Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /nfl/timeline-demise-new-england-patriots
Body:

This isn’t going to be pretty for the New England Patriots.


Contract disputes, broken forearms, video scandals and Super Bowl disappointments are one thing. Murder is an entirely different issue all together.


New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., has been tied to the investigation of the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd near the tight end’s $1.3 million Massachusetts home. Lloyd was shot and found dead Monday night about a mile from Hernandez’ North Attleborough mansion.


And it doesn’t look good for the Patriots star tight end.


Every American has the right to be “innocent until proven guilty,” but the court of public opinion has no choice but to rule on Hernandez. His track record of behavior has been well documented and in no way conjures up an image of innocence.


Hernandez is currently the subject of a civil lawsuit in which he allegedly shot a Connecticut man in February — a man who claims to have been a friend of his for many years. He also has a long history of drug issues both at Florida and throughout the NFL Draft process.


Unfortunately, for the once untouchable and revered football genius that is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, this is simply the latest — and by far the worst — incident in a long line of questionable occurrences that have slowly destroyed this once proud football team.

New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 2004 and a murder investigation will be the final nail in the Pats' dynastic coffin. The franchise became the shining example for NFL success when it won three Super Bowls in four years in the early 2000s. However, for the better part of the last decade, this organization has been cannibalizing itself with more punch lines than a Jaguars home game in December.


And its demise began with a perfect season.


2007: Randy Moss and Spygate
Moss is an awesome football player. There is no doubting his ability. But there are plenty of doubts about his character, work ethic and dedication. But Belichick took a risk on the troubled wideout and it paid off in the short term with a monster '07 season. Moss helped lead the Patriots to the NFL’s second unbeaten regular season in history. That same year, however, Belichick was also hit with the largest fine ever imposed on an NFL coach during the 87-year history of the league. Busted for filming the New York Jets’ sideline signals during a game, he was fined $500,000 while the Patriots were hit with a $250,000 fine of their own and forced to forfeit their 2008 first-round pick. Moss had plenty of success for the Pats but his career in Boston came to an abrupt and controversial end three years later when he was traded four weeks into the 2010 season.


2008: Super Bowl XLII
Tom Brady was 3-0 in Super Bowls when he and Moss led the 18-0 Patriots into Super Bowl XLII against the upstart New York Giants, who won the NFC title after getting into the playoffs as a wild card team. With history within the Patriots' grasp, the highest scoring team (589 points) the NFL has ever seen was held to just 14 points by a stellar Giants defensive line. Eli Manning and David Tyree were the heroes that Super Sunday, not Brady or Moss. It was the beginning of the end.


2009: Scott Pioli Heads West
The VP of Player Personnel in New England responsible for building all but one of the Patriots' Super Bowl teams left the organization following the 2008 season to become the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. This is what Belichick had to say when he lost his long-time wingman: “To sum up in words everything Scott Pioli has meant to this organization and to me personally would be difficult, if not impossible. There is no more capable, hardworking, loyal, team-oriented person than Scott Pioli.” Needless to say, losing Pioli was a huge blow to the Patriots' long-term stability and personnel decisions have been questionable at best since his departure.


2009: Fourth and 2

With 2:23 left in the fourth quarter of a critical Week 10 showdown with archrival Peyton Manning and the Colts, Belichick’s coaching prowess was called into question for the first time. Leading by six, he elected to go for it on fourth and two from his own 28-yard line. The Patriots failed to convert and the Colts scored three plays later to win the game 35-34. It was the first crack in Belichick’s coaching armor, as he was skewered by fans and experts alike for the horrendous decision. His public whining about the spot of the ball the following Monday only stoked the media fire.


2010: The Tight End Draft
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were elite college players, but both had major red flags on their draft resumes. This is why the Patriots were able to snag both players in the second and fourth rounds, respectively, in the 2010 NFL Draft. Hernandez has an obviously checkered past (and present) off the field and Gronkowski was a wild man with severe injury problems while at Arizona. Well, after three seasons in the league, both players’ warts have returned to haunt New England. Gronkowski can’t stay healthy or out of grainy, late-night cell phone videos while Hernandez is involved in a murder investigation. (Brandon Spikes also was part of this draft class.)


2010: Brandon Spikes Suspended
The troubled middle linebacker from Florida was a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. The talented tackler violated the NFL’s banned substances policy, however, and was suspended for four games prior to Week 14 of his rookie year. Additionally, he was involved in a bizarre sex tape incident with Doc Rivers' daughter, Callie, and his brother is serving a life sentence in prison for first-degree murder after a drug deal went bad in 2001. Neither of these tidbits are an indictment of his character but are merely statements of fact.


2011: Albert Haynesworth Trade
The Patriots gave up a fifth-round pick in late July 2011 to acquire the troubled and self-absorbed defensive tackle. Haynesworth built a long reputation for poor work ethic and is widely considered a clubhouse cancer. He lasted six games with New England and was placed on waivers four months later after a public sideline confrontation with assistant coach Pepper Johnson.


2012: Super Bowl XLVI
The Patriots once again met the New York Giants in the biggest sporting event of the year. And once again, Brady was defeated by the younger Manning. The Patriots coughed up yet another second half lead to the G-Men as Manning led three unanswered scoring drives in the final 21 minutes of play. The Patriots were held scoreless for the final 26:20.


2012: Aqib Talib's Rap Sheet
Where to begin with the former Kansas Jayhawks star corner? At the rookie symposium, he got into a fight with fellow Bucs rookie Cory Boyd. The following year, he was arrested by Florida police after beating up a taxi driver and resisting arrest. In 2011, a felony warrant was issued for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he fired a gun at his sister’s boyfriend. And last year, the talented defensive back was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Belichick and the Pats re-signed Talib to a one-year deal this March.


2013: Wes Welker’s Contract Dispute
Cutting ties with veterans is a tough but necessary part of life in the NFL. Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick had to make a difficult decision on their star wide receiver this offseason, but clearly the Patriots mishandled the situation. Public comments disparaging Welker’s representation were inaccurate and the last-second offer from the Pats left little room for any negotiation. It may seem like an insignificant issue, but it became a very public divorce over a player who will go down as one of the greatest and most beloved in franchise history.


2013: Tebow-a-palooza
Is Belichick simply doing old friend Urban Meyer a favor? Is Robert Kraft simply trying to sell team merchandise during the offseason? Do the Pats think Tim Tebow can play tight end — considering the sudden lack of depth at the position? Or is Belichick simply THAT arrogant? Whatever the reason, the signing of Tebow this summer will be a major distraction with little chance of return on investment.


This, of course, brings us to Odin Lloyd’s murder.


The slow and painful demise of the once venerated franchise appears to be culminating as one of its biggest stars finds himself as the centerpiece of a murder investigation. Innocent or guilty, New England must cut ties with Hernandez immediately and suffer the consequences both from a PR and depth chart standpoint.


Tom Brady is set to enter his 14th NFL season and will turn 36 in August. How many more years does he have left? Two? Maybe three? Yes, the Patriots play in a horrendous AFC East in the much weaker American Football Conference so they should make the playoffs again this fall. But there will come a time in the very near future when Brady will have to walk away from the game. And when that happens, fans in New England better hope the Red Sox and Bruins are still winning games.


Because it sure as hell doesn't look like Belichick will give them anything to cheer about.

Teaser:
<p> Timeline: The Demise of the New England Patriots</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 14:15
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, NFC, NFC North, NFL
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Packers have gone to the playoffs four straight seasons and in five of head coach Mike McCarthy's seven seasons. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Green Bay Packers 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at San Francisco
Week 2: Washington
Week 3: at Cincinnati
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Detroit
Week 6: at Baltimore
Week 7: Cleveland
Week 8: at Minnesota
Week 9: Chicago (Mon.)
Week 10: Philadelphia
Week 11: at New York Giants
Week 12: Minnesota
Week 13: at Detroit (Thurs.)
Week 14: Atlanta
Week 15: at Dallas
Week 16: Pittsburgh
Week 17: at Chicago

Order your 2013 Green Bay Packers Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: The start to the season won't be easy for the defending NFC North champs. Two road trips to playoff teams in San Francisco and Cincinnati are packaged around a visit from Robert Griffin III, provided he's healthy and on the field. The first month ends abruptly, however, with the earliest possible off weekend in Week 4. A winning record after the first four weeks would be considered a successful start to the year.

Toughest Stretch: Where to begin? The first three are nasty and a four-week stretch in the middle is equally tough (Weeks 8-11). But the final four games will be the toughest and likely most important. Massive NFC matchups with Atlanta and Dallas lead up to a rare visit from historic AFC power Pittsburgh in Week 16 before the season ends on a tough road trip to Chicago. The Packers' fate — and playoff seeding — won't be determined until the final four weeks of the 2013 campaign.

Swing Games: at SF (Week 1), ATL (Week 14)
Crossover Divisions: NFC East, AFC North
Bye Week: Week 4
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .533 (6th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 5th

Easiest Stretch: From Week 4 to Week 7, the Packers will face only one tough opponent. The off weekend feeds into home games with Detroit and Cleveland as well as a road trip to Baltimore. Other than the Ravens, who are clearly not the same team that won the Super Bowl, this four-week stretch should allow for the Packers to breathe somewhat. Additionally, this stretch feeds into games with the Vikings, Bears and Eagles — all of whom are picked to miss the playoffs this year.

Circle The Calendar: There are awesome storylines all over this schedule. A trip to the Bay in a playoff rematch in Week 1, a budding rivalry game with the New York Giants and a trip south to hated rival Dallas in Cowboys Stadium are all huge playoff seeding games. But the date to circle is Week 16. A rematch of Super Bowl XL takes place when the Steel Curtain invades Lambeau Field for a rare cross-conference showdown. Arguably the top two fan bases from the top two franchises will meet in a cold late-season battle. What's not to love?

Divisional Notes: The Packers will play five of their six NFC North games in the second half of their season. Only a home game with the Lions dots the first half of the schedule. But in the middle of the year, divisional games will come hot and heavy. Over a six-week stretch from Week 8 to Week 13, Green Bay will play four divisional games. The season then ends with the oldest and best rivalry game in all of the NFL — in Soldier Field in Chicago.

Playoff Push: As mentioned, the final four weeks might be the toughest of the year, so the playoff push isn't going to be easy for the Pack. But that comes with the territory of being one of the most successful and powerful teams in the league. The real issue may be fatigue and roster depletion. The bye week comes so early that Green Bay could be limping into the final few games. Green Bay will play 13 straight games to end its season.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): The matchup against Atlanta should be equally entertaining and high scoring, as two of the NFL’s best offenses go head-to-head. The road game against Dallas (19th against the pass in 2012) should be business as usual for Aaron Rodgers and company. The same can’t be said, however, for that championship week date with Pittsburgh, which was No. 1 against the pass and No. 2 against fantasy QBs last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: Detroit Lions, NFC, NFC North, NFL
Path: /nfl/detroit-lions-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Jim Schwartz is entering a critical season in Detroit. A good season is likely needed to keep his job as the Lions' head coach. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Detroit Lions 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Minnesota
Week 2: at Arizona
Week 3: at Washington
Week 4: Chicago
Week 5: at Green Bay
Week 6: at Cleveland
Week 7: Cincinnati
Week 8: Dallas
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: at Chicago
Week 11: at Pittsburgh
Week 12: Tampa Bay
Week 13: Green Bay (Thurs.)
Week 14: at Philadelphia
Week 15: Baltimore (Mon.)
Week 16: New York Giants
Week 17: at Minnesota

Order your 2013 Detroit Lions Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: The first month isn't all that daunting (relatively speaking, of course) to start the season. None of the four teams to start the Lions' season are predicted to go to the postseason and this group combined for an 0-2 playoffs mark a year ago. With two divisional games coming at home and a winnable trip to the desert, the Lions could easily begin the season with two or even three wins in the first month. A slow start could spell doom for this coaching regime.

Toughest Stretch: Three of the final five games will feature playoff teams from a year ago and it means the toughest portion of the Lions' slate will come in December. Detroit will face the last three Super Bowl champions before capping the season with a visit to the Twin Cities to take on Adrian Peterson — who could be charging for an NFL rushing record in the season finale. And mixed in is a trip to Philly to take on Chip Kelly and what should be a much-improved Eagles team.

Swing Games: at ARI (Week 2, TB( Week 12 )
Crossover Divisions: NFC East, AFC North
Bye Week: Week 9
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .539 (T-2nd)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 16th

Easiest Stretch: There is no easy stretch for the Lions as this team plays seven games against playoff teams from last year. The good news is the schedule features just five games with predicted playoff teams this year. The first month could provide some victories, and Detroit also will have two winnable games against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia over a three-week stretch (Week 12-14) later in the season.

Circle The Calendar: There are loads of historic NFC rivalry games on the schedule this year as the Lions will play the NFC East in crossover play. But a home game against the Bears in Week 4 might be the most important game of the year. A win could cap a successful first month and would give the Lions some momentum in the division heading into back-to-back road games. A loss could send the Lions spiraling into a new coaching staff. A potential record-setting performance from Adrian Peterson in the season finale will also be must-see TV.

Divisional Notes: The worst part of the Lions' NFC schedule is that they don't get to face the Lions twice. The Packers, Bears and Vikings combined for 31 wins a year ago and all three have eyes on the postseason again this year. Detroit will face all three in the first five weeks of the season and wrap up with a road trip to Minnesota. The Bears may be heading in the wrong direction and Green Bay is still the kings of the NFC North, so back-to-back games in Week 4 and 5 against those two rivals could determine the Lions' divisional fate early in the year. Games with the Vikings bookend the 2013 campaign.

Playoff Push: The month of December will likely be the toughest five-week stretch for the Lions in '13. It means they will have to get work done before the calendar flips. The Packers and Giants are picked to win their divisions this year and the Ravens are the defending champs. If Schwartz wants to keep his job, he better have plenty of wins before he enters the final month of the season.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Matthew Stafford will be more than happy to see just how far Philadelphia’s defense, which allowed the second-most fantasy points to QBs last season, has come. At first glance the Ravens and Giants may look scary, but the Lions get both at home, inside on the turf, and both defenses, especially the defending Super Bowl champs, have seen a lot of changes on their respective depth charts.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/greatest-and-most-bizarre-athlete-name-changes-all-time
Body:

What’s in a name? Much more than a few letters, that is for sure.

Teams change their nicknames all the time. Some organizations refuse to change their name despite odd arithmetic — looking at you, Big Ten. Everything from branding to religion has been cited as a reason to change a name. Some have done it simply to gain exposure and command headlines while others have been forced to change due to societal pressures and sensitivities.

However, this list doesn't apply to the men-less Syracuse Orange or 10-team Big 12 Conference. This one is dedicated just to the greatest and most bizarre athlete name changes of all-time. Here are some of our favorites:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Born: Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.

Growing up in Harlem, Alcindor was quickly discovered as one of the greatest basketball prospects in the history of the sport. He led Power Memorial Academy to three straight New York City Catholic titles before signing with UCLA and leading the Bruins to three straight national championships. He was raised Roman Catholic, however, before his final season at UCLA he joined the Nation of Islam and converted to Sunni Islam in the summer of 1968. The move prompted a name change to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which means "generous servant of the mighty one." At an official press conference in June 1971, the reigning NBA MVP told the world he wanted to go by his Islamic name instead of his given name.

Muhammad Ali
Born: Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.

Named after his father and raised a Baptist by his mother in Louisville, Ky., Ali won a pair of national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Championship and a Light Heavyweight Gold Medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics as Cassius Clay. Clay won his first World Heavyweight Championship against Sonny Liston in 1964 — the same year he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Eleven years later, Ali officially converted to Sunni Islam. He likely didn't have to change his already intimidating name to become arguably "The Greatest" in American sports history.

Metta World Peace
Born: Ronald Williams Artest, Jr.

Not only is this name change one of the most bizarre, it’s also the most ironic. From the Queensbridge projects in Queens, New York, Artest had a hardened edge from his childhood — one story has him witnessing a murder on the court of a YMCA hoops tournament. After three years at St. John’s, the troubled Artest was a first-round pick by the Bulls. In 2004, Artest sprinted into the stands to attack a fan and was given the longest suspension in NBA history. Artest has gained a reputation for being a great defender on the basketball court, but he also never lost his troubled edge. However, in 2011 in a bizarre effort to change his entrenched image and “inspire and bring youth together all around the world,” he officially changed his first name to “Metta” and his surname to “World Peace.”

Sugar Ray Robinson
Born: Walker Smith, Jr.

Many believe the welterweight and middleweight champion was the best pound-for-pound fighter of all time. But many don’t know his birth certificate from Ailey, Ga., read Walker Smith, Jr. After moving to Harlem, and at 14 years old, he attempted to enter his first boxing tournament. But since AAU had a 16-year-old age minimum, Smith had to borrow his friend’s membership card in order to compete. His friend’s name was Ray Robinson. His manager George Gainford added “Sugar” a few years later because his boxing style was a “sweet as sugar.” The rest is history.

Chad Ochocinco
Born: Chad Javon Johnson

The brash wide receiver has made a lot of bizarre — and questionable — decisions in his time as an athlete. Through social media and savvy business moves, Johnson grew his brand both on and off the field until his absurd 2008 name change. Interestingly enough, his official name to change to Chad Ochocinco — which doesn’t even mean eighty-five — coincided with his worst season in the NFL to date. He was never the same player again, has since changed his name back to Chad Johnson and was released from the Dolphins in 2012 due to domestic abuse issues.

Ahmad Rashad
Born: Robert Earle Moore

A College Football Hall of Famer, Moore starred at Oregon as both a wide receiver and running back. He was drafted in 1972 in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals and converted to Islam the same year. Bobby Moore became Ahmad Rashad — meaning "Admirable One Led to Truth" in Arabic — after his mentor Rashad Khalifa. He played for 11 seasons in the NFL and has built a remarkable career as one of sports top broadcasters.

The other Karim Abdul-Jabbar
Born: Sharmon Shah

Shah was a standout running back for the UCLA Bruins in 1995 and was already a member of the Muslim faith when his Imam gave him a new name. The newly minted Karim Abdul-Jabbar quickly gained national notoriety due to its similarities to famed Bruins great hoops star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The basketball Abdul-Jabbar filed a lawsuit in 1998 against the football Abdul-Jabbar, feeling the then Dolphins running back was profiting from the hoops Hall of Famer’s name. Thus, Shah changed his name a third time and is now known as Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar.

Fausto Carmona
Born: Roberto Heredia Hernandez

This story is a long and circuitous one for the current Tampa Bay Rays pitcher. In order to play professional baseball in America, the Dominican native had to obtain an illegal visa under the name Fausto Carmona. He debuted for the Cleveland Indians in 2006 and went 19-8 in his second season, as he helped the Indians to the playoffs in 2007. However, in January 2012, Dominican police arrested Hernandez after leaving the U.S. Consulate, accusing him of using a false identity. When the Indians found out that not only was their starting pitcher not named Fausto Carmona but was also three years older than reported, they placed him on the restricted list. He signed with the Rays 12 months later and is now a member of their starting rotation.

World B. Free
Born: Lloyd Bernard Free

A former NAIA star at Guildford College, Free landed in the NBA as a second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers. But in 1981, on his third NBA team, Free legally changed his first name from Lloyd to World. His nickname “All-World” was the inspiration. He played for five different NBA teams over a 12-year NBA career. He was an All-Star as a Golden State Warrior, was honored by Cleveland as a “Cavaliers Legend” and is currently a Director of Player Development and Community Ambassador for the 76ers.

Bison Dele
Born: Brian Carson Williams

Dele’s story is a tragic and bizarre one that involves a famous musician father (Eugene Williams of The Platters), a nine-year NBA career, a post-career name change honoring his Native American and African ancestry and a terrible South Pacific disappearance. A catamaran trip with Captain Bertrand Saldo, girlfriend Serena Karlan and brother Miles Dabord (born Kevin Williams) ended when Dabord brought the boat into port in Tahiti by himself. No one has ever heard from anyone else aboard the ship since and Dabord eventually overdosed on insulin months after the fatal voyage while reportedly under police suspicion, only adding to the mysterious circumstances.

