about, appropriately, an alcoholic beverage.

Rammer Jammer
Combine The Rammer-Jammer, the University of Alabama's student newspaper and a Yellowhammer, the state bird, and you get this unique and signature cry, which dates back to the '20s. And generally speaking, it is at its best at the end of the game when Bama just “beat the hell out of you!”

Cowbell
Like many of the older SEC traditions, no one is quite sure when or why or how Mississippi State started bringing cowbells to football games. However they got there, the cowbells were so effective that the SEC had to ban artificial noisemakers in 1974 — before reversing course on the decision in 2010.

Gator Chomp
Stemming from Mississippi State’s band’s version of "Jaws" in 1981, some Florida band members modified the tune slightly and added the famous vertical chomping motion. It eventually spread across the stadium and is now synonymous with Gators football.

Mascots:

War Eagle
Possibly the best pregame, live mascot ritual in all of college football, Auburn’s Golden Eagle “Nova” performs the War Eagle Flight down through the rabid home crowd and onto its perch. Nova is officially the eighth such bird to grace Jordan-Hare Stadium as War Eagle I is said to have started the timeless tradition in 1892.

Smokey the Dog
Dating back to 1953, the Tennessee Vols have played with Smokey the Blue Tick Hound at their side. The Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity cares for him and currently Smokey X, who is set to make his debut this fall, will be standing on the sidelines in Neyland Stadium each Saturday.

Mike the Tiger
In 1934 some LSU powers that be decided they wanted a live Bengal tiger on the field in Death Valley. Conveniently placed near the visitors’ entrance to the field, Mike the Tiger has been striking fear into opposing players and coaches for over nearly 80 years. Few mascots embody their school like Mike does.

Uga
Nine different English Bulldogs have stood on the Georgia sideline dating back to 1956 with Uga I. However, this pup gets the royal treatment between the hedges, residing in his own air-conditioned dog house. The marble mausoleum near the entrance of the Southwest corner of Sanford Stadium is the resting place for Ugas of yesteryear.

Reveille
The “First Lady of Aggieland” is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, as she is technically a Five-Star General. She showed up at games in 1931 for the first time and the full-blooded Collie is cared for by Company E-2.

Rivalries:

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
This rivalry is so great that these two SEC East powers won’t even agree on how many times they have played. Georgia claims 91 meetings while Florida claims 90 (1904) and all but two since 1933 — when the SEC was created — have come in Jacksonville, Fla. When thousands of fans from both teams pour onto St. Simon’s Island East Beach the Friday before the game, the term Outdoor Cocktail Party comes to life.

The Iron Bowl
The State of Alabama is the most territorial in the nation when it comes to college football. Just ask Paul Finebaum or Mr. Updyke. And many times, the in-state season finale carries great importance in the SEC standings. The name stems from Birmingham’s historic role in the steel industry, as up until the mid-90s the state's biggest game hosted the game.

The Egg Bowl
It may not carry the national importance of other famous rivalries but this Magnolia State showdown is as heated as any in the land. Mississippi State and Ole Miss have met 108 times dating back to 1901 and this annual meeting hasn’t been played earlier than November 19 since 1925.

The Third Saturday In October
Each year on the third weekend in October, Alabama and Tennessee get together one more time. These two have met 95 times and Alabama holds the edge 50-37-8.

Deep South's Oldest Rivalry
Georgia and Auburn began playing in 1892 and have met 116 times with the series standing at a dead stalemate 54-54-8.

Best of the Rest:

Houndstooth
Made popular by legendary coach Bear Bryant, his signature houndstooth hat has morphed into everything from purses to shoes to wallpaper.

18 MPH
Be careful driving around Oxford as all of the campus speed limits are exactly 18 miles per hour — in honor of Ole Miss legend Archie Manning’s jersey number.

The Hedges
Two long rows of privet hedges run down the sidelines in Georgia’s Sanford Stadium creating a playing field that is literally “between the hedges.”

Running Through the T
Before each Tennessee home game the Pride of the Southland Marching Band forms a signature Power T for the players and coaches to enter the stadium.

Checkerboard End Zones
The signature end zones in Neyland Stadium were removed in 1968 only to return in '89. It might be the most recognizable end zone in all of football.

Space Odyssey 2001
South Carolina’s entrance each home game isn’t steeped in tradition but it sure is exciting.

Related College Football Content

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College Football's All-Freshman Team for 2013
Hugh Freeze Has the Ole Miss Rebels on the Rise

Teaser:
From the Gator Chomp to Rocky Top to The Grove, the SEC has plenty of historic traditions.
Post date: Friday, July 12, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-big-tens-best-traditions
Body:

There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.

Last but certainly not least, are the college traditions.

Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. The Big Ten is one of the first conferences ever assembled back before the 1900s and therefore is steeped in all sorts of rich traditions. Bands, stadiums, uniforms, rivalries and more make the Big Ten one of the most historic leagues in college football.

Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites:

Dotting the I
The culmination of "Script Ohio" during the pre-game festivities at Ohio State is a sight to behold. Once the word is spelled out by the marching band, the celebration comes to an end when one lucky sousaphone player dots the “I.” The crowd erupts and the lucky “dotter” puts on quite the show en route to their sacred position.

Beaver Stadium White Out
Black outs and blue outs and red outs are cool. But nothing makes a crowd standout like a white out. And when white is one of your primary colors and 110,000 people agree to wear the same color, the result is a stunning visual experience unlike any other in sports. Very few spectators rooting for Penn State will fail to comply with the dress code and the sheer size of the crowd is as intimidating as any in the nation. While other colors actually make the crowd look sparser, a good white out will make your crowd look much bigger.

Ohio State vs. Michigan
The school up north takes on that school down south every year in what is the best rivalry in all of sports — not just college football. These two programs and fans respectfully despise each other every waking moment of the year and it concludes with the regular-season finale football showdown. Historic coaching ties and national title implications make this game one of the few must-see events of every season. The Mirror Lake Jump in Columbus — where tons of Ohio State students jump into the frigid waters of Mirror Lake the Thursday before facing Michigan — only adds to the rivalry.

The Fifth Quarter
Win by 50 or lose by 50, home or away, any and all Wisconsin Badger supporter will celebrate the Fifth Quarter. Thousands of fans will remain in their seats working their way closer to the field until well after the game. The marching band will put on an impromptu show unlike any other, complete with the alma mater "Varsity," the "Beer Barrel Polka" and the "Bud Song." When you say Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.

The Blackshirts
Nebraska has had a long-standing tradition of rewarding its defensive players for earning a starting spot. Since the 1960s, the starting 11, and maybe a few lucky other contributors on defense for the Big Red have donned black practice jerseys with pride. Midway through 2007, the defensive players and coaches voted to give up the uniforms due to subpar performance. They earned them back roughly a month later. The Cornhuskers also have a handful of other outstanding traditions, including the release of red balloons after their first score, and the tunnel walk as Nebraska gets ready to enter the field. 

"Jump Around"
The student section at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium between the third and fourth quarters is a rare sight. The well-known number by House of Pain hits the speakers and the entire section bounces up and down for the entire song. Not only do opposing fans and players get involved in the jumping, but Camp Randall Stadium also has been known to shake on occasion. It’s a sight to behold.

Touching the Banner
The Michigan Wolverines take the field in style at every home game by running out of the oddly placed (midfield) team tunnel. The players pour onto the field and underneath a historic and massive banner that reads “Go Blue: M Club Supports You.” The band plays "Hail to the Victors" and each player jumps to slap the banner as he enters the gridiron. The tradition began way back in 1962.

Kinnick’s Heisman Speech
Nile Kinnick won the Heisman Trophy for Iowa back in 1939 during World War II. His acceptance speech was a thing of historic beauty and to honor the great Hawkeye athlete, Iowa replays it on the jumbotron. The memorable speech ends with Kinnick professing that “I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not the battlefields of Europe.” Chills run wild through Kinnick Stadium.

College Football’s Oldest Rivalry
No two teams in college football have played more times than Wisconsin and Minnesota. The rivalry began in 1890, the two have met 122 times and the winner claims the history and massive — six feet long — Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Pink Locker Rooms
The Iowa Hawkeyes are willing to do whatever it takes to gain an edge on the football field. Even if it means playing mind games with the visiting team by housing them in locker rooms painted pink. Former coach Hayden Fry was a psychology major at Baylor and immediately had the opposing locker rooms painted pink in an effort to calm the opposition.

Best of the Rest:

"Hail! to the Victors"
It might be the most recognizable, most well-known fight song in all of college football.

"We are. Penn State."
A call and response that matches up with the best in the nation, the student section (normally) begins by screaming "We Are…" and the rest of Beaver Stadium responds emphatically with "Penn State!"

Third Quarter Drumline
After the third quarter, the Michigan State drumline heads to the southeast corner of Spartan Stadium and brings the crowd to its feet with electric and complicated drum beats.

Block I Stunts
Since 1926, the Illinois student section has been a fixture at Memorial Stadium. The Block I is the most famous and recognizable of all the Illini card stunts.

Defend The Rock
Terry Hoeppner did a lot to bring tradition to Indiana and the three-ton limestone boulder near the IU locker room is one of them. Defending The Rock is a rallying cry for the team.

"Boiler Up"
The local chant takes place throughout the game at all big plays and scores and is accompanied by a loud train whistle.

O-H. I-O.
At any time and any place in the world, if you hear someone say "O-H" you will undoubtedly hear someone else call back "I-O." It never fails.

Regents Street
As far as beer and brats go, there is no better pre-game tailgate in the nation than Regents Street outside Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium on Saturdays. State Street is no joke either.

Big Bass Drum
Purdue is home to the instrument known as the world’s largest drum. It is the focal point of the Boilermakers band and is handled by four people and played by two.

"Hail! Minnesota"
After each home game, the players and coaches join the students and band to sing the school's alma mater and state hymn,  "Hail! Minnesota."

"In Heaven, There is No Beer"
After each Iowa home game, the marching band performs this famous and very original Hawkeye number.

Wildcat Alley
Two hours before the game, the marching band performs near Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena surrounded by activities for all ages — including, that’s right, free beer for the adults.

Discontinued:

Chief Illiniwek’s Halftime Performance
No, sadly The Chief isn’t performing at halftime of Illinois football games any longer, but it still ranks as one of the best in-game rituals in the Big Ten.

Laking the Posts
Northwestern fans used to tear down the goal posts for every win, pass them through Ryan Field and out onto Central Street where they would toss them into Lake Michigan.

Related College Football Content
2013 Big Ten Predictions
2013 Big Ten All-Conference Team
Big Ten's Top 2013 Heisman Contenders
College Football's Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 15 Winners From Conference Realignment
College Football's 2013 All-Freshman Team
2013 All-America Team 

Teaser:
From the Dotting of the I to Jump Around, the Big Ten has plenty of historic traditions.
Post date: Friday, July 12, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-pac-12s-best-traditions
Body:

There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.

