Articles By David Fox

Path: /social-media-changes-face-college-football-recruiting

Jalen Ramsey is off the grid. Or at least as much as an incoming college freshman can be in 2013.

Nearly seven months before the Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy cornerback signed with Florida State, Ramsey decided he had had enough input on the recruiting process from the outside world, including the faceless and anonymous masses.

“I am Jalen Lattrell Ramsey and college is MY choice! MY choice only! No one elses!” Ramsey tweeted on June 28, 2012. “It’s ALL on me! Y’all will hear from ME...”

That was less than a month before Ramsey announced a commitment to USC. And by the time he changed his mind to sign with Florida State, the coveted prospect had retired his @jr7_eagles Twitter handle.

For Ramsey, that may have been for the best as he navigated the final months of the recruiting process. Before he shut down, his mentions column was filled with encouragement, pleas to attend certain schools, but also posts knocking some of the schools he considered.

“Some things were said that were just out of line,” Ramsey says. “Rumors started. Grown men talking about 17- and 18-year-old kids, it’s unneeded. It was just, ‘I’m done with that.’”

That’s one extreme of the way social media has changed recruiting in college sports. Ramsey’s teammate, quarterback Max Staver, had a different experience.

Granted, Staver was not as high-profile a recruit. And he picked Florida in June before his senior year and never wavered. After he committed to the Gators, dozens of fans welcomed him to the roster. As he exchanged tweets and direct messages with other Gator commitments, Florida coaches asked him to be an ambassador for the program, talking to recruits in ways they couldn’t.

“After I committed I was talking to a bunch of guys, I was probably texting guys 10 times a day and telling them to check out Florida,” Staver says. “I wasn’t trying to get in their face or be rude about it. But there were a lot of questions. Being a quarterback in the recruiting class, they want me to reach out.”

Few facets of the recruiting process have remained untouched by social media in the last four years. Coaches use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with recruits and evaluate prospects both on and off the field. Recruits use social media to get to know their future coaches and teammates and, at times, bask in the adoration of fans. Fans use it to follow the process while explaining all the reasons their school would be the right choice (and, sometimes, why other schools would be the wrong choice).

Bottom line: It’s inescapable.

“It’s an unstoppable force in recruiting,” Miami recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll says. “You don’t really have a choice. If you’re not doing it, you’re probably wrong. That’s the way we look at it here.”

The initial catalyst for the social media revolution in recruiting wasn’t Twitter or Facebook or even social media relic MySpace. It started with texting.

When Carroll coached at USC with his father Pete Carroll, Trojans coaches visited high schools to meet with recruits only to find that their targets already had relationships established with other programs. The reason was text messaging. Prospects had been texting with USC’s recruiting rivals months before the Trojans could catch up.

USC was behind on that trend, but by 2008 that wouldn’t matter anyway when the NCAA banned text messaging with recruits. The lesson, though, was that the recruiting through email, phone calls, official visits and coach in-home visits weren’t enough anymore.

According to NCAA interpretations, Twitter direct messages and Facebook private messages are legislated the same way as emails, which is to say they are an unlimited form of communication. In practice, a Twitter or Facebook private message may as well be a text.

And from the coaches’ perspective, this is how recruits communicate with their friends anyway.

“You want to meet the prospects where they’re at,” says Vanderbilt offensive line coach Herb Hand, one of the most enthusiastic coaching voices on Twitter. “You can sit here and say, ‘I’m going to communicate with this guy in my way,’ and not get anywhere. You have to meet them where they are. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are how kids communicate. That’s the world we live in now.”

That new world is a fish bowl.

James Coley was one of the first college coaches to embrace Twitter and one of the first to turn it into a recruiting tool.

While the tight ends coach at Florida State, Coley started a Twitter account to break the stereotype that the Seminoles’ coaching staff under Bobby Bowden was old-school and stuffy.

A few years later, and it’s almost a given that recruits will be visible on Twitter. Reporters often mention recruits’ Twitter handles in updates. Prospects tweet about the process. One network of team recruiting sites lists the Twitter handles of prospects making official visits in its weekend recruiting previews.

Coley’s energetic bursts, frequently in all caps with plenty of exclamation points, trended throughout the Seminoles’ fan base on Twitter. When Coley started hearing one of his top phrases — “FEAR THE SPEAR” — from high school prospects, a light bulb went off.

Recruits followed him, and then fans on Twitter used Coley’s list of followers to find recruits.

“I’d tell kids to follow me on Twitter and pretty soon you’re going to have a thousand followers,” says Coley, now the offensive coordinator at Miami.

As a result, fans are more clued into the recruiting process than ever before.

Shane Morris, a quarterback from Warren (Mich.) De La Salle, committed to Michigan in May 2011. One of the top quarterback recruits in the country, Morris also tweets like one of the biggest Michigan fans in the country. Most of his nearly 25,000 followers responded to the positivity in kind.

“When you have fans like Michigan, a fan base that shows them love, kids like that,” Morris says.

That’s the experience of a top recruit who spent his entire senior season committed to the same school.

Fans of schools who watch recruits change their minds through the process vent their frustrations on Twitter, often directly to the recruit.

Auburn (Ala.) linebacker Reuben Foster, a top-10 player nationally, first committed to Alabama, but changed his mind the summer before his senior season. He switched to hometown Auburn in a move that he made more official by getting a tattoo of the Tigers’ logo inside his right forearm.

There was no need to imagine the reaction when Foster switched back to Alabama shortly before Signing Day.

It was laid bare on Twitter.

Alabama fans welcomed him with open arms. Some Auburn fans wished him well at his new school. Others weren’t quite so charitable. Among the reactions mentioning Foster that day that we can mention: (right)

As much as navigating social media is an issue for recruits and coaches, the revelations can be a headache for administrators.

In a trend that’s become all too common, Laquon Treadwell, one of the nation’s top wide receiver prospects, posted a picture to Instagram of him holding $100 bills days before signing day. The Ole Miss commitment out of Crete (Ill.) Crete-Monee also posted a picture to Twitter of two women kissing him on the cheek with the caption “Oxford is the best place I’ve ever been.” Treadwell deleted the photo of cash, but not before it made the rounds through fans and media. He later told The Chicago Tribune he was goofing around and he received no money from Ole Miss to sign with the Rebels.

And it’s not just the recruits who lack a filter on social media. Two Florida International players tweeted in January about taking a recruit to a strip club. If any of FIU’s recruiting budget was used to take a recruit to a strip club, then it’s an NCAA violation. Even if that was not the case, the episode isn’t great publicity.

NCAA bylaws also prohibit representatives of the program’s athletic interests from contacting recruits. This primarily means boosters, but more broadly the definition could include many fans.

Anonymity and the sheer volume of social media messages directed to recruits make any sort of action on offenders near impossible. Instead, many athletic departments actively try to discourage such contact.

Notre Dame put out a YouTube video (below) with athletic personnel saying, “Leave the Recruiting to Us.” Texas A&M’s Brad Barnes is one of many compliance directors active and available on Twitter to clear up compliance issues for fans. Some fans respond when he asks them to steer clear of the process on social media. For those who don’t heed Barnes’ advice, there’s not much Texas A&M — or any school — can do to stop it.

“From a practical standpoint, you don’t see a great deal of reporting on that unless it’s a situation where they say, ‘We know who this individual is, this was brought to our attention, they are who they say they are, or we found out who they are and we know who they are,’” Barnes says. “I don’t know of a lot of institutions that go out actively looking for it.”

Of course, no one tells recruits they have to be on Twitter or Facebook, sharing details of their recruitment. Just don’t expect that level of openness to change.

“It’s changed the mindset of a lot of kids compared to the old days, because if a kid got offers, he’d keep it to himself,” Vanderbilt wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis says. “Now kids get offers and tweet about it. They’re trying to get attention to themselves.”

Vanderbilt under James Franklin has been among the top staffs in the country in using social media to interact with fans, players and recruits.

Gattis and his receivers use the hashtag #FlyBoyz to keep up with each other. Hand, on Twitter since he was at Tulsa in 2009, is a favorite follow for media members with his sense of humor. As for recruits, Hand says he’ll send 10-15 messages to recruits each day with photos from practice or the athletic facility. Franklin tweets about building the Commodores program with his hashtag #VanderBUILD.

But for all its efforts, Vanderbilt isn’t Alabama, LSU, Florida or Georgia.

The Commodores still need to unearth prospects other teams miss to stay competitive in the SEC. Social media makes that much more difficult. Recruits tweet about the recruiting process, who’s calling, who’s been by to see them. Besides highlight videos being readily available on sites that cover recruiting, prospects can upload highlight videos to YouTube and Hudl, a video service tailored exclusively to coaches.

“It’s very hard to keep a gem a gem,” Gattis says. “These days finding a diamond in the rough is really tough because sooner or later someone is going to be exposed to that player.”

Coaches also have a way to find out which recruits might not be worth the risk.

Many coaches admit they’ve stopped recruiting a prospect because of concerns raised by their social media accounts, whether it’s language, compromising photos, comments demeaning to women or simply tweeting at late hours on weeknights.