Pele
Born: Edison Arantes do Nascimento

Born in Brazil and named after Thomas Edison, Pele’s name doesn’t come from a religious belief, bizarre self-image or important family heritage. The greatest soccer player the world has ever seen is named Pele because he couldn’t say his favorite player’s name correctly when growing up. Local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bile was young Nasciemento’s favorite player but he couldn’t say the name correctly and it stuck — despite years of trying to rid himself of the nickname. Now, his one-word name is the most recognized in all of soccer history worldwide.

Leo Nunez
Born: Juan Carlos Oviedo

At age 17, the Dominican pitcher started using the name Leo Nunez — his 16-year-old best friend at the time. The former Royals and Marlins relief pitcher was simply trying to gain an extra year to sell to MLB clubs. He signed with the Pirates before being traded to the Royals for catcher Benito Santiago. After four uneventful years in Kansas City and four similar ones in Miami, Nunez was placed on the restricted list in September 2011 in order to return to the Dominican. He signed a statement saying he used fake identification and was allowed to re-sign in the majors (Tampa Bay). He is currently on the 60-day disabled list.
 

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
Born: Chris Wayne Jackson

One of the SEC’s best players, Jackson excelled as a guard at LSU. He was the third overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in 1990 and went on to a 11-year NBA career with three franchises. He converted to Islam in 1991 and officially changed his name in 1993 — the same year he won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. He is best known for not standing for the National Anthem and calling the U.S. flag a symbol of oppression. He played in Turkey, Russia, Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Japan after his NBA career ended.

He Hate Me
Born: Torrold Deshaun Smart

With a first name like Torrold, it is easy to see why Smart wanted to change his name and went by Rod most of his life. However, the former Western Kentucky running back took it to another level when he put “He Hate Me” on the back of his XFL jersey in 2001. Technically, it was short for his nickname “They Hate Me” but it didn’t fit on his Las Vegas Outlaws jersey. While he clearly wasn’t as committed to his nickname as Ochocinco or World Peace because it was just a nickname and not legally changed, Smart’s “He Hate Me” was the XFL’s top selling jersey. After one year in the XFL and one cup of coffee with the Edmonton Eskimos, Smart actually had a brief NFL career with the Eagles (2001) and Panthers (2002-05). Had he legally changed his name, he might be up there with Ron Artest and Chad Johnson.

Hulk Hogan
Born: Terry Eugene Bollea

This might be a reach because the name Hulk Hogan is simply a character created out of thin air. However, Bollea has built a career as a wrestler, actor, TV personality and entrepreneur due to his brand as Hulk Hogan. No actor has ever absorbed a character like Bollea’s permanent transformation and has turned it into a multimillion dollar brand for himself. Why would he ever go back to being called Terry or Gene?

Teaser:
<p> The Greatest and Most Bizarre Athlete Name Changes of All-Time</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 15:30
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Cowboys, NFC, NFC East, NFL
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Jason Garrett and Tony Romo both enter what is a pivotal year for them and the Cowboys. A trip to the playoffs is a must and since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Dallas Cowboys 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: New York Giants
Week 2: at Kansas City
Week 3: St. Louis
Week 4: at San Diego
Week 5: Denver
Week 6: Washington
Week 7: at Philadelphia
Week 8: at Detroit
Week 9: Minnesota
Week 10: at New Orleans
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: at New York Giants
Week 13: Oakland (Thurs.)
Week 14: at Chicago (Mon.)
Week 15: Green Bay
Week 16: at Washington
Week 17: Philadelphia

Order your 2013 Dallas Cowboys Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Despite the brutal opening weekend rivalry game with the Giants, Dallas has a very manageable first month of the 2013 season. Kansas City, St. Louis and San Diego all missed the playoffs a year ago and all are picked to be at home this postseason as well. All could be improved this fall, so this month isn't a gimme but the Cowboys could easily be 3-1 heading into October.

Toughest Stretch: The final month of the season will be tough for the Boys. Week 12 to Week 16 — despite a game with lowly Oakland at home — features four huge games with NFC rivals. Nasty road trips to face the Giants, Bears and Redskins sandwiched around a home game with Green Bay serve as massive speed bumps during the most critical stretch of the season. The only good news is Dallas will get an off weekend before heading into this five-week stretch.

Swing Games: STL (Week 3), at NO (Week 10)
Crossover Divisions: NFC North, AFC West
Bye Week: Week 11
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .480 (25th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 25th

Easiest Stretch: In addition to three winnable games in September (see "Out of the Gate"), the Cowboys also should be able to make some headway in Week 6-9. During this stretch, the Cowboys will face four teams not picked to make the playoffs. Home games with Washington and Minnesota are sandwiched around road games with the Eagles and Lions — two teams who combined for 24 losses a year ago. Both of these portions of the schedule should give Dallas a chance to pad its win total.

Circle The Calendar: Home games with both Manning brothers, Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson will be great. And most every NFC East showdown is massive. But how can a home game in Week 17 against Philadelphia not be the most important of the season? Dallas has had the opportunity in each of the last two seasons to get into the playoffs with a win on the final Sunday of the year. Jason Garrett and company lost both of these games and therefore has missed the postseason both times. A win against the Eagles in the season finale could change that trend and send this once proud franchise back into the playoffs.

Divisional Notes: The always important, always heated NFC East rivalry games will come in bunches this year. The two games with the Giants are randomly located in Week 1 and Week 12, but Dallas will play back-to-back divisional games twice with Washington and Philly. The first meetings come in Week 6 and 7 before ending the season with, you guessed it, Washington and Philly. Few teams will play back-to-back divisional games to end the season like the Cowboys will in 2013.

Playoff Push: As mentioned earlier, the final month of the season looks to be the toughest stretch to Dallas' season. The Giants, Bears, Packers and Redskins could all be fighting for NFC playoff seeding and all four are on the Cowboys slate in the final six weeks. Winnable games with Oakland and Philadelphia at home are the only comfort for Dallas after taking their off weekend in Week 11.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Road games in Chicago are rarely fun, let alone for a Monday night game in December. And don’t forget that the Bears intercepted five Tony Romo passes when they last met. The Packers were no slouch against the pass (11th) either, although that Week 16 date in Washington (30th) could be a different story. Romo threw for 659 yards and five TDs (along with five INTs) in two games against the Redskins last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 12:30
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC North, Cleveland Browns, NFL
Path: /nfl/cleveland-browns-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

Cleveland hasn't made the playoffs since 2002. But with a new head coach and emerging young nucleus of talent, Browns fans are hoping that trend will end soon. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Cleveland Browns 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: Miami
Week 2: at Baltimore
Week 3: at Minnesota
Week 4: Cincinnati
Week 5: Buffalo (Thurs.)
Week 6: Detroit
Week 7: at Green Bay
Week 8: at Kansas City
Week 9: Baltimore
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Cincinnati
Week 12: Pittsburgh
Week 13: Jacksonville
Week 14: at New England
Week 15: Chicago
Week 16: at New York Jets
Week 17: at Pittsburgh

Order your 2013 Cleveland Browns Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: The season opener will be huge for the new coaching regime as Miami comes to town in a very winnable game. Getting the Rob Chudzinski era under way with a win is important considering both Baltimore and Cincinnati, as well as NFC 2012 playoff team Minnesota, lurk in the first month. A 2-2 start to the season would be a big success heading into a short week and primetime showdown with Buffalo in Week 5.

Toughest Stretch: The four weeks following the off weekend might be the toughest stretch despite the contest with the lowly Jaguars in Week 13. Road trips to Cincy and New England and a home game with rival Pittsburgh over a four-week span has to be the toughest stretch of action for the Browns. Especially with a home test against the Bears after a trip to Foxborough, Mass.

Swing Games: at KC (Week 8), JAC (Week 13)
Crossover Divisions: AFC East, NFC North
Bye Week: Week 10
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .492 (21st)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 24th

Easiest Stretch: There is no easy stretch for the Browns but there may be a chance for some wins in the heart of the schedule from Week 5 to Week 8. Buffalo and Detroit at home are very winnable games and a trip to Kansas City could also provide a chance for success. Yes, a road trip to Lambeau Field lurks in Week 7, but this stretch might be the best shot at wins for Cleveland.

Circle The Calendar: There isn't a major storyline game on this schedule as neither of Chudzinski's former teams — San Diego or Carolina — is on the slate. College teammates Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon (Jacksonville WR) will be reunited in Week 13, while Trent Richardson will square off with Eddie Lacy (Green Bay RB) in Week 7. The most important game, however, will likely be Week 1 against Miami. A winnable game in Chudzinski's debut at home could set the tone for the entire season — and entire coaching tenure.

Divisional Notes: The worst part of the Browns' AFC North schedule is that they don't get to the play the Browns twice. It means that Cleveland might have the worst divisional schedule in the NFL this fall. The good news is that the six games are spread out over the course of the season. A bye week between hosting the Ravens and visiting Paul Brown Stadium also is helpful. Ending the year with a road trip to potential division champ Pittsburgh will be a rough way to end a new coach's first season.

Playoff Push: There are two extremely winnable games in the final month as games with Jacksonville and the Jets provide opportunity for success. However, road trips to New England and Pittsburgh in December will be nasty. A swing home game with Chicago could give the Browns a 3-2 mark in the final month and some potential momentum heading into the offseason — if the team isn't in playoff contention.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Those counting on Trent Richardson to win them a fantasy championship didn’t get a lot of help from the schedule-makers. The Patriots and Bears were ranked among the top 10 fantasy defenses against RBs last season. The Jets were a little more generous (No. 21) in this category, but there’s no guarantee that the Browns’ passing attack will be able to divert the defensive attention away from T-Rich.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 11:40
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC North, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs four times since 1990, but three of those four have come in the last four seasons. This franchise is looking to take the next step in the postseason this fall. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Cincinnati Bengals 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Chicago
Week 2: Pittsburgh (Mon.)
Week 3: Green Bay
Week 4: at Cleveland
Week 5: New England
Week 6: at Buffalo
Week 7: at Detroit
Week 8: New York Jets
Week 9: at Miami (Thurs.)
Week 10: at Baltimore
Week 11: Cleveland
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: at San Diego
Week 14: Indianapolis
Week 15: at Pittsburgh
Week 16: Minnesota
Week 17: Baltimore

Order your 2013 Cincinnati Bengals Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Few teams will begin the season like the Bengals in 2013. The first five weeks of the season have to be the league's toughest opening slate and the first three weeks are definitely the NFL's most difficult opening. Home games with Pittsburgh, Green Bay (after a short week) and New England coupled with road games against Chicago and Cleveland offer as nasty a first month as there is in the NFL. And two of these contests are divisional games that will likely decide playoff seeding come the season's end.

Toughest Stretch: The final month of the season won't be any easier for Marvin Lewis and company. Road games with San Diego and Pittsburgh will be tough and three other playoff teams from a year ago — Indianapolis, Minnesota and Baltimore — will come to Paul Brown Stadium during the season's most important month. Not only are two of those tests against divisional foes, but this slate also includes four AFC teams that figure to battle for a postseason berth.

Swing Games: at SD (Week 13), IND (Week 14)
Crossover Divisions: AFC East, NFC North
Bye Week: Week 12
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .508 (12th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 4th

Easiest Stretch: With the AFC's toughest schedule according to Athlon Sports, there are few breaks in '13 for the Bengals. But there is a four-week stretch in the heart of the season that will allow this team catch its breath. Three of them are on the road but Cincy should be favored heavily in all four. Fans of the Bills, Lions, Jets and Dolphins can't possibly be expecting to make the playoffs this fall, can they?

Circle The Calendar: Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Big Ben and Adrian Peterson are all coming to Cincinnati this year (buy your season tickets now, folks). But when the defending Super Bowl champs roll into town for the regular-season finale, all eyes will be on Paul Brown Stadium. The AFC North championship and/or a wild card berth should be on the line, providing a fitting end to the regular season.

Divisional Notes: The AFC North could be the most balanced and deepest division in the AFC this fall (sorry, Browns fans). The good news is the Bengals will get extra time to prepare for both Pittsburgh in Week 2 (Monday night) and the trip to Baltimore in Week 10 (Thursday night game in Miami the previous week). The bad news is the Bengals will play at Pittsburgh and will host Baltimore over the final three weeks of the season. This does afford the team a chance to win the division on its own. However, it also means the division favorite (Steelers) and the defending Super Bowl champs could control their own destiny as well. Much will hang in the balance in the final three weeks for Cincinnati.

Playoff Push: As the "toughest stretch" shows, the final month of the season will be brutal for the Bengals. The two division games are massive but a potential wild card showdown with Indianapolis and visit from the developing Vikings and All-Day are just as difficult. The good news is three of the final four contests will come at home, including the all-important regular season finale against the Ravens.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): A visit to Heinz Field, especially considering that the Steelers were No. 1 in the NFL in both total and passing defense last season, is not what you want to see on a fantasy postseason schedule. What there is to like: the two home games against Indianapolis and Minnesota. The Colts’ and Vikings’ defenses are not the second coming of the Steel Curtain, as evidenced by their 21st and 24th rankings, respectively, against the pass last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland (6/17) Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago (6/17) Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Cincinnati Bengals 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 11:50
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-college-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the Big 12 stack up.

1. Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, Texas
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 100,119
2012 Attendance: 100,884 (4th)

Everything is actually bigger in Texas and the Longhorns' stadium tops the Big 12 based on sheer size alone. It isn’t the loudest 100,000 fans in the nation, but the building is arguably the most imposing facility as it dwarfs most every other stadium in the Big 12. After the most recent run of extensive exterior construction, the amenities are second to none in the league as well. Plans are also in the works to expand the south end zone that will push DKR’s capacity to upwards of 112,000 fans — which would make it the nation’s largest stadium. And finally, located in the heart of one of the world’s best cities, fans have a long list of attractions while pre- and post-gaming on Saturdays.

Related Content: 2013 Big 12 Predictions

2. Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma
Opened: 1925
Capacity: 82,112
2012 Attendance: 85,243 (13th)

Easily the No. 2 spot to catch a game in the Big 12, Norman’s college football palace provides the loudest and most passionate fan base in the league. The 103.8-percent capacity and single record against Notre Dame (86,031) a year ago prove that. A recent round of renovations have added 8,000 seats, a massive new brick-lined video board, new luxury suites, a new press box and beautiful brick exterior. Large gaps in the end zone seating keep the capacity well below that of a certain arch rival in Austin and likely limit the decibel levels as well.

3. Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State
Opened: 1920
Capacity: 60,218
2012 Attendance: 56,557 (32nd)

Named after billionaire benefactor T. Boone Pickens just a few years ago, the Cowboys' home stadium got a massive facelift, new additions, extra seats and a beautiful new façade. The single-tiered, true horseshoe building is now flanked on the west by a 146,000-square foot, state of the art facility that contains all of the Pokes' football operations. The West end zone is still flanked by historic Gallagher-Iba Arena. The brick and mortar exterior creates a massive set of exterior columns that majestically climb above the Stillwater skyline. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and when packed, BPS is as raucous as any place in the nation. Keeping the seats full during down times as well as the overall lack of size is what keeps this gorgeous facility from competing with Texas' or Oklahoma's.

4. Milan Puskar Stadium, West Virginia
Opened: 1980
Capacity: 60,000
2012 Attendance: 55,916 (33rd)

When it comes to rabid, passionate supporters, the Mountaineers are much closer to SEC levels rather than Big East. And the surrounding mountains of Morgantown are a fantastic setting for a college football Saturday. That said, the building isn’t one of the nation’s biggest and the stadium itself is a fairly straight-forward facility that likely could use another round of renovations.

5. Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech
Opened: 1947
Capacity: 60,862
2012 Attendance: 57,209 (29th)

Mike Leach had his issues departing Lubbock but he is largely responsible for the consistent growth and development of Texas Tech’s home venue. The stadium has been improved and upgraded in 2005 (luxury suites, parking garage), '07 (master plan), '08 (Spanish façade), '09 (6,000 east side seats) and '13 (new jumbotron). The atmosphere is electric and the facilities have advanced dramatically from over the last decade. The trip to Lubbock makes getting to a game slightly more difficult than even some of the other Big 12 outposts.

Related Content: 2013 Big 12 Predictions

6. Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State
Opened: 1975
Capacity: 55,000
2012 Attendance: 55,274 (36th)

Iowa State is home to one of the most underrated home atmospheres in the nation in a building named after Iowa’s first black athlete. The passion of the fans cannot be questioned as the Cyclones outdrew their capacity in 2012 on a team that barely reached the postseason the last two seasons. In the works are future expansions of the south end zone and east concourse. The move will upgrade the facilities across the board and will add an upper deck to the end zone. This isn’t the most daunting home field experience, but it has consistently over-delivered compared to its team success.

7. Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State
Opened: 1968
Capacity: 50,000
2012 Attendance: 50,278 (39th)

It’s small on three sides and has some quirky lines, but Bill Snyder Family Stadium will rock when the Wildcats are rolling. Like Iowa State, this building was over capacity on average a year ago as the team clinched its first Big 12 title since 2003. A 2006 renovation expanded seating in the north end zone and also upgraded the locker rooms. It isn’t the biggest or fanciest building in the conference, but this place will over-deliver much like Jack Trice will on game day.

8. Amon Carter Stadium, TCU
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 45,000
2012 Attendance: 46,047 (48th)

Named after prominent Ft. Worth businessman Amon Carter, TCU completely rebuilt its home venue following the 2010 season. The $164 million renovation changed the quaint worn down stadium into a state of the art football facility that provides more room to grow in the near future. The beautiful Southwestern art deco blends with the new football facilities as well as the popular design trend in the DFW area. The building is brand new and fans showed up in force last year (over capacity) but it is still small and will take time to build-up the long-term tradition and pageantry that exists throughout college football’s blueblood venues.

9. Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 50,000
2012 Attendance: 41,194 (60th)

Long named Baylor Stadium, the school changed the name in 1988 when longtime supporter and trustee Carl B. Casey and his father Floyd Casey were honored. The simple, straightforward, single-tiered bowl has long struggled to draw big crowds but that is something Art Briles has changed. The Baylor tarp is still needed for most games and last spring, the Board of Regents approved a new on-campus facility to be completed by 2014.

10. Memorial Stadium, Kansas
Opened: 1921
Capacity: 50,071
2012 Attendance: 41,329 (59th)

A poor home win-loss record (209-199-16), the old-school athletic track circling the field and simple styling make this the worst venue in the conference. The last major upgrade took place over a decade ago, the attendance is fairly small and the building itself lacks tradition and character.
 

2013 Big 12 Team Previews

Related Content: 2013 Big 12 Predictions

Baylor Oklahoma State
Iowa State TCU
Kansas Texas
Kansas State Texas Tech
Oklahoma West Virginia


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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big 12's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 08:10
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC East, Buffalo Bills, NFL
Path: /nfl/buffalo-bills-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

A new era of Buffalo Bills football begins this fall with Doug Marrone now steering the ship. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Buffalo Bills 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: New England
Week 2: Carolina
Week 3: at New York Jets
Week 4: Baltimore
Week 5: at Cleveland (Thurs.)
Week 6: Cincinnati
Week 7: at Miami
Week 8: at New Orleans
Week 9: Kansas City
Week 10: at Pittsburgh
Week 11: New York Jets
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: Atlanta (Toronto)
Week 14: at Tampa Bay
Week 15: at Jacksonville
Week 16: Miami
Week 17: at New England

Order your 2013 Buffalo Bills Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate: Doug Marrone's first month as an NFL head coach won't be easy. The month begins with the two of the toughest three home games of the year as September is bookended by the Patriots and Ravens paying a visit to Ralph Wilson Stadium. Carolina and the Jets are two of the more winnable games but asking Marrone to gameplan for Cam Newton in just his second game won't be easy either. A 2-2 start would be a huge success.

Toughest Stretch: The AFC East will play the AFC North this year and the toughest stretch of games — Week 4 to Week 8 — includes three straight with the North. After playing the Ravens, the Browns on a short week and the Bengals, Buffalo takes two road trips to Miami and New Orleans. This team likely won't be favored in any of those five games and this stretch could end the Bills' season before the halfway mark.

Swing Games: KC (Week 9), at JAC (Week 15)
Crossover Divisions: AFC North, NFC South
Bye Week: Week 12
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .496 (19th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 27th

Easiest Stretch: If somehow, some way the Bills can survive the first 13 weeks of the season, Marrone and his squad will have three winnable games in December. Two trips south to Florida to face Tampa Bay and Jacksonville and a home test against Miami could provide a late-season boost to the win-loss record.