Last but certainly not least, are the college traditions.

Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. The Pac-12 doesn't have the same entrenched passion of leagues from the East Coast but it has plenty of historic, entertaining and, for lack of a better term, gorgeous traditions. Some of the most picturesque settings in the nation are out West and the Pac-12 takes full advantage of ALL of the scenery. 

Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites:

Sailgating

Each fall Saturday in Seattle, Husky Harbor on Lake Washington is filled with a University of Washington fan flotilla. Fans show up in every possible type of floating vessel and set up shop in the shadows of Husky Stadium to sailgate for the big U of W contest to come later in the day. This practice has been going on since shortly after the stadium opened in 1920 and is often imitated, but rarely duplicated. With the Cascade Mountains to the East and the Olympic Mountains to the West, the crystal clear blue water provides one of the most picturesque tailgating settings in the nation. Don't believe us, check out this NY Times slideshow.

Ralphie’s Run

One of the best live mascots in college football, Ralphie the Buffalo makes two big horseshoe runs around Colorado’s Folsom Field at the start of each half of each home game. It takes five “Ralphie Handlers” to make the sprint possible as she — yes, Ralphie is a girl — can reach upwards of 25 miles per hour if not restrained. The tradition began in 1934 when students used a bison as their mascot until Ralphie I made her debut in 1966 when she was donated to the university by a student’s father.

USC's Traveler

The USC Trojan Warrior began riding his gray horse named Traveler into the Coliseum in 1961 against Georgia Tech. Named after Robert E. Lee’s Civil War horse, the mascot is on its seventh generation (Traveler VII) and does not actually carry Tommy Trojan. The rider is simply a Trojan warrior, whose original costume was procured from a local studio and was the actual garb worn by Charlton Heston in Ben Hur.

Tightwad Hill

Officially known as Charter Hill, Tightwad rises to the east of Cal’s Memorial Stadium and was formed from the dirt that was excavated during stadium construction. It offers a unique view of the action on the field should a game sellout or poor college students don’t feel like paying for tickets. Fans have been attending games on hill since 1924 and most take the opportunity to enjoy many recreational activities high in the trees of Tightwad Hill (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Cougars' Gameday Flag

Leave it to message boards to come up with stuff like flying a Washington State Cougars flag on College Gameday’s TV set every weekend for nearly a decade. No, it doesn’t always happen in the Pac-12 (obviously) but the Cougars' flag has made an appearance on the extremely popular Saturday morning program every week since the Red River Shootout on October 3, 2003 — which is more than 131 consecutive shows.

Stanford's LSJUMB

The tall tales about the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, or LSJUMB, are endless and mostly hysterical. It was founded in 1893 and has been picking on opposing teams, fans, coaches as well as societal injustices, with hilarious political satire and finely tuned musical prowess ever since. This is easily the most entertaining Band website in history (trust me, check it out) and the LSJUMB’s latest victim was the Wisconsin Badgers. The “Ode to Cheese” during last year’s Rose Bowl tested the sense of humor of many frigid Madison natives and upset many boring media members.

USC Song Girls

What isn’t to like about the arguably the most famous cheerleading squad in college football? The squad was first formed in 1967 when seven students began the Song Girls tradition in the L.A. Coliseum. Now the size of the team has grown to 12 but the trademark white sweaters and skirts haven’t changed over four decades of football. Few cheerleading squads in the nation have the talent pool to pull from like Southern California.

Bear Down

“Bear Down” is the official school motto of Arizona and it is featured prominently all over campus. "Bear Down" was created by Zona quarterback and student body President Button Salmon in 1926, after he was hospitalized after a terrible car wreck. Before he passed away from his neck injury, his last message to his teammates was delivered to coach Pop McKale: “Tell them to bear down.” It has been a part of the fight song, the stadium paint scheme, the Bear Down Gym and a variety of other important locations.

Best of the Rest:

The Rose Bowl

Not many college football teams play 45 minutes from campus. But not many teams play in the most historic venue in the nation. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena might be the most prestigious venue in all of college football.

Arizona State’s Student Section

This isn’t as much a tradition as it is an other-worldly experience. This might be the most beautiful student section in the nation.

Stanford's Dancing Tree

The smiling tree from Stanford looks like something out of a Johnny Depp movie and has been entertaining The Farm for decades. The aforementioned Stanford band actually created The Tree in 1975 without consent from the Stanford Board and it stuck.

Cal Card Stunts

The first card stunt of any kind is credited to the University of Cal during The Big Game of 1910. The first two card stunts of all time were the Stanford Axe and a massive blue “C.”

Oregon State First Downs

The stands at Reser Stadium can boast the most passionate and choreographed first down chant in college football. Check out this tutorial.

Utah's Block U

The Utes' famed block U was built over 100 years ago in the foothills bordering the Utah campus. The 100-foot-tall landmark is lit up for every home Utes athletic event and it sits at 5,300 feet above sea level.

Oregon Uniforms

When college football became big business just over a decade ago, Nike jumped full force into the game with its “hometown” Oregon Ducks. It now provides several different looks for the Ducks each year.

UCLA light stunts

Beginning in 1935, UCLA actually wired light bulbs into the bleachers. Due to cost and logistics, the actual light bulbs were replaced with flashlights in 1953.

Oregon’s Motorcycle

The form of the Duck atop the motorcycle has changed over time, but Oregon football enters Autzen Stadium behind a Harley-riding mascot for every home game. 

2013 Pac-12 Team Previews

NorthSouth
CaliforniaArizona
OregonArizona State
Oregon StateColorado
StanfordUCLA
WashingtonUSC
Washington StateUtah


Related College Football Content

Pac-12 Predictions for 2013
Pac-12 2013 All-Conference Team
College Football's Top 10 Most-Improved Teams for 2013
Ranking the Pac-12 Stadiums for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Teams for 2013

Teaser:
The Song Girls of USC are just one of the many beautiful traditions in the Pac-12.
Post date: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 05:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/what-best-worst-coaching-job-nfl
Body:

Would you rather work for Jerry Jones or the people of Green Bay, Wisconsin? Would you rather live in Buffalo or Denver? Would you prefer to face Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati six times a year or Jacksonville, Tennessee and Indianapolis?

These are the sorts of big picture questions you have to ask when trying to evaluate NFL “jobs.” Depth charts and general managers come and go but, by in large, fan commitment, stadiums, cities and owners stay the same over long periods of time. It is these factors that define how good or bad an NFL head coaching gig is, not who is playing quarterback, how deep the defensive line might be or who is running the front office.

Facilities, commitment to excellence, history, tradition, prestige, ownership, fan support, earning potential, divisional alignment and location is how Athlon ranked each of the current NFL head coaching jobs.

Forbes 2012 total franchise valuation in parentheses

1. Green Bay Packers ($1.161 billion, 10th)

There is only one publicly owned franchise in major American professional sports and it is located in a small, sleepy town in northern Wisconsin. It means as a head coach, you answer to the fans first and foremost above all else and it creates a unique and committed relationship between the Packers and their supporters. No, Green Bay isn’t the best place in the country to live (most of the year) but the most historic and legendary football stadium in the world, Lambeau Field, rises high above the neighborhoods of Green Bay. This organization has won more NFL championships (13) than any other in league history and has won a Super Bowl in three separate decades. The Packers also play in a division with three of the best rivalries in football, including the twice annual bout with the Bears.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.1 billion, 14th)

Few fan bases and owners are as committed to being successful like Steeler Nation and the Rooney Family. The fans in Pittsburgh are second to none and will travel to great lengths to support their team while three generations of Rooney control has offered unique stability in a transient world. In 2001, the Steelers opened a beautiful new facility in Heinz Field. What it lacks in tradition and history it more than makes up for in technology and amenities. Top it all off with an NFL-best six Super Bowl trophies and 60,000 Terrible Towels and you have the best AFC job in the NFL.

3. New York Giants ($1.468 billion, 4th)

Since 1925, the red, white and blue football Giants have represented the biggest media market in the world. For the first seven decades of operation, the Giants were controlled exclusively by the Mara Family — father and founder, Tim, and his two sons, Jack and Wellington. Since 1991 when Tim Mara passed away, half of the franchise has been owned by the Tisch family. A massive new building has replaced the old Meadowlands and will provide a Northeastern setting for the Super Bowl for the first time in history. The Giants are third all-time with eight NFL championships, including four Super Bowls, and boast some of the most prestigious rivalries in the game.

4. New England Patriots ($1.635 billion, 2nd)

The Pats joined the NFL along with the rest of the AFL in 1970 when the two merged. And few franchises can offer the combination of fan support, quality ownership and team success like the Boston-turned-New England Patriots. This team has played for at least one Super Bowl in every decade since the '70s and Gillette Stadium has been packed since opening in 2002. And owner Robert Kraft proved to be a godsend for the organization when he purchased the team in 1994, likely saving the team from relocation to St. Louis.

5. San Francisco 49ers ($1.175 billion, 9th)

The Niners are the oldest major pro sports franchise to ever call San Francisco home, and starting in 1970, few teams have dominated a sport like the 49ers. Winning five Super Bowls in a 14-year span and dominating headlines west of the Rockies, the Niners own a unique place in the NFL’s hierarchy. And despite a public ownership feud between the two sides of the family — the DeBartolos and the Yorks —  that resulted in John York taking control, the support from the owner has been excellent. The fans may not be among the league’s elite but they aren’t too far behind and an ambitious new Levi’s Stadium could push the San-Fran coaching job into Steelers and Packers territory.

6. Denver Broncos ($1.132 billion, 13th)

A great city in a beautiful setting with elite fan support and a rich history of winning football makes coaching in Denver a destination gig. Bought by the Bowlen family in 1984, the current ownership not only saved the franchise from certain bankruptcy but has built a thriving business as well as a new stadium (2001). Playing in the generally timid AFC West, Denver has been a fixture in the playoffs despite battling with rivals Oakland, Kansas City and San Diego since 1960. There is little doubt that Denver is one of the AFC’s preeminent franchises.

7. Chicago Bears ($1.190 billion, 8th)

Located in the Windy City in the heart of the football-crazed NFC North, the Bears are one of the most lucrative, most supported and most historic franchises in the NFL. Chicago boasts the best rivalry in the league with the Packers and trails only Green Bay with nine NFL championships. Originally owned by legendary George Halas, the Bears are now run by Halas’ daughter Virginia and her family. It has proven to be tough to win big in Chicago but when someone does (looking at you Ditka) he becomes a living legend.

8. Dallas Cowboys ($2.1 billion, 1st)

Located in the heart of a football-mad state, the most high-profile and valuable franchise in the NFL also plays in the biggest, baddest venue in the football world. However, coaching the Cowboys isn’t a cakewalk as meddling owner Jerry Jones never lets go of the reigns. The fishbowl of this job can also be too much to handle for most mere mortals. That said, this team has consistently won at an elite level, has great fan support and never is hurting for revenue. The second Jones sells this team (which he won’t ever do), Dallas becomes one of the top 2-3 coaching jobs in the NFL instantly.