Hand says he’s talked to some recruits about changing their tones on Twitter. If they don’t, that’s another strike — they’re uncoachable.

Vanderbilt isn’t alone. After Signing Day, Tennessee coach Butch Jones remarked that the Vols had withheld scholarships because of concerns raised by Twitter and Facebook.

But at the same time, social media enabled the first-year coach in Knoxville to build momentum in his first recruiting cycle. When he was hired at Tennessee, Jones’ Twitter account was briefly suspended after a deluge of Volunteers fan followed the former Cincinnati coach.

“When we were coming in here, in a short period of time we had to develop those relationships,” Jones says. “At the end of the day, recruiting is all about relationships. That was a way to expedite getting to know these players.”

For example, Jones, who requires all his assistants to be on Twitter, used social media to endear himself to fans, but also to become quickly acclimated with recruits.

Late in the process, the Volunteers badly wanted to sign Joshua Dobbs, a quarterback out of Alpharetta, Ga. Through Twitter and Facebook, Jones and his staff learned of his favorite foods, the importance of playing baseball, his favorite classes and his focus on engineering programs. Guess what became the focus of his ultimately successful recruitment to Tennessee?

“You’re always looking for that information, what people are important to him, what are his hot buttons,” Jones says.

Whether it’s a red flag that tells coaches to stay away or a nugget that shows that a prospect will be a good student and teammate, recruiters will find it if it’s on their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

“It’s information they’re giving us whether they know it or not,” Brennan Carroll says. “We won’t miss a thing. … These kids are just flat-out telling you.”

As much as social media has sped up the recruiting process, it’s also sped up the bonding process.

Meeting a college roommate on the first day of class is long gone. So is exchanging emails or cell phone calls. Chemistry can be built before a freshman class steps on campus. Prospects meet at camps, all-star games or visits, and from there they exchange phone numbers and find each other on Twitter and Facebook.

Before he takes a snap at Michigan, Morris is already showing the characteristics of leading the Wolverines in the huddle. He’s organized unofficial visits to Michigan and kept in touch with his future teammates long before practice starts.

“Our recruiting class is probably the closest class in the nation,” Morris says. “Most of us have iPhones and we’re in group chats and keep up with each other. When we take visits we make sure everyone’s taking them together.”

But not every prospect is spending his days on Twitter talking to coaches and teammates, even though signing day has come and gone.

Ramsey, the Florida State-bound cornerback, stuck by his self-imposed Twitter exile.

“I just have Instagram. I put up pictures of my nephews and nieces and pictures of my family,” Ramsey says. “I thought about bringing (Twitter) back, but I haven’t missed it one bit. I might make a Facebook page with coaches and friends, but I’m not worrying about it, to be honest.”

This article appeared in Athlon Sports' 2013 Regional Preview Editions. Visit our online store to order your copy to get more in-depth analysis on the 2013 college football season.

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Coaches turn to social media to recruit, evaluate future players
Post date: Monday, July 1, 2013 - 14:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-winners-and-losers-conference-realignment

ACC member Syracuse. Sound strange, doesn’t it? About as strange as a Big East with Creighton among its members.
Try to fight it, both are true.

This is a time for college basketball fans to either celebrate or hang their heads. Most of the conference realignment moves for the upcoming season have taken effect this month.

It’s no secret football is driving all these moves, so there are a fair amount of losers on the basketball side. But a few basketball programs and leagues will be big winners.

Related: College football's Top 15 winners in realignment


Adds: Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Louisville (2014-15)
Loses: Maryland (2014-15)
The ACC loses a charter member in Maryland in 2014-15, but the league should retake the mantle of the nation’s top basketball conference by the time Louisville joins the league in 2014-15. Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino groused about the demise of the Big East, but Mike Krzyzewski said the new-look league could be the best conference in history. There’s little reason to disagree with Coach K. With Louisville and Syracuse facing Duke and North Carolina on a regular basis, the league should liven up the regular season. And those are just the powerhouse programs: Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are NCAA Tournament regulars, Florida State and Miami are new players on the scene, and NC State has expectations to be in that first tier.

Related: Tracking every change in basketball realignment

The Catholic 7
Adds: Basketball-only clout, Butler, Creighton and Xavier
Loses: Traditional rivalries with Syracuse, Connecticut; the tradtional Big East Tournament
No one wanted to see the old Big East call it a day, but the league sprouting up in its place could be one of the more top-to-bottom competitive leagues in the country. For the seven Catholic schools, they emerge out of the shadow of the FBS football schools. The assumption is that Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova will be able to maintain their current level of success, but this is also good news for Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul, who won’t be buried in a 16-team behemoth of a conference. The old Big East was built by television partnerships, and perhaps the new one will as well. The new Big East could get first-class broadcast treatment on Fox Sports 1 with Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery calling games.

Adds: Membership in the Big East
Loses: Easy path to NCAA Tournament
Just two years ago, Butler was in the Horizon League. The Bulldogs have traded Valparaiso, Cleveland State, Milwaukee and Detroit for Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, St. John’s and Xavier. The Butler of the last seven seasons should have no trouble competing on that level, but the question is if the Bulldogs will continue to commit the resources to compete long term.

Mountain West
Adds: Nevada and Fresno State (2012-13), Utah State and San Jose State (2013-14)
Loses: TCU (2012-13)
The Mountain West has been steadily rising for years now. It has arguably been the best conference out West for the last few seasons. New Mexico and UNLV continue to be the flagship programs of the league while Colorado State, San Diego State and Boise State have become factors over recent years. The depth of the league will be improved if Nevada (2012-13) and Utah State (2013-14) return to form.

West Coast
Adds: BYU (2011-12), Pacific (2013-14)
Loses: None
Saint Mary’s has been a challenger for Gonzaga for the last six years, and BYU has been in the league for two seasons. The WCC boosted its depth by adding Pacific from the Big West. Pacific won last year’s Big West Tournament and made three consecutive NCAA bids from 2004-06.


Big Ten
Adds: Maryland, Rutgers (2014-15)
Loses: None
The Big Ten was a top league and remains so. But the Big Ten could be a big winner if Maryland returns to national power status and if Rutgers finally figures out this basketball thing. The other 12 Big Ten teams could win big if expansion opens them to recruit New York and Maryland/D.C. with more regularity.

Adds: Missouri, Texas A&M (2013-14)
Loses: None
What the SEC needs more than anything is more programs to regularly challenge Kentucky and Florida. Missouri likes to think of itself that way, but the Tigers went 11-7 in their first season in the league.


Atlantic 10
Adds: VCU (2012-13), George Mason (2013-14), Davidson (2014-15)
Loses: Butler, Charlotte, Temple, Xavier
The idea of George Mason and Davidson in the Atlantic 10 may bring good memories to basketball fans, but these aren't the same programs with Jim Larranaga and Stephen Curry. The A-10 loses its two flagship programs in Temple and Xavier. It needs VCU and another team — UMass? Saint Louis? La Salle? Dayton? Richmond? — to maintain more consistency.

Missouri Valley
Adds: Loyola Chicago
Loses: Creighton
The Missouri Valley will miss Creighton, a consistent program that packed its arena on a nightly basis. But let’s not go overboard with the Bluejays. Before Doug McDermott arrived, Creighton had played in the NCAA Tournament just twice in six seasons. The MVC adds Loyola just as the coach who made the program viable took the Siena job.

Adds: Charleston (2013-14), Elon (2014-15)
Loses: VCU (2012-13), George Mason, Georgia State and Old Dominion (2013-14)
The little mid-major that could is no more. Realignment decimated the league like few others. Programs that have won six of the last seven CAA Tournaments are now gone, including two programs (VCU and George Mason) that reached the Final Four in that span. In their place are two programs that haven’t reached the NCAA Tournament this century.

Conference USA
Adds: Charlotte, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UTSA (2013-14), Western Kentucky (2014-15)
Loses: Houston, Memphis, SMU, UCF (2013-14), East Carolina and Tulane (2014-15)
The latest round of realignment doesn’t hurt as much as the last one. The league once boasted Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis, but C-USA will be without a clear bell cow by 2014-15.

West Virginia
Adds: Membership in the Big 12. Trips West of the Mississippi
Loses: The Big East, short road trips
Making road trips into Texas and Oklahoma from Morgantown is a little more excusable when they’re four or five Saturdays in fall. Nine times during basketball season is a different story. Moreover, West Virginia is cut off from East Coast recruiting, important to consider when the foundation of its Final Four team in 2010 was from New York.

Connecticut, Memphis and Cincinnati
Adds: Membership in the American Athletic Conference. Road trips to SMU, Tulane, East Carolina
Loses: Top conference status
Limitations in their football programs mean these basketball powers were left behind during realignment. UConn hoped for an ACC invitation that never came, and now the Huskies are cut off from traditional rivals Syracuse and Georgetown. Memphis waited and waited to get Big East membership and when it came, the league changed its name and many of the Tigers’ old neighbors came along for the ride. At least Memphis fans get to see UConn come to town instead of Tulane. On the court, UConn’s and Memphis’ ability to maintain their recruiting might will be tested.