Circle The Calendar: The Bills will only play one primetime national showdown when it travels to Cleveland in Week 5, so finding marquee contests for this team is difficult. However, there is some added juice to a late-season visit to Tampa Bay. Marrone and Bucs coach Greg Schiano coached against each other for three seasons in the Big East. Syracuse and Marrone won two out of three and Schiano doesn't forget that type of thing.

Divisional Notes: The AFC East offers chances for wins for all four teams, including the Bills. The season will begin and end with uphill battles against the Patriots, but the other four divisional tests could provide some success. Home games with the Jets and Dolphins over the final seven weeks will come as welcome sights for a team that could struggle for wins in 2013.

Playoff Push: Buffalo's off weekend will come in the final possible slot, which this season is Week 12. This means the Bills will be well rested for the final month of the season. December begins with the annual Toronto game (against Atlanta) and ends with a daunting road trip to the Patriots. However, in between could be the "easiest" stretch of the schedule. A 3-2 final month would be considered a successful finish for Buffalo.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Yes, Tampa Bay, the Bills' Week 14 opponent, finished dead last in passing defense and fantasy points allowed to WRs last season. No, this is not the same Buccaneers secondary with All-Pros Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson now on the roster. Sorry, Stevie Johnson. Fortunately, C.J. Spiller can look forward to the Week 15 trip to Jacksonville and a chance at the Jaguars’ 30th-ranked rushing defense.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East AFC North AFC South AFC West
Buffalo Baltimore Houston (6/19) Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25) Cincinnati (6/14) Indianapolis (6/20) Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26) Cleveland (6/17) Jacksonville (6/21) Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27) Pittsburgh (7/1) Tennessee (7/3) San Diego (7/2)
       
NFC East NFC North NFC South NFC West
Dallas (6/18) Chicago (6/17) Atlanta Arizona
NY Giants (6/25) Detroit (6/19) Carolina (6/14) St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26) Green Bay (6/20) New Orleans (6/24) San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3) Minnesota (6/21) Tampa Bay (7/2) Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-college-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the Pac-12 stack up.

1. Autzen Stadium, Oregon
Opened: 1967
Capacity: 54,000
2012 Attendance: 57,490 (28th)

There is a long list of players who have claimed they’ve never heard a louder atmosphere than the Ducks' home building. Tales of the tunnel shaking in the pre-game ceremonies only add to the already amazing Saturday experience despite a smaller capacity. Smooth design lines, a beautiful setting, signature, two-tone green field turf and loads of backing from Nike money make Oregon’s home stadium one of the nation’s top venues. In the friendly confines of Thomas J. Autzen Stadium, the Ducks were 26-2 under Chip Kelly in his four seasons.

Related Content: 2013 Pac-12 Predictions

2. Husky Stadium, Washington
Opened: 1920
Capacity: 71,900*
2012 Attendance: 58,617 (27th)

Technically, the rebuild is a renovation but it might as well be considered a new stadium. With a breath-taking view of Lake Washington, new Husky Stadium will be one of the finest facilities in the nation when it opens this fall. The $250 million “facelift” will actually drop the capacity ever so slightly, but the building will keep its trademark cantilever roofs that trap sound and make the venue one of the Pac-12’s loudest. Seattle has excellent fan support for its football teams (including its MLS Sounders) and no doubt U of W faithful will flock to this luxurious and picturesque football cathedral.

* - estimated

3. Rose Bowl, UCLA
Opened: 1921
Capacity: 92,542
2012 Attendance: 68,481 (22nd)

There may not be more hallowed ground in college football than the Rose Bowl. Historically, some of sports greatest moments have happened within these walls — five Super Bowls, multiple World Cup matches, BCS national title games and, of course, the Granddaddy of Them All. So Bruins home games, at times, fail to live up to the epic reputation of the venue — there were roughly 20,000 empty seats per game last year for a team that won the Pac-12 South championship. The building also deserves to get knocked for being 30 minutes from campus. That said, visiting the Arroyo Seco Park Area for a game, with mountains on the horizon and the Brookside Golf Course next door, is a one-of-a-kind experience. A $164.5 million renovation is underway that should be completed by the end of the 2013 calendar year and should only add to the experience on Saturdays.

4. Los Angeles Coliseum, USC
Opened: 1923
Capacity: 93,607
2012 Attendance: 87,945 (9th)

The biggest venue in the Pac-12 is home to the Men of Troy. The massive, intimidating Coliseum has all the quirks and character of the best venues in the nation, which is why this building has hosted the Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl and the World Series. And when the Trojans are rolling, it is an impossible place for the visiting team to win in. That said, USC doesn’t feature one of the louder 90,000-seat atmospheres in the nation, and, in certain sections, the sheer size of the building can distance the fans from the action. Otherwise, the weather is amazing and the scenery (in all senses of the word) gorgeous.

5. Folsom Field, Colorado
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 53,750
2012 Attendance: 45,373 (50th)

When the Buffs are good, this is one of the greatest places to watch a game in the nation. It certainly needs a facelift and the accommodations need upgrading across the board, but few places can match the beauty of Boulder, Colo., on Saturdays. Named after former coach Fred Folsom, rowdy fans have poured into this building for nearly a century. The Buffaloes have won a grand total of four games over the last two years but this building was still 84.6-percent full last season — a testament to the passion of the fans.

6. Memorial Stadium, Cal
Opened: 1923
Capacity: 62,717
2012 Attendance: 55,876 (34th)

This venue was in dire need of an upgrade and the administration has done a great job refurbishing one of the more unique stadiums in the Pac-12. The $321 million renovation took two years but, Memorial Stadium re-opened in 2012 and the project was hailed as a rousing success. The entire West Side was demolished and rebuilt, the field was lowered to improve sightlines and the East Side amenities were totally overhauled. Earthquake engineering and Tight Wad Hill, where students climb trees to watch the game, give this building some extremely unique character. And at 34th nationally in attendance, Cal sports one of the sneaky good gameday atmospheres on the West Coast.

7. Sun Devil Stadium, Arizona State
Opened: 1958
Capacity: 71,706
2012 Attendance: 56,835 (31st)

This building is a bit older than some of the others and has plenty of empty seats, but Sun Devil Stadium has provided many a excellent Saturday evening. The crowd is one of the most beautiful in the nation and climbing nearby Tempe Butte is a right of passage for many. It also is one of the league’s largest venues and consistently led the conference in attendance in the '80s. Future renovations and consistent winning could make SDS one of the nation’s best in the near future.

8. Reser Stadium, Oregon State
Opened: 1953
Capacity: 45,674
2012 Attendance: 43,424 (56th)

At 95.1-percent of capacity, quaint Reser Stadium has very few empty seats on Saturdays. Recent renovations gave Oregon State faithful one of the biggest video boards in the nation, expanded seating in the end zones, hip upgrades to the East Grandstand and improved amenities. Future plans also call for more growth, targeting a 55,000-seat capacity. Named in 1999 after benefactors Al and Pat Reser of Reser’s Fine Foods, Oregon State’s home on Saturday’s is one of the more underrated places to watch a game.

9. Stanford Stadium, Stanford
Opened: 1921
Capacity: 50,000
2012 Attendance: 43,343 (57th)

The Farm isn’t the biggest or loudest place to watch a game but there is much to like about Stanford Stadium. The amenities are second-to-none and the state-of-the-art building is located among groves of eucalyptus and oak trees on one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. If the building were bigger, and the fans louder, Stanford Stadium would be ranked higher among its peers.

10. Arizona Stadium, Arizona
Opened: 1928
Capacity: 51,811
2012 Attendance: 47,931 (43rd)

When the team is playing well, this place can get loud. The recent $378 million renovation project added a new video board, upgraded team facilities and football offices while expanding seating in the North end zone. The Wildcats' home sits 2,430 feet above sea level in the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains. The three-tiered stadium has a long-standing reputation for bizarre late-season upsets and crazy endings.

11. Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah
Opened: 1998
Capacity: 45,017
2012 Attendance: 45,347 (51st)

The building was completely torn down and rebuilt in 1998 after being deemed unworthy of hosting events for the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. Since then, the building and its fans have watched the school outgrow the Mountain West and leap into the deep and powerful Pac-12 waters. Named after donors Robert L. Rice and George and Dolores Eccles, the building is regularly at capacity and the offers the Wasatch Mountains as a fantastic backdrop. The longer this team plays in the Pac-12, the better Saturdays will get in Rice-Eccles.

12. Martin Stadium, Washington State
Opened: 1972
Capacity: 32,248
2012 Attendance: 30,252 (74th)

During a big game, Martin Stadium will pop to life and make fans forget the building is the smallest in the league. Or that it’s located in the Pac-12’s most distant outpost. The building has a metallic feel and getting to campus is virtually impossible, but the Cougars' faithful hold their own during critical moments (see Washington game last year).
 

2013 Pac-12 Team Previews

North South
California Arizona
Oregon Arizona State
Oregon State Colorado
Stanford UCLA
Washington USC
Washington State Utah

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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Pac-12's College Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 07:17
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-college-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the Big Ten stack up.

1. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State
Opened: 1922
Capacity: 102,329
2012 Attendance: 105,330 (2nd)

There is little doubt that the Horseshoe is the Big Ten’s best place to watch a game. A great nickname, awesome traditions, tremendous fan support and commitment, elite level of success, High Street and the Banks of the Olentangy make Ohio Stadium a bucket list destination for fans of every team. And with a brand new video board, audio system and LED lighting, Ohio State boasts one of the top college football venues in the nation. Watching the "Dotting of the I" before a Buckeyes game is something all college fans should experience. Finishing No. 2 in average attendance doesn’t hurt either.

2. Beaver Stadium, Penn State
Opened: 1960
Capacity: 106,572
2012 Attendance: 96,730 (5th)

From a massive city like Columbus to a sleepy college town like State College, Beaver Stadium nearly matches The Horseshoe’s every facet. Named after former Board of Trustees’ President James Beaver, Penn State’s home stadium is as intimidating as any in the nation — especially when 100,000 fans are all wearing white. Massive, boisterous crowds steeped in rich tradition and history make Nittany Lions’ home games a sight to behold. And climbing nearby Mount Nittany is a right of passage of sorts for all who attend a game at Beaver Stadium.

3. Memorial Stadium, Nebraska
Opened: 1923
Capacity: 81,067
2012 Attendance: 85,517 (12th)

Towering over the sprawling Lincoln campus, Memorial Stadium rises high into the horizon for all Big Red faithful to see. The façade of Memorial Stadium is extremely intimidating to those down on the field and the crowds are the most committed in the nation. This venue has been sold out since 1962. With another round of multimillion dollar expansions coming, this college football cathedral is expected to get even bigger (91,000) and even more luxurious. And from a technology standpoint, few programs in the nation can boast the level of advancement of the Cornhuskers football program.

4. Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin
Opened: 1917
Capacity: 80,321
2012 Attendance: 80,006 (17th)

Madison is routinely considered one of the nation’s most enjoyable college towns. Nestled between two gorgeous lakes, the downtown campus “jumps around” on fall Saturdays. The brat haze that floats over State Street and down Regent Street ushers fans through a gorgeous campus and into the House that Barry built. Camp Randall got its name from its time as a Civil War army base in the 1800s long before Big Ten athletics were created. Wisconsin has consistently poured money into renovating its prized gem of a stadium over the years, with some finishing touches still yet to come. One of the nation’s best game day atmospheres is only getting better with time.

5. Michigan Stadium, Michigan
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 109,901
2012 Attendance: 112,252 (1st)

The biggest stadium in the nation is located in Ann Arbor, Mich. And capable of holding upwards of 80,000 people at the time it opened, The Big House was well ahead of its time in terms of sheer size and capacity. Built down into the ground, the massive bowl doesn’t tower over the land or hold in the sound like some of its 100,000-seat brethren. However, the renovations completed in 2010 installed new luxury boxes, added a massive video scoreboard and thousands of club seats. These changes have contained the noise to some degree and made The Big House more inhospitable to opposing teams.

6. Kinnick Stadium, Iowa
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 70,585
2012 Attendance: 70,474 (21st)

Formerly Iowa Stadium, the name changed in 1972 when a local sports writer convinced the powers that be to rename the building after former Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick. The Hawkeyes' home field took its current shape in 2006 when a $86 million renovation added a new press box, video scoreboard and built permanent seating in the south end zone, complete with upgraded amenities. The no-frills, straight forward seating can be as loud as any stadium in the Big Ten and the famous pink visitors’ locker room only adds to the building’s rich tradition.

7. Spartans Stadium, Michigan State
Opened: 1923
Capacity: 75,005
2012 Attendance: 75,382 (20th)

Entering the 2012 season, Michigan State has put together an extremely respectable 69.6-percent winning percentage (334-142-13) at home since taking up residency in Spartan Stadium. So clearly, last year’s bizarre 2-5 home mark isn’t indicative of the home-field advantage that Sparty has enjoyed within the perfectly symmetrical walls of Spartan Stadium. Renovations completed in 2006 upgraded the luxury suites, club seats, concourses and amenities and added The Grand Entrance, a sharp looking glass and brick façade that welcomes Green and White faithful each Saturday.

8. TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota
Opened: 2009
Capacity: 50,805
2012 Attendance: 46,637 (47th)

The newest building in the Big Ten is home to the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. The on-campus, outdoor facility opened in 2009 and cost roughly $300 million to build. It could be expanded to 80,000 should it be needed. The west end zone is open air, holds a massive HD video board and provides a scenic view of downtown Minneapolis. “The Bank” or “Gopher Hole” has dramatically improved the game day atmosphere for home games and provides Minnesota an on-campus home of its own for decades to come. The amenities are also among the league’s best considering it’s the newest building in the conference.

9. Ross Ade Stadium, Purdue
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 62,500
2012 Attendance: 43,588 (55th)

Named for Boilermakers alumni David Ross and George Ade, Purdue’s home stadium could be the next Big Ten stadium to get a makeover. It has plenty of tradition, a rich history of elite players and has provided plenty of upsets — just ask Ohio State. But an upper deck on the North and East sides as well as a facelift for the amenities would go a long way to improving the status of this proud venue. The rumored additions would balance out the currently western heavy feel to the building — due to the massive press box and luxury suites towering over the single-bowl facility. Winning more games, of course, would go a long way to pushing forward these potential renovations.

10. Memorial Stadium, Illinois
Opened: 1923
Capacity: 60,670
2012 Attendance: 45,564 (49th)

The exterior of Illinois’ facility has always had a classic and traditional feel that welcomes home and road fans. But prior to 2008, this facility lacked the passion and intensity of the bigger Big Ten buildings. However, a brand new press box and luxury suites on the West side coupled with 10,000 new seats in the north end zone have helped rebuild the Memorial experience. And when the multimillion dollar video board is added in the coming months, the Fighting Illini’s home venue will be even better.

11. Memorial Stadium, Indiana
Opened: 1960
Capacity: 52,959
2012 Attendance: 44,802 (52nd)

The Hooisers’ home field is one of the few in the nation that has remained largely unchanged throughout the years. The signature, solitary press box rests gently atop the single-tier bowl nicknamed “The Rock.” A rare 2009 renovation expanded seating slightly, added the brand new Hall of Champions athletic facility and enclosed the north end zone. Bloomington is an awesome college town and Memorial offers the homely experience of a laid-back Midwestern campus. But until the team can win at a higher level more consistently, The Rock won’t be nearly as intimidating as most places in the league.

12. Ryan Field, Northwestern
Opened: 1926
Capacity: 47,130
2012 Attendance: 35,697 (65th)

Formerly Dyche Stadium, the Wildcats' home stadium was renamed Ryan Field in honor of Patrick G. Ryan, who was the chairman of the Board of Trustees at that time. The unique gentle curves of the stadium allow for great sight lines and few bad seats. Located in northeast Chicago along Lake Michigan, the Evanston campus offers plenty for fans to enjoy. However, much like Duke or Vanderbilt, this venue struggles to match the rabid intensity of bigger more powerful athletic departments.

Big Ten Team Previews

Leaders Division Legends Division
Illinois Iowa
Indiana Michigan
Ohio State Michigan State
Penn State Minnesota
Purdue Nebraska
Wisconsin Northwestern

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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the Big Ten's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: AFC, AFC, AFC North, AFC Schedule, Baltimore Ravens, NFL, NFL
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The Baltimore Ravens will begin defense of their Super Bowl Championship in style this season with a huge showdown against an AFC rival. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.

Baltimore Ravens 2013 Schedule:

Week 1: at Denver (Thurs.)
Week 2: Cleveland
Week 3: Houston
Week 4: at Buffalo
Week 5: at Miami
Week 6: Green Bay
Week 7: at Pittsburgh
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: at Cleveland
Week 10: Cincinnati
Week 11: at Chicago
Week 12: NY Jets
Week 13: Pittsburgh (Thurs.)
Week 14: Minnesota
Week 15: at Detroit (Mon.)
Week 16: New England
Week 17: at Cincinnati

Order your 2013 Baltimore Ravens Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine

Out of the Gate The Ravens certainly won't be easing their way into their title defense. In the first three weeks, Joe Flacco will battle with Peyton Manning on Thursday night in Denver and host the Texans, two teams that won their respective divisions last season. Mix in a divisional game at home and a road trip to Buffalo and the Ravens are staring at a rough first month of the season.

Toughest Stretch: From Week 4 to Week 7, the Ravens will play three road games and host Green Bay. Trips to Pittsburgh and Miami won't be easy sandwiched around the visit from the Packers. And this comes after the daunting first three weeks of the schedule. The good news is an off weekend awaits the Super Bowl champs in Week 8.

Swing Games:at DEN (Week 1), HOU (Week 3)
Crossover Divisions:AFC East, NFC North
Bye Week:Week 8
Opp. 2012 W/L %:.535 (5th)
Athlon's SOS Rank:15th

Easiest Stretch: If Baltimore can make it to the bye weekend around .500, it will have a chance to make some headway in the standings. Of the four games following the open date, only one — Cincinnati — features a predicted playoff team. The Browns and Jets are easy wins and getting the Bengals at home helps as well. Should the Ravens go into Chicago and beat a team with a new coach and question marks all over the defense, it has a good chance to go 4-0 in November before welcoming the Steelers to town on a Thursday night.

Circle The Calendar: Both Ravens-Steelers games will be epic as it has developed into one of the best NFL rivalries. So will huge AFC games with Houston (Week 3) and New England (Week 16). However, Thursday night in Denver against Manning and the Broncos in a primetime slot to start the entire 2013 NFL season has to be the premiere game on this schedule. Anything shy of last year's historic divisional overtime showdown will be a disappointment.

Divisional Notes: The divisional slate is fairly balanced and spread out through the season with the exception of back-to-back games with Cleveland (Week 9) and Cincinnati (Week 10). A trip to Pittsburgh will be not only the toughest AFC North game of the year but will also come immediately after hosting NFC power Green Bay. Getting up for both games will be tough for the Ravens. Finally, visiting the Bengals in the season finale could be epic, as a playoff berth and divisional crown could be on the line in Week 17.

Playoff Push: The good news is Minnesota and Detroit start the final month of the season for the Champs. The bad news is the Ravens will face New England at home and the Bengals on the road in the season's final two games. Baltimore likely needs to be at seven or eight wins entering December to make the playoffs with a nasty end to its season.

Buy your 2013 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Preview Magazine

Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Not only will Ray Rice face the eighth-, ninth- and 10th-best defenses against fantasy RBs, the matchups with Detroit and New England could result in a more pass-oriented offensive game plan for the Ravens. That could be good news for Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith owners, as all three of the Ravens’ opponents during this stretch were 21st or worse against fantasy QBs and WRs last season.


2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
Buffalo (6/13)BaltimoreHouston (6/19)Denver (6/18)
Miami (6/25)Cincinnati (6/14)Indianapolis (6/20)Kansas City (6/24)
New England (6/26)Cleveland (6/17)Jacksonville (6/21)Oakland (6/28)
NY Jets (6/27)Pittsburgh (7/1)Tennessee (7/3)San Diego (7/2)
    
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
Dallas (6/18)Chicago (6/17)Atlanta (6/13)Arizona
NY Giants (6/25)Detroit (6/19)Carolina (6/14)St. Louis (6/27)
Philadelphia (6/26)Green Bay (6/20)New Orleans (6/24)San Francisco (6/28)
Washington (7/3)Minnesota (6/21)Tampa Bay (7/2)Seattle (7/1)


Other Related NFL Content:

Ranking the NFL's Toughest Schedules of 2013
10 Things Every Fan Should Know about the 2013 NFL Schedule

Teaser:
<p> Baltimore Ravens 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-american-athletic-conferences-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the American Athletic Conference stack up.

1. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville
Opened: 1998
Capacity: 55,000
2012 Attendance: 49,991 (40th)

When it opened, the Cardinals' home stadium was a 42,000-seat, single-deck facility. After the 2010 expansion, which added an upper deck to the East Side, capacity grew to 55,000. The completion of the Howard Schnellenberger Complex and the addition of the massive video board put the final touches on the American Athletic Conference’s finest stadium. The amenities are new and there is plenty of area to enjoy an adult beverage or two. Should things continue under mastermind A.D. Tom Jurich, this venue — which already leads the league in attendance — is poised to grow even further.

2. High Point Solutions Stadium, Rutgers
Opened: 1994
Capacity: 52,454
2012 Attendance: 49,188 (42nd)

The No. 2 stadium in attendance in the league formerly known as the Big East is located in New Jersey. This on-campus facility grew from 41,500 seats to its current capacity after an extensive round of additions in 2009. The Knights use a signature two-tone green field turf for football games and the atmosphere performed well in signature moments — see Jeremy Ito’s field goal in 2006. It lacks a great name due to corporate sponsorship, but its symmetry, fan support and view of the Raritan River make it one of the AAC’s top venues.

3. Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 35,097
2012 Attendance: 29,138 (77th)

Easily the league’s oldest venue, there is much to like about quaint Nippert Stadium. Built into the downtown campus streets of UC, Nippert is named after a player (Jimmy Nippert) who suffered a deadly injury during a 1923 game with Miami (Ohio). Multiple renovations and new turf — the first of its kind in the U.S. in 2000 — have not taken away from the old-school feel of the classic brick and wrought iron trim. It is one of the smallest buildings in the nation but sells tickets at one of the AAC’s best rates (83.3 percent).

4. Bright House Networks Stadium, UCF
Opened: 2007
Capacity: 45,323
2012 Attendance: 34,608 (68th)

After playing in the dilapidated Citrus Bowl for years, the Knights moved into a brand new, on-campus facility in 2007. It’s one of the newest facilities in the nation, is one of the AAC’s bigger on-campus venues and has excellent surrounding scenery. Additionally, considering UCF’s massive student body population, the building has been built to expand to seat 65,000 if an upper deck is needed. That said, the building is said to be lacking in character and nearly 10,000 seats in its current configuration were empty each Saturday in 2012.

5. Rentschler Field, UConn
Opened: 2003
Capacity: 40,000
2012 Attendance: 34,672 (67th)

Built just a decade ago and named after famous aviator Frederick Rentschler, the Huskies' football stadium is actually underrated nationally. While ranking just 67th in attendance a year ago, the building provides one of the league’s top ticket rates at 86.7-percent sold. Two narrow decks make the building feel bigger than its 40,000-seat capacity might indicate and it is located in the plush greenery of a former airfield run by Pratt & Whitney.

6. Liberty Bowl, Memphis
Opened: 1965
Capacity: 62,380
2012 Attendance: 24,371 (87th)

This building is a bizarre dichotomy of characteristics. Because it houses the Liberty Bowl each winter, the powers that be maintain its upkeep fairly well. And its strangely curved shape give it plenty of character. However, Memphis sells only 39.1-percent of its tickets each weekend, leaving nearly 40,000 empty seats to suck the pageantry out of the building. This facility has plenty of upside should the team ever compete at a high level for an extended period of time. But until then, it will never be considered one of the better locations to watch a game.

7. Gerald Ford Stadium, SMU
Opened: 2000
Capacity: 32,000
2012 Attendance: 21,292 (92nd)

Built 25 feet below street level, SMU’s single-tier horseshoe opened just 12 seasons ago in Dallas. The Mustangs have a rich and high profile football tradition in a football crazy state. And the building is a nice facility. Yet, SMU is would have been last in the conference in attendance a year ago as nearly 11,000 seats go empty each weekend. Simply put, there isn’t much to Gerald Ford Stadium.

8. Raymond James Stadium, South Florida
Opened: 1998
Capacity: 65,857
2012 Attendance: 44,130 (53rd)

The facility is fairly new, good enough for an NFL team and the Bulls are third in the league in attendance. However, this means the building is not on campus and that roughly 20,000 seats go empty each Saturday. The building is adorned with Buccaneers logos and a tacky pirate ship caps the North end zone. At least, those in charge repaint the end zones with “Bulls” for home games unlike other NFL-turned-NCAA stadiums in the nation.

9. Lincoln Financial Field, Temple
Opened: 2003
Capacity: 68,532
2012 Attendance: 26,580 (81st)

The building is nearly brand new and is amenity heavy because the Philadelphia Eagles call it home. But on Saturdays, this is arguably the worst atmosphere in the newly formed American Athletic Conference. Only SMU trails the Owls in attendance as more than 40,000 seats go empty each weekend at “The Link.” Adorned by Eagles logos, Temple takes a back seat in its off-campus, shared facility.

10. Reliant Stadium, Houston
Opened: 2002
Capacity: 71,054
2012 Attendance: 27,247 (80th)

By default, this building is ranked last in the AAC. Reliant is an awesome football stadium that is packed to the gills and loud as any in the nation — when the Texans are playing. Houston will rent the facility in 2013 while a replacement for Robertson Stadium is built. The new $105 million building will be at the same site as the old building and will seat 40,000. As far as 2013 goes, however, the 30,000 Cougar fans will look wildly out of place in the Texans' home, which will double as the AAC's largest venue this fall.

2013 American Athletic Conference Team Previews

Cincinnati Rutgers
Connecticut SMU
Houston South Florida
Louisville Temple
Memphis UCF


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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 26-40

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Teaser:
<p> Ranking the American Athletic Conference's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-offensive-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 offensive linemen of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 tackles, guards and centers since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 blockers of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter at @AthlonSports, using the hashtag #AthlonOL50.

1. Bryant McKinnie, T, Miami
He only played two seasons for Miami after beginning at Lackawanna College (Pa.) but he was downright unstoppable during his time in a Hurricanes' uniform. He was an All-American in both seasons, won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman and led Miami to a 23-1 record and the 2001 BCS National Championship. He is the only offensive lineman during the BCS era to finish in the top 10 of Heisman Trophy balloting. The Pro Bowl left tackle was the seventh overall pick by the Vikings in the 2002 NFL Draft.

2. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
No offensive lineman during the BCS era was more decorated than the Memphis native. He started at right guard and earned freshman All-American honors for the 2009 BCS champs. He slid out to left tackle in 2011 and won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman for the 2011 BCS champs. Jones then manned the pivot and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center for the 2012 BCS champs. The two-time consensus All-American won three national titles at three different positions while graduating with a Master’s Degree and 4.0 GPA. Jones pretty much dominated college.

3. Joe Thomas, T, Wisconsin
One of the few big-time recruits from the state of Wisconsin, Thomas was a two-time All-American and Outland Trophy winner for a team that went 31-7 during his three seasons as the starting left tackle. He has rare footspeed, agility and overall athletic ability — and it’s why he has been to the Pro Bowl in all six of his NFL seasons. He was taken No. 3 overall in 2007 by the Cleveland Browns.

4. Greg Eslinger, C, Minnesota
Not many centers have an Outland Trophy on their mantle at home but Eslinger has one (2005). He was a freshman All-American in 2002, a third-team All-American as a sophomore, a first-teamer in '04 and earned consensus All-American honors as a senior. He won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center and earned Big Ten Lineman of the Year honors in ’05 too. The best stat for Eslinger, however, is that Minnesota never had a losing record during his four-year career and had the school’s first 10-win campaign since 1905.

5. Chris Samuels, T, Alabama
The massive 'Bama blocker earned every award possible for an offensive tackle. Samuels claimed the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy and earned the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman in 1999. He helped Alabama to its first SEC championship since 1992 and was a consensus All-American. He was picked third overall by the Redskins in the 2000 NFL Draft.

6. Jammal Brown, T, Oklahoma
Starting his career as a defensive tackle, Brown exploded onto the national scene as a blocker as a sophomore. He helped lead the Sooners to the BCS National Championship game twice and was recognized as the nation’s top offensive lineman in 2004 when he was awarded the Outland Trophy. The consensus All-American paved the way for Adrian Peterson’s NCAA record-setting freshman season. Brown was the 13th overall pick by the Saints in the 2005 NFL Draft.

7. Jake Long, T, Michigan
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft (Miami) was a two-time All-American and Outland Trophy finalist. He was a Freshman All-American in his first year playing in college and was the Big Ten Lineman of the Year award twice as a junior and senior. He’s been to four Pro Bowls in his five-year NFL career.

8. Dominic Raiola, C, Nebraska
At a school known for its big uglies, Raiola is the Huskers’ best of the BCS era. He was the first freshman O-lineman to start since 1991 when he took the field in 1998. The following two seasons he set school records for knockdowns. As a junior, Raiola was the Rimington Trophy winner as the nation’s top center, was an Outland Finalist and earned consensus All-American honors before leaving school early for the NFL.

9. Luke Joeckel, T, Texas A&M 
The supremely talented Joeckel helped lead the Aggies from the Big 12 to the SEC seamlessly due in large part to his blocking. He won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best lineman and earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the SEC’s top blocker. The consensus All-American was the No. 2 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft.

10. Andre Smith, T, Alabama
Smith was a dominant, five-star prospect from Birmingham before dominating the SEC for three seasons at Alabama. As a junior, Smith won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman and was a consensus All-American. He left school early or else would have been a part of the 2009 BCS championship team. Still, Smith gets credit for helping to rebuild Alabama and was selected with the sixth overall pick by the Bengals in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

11. Shawn Andrews, T, Arkansas
A two-time consensus All-American, Andrews was an Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award finalist in 2003. He earned back-to-back Jacobs Blocking Awards as the SEC’s top lineman in 2002-03. Andrews was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Eagles and has been to three Pro Bowls.

12. Steve Hutchinson, G, Michigan
Starting for four seasons for the Wolverines, Hutchinson helped the Wolverines win the 1997 national championship. He capped his career with consensus All-American honors, was an Outland Trophy finalist and didn’t allow a sack in his final two seasons at Michigan. He was a first-round pick by the Seahawks in 2001 and earned seven Pro Bowl invites during his 12-year NFL career.

13. Alex Barron, T, Florida State
The 6-foot-8, 315-pounder was arguably Florida State’s top lineman of the BCS era. He was a two-time consensus All-American (2003-04) and an Outland Trophy finalist in 2004. He was the 19th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Rams.

14. Jonathan Luigs, C, Arkansas
The Razorbacks’ pivot for Darren McFadden, Peyton Hillis and Felix Jones was a three-time first-team All-SEC performer. Luigs was a two-time Rimington finalist, winning the award given to the nation’s top center in 2007. He was a consensus All-American in 2007 and was a fourth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He ended his collegiate career with 49 consecutive starts.

15. Brett Romberg, C, Miami
With Romberg at center, the Hurricanes went 35-2, won three Big East championships, played in two national championship games and won the 2001 BCS national title. He won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center and was a consensus All-American in 2002.

16. Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma
The guard from Atlanta was one of Bob Stoops' greatest players. He was two-time consensus All-American in 2007 and '08 and helped lead Oklahoma to the BCS Championship game against Florida. He was an Outland Trophy finalist in 2008.

17. Dan Mozes, C, West Virginia
The captain of one of the best WVU teams in history, Mozes earned first-team All-Big East honors three different times. The Mountaineers went 22-3 over his final two seasons and he was awarded with consensus All-American honors and the 2006 Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center.

18. Sam Baker, T, USC
The stud left tackle charged with protecting Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush was a three-time, first-team All-American and three-time, first-team All-Pac-10 selection. He played in two BCS national title games and was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2008 NFL Draft.

19. Justin Blalock, T, Texas
The star blocker for the Horns helped return Texas to the promised land by paving the way for Vince Young on the 2005 BCS title team. He was a four-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and earned Big 12 Lineman of the Year honors in 2006. He was a consensus All-American that year and was a second-round pick of the Falcons in 2007.

20. Michael Oher, T, Ole Miss
One of the most high profile lineman during the BCS era, Oher was a consensus All-American, a two-time, first-team All-SEC selection and the SEC’s top offensive lineman in 2008 (Jacobs Trophy). The Outland finalist was a freshman All-American in 2005 and a first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Chris McIntosh, T, Wisconsin
An Outland Trophy finalist and consensus All-American, McIntosh helped pave the way for the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher and led Wisconsin to back-to-back Rose Bowl championships. He was also a first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2000 NFL Draft.

22. Ben Wilkerson, C, LSU
Starting for Nick Saban up front, Wilkerson helped lead LSU to two SEC championships and its first national title (2003) in over 50 years. He was a consensus All-American in 2004 and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center. He was a two-time Rimington finalist.

23. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, T, Virginia
Ferguson started 49 games in his Virginia career, helping the Cavaliers to four straight bowl games. He was a two-time, first-team All-ACC selection and earned All-American honors in 2005. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the New York Jets and has gone to three Pro Bowls.

24. David Baas, C, Michigan
The interior blocker was a three-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection and capped his career with a Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center. He also earned consensus All-American honors and was named the Big Ten’s top lineman. He was a second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 NFL Draft.

25. Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin
Carimi perpetuated the run of elite Badgers blockers by winning the Outland Trophy in 2010. He was the Big Ten Lineman of the Year and earned consensus All-American honors. He was a first-round pick by the Bears in 2011.

26. Trent Williams, T, Oklahoma
The big fella was forced into action as true freshman and earned freshman All-American honors in 2006. He paved the way for arguably the most productive backfield in Sooners history (Sam Bradford, Demarco Murray) and helped lead the Sooners to the 2008 BCS national championship game. He was a consensus All-American in 2009 and was the fourth overall pick by the Redskins in the 2010 NFL Draft.

27. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
There are no holes in Pouncey’s resume. He won the SEC and BCS National Championship in 2008. He was a consensus All-American and Rimington Trophy winner in 2009. And was a first-round pick of the Steelers in 2010.

28. Kris Farris, T, UCLA
The 1998 Outland Trophy winner was a consensus All-American for the Bruins in 1998. He helped lead UCLA to back-to-back 10-2 seasons and a Rose Bowl berth in his final season. Farris was a third-round pick by the Bills in 1999.

29. Robert Gallery, T, Iowa
The massive blocker helped Iowa win a share of the Big Ten title as a junior in 2002. He won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top blocker the next year as the Hawkeyes went 21-5 over his final two years. The consensus All-American was the No. 2 pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.

30. Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
Academic issues caused some speed bumps for Iupati, but eventually he developed into a first-round NFL Draft pick. He was a consensus All-American and helped the Vandals to an eight-win season in 2009 — the school’s second-best win total ever. He is an NFL Pro Bowler already for the 49ers.

Related: The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era

31. Russell Okung, T, Oklahoma State
The star left tackle for the Pokes was a two-time All-American, an Outland Trophy finalist, the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year (2009) and claimed the Jim Parker Trophy. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and has already been to one Pro Bowl.

32. Ryan Kalil, C, USC
The Rimington Finalist was one of the stars of the USC offensive line during its national championship run in the early 2000s. He played a big roll on both the 2004 and '05 BCS title game teams and was voted the Morris Trophy winner in 2006. He also earned All-Americn honors and was drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft by the Panthers. He is a three-time Pro Bowler.

33. Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Warmack has three BCS National Championship rings from his three-year starting career at Alabama. He was a consensus All-American, an Outland Trophy finalist and first-round pick of the Titans in April. He started 39 games over his final three years paving the way for Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.

34. Alex Mack, C, Cal
The star center started 39 consecutive games for the Golden Bears. He won the “Academic Heisman” when was named the recipient of the Draddy Trophy in 2008 and was a two-time Rimington Finalist. Mack also claimed the Morris Trophy as the top Pac-10 lineman and was a three-time, first-team All-Pac-10 selection. He also was a rare first-round pick as a center by the Browns in 2009 and has been sent to three Pro Bowls in his career.

35. Nick Mangold, C, Ohio State
From a technique and fundamentals standpoint, Mangold is one of the best college centers to ever play the game. He was a Rimington Finalist, a three-year starter and a first-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Jets. He has gone to four Pro Bowls in eight NFL seasons.

36. Leonard Davis, T, Texas
The 6-foot-6, 355-pound stud from Texas was a consensus All-American in 2000 and an Outland Trophy Finalist. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft and has gone to three Pro Bowls in the NFL.

37. Marcus McNeil, T, Auburn
The All-American helped lead the Tigers to an unbeaten SEC championship season in 2004 (13-0). He was again an All-American as a senior in 2005 and was taken in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Chargers. He’s gone to two Pro Bowls.

38. Ryan Clady, T, Boise State
As a sophomore and in his first year as a starter, Clady earned All-American recognition from some outlets before leading Boise to a perfect 13-0 record as a junior and earning consensus All-American honors in 2007. He was the 12th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and has been to three Pro Bowls already.

39. Jordan Gross, T, Utah
A consensus All-American and Outland Trophy finalist in 2002, Gross is one of the Mountain West’s best blockers of all-time. He was the eighth overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft and has gone to two Pro Bowls.

40. LeCharles Bentley, C, Ohio State
The Cleveland native was a consensus All-American in 2001. He also won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center that year before getting drafted in the second round by the Saints in 2002.

Related: The Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

41. Steve Justice, C, Wake Forest
Few players have meant more to their school than Justice did to Wake Forest. As a two-time, first-team All-ACC selection, the pivot helped lead the Deacons to the ACC Championship in 2006 before earning consensus All-American honors in 2007. He was a Rimington finalist that year as well.

42. Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State
The mauler from Mobile was a three-time, first-team All-ACC selection, a two-time, first-team All-American and the Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner in 2009. He was a second-round pick of the Chiefs in 2011.

43. Logan Mankins, G, Fresno State
Easily one of the best lineman of this generation, Mankins is the best blocker to ever play at Fresno State. He wasn't highly decorated (All-WAC) but as a first-round pick, Mankins has earned five Pro Bowl bids. 

44. David DeCastro, G, Stanford
As a freshman in 2009, he started all 13 games for the 8-5 Cardinal and was a freshman All-American. He started all 13 games as a sophomore for the 12-1 Cardinal, helping to win the program’s first BCS bowl game (Orange Bowl). He capped his career with a consensus All-American season for the 11-2 Cardinal. He left school early and was the 24th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Steelers.

45. Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU
The Horned Frogs pivot was a two-time Rimington finalist as the nation's top center and claimed the trophy in 2010. He was a two-time All-American as well.

46. David Molk, C, Michigan
The Wolverines center was a two-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection and earned Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the year in a conference with Michael Brewster and Peter Konz. Molk was a consensus All-American and Rimington Trophy winner in 2011.

47. Jonathan Scott, T, Texas
The two-time All-Big 12 pick was also a consensus All-American in 2005 — the same season he helped lead Texas back to the national championship game. He was a fifth-round pick of the Lions and has played on five NFL teams.

48. Matt Stinchcomb, T, Georgia
The older Stinchcomb brother was a two-time All-American at Georgia and won the Draddy Trophy (the "academic Heisman"). He was a first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 1999 NFL Draft.

49. Nate Solder, T, Colorado
A consensus All-American, first-round NFL Draft pick and Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year dot his college resume. He was two-time, first-team All-Big 12 pick and Outland Trophy finalist before joining the Patriots in 2011.

50. Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The big Tar Heels blocker was a three-time All-ACC performer and an Outland Trophy finalist in 2012. The consensus All-American was the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cardinals after paving the way for the ACC’s top running back (Gio Bernard).