9. Indianapolis Colts ($1.154 billion, 12th)

There have been some rocky moments — like leaving Baltimore under the cover of night — but since moving to Indianapolis, the Colts have been a perennial power. Yes, much of that is due to Peyton Manning, but the support from the Irsay family has been excellent. The Colts play in one of the nicest new facilities in the league and Indianapolis has slowly developed into a destination city for many in the Midwest. And getting to face the Jaguars and Titans four times a year would appeal to most any head coach.

10. Baltimore Ravens ($1.157 billion, 11th)

The Ravens haven’t been around for a very long time, but the franchise has proven to be a big winner with more than one coach. Since relocating under owner Art Modell in 1996 from Cleveland, the Ravens have won two Super Bowls under two different coaches and are now owned by Steve Bisciotti. The stadium is solid, the fans are committed and the rivalries in the AFC North are as good as any in the NFL.

11. Kansas City Chiefs ($1.008 billion, 20th)

Despite the small market moniker, coaching in Kansas City is one of the top jobs in the NFL. The fans are extremely dedicated, the town is great, Arrowhead is as historic as any venue in the league and there are games to be won in the AFC West. Plus, have you ever smelled a Chiefs tailgate?

12. New York Jets ($1.284 billion, 6th)

Despite being the second most popular and powerful team in New York, the J-E-T-S job is still an attractive gig. Playing in the biggest media market in the world with excellent fan support and a brand new building makes this job one of the more coveted. The rich history and tradition speaks for itself.

13. Houston Texans ($1.305 billion, 5th)

The Texans have quickly become one of the NFL’s top coaching locations. With loads of revenue and financial support deep in the heart of football-crazed Texas, Houston has become one of the better jobs. A relatively manageable division schedule and gorgeous stadium also help make up for lack of tradition and natural rivals. Owner Bob McNair is also one of the league’s best.

14. Seattle Seahawks ($1.040 billion, 17th)

The stadium is one of the hidden gems in the NFL landscape as the Seahawks fans are among the loudest and best in the league. Seattle is an amazing place to live and owner Paul Allen showed his commitment by saving the team from a move to Southern California when he bought the team in 1997. This gig is moving up the rankings quickly.

15. Philadelphia Eagles ($1.260 billion, 7th)

Powerful, lucrative, steeped in tradition, an excellent stadium and some of the best rivalries are what make coaching in Philly so attractive. Having to deal with Eagles fans every day is a large and taxing, but manageable, drawback.

16. Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion, 3rd)

One of the more powerful and lucrative franchises in the league has all of the bullet points needed for a great coaching job. Excellent fans, rich traditions, an excellent venue and great rivalries make this a great job. Having to work for Daniel Snyder, however, keeps Washington from being a top 10 job.

17. New Orleans Saints ($971 million, 23rd)

Tom Benson bought the Saints in 1985 and has had to deal with multiple hurdles en route to the 2009 Super Bowl championship. The fans are excellent and the city is full of culture, however, a long standing battle to upgrade or replace the Superdome is just one of many ancillary issues the Saints’ headman has to deal with.

18. Minnesota Vikings ($975 million, 22nd)

There is a lot to like about coaching in the Twin Cities. The Vikings have a rich tradition and passionate fan base to go with excellent regional rivalries and a picturesque hometown. However, this team is one of seven without any NFL championship of any kind, and the Vikings are desperately awaiting the completion of their new stadium to move out of the outdated Metrodome.

19. Cincinnati Bengals ($871 million, 26th)

This is a stable franchise with a great stadium located in a great location on the river in downtown Cincinnati. There is plenty of history and excellent rivalries with Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. However, this team has zero NFL titles of any kind and has failed to win big for long stretches of time.

20. Atlanta Falcons ($837 million, 28th)

In what isn’t a great pro sports town, the Falcons can dominate the sports headlines. Atlanta isn’t one of the more powerful, successful or lucrative franchises, but winning teams have proven capable of capturing the fans in the area. A massive new stadium could elevate this gig into the upper echelon of NFL jobs.

21. Miami Dolphins ($1.060 billion, 15th)

This is a once proud franchise that has experienced plenty of bad seasons in the last few years. There is plenty of tradition, pockets of winning and it is located in a thriving cultural hotbed in South Florida. But the owner is new to the scene and the stadium has no identity whatsoever.

22. Detroit Lions ($855 million, 27th)

There is stability in the owner’s box, as the Ford Family has controlled the franchise since 1963. Ford Field is an excellent venue and Detroit fans have supported terrible football for decades. However, there is little to no tradition of success and having to face perennial powers in Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota six times a year is daunting.

23. San Diego Chargers ($936 million, 24th)

Owned by the Spanos family since 1984, the Chargers have never realized their potential in the NFL. The stadium needs an upgrade and there is little to no history of winning big. Yet, the AFC West features long-standing rivalries and few places on the planet offer more comfortable living conditions than San Diego.

24. Cleveland Browns ($987 million, 21st)

The fans in Cleveland are some of the best in all of sports. Without sniffing a Super Bowl appearance in nearly 50 years, the Dawg Pound is consistently packed every Sunday. However, there is new, unfamiliar ownership and no coach has seemed capable of winning games consistently.

25. St. Louis Rams ($780 million, 31st)

The Rams organization has as many NFL titles (3) as it does home towns. There is no long-standing connection to the city of St. Louis after moving from Los Angeles (and Cleveland) and the Edward Jones Dome could use some upgrading.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($1.033 billion, 19th)

Owner Malcolm Glazer threatened to move the team on more than one occasion, but he also has built a new stadium. The gimmicky Sunday experience is lacking and the franchise has a long history of losing football games.

27. Tennessee Titans ($1.011 billion, 19th)

Owner Bud Adams has had plenty of Jerry Jones moments, can be a hassle to work for and has already moved his team from Houston to Nashville via Memphis. Music City is a growing, bustling metropolitan area and LP Field is a solid venue. However, fans are extremely fair weather and the game day experience is severely lacking.

28. Carolina Panthers ($1.048 billion, 16th)

The team is fairly lucrative as the 16th most valuable in the league and it is located in a football loving area of the country. However, with its expansion team roots, there is zero tradition, it has little history of winning and literally claims 15 different owners.

29. Arizona Cardinals ($922 million, 25th)

This is one of the oldest franchises in the league and one that has failed to succeed in any way for most of its 93 seasons. Bill Bidwell might be a quality owner but five playoff appearances during his 47-year tenure indicates winning isn’t a priority.

30. Oakland Raiders ($785 million, 30th)

The stadium is more of a costume party than anything else. And while the late Al Davis was once revered for his savvy influence on football, he had lost his edge for most of his final years. Unfortunately, his son and current owner Mark hasn’t done anything to change that trend.

31. Buffalo Bills ($805 million, 29th)

The fans are great and the atmosphere can be great and Ralph Wilson is largely well-respected. But Buffalo might be the worst NFL city in the league, the team hasn’t won in nearly two decades and the organization is worth less than half of the most prestigious franchises.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars ($770 million, 32nd)

It is the least lucrative team in the NFL. It has tarps covering empty seats. Ownership isn’t exactly committed to the team staying in Jacksonville. And the Jags have posted some of the worst records in recent memory. At least, there will be some new swimming pools and a snazzy new video board at EverBank Field.

Teaser:
Where is the best place to coach in the NFL in 2013? What about the worst?
Post date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/young-ohio-state-fan-grant-reed-names-his-cancer-michigan-and-beats-it
Body:

Sometimes we are powerfully reminded of how important sports can be to us all. Especially, in the college sports world where connections between fans and favorite teams almost always rank as the most dedicated and committed in all of major American sports.

Grant Reed is a 12-year-old Ohio State fan whose parents, Troy and Denise, are clearly raising him correctly. Reed was released from the Columbus, Ohio area Nationwide Children's Hospital last Friday after a 10-week recovery period following a 16-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor back in May. All of this after months of chemotherapy.

Well, as only our children can, Reed has inspired and entertained all of us all by putting a new twist on his battle with cancer by naming his tumor “Michigan.” For roughly two years, Reed has fought his way through this horrifying situation to come out victorious against “that team up North.”

His father said when he was released on Friday, “Our prognosis is very good. It shows that he has indeed beat Michigan.”

Troy and Denise met in the Ohio State Marching Band in college and got engaged at a Buckeyes game in 1994. Obviously, the family is very proud of its favorite team. But both Michigan and Ohio State fans should be proud of their rivalry and what it meant to this 12-year old boy.

Reed will enter the 7th grade this fall.


 

Teaser:
Young Ohio State Fan Grant Reed Names His Cancer "Michigan"; and Beats It
Post date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 11:16
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/who-best-worst-starting-quarterback-nfl-2013
Body:

Statistical production, raw talent, supporting cast, level of competition, individual awards and records are help to define hierarchies in sports debates. However, in the NFL, greatness is defined most about winning and losing. Sure, coaching, scheduling, injuries and many other factors influence the ability for any given NFL team to succeed on Sundays.

But who is under center playing quarterback is still the most important piece to the Super Bowl puzzle. With that in mind, who is the best quarterback in the NFL today? Who is the worst? Who gives your team the best possible chance to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2013? Don't worry, Athlon Sports has the answer.

The NFL's Best Quarterbacks in 2013 (age as of Sept. 1 and win-loss records):

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (29)
W/L: 52-26 (5-3) YPG: 254.8 QBR: 104.9 TD-INT: 171-46 Rush: 1,442 yds TD: 18

There is little doubt that Rodgers isn't the best player at his position right now. He is only 29 years old, already has one Super Bowl Championship, has posted the most efficient single season by any quarterback in history (122.5, 2011) and has won 46 games in the last four seasons (46-16). His uncanny ability to extend plays with his legs and fire accurately on the run makes him the perfect athlete to play the modern role of dual-threat quarterback. He wins, doesn't turn the ball over, is an elite athlete and is the consummate professional off the field. He is the best in the game today. 

2. Drew Brees, New Orleans (34)
W/L: 99-70 (5-4) YPG: 270.1 QBR: 94.3 TD-INT: 324-86 Rush: 570 yds TD: 9

Brees gets the slight nod over Tom Brady and Peyton Manning based somewhat on his age. At 34, Brees still has a few more seasons of elite-level play than either Brady or Manning. And elite level of play means back-to-back 5,000-yard passing seasons and three in the last five years. He has never been the most talented or physically gifted but the intangibles are off the charts, the leadership is second to none and he has been a winner every step of his career a state champion in Texas at Austin (Texas) Westlake, a Big Ten champ at Purdue and Super Bowl champ in 2009 for the Saints.