Atlantic Sun
Adds: Northern Kentucky (2012-13)
Loses: Belmont (2012-13), East Tennessee and Mercer (probably)
Florida Gulf Coast was the story of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but in the long term the Atlantic Sun will miss Belmont (who left for the Ohio Valley last season) and East Tennessee (who likely leaves for the Southern) more. Either Belmont or ETSU represented the A-Sun in the NCAA Tournament every year from 2006-12.

Adds: A slew of Division I independents
Loses: Everyone
Nevada, Utah State and New Mexico State aren’t powerhouses, but they kept the WAC full of consistent mid-major programs. The 2013-14 lineup includes: Cal State Bakersfield, Chicago State, Grand Canyon, Seattle, UMKC, UT Pan American, Utah Valley.

Post date: Monday, July 1, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-nba-draft-numbers

Thursday’s NBA Draft was full of surprises from the start. The Cavaliers shocked everyone by taking UNLV’s Anthony Bennett with the first pick. The Bobcats followed by taking Cody Zeller fourth.

From the college perspective, the draft was no surprise: The bluebloods still rule the day.

Selected seventh overall, Ben McLemore gave Kansas a NBA draft lottery pick in the fourth consecutive draft. His selection means the Jayhawks have the most lottery picks since 2000 with 11.

Selected 25th, Reggie Bullock was the only North Carolina player taken, enough to keep the Tar Heels the leader in first-round picks since 2000 with 16. Kentucky, with 11 first-round picks in the last four drafts, is right behind the Tar Heels at 14.

At least on sheer numbers, the ACC may have been the biggest winner: Six players from the ACC’s 2013-14 lineup were selected in the first round Thursday, most of any conference.

We’ve crunched the numbers from the college basketball perspective and here are a few interesting nuggets we found.


16 North Carolina
14 Kansas, Kentucky
13 Duke
12 Connecticut
10 Texas
9 Syracuse
8 Florida, UCLA
7 Arizona, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Stanford
6 Indiana, Michigan State, Washington
5 Georgetown, Illinois, Louisville, Memphis, USC, Wake Forest
70 ACC
46 Pac-12
40 SEC
36 Big 12
32 Big Ten
30 American
22 Big East
14 Mountain West
7 West Coast
6 Atlantic 10
*by 2013-14 alignment
68 International
22 High School
2 Junior College

• The Cavaliers had one of the shocks of the draft by picking UNLV’s Anthony Bennett first overall when Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel was the more popular projection. Bennett was UNLV’s first first-round pick in a decade.

• With Noel slipping to the sixth pick, coach John Calipari failed to produce a top-five pick for the first time since 2006 if you include Enes Kanter, who signed with Kentucky but was ruled ineligible. Noel and Archie Goodwin (selected 29th) gave the Wildcats 11 first-round picks since 2010. Kentucky’s total isn’t just the most since 2010, it’s the most of any school during the one-and-done era since 2007.

• Ben McLemore was Kansas’ only first-round pick — and the only one for the Big 12 as a whole — giving the Jayhawks the most lottery picks (11) since 2000.

• No. 12 overall pick Steven Adams became the first first-round pick for Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, who is responsible for three second-round picks.

• Conference realignment has helped the ACC consolidate basketball talent, at least as far as the NBA Draft is concerned. The 2013-14 basketball lineup for the ACC has produced 70 first-round picks, not including five from Louisville, which will join in 2014-15. Conference expansion added 23 to the ACC’s haul since 2000: Nine have come from Syracuse, five from Louisville, four from Boston College, two each from Notre Dame and Miami and one from Pitt. Four of the ACC’s 70 first-round picks since 2000 were from outgoing member Maryland, including No. 5 pick Alex Len in 2013.

• From 2000-12, Indiana produced only two lottery picks (Jared Jeffries in 2002 and Eric Gordon in 2008). The Hoosiers doubled that total in the first four picks Thursday with Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. The Hoosiers duo also gave the Big Ten two picks in the first five for the first time since Ohio State in 2007 (Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr.).

• Deshaun Thomas had to wait until the second round to be selected, but he extended a streak of Ohio State players going in the NBA Draft. A Buckeye has been selected for seven seasons in a row, the longest active streak in the nation.

• Thomas, a junior, waited to hear his name called and ended up with the San Antonio Spurs. Other early entries weren’t so lucky. Among the top underclassmen who didn’t get drafted were: Marquette’s Vander Blue, Memphis’ Adonis Thomas, Texas’ Myck Kabongo, NC State’s C.J. Leslie, Oklahoma’s Amath M’Baye and Missouri’s Phil Pressey.

Related: Crunching numbers from the early entry era

• Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. became Michigan’s first first-round picks since 2000. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was Georgia’s first first-round pick since 2003.

• The Patriot League had produced one NBA Draft pick in its history before Thursday: Colgate’s Adonal Foyle, who was the No. 8 pick in 1997. Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum was selected 10th, and Bucknell’s Mike Muscala went in the second round.

2013-14 Early Rankings:
Big 12
Big East
Big Ten

Post date: Friday, June 28, 2013 - 12:25
Path: /college-footballs-best-coaching-trees

Hayden begat Bill who begat Bob who begat Mike, Kevin, Kevin, Mark and Mike.

Or something like that.

College football is full of borrowed ideas and philosophies, and nowhere is that more clear than looking at coaching trees. One head coaching with a staff of assistants has success and a handful of other programs are looking to get a piece of the magic.

In any other field of business, we’d just call this networking. One hiring manager (the athletic director) sees another spot having success, so he or she rings for a recommendation (the coach), and on and on we go.

In sports, we call them coaching trees. A fun exercise to see which head coaches are doing bang-up work in job placement.

Bill Snyder, a Hayden Fry disciple at Iowa, leads our list for producing Bob Stoops and others. Stoops, who played for Fry at Iowa, branched out on his own.

So why does Snyder get the credit and not Fry? Our list of the best college football coaching trees includes only head coaches who were active within the last 10 years. Otherwise, we’d spend our days tracking every coach back to Pop Warner, Walter Camp and Amos Alonzo Stagg.


1. Bill Snyder
Kansas State (1989-2005, 2009-present)
Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Bret Bielema (Arkansas), Jim Leavitt (formerly USF), Mark Mangino (formerly Kansas)
Snyder oversaw one of sports’ greatest reclamation projects when he took Kansas State from also-ran to a factor on the national scene — twice over. His list of coaches used to be more substantial but still remains impressive. Mark Mangino and Jim Leavitt had successful runs at Kansas and USF, respectively, before player mistreatment issues sunk their tenures. Stoops, though, is the crown jewel, making Snyder a godfather of sorts in coaching trees.
Snyder’s roots: Hayden Fry, Iowa

1a. Bob Stoops
Oklahoma (1999-present)
Mike Leach (Washington State), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), Kevin Wilson (Indiana), Mark Mangino (formerly Kansas), Mike Stoops (formerly Arizona)
Stoops played for Fry at Iowa before eventually becoming Snyder’s co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State. At Oklahoma, his offensive coordinator position became a stepping stone to a head coaching job from Leach to Mangino to Sumlin to Wilson.

1b. Bret Bielema
Wisconsin (2006-12), Arkansas (present)
Dave Doeren (NC State), Paul Chryst (Pittsburgh)
Bielema perhaps belongs in the coaching tree for Fry at Iowa, where Bielema played and spent his early years as a coach. But Bielema spent two seasons as co-defensive coordinator at K-State for Snyder before becoming coach-in-waiting at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez.

Related: Tracking the route for schools to win their first Heisman

2. Mike Leach
Texas Tech (2000-09), Washington State (2012-present)
Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Sonny Dykes (Cal), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina), Art Briles (Baylor)
Why is Leach his own tree rather than a branch off Bob Stoops? Leach was an established Air Raid commodity while offensive coordinator for Hal Mumme at Kentucky before Stoops hired him at OU. And Leach has established a clear tree of offensive masterminds from his time at Texas Tech. Leach gave Briles his first college job after the now-Baylor coach was a legend in high school. Leach also gave Holgorsen his first Division I job and made Kingsbury his first quarterback in Lubbock. It’s almost tempting to put Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin on this list as Sumlin and Leach share similar offensive philosophies and assistants, but Sumlin never coached with Leach at Texas Tech.
Leach’s roots: Hal Mumme

3. Nick Saban
Toledo (1990), Michigan State (1995-99), LSU (2000-04), Miami Dolphins (2005-06), Alabama (2007-present)
Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Will Muschamp (Florida), Jim McElwain (Colorado State), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Tom Amtsutz (formerly Toledo), Pat Shurmur (formerly Cleveland Browns), Derek Dooley (formerly Tennessee), Kirby Smart (Alabama defensive coordinator), Todd Grantham (Georgia defensive coordinator)
Saban is part of the expansive Bill Belichick/Bill Parcells coaching tree that touches all levels of college and professional football. Saban’s biggest successes are now rivals in Florida with Jimbo Fisher at Florida State and Will Muschamp at Florida. Both programs have Saban-like qualities in terms of organization and administration. Mark Dantonio became a head coach after his stint under Jim Tressel at Ohio State, but he spent five seasons early in his career under Saban at Michigan State. Derek Dooley flamed out at Tennessee, but Kirby Smart has a head coaching job awaiting him when he wants it.
Saban’s roots: Bill Belichcik, Bill Parcells