The Next 25:

51. Max Jean-Gilles, G, Georgia
52. Aaron Gibson, T, Wisconsin
53. Casey Rabach, C, Wisconsin
54. Anthony Davis, T, Rutgers
55. Jake Grove, C, Virginia Tech
56. Craig Page, C, Georgia Tech
57. Anthony Collins, T, Kansas
58. Nate Potter, T, Boise State
59. A.Q. Shipley, C, Penn State
60. D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama
61. Levy Adcock, T, Oklahoma State
62. Toniu Fonoti, G, Nebraska
63. Levi Brown, T, Penn State
64. Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
65. Eric Steinbach, G, Iowa
66. Lee Ziemba, T, Auburn
67. Damien Woody, C, Boston College
68. Deuce Lutui, T, USC
69. Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
70. Duane Brown, T, Virginia Tech
71. Ben Grubbs, G, Auburn
72. Elton Brown, T, Virginia
73. Joe Staley, T, Central Michigan
74. Kenyatta Walker, T, Florida
75. Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia

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


Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 50 offensive linemen of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter (@AthlonSports), using the hashtag #AthlonOL50

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 50 Offensive Linemen of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 07:42
Path: /college-football/ranking-secs-college-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special. Especially, in the South.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, ear-piercing decibels, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

And there is no better collection of home stadiums than in the nation's best conference, so keep in mind that ranking this league's stadiums functions like recruiting rankings. Meaning, Arkansas may be seventh in the SEC but top 20 nationally.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the SEC stack up.

1. Tiger Stadium, LSU
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 92,542
2012 Attendance: 92,626 (7th nationally)

Be it the vast and unique tailgating menu or Richter Scale-inducing fans, few places in the nation can send chills down your spine like a game at Tiger Stadium. As one of the loudest and most rabid atmospheres in the nation, LSU boasts one of the most daunting home-field advantages in college football — especially at night. Les Miles has three perfect home seasons and is 50-7 in Death Valley overall during his eight seasons as head coach. A $70 million renovation is underway to push Tiger Stadium’s capacity to 100,000, only furthering this hallowed ground reputation as one of the nation’s top venues. And, honestly, how many venues have a real live Bengal Tiger roaming the sidelines?

2. Sanford Stadium, Georgia
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 92,746
2012 Attendance: 92,703 (6th)

It may not be the SEC’s biggest or loudest stadium but it is the most beautiful. Named for late former university president Dr. Stedman Vincent Sanford, the Bulldogs' home stadium is located in the heart of the plush greenery of the gorgeous Athens campus. The famed privet hedges line the field and separate the Georgia fans and the action on the field with style that matches the dolled-up student section. Sanford’s Southwest corner is also home to a canine marble mausoleum in which the first eight generations of Bulldog mascots have been laid to rest. Uga IX currently resides in a permanent on-field, air-conditioned doghouse near the cheerleaders’ platform on Saturdays. Mark Richt is 63-13 “Between the Hedges” and has his team poised for another perfect home slate in 2013.

 

3. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee
Opened: 1921
Capacity: 102,455
2012 Attendance: 89,965 (8th)

Named for former head coach General Robert Reese Neyland, the biggest venue in the SEC has, at one time or another, been the biggest college football stadium in the nation. Recent renovations have transformed the once dilapidated exterior into a brick Big Orange cathedral. Towering over the winding Tennessee River and subsequent Vol Navy, Neyland’s double-deck, totally enclosed seating makes it one of the loudest places to watch a game in the nation. A recent run of horrendous win-loss records have impacted attendance in a big way, as thousands of empty upper deck seats have taken away from the once daunting home-field advantage. But the Pride of the Southland Marching band still form the famed Power-T before every game, and, when this program is surging, few places in the nation can match the pageantry and passion of Neyland Stadium.

4. Kyle Field, Texas A&M
Opened: 1904
Capacity: 82,589
2012 Attendance: 87,014 (11th)

If things progress the way Texas A&M faithful believe, Kyle Field is poised to become arguably the best football stadium in the SEC. Once the $450 million renovation is completed prior to the 2015 season, the Aggies' home stadium will be the largest in the SEC (102,500). That said, the home of the 12th Man is no joke today as it stands. Three towering decks of screaming fans urge their team on through choreographed cheering and rich traditions. And fall Saturdays actually begin the night before with Midnight Yell Practice in which thousands of Aggies fill the seats at Kyle to warm up their windpipes for the following day of action. The surrounding campus offers little in the way of sightseeing and the win-loss home record from 2000-12 leaves much to be desired (56-30). Once enclosed and with Kevin Sumlin still patrolling the sidelines, that number is sure to improve. Despite having hosted only half-a-dozen SEC games, Kyle Field is currently the oldest venue in the conference and averaged one of the highest attendance percentiles in the nation (105.3% capacity) a year ago.

5. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 101,821
2012 Attendance: 101,722 (3rd)

Legendary head coach Bear Bryant and former university president George Denny team up to name one of college football’s most intimidating home venues. Alabama is 224-52-3 since opening the building in 1929 and Nick Saban is 29-6 at home during his tenure. In front of the most dedicated fans in the nation, the Crimson Tide routinely bring opponents to their knees with ear-shattering support and one appropriately named visitor’s locker room (“The Fail Room” after donor James Fail). A round of various multi-million dollar expansions completed in 2010 have made this football palace the No. 2 largest stadium in the SEC and one of the most luxurious places to watch a game.

6. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida
Opened: 1930
Capacity: 88,548
2012 Attendance: 87,587 (10th)

Coined by Steve Spurrier in the early 1990s, no stadium in the nation has a better nickname than “The Swamp.” And when the Gators are rolling, few places in the nation are as intimidating as a hot and humid Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Unique sightlines and design subtleties give BHGS plenty of character and gives the team a huge home-field advantage. From 1990 to 2009, the Gators had the best home field record in the nation at 113-13. When it comes to noise and success, The Swamp is among the game’s most preeminent locations to watch a game.

7. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Arkansas
Opened: 1938
Capacity: 72,000
2012 Attendance: 68,046 (23rd)

One of the most underrated home atmospheres lies just a few miles north of the Ozarks in Northwest Arkansas. After massive renovations in 2001, “DWRRS” grew to accommodate some of the most dedicated fans in the nation. The nation’s second largest video board (167 feet wide) was added just last year to the North end zone and additional planned renovations will push this stadium to 80,000 seats in the very near future. Arkansas’ all-time record at their home stadium is a solid but uninspiring 166-81-2 and the trademark “Woo Pig Sooie” chant can be heard echoing across campus during each home game in the fall.

8. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn
Opened: 1939
Capacity: 87,451
2012 Attendance: 82,646 (14th)

The Tigers' football stadium is named after Shug Jordan, the winningest coach in school history, and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn’s first-ever football team and former president of the Southern Conference. Beautiful and historic murals on the east-side exterior as well as freshly planted “War Eagle” flowers in the end zone give this venue plenty of character. And when “Nova” (War Eagle VII), the team’s live golden eagle mascot, flies into the friendly confines, the Auburn faithful explode into a pre-game frenzy. It takes a special fan base and venue to attract over 82,000 fans to watch a team that didn't win a single SEC game a year ago.

9. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina
Opened: 1934
Capacity: 80,250
2012 Attendance: 80,001 (18th)

Recent upgrades to the tailgating areas and stadium itself have elevated Williams-Brice into the upper echelon of SEC venues. “The Cock Pit” has signature lighting high above the upper deck on either side of the field as the school continues to break attendance records — 85,199 in 2012 against Georgia. Each home game begins with the playing of the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey," giving South Carolina one of the best pre-game reputations in the nation. Formerly known as Carolina Stadium, the name was changed in 1972 to Williams-Brice after university benefactor Martha Williams-Brice. Steve Spurrier has built WBS into one of the impossible places to win, posting a 25-3 mark at home over the last four seasons.

10. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss
Opened: 1915
Capacity: 60,580
2012 Attendance: 57,066 (30th)

Can Ole Miss figure out a way to move The Grove inside Vaught-Hemingway? The world’s greatest pre-game tailgate takes place just a few yards away from the comparably small, but no less enjoyable, stadium. So while the third-oldest venue in the SEC hasn’t been all that daunting to opposing teams over the years, it does house what may be the most beautiful fan base in the nation. Everyone should attend at least one tailgate in Oxford, Miss.

11. Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State
Opened: 1914
Capacity: 55,082
2012 Attendance: 55,628 (35th)

The Bulldogs averaged more than 100-percent attendance a year ago and this is one of the reasons why Mississippi State has planned yet another expansion to Davis Wade Stadium. The $75 million work will take two years and will be completed before the 2014 season and will push capacity to 61,337 seats. The North end zone will be sealed off and a high-definition video board will be installed. Opposing fans and teams have grown to despise playing in front of the piercing collection of cowbells.

12. Memorial Stadium, Missouri
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 71,009
2012 Attendance: 67,476 (24th)

Missouri is doing everything it can to make its atmosphere and gameday experience match its big-time SEC rivals. In 2013, Mizzou faithful will be greeted with a brand new luxury suite tower to the West and tweaks to the historic north hill beyond the end zone. The famous rock “M” emblazoned hill was moved closer to the field to get fans closer to the action and create more concourse space. Additionally, a new project to build east-side suits and towers will expand the capacity to 77,000 over the next two years.

13. Commonwealth Stadium, Kentucky
Opened: 1973
Capacity: 67,692
2012 Attendance: 49,691 (41st)

From a percentage standpoint, the Wildcats posted the worst 2012 home attendance in the SEC. However, that had more to do with the poor play of the team than anything else. When this team is good, Big Blue Nation is as loud and passionate as any stadium with less than 70,000 seats in the nation. This venue has witnessed some historic moments — i.e., the Bluegrass Miracle — and Mark Stoops hopes his Spring Game attendance numbers (est. 50,381) are a preview of things to come this fall.

14. Vanderbilt Stadium, Vanderbilt
Opened: 1922
Capacity: 40,350
2012 Attendance: 37,860 (62nd)

The new brick façade and back-to-back winning seasons have helped build up the Dores' home atmosphere. However, the tiny alumni base and single-tiered stadium lacks the pageantry and passion of every other SEC venue. Vandy will always have a tough time selling out and competing in attendance numbers compared to the SEC's bluebloods. However, being located on beautiful West End with plenty to do within walking distance, there is still plenty to enjoy on gameday in Nashville. Of course, if James Franklin keeps winning nine games a season, all of this could change rapidly.

2013 SEC Team Previews

East DivisionWest Division
FloridaAlabama
GeorgiaArkansas
KentuckyAuburn
MissouriLSU
South CarolinaMississippi State
TennesseeOle Miss
VanderbiltTexas A&M


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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60
College Fooball Team Rankings for 2013: No. 61-80
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100
College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 101-125
College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era
College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era
College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the SEC's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/ranking-accs-football-stadiums
Body:

Fall Saturdays are special.

Small towns, huge crowds, tailgating, bands, cheerleaders and student sections are just a few of the reasons college football is the best sport on the planet. When campuses jump to life across the nation each weekend in the fall, college stadiums become a staging ground for history.

There are a variety of ways to evaluate the greatness of a stadium. Huge attendance numbers, home-field advantage in the win-loss column, rich traditions, picturesque landscapes and amenities are just a few of the aspects that must be considered to rank so many great college football cathedrals.

With that in mind, here's how the stadiums in the ACC stack up.

1. Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Opened: 1942
Capacity: 81,500
2012 Attendance: 81,427 (15th nationally)

There are only two atmospheres in the ACC that compare to the SEC's on Saturdays and Clemson Memorial Stadium is the best. Dubbed “Death Valley” by the late Presbyterian coach Lonnie McMillan after watching his teams get thumped by the Tigers for years, CMS has been home to historic moments and raucous crowds for more than 70 years. The fifth oldest venue in the ACC, this college football cathedral witnessed the first meeting between father and son head coaches (Bowden Bowl I) and is filled with timeless traditions. One of the most well known, of course, is the rubbing of “Howard’s Rock.” A notable Clemson alumnus brought the rock from Death Valley, Calif., and it has been affixed atop a pedestal in the East end zone for nearly 50 years. One legend has it that Memorial Stadium set the record for the loudest college football stadium at 133 decibels in 2007. Current Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney certainly likes the comforts of home. He is 25-4 at Memorial Stadium during his four years as Clemson's head coach.

2. Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech
Opened: 1965
Capacity: 65,632
2012 Attendance: 65,632 (25th)

The only building in the ACC that can give Death Valley a run for its money is in Blacksburg, Va. Named after former Tech graduate and Board of Visitors member Edward H. Lane, the beautiful venue is the largest stadium in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Frank Beamer and his Hokies are 51-8 at home during his career and haven’t lost more than one game at home during any season since joining the ACC in 2004. Before moving to the ACC, Tech went 32-9 in Lane Stadium while a member of the Big East. The Highty Tighties, Marching Virginians and “Enter Sandman” get the crowd riled up before every home game as players rush out from the tunnel slapping a slab of Hokie Stone en route to the field. Aside from the boisterous crowd (and excellent football team), part of what makes this venue so intimidating is its altitude of 2,057 feet above sea level — making it the highest stadium in the Eastern United States.

3. Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida State
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 82,300
2012 Attendance: 75,601 (19th)

Named after former Florida State president Doak S. Campbell, The Doak is known for its vicious football teams and gorgeous student section. Renamed in 2004 as Bobby Bowden Field, a nine-foot statue and three-story stained-glass window of the legendary coach were added to the facilities. The Noles are 260-86-4 all-time in the largest stadium in the ACC and, interestingly enough, the gorgeous brick façade makes DCS the largest continuous brick building in the United States. The cowgirls go crazy when Chief Osceola rides in on his steed and plants his flaming spear into the 50-yard line before each home game.

4. Kenan Memorial Stadium, North Carolina
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 62,980
2012 Attendance: 50,286 (38th)

One of the most picturesque places to watch a football game, Kenan Stadium was named after dairy farmer and 1894 UNC graduate William Kenan. It is the second-oldest football venue in the ACC, and could be, in the very near future, the ACC’s nicest as major renovations are underway. The “Blue Zone” will turn the horseshoe into a complete bowl with premium seating and innovative features while an upgrade of overall stadium facilities across the board will make the fan’s experience one of the best in the conference. The Tar Heels are 12-2 over their last two seasons in Kenan.

5. Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State
Opened: 1966
Capacity: 60,000
2012 Attendance: 54,106 (37th)

Originally named Carter Stadium after Harry and Wilbert Carter, Finley was added in 1978 after another major benefactor Albert Finley. Two unique aspects to CFS that add to its value is that fans are allowed to leave and re-enter the stadium — I wonder what they do in the parking lot? — and that it has the smallest clearance between the stands and the field in the ACC. The crowds are right on top of the field and it makes it difficult on opposing teams, as was evident in last October’s upset of previously unbeaten Florida State. Over the last three seasons, the Wolfpack have lost 15 games but only three have come at home (16-3).

6. Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech
Opened: 1913
Capacity: 55,000
2012 Attendance: 43,955 (54th)

The ACC’s oldest venue is located right in the heart of downtown Atlanta and was built for just $15,000 a century ago. Originally named Grant Field, Georgia Tech renamed the venue in 1988 as Bobby Dodd Stadium after the legendary Tech head coach. Many changes over time — Astroturf and the demolition of the South Stands and the 2003 expansion, for example — have made this stadium an ever-changing home for the Ramblin’ Wreck. And when the 1930 Ford Model A Sport coupe and Buzz the Yellow Jacket come flying across the field, the Bobby Dodd faithful erupt.

7. Scott Stadium, Virginia
Opened: 1931
Capacity: 61,500
2012 Attendance: 46,650 (46th)

Located on one of the most historic and culturally rich campuses in the nation, the Cavaliers' home is named after former university rector Frederic Scott. The signature white columns and grassy hill in the Northwest end zone are flanked by Monticello Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Scott Stadium has been witness to many historic ACC contests — namely, the Warrick Dunn goal-line stand. The Wahoos’ stadium is the seventh biggest and fourth oldest in the ACC.

8. Heinz Field, Pitt
Opened: 2001
Capacity: 65,050
2012 Attendance: 41,494 (58th)

From an amenities standpoint, few college stadiums can match the posh NFL home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Panthers' swanky digs, of course, come with the stigma of being the “other” team that plays at Heinz Field. While the venue has a great view of the Ohio River and features state-of-the-art technology, it isn’t located on campus, features roughly 20,000 empty seats each game and the home locker room doesn’t have Pitt Panthers logos plastered all over it.

9. Carrier Dome, Syracuse
Opened: 1980
Capacity: 49,262
2012 Attendance: 37,953 (61st)

If one can get past the fact that a dome named after a HVAC corporation doesn’t have air conditioning, the Orange’s home has plenty of character to offer. Nicknamed “The Loud House,” the Cuse’s home has a Teflon-coated, fiberglass inflatable roof that is one of the loudest in the nation. However, while it has been home to many historic showdowns and is the nation’s largest basketball arena, the Carrier Dome has seen better days and is failing to reach capacity on a regular basis.

10. Bryd Stadium, Maryland
Opened: 1950
Capacity: 54,000
2012 Attendance: 36,023 (64th)

Dr. H.C. Byrd was a multi-sport athlete and Terrapins alumni who went on to coach the football team and served as university president. It’s only fitting that the Terps' stadium was named after the prolific graduate.

11. Sun Life Stadium, Miami
Opened: 1987
Capacity: 80,120
2012 Attendance: 47,719 (44th)

The building is 25 minutes from campus and the fans don't exactly pack the bleachers to watch the 'Canes. While the building has the amenities of a stadium capable of hosting an NFL franchise and the BCS national title game, it lacks the connectedness most campus locations produce. It's a nice place to play a football game but it's distant, half-filled and devoid of character.

12. Alumni Stadium, Boston College
Opened: 1957
Capacity: 44,500
2012 Attendance: 37,020 (63rd)

The Eagles had been one of college football's most overachieving programs until recently. Not surprisingly, the team's struggles on the field have likewise resulted in a dip in attendance in the stands. Alumni Stadium can be a difficult place to play when it comes to big-time games (see College Gameday in 2009). However, it's tough to draw crowds to Chestnut Hill and when the team struggles, so does the stadium.

13. BB&T Field, Wake Forest
Opened: 1968
Capacity: 31,500
2012 Attendance: 28,912 (78th)

To Wake's fans' credit, there are typically never a ton of empty seats in BB&T and the recent round of upgrades have improved the fan's experience. However, failing to draw more than 30,000 fans per game in a major conference makes this venue inferior to the massive coliseums of the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12. The tailgating is picturesque and offers the quaintness of a homely, small-town college campus. But Wake Forest home games will never be confused with those in Columbus, Norman or Tuscaloosa.

14. Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 33,941
2012 Attendance: 28,170 (79th)

Attendance has gotten better under the David Cutcliffe regime due in large part to winning more games. However, the stadium has seen its fair share of blowouts — and sparse crowds. The Duke faithful will pack Cameron Indoor long before filling Wallace Wade.

2013 ACC Team Previews

Atlantic Coastal
Boston College Duke 
Clemson Georgia Tech
Florida State Miami
Maryland  North Carolina
NC State  Pittsburgh
Syracuse Virginia
Wake Forest  Virginia Tech


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ACC Predictions for 2013

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College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 41-60

College Fooball Team Rankings for 2013: No. 61-80

College Football Team Rankings for 2013: No. 81-100

College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Running Backs of BCS Era

College Football's Top 50 Wide Receivers of BCS Era

College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era

Teaser:
<p> Ranking the ACC's Football Stadiums</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 10:45
Path: /mlb/baseballs-all-time-all-steroid-team
Body:

Steroids are as synonymous with baseball as hot dogs or cold beer. It's an unfortunate era of the game that fans of all ages must accept. Are the use of performance-enhancing drugs terrible for the body and a form of cheating? Yes, and this country should work diligently to combat their growth. But steroids are a part why the game survived during the '90s — aka the 1998 home run chase — and, unfortunately, don't seem to be going away any time soon.

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" has learned that MLB will look to suspend upwards of 20 players related to the Miami-based clinic run by Tony Bosch. Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are the marquee names but Gio Gonzalez, who is coming off of his best season, and Everth Cabrera, who is having his best year in '13, also stand out. Other big names like Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera are mentioned as well. Many believe that baseball is looking for 100-game suspensions for several of the players reported to be associated with Bosch's clinic.

Should steroid users be in the Hall of Fame — alongside plenty of other great players who bent the rules? Who benefits more from PEDs: Hitters or pitchers? Will there ever be confirmation of who used what when? Since there will likely never be a definitive answer to these questions maybe baseball should build a “Steroid Wing” in Cooperstown and just lump everyone from 1990 to 2006 — when Bud Selig finally created the Joint Drug Prevention and Blunt Treatment Program.