3. Tom Brady, New England (36)
W/L: 136-39 (17-7) YPG: 253.1 QBR: 96.6 TD-INT: 334-123 Rush: 748 yds TD: 14

The big edge for Brady in the statistical category comes in the win-loss column. He has won nearly twice as many playoff games as any other active NFL quarterback and has won more than 77 percent of his career starts. He is second only to Rodgers in quarterback efficiency for his career among quarterbacks with more than one year of starting experience. With three Super Bowl titles and five Super Bowl appearances on his resume there is nothing else to prove. That said, he is 36 years old and probably has just a couple more seasons left of elite play.

4. Peyton Manning, Denver (37)
W/L: 154-70 (9-11) YPG: 265.6 QBR: 95.7 TD-INT: 436-209 Rush: 728 yds TD: 17

Manning could easily lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl championship in 2013 and should he accomplish the ultimate goal for a second time in his career, it is likely he would walk away from the game like another famous Denver signal-caller. At 37 and having been forced to sit out all of 2011, Manning doesn't have much time left in this league. Yet, from a preparation and football IQ level, he has few peers ever in the history of the game and that won't change anytime soon. His age is the only thing that keeps him from the top spot.

5. Eli Manning, New York Giants (32)
W/L: 78-57 (8-3) YPG: 230.1 QBR: 82.7 TD-INT: 211-144 Rush: 395 yds TD: 4

The numbers aren't nearly as impressive as compared to Rodgers, Brees, Brady or Manning and, in fact, the younger Manning's stats pale in comparison to those quarterbacking juggernauts. He doesn't throw for as many touchdowns or yards. He turns the ball over more. And he doesn't win regular-season games at an elite rate. But he has more Super Bowl championships (2) than each of the aforementioned quarterbacks with the exception of Brady. Manning has proven he has what it takes to perform in clutch situations and his calm, quiet demeanor helps him succeed in the world's largest media market. 

6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (23)
W/L: 11-5 (0-1) YPG: 273.4 QBR: 76.5 TD-INT: 23-18 Rush: 255 yds TD: 5

This is optimistic, certainly, but Luck is the best NFL pro prospect since John Elway entered the league in the mid '80s and Luck just posted the single greatest rookie season by an NFL quarterback... ever. He is a special talent who is cut from the Rodgers mold of athletic ability, leadership, intelligence, toughness and accuracy. Few can throw on the run like Luck, and, since he is bigger than Rodgers, may end up being better than the Packers' signal-caller. There is no weakness to Luck's game.

7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta (28)
W/L: 56-22 (1-4) YPG: 243.0 QBR: 90.9 TD-INT: 127-60 Rush: 500 yds TD: 5

Calm under pressure is the name of the game for Ryan. Few have ever won games right out of the gate like Ryan — he has five winning seasons in five years — but he simply needs to finish games when it counts the most. He posted a career best in completion percentage (68.6) and QB Rating (99.1) a year ago while increasing his touchdown total for a fifth consecutive season. He overcame a big hurdle by getting his first career postseason win last year, but the Falcons crumbled around him against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Take one or two more steps for Atlanta and Ryan will be in the Rodgers class of talent and success.

8. Joe Flacco, Baltimore (28)
W/L: 54-26 (9-4) YPG: 220.4 QBR: 86.3 TD-INT: 102-56 Rush: 430 yds TD: 7

He isn't the fastest, smartest, strongest, most successful or most efficient. But few players in the history of the sport have ever posted a postseason run like Flacco did in the 2012 playoffs. He threw 11 touchdowns against no interceptions and carried his team to a Super Bowl championship with pristine quarterbacking play. At nine playoff wins, Flacco has as many as Peyton Manning and one more than Eli. Like Ryan, he's never had a losing season as an NFL quarterback.

9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (31)
W/L: 87-39 (10-4) YPG: 235.0 QBR: 92.7 TD-INT: 191-108 Rush: 1,036 yds TD: 14

The Steelers won one Super Bowl because of Big Ben and won another one in spite of Big Ben. He has an uncanny ability to prolong the action and make brutally tough plays in the face of certain disaster. There is no doubt that Roethlisberger is a big winner for a franchise that is one of the most demanding in the league. He is just 31 years old, but he has taken a beating and it is beginning to cost him. Big Ben hasn't played 16 games in a season since 2008 and has missed eight games over the last three seasons.

10. Tony Romo, Dallas (33)
W/L: 55-38 (1-3) YPG: 212.7 QBR: 95.6 TD-INT: 177-91 Rush: 508 yds TD: 5

From a statistical standpoint, Romo is one of the most underrated signal-callers in the game today. For an organization that is poorly managed from the top, Romo's career QB rating trails only Rodgers, Brady and Peyton Manning among quarterbacks with more than one year of starting experience. He has produced big numbers with little to no support from a running game and/or offensive line and it has led to multiple injuries. That being said, winning once in four postseason tries — including a memorable fumbled snap — and losing each of the last two regular-season finales with postseason berths hanging in the balance will always keep him being considered as one of the NFL's elite.

11. Robert Griffin III, Washington (23)
W/L: 9-6 (0-1) YPG: 213.3 QBR: 102.4 TD-INT: 20-5 Rush: 815 yds TD: 7

The former Heisman Trophy winner has all of the physical tools to become one of the game's greatest players. He has electric speed, a huge arm, great size, high football IQ, great work ethic and tremendous toughness. However, fans in D.C. have already seen how fragile his style of play can be on the NFL level. To that end, a second major knee injury in three years last fall doesn't bode well for a long career in the NFL unless RG3 can modify his style of play to protect himself.

12. Russell Wilson, Seattle (24)
W/L: 11-5 (1-1) YPG: 194.9 QBR: 100.0 TD-INT: 26-10 Rush: 489 yds TD: 4

Wilson has a lot of Drew Brees to his game. Undersized, savvy, hard-working, underrated athletically and a lightning-quick right arm. Cut from the Rodgers-Luck dual-threat cloth, Wilson is constantly looking to extend the play and make a big throw. He can run around and pick up first downs with his legs if need be, but he's also adept at throwing on the run. This, and his compact frame, gives him a better chance at staying healthy over other true dual-threats. His statistical and win-loss records as a starter both in college and his first year in the pros speak for themselves.

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (25)
W/L: 19-13 (0-2) YPG: 220.8 QBR: 83.9 TD-INT: 47-29 Rush: 272 yds TD: 5

He won't ever be confused with the most talented in the league and his long-term upside may still be in question. But Dalton simply wins games. He has two winning records and two playoff appearances in as many years for a team not normally accustomed to playing in the postseason. He is efficient, more athletic than expected and plays to his strengths. 

14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit (25)
W/L: 17-28 (0-1) YPG: 284.6 QBR: 82.8 TD-INT: 80-54 Rush: 323 yds TD: 7

Stafford is the exact opposite of Dalton. He is dripping with elite athletic talent from his burly frame to supercharged right arm but seems to be lacking in the intangibles section. He returned the Lions to the postseason, which is no easy feat, but he also has missed extended time due to injuries and regressed last fall. His 2013 might be one of the most important in the NFL.

15. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (25)
W/L: 5-2 (2-1) YPG: 115.6 QBR: 97.9 TD-INT: 10-3 Rush: 413 yds TD: 5

College football fans were not surprised in the least by the Niners' postseason sensation a year ago. One of the most dynamic college quarterbacks to ever play the game is forcing NFL defenses to find ways to slow him down. He has a cannon for a right arm, a huge frame and tremendous feet and speed. Time will tell if he can protect himself from the big hits. 

16. Cam Newton, Carolina (24)
W/L: 13-19 (0-0) YPG: 247.5 QBR: 85.3 TD-INT: 40-29 Rush: 1,447 yds TD: 22

Newton has certainly outperformed expectations in his first two seasons. Many doubted his accuracy, attitude and ability to run a pro offense. He still turns the ball over too much and needs to be more efficient but his production in two short years have proven many of those doubters wrong. The next step for Newton will be proving he can consistently win games on this level.

17. Jay Cutler, Chicago (30)
W/L: 51-42 (1-1) YPG: 229.2 QBR: 84.0 TD-INT: 136-100 Rush: 1,116 yds TD: 6

That "1-1" postseason mark is a pretty glaring number for a player as accomplished as Cutler. He has over 21,000 yards passing and nearly 150 touchdowns, but has been to the playoffs just one time in seven years. He has just two winning seasons over that time and is on his second team. He is turnover prone and has had plenty of attitude issues. Time is running out for Cutler to prove he is a legitimate franchise quarterback.

18. Sam Bradford, St. Louis (25)
W/L: 15-26-1 (0-0) YPG: 223.3 QBR: 77.3 TD-INT: 45-34 Rush: 216 yds TD: 2

There is some Andy Dalton to his game in that he doesn't appear to be the most gifted of athletes and his fragility is a huge concern. But in the right situation with an actual offensive line, Bradford has a chance to make a big statement this year. He topped 3,500 yards in each of his 16-game seasons and has a surprisingly solid 14-17-1 record during those two years for a team that has been long considered a doormat.

19. Matt Schaub, Houston (32)
W/L: 44-38 (1-1) YPG: 186.0 QBR: 91.9 TD-INT: 120-70 Rush: 328 yds TD: 4

There isn't much else to learn about the former Virginia Cavaliers quarterback. When healthy, he is a solid player who is capable of winning games and producing big numbers. He also played just 11 games in 2007 and '08 and just 10 in '11. One has to be on the field to win games and time is running out for the 32-year-old.

20. Philip Rivers, San Diego (31)
W/L: 70-42 (3-4) YPG: 240.4 QBR: 94.5 TD-INT: 189-93 Rush: 338 yds TD: 3

Consider Rivers a more volatile version of Jay Cutler. The mouthy signal caller has had a fall from grace unlike anything this league has ever seen. There is no doubting his physical talent, but Rivers has gone from leading the NFL in yards (4,710 in 2010) to becoming a walking turnover and .500 quarterback. Rivers is 15-17 with 35 interceptions and 24 lost fumbles in the last two seasons. 

21. Carson Palmer, Arizona (33)
W/L: 54-67 (0-2) YPG: 241.5 QBR: 86.2 TD-INT: 189-130 Rush: 372 yds TD: 7

Palmer will likely never be given his due as a solid NFL quarterback. He helped rebuild a perennial doormat when he led the Bengals back to the postseason and, frankly, Joe Montana at his best couldn't win in Oakland these days. He just posted his best yardage total in six seasons, topping 4,000 yards for just the third time, and now has Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd at his disposal. Expect a rejuvenation.

22. Michael Vick, Philadelphia (33)
W/L: 56-44-1 (2-3) YPG: 167.6 QBR: 80.6 TD-INT: 123-82 Rush: 5,551 yds TD: 34

The issue has been and will always be health with the player who takes more hits than anyone else in the NFL. Since coming back from prison, Vick has played in 12, 12, 13 and 10 games in four seasons and doesn't seem to be capable of changing his style of play. Until that happens, he is much more of liability than a champion.