4. Urban Meyer
Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-10), Ohio State (2012-present)
Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Charlie Strong (Louisville), Steve Addazio (Boston College), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Doc Holliday (Marshall), Dan McCarney (North Texas), Tim Beckman (Illinois), Gregg Brandon (formerly Bowling Green), Mike Sanford (formerly UNLV)
Meyer is a relatively new one on the scene, but an undefeated season at Utah and two titles at Florida rose quite a few assistants to prominence. Dan Mullen and Kyle Whittigham were with Meyer from early days, but Meyer did a good job in hiring guys like Holliday (a longtime Don Nehlen assistant at West Virginia), Dan McCarney (a former Iowa State coach) and Steve Addazio (who traces his roots to Syracuse). Charlie Strong was a holdover from the Ron Zook staff (as was now-North Carolina coach Larry Fedora), but both Meyer and Strong trace their roots to Lou Holtz’s and Bob Davie’s staffs at Notre Dame.
Meyer’s roots: Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz

Related: College Football's best coaches under 40

5. Mike Bellotti
Oregon (1995-2008)
Chris Petersen (Boise State), Chip Kelly (Philadelphia Eagles), Jeff Tedford (formerly Cal), Dirk Koetter (formerly Arizona State), Nick Aliotti (Oregon defensive coordinator)
Bellotti had a way of putting together offensive coaching staff. Jeff Tedford built his reputation as a quarterback guru in Eugene after taking over the offensive coordinator role from Dirk Koetter. For both, Chris Petersen was the wide receivers coach. Bellotti’s greatest stroke of genius, though, may have been plucking Chip Kelly off the staff at New Hampshire. One question: How deep would this coaching tree be if Bellotti didn’t have Aliotti as an defensive coordinator for all but three seasons of his tenure.
Bellotti’s roots: Rich Brooks

6. Butch Davis
Miami (1995-2000), Cleveland Browns (2001-05), North Carolina (2007-10)
Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis Colts), Rob Chudzinski (Cleveland Browns), Larry Coker (UTSA), Curtis Johnson (Tulane), Randy Shannon (formerly Miami), Mario Cristobal (formerly FIU)
Odd that a failed NFL coach has produced so many current NFL coaches. At the college level, Davis is just as known for overseeing an NCAA mess at North Carolina and rescuing Miami from one. Schiano and Coker were both coordinators for Davis with the Hurricanes before Schiano rebuilt Rutgers and Coker won a national title in Coral Gables.
Davis’ roots: Jimmy Johnson

7. Randy Walker
Miami (Ohio) (1990-98), Northwestern (1999-2005)
Pat Fitgzerald (Northwestern), Terry Hoeppner (formerly Indiana), Kevin Wilson (Indiana), Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints), Jeff Genyk (formerly Eastern Michigan)
The late Randy Walker produced two coaches who brought energy to programs that needed to win with guile rather than talent in Pat Fitzgerald and the late Terry Hoeppner. Kevin Wilson is trying to do the same now that he’s with the Hoosiers. Sean Payton is often recognized as a Parcells disciple, but Walker gave the Saints coach his first coordinator gig.
Walker’s roots: Dick Crum

8. Fisher DeBerry
Air Force (1984-2006)
Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Tim DeRuyter (Fresno State)
Not a lot of flash in this group, but Grobe and Calhoun built successful programs and elected to stay for the long haul (a DeBerry trait). Like DeBerry, Grobe and DeRuyter win misdirection and the option while DeRuyter is set for a big season at Fresno State with a big-time quarterback in Derek Carr.
DeBerry’s roots: Ken Hatfield

9. Les Miles
Oklahoma State (2001-04), LSU (2005-present)
Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Bo Pelini (Nebraska), Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Larry Porter (formerly Memphis)
Bo Pelini and Jimbo Fisher were already established assistants when they were on Miles’ staff at LSU, but their time with Miles was their last stop before head coaching jobs. Miles’ most important staff decision, at least as far as folks in Stillwater are concerned, was hiring Mike Gundy as his offensive coordinator.
Miles’ roots: Bo Schembechler

9a. Mike Gundy
Oklahoma State (2005-present)
Larry Fedora (North Carolina), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Todd Monken (Southern Miss), Tim Beckman (Illinois)
Like his counterpart at Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State offensive coordinator these days is one step away from a head coaching job with Larry Fedora, Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken all leaving the Cowboys to run their own programs.

10. George O’Leary
Georgia Tech (1994-2001), UCF (2004-present)
Branches: Ralph Friedgen (formerly Maryland), Bill O’Brien (Penn State), Doug Marrone (Buffalo Bills), Ted Roof (formerly Duke)
O’Leary’s career won’t be remembered for reasons the coach would prefer, but he has a decent track record of hiring assistants who become head coaches. Ralph Friedgen is Maryland’s all-time wins leader. Bill O’Brien worked for both O’Leary and Friedgen before landing on Belichick’s staff in New England. And Marrone earned his first FBS job under O’Leary at Georgia Tech.
O’Leary’s roots: Bobby Ross

Honorable mention: Jim Harbaugh
Stanford (2007-10)
Branches: David Shaw (Stanford), Willie Taggart (USF)
Shaw carried the legacy at Stanford while Taggart brought Western Kentucky into the FBS era. With Harbaugh’s success with the 49ers, this could be the Belichick coaching tree for the next decade.
Harbaugh's roots: Jack Harbaugh, Bo Schembechler

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Working with Bill Snyder, Mike Leach and Urban Meyer is a fast track to a big job
Post date: Friday, June 28, 2013 - 09:40
Path: /college-basketball/kentuckys-calipari-rules-college-basketballs-one-and-done-era

One-and-done isn’t a one size fits all.

Colleges and coaches have had seven draft cycles to navigate the NBA’s rule that a player must be one year removed from high school to be eligible for the NBA Draft.

As the NBA sifts through the latest batch of college prospects, young and old (relatively speaking), we decided to look through how the college game has handled the so-called one-and-done phenomenon.

Roughly 40 to 50 underclassmen have declared for the draft (and kept their names available to be called) each season since the rule was put in place in 2007, the season Ohio State’s Greg Oden and Texas’ Kevin Durant starred for a year in college before becoming the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the draft.

Of the 473 Division I players to make themselves available for the NBA Draft, only 37 percent are true one-and-dones, followed by 33 percent sophomores and 29.6 percent juniors.

That breakdown may surprise casual observers who think of this period of college basketball as a glorified weigh station for freshmen before the Draft. Part of the credit (or blame) goes to John Calipari, who has operated within the new landscape like none other.

Of the 177 players to go one-and-done since 2007, a dozen played for Calipari at Memphis or Kentucky. No other coach had more than five players stay for a year and bolt for the draft.

Here are a few other things we learned in our look at the NBA Draft early entry numbers since 2007.

A few notes on how we compiled the numbers:

• For the sake of consistency, the players we counted were those who were on the NBA’s underclassman list. That includes some players who declared for the draft before electing to play overseas.

• In the conference tally, programs were counted for the conference in which they will play in 2013-14, so Syracuse and Pittsburgh count for the ACC, Memphis and Louisville count for the American and so on.

• In the coaches’ tally, the coach listed is the one who had the job full-time in the player’s final season. For example, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie played their first season at Georgia under Dennis Felton but declared for the draft under Mark Fox. Both count toward Fox’s total.

• The “years lost” column refers to the seasons of eligibility a school, conference or coach lost when a player declared early for the draft. A freshman counts as three years lost, a sophomore two and a junior three.


 UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost
John Calipari1844Paul Hewitt511
Bill Self1017Mark Fox57
Ben Howland917John Thompson III57
Rick Barnes819Jeff Capel49
Thad Matta819Mike Krzyzewski49
Jim Boeheim814Lorenzo Romar49
Roy Williams812Jim Calhoun47
Tim Floyd713Mark Turgeon48
Billy Donovan610John Beilein46

• Calipari has owned this era, as expected. It's not even close. The 18 early entires doesn’t stand out quite so much as the 44 years of eligibility lost. Calipari’s 18 draft-bound underclassmen at Memphis and Kentucky left after playing an average of 1.5 seasons. Texas’ Rick Barnes and Ohio State’s Thad Matta were in a similar spot with 1.6 seasons on average out of their early entry candidates.

• Kansas’ Bill Self, the only coach besides Calipari with double-digit early entires, got an average of 2.3 seasons out of his underclassmen. Kansas sent only three freshmen to the draft, Darrell Arthur, Josh Selby and Ben McLemore, and McLemore was a redshirt freshman. Six of Kansas’ 10 early entries left school as juniors.

• Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has an identical early entry profile (four players gone, nine years of eligibility lost) as former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. Fired with the Sooners, the former Blue Devil Capel is now an assistant on Krzyzewski’s staff.

• One surprising name among the "leaders" is Georgia coach Mark Fox, who had three underclassmen declare with the Bulldogs (Travis Leslie, Trey Thompkins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and two at Nevada (Ramon Sessions, JaVale McGee).


 UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost
Kentucky1537N. Carolina812Duke49
Ohio St.819Ga. Tech511Nevada46

• Duke's 2010 national championship team was the only title winner without an underclassman who left for the following NBA Draft. Michigan State's 2009 national runner-up was the only other team to play in a title game duirng the one-and-done era without an underclassman who immediately went to the draft.

• Something interesting is going on in Los Angeles. UCLA and USC each had nine players leave early for the NBA Draft, more than any school besides Kansas and Kentucky. The Bruins aren’t a surprise, but the Trojans are, even considering USC landed on probation for NCAA violations. UCLA lost four underclassmen to the draft off two Final Four teams compared to five on the since 2009. At UCLA, Howland’s replacement Steve Alford lost only two underclassmen to the draft, both juniors.

• Who is getting the least out of underclassmen going to the draft? Of the eight teams that have sent eight or more underclassmen to the NBA Draft, only USC and Texas failed to reach a Final Four since 2007. One of the Trojans' early entries was counterproductive with freshman O.J. Mayo at the center of the NCAA investigation that landed the Trojans on probation and ended up with coach Tim Floyd fired.

• Connecticut also had a surprisingly low amount of players who declared early for the draft. The Huskies lost only four early entries and one freshman (Andre Drummond). During the same amount of time, DePaul lost three early entries. Granted, in the 2006 NBA Draft, Connecticut had three underclassmen selected in the first round, plus one more senior.

• Among notable programs with just one underclassmen leaving early: UNLV (Anthony Bennett) and Marquette (Vander Blue) lost their early entry candidate after the 2012-13 season.

• Florida State and Gonzaga lost as many players and seasons of eligibility to the draft since 2007 as Florida International did in three years under Isiah Thomas.

*Tallied by schools in the 2013-14 conference alignment

 UnderclassmenYears Lost UnderclassmenYears Lost
SEC4583Big East1727
ACC4478Mountain West1421
Pac-124172Conference USA1217
Big 123466Atlantic 1056
Big Ten1837West Coast46

• Take Kentucky out of the SEC tally, and the league slips behind the ACC and Pac-12 in terms of early entries. Removing Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the SEC accounts for 31 early entries, staying for an average of 2.5 seasons.

• The Big Ten is a veteran league for a major conference. The 18 early entries are as many as the upcoming lineup in the American Athletic Conference and one more than the new Big East, alarmlingly low totals for a major conference.

• One reason the Big Ten's numbers are much lower: Three Big Ten powers were among those who haven’t produced an early entry candidate during the one-and-done period, much less a freshman: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue. Other notable programs that haven’t produced an early entry candidate since at least 2007 include Oregon, Temple, Creighton and the entire Missouri Valley Conference.

• Should this be a sign the reformed Big East will have trouble attracting NBA Draft talent? Georgetown (five) is the only program in the league that has produced more than four early entries to the NBA Draft. The American Athletic Conference includes Memphis, which produced three early entries (all sophomores) under Josh Pastner plus four more from UConn. Remove ACC-bound Louisville from the American and the remaining lineup has produced 14 underclassmen heading to the draft, as many as the Mountain West.

A look inside the numbers of underclassmen heading to the NBA Draft
Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 12:35
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-best-coaches-under-40

The top two coaches from last year’s list of college coaches under 40 remain our top two here.

That’s fitting because Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart show no signs of going anywhere.

The two 30-something coaches have stuck with Butler and VCU, respectively, despite overtures from programs like UCLA and Illinois. True, those programs bring more notoriety and resources, but Stevens and Smart have proven they can win just as much where they are right now. And with both coaches easily crossing the $1 million mark, they don’t need to jump jobs for salary.

Stevens and Smart are no-brainers for our list of best college basketball coaches under 40, but the rest of the list may contain surprises. With Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie departing the under-40 club for the 2013-14 season, we dipped into the mid-major ranks to find our young coaches on the rise.

*All ages as of Nov. 1, 2013


1. Brad Stevens, Butler
Record: 166-49, 12-5 NCAA Tournament
Age: 37
No coach has won more games in his first six seasons as a head coach than Stevens. That almost seems like a footnote in the Butler coach’s career. He took over successful mid-major and by staying in Indianapolis turned Butler into a national brand. The Bulldogs have twice reached the national championship game under Stevens, reached the NCAA Tournament in five of six years and moved up from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 to the reformed Big East. With few exceptions, the calm and collected Stevens seems to have done this without raising his heart rate.

2. Shaka Smart, VCU
Record: 111-37, 7-3 NCAA Tournament
Age: 36
Like Butler, VCU was up to the challenge by moving up from the Colonial to the Atlantic 10. The Rams have not won fewer than 27 games in four years under Smart and have proven to be a superb postseason team (one Final Four, two rounds of 32 and a CBI championship). Smart’s program has become synonymous with the havoc defense that forces turnovers better than just about any team in the country. With Butler, Xavier and Temple leaving the Atlantic 10, VCU is poised to become the top program in the A-10 as long as Smart is in Richmond.

3. Josh Pastner, Memphis
Record: 106-34
Age: 36
The energetic Pastner achieved an important milestone in 2013 with Memphis’ first NCAA Tournament win of his tenure thanks to a narrow win over 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s. Signature wins have been lacking under Pastner, but that’s about to change. Memphis trades lackluster Conference USA for Louisville (at least for a year), Connecticut, Cincinnati and Temple in 2013-14. Pastner has kept a string of McDonald’s All-Americans coming to Memphis, so there won't be a talent deficit in the new league. He’ll soon find out if they can keep up with better competition on a more consistent basis after breezing through C-USA last season.

4. Steve Prohm, Murray State
Record: 52-12, 1-1 NCAA Tournament
Age: 39
The Racers’ second season under Prohm wasn’t quite as magical as the first when Isaiah Canaan led Murray to a 31-2 season. Murray State still won 21 games and the West Division of the expanded Ohio Valley. Now it’s time to see what Prohm can do without Canaan.

5. Bryce Drew, Valparaiso
Record: 48-20, 0-1 NCAA Tournament
Age: 39
The most famous basketball player in Valpo history has turned out to be a pretty good coach. The son of longtime Crusaders coach Homer Drew took over his father’s program two seasons ago and brought Valpo back to the postseason contention with back-to-back Horizon League regular-season titles. The NCAA bid in 2013 was Valpo’s first since 2004, and the 26 wins were a school record.

6. Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Record: 18-14
Age: 31
FIU’s second attempt to hire a coach with name recognition fared much better than the first. Isiah Thomas won 14 Sun Belt games in three season at FIU. Pitino went 11-9 in the league in his lone season in Miami. FIU was on the brink of its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1995 before losing 65-63 to Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt title game. Minnesota took note and made him the youngest coach in the Big Ten. He has the family name, but his old bosses — Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan — have a good success rate with assistants-turned-head coaches.

7. Mitch Henderson, Princeton
Record: 37-23
Age: 38
Harvard has won the Ivy League the last two seasons, but Princeton has been right on the Crimson’s heels. The Tigers have finished one game back of Harvard in the Ivy the last two seasons. Like Bryce Drew at Valpo, Henderson is a hometown hero at Princeton who played on the 1996 Tigers team that upset UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. Henderson spent more than a decade on Northwetsern’s coaching staff, Big Ten experience that could become relevant.

8. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Record: 94-98
Age: 38
Though Seton Hall took a major step back last season — from 21 wins and an NIT appearance to 3-15 in the Big East — Willard has a good overall resume. Willard took over an Iona team that went 2-28 the year before he arrived. By the time Willard left, Iona won 21 games in 2010. A Rick Pitino assistant with Celtics and at Louisville, Willard will look to rebound in the new Big East.

9. Andy Toole, Robert Morris
Record: 68-36
Age: 31
Promoted to head coach before his 30th birthday, Toole delivered the biggest win in Robert Morris history when the Colonials defeated Kentucky in the NIT on their home court in March. That shouldn’t obscure what else he’s accomplished in Moon Township: 50 wins in the last two seasons, an NEC regular season title in 2013 and a 39-15 overall record in the league. A former Mike Rice assistant at Robert Morris before his promotion, Toole might be under the microscope as he’s a candidate for another job.

10. Michael White, Louisiana Tech
Record: 45-23
Age: 36
The WAC was watered down last season and the schedule was paper thin, but it’s tough to ignore Louisiana Tech’s progress in White’s second season. The Bulldogs improved from 6-8 in conference in his first season to 16-2 in the second. The former Ole Miss assistant led Louisiana Tech to its second-highest win total of 27 victories, second only to Karl Malone’s 29-win team in 1984-85. White is poised to build on last season in Conference USA in 2013-14.

<p> Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart are the best, but they're not alone.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /which-schools-are-most-likely-win-their-first-heisman

Before 2009, Alabama and Baylor were in the same boat.

It's tough to imagine ways in which the Crimson Tide and the Bears of Waco stood on the same ground in college football history. But four years ago, Alabama and Baylor both lacked Heisman winners until Mark Ingram took the trophy for Alabama. Two seasons later, Robert Griffin III won a Heisman for Baylor.

This season, Johnny Manziel is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, and even if a repeat winner would be historically significant on its own, a handful of schools are looking to fill a void in their trophy cases.