How would that roster look? Here is the all-time steroid team made up of names who have been connected in one way or another to some sort of PED at some point. The starting lineup is a murderer’s row and the rotation has one of the all-time greats fronting it.

C: Pudge Rodriguez (1991-2011)
Key Stats: .296/.798, 2,844 H, 311 HR, 1,332 RBI
Awards: All-Star (14), Gold Glove (13), Silver Slugger (7), MVP

He is one of baseball’s all-time greatest catchers. He has more putouts (14,864) than any other catcher in history by a wide margin as his 21-season career would indicate. He hit over 20 home runs, however, just five times. They all came in consecutive seasons with the Rangers after playing three years with Jose Canseco. His 35-homer, 113-RBI MVP season is a clear outlier as Canseco claimed to have personally educated Rodriguez about steroid use. He never topped 30 home runs or 100 RBIs in any other season. Following the release of Canseco's inflammatory book, Juiced, the 215-pound catcher showed up at Tigers camp at 187 pounds and never hit more than 14 homers the rest of his career. Honorable Mention: Mike Piazza, Javy Lopez

1B: Mark McGwire (1986-2001)
Key Stats: .263/.982, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (3), Gold Glove (1), Rookie of the Year

McGwire is one of the few who has openly admitted that he used PEDs during his playing career. In fact, he dates his use of steroids back to as early as 1989 when he and Canseco won the World Series in Oakland — the modern birthplace for steroids. The Big Mac would have been a big bopper no matter what drugs he took, but breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record two years in a row seems highly unlikely. Especially considering he did it at age 34 (70 HR) and 35 (65). Honorable Mention: Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell

2B: Bret Boone (1992-2005)
Key Stats: .266/.767, 252 HR, 1,021 RBI
Awards: All-Star (3), Gold Glove (4), Silver Slugger (2)

Boone’s career stat sheet is one that steroid haters point to on a regular basis. How could a 5-foot-10, 180-pound second baseman who hit a total of 62 home runs in his first six seasons somehow blast 37 dingers and lead the league in RBIs (141) with a .331 average at age 32? His .950 OPS that year dwarfed his career .767 mark. In eight of 14 seasons, Boone hit 15 round trippers or less. But from 2001 to 2003, he hit 96 of his career 252 homers. Once again, it was Canseco’s book that fingered Boone as a potential steroid user. Honorable Mention: Brian Roberts, Chuck Knoblauch

3B: Alex Rodriguez (1994-present)
Key Stats: .300/.945, 647 HR, 1,950 RBI, 318 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (10), MVP (3), Gold Glove (2)

Playing in Seattle and Texas, two steroid hotbeds, AROD tested positive for PEDs in 2003 and eventually confessed to his use of banned substances from 2001-03. He has also seen his name mentioned prominently with more recent accusations hailing from the aforementioned Biogenesis clinic based in South Florida. He was an elite player with elite skills but his 40-40 season, multiple MVPs and historic numbers have all been called into question by his decision to cheat. His legacy is very much on the line as a result of his association with MLB's latest investigation in Miami. Honorable Mention: Ken Caminiti, Mike Lowell, Gary Sheffield

SS: Miguel Tejada (1997-2011, '13)
Key Stats: .285/.793, 306 HR, 1,289 RBI
Awards: All-Star (6), Silver Slugger (2), MVP (1)

Tejada was arguably the top shortstop in the game during a five-year stretch from 2000-04. He hit over 30 home runs in four out of five seasons, led the majors with 150 RBIs in 2004 and won the 2002 MVP as a key cog in the emergence of the "Moneyball" era in Oakland. But like many Bay Area players, the Latin star was fingered for steroid use by a variety of people. Rafael Palmeiro accused him of giving him tainted B-12 shots. Canseco accused him in his book. And then his name was featured prominently in the Mitchell Report. It all eventually led to a somber confession in 2009, as he was facing federal perjury charges, leaving little doubt that his career is tainted. Following a one-year absence in 2012, Tejada returned to the majors this season and is currently a utility player for the Royals.

OF: Barry Bonds (1986-2007)
Key Stats: .298/1.051, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB
Awards: All-Star (14), Silver Slugger (12), Gold Glove (8), MVP (7)

The most high-profile steroid user in the history of baseball also just happens to be its all-time home run champ. Everyone knows the number 755 but few know Bonds’ 762. This is all, of course, due to his miraculous late-career power surge. He never hit over 50 home runs in a season until he blasted 73 in 2002 at age 36. He hit over 40 dingers only three times in his career before topping 45 in five straight seasons from 2000 to 2004 — his 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th seasons. He was at the center of the BALCO scandal playing in a roided-up city during the peak of the steroid era. This one is a no brainer and it’s a shame, because he might have been one of the greatest hitters of all-time if he hadn't cheated. Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun, Gary Sheffield

OF: Sammy Sosa (1989-2007)
Key Stats: .273/.878, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB
Awards: All-Star (7), Silver Slugger (6), MVP (1)

This should be the only stat you need to know about Sosa and the steroid era: The Cubs' slugger broke Maris’ single-season home run record three times (1998, 1999, 2001) and never once led his league in homers. Think about that? He was a power hitter despite his 6-foot, 165-pound frame before 1998, but his numbers spiked dramatically during his historic home run chase with McGwire. He hit 207 HR in his first nine seasons and 292 long balls from 1998 to 2002. His 2005 Congressional hearing performance was one for the ages and he was fingered by The New York Times in an article stating Sosa tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Seriously, Baseball-Reference has him listed at 6-foot and 165 pounds… and he has 609 home runs? Honorable Mention: Jose Canseco, Juan Gonzalez

OF: Manny Ramirez (1993-2011)
Key Stats: .312/.996, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI
Awards: All-Star (12), Silver Slugger (9)

There weren’t many better right-handed hitters in all of baseball than Man-Ram in his prime. But that all came crashing down when he tested positive in 2009 for testosterone levels and was suspended 50 games. He then tested positive again in 2011 for a banned substance. All of this after he was fingered as a user back in the infamous 2003 drug test that reportedly also implicated Sosa, A-Rod and others. He was an elite hitter who delivered in the clutch and led his team to four different World Series. But he also quit on his team and earned the "Manny Being Manny" moniker after bizarre and often inexplicable on-field behavior. Honorable Mention: Brady Anderson, Melky Cabrera

DH: David Ortiz (1997-present)
Key Stats: .285/.928, 401 HR, 1,326 RBI
Awards: All-Star (8), Silver Slugger (5)

Big Papi has a strange career boxscore. In six seasons with the Twins, Ortiz slugged just 58 home runs — or less than 10 per season. But paired up with Man-Ram in Beantown for an organization that is willing to do anything to win and he became the greatest hitting DH of all-time. He has averaged 34 home runs per season in 10 full seasons with the Red Sox and topped out at a league-leading 54 in 2006. Ortiz, like so many others on this team, reportedly tested positive for steroids in 2003, information that finally came to light in 2009. To Ortiz' credit, he has maintained his production at the plate since the disclosure, as he averaged 30 home runs per season from 2009-11. Honorable Mention: Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui

SP: Roger Clemens (1984-2007)
Key Stats: 354 W, 4,916.2 IP, 4,672 K, 3.12 ERA
Awards: All-Star (11), Cy Young (7), MVP (1)

The Bonds of the mound, Clemens used PEDs to match the slugger's MVPs with seven Cy Young awards. He led the league in ERA seven different times, including a sterling 1.87 mark — his career best — at age 42 while pitching in a notorious steroid town (Houston) in 2005. The change in his career dates back to his move north of the border. After four middling years in Boston from 1993-96, he signed with Toronto and went 41-13 in 498.2 innings with a 2.33 ERA and 563 strikeouts — at age 34 and 35. He was then traded to New York and made more than $97.8 million from age 37 to 44. His name came up 82 times in the Mitchell Report and he has been fingered by former trainers and even teammates as a possible rule-breaker. Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt

RP: Eric Gagne (1997-2008)
Key Stats: 187 SV, 643.2 IP, 718 K, 3.47 ERA
Awards: All-Star (3), Cy Young (1)

Gagne was magical when he was at his best. He converted an MLB-record 84 straight saves and closed 152 games with 365 strikeouts and a 1.79 ERA in just 247.0 innings from 2002 to 2004. In his other seven seasons combined, he closed 35 games total. However, pitching on the West Coast during those years will raise major question marks and he was named prominently in the Mitchell Report complete with extremely incriminating evidence. He was never the same pitcher following his Tommy John surgery in 2005. Honorable Mention: John Rocker, Guillermo Mota

Note: This is simply for fun and not intended to cast official judgment of anyone named above nor is it investigative journalism.

Teaser:
<p> Major League Baseball's All-Steroid Team</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/top-10-oklahoma-football-teams-all-time
Body:

Oklahoma has one of the richest and most successful college football traditions in the nation. The NCAA's all-time longest winning streak, four coaches with at least 120 wins at the school — although, Bennie Owen's teams are ineligible for this exercise — and one of the classic gameday atmospheres in history. Clean uniforms, a simple, yet effective fight song, arguably the greatest rivalry game in college football and, of course, plenty of championships make the Sooners one of the sports' bluest blue bloods.

But how would Roy Williams and Torrance Marshall do against Billy Sims? What about a head-to-head battle between Lee Roy Selmon and Adrian Peterson? The Sooners have won at least a share of 40 conference championships and claim seven recognized national championships since the AP era began in 1934. But 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 Crimson and Cream history is virtually impossible. But we're going to try anyway.

1. 2000 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Few teams were more complete than the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners. Offensive whiz and Heisman finalist Josh Heupel led the offense at quarterback while one of the most talented defenses ever assembled posted arguably the best BCS title game performance in history. Starting No. 19 in the preseason polls, OU won road games against No. 2 Kansas State and No. 23 Texas A&M while defeating No. 1 Nebraska at home. Three neutral field wins over ranked opponents — No. 11 Texas, No. 8 Kansas State and eventually No. 3 Florida State — led to Oklahoma’s first national championship since 1985. Roy Williams, J.T. Thatcher, Torrance Marshall and Rocky Calmus are just a few of the standout names on the historic ’00 Sooner defense.

2. 1974 (11-0, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
The first of Switzer’s three national championship teams beat all but one opponent (Texas) by at least 14 points after starting the year as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation. The team boasted eight All-Americans and a stacked backfield that included Steve Davis, Joe Washington and Jim Littrell. This team set an NCAA record for rushing attempts as the Wishbone attack averaged 73.9 rushes per game and scored more than 60 points three times. The other side of the ball was led by the Selmon brothers, Lee Roy and Dewey, as well as All-American Rod Shoate and Jimbo Elrod. As the lone unbeaten team in the nation, OU claimed its fourth national championship.

3. 1955 (11-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson
The middle team of the magical Wilkinson run in the mid-50s won games 20-30 of the famed 47-game winning streak. Led by NCAA Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald — who shockingly led the Sooners in passing, rushing AND receiving — Oklahoma went on to claim the national championship by dominating opponents. This defense pitched five shutouts, including four straight to end the regular season and a combined score of 73-0 against archrivals Texas and Oklahoma State. Beginning the year No. 3 in the polls, Oklahoma worked its way to No. 1 by Week 7 and defeated No. 3 Maryland 20-6 in the Orange Bowl to claim the national title.

4. 1956 (10-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson
After winning back-to-back national titles and entering the season on a 30-game winning streak, Oklahoma went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the nation. The defense pitched six shutouts, including a combined 138-0 thrashing of Notre Dame, Texas and Oklahoma State. This team allowed 51 total points in 1956, gave OU its third consecutive national championship and pushed the Sooners' winning streak to 40 games. Quarterback Jim Harris took over admirably for Tommy McDonald and National Lineman of the Year Jerry Tubbs finished fourth in the Heisman voting.

5. 1975 (11-1, 6-1)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
As the defending champs, Oklahoma entered the season ranked No. 1 in the polls and proceeded to destroy both Oregon and No. 15 Pitt 108-17 to start the year. This team, which boasted eight All-Americans and an Outland Trophy winner in Lee Roy Selmon, defeated four top-five opponents in Colorado (No. 2), Texas (No. 5), Nebraska (No. 2) and Michigan (No. 5) in the Orange Bowl as well as three other top-20 teams in Missouri (No. 18), Oklahoma State (No. 19) and Pitt. A bizarre 23-3 loss at home to Kansas was the only blemish on the ’75 resume and it took losses from both No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Texas A&M in their bowl games to give OU its fifth national championship.

6. 1985 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
The Sooners began the season No. 2 in the polls and with Troy Aikman as the starting quarteback. However, after a loss to Miami in Week 4, Aikman was lost for the year. Jamelle Holieway took over and, with the help of a stacked roster, led Oklahoma to the national championship. He was surrounded by elite talents like Keith Jackson and Lydell Carr on offense and three All-Americans in Tony Casillas, Kevin Murphy and Butkus Award winner Brian Bosworth on defense. This team allowed more than seven points just four times all year and capped the season with a convincing 25-10 victory over No. 1 Penn State in the Orange Bowl.

7. 2008 (12-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
When it comes to overall talent, few rosters in Oklahoma history can match the ’08 squad. Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy while leading Oklahoma to the Big 12 Championship and the BCS National Championship Game. Ryan Broyles, DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown, Jauquin Iglesias, Jermaine Gresham, Manuel Johnson, Trent Williams and Phil Loadholt also started on an offense that set the NCAA record for points scored (716) by a wide margin (Hawaii, 656). The defense wasn’t far behind on talent either, as Gerald McCoy, Jeremy Beal, Auston English, Travis Lewis, Nic Harris and Dominique Franks all started on that side of the ball. Even a 10-point loss to No. 5 Texas in the Red River Shootout wasn't enough to keep the Sooners out of the BCS title game. However, once Oklahoma got to Miami Gardens, Fla., it was a physical Florida Gators team that handed the Sooners a 24-14 defeat that ended OU’s hopes of an eighth national championship.

8. 1987 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
A third consecutive defeat at the hands of No. 2 Miami and former assistant Jimmy Johnson in the Orange Bowl kept the Sooners from the national championship for the second straight year. On a team stacked with elite players like All-Americans Rickey Dixon (who also won the Thorpe Award), Mark Hutson, Keith Jackson, Dante Jones and Darell Reed, the Sooners rolled through the regular season unbeaten. The offense led the nation in seven statistical categories but was held to just 255 total yards in the heart-breaking 20-14 loss to Miami.

9. 1986 (11-1, 7-0)
Head Coach: Barry Switzer
For the second straight year the Sooners lost to No. 2 Miami, except this time it cost Switzer his fourth national championship. Led by Brian Bosworth, Steve Bryan, Dante Jones and Paul Migliazzo on defense, this team pitched five shutouts and led the nation in rushing, passing, total and scoring (6.8 ppg) defense. Keith Jackson and Spencer Tillman spearheaded the offense and Tillman capped the year by rushing for 109 yards and two scores in a forceful 42-8 drubbing of No. 9 Arkansas in the Orange Bowl.

10. 2004 (12-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Led by legendary true freshman tailback Adrian Peterson, the Sooners rolled through the regular season unbeaten and were poised to face the only team ranked ahead of them in the polls all season in USC in the Orange Bowl. The passing game featured Heisman winner Jason White (2003) and wideouts Mark Clayton, Mark Bradley and Travis Wilson. Stoops featured four future head coaches in Kevin Wilson (co-OC), Bo Pelini (DC), Chuck Long (co-OC) and Kevin Sumlin (TE) as well as Brent Venables (DC). A 55-19 beatdown at the hands of the No. 1 Trojans soured the season in the Orange Bowl to end the year.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 10 Oklahoma Sooners Teams of All-Time 

The best of the rest:

11. 1954 (10-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson

Not many teams feature a Hall of Fame two-way lineman who finished second in the Heisman like the nasty Kurt Burris did for the unbeaten national champs in 1954. Oklahoma beat three ranked teams in Cal (No. 12), TCU (No. 20) and Texas (No. 15) to win the title. This team won games 10-19 of the famed 47-game win streak.

12. 1950 (10-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bud Wilkinson
Despite a loss to No. 7 Kentucky in the Sugar Bowl in the season finale, the Sooners claimed a share of their first national championship in school history. The offense was led in rushing and receiving by Billy Vessels, who would eventually claim the Heisman Trophy two years later.

13. 1973 (10-0-1, 7-0) Barry Switzer
14. 1979 (11-1, 7-0) Barry Switzer
15. 2003 (12-2, 8-0) Bob Stoops

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Teaser:
<p> Top 10 Oklahoma Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /news/7-reasons-tim-tebows-nfl-career-over
Body:

The Tim Tebow saga may be coming to a slow, painful end.

Reports surfaced recently that some in Tebow’s camp are admitting that the former Gators, Broncos and Jets “quarterback” is coming to grips with the reality that his career may be coming to an end.

Nothing is official and there has been no retirement letter filed with the NFL, so he may still be holding out hope.

But after two NCAA BCS National Championships at Florida and a miracle run with the Broncos two years ago, why has Tebow’s NFL career come to an end so abruptly?

Here are the top reasons why Tebow’s career is over:

1. He can’t complete passes
This is the main reason Tebow won’t be taking snaps from an NFL center anytime soon. He has been and will always be an inaccurate passer. It doesn’t matter how big, strong, fast, hard-working, dedicated or tough you are, if you cannot accurately pass the football, your career as an NFL QB will go the way of the Ryan Leaf bird. The bottom line is Tebow is a career 47.9-percent passer. That’s not getting the job done.

2. The media circus is too much
A professional sports locker room is an extremely delicate balance between trust, cohesion, respect, tension and talent. Outside distractions can cripple a team and its chances for a championship in any sport on any level. What Tebow brings to a locker room — leadership, commitment and work ethic — doesn’t outweigh what his persona brings to an organization. The media circus that follows his every move is too much for most teams to even consider hiring the polarizing player.

3. He refuses to change positions
Quarterbacks are egomaniacs and prima donnas just like head coaches. Tebow may not be an egomaniac but he has refused to switch positions in an effort to prolong his career. Could he be a H-back, tight end, fullback or even pass-rusher? Could he contribute on special teams? The odds are yes — he is too big, fast, strong and athletic not to make plays. But he thinks of himself as a quarterback only… and it will end his career.

4. Shahid Khan is stupid
Okay, Khan isn’t actually stupid as his $2.5 billion net worth would indicate. However, the Jaguars owner not offering Tim Tebow at least a roster spot years ago was just bad business. As tarps cover seats and TV blackouts abound in Jacksonville, the Jaguars have been looking for some sort of spark to inspire fans for years. The local boy who played high school and college football just down the road could have been a perfect remedy. Well, financially, at least.

5. Urban Meyer coaches at Ohio State
Meyer coached Tebow at Florida to two national championships and a Heisman Trophy before taking a year off from coaching. He resurfaced at Ohio State and led the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 record in his first season in Columbus. However, had he taken an NFL job instead of the Big Ten one, fans can bet Tebow would be on an NFL roster. Even if he is just a third QB — or designated locker room speech giver.

BONUS REASONS:

Everyone hates Skip Bayless
In an effort to remove Skip Bayless from the sports media, NFL executives are doing mankind a favor by not signing Tim Tebow. Once Tebow disappears from the NFL landscape, Bayless won't have anything to talk about. In fact, Tebow is only furthering his image as a man of the people by selflessly stepping away from the game. Ideally, this unified move from the NFL and Tebow will force Bayless to “fade into Bolivia.”

Teaser:
<p> 5 Reasons Tim Tebow's NFL Career is Over</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 12:45
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/top-10-lsu-tigers-football-teams-all-time
Body:

There is so much to love about the LSU Tigers. A real Bengal Tiger for a mascot. One of the loudest, most electric Saturday night atmospheres in the nation. And arguably the most diverse and delicious tailgating menus of all-time make the Bayou Bengals one of college football's greatest programs. Unfortunately, the success on the field has been few and far between for the current SEC powerhouse.

LSU won one national championship and just eight SEC titles in 70 years from the league's inception (1933) until Nick Saban's historic 2003 title run. But LSU hasn't missed a bowl since Saban's first season (2000) and has been a national title contender ever since.