23. Alex Smith, Kansas City (29)
W/L: 38-36-1 (1-1) YPG: 178.5 QBR: 79.1 TD-INT: 81-63 Rush: 761 yds TD: 4

Has anyone noticed that Alex Smith has played eight years in the NFL? He has a winning career record and is 19-5-1 over his last two seasons as a starter with just 10 total interceptions during that span. He also isn't playing for Jim Harbaugh any longer and is dealing with concussion issues. But still, eight years?

24. Jake Locker, Tennessee (25)
W/L: 4-7 (0-0) YPG: 169.9 QBR: 78.4 TD-INT: 14-11 Rush: 347 yds TD: 2

The Titans quarterback has awesome athletic ability but some glaring question marks. First, he simply isn't that accurate of a passer and, generally, that cannot be corrected. A 55.5 percent career completion rate won't win games in the NFL. Additionally, he has a long track record of injuries that have already impacted his pro career. 

25. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (26)
W/L: 33-29 (4-2) YPG: 195.0 QBR: 71.7 TD-INT: 68-69 Rush: 342 yds TD: 12

Where to begin? The facts are that Sanchez is a winning quarterback for his career who has played in two AFC Championship games —  out-performing Tom Brady in the process — and progressed statistically in his first three years. However, he regressed massively a year ago and has never become a play-maker. The leash is awfully short.

26. Ryan Tannehill, Miami (25)

W/L: 7-9 (0-0) YPG: 205.9 QBR: 76.1 TD-INT: 12-13 Rush: 211 yds TD: 2

The athletic ability is incredibly impressive and the first-year numbers are more than adequate. That said, there are still major doubts about his ability to be a pro quarterback. A year of small developmental steps and another 7-9 record would set him up for much bigger expectations in 2014.

27. Matt Flynn, Oakland (28)
W/L: 1-1 (0-0) YPG: 29.3 QBR: 92.0 TD-INT: 9-5 Rush: 14 yds TD: 1

The numbers tell the picture of what is known about Flynn. He has two career starts, one major contract and one major trade. On his third team in as many years, Flynn will finally get a chance to prove himself on the NFL level after winning a national title at LSU.

28. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (29)

W/L: 5-10 (0-0) YPG: 225.7 QBR: 72.6 TD-INT: 14-17 Rush: 111 yds TD: 0

Entering his second season at 29 years old isn't ideal and he did little a year ago to prove he was deserving of his first-round status. However, he also proved he belonged in the NFL year last year and should grow in Year 2. The upside is limited but he is serviceable for the time being.

29. Christian Ponder, Minnesota (25)
W/L: 12-14 (0-0) YPG: 177.3 QBR: 77.1 TD-INT: 31-25 Rush: 472 yds TD: 2

Ponder helped lead the Vikings to the playoffs last year but questions still remain about his ability to make plays in key spots against tough competition. He did win his final four starts last season and played big against the Lions, Texans and Packers, but he still has much to prove.

30. EJ Manuel, Buffalo (23)
W/L: N/A YPG: N/A QBR: N/A TD-INT: N/A Rush: N/A TD: N/A

There is a ton to like about the young first-round pick from Florida State. He has excellent mental make-up and will be a tremendous leader in the huddle. He is big, fast, physical, was one of the most efficient passers to play for the Seminoles, and is one of only two players in college football history to start and win four bowl games. There should be doubts but there is a lot more upside with Manuel than most acknowledge.

31. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (25)
W/L: 24-32 (0-0) YPG: 227.4 QBR: 79.8 TD-INT: 78-63 Rush: 902 yds TD: 4

Since his days at Kansas State, Freeman has been a turnover machine. He has 63 interceptions and 36 fumbles in four NFL seasons after 34 interceptions in three college seasons. That is 97 interceptions in seven seasons of football. There is a reason Mike Glennon was drafted.

32. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville (23)
W/L: 5-19 (0-0) YPG: 155.0 QBR: 70.2 TD-INT: 21-17 Rush: 154 yds TD: 0

Many times in the NFL a player falls into a horrible situation and is given very little chance to succeed. That is certainly the case with Gabbert, however, he has shown little in the way of true NFL upside.

Teaser:
Who is the best, worst starting Quarterback in the NFL in 2013?
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-accs-best-traditions
Body:

There are many reasons a sports fan can come to the realization that the college game is a better product than the professional version. Some of that has to do with charming, sleepy college towns and the scenic tailgating. The college game has bigger stadiums filled with more dedicated fans, historic bands and student sections. The offenses are more innovative and the rivalries are drenched in decades of bitterness.

Last but certainly not least, are the college games' traditions. Important locations, songs, items and activities give a deeper meaning and create a deeper connection among fans and the teams they love. And to each other as well. The sense of community at a great college game is stronger than in any other major American sport. The ACC has its fair share of historic practices and strange behaviors. From a legendary rock in South Carolina to a beat-up old lunch pail in Virginia, the ACC can match up with any other league in the nation when it comes to traditions. Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites:

Howard's Rock and The Hill
Legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard was given a massive rock from Death Valley, Calif., back in the early 1960s. It sat in Howard's office for years until IPTAY executive director Gene Willimon placed it atop a pedestal in 1966 at the top of the east end zone on the "hill" that the team runs down before entering Memorial Stadium each home game — the legend says Howard actually asked Willimon to throw the rock away. The next year, the team started rubbing the rock for good luck in the season opener and have been doing it ever since. The crowd comes to a rolling boil before each game while the Tigers players gather atop the hill waiting for the word to charge the gridiron. Many have called it the most exciting 25 seconds in sports.

Chief Osceola and Renegade
The planting of the spear at Doak Campbell Stadium is one of college football's finest traditions. Chief Osceola and his Appaloosa horse Renegade are the official symbols of the Florida State Seminoles, and they both ride out to midfield before each home game to slam a burning spear into the 50-yard line logo. With the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Osceola has been making this pre-game journey since 1978.

The Hokie Slab and "Enter Sandman"
There is little history or tradition with the "Enter Sandman" entrance theme for the Virginia Tech Hokies. In 2000 after playing the BCS title game the year before, Virginia Tech put up a massive new video screen and outsourced the pre-game video production. However, the powers that be in Blacksburg had to pick the song and, clearly, they chose wisely. Besides the signature entrance music, the players also gather in a long tunnel from the lockers to the field and slap a slab of signature Hokie Stone before emerging into a frenzied Lane Stadium.

Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wreck
When that 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe comes peeling across Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field, the Yellow Jackets faithful go berserk. Bearing the same name as the student body population, The Ramblin' Wreck has been leading the football team into home games since 1961. With cheerleaders draped all over the sides and crisp, whitewall tires, the car is not only an amazing college football tradition but also a work of art.

Miami's Smoke Tunnel
Using plumes of billowing smoke isn't some new or unique tradition reserved for Miami alone. However, the U is one of the originals, as the Hurricanes have been charging the field before home games through a cloud of smoke since the 1950s. Led by Sebastian the Ibis, powerhouse teams in South Florida have been demoralizing opponents by simply running out onto the field.

The Sod Cemetery
A professor issued a challenge in 1962 that Florida State team captain Gene McDowell was happy to meet. He was asked to return to FSU with "some sod" from Between the Hedges at Georgia. Ever since, before leaving for road games in which Florida State is the underdog, facing Florida or any championship game, FSU captains explain the significance of the Cemetery to their teammates. Captains continue to return home with a piece of the opponents' turf to be buried just outside the gates of the practice field.

Florida State's War Chant
There are various historical takes on when, where and how this Florida State tradition began, but many point to a big game against Auburn in 1984. The band played the traditional cheer but the student section continued chanting after the band finished and it stuck. By the next season, it was a stadium-wide phenomenon that birthed the now-historic tomahawk chop.

Best of the Rest:

Touching Testudo
Purchased in 1933 by University of Maryland students, the statue of Testudo (formerly Gorham) is a 300-pound bronze statue of a Chesapeake Bay Diamondback Turtle. The members of the football team touch the statue before taking the field of play at each home game.

Virginia Tech's Lunch Pail
Then co-defensive coordinators Rod Sharpless and Bud Foster brought a beat-up, old coal miner's lunch pail from New Jersey in 1995 to use as a motivational ploy. Now a well-known and established tradition of the Hokies' program, each week, the pail contains goals, hurdles and mission statements.

Pitt's Cathedral of Learning
At 535 feet, Pitt's tower is the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere. And the "victory lights" on the top floors are lit after every Pitt win.

Syracuse's No. 44
Retired in 2005, only the best Orange Men have ever been worthy of wearing the prestigious No. 44, including Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little.

NC State's Fury The Wolf
Former NC State head coach Tom O'Brien created Fury the Wolf to bolster the Wolfpack's entrance to Carter-Finley Stadium. The 400-pound bronze wolf was installed in 2008. Packaged with Tuffy the live Finish Tamaskan Dog, there is no mistaking the canine pride at NC State.

Rolling the Quad at Wake Forest
When Wake Forest moved to Winston-Salem in 1956, students needed to replace the ringing of the Wait Hall bell. So they began rolling Hearn Plaza, better known as the Quad.

NC State's re-entry policy
This is much less tradition as much as it is just awesome. Very few stadiums and arenas allow re-entry and Carter-Finley Stadium is one of them. I wonder what the students do out there in the parking lot?

Duke's Cameron Crazies
No, this one doesn't count but it does deserve mention as few hoops traditions compare to the football versions. This one most definitely does.

Teaser:
From a legendary rock in South Carolina to a beat-up old lunch pail in Virginia, the ACC can match up with any other league in the nation when it comes to traditions. Here are some of Athlon Sports' favorites.
Post date: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-defensive-linemen-bcs-era
Body:

Greatness is defined in so many different ways. Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, level of competition, raw talent and athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.

So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest defensive linemen of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 defensive lineman since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 D-Linemen of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter at @AthlonSports, using the hashtag #AthlonDL50.

1. David Pollack, DE, Georgia
The Bulldogs' defensive end is the most decorated defensive lineman of the BCS era. Pollack is a three-time first-team All-SEC and All-American, twice earning consensus All-American honors. He won the SEC Player of the Year award twice in 2002 and '04 as well as the Bednarik, Hendricks (twice), Lombardi and Lott Awards. He and roommate David Greene helped lead Georgia to its first SEC title (2002) in two decades. His highlight-reel plays — namely against South Carolina — and UGA all-time sack record (36.0) makes him the greatest defensive lineman of the BCS era.

2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
If anyone is as decorated as Pollack it’s the Boy Named Suh. The star defensive tackle from Portland (Ore.) won the 2009 Outland and Nagurski Trophies as well as the Lombardi, Bednarik and Willis Awards. He was the first defensive player to win AP Player of the Year honors since its inception in 1998 and he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in ’09. That year Suh claimed the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award when he came up just seconds shy of leading the Huskers to their first conference championship since 1999. He finished his career with 215 tackles, 57 for a loss, 24 sacks and six blocked kicks.

3. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
The local kid from Baton Rouge won everything there is to win in the college ranks. He helped lead LSU to an SEC and BCS National Championship in 2007 while earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He also claimed the Outland, Nagurski and Lott Trophies as well as the Lombardi Award — becoming the first LSU Tiger to win any of those prestigious awards. Dorsey wound up ninth in the Heisman voting '07 too. He was a two-time All-American and finished with 179 tackles, 27 for a loss and 13 sacks. He started 31 of his 52 career games and was drafted fifth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

4. Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State
The star pass-rusher is best known as the NCAA’s all-time single-season sack master when he totaled 24 QB takedowns in 2002. That year, Suggs was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and the inaugural Ted Hendricks Award winner. The accolades didn’t end there, however, as he also took home the Lombardi, Nagurski and Willis trophies as well. He led the NCAA with 31.5 tackles for a loss and forced six fumbles that year tool. He finished his Sun Devils career with 163 tackles, a school-record 65.5 for a loss, 44 sacks and 14 forced fumbles. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

5. Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina
From a talent standpoint, few players have ever been able to match Peppers' freakish quickness and size. As a two-sport star in Chapel Hill, Peppers was a freshman All-American in 1999 before leading the nation in sacks (15.0) as a sophomore. He capped his junior season as a consensus All-American along with Lombardi, Bednarik and Willis Trophy honors. Peppers finished 10th in the Heisman voting in 2001. He started 33 of 34 possible career games and finished with 167 tackles and 30.5 sacks. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

6. Corey Moore, DE, Virginia Tech
The undersized linebacker turned defensive end helped establish the modern era of Hokies football. By his junior season, Moore earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors with 67 tackles, 18.5 for a loss and 13.5 sacks for a team that beat Alabama in the inaugural Music City Bowl. A year later, Moore set the Big East single-season record with 17 sacks en route to the BCS National Championship game. He was a unanimous All-American, Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award winner and earned his second Big East Defensive Player of the Year award. He finished his collegiate career with 58.0 tackles for a loss and 35.0 sacks.

7. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Certainly there is some projecting with this freakish athlete but no player has had a two-year start to a career like Clowney. He started as the SEC Freshman of the Year and earned freshman All-American honors after 36 total tackles, 12 for a loss, eight sacks and five forced fumbles. He refined his craft and exploded as a sophomore with 54 tackles, 23.5 for a loss and 13 sacks to go with three more forced fumbles, as he finished sixth in the Heisman voting a year ago. He was a unanimous All-American, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the Ted Hendricks Award recipient. Should he bring the school’s first SEC crown to Columbia, he may have a case as the greatest defensive lineman in the BCS era.

8. Chris Long, DE, Virginia
The son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie, Long entered the starting lineup as a sophomore, totaling 46 tackles, 10 for a loss and two sacks. As a junior, Long posted 57 tackles, 12 for a loss and four sacks. As a senior, he claimed ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as the Dudley and Hendricks Awards. He was a unanimous All-American after 79 total tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks in his final season, in which he also finished 10th in the Heisman voting. He finished his career with 182 tackles, 36.5 tackles for a loss and 20 sacks before being selected No. 2 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

9. Elvis Dumervil, DE, Louisville
After a slow first two seasons in Louisville, Dumervil burst onto the national scene with a 10-sack junior campaign. That was only a glimpse of things to come, however, as Dumervil posted one of the greatest single-seasons in NCAA history. As a senior, he set the NCAA record with six sacks against Kentucky and broke Dwight Freeney’s Big East single-season record with 20 sacks. He also set the NCAA record with 10 forced fumbles and claimed Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski, Hendricks and consensus All-American honors. He finished 10th in the Heisman voting that year as well before going in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft.

10. John Henderson, DT, Tennessee
As a freshman, Henderson helped lead the Vols to the 1998 BCS National Championship. By the time he had reached the end of his senior season, Henderson had posted 165 tackles and 20.5 sacks — a huge number for an interior defensive lineman — in two first-team All-American seasons. He is one of just four defensive players of the BCS era to claim the historic Outland Trophy and was taken with the ninth overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. 

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

11. Dwight Freeney, DE, Syracuse
Starring during the glory years of Orange football, Freeney left school as a two-time, first-team All-Big East performer after setting the conference’s single-season sack record (17.5). He finished with a school-record 34 career sacks and, at one point, posted 17 consecutive games with at least one QB takedown. His record-setting 2001 campaign made him a unanimous All-American and he finished ninth in the Heisman voting. Freeney posted 51.0 tackles for a loss in a Syracuse uniform and was the 11th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

12. Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
The trophy case for the former Longhorn defensive end is packed with Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski, Lombardi, and Hendricks trophies. He was an All-American who played in 47 career games in Austin, posting 132 tackles, 38 tackles for a loss, 22 sacks and six forced fumbles in his tenure. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American saw his career slowed by a knee injury in 2007 or else his numbers would be even higher. He was a contributing member in all 13 games of the 2005 BCS National Championship run and was taken 13th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.

13. Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU
After filling a backup role for his first two seasons, Hughes took over as a full-time starter in 2008. He recorded 18.5 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks and forced six fumbles en route to his first of two Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also earned All-American honors that year. He returned to Fort Worth as a senior and posted 54 tackles and 11.5 sacks in his second MWC DPOY and All-American season. He was awarded the Hendricks and Lott Trophies in 2009 before being a late first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Hughes ended his Horned Frogs career with 139 tackles, 39 for a loss, 28.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles.

14. Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon
Arguably the best NFL defensive tackle of his generation, Ngata had to overcome a torn ACL in college. Once he recovered, the big interior stuffer posted 107 tackles, 17.5 for a loss and 6.5 sacks over his final two seasons in Eugene. He was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, a consensus All-American and the Morris Trophy winner before being selected 12th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft

15. Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma
Harris was a dominant interior lineman for three of the better Sooners teams of the BCS era. He helped lead his team to the BCS championship game in 2003 while claiming the Lombardi and Willis trophies. He was a two-time consensus All-American and the 14th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

16. Lamarr Woodley, DE, Michigan
The Wolverines' terror off the edge posted 12 sacks as a senior en route to the Lombardi and Hendricks Awards. He was a unanimous All-American before being drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Steelers.

17. Alex Brown, DE, Florida
The two-time, first-team All-American set the school record for sacks before his Gators career ended. Brown was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 and helped Florida claim the 2000 SEC title. He was a three-time, first-team All-SEC player and finished his career with 161 tackles, 47 for a loss and 33 sacks before getting taken in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft.

18. Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
The No. 1 prospect in the nation battled a knee injury during his sophomore year but still posted 58 tackles — including 11 in the ACC Championship game win over Georgia Tech — 10.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. However, Bowers exploded as a senior by leading the nation in tackles for a loss (26.0) and sacks (15.5) to go with his 67 total stops. He was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous first-team All-American and claimed both the Nagurski Trophy and the Hendricks Award.

19. Rien Long, DE, Washington State
The All-American who stayed in his home state is one of just four defensive players to win the Outland Trophy during the BCS era. He was a first-team consensus All-American in 2002 before leaving early for the NFL Draft, where he was a fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans.

20. Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Ellis was one of the big fellas up the middle who helped the Trojans to four straight conference titles and two BCS championship appearances (2004-05). He was a Morris Trophy winner and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and a unanimous All-American in '07. He was the seventh overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. 

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Casey Hampton, DT, Texas
From 1997-2000, Hampton started 37 straight games for the Horns. He posted an absurd 329 tackles and nine forced fumbles. He was a consensus All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 before being taken in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft.

22. Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama
A two-time All-American, Cody helped lead Alabama back to the national championship promised land in 2009. He finished his two-year SEC career with 51 total tackles, 10.5 for a loss and two key blocked kicks. He was a second-round pick by the Ravens in 2010.

23. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
This strong bull in the middle is one of the greatest players in OSU history. He was a two-time Morris Trophy winner in the Pac-10 and earned conference Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2010. The consensus All-American was a second-round pick of the Bears in the 2011 NFL Draft.

24. Vince Wilfork, DT, Miami
Although Wilfork didn’t start until his third year, he was still a proven commodity on teams that played for a BCS national title in 2001. A track and field star as well, Wilfork was a first-team All-Big East performer and has gone onto a Hall of Fame-caliber NFL career.

25. Jamal Reynolds, DE, Florida State
Reynolds helped lead the Seminoles to three consecutive BCS national championship games. He was named the Lombardi and Willis Trophy winners after a 58-tackle, 12-sack season in 2000. He was named a unanimous All-American and taken in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft.

26. David Ball, DE, UCLA
The Bruins' edge rusher led the nation in sacks in 2003 with 16.5 and finished with a school-record 30.5 career sacks. He was the Morris Trophy winner, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American in 2003.

27. Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
The 2006 ACC Defensive Player of the Year finished with 157 total tackles, 41.5 tackles for a loss and 26 sacks in 46 career games. He was a unanimous All-American as a senior and was taken fourth overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Adams tragically passed away from cardiac arrest in 2010.

28. Corey Simon, DT, Florida State
A consensus All-American, Simon helped lead Florida State to back-to-back BCS championship games with a win in the final game over Virginia Tech in 1999. He left school with a then-record 44.0 tackles for a loss and was taken sixth overall in the 2000 NFL Draft.

29. Tamba Hali, DE, Penn State
A unanimous All-American and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, Hali pushed Penn State to its last Big Ten championship as well as a win in the Orange Bowl following the 2005 season. He led the Big Ten with 17.0 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks before being picked 20th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.

30. Darnell Dockett, DT, Florida State
The four-year starter for Florida State was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2003. He left Tallahassee with 247 total tackles, 10.5 sacks and a school-record 65 tackles for a loss. He was a third-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Related: The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era

31. Shaun Cody, DT, USC
Consensus All-American who won back-to-back national championships with the Trojans.

32. J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Star end posted 106 tackles, 36.5 TFL and 11.5 sacks in just two seasons in Madison.

33. Chad Lavalais, DT, LSU
National Defensive P.O.Y. in 2003 who won the BCS national title and started 41 career games.

34. Jevon Kearse, DE, Florida
The Freak played just one year in the BCS era but helped lead the Gators to a national title in 1997.

35. Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College
Two-time All-American, Big East Defensive Player of the Year and three-time all-conference player.

36. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Played in the 2008 BCS title game and finished with 33.0 tackles for a loss and 14.5 career sacks.

37. John Abraham, DE, South Carolina
Posted 23.5 career sacks and was a first-team All-SEC performer.

38. Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin
Willis Award winner, consensus All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

39. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
All-American who won the Hendricks and Willis Awards after leading the nation in sacks (16.0).