When oddsmaker Danny Sheridan released his Heisman Trophy odds, three of the top 10 favorites could represent the first winners for their schools: Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas both at 10-to-1 and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd at 15-to-1.

Louisville, Oregon and Clemson all have notable accomplishments in the 78 years since Heisman started being awarded, but they don’t have the most wins without a trophy.

Here’s a look at the schools with the most wins since 1935 and our assessments for each to pick up their first Heisman.

Related: Manziel, Clowney lead Heisman revolution


*List presented in order of wins since the first Heisman Trophy was awarded in 1935.

1. Tennessee (593 wins since 1935)
Notable-near misses: Four runners-up (Peyton Manning in 1997, Heath Shuler in 1993, Johnny Majors in 1956, Hank Lauricella in 1951)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon.
With Mark Ingram winning Alabama’s first Heisman in 2009, Tennessee is the most storied SEC program without a winner. The Volunteers have the sixth-most wins since 1935 and no Heisman to show for it. The Volunteers’ best hope for a Heisman contender in the next few years may be 2014 running back Jalen Hurd. That said, bowl games and beating Vanderbilt are more pressing goals in Knoxville now.

T-2. Arkansas (514)
Notable-near misses: Darren McFadden (runner-up in 2006 and 2007)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon.
McFadden first ran into Troy Smith in 2006 in a lopsided Heisman race before falling only 254 points behind Tim Tebow in 2007. Arkansas never had a 3,000-yard passer until Ryan Mallett in 2009, but neither he nor Tyler Wilson finished higher than seventh in the voting. The Bobby Petrino mess, however, set Arkansas back a few years, and the same goes for the Razorbacks’ Heisman prospects for the time being. New coach Bret Bielema brings hope, though. Just two seasons ago, Bielema coached two players who finished in the top 10 of the voting: Montee Ball (fourth) and Russell Wilson (ninth).

T-2. Clemson (514)
Notable near-miss: C.J. Spiller (sixth in 2009)
Contenders for 2013: Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins
ETA for first Heisman: Getting closer.
Tajh Boyd has 15-to-1 odds on the Heisman this year. The quarterback is our leader among Heisman contenders out of the ACC this season. But don’t forget about Sammy Watkins. His ability as a receiver and returnman placed him as a Heisman frontrunner for the first few months of his freshman season in 2011. As long as Clemson has ample skill players running the no-huddle spread, the Tigers will have Heisman contenders.

4. Georgia Tech (507)
Notable near-miss: Joe Hamilton (runner-up in 1999)
Contender for 2013: Vad Lee
ETA for first Heisman: A long way off.
A college football irony, Georgia Tech (like Clemson) employed John Heisman as head coach but hasn’t fielded a Heisman winner. As long as the Yellow Jackets spread the carries in the option, Georgia Tech may have trouble producing a candidate to compete with quarterbacks accounting for 5,000-plus total yards.

5. Arizona State (506)
Notable near-miss: Jake Plummer (third in 1996)
Contender for 2013: Taylor Kelly
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
Neither of the last two Heisman winners played in BCS games, so the idea that Heisman winners must play for title contenders is starting to fade. That's good for programs that have struggled to reach major bowl games, yet remained competitive. Still, Arizona State hasn’t finished in the top 10 since ’96. The program has had isolated pockets of success since Frank Kush left, so it’s conceivable Arizona State could stumble its way into a Heisman race at some point.

6. Fresno State (504)
Notable near-miss: David Carr (sixth in 2001)
Contender for 2013: Derek Carr
ETA for first Heisman: Needs more time.
David’s brother Derek Carr is one of the nation’s top pro-style quarterbacks — his 63 career TD passes is third among active quarterbacks. He’ll be the beneficiary of name recognition and a Friday matchup with Boise State. Landing in the top-10 of the Heisman voting isn’t far-fetched for Carr during his senior season, but anything more may be a fantasy. Sophomore Davante Adams may be a Biletnikoff candidate someday, but Mountain West receivers generally don’t lend themselves to Heisman consideration.

7. West Virginia (496)
Notable near-misses: Major Harris (third in 1989, fifth in 1988), Pat White (sixth in 2007, seventh in 2008), Steve Slaton (fourth in 2006)
Contender for 2013: Charlie Sims
ETA for first Heisman: Missed the exit.
If only they gave out the Heisman in September, Geno Smith would have been in luck. The Mountaineers are rebuilding on offense with Smith and his receivers gone, but the arrival of running back Charles Sims, who averaged at least 100 all-purpose yards per game the last two years at Houston, gives West Virginia a legitimate postseason awards candidate.

8. Ole Miss (488)
Notable near-misses: Eli Manning (third in 2003), Archie Manning (third in 1970, fourth in 1969), Jake Gibbs (third in 1960)
Contenders for 2013: Bo Wallace, Donte Moncrief, Jeff Scott
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
A miracle season for Ole Miss against a brutal schedule would put one of the Rebels into the Heisman race, but this seems to be a long-term project, especially if Hugh Freeze keeps up this recruiting clip.

9. Virginia Tech (477)
Notable near-misses: Mike Vick (third in 1999)
Contender for 2013: Logan Thomas
ETA for first Heisman: Missed the exit.
All eyes were on Logan Thomas last season, and now he’s trying to rebound from a subpar season. Meanwhile, the Hokies’ normally reliable string of running backs has hit a hiccup.

10. Texas Tech (476)
Notable near-misses: Graham Harrell (fourth in 2008), Michael Crabtree (fifth in 2008)
Contender for 2013: Michael Brewer
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon.
The stigma against so-called system quarterbacks playing in the spread offense lifted just as Texas Tech stopped churning out 5,000-yard passers. Kliff Kingsbury will help Tech return to offensive glory, but for better or worse the Air Raid has become mainstream. That may just mean more Sam Bradfords winning the Heisman rather than Graham Harrells.

11. Washington (476)
Notable near-miss: Steve Emtman (fourth in 1991)
Contenders for 2013: Keith Price, Bishop Sankey
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
Hard to believe the Huskies, even during the Don James heyday, only produced one player who finished in the top six, and that player was a defensive lineman. Washington's drought has to change eventually, right?

12. Utah (467)
Notable near-miss: Alex Smith (fourth in 2005)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman:  Not anytime soon.
Utah has yet to prove it can win on a regular basis in the Pac-12. Until that happens, the Utes will have trouble in the Heisman race.

13. Michigan State (466)
Notable near-misses: Lorenzo White (fourth in 1985 and 1987), Sherman Lewis (third in 1963)
Contender for 2013: None
ETA for first Heisman: Stuck in traffic.
Michigan State is too big a program not to find its way to a Heisman, but Michigan State’s program under Mark Dantonio isn’t built to produce Heisman contenders as dynamic as Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton. Michigan State's best bet may be an every down back such as Javon Ringer or Le'Veon Bell, but Ingram is the only running back to win the Heisman since 2005. With Michigan and Ohio State back on top in the Big Ten, Michigan State could slip to middle of the pack.

14. Missouri (446)
Notable near-misses: Chase Daniel (fourth in 2007), Paul Christman (third in 1939)
Contender for 2013: Dorial Green-Beckham
ETA for first Heisman:  Missed the exit.
Chase Daniel may end up being Missouri’s best hope at a Heisman in a while unless 2012 No. 1 recruit Dorial Green-Beckham puts up a campaign similar to Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson. Missouri’s ability to adapt to the SEC wasn’t nearly as seamless as Texas A&M’s, so catching up to Georgia, South Carolina and Florida may take some time.

15. North Carolina (444)
Notable near-misses: Charles Justice (runner-up in 1948 and 1949)
Contender for 2013: Bryn Renner
ETA for first Heisman:  Eventually.
North Carolina has been one of college football’s underachievers over the years. That’s mirrored in the Heisman no-show for several decades. The Tar Heels are in a talent-rich state and have the right coach for eye-popping numbers in Larry Fedora.


Oregon (431)
Contenders for 2013: Marcus Mariota, De'Anthony Thomas
ETA for first Heisman: Imminent.
Joey Harrington and LaMichael James were Heisman finalists, but the biggest near-miss may have been Dennis Dixon. The senior quarterback still finished fifth in the voting despite a season-ending ACL tear in November 2007. As a consistent Rose Bowl contender with elite offensive playmakers, Oregon will have its chances in the coming years to break its Heisman drought. Marcus Mariota and DeAnthony Thomas are contenders now, but freshman running back Thomas Tyner is the contender for the future.

Louisville (412)
Contender for 2013: Teddy Bridgewater
ETA for first Heisman: Getting closer.
Bridgewater shrugged off a Heisman campaign this offseason, but that won’t slow his candidacy. A bigger barrier will be Louisville’s lackluster schedule, especially if Bridgewater slips up in a game or two. His better bet — if he stays — may be in 2014 against an ACC schedule.

Mississippi State (380)
Contender for 2013: Tyler Russell
ETA for first Heisman: Not anytime soon
Like Ole Miss, Mississippi State’s Heisman contenders must go up against Alabama and LSU on a yearly basis. Which Egg Bowl rival gets there first?