But how would Billy Cannon to do against Glenn Dorsey or Ali Highsmith? Overall, the Tigers have claimed three national titles and at least a share of 11 SEC championships since the AP Era debuted in 1934. But 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 LSU history is virtually impossible.

But we're going to try anyway.

1. 2003 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban

There is little doubt the 2003 LSU Tigers were the best collection of Bayou Bengals in school history. The offense was excellent, led by the likes of Matt Mauck, Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson, Stephen Peterman, Joseph Addai, Alley Broussard, Justin Vincent and Rimington winner Ben Wilkerson. But the defense was legendary as Chad Lavalais, Marcus Spears and Kyle Williams dominated the defensive line and Corey Webster and LaRon Landry patrolled the secondary. From a talent perspective, no team in LSU history can match Saban’s championship squad. And with LSU’s first national championship since 1958, this team will go down in LSU lore as the greatest team to ever play in Baton Rouge. A single 19-7 home loss to Florida early in the year was the season's only blemish and is the only thing keeping this team from joining a small pantheon of unbeaten BCS National Champs.

2. 1958 (11-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Paul Dietzel

Despite not facing unbeaten and No. 4-ranked Aubun all season, the LSU Tigers won the SEC and National Championship in Paul Dietzel’s fourth season. It was his first winning record at LSU and it is still the school’s only unblemished season of the poll era. Future Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon led the offense and the defense held all but one team (Duke) to seven points or less.

3. 2011 (13-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Les Miles

Despite the ugly way this season ended, the 2011 LSU Tigers is one of the most decorated, successful and talented teams to ever roam the Bayou. After posting wins over eight ranked opponents, including a memorable upset of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, LSU entered the national title game with a program-record 13 wins. It featured an elite defense stacked with a number of first-round picks, including a Thorpe Award winner in Morris Claiborne. Certainly, the BCS championship game performance was horrendous and left a bitter scar on the ’11 team’s resume. Still, no LSU team has had a better regular season and no LSU team has won more games than the 2011 squad.

4. 2007 (12-2, 6-2)
Head Coach: Les Miles

It is difficult to truly evaluate the 2007 LSU Tigers. They were exceptionally talented with names like Matt Flynn, Glenn Dorsey, Darry Beckwith, Ciron Black, Craig Steltz, Chevis Jackson, Ali Highsmith and Jacob Hester. They defeated seven ranked opponents and won the SEC and BCS national championships. However, what keeps this team from being the best of all-time was 93 points allowed to Arkansas and Kentucky in overtime losses. This is the only two-loss BCS champ and, like most teams, needed some good fortune (looking at West Virginia and Missouri) to land in the title game against Ohio State. This team was unbeaten in regulation in ’07 and was deserving of being called the best team in the nation, but it’s not in the same dominant category of the three LSU teams above it.

5. 1936 (9-1-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bernie Moore

The SEC champs tied at Texas in Week 2 and entered the Sugar Bowl game against No. 5 Santa Clara with a shot at the national championship. This defense allowed an unbelievable 4.9 points per game behind five shutouts but couldn’t stop the Broncos. The 21-14 Sugar Bowl loss was the season’s only blemish and it cost the Tigers a potential national title. LSU finished No. 2 in the final AP poll while Minnesota finished No. 1 and claimed the national championship.

6. 1961 (10-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Paul Dietzel

In 1961 fans in Baton Rouge were left wondering what if had it not lost the season opener at Rice 16-3. After giving up 16 points in the season opener, LSU allowed a total of 41 points the rest of the season and finished with 10 straight wins. This run included victories over No. 6 Colorado in the Orange Bowl, No. 3 Georgia Tech and No. 2 Ole Miss. This is one of eight LSU teams to finish inside the AP top four at season’s end and it also won a share of the SEC championship.

7. 2001 (10-3, 5-3)
Head Coach: Nick Saban

Yes, this team was stacked with NFL talent. Yes, this team finished No. 7 in the final AP poll. But what made this team special was the championship drought this group ended for Bayou Bengal faithful. Led by Biletnikoff winner Josh Reed, this team defeated four straight ranked opponents to end the year as SEC champions — the school’s first conference title since 1988 and its first outright SEC crown since 1986. After three decades of irrelevance, this team signified the return of LSU football to prominence.

8. 1959 (9-2, 5-1)
Head Coach: Paul Dietzel

The team that followed the ’58 national champs won the school’s only Heisman Trophy when Billy Cannon returned to dominate college football. This team began as the No. 1 team in the nation until a loss at No. 13 Tennessee late in the year knocked them off the top slot. This team didn’t win the SEC (Georgia) and lost to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, but it is one of just seven teams to finish in the AP top three in LSU history.

9. 2006 (11-2, 6-2)
Head Coach: Les Miles

The 11-2 team was simply a glimpse of what was to come the following year and was just the fourth team in school history to reach 11 wins (1958, 2003, '05). This team ranked ninth nationally in scoring offense (33.7) and fourth nationally in scoring defense (12.6). This team was stacked with elite talents who would go on to win a national title the next year and losses to two top-five opponents on the road — at No. 3 Auburn and at No. 5 Florida — were the only thing keeping LSU from competing for a national title. The ’06 Tigers finished No. 3 in the AP poll after crushing Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.

10. 1970 (9-3, 5-0) 
Head Coach: Charles McClendon

From 1936 to 1970, LSU won just two SEC titles, but head coach Charles McClendon returned the Tigers to SEC relevance in 1970 with a league championship. Consensus All-American defenders Tommy Cassanova and Mike Anderson led a defense that allowed just 9.4 points per game. This team defeated ranked opponents Auburn (No. 6), Alabama (No. 19) and Ole Miss (No. 16) and its losses came against No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Nebraska and Texas A&M. The SEC champs finished No. 7 in the AP poll.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time

The best of the rest:

1986 (9-3) Head Coach: Mike Archer*
1987 (10-1) Head Coach: Mike Archer
2005 (11-2) Head Coach: Les Miles
1962 (9-1-1) Head Coach: Charles McClendon
1946 (9-1-1) Head Coach: Bernie Moore
1935 (9-2) Head Coach: Bernie Moore*
1988 (8-4) Head Coach: Mike Archer*
1996 (10-2) Head Coach: Gerry DiNardo
2010 (11-2) Head Coach: Les Miles
1969 (9-1) Head Coach: Charles McClendon

* - SEC champs

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Teaser:
<p> Top 10 LSU Tigers Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/big-12s-top-heisman-contenders-2013
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his role as the starting quarterback, but there are no guarantees that he will return to form. TCU can still be a very good team with Trevone Boykin at quarterback, but to be elite, the Horned Frogs need Pachall, the more gifted passer, to take the majority of the snaps in 2013.


2013 Big 12 Team Previews

BaylorOklahoma State
Iowa StateTCU
KansasTexas
Kansas StateTexas Tech
OklahomaWest Virginia

Best of the Rest:

 

Five Defensive Players to Watch:

Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas

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Teaser:
<p> The Big 12's Top Heisman Contenders in 2013</p>
Post date: Sunday, June 2, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/top-10-oregon-ducks-football-teams-all-time
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No program in the nation has elevated themselves in the college football hierarchy over the last 15 years more than the Oregon Ducks. All eight double-digit win seasons in program history have taken place since 2000. Five of the school's eight conference championships have come since the turn of the millennium as well.

Much of this growth can be attributed to great coaching — and NIKE. Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti and Chip Kelly have been brilliant hires but Phil Knight’s overwhelming influence (and money) has gone a long way in building the Ducks into a national recruiting powerhouse.

But how would Joey Harrington’s team compete against Darron Thomas’ squad? Could the historic 1994 Rose Bowl team hang with the 2011 Rose Bowl champions? The Ducks have claimed eight conference championships since the AP Era debuted in 1934, but which was the best? And was the best team in school history one that didn't even win the league? The fact of the matter is no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in Ducks' history is virtually impossible.

But we're going to try anyway.

1. 2010 (12-1, 9-0)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

The most dominant regular season in program history began with a 48-13 showcase in vaunted Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. Wins over three ranked Pac-10 teams later and the Ducks finished the regular season 12-0 as Pac-10 champions. Record-setting quarterback Darron Thomas and Doak Walker winner LaMichael James led an offense that scored a school-record 611 points (since broken). Names like Casey Matthews, Kenny Rowe, John Boyett and Brandon Bair led what has to be considered a very underrated defense. The Ducks lost a heart-breaker in the national championship game against Auburn 22-19, but this defense held Cam Newton and the Tigers to their second-lowest output of the year (17, Mississippi State). This team was one tackle or blocked kick away from winning the school’s first national championship.

Related: Top 10 Notre Dame Fighting Football Teams of All-Time
Related: Top 15 Alabama Crimson Tide Football Teams of All-Time

2. 2001 (11-1, 8-1)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

Led by Heisman Trophy finalist Joey Harrington, these Ducks rolled through the Pac-10 en route to the program's first outright conference championship since 1994 and just its second since 1957. A deep and talented offensive skill group — Maurice Morris, Onterrio Smith, Samie Parker — helped the Ducks defeat four ranked teams, including a 38-16 destruction of No. 3 Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. In fact, if not for the national championship being played in Pasadena, Calif., this team likely would have captured Oregon's first Rose Bowl win since 1917. This offense scored 412 points, which was good for second all-time in school history at the time, and no Oregon team has finished higher in the final AP Poll than the ’01 squad (No. 2). A seven-point home shootout loss to a nine-win Stanford team was the only thing keeping this team from being the only unbeaten squad in Ducks history.

3. 2012 (12-1, 8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

Quarterbacked by Marcus Mariota, this Oregon team was never ranked outside of the AP's top 5. The offense also featured Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas and tied a school record for points scored with 645. The Ducks led the nation in turnover margin and destroyed five ranked teams en route to a tie for the best AP finish in school history (No. 2). A three-point overtime loss to Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champ Stanford not only kept the Ducks from winning the Pac-12 title, but also cost Oregon a chance at a second BCS National Championship game berth.

4. 2011 (12-2, 8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

A brutal neutral field loss to eventual SEC champ LSU in the season opener and bizarre home upset to USC were the only blemishes on the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions’ resume in ’11. This offense, led by Darron Thomas at quarterback and a three-headed monster at running back, set a school record for points scored with 645 (tied one year later). Wins over three ranked opponents, including No. 3 Stanford and No. 9 Wisconsin highlighted one of the best seasons in school history. One that ended with a No. 4 ranking in the final AP Poll, which is just one of four top-five finishes in program history.

5. 2000 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

A preview of things to come the following year, the 2000 team played six ranked opponents (beating four) and finished seventh in the final AP poll. A three-way tie atop the Pac-10 with Washington (win) and Oregon State (loss), resulted in the Huskies going to Pasadena, Calif., to play in the Rose Bowl while the Ducks flew south to San Diego to play in the Holiday Bowl against Texas. Harrington, Morris and Parker showed flashes of brilliance in 2000 before taking their play to the next level the following season (see No. 2). This team was the first in school history to win 10 games in a single season.

6. 2009 (10-3, 8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly took over for Mike Bellotti as a relative unknown and proved in one year he was the right guy for the job. His team led the league in scoring offense and rushing en route to the school’s first Rose Bowl berth since 1994. The season got started in bad fashion with the “Blount Punch” and a loss to Boise State but ended with a Pac-10 championship. This team faced six ranked opponents, going 4-2, and finished 11th in the final AP Poll. Jeremiah Masoli and LaMicheal James were virtually unstoppable in the backfield for Kelly’s first team.

7. 2005 (10-2, 7-1)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

This team didn’t win the Pac-10 championship. It didn’t win its bowl game against Oklahoma. And it didn’t win any major awards or set any school records. But from a pure talent perspective, few Oregon teams can match the ’05 roster. A loss to No. 1 USC was the only regular season blemish and wins over ranked Fresno State, Arizona State and Cal dot the resume. The backfield featured Kellen Clemens and Dennis Dixon at quarterback with Jonathan Stewart, Terrence Whitehead and Jeremiah Johnson at running back. Demetrius Williams posted one of the greatest receiving years in school history and all-universe nose tackle Haloti Ngata spearheaded the defense. Depsite the loss to the Sooners to end the year, Oregon finished 12th in the final AP Poll.

8. 2008 (10-3, 7-2)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti

Mike Bellotti’s final team was one of his best. The 2008 team had two 1,000-yard rushers in Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount as Jeremiah Masoli quarterbacked the first team to score 500 points in school history (545). Jeff Maehl, Terence Scott, Jaison Williams and Ed Dickson formed one of the best receiving corps in school history as well. But what made this team one of the best was the defense. In particular, the secondary was loaded with T.J. Ward, Jairus Bryd, Walter Thurmond III and Patrick Chung. This group went 2-1 against ranked opponents and finished the year as one of Oregon’s seven top-10 teams (AP No. 10).

9. 1994 (9-4, 7-1)
Head Coach: Rich Brooks

After decades of turmoil, Rich Brooks finally broke through with the school’s first conference championship in nearly 40 years. Non-conference losses to Hawaii and Utah early in the year were quickly turned into a 7-1 Pac-10 record — including wins over a ranked USC, Washington and Arizona. Danny O’Niel, Dino Philyaw and Ricky Whittle led the offense that returned Oregon to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1958.

10a. 1948: (9-2, 7-0)
Head Coach: Jim Aiken

Strangely, this Pacific Coast Conference co-champion team played seven of 11 games on the road but didn’t lose a game in league play. It finished No. 9 in the final AP Poll, which was the first and only top-10 finish for Oregon until the 2000 team finished seventh. The defense allowed just 9.4 points per game.

10b. 1957 (7-4, 6-2)
Head Coach: Len Casanova

It didn’t wow in the statistical or win-loss categories but this is one of just four teams in school history to play in the Rose Bowl. This team is also the only Ducks team to win a conference championship (PCC) between 1950 and 1993. It went 2-2 against four ranked opponents, including a narrow 10-7 loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Oregon lost all four games by a grand total of 16 points and had three three-point losses.

The best of the rest:

1999 (9-3) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
1998 (8-4) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
2007 (9-4) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
1995 (9-3) Head Coach: Mike Bellotti
1959 (8-2) Head Coach: Len Casanova

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Teaser:
<p> Top 10 Oregon Ducks Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Friday, May 31, 2013 - 08:40
All taxonomy terms: College World Series, MLB, News
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Michael Roth could run for office in Columbia, S.C. — and he would win in a landslide.

The former Gamecocks pitcher started back-to-back College World Series Championship-clinching games in 2010 and '11 before leading South Carolina back to Omaha in '12. The lefty starter was a ninth-round pick by the Los Angeles Angels last June and has already made his MLB debut.

LSU’s Kevin Gausman was a part of history in last year’s tournament as well. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft who has already made his Baltimore Orioles debut watched Stony Brook upset his Tigers in Baton Rouge Super Regional play last year in heart-breaking fashion.

Florida’s CWS run last year was spearheaded by names like Mike Zunino, Brian Johnson and Paco Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a second-round pick by the Dodgers, debuted last year and has become one of the more dependable relievers for the Boys in Blue. Zunino has crushed his way to AAA-Tacoma for the Seattle Mariners after being the third overall pick in the ’12 MLB Draft while Johnson also was taken in the first round by the Red Sox.

In all, eight College World Series teams produced 53 total MLB Draft picks in 2012. Five of those were first-round picks — Zunino, Johnson, Stony Brook’s Travis Jankowski, Florida State’s James Ramsey and UCLA’s Jeff Gelalich.

The point of all this information? The best players in college baseball will be on display in the NCAA Tournament over the next month and many will be starring for your favorite MLB team sooner rather than later. So with regionals set to get underway this weekend, they have some unfinished business. Who are the top prospects to watch in the tournament?

Potential Top 10 Picks:

Jonathan Gray, RHP, Oklahoma (6-4, 240)
With Mark Appel and Stanford left out of the bracket, Gray become the top pitching prospect to watch. The two-seeded Sooners will be visiting Blacksburg, Va., with a good chance at an upset because of Gray. The power righty was 16th nationally in earned run average (1.55 ERA) after allowing just 19 runs in 110.0 innings, while his 127 strikeouts were fourth overall. Gray has a powerful fastball that touches 98-99 and he also will throw a slider and a change-up.

Kris Bryant, 1B/3B, San Diego (6-5, 215)
There are thousands of college baseball players and only two hit more than 20 home runs this year. But only Bryant topped 30 as he blasted a nation's best 31 long bombs — which is more home runs than 225 of the 296 TEAMS in the nation. The massive prospect hails from Las Vegas originally and his huge frame and raw power project him as either a first or third baseman in the majors. The third-seeded Toreros will have to battle through the UCLA Bruins in the first round this weekend.

Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina (6-3, 215)
Much like Bryant, Moran projects at either corner infield spot and this gives him some versatility. He also appears to be very “signable” and that could work in his favor come draft day. He led the nation with 83 RBIs and hit .376 while becoming the seventh Tar Heel to win ACC Player of the Year honors. He doesn’t have Bryant’s power but he has led North Carolina to the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament.

Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas (6-4, 190)
If you are looking for an upset pick this tourney, take the Hogs and their excellent pitching staff. The two-seeded Razorbacks will visit host Kansas State this weekend and Stanek's four-pitch repertoire will be on full display. He has a quirky release, but features a powerful fastball (touching 97), a plus-slider and will mix in an improving change-up and adequate curve. He was a third-round pick two years ago and has clearly improved his stock. Pitching in the best league in the nation, his 1.40 ERA (90.0 IP) is 11th nationally.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State (6-1, 210)
The Bulldogs were gifted a regional host assignment and the SEC’s home run leader (15) will be the star of the show in Starkville. He also has played catcher and has an arm that might intrigue scouts as well. Will his versatility help his draft stock or does he lack a true position?

D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B/OF, New Mexico (6-1, 210)
The third-seeded Lobos won the Mountain West conference by a wide margin and Peterson was a huge part of that. His .411 average was third nationally and his 18 big flies finished third in the nation as well. The smooth swinging righty is one of the best pure hitters in the nation and will make New Mexico a tough out in the Cal-State Fullerton regional.


Related: 2013 College World Series and Regional Predictions


Other Potential First-Rounders:

Alex Balog, RHP, San Francisco (6-5, 210)
The big righty has been a late riser in the draft process and should slip into the first round. He will lead the three-seeded Dons into the Eugene Regional to face Rice, Oregon and South Dakota State.

Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida (6-2, 205)
The talented Gators arm blossomed on the 2012 CWS team as his no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman in the Gainesville Regional a year ago helped propel UF to Omaha. He has a plus fastball and three upside pitches

Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU (6-3, 200)
As one of two aces for the SEC tourney champs, Eades has a chance to make himself some money in this tournament. He has excellent command of all three upside pitches and will throw his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s. He struck out 75 batters in 93.2 innings.

Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss (6-3, 200)
The Virginia native won nine games with 76 strikeouts in 90.2 innings in the nation’s toughest league. He was No. 2 in the SEC in batting average against with a nasty .189 mark. He uses a solid fastball, upside slider and tricky change-up.

Jason Hursh, RHP, Oklahoma State (6-2, 200)
A redshirt sophomore who was a sixth-round pick in 2010 has a fastball that tops out at 97-98 and has an above-average slider. He missed all of last year after Tommy John surgery and will lead the Pokes into the Louisville Regional as a three-seed.

Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt (6-3, 190)
Led the best SEC team in history while leading the conference in strikeouts (106) and opponents batting average (.179). He was fourth in innings (105.1), third in wins (10) and posted a 2.05 ERA for the year.

Chad Pinder, 3B, Virginia Tech (6-2, 192)
The Hokies were 11th in RPI at season’s end and it earned them a spot as a Regional host. Pinder’s bat is a big reason as he has improved each year and has been above .300 his entire NCAA career. He has the size and athleticism to stick at third.

Michael Lorenzen, OF, Cal State Fullerton (6-3, 195)
He has a big arm and defensive skill to stick in center field. He’s been inconsistent at the plate but has led CSF to a national seed (No. 5) and a 48-8 record. He also doubles as a flame-throwing closer for the Titans.

Trevor Williams, RHP, Arizona State (6-3, 230)
He began his career in the pen and made the transition to the rotation with relative ease. He will lead the second-seeded Sun Devils into the Cal-State Fullerton Regional this weekend. He works quick and locates but won’t overpower hitters.