40. Courtney Brown, DE, Penn State
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, a consensus All-American and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Related: The Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

41. Richard Seymour, DE, Georgia
42. Marcus Spears, DE, LSU
43. Mario Williams, DE, NC State
44. Will Smith, DE, Ohio State
45. Justin Smith, DE, Missouri
46. Shaun Ellis, DT, Tennessee
47. Kevin Williams, DT, Oklahoma State
48. Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
49. Tom Burke, DE, Wisconsin
50. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

Related: The Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era

The Next 25:

51. Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
52. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
53. John Simon, DE, Ohio State
54. Devon Still, DT, Penn State
55. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
56. Kenechi Udeze, DE, USC
57. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tennessee
58. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
59. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Boston College
60. Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma
61. Jared Devries, DE, Iowa
62. Demarcus Ware, DE, Troy
63. Rod Wright, DT, Texas
64. George Selvie, DE, USF
65. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
66. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
67. Justin Tuck, DE, Notre Dame
68. Gerard Warren, DT, Florida
69. Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida
70. Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
71. Dan Bazuin, DE, Central Michigan
72. Bill Swancutt, DE, Oregon State
73. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pitt
74. Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois
75. Jason Babin, DE, Western Michigan

Top 50s of the BCS Era:

The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era
The Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era
The Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era


Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 defensive linemen of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter (@AthlonSports), using the hashtag #AthlonDL50

Teaser:
College Football's Top 50 Defensive Linemen of the BCS Era
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 15:36
Path: /college-football/top-25-defensive-heisman-candidates-2013
Body:

Heisman voters are beginning to see the error of their ways.

Yes, the quarterback is still the most important position on the field. And no, offensive linemen are not going to start dominating college football's most prestigious award anytime soon. And no true defensive player has yet to win the award. However, defensive players are finally starting to get their due

A defensive player has been a Heisman finalist in three of the last four seasons. Nebraska's nose tackle supreme Ndamkong Suh finished fourth behind Colt McCoy, Toby Gerhart and Alabama's first Heisman winner Mark Ingram in 2009. In 2011, the voters sent special teams dynamo and opportunistic defensive back Tyrann Mathieu to New York. And in the most recent voting, Manti Te'o finished second behind Johnny Manziel after leading Notre Dame to a perfect regular season in 2012.

South Carolina's freak of nature Jadeveon Clowney isn't the frontrunner to win the 2013 Heisman Memorial Trophy. However, there is no reason to believe he won't be in Manhattan come December. And he certainly leads a long and impressive list of amazing college football defenders who absolutely deserve to be mentioned among "College Football's Most Outstanding Player(s)."

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (12/1)
There is little doubt that Clowney is the most physically gifted player in the nation. He is a near lock as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. And because he set the table as a sophomore with a monster hit against Michigan and huge numbers statistically, he has a great chance at landing in New York. The monster defensive end finished third in the nation in sacks (1.08 pg) and second nationally in tackles for loss (1.96 pg). He enters his third year with 21.0 sacks, eight forced fumbles and 35.5 tackles for a loss and because he plays a stat-heavy defensive position, his box score will speak for itself. However, winning the SEC East might be a must if Clowney hopes to take home the trophy.

2. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
He is a first-team All-American. He is the top linebacker prospect in the nation for next year’s NFL Draft. He plays a stat-heavy position as the leader of the defense for the two-time defending BCS champs. He led the Crimson Tide in tackles a year ago and enters his final season with 211 tackles, 14.0 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, five interceptions and three career defensive touchdowns. And his team will be preseason No. 1 again. He could very easily be this year’s Manti Te’o in terms of team success and individual production.

Related: The SEC's Top Heisman Candidates in 2013

3. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
The freakish, five-star athlete from Los Angeles Loyola broke onto the national scene in 2012. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound edge rusher led the Bruins in sacks (13.5) and tackles for a loss (21.5) and constantly disrupted the opposing backfield. He makes plenty of big plays — Barr had four forced fumbles and a blocked kick last year as well — and plays for a team with conference championship hopes. Packaged with his elite first-round NFL upside, Barr has a chance to win all types of national awards this fall.

4. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
There may not be a harder hitter in the nation than Shazier and that includes Clowney. He flies all over the field with elite speed and athleticism as he led the 12-0 Buckeyes in tackles (115) and tackles for a loss (17.0). He posted five sacks, forced three fumbles and returned his only interception for a touchdown. He has electric ability and looks to make the big play at all times. Once he refines his craft and plays more under control, he will have a chance to make some Heisman waves — especially, if the Buckeyes go unbeaten once again.

Related: The Big Ten's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013

5. Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
From a physical standpoint, Tuitt might be one of the few players in the nation who can compete with Mr. Clowney. A potential top-10 NFL pick, Tuitt brings elite size, speed and skill to a position that produces big-time highlights — like this one. The massive sophomore led the team in sacks (12.0) a year ago and returns to what should be the nation's top defensive line. Tuitt will be the Irish's star defender this year.

6. Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
The guy taking over for Jarvis Jones will pleasantly surprise in 2013. Jenkins is bigger and more physical than Jones and brings an elite work ethic to the rebuilt Georgia 3-4 defense. He played in all 14 games as a true freshman a year ago and finished second on the team in sacks (5.0). With a chance at a national title at a playmaking, stat-heavy position, Jenkins could easily find himself where Jones couldn't — in New York at season's end.

7. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
The Cougars' outside defender is penciled in as a first-round selection next May as he returns to lead one of the more underrated defenses in the nation. The do-everything linebacker posted an absurd 22.0 tackles for a loss to go with 53 total tackles, 13.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, two blocked kicks and a pair of interceptions — one returned for a touchdown. With Ziggy Ansah in the NFL this fall, Van Noy takes over as the star of the BYU defense.

Related: 2013's Top Independent Heisman Candidates

8. Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
The star defensive end came to TCU as one of the most heralded recruits to ever sign with the Horned Frogs. He didn't wait long to make his mark and prove the hype was legit, as he finished third in the Big 12 in sacks (10.0) a year ago. Fields led the league's top defense by posting 53 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and an interception. He is suspended for the season opener against LSU meaning he will miss a national opportunity to make a big statement, otherwise he would have a strong argument as a top-5 candidate on this list.

9. Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Lynch is clearly the most talented defender in the newly minted American Athletic Conference. The monstrosity of a defensive end starred as a true freshman at Notre Dame in 2011, leading the team in sacks. After his breakout debut in South Bend, he transferred back home to Florida and sat out last season. Now eligible, Lynch could swing the balance of power in the AAC with his play along the line of scrimmage. He could easily be a top-10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Related: The American Athletic Conference's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013

10. Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State
The star defensive lineman for the Sun Devils led the Pac-12 in sacks (13.0) and tackles for a loss (23.5). He was virtually unblockable last season and he was rewarded with Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He returns for his senior season and leads what was one of the best defenses west of the Mississippi. If ASU can win the South it will be because of Sutton's play and that could get him some Heisman love.

11. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
The No. 1 safety in the nation is returning as one of the defensive leaders for the two-time defending BCS national champions. He dominated the back end of arguably the best defense in the nation, patrolling the secondary to the tune of five interceptions a year ago. He makes plays against the both the run and the pass and has to be considered the most complete, best all-around defensive back in the nation.

12. Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
There are three superstars on the Cardinal's defense this fall and Murphy is the most likely to get some Heisman publicity. He led the team in sacks (10.0) and tackles for a loss (18.0) while posting 56 total tackles and returning his lone interception for a touchdown. With marquee showdowns and national championship aspirations, Murphy could find himself in the mix for the stiff-armed trophy.

Related: The Pac-12's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013

13. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Despite missing the final seven games of the season, Jeffcoat still finished second on the Longhorns in sacks (4.0) and tackles for a loss (11.0) as well as fumbles forced (2). The son of Jim Jeffcoat is a refined, polished pass-rusher who proved his recruiting hype was real when he posted a great sophomore season (8.0 sacks, 16.5 TFL). If Texas has a defensive turnaround like many in Austin are hoping for, it will be because of the electric play of Jeffcoat.

Related: The Big 12's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013

14. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
The first-team All-American patrols the back end of the Cardinal secondary. He is a projected first-round NFL Draft pick heading into his final season for Stanford after a huge 2012 campaign. Reynolds totaled 47 tackles and returned six interceptions for 301 yards and three touchdowns. More big plays like that from Reynolds and he will be getting much-deserved Heisman love.

15. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Unfortunately, defensive tackles have to be truly transcendent (e.g., Suh or Oregon's Haloti Ngata) to be considered legitimate Heisman contenders. This LSU star could easily be the best player in the nation at his position, as he is now one of the most experienced members of the Bayou Bengals' defense. He should build substantially on his 30-tackle, 3.0-sack, 10.0-TFL sophomore season.

16. Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
This might be a bit optimistic but Thompson has all the tools to become one of the nation's best players as just a sophomore. He posted 74 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, three interceptions and recovered one big fumble against Washington State last season. Now he shifts from safety to linebacker to get around the football more. Fans in the Northwest can bet that UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will will find all sorts of ways to utilize this future superstar on the field.

17. A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee
The star tackler for the Vols led the SEC in stops last year and was fourth nationally (138 total tackles). Yet, on a team that was horrendous on defense and didn't make a bowl game, he needs some extra pizzazz to be mentioned among the nation's top defenders. Well, he scored six rushing touchdowns a year ago as a goal-line back on 12 carries. Lead the nation in tackles and score six more touchdowns again this fall and Johnson will get plenty of national respect.

18. Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
The Beavers' edge rusher is one of the most underrated defensive players in the nation. He finished with 44 total tackles, 9.0 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss for arguably the most improved defense in the nation last year. With Pac-12 North division title expectations looming in 2013, Crichton won't be an unknown for much longer.

19. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
As long as he stays healthy, Borland is as big a playmaker as there is in the nation. He enters his senior season with 13 career forced fumbles, three career interceptions, 13.0 career sacks and a ridiculous 41.0 tackles for a loss. All of this alongside his 309 career total tackles for the three-time defending Big Ten champions.

20. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
The issue with cornerbacks and the Heisman is the lack of opportunities. The best covermen are left alone by opposing quarterbacks so one would have to be special (e.g., Charles Woodson) to compete for this award. But I.E.O. makes enough big plays — see 2012's four interceptions and six forced fumbles — to deserve consideration.

21. Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
If USC expects to return to Pac-12 contention, Breslin needs to build on his outstanding 2012 campaign. He was tied for fifth nationally in sacks a year ago (13.0) in his first season at Heritage Hall. He added 19.5 tackles for a loss and 62 total tackles.

22. Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
The former elite five-star recruit is rounding into form for the defending ACC champion Seminoles. He makes big plays in the secondary and leads a defense that could once again be one of the nation's best. What gives Joyner an edge, however, might be his special teams play. He averaged nearly 25 yards per return on 18 kick returns last year.

Related: The ACC's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013

23. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
The supremely talented coverman should get national respect for his overall ability. He posted 78 total tackles, forced four fumbles and blocked two kicks a year ago, but what makes him a Heisman contender is his versatility. Should Will Muschamp need Purifoy on offense or special teams, he could deliver big-time plays.

24. Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
The junior could be the next big star nationally for the Broncos' defense. He posted 48 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and an interception last year. Should Boise State run the table or finish 12-1, Lawrence will get much of the credit on defense.