Kansas State (324)
Contender for 2013: John Hubert
ETA for first Heisman: Missed the exit
Collin Klein and Michael Bishop were Heisman finalists from Manhattan. The window appears to have closed, but Bill Snyder continues to surprise us.

Boise State (254)
Contender for 2013: Joe Southwick
ETA for first Heisman: Eventually.
Boise State has gradually built Heisman credibility with Ian Johnson finishing eighth in 2005 then Kellen Moore finishing in the top 10 for three consecutive seasons, including fourth in 2010. Like BYU in the 1980s, Boise State has shed the “mid-major” label to reach national power status. The next step is to grab a Heisman. One guess: The next time a Kellen Moore or Ian Johnson comes around, he’ll fare better in the Heisman race.

Contenders for 2013: Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois), Tyler Tettleton (Ohio), Dri Archer (Kent State)
ETA for first Heisman:  Eventually.
With the Mountain West, Conference USA and Sun Belt getting picked over in conference realignment, the MAC may be the non-AQ league best-suited to produced a Heisman winner if only for consistency. MAC players will get their time on TV thanks to the league’s aggressive midweek schedule, and #MACtion will have a contingency of the populist vote. That said, players from non-traditional conferences have not broken through. Hawaii’s Colt Brennan from the Mountain West finished no better than third despite shattering passing records for an undefeated team in the regular season.

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Which Schools are Most Likely to Win their First Heisman?
Post date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-best-coaches-under-40

Thirty is the new 40. At least in coaching.

During the last run through the coaching carousel, five schools hired coaches who had yet to reach their 40th birthday. That included the nation’s youngest coach, P.J. Fleck, who took the Western Michigan job at age 32 with neither head coaching nor coordinator experience.

Meanwhile, one 30-something coach, Willie Taggart, took his second head coaching job when he left Western Kentucky for USF.

At some schools, it’s tough to argue against the youth movement. Stanford’s David Shaw, who turned 40 last summer, has led Stanford to two BCS bowls and a Pac-12 title. Steve Sarkisian has revived the Washington program. And that’s just on the West Coast. Pat Fitzgerald, once the youngest coach in the country himself, has led Northwestern to unprecedented heights.

The under-40 coaching crowd is an interesting fraternity in college football, especially now that nearly half of it is made up of first-time head coaches in 2013. Programs hiring coaches are often looking for an influx of youthful energy, especially if the coach has local or school ties.

Whether any of these coaches will be in the game long enough to challenge records is unknown, but many of them have built enviable careers before their 40th birthdays.

*All ages as of Sept. 1, 2013.


1. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern (team preview)
Record: 50-39
Age: 38
Fitzgerald was tabbed as a potential head coach at Northwestern years before the sudden passing of Randy Walker put him in the position at 31. Now, he’s the second-longest tenured coach in the Big Ten. In 2012, Fitzgerald led Northwestern to its first 10-win season since 1995 and first ranked finish since 1996 (Fitzgerald, of course, played linebacker for both of those teams in the 90s). He’s already Northwestern’s all-time wins leader at 50, passing Pappy Waldorf with the Gator Bowl victory over Mississippi State. As usual, Northwestern is rarely the most talented team on the field, but the Wildcats find a way to be competitive. The only question is if any job, college or otherwise, could pry him from Evanston.

2. Steve Sarkisian, Washington (team preview)
Record: 26-25
Age: 39
The former BYU quarterback and USC assistant Sarkisian brought Washington back to relevance within the Pac-12 after taking over an 0-12 team in 2009. The Huskies have gone 7-6 in each of the last three seasons, but Washington fans would like to see the program take the next step. After rebuilding the defensive coaching staff after 2011 and dealing with the injury bug in 2012, Sarkisian’s team is ready.

3. Willie Taggart, USF (team preview)
Record: 16-20
Age: 37
In his first head coaching job, Taggart led his alma mater Western Kentucky into the FBS. The Hilltoppers went 7-5 in each of the last two seasons, including 7-1 in the Sun Belt in 2011 and the program’s first bowl game in 2012. Now, he’ll try to revive the program in his old backyard. Taggart graduated from Manatee High in Bradenton, Fla., and now his job is to lead a stagnant USF program over the hump. A Jim Harbaugh disciple, Taggart knows how to build a program built on toughness and resilience, something the Bulls have lacked in recent years.

4. Lane Kiffin, USC (team preview)
Record: 32-19
Age: 37
Where to start with Kiffin? It’s tough to find a more interesting — putting it gently — six years for a head coach in college and the NFL. He was hired and fired by Al Davis, hailed as a hero and scorned at Tennessee, and then had mixed results at USC. Despite NCAA sanctions, the Trojans went 10-2 including a win over Oregon on the road in 2011. That high mark as a coach only set Kiffin up for a dramatic fall from No. 1 in the preseason to 7-6 last season. For 2013, Kiffin parted ways with his father as defensive coordinator and Matt Barkley as quarterback. He could surprise again or he could land himself on the hot seat before his 40th birthday.

5. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 34
Even the risk averse might be OK with Texas Tech hiring a 33-year-old with only four years of full-time coaching experience. The former Red Raiders quarterback Kingsbury worked with NCAA career leading passer Case Keenum and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in his brief career. Moreover, Kingsbury is intimately familiar with what worked not so long ago in Lubbock. Kingsbury was Mike Leach’s first quarterback at Tech and an assistant under Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen at Houston. After the uncomfortable fit Tommy Tuberville was in Lubbock, Kingsbury will be a return to familiarity.

6. Justin Fuente, Memphis (team preview)
Record: 4-8
Age: 37
The 4-8 record isn’t impressive and three-game winning streak to end the 2012 season were over patsies like Tulane, UAB and Southern Miss. Still, it’s not like Memphis had three-game win streaks of any kind under Larry Porter or in the final years of Tommy West’s tenure. Porter’s 3-21 stint was a disaster, but Fuente, the former TCU offensive coordinator, turned the culture around by November. Will it be enough for Memphis to compete in the American Athletic Conference?

7. Matt Campbell, Toledo (team preview)
Record: 10-4
Age: 33
Campbell was the youngest coach in the country when Toledo promoted him for the Military Bowl against Air Force after the 2011 season. As former Rockets coach Tim Beckman limped to a 2-10 season at Illinois, Campbell went 9-4 in his first full season at Toledo, displaying the same explosive offense that’s become a trademark at the Glass Bowl. This season, the Rockets should be in the mix for their first MAC title since 2004.

8. Bryan Harsin, Arkansas State (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 36
Harsin hopes to become the next former offensive coordinator to win big at Arkansas State, and the Red Wolves wouldn’t mind if he sticks around a little longer than Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn. Harsin’s best days as an offensive coordinator came at Boise State where he coached Jared Zabransky, Ian Johnson and Kellen Moore during undefeated seasons in 2006 and 2009. While Texas never finished higher than 40th nationally in total offense under Harsin, the Longhorns’ output increased both years.

9. Brian Polian, Nevada (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 38
Let’s say this: Nevada had better field good special teams. Polian, the son of NFL executive Bill Polian, has been special teams coach for Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M. Those aren’t bad places to be an assistant, particularly under Kevin Sumlin, David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh. He’ll keep the Pistol offense installed at Nevada, which is good news for a program that hasn’t won under anyone other than former coach Chris Ault.

10. Matt Rhule, Temple (team preview)
Record: 0-0
Age: 38
Rhule was integral in the rebuilding job at Temple in recent years, helping to transform the Owls from a doormat to MAC contender. In between then and taking over for Steve Addazio, Rhule spent a season as offensive line coach with the New York Giants.

Related College Football Content

2013 College Football Preview
Top 25
No. 26-40
No. 41-60
No. 61-80
No. 81-100
No. 101-125

Top Players of the BCS Era
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Offensive line

<p> Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald leads the list</p>
Post date: Monday, June 24, 2013 - 07:55
Path: /college-football/heisman-revolution

If Heisman voters were as open minded as Hugh Green’s peers in 1980, the fraternity of the award for the most outstanding college football player would be much different.

During a tour organized to promote the 1980 football season, the Pittsburgh defensive end, along with five other top players that year, made a handful of stops across the country to meet with reporters.

The tour led to plenty of down time for Green, Cal quarterback Rich Campbell, Purdue quarterback Mark Herrmann, Alabama running back Major Ogilvie, South Carolina running back George Rogers and Baylor linebacker Mike Singletary. During a stop somewhere in Indiana, Green recalls, the six conducted their own vote for who would win the Heisman in 1980.

Whether through humility or foresight, Green was the only one who ended up making the correct pick. He chose Rogers.

The other five picked Green.

Green had a fine season in 1980, wrapping up one of history’s best careers by a defensive player. He won the Maxwell Award for Player of the Year on a team that finished 11–1 and No. 2 in the country. He was a consensus All-American and the Lombardi Award winner. He stood out on a team that included quarterback Dan Marino and Outland Trophy-winning offensive tackle Mark May.

The Heisman, though, was out of reach for Green.

South Carolina’s Rogers beat Green by 267 points in the voting that year. Still, it was a victory for defensive players. In the two-platoon era, Green’s 861 points were the most for a defender until Michigan’s Charles Woodson won the Heisman in 1997. Woodson, though, returned kicks and played receiver, putting him over the top in the Heisman race.