Kent Emanuel, LHP, North Carolina (6-4, 205)
Earned ACC Pitcher of the Year honors on the nation’s No. 1 team. He doesn’t have elite velocity but he has above-average command and knows how to win.

Others to watch:

Jared King, OF, Kansas State (5-11, 200)
Dillon Overton, LHP, Oklahoma (6-2, 170)
Daniel Gibson, LHP, Florida (6-3, 220)
Stuart Turner, C, Ole Miss (6-2, 220)
Colby Suggs, RHP, Arkansas (6-0, 225)
Jimmie Sherfy, RHP, Oregon (6-0, 175)
Zane Evans, C, Georgia Tech (6-2, 220)
Jacoby Jones, 2B, LSU (6-3, 200)

Teaser:
<p> First Round MLB Draft Prospects to Watch in the NCAA Tournament</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 08:30
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The California Golden Bears announced in September of 2010 that their baseball program would be cut because the school couldn’t afford it any longer. After a change of heart eight months later — mostly stemming from a huge influx of cash from supporters — the program was reinstated and became the darlings of the 2011 College World Series. The Bears even won a game in Omaha, saving the program.

Last year, little Stony Brook went into the toughest environment in the nation and beat LSU to earn a trip to Omaha. Kent State took two out of three at No. 5 Oregon in the Super Regionals to join the Seawolves as fan favorites in Omaha.

Over the last two seasons, 10 of the 16 College World Series participants were national, or top eight, seeds. Over the last five seasons, 24 of the 40 College World Series teams were national seeds. This means that five of the eight teams heading to New Rosenblatt Stadium this June will be national seeds.

But it also means three of the eight will be unexpected underdog upsets. In fact, two of the last three champions — Arizona a year ago and South Carolina in 2010 — were not national seeds.

So who is going to make that historic trip to Omaha for the College World Series in 2013? Here are our predictions:
 

North Carolina (1) over South Carolina
I wasn’t going to take the Tar Heels after they lost their last two ACC series of the regular season, however, North Carolina got the weakest regional draw of the tourney and should skate through to the Super Regionals. In-state rivals Clemson and South Carolina will battle in the Columbia Regional for a second straight season. The Cocks won this battle last year and the Tigers have lost five straight games, so South Carolina is poised to battle North Carolina in the Supers. Look for ACC Player and Pitcher of the Year Colin Moran and Kent Emanuel to lead the Tar Heels to the College World Series for the fifth time in eight years.
 

Vanderbilt (2) over Louisville
Both host teams will face intriguing tests as Vandy faces Golden Spikes candidate Kerry Doane on Friday night and a talented but slumping Georgia Tech team potentially on Saturday. However, the Dores are the best team in SEC history by record and should get to the second weekend with relative ease. Louisville has a much tougher path to the Super Regional as it will have to face both Miami and Oklahoma State in the first weekend. The Cardinals won 16 straight to end the regular season and their pitching should advance the Redbirds into a showdown with the Commodores. Tim Corbin’s deep lineup and nasty 1-2 punch atop the rotation — Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede — will get Vanderbilt to Omaha for the second time in three years.
 

Arkansas over Oregon State (3)
This is the best Beavers team since Pat Casey won back-to-back CWS championships in 2006 and '07. But having to host either Kansas State or Arkansas in the Supers is a tough draw for the No. 3 overall seed. The Razorbacks have elite pitching both in the rotation and the bullpen as ace Ryne Stanek leads the way. Dave Van Horn’s team made it to the College World Series last year by winning on the road twice against Rice and Baylor and I expect the SEC-tested and second-seeded Hogs to do it again this year. Arkansas upsets the Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan., and then takes down Oregon State in Corvallis to reach the CWS for the second consecutive season.
 

LSU (4) over Oklahoma
The second-seeded Sooners have to go through Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to get to the Bayou Bengals but ace Jonathan Gray should be up to the task. This team has won five straight and clinched the automatic berth by winning the Big 12 tournament last weekend. That said, the surging Sooners won’t pull a Stony Brook this year as their run will end in Alex Box Stadium. LSU is on a mission this year led by three Golden Spikes semifinalists — starter Aaron Nola, slugger Mason Katz and star freshman shortstop Alex Bregman — and won’t be denied a trip to Omaha.

 

Cal State Fullerton (5) over UCLA
No team in the nation lost fewer games than the Titans' eight this year, but CSF will be pressed by upstart New Mexico and fellow West Coast power Arizona State in the first weekend. Fullerton has been knocked out of the last two tournaments by Pac-12 teams Oregon (2012) and Stanford (2011) and will likely have to get through two in Arizona State and UCLA to get to Omaha for the first time since 2009. Head coach and alum Rick Vanderhook, who played on the 1984 national championship team, is looking to put his stamp on the historic program after both George Horton and Dave Serrano led the Titans to Omaha. This team might be the pick to win the whole thing if they can make it through the first two weekends.
 

Virginia (6) over South Alabama
The Wahoos have a nice draw in the first weekend and should be a lock to make it to the second weekend. South Alabama was the best team in an extremely underrated Sun Belt conference (four bids) and gets to play against a surprise host in Mississippi State. The Jaguars, who won 42 games this year, will shock the Bulldogs faithful at famed Dudy Noble in Starkville, Miss. However, look for the superior talent of the Cavaliers to overpower the lack of postseason experience for South Alabama as Brian O’Connor gets his squad to Omaha for the third time in five seasons.
 

Indiana over Alabama
The Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions could be this year’s surprise team in Omaha but they will have to earn their way into the finals. Austin Peay won 45 games and Florida is extremely talented so the first weekend could be tougher than the second for Indiana. Meanwhile in Tallahassee, Alabama might be the team to beat after giving Vanderbilt all it could handle in the final weekend of the regular season. Host Florida State is the most vulnerable national seed and a should a No. 2 seed end up making its way to Omaha, it seems most likely that it would come from this “pod” of action.
 

NC State over Oregon (8)
Ole Miss and NC State are both poised to make deep runs on the backs of aces Bobby Wahl and Carlos Rodon respectively. However, they’ll meet this weekend in Raleigh and only one can advance to the Super Regionals. Both are toying with starting Wahl and Rodon head-to-head on Saturday instead of Friday in the opener. It means a trip to Omaha could be on the line on the second day of the regional. Rodon has been downright nasty of late and has the stuff — 8-2, 3.48 ERA, 151 K, .199 BAA in 101 IP — to carry his team to New Rosenblatt Stadium.

Teaser:
<p> NCAA Baseball: 2013 College World Series Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 15:40
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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 tight ends of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 30 tight ends since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter at @AthlonSports, using the hashtag #AthlonTE30.

1. Chase Coffman, Missouri (2005-08)
Stats: 247 rec., 2,659 yds, 30 TDs

It didn’t take long for Tigers fans to see what they had in Coffman as he earned first-team Freshman All-American honors in 2005. He then broke Mizzou tight end receiving records with 58 receptions, 638 yards and nine touchdowns as just a sophomore. After two straight All-Big 12 seasons, Coffman claimed the John Mackey Award as a senior as the nation’s top tight end after posting 90 receptions, 987 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008. Missouri went 22-6 over his final two seasons in what many believe to be the best two-year run in program history. And the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Coffman was a huge part of that success.

2. Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma (2006-09)
Stats: 111 rec., 1,629 yds, 26 TDs

Had the 6-foot-6, 260-pound star tight end stayed healthy and played his fourth season at Oklahoma, Gresham likely would have been the best player at his position during the BCS era. He scored 25 touchdowns in two seasons as the starter from 2007-08 — just eight shy of the NCAA tight end record (33). His All-American junior season features Sooners' tight end records for yards (950) and touchdowns (14) — one shy of Mark Clayton’s all-time single-season record regardless of position. He was arguably the top playmaker for a Big 12 champion and BCS National Championship runner-up that year as well. His season-ending knee injury prior to the start of his 2009 campaign left those in Norman wondering what could have been.

3. Heath Miller, Virginia (2002-04)
Stats: 144 rec., 1,703 yds, 20 TDs

Perhaps the greatest tight end in ACC history, Miller became the first player in league history to win the John Mackey Award in 2004. He wrote his name into the school and conference record books for receiving by a tight end, setting a new benchmark in all three major receiving categories despite only playing three seasons. However, it wasn’t just his elite receiving ability that made the 6-foot-5, 255-pounder one of the game’s best. Miller relished the blocking side of the game and his physicality and dependability is what has made the consensus All-American one of the NFL’s best tight ends for the last decade.

4. Dallas Clark, Iowa (2000-02)
Stats: 77 rec., 1,251 yds, 8 TDs

The walk-on began his career as a linebacker but quickly developed into a star at tight end. He earned All-Big Ten recognition as a sophomore and then became the nation’s top tight end as a junior in 2002. The John Mackey Award winner caught 43 passes for 742 yards and four touchdowns while helping Iowa (11-2) to a Big Ten co-championship and Orange Bowl berth. The dynamic in-state talent was a first-round pick and proved in the NFL that his college career was no fluke.

5. Aaron Hernandez, Florida (2007-09)
Stats: 111 rec., 1,382 yds, 12 TDs

The undersized but athletic playmaker came from Bristol (Conn.) Central originally, but proved quickly he had what it took to succeed in the deep South. All Hernandez did while at Florida is set school records for receptions in a season (68) and a career. And his elite 2009 campaign in which he posted 850 yards and five touchdowns made the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder the SEC’s first-ever John Mackey Award winner. He was a go-to target for Tim Tebow and was a big piece of the 2008 BCS National Championship squad. Florida went 26-2 over his last two years in Gainesville.

6. Marcedes Lewis, UCLA (2002-05)
Stats: 126 rec., 1,571 yds, 21 TDs

The red-zone touchdown machine improved his production each of his four seasons at UCLA, culminating with All-American and John Mackey honors as a senior in 2005. He set school records in all three major categories for a tight end that year and helped UCLA to its best record (10-2) since 1998. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound consensus All-American was a matchup nightmare for defenses and was the Pac-10’s best player at his position during the BCS era in a league known for its great tight ends.

7. Dennis Pitta, BYU (2004, '07-09)
Stats: 221 rec., 2,901 yds, 21 TDs

Few tight ends during the BCS era combine the statistical production, team success and overall NFL talent that Pitta did. He began his career as a freshman in 2004 before taking his Mormon mission and returning in 2007. His teams went 32-7 during his three-year starting career and few tight ends in the history of the sport have topped 200 catches, nearly 3,000 yards or 20 touchdowns — much less all three. He owns nearly every major receiving record at BYU for tight ends and is BYU’s all-time leading receiver with 221 receptions regardless of position. His 2,901 career receiving yards are an NCAA record for tight ends.

8. Travis Beckum, Wisconsin (2005-08)
Stats: 159 rec., 2,149 yds, 11 TDs

From a speed and agility standpoint, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound pass-catcher has few peers. One of the fastest and most dynamic tight ends in BCS history, Beckum switched to tight end as a sophomore and became a second-team All-American in just his first season playing the position. He posted back-to-back 900-yard seasons and saved his best games for the biggest competition (9 rec., 140 yds vs. Ohio State, 10 rec., 132 vs. Michigan State, for example). He was poised to set NCAA records for a tight end until a broken leg in Week 6 ended his college career. At a school known for elite All-American tight ends, Beckum was the most explosive, most talented and most productive.

9. D.J. Williams, Arkansas (2007-10)
Stats: 152 rec., 1,855 yds, 10 TDs

The star Razorback never had an 800-yard season, never caught more than 61 passes and never scored more than four times in a year, but Williams is one of the BCS’s best. His career numbers are excellent and he was extremely dependable for three full seasons for the Hogs. His career culminated in a John Mackey Award in 2010 and helped lead Arkansas to 10 wins and a Sugar Bowl berth.

10. James Casey, Rice (2007-08)
Stats: 157 rec., 1,914 yds, 17 TDs, 362 rush, 11 TDs, 2 TD passes

Affectionately known as “Thor,” no other tight end during the BCS era was as versatile and productive in two seasons as Casey. He didn’t face elite competition, obviously, but no tight end has ever put together a season like Thor did in 2008: 111 rec., 1,329 yards, 13 TDs, 241 yards rushing, 6 TDs, 14 punt returns for 112 yards and even two touchdown passes. He was the No. 1 overall college fantasy player in 2008 regardless of position (yes, that includes quarterbacks) and it has to be considered the best season for a tight end in NCAA history.

Related: The Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era

11. Jeremy Shockey, Miami (2000-01)
Stats: 61 rec., 815 yds, 10 TDs

The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was one of the most physically gifted players to ever play the position. He didn’t have the huge stats of other elite players but he was an All-American and helped Miami win the national title in 2001. He was one of three finalists for the Mackey Award before leaving school early to become a first-round NFL Draft pick.

12. Kellen Winslow, Miami (2001-03)
Stats: 119 rec., 1,365 yds, 9 TDs

Bizarre post-game interviews aside, Winslow was a monster on the field at Miami. He played a small role on the national championship team in 2001 and was a huge force — 57 rec., 726 yds, 8 TD — on the '02 team that was defeated by Ohio State in the title game. He was a consensus All-American and John Mackey Award winner despite just one touchdown catch in 2003.

13. Martin Rucker, Missouri (2004-07)
Stats: 203 rec., 2,175 yds, 18 TDs

The complementary piece to Coffman at Mizzou was Rucker, a star from St. Joseph’s (Mo.) Benton. Playing three years with Coffman, Rucker is one of the just five tight ends on this list who topped 200 receptions and one of just 10 names on this list with 2,000 yards. He was a consensus All-American and senior leader for a 12-2 Tigers team that finished fourth in the AP poll.

14. Jason Witten, Tennessee (2000-02)
Stats: 68 rec., 797 yds, 7 TDs

The numbers were never huge, but Witten is clearly one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the sport. He never missed a game during his three-year career at Tennessee and helped the Vols to a 27-11 record and an SEC East championship. From a dual-threat (blocking and receiving) perspective, Witten might be the best tight end to play the game during the BCS era.

15. Ron Gronkowski, Arizona (2007-08)
Stats: 75 rec., 1,197 yds, 16 TDs

The Gronk played just 20 career college games but was a touchdown machine in college well before setting NFL tight end touchdown records. Unfortunately, the 'Zona tight end missed all of the 2009 season after preseason back surgery after being named a preseason first-team All-American and the Mackey Award frontrunner.

16. Fred Davis, USC (2004-07)
Stats: 117 rec., 1,408 yds, 13 TDs

It took some time for Davis to develop, especially considering the wide receiver talent asking for the football at USC during his career. But when he made his mark as a senior in 2007 it was as the best tight end in the nation. He won the John Mackey Award that year and was an All-American. He played in two national title games, winning one as a freshman in 2004.

17. Zach Miller, Arizona State (2004-06)
Stats: 144 rec., 1,512 yds, 14 TDs

Miller gets a slight nod over fellow Sun Devil Todd Heap due to slightly better production and All-American recognition. He is the school’s all-time leading receiver at the tight end position and consistently made big plays for his offense. He was one of three Mackey finalists in 2006.

18. Todd Heap, Arizona State (1998-2000)
Stats: 112 rec., 1,658 yds, 10 TDs

Arguing between Miller and Heap is futile. Both were great players and Heap’s NFL career proved his school records were legitimate. The “Golden Retriever” was a two-time All-Pac-10 performer who was as dependable as any player at his position.

19. Dwayne Allen, Clemson (2009-11)
Stats: 93 rec., 1,079 yds, 12 TDs

A consensus All-American, Allen was one of the most clutch performers in the game during his time at Clemson. When the Tigers needed a big play on third down or in the red zone, Allen was the go-to target. He claimed the Mackey Award as a junior, was an All-American and helped Clemson win its first ACC title in two decades in 2010.

20. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (2011-present)
Stats: 109 rec., 1,396 yds, 13 TDs

There is some projecting with ASJ, but he has already broken most school tight end records and will make a push this fall for the John Mackey Award. He was the No. 1 TE recruit in the nation two years ago and is poised for one of the greatest careers in Huskies history.

Related: The Top 50 Running Backs of the BCS Era

21. Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame (2008-10)
Stats: 90 rec., 1,032 yds, 8 TDs

22. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (2010-12)*
Stats: 140 rec., 1,840 yds, 11 TDs

23. Daniel Graham, Colorado (1998-2001)
Stats: 106 rec., 1,543 yds, 11 TDs

24. Matt Spaeth, Minnesota (2003-06)
Stats: 109 rec., 1,293 yds, 12 TDs

25. Vernon Davis, Maryland (2003-05)
Stats: 83 rec., 1,371 yds, 9 TDs

26. Tim Stratton, Purdue (1998-2001)
Stats: 190 rec., 1,976 yds, 15 TDs

27. Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State (2005-08)
Stats: 112 rec., 1,450 yds, 9 TDs

28. Dustin Keller, Purdue (2004-07)
Stats: 142 rec., 1,882 yds, 16 TDs

29. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin (2008-10)
Stats: 78 rec., 1,160 yds, 8 TDs

30. Garrett Graham, Wisconsin (2007-09)
Stats: 121 rec., 1,492 yds, 16 TD

Related: The Top 50 Wide Receivers of the BCS Era  

The Next 30:

31. Zach Ertz, Stanford (2010-12): 112 rec., 1,434 yds, 15 TDs
32. Coby Fleener, Stanford (2008-11): 96 rec., 1,543 yds, 18 TDs
33. Ben Troupe, Florida (2000-03): 64 rec., 958 yds, 7 TDs
34. Bubba Franks, Miami (1997-99): 77 rec., 1,038 yds, 12 TDs
35. Garrett Mills, Tulsa (2002-05): 201 rec., 2,389 yds, 23 TDs
36. David Thomas, Texas (2002-05): 97 rec., 1,354 yds, 15 TDs
37. Ed Dickson, Oregon (2006-09): 124 rec., 1,557 yds, 12 TDs
38. Darius Hill, Ball State (2005-08): 158 rec., 2,473 yds, 31 TDs
39. Jacob Tamme, Kentucky (2004-07): 133 rec., 1,417 yds, 11 TDs
40. Owen Daniels, Wisconsin (2002-05): 62 rec., 852 yds, 8 TDs

41. Jonny Harline, BYU (2005-06): 121 rec., 1,788 yds, 17 TDs
42. Ibn Green, Louisville (1996-99): 217 rec., 2,830 yds, 33 TDs
43. Michael Egnew, Missouri (2008-11): 147 rec., 1,332 yds, 8 TDs
44. Shawn Nelson, Southern Miss (2005-08): 157 rec., 2,054 yds, 16 TDs
45. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State (2010-12): 122 rec., 1,646 yds, 17 TDs
46. Ladarius Green, UL-Lafayette (2008-11): 148 rec., 2,202 yds, 22 TDs
47. James Whalen, Kentucky (1997-99): 120 rec., 1,324 yds, 13 TDs
48. Orson Charles, Georgia (2009-11): 94 rec., 1,370 yds, 10 TDs
49. Cody Slate, Marshall (2006-09): 199 rec., 2,619 yds, 23 TDs
50. Jared Cook, South Carolina (2006-08): 73 rec., 1,107 yds, 7 TDs

51. Leonard Pope, Georgia (2003-05): 65 rec., 1,044 yds, 10 TDs
52. Chris Cooley, Utah State (2001-03): 96 rec., 1,255 yds, 11 TDs
53. Gary Barnidge, Louisville (2004-07): 108 rec., 1,491 yds, 17 TDs
54. Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern (2007-11): 143 rec., 1,567 yds, 14 TDs
55. Dorin Dickerson, Pitt (2006-09): 63 rec., 708 yds, 12 TDs
56. George Bryan, NC State (2008-11): 126 rec, 1,323 yds, 17 TDs
57. Kory Sperry, Colorado State (2004-08): 141 rec., 1,763 yds, 20 TDs
58. Greg Olsen, Miami (2004-06): 87 rec., 1,215 yds, 6 TDs
59. Ben Watson, Georgia (2001-03): 65 rec., 852 yds, 6 TDs
60. Bennie Joppru, Michigan (1999-2002): 79 rec., 731 yds, 8 TDs

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


Agree or disagree with our ranking of College Football's Top 30 Tight Ends of the BCS Era? Let us know on Twitter (@AthlonSports), using the hashtag #AthlonTE30

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Post date: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 07:45

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