25. Andrew Jackson, LB, Western Kentucky
There is a good chance WKU becomes a huge story in 2013 with Bobby Petrino leading the way and Jackson would be both the reason and a beneficiary. Jackson totaled 122 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks and four forced fumbles a year ago. Look for Jackson to become more of a household name this fall.

Best of the Rest:

Domnique Easley, DT, Florida
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Christian Jones, LB, Florida State
Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
Hayes Pullard, LB, USC
Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas
James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Noah Spence, DE, Ohio State
Josh Harvey-Clemons, S/LB, Georgia


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Teaser:
The Top 25 Defensive Heisman Candidates in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 14:53
Path: /college-football/top-independent-heisman-contenders-2013
Body:

Notre Dame is tied with USC (counting Reggie Bush) and Ohio State for the all-time NCAA lead with seven Heisman Trophy winners. Army has three such awards and Navy has a pair of stiff-armed trophies.

That being said, only one of those 12 Heisman campaigns — Tim Brown in 1987 — took place after 1965. Needless to say, it has been a long drought for these three formerly esteemed programs. Manti Te’o nearly ended that trend last year with a remarkable senior season.

While Army, Navy and Notre Dame have been the preeminent Independent programs for nearly two decades in college football, Independent Heisman Trophies were much more common place than one might imagine. Miami’s Vinny Testaverde in 1986, Boston College’s Doug Flutie in 1984, South Carolina’s George Rogers in 1980 and Pitt’s Tony Dorsett in 1976 all won the great honor as an independent.

So who are the best Independent Heisman candidates in 2013? 

1. Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
A potential top-10 NFL draft pick next spring, Tuitt is one of the most physically impressive ends in the nation. The first-team All-American will spearhead one of the nation’s best defensive lines and plays a stat-heavy position, unlike teammate Louis Nix. Tuitt posted 47 total tackles, 12.0 sacks, 13.0 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles, blocked a kick and provided one of the most exciting highlights of last season with his 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Navy.

2. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
The Cougars' outside defender is also penciled in as a first-round selection next May as he returns to lead one of the more underrated defenses in the nation. The do-everything linebacker posted an absurd 22.0 tackles for loss to go with 53 total tackles, 13.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, two blocked kicks and a pair of interceptions — one returned for a touchdowns.

3. Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy
The young, hard-working freshman from Nashville, Tenn., took some time to earn his spot in the starting lineup. But when he finally broke through in Week 6 against Central Michigan, he blossomed into one of the more impressive first-year players in the nation. He finished with 898 yards passing and a 9:2 TD:INT ratio to go with his 649 yards rushing and 10 scores on the ground. More importantly, he led the Midshipmen to a 6-2 record. The Middies' sophomore signal-caller could explode onto the national scene in 2013.

4. Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
Wide receivers simply don’t get many Heisman votes but Hoffman is one of the nation’s top pass-catchers. He hauled in 100 passes for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago. He has to break in a new quarterback this time around, but new starter Taysom Hill (more on him in a second) has tons of ability and the system is a very statistically friendly one.

5. Taysom Hill, QB, BYU
This sophomore from Pocatello, Id., is one of the most gifted athletes on the Cougars roster and he has fans excited about the future of BYU football. He missed the final seven games of the year but showed flashes of elite ability as just a freshman before getting hurt. He threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 336 yards and four more scores on the ground as Riley Nelson’s backup.

6. Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Elite All-American player who plays an unheralded position that doesn't pad stats.

7. George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame
Is the starter for now and has speed to burn. He will post big numbers if he gets 250 touches.

8. Raymond Maples, RB, Army
Could build on his 223-att., 1,215-yard, 2-TD season from a year ago if he can hold onto the ball.

9. Greg Bryant, RB, Notre Dame
The Irish's sleeper has elite ability and could easily take over the starting role.

10. Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
Posted 74 receptions, 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore last year.

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Teaser:
The Top Independent Heisman Contenders in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 14:44
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/big-tens-top-heisman-contenders-2013
Body:

The Big Ten dominated the Heisman Trophy in the 1990s.

From 1991 to '99, the Big Ten claimed four Heisman Trophies — Desmond Howard (1991), Eddie George ('95), Charles Woodson ('97) and Ron Dayne ('99). However, since the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher won the award 14 years ago, only one Big Ten player has claimed the most coveted trophy in sports (Troy Smith, 2006).

That trend could change this year. If one league is going to knock the SEC off its recent Heisman pedestal — it’s won four of the last six — it might be the Big Ten.

Elite national championship-caliber quarterbacks and productive, extremely versatile All-American tailbacks fill the list of potential Big Ten Heisman Trophy contenders in 2013 (complete with updated Vegas odds):

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (13/2)
The Buckeyes' quarterback was easily the biggest finalist snub this past season, as he ended up finishing fifth in the voting. As the unquestioned leader of an unbeaten Ohio State squad, Miller single-handedly carried the Bucknuts to victory week after week. He was fourth in the Big Ten in rushing (105.9 ypg), second in passing efficiency and second in total offense. Few players on this list can improve their numbers like Miller will in his second year in Urban Meyer's unstoppable spread scheme. His electric, playmaking ability, raw toughness and perfect fit in the system make him a virtual lock as a Heisman contender next season — as well as a potential top overall NFL Draft pick.

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska (18/1)
Few players make the eye-popping plays in the backfield like Martinez. He showed marked improvement in efficiency and decision making this fall, leading the Big Ten in total offense (277.9 ypg) and passer rating (141.59). He finished with 2,871 yards passing, 1,019 yards rushing and accounted for 33 total touchdowns. A pair of potential showdowns with Braxton Miller will likely determine T-Magic’s Heisman fate. Four more losses for the Big Red and Martinez will find it hard to get to New York without elite statistics.

3. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan (33/1)
Fans in Ann Arbor have been waiting for Gardner for years and 2013 will be his chance to shine. In just five starts last year, the former elite recruit accounted for 18 touchdowns, just five interceptions and 264 yards of offense per game. He fits Brady Hoke's scheme better than Denard Robinson yet Gardner has similar athletic ability. His ability to pass the football could set him apart from his former teammate and could make him the Big Ten Player of the Year.

4. Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern
The Northwestern offense is as dynamic as any in the nation and Mark will be the centerpiece. He rushed for 1,366 yards, caught 20 passes and scored on two punt returns. He can do everything for a team looking to win its first Big Ten title since 1995. With exciting players returning around him, Mark's only negative heading into the season will be the losses along the offensive line. That said, the Wildcats normally plug in the next guy on a roster that isn't ever overloaded with talent.

5. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska (25/1)
Nebraska has always loved to run the football and the explosive back will finally be the full-time starter in Lincoln. After then-incumbent Rex Burkhead went down with an injury last season, Abdullah stepped in and the sophomore provided big support in the running game. He posted six 100-yard efforts over a nine-week span in place of Burkhead and he should get the lion's share of carries this fall.

6. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
As a redshirt freshman a year ago, Gordon rushed for over 600 yards on more than 10 yards per carry. His 216-yard effort against Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game was a glimpse of his elite upside. And he did all of that as the third stringer behind Montee Ball and James White. With Ball gone, it should be the bigger, more physical Gordon not the smaller more all-purpose White who gets the feature back workload for new Badgers coach Gary Andersen in 2013.

7. Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern
Not many players can boast a stat line like Colter’s. In 2012, he threw for 872 yards and eight touchdowns and also rushed for 894 yards and 12 touchdowns. And over the last two seasons, he has caught 59 passes for 635 yards and three scores. He will continue to split time with the more pro-style Trevor Siemian and that will impact Colter's Heisman upside. But make no mistake, Colter has electric athletic ability and he will be at his best now with two full seasons under his belt.

8. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
If Hyde can stay on the field and hold off a deep and talented depth chart of running backs, he has a chance to be one of the league’s most productive players. He averaged nearly 100 yards per game a year ago (97.0) and scored 16 touchdowns, including at least one score in each of the final seven games of the year. He is a perfect fit for the Miller-led, Urban Meyer-designed spread offense.

9. Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
He will have to break in a new quarterback (who could be a true freshman) but Robinson established himself as the league’s premier wide receiver in 2012. He was the only Big Ten player to top 1,000 yards receiving (1,018), 70 receptions (77) or 10 touchdown receptions (11). If this offense can find some consistency at quarterback, Robinson could post an All-American season for Bill O’Brien’s potent and creative offense.

10. Indiana’s Quarterback
Tre Roberson appears to be the frontrunner here, but it may not matter who gets the snaps. Roberson is an electric athlete who was off to a huge start last year through six quarters — 368 yards, 2 TD, INT, 133 yards rushing, 3 TD — before being lost for the season with an injury. That said, Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld helped this offense lead the Big Ten in passing (311.2 ypg). As long as Kevin Wilson is calling the plays, whoever is under center for the Hoosiers will have a big season.

11. James White, RB, Wisconsin
The former high school teammate of Giovani Bernard, White may be destined to be the greatest backup running back in amateur football history. He posted 1,052 yards and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman behind John Clay. He then rushed for 713 yards and six scores behind Montee Ball. Last year, he posted 806 yards and 12 scores behind Ball again. With Gordon taking over as the primary back, White is once again in a supporting role.

12. Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan
A big body and a big personality make this offensive tackle one of the most high-profile hog mollies in the nation. Lewan will be the heart and soul of this Michigan offense in 2013 — one that could win the Big Ten championship. His first-round NFL Draft potential helps his case as well.

13. Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska
Bell has one major advantage over Penn State’s Robinson in the race to be the Big Ten’s best wide receiver. He has a great quarterback in Taylor Martinez. Bell has the speed and big-play ability to land in the national conversation. He just needs to build on his 50-catch, 863-yard, 8-TD sophomore season.

14. Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa
The guy whose name rhymes with Heisman was forced into action last year and quickly became an Iowa cult hero. The burly, blue-collar runner stepped into the lineup and rushed for four consecutive 100-yard games before getting nicked up late in the year. Should he stay healthy and get the carries, Weisman will post big numbers.

15. Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
It will be very interesting to see how the new offensive coaching staff impacts the production in the passing game for the Badgers. Abbrederis figures to be the most dependable and most consistent receiver in the league once again and could see a boost in his production in the new scheme.

Big Ten Team Previews

Leaders DivisionLegends Division
IllinoisIowa
IndianaMichigan
Ohio StateMichigan State
Penn StateMinnesota
PurdueNebraska
WisconsinNorthwestern

Best of the Rest:

16. Zach Zwinak, RB, Penn State
17. Derrick Green, RB, Michigan
18. Donnell Kirkwood, RB, Minnesota
19. Michigan State’s Running Back
20. Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue
21. Spencer Long, OL, Nebraska
22. Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana
23. Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois
24. Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan
25. Jacob Pederson, TE, Wisconsin

Five Defensive Players to Watch:

Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Noah Spence, DE, Ohio State
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State

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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 101-125
College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
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Teaser:
The Big Ten's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 14:19

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