“That’s the perspective of the best player — he has to have possession of the ball,” Green says. 

Beyond Green, the 1980 Heisman vote was also notable for the third-place finisher, Herschel Walker. The Georgia running back earned the most first-place votes (107) and total points (683) for a freshman up to that point.

So here’s the question: Had the 1980 Heisman vote been taken in 2012, would the result have been different? Would Green have won? What about Walker?

Since 2007, the Heisman has undergone a major shift.

That season brought the award’s first sophomore winner (Florida’s Tim Tebow), followed by the second in 2008 (Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford) and the third in 2009 (Alabama’s Mark Ingram). In 2012, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the award — albeit a redshirt freshman and not the youngest player to win the Heisman. That’s still Ingram, who won at age 19.

And those are just the winners who have bucked Heisman tradition. Three defensive players have been Heisman finalists since 2009, and two of those — Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh — were purely defensive players.

Related: Texas A&M team preview

“Most of the barriers have been broken down,” Manziel says. “The way the award is set up, it’s more the most outstanding player in all of college football, whatever the situation. If people think you’re the best college football player that year, you deserve to win it, whether you play defense or whatever.”

The mainstreaming of sophomores, freshmen and defensive players in the Heisman voting may have been tough to envision a decade ago.

Just 10 years before Manziel (right) won the Heisman, the balloting was typical for the award most years. USC senior quarterback Carson Palmer won in 2002, a year when all of the top 10 vote-getters were either quarterbacks or running backs, seniors or juniors, with nine of them from power conferences. The only true outlier that season was Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich, who finished sixth.

Since Palmer, only one senior — Ohio State’s Troy Smith in 2006 — has won the award. And now, the 2013 Heisman race opens with a handful of possibilities for rare and first-time achievements.

Manziel has a chance to join Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1974-75) as the only repeat winner in history. In theory, he’ll have three chances to join Griffin in elite company. However, after this season, Manziel will be eligible to leave school early for the NFL Draft.

Manziel will be a contender in 2013, but to become a two-time winner he may have to beat out a defensive end. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is unquestionably the nation’s top defensive player and already appears to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Related: South Carolina team preview

In short, this isn’t your father’s Heisman.

“There’s a clear demarcation from the Tebow point onward,” says Chris Huston, founder of “It doesn’t really matter if they are seniors or juniors or sophomores or freshmen. What wins out are these tremendous numbers.”

If a defensive player is going to win the Heisman, though, the overwhelming numbers may be tough to acquire.

Green has been beating the drum for a defensive player to win the award for several years. He begrudgingly latched onto Michigan’s Woodson, who played offense (17 total touches for 259 yards from scrimmage and three TDs) and returned punts (78-yard TD vs. Ohio State) in addition to excelling at cornerback (eight INTs).


The former Pittsburgh lineman is convinced it will take a gargantuan statistical effort to overcome an offensive skill player.

“This guy, to catch the eye of America, would have to have at least 17 or 18 sacks, five or six interceptions returned for touchdowns — something totally incredible. He’d have to totally dominate anything and everything he plays. …

“He’d have to sack the quarterback and intercept him at the same time.”

Clowney (right) would tend to agree. He was been touted as one of the best players in college football even before he landed at South Carolina. He was the consensus No. 1 recruit in the class of 2011 and earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. As a sophomore, he was a first-team All-American and finished sixth in the Heisman voting.

But even he concedes that the quarterbacks he’s bringing down have a better chance at the most coveted award in college sports.

“That’s what the people like — touchdowns and more touchdowns,” Clowney says. “They don’t worry about the sacks and stuff. I guess they feel like offense is more of an individual side.”

Ironically, the recent batch of defensive players to become Heisman finalists were contenders in the more traditional sense.

Among Huston’s “10 Heismandments” are stipulations that an aspiring winner must put up good numbers in big games on TV, must have prior name recognition and must play for a title contender or a traditional power.

None of those stipulations require a Heisman hopeful to be the best at his position or even the best player in his locker room.

One could argue that neither Te’o nor LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu was the best defensive player on his own team the seasons they went to the Heisman ceremony. And does anyone remember that Suh was fourth in the Big 12 in sacks the year he was a finalist?

Instead, voters gravitated to Te’o’s two interceptions in the Michigan game, Mathieu’s four defensive and special teams touchdowns, and Suh’s 4.5 sacks of Texas’ Colt McCoy in a Big 12 Championship Game loss.

That’s why Clowney is the best defensive candidate for the award since Woodson.

Related: Heisman contenders, challengers and longshots for 2013

Anyone looking for a Heisman-type moment from Clowney just needs to do a quick YouTube or GIF search. Clowney’s finest play — his game-changing tackle and forced fumble of Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl — has been on a highlight reel since January.

Name recognition? Check. Stats? Check. Game-turning plays in big games? Check.

“He has as good as a setup for a defensive player as we’ve seen,” Huston says.

But Clowney isn’t up against the Heisman field of a decade or so ago. He’s up against some of the most prolific quarterbacks in the history of the game.

Huston, who has been studying Heisman trends since he worked in the USC athletic department when Palmer won the award, doesn’t attribute the change in voting trends to any new open-mindedness by voters. Instead, the numbers are impossible to ignore, he says. Huston describes the last six years as the rise of the Super Quarterback. The wide-spread use of spread offenses, the dual-threat quarterbacks excelling in these systems and the proof they can win at a championship level have changed voters’ ideas of the typical Heisman candidate.

In a former era, Tebow’s bruising option attack, Bradford’s Air Raid approach, the track star ability of Baylor’s Robert Griffin III or Auburn’s Cam Newton, or Manziel’s improvisation would have been derided as a “system,” unworthy of the Heisman.

But no matter the style, these offenses are run by great athletes who happen to play quarterback, and they’re the centerpieces of their offenses like never before.

Each of the last five quarterbacks to win the Heisman since and including Tebow has topped at least 500 plays of total offense (carries plus pass attempts) in the years they won the Heisman. Manziel had 635 last season.

Of the six quarterbacks to win the Heisman before 2007, only one topped 500 plays during his award-winning season.

In addition, when spread quarterbacks compete for national championships or win in major conferences — rather than putting up numbers in Conference USA or the MAC — it’s that much tougher for a voter to write off a sophomore or a freshman who happens to be a so-called “system” quarterback.

“It’s kind of overcome the usual biases that used to exist against freshmen or sophomores,” Huston says. “It was not an intentional change. It was structural. By the nature of college football, players need more time building name recognition. Now you have guys who are freshmen and sophomores doing all the things Manziel did. It’s easy to quickly gain notoriety.”

Notoriety seems to be the key to a non-traditional candidate overcoming quarterbacks or running backs.

Clowney has it. Te’o, Mathieu and Suh earned it.

But what about offensive linemen? Have Heisman voters evolved to a point where linemen could become serious candidates?

Prior to the season, a handful of columnists posed that question about Alabama’s Barrett Jones, who at the time was the most decorated offensive player for the Crimson Tide. During his career, he started at guard, tackle and center. He also followed one of Huston’s other Heismandments: He’s likable.

If there were a perfect candidate to represent the offensive line in New York, it seemed to be Jones.

Yet Jones was not one of the top 10 vote-getters in 2012.

The last offensive lineman to make a serious push for the Heisman was Ohio State’s Orlando Pace, who finished fourth in 1996. It was the best finish for an offensive lineman since Buckeyes tackle John Hicks was the runner-up to Penn State’s John Cappelletti in 1973.

Hicks, who blocked for Heisman winner Archie Griffin, says publicity will be the key for a lineman to win the award.

“With the Ohio State publicity machine, if you have a great season here, you can win the Heisman here,” Hicks says. “Can a lineman win it? Sure. But he’s going to have be in the national conscience.”

That’s a double-edged sword. Even if a lineman or a defensive player garners enough name recognition to get to New York through being on television and his highlights showing up on YouTube and social media, quarterbacks and running backs still have all those advantages, too.

Plus every play of theirs is in the camera’s eye, and every stat readily accessible in a box score.

“The problem with defensive players and linemen is the metrics,” Huston says. “The camera follows the ball. The people who argue on behalf (of linemen) tend to argue very nebulous things — they were triple-teamed half the season and things like that. If you look at a box score you don’t get tackle numbers, you don’t get pancakes.”

But that’s the conventional wisdom. And if the last six seasons have proven anything, it’s that the conventional wisdom about the Heisman does not apply.

In 2013, college football may be ready for another two-time Heisman winner. Or a full-time defensive player.

“We’ll see,” Clowney says.

Related College Football Content

2013 College Football Preview
Top 25
No. 26-40
No. 41-60
No. 61-80
No. 81-100
No. 101-125

Top Players of the BCS Era
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Offensive line

<p> College football's most prestigious award is going through a revolution.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/acts-college-football-pranks-vandalism-and-kidnapping

Clemson officials acknowledged this week that Howard’s Rock, the iconic touchstone Clemson players rub before running onto the field at home games, was damaged by vandals around June 2 or 3.

The perpetrators allegedly broke into the stadium, removed the glass casing and broke a piece of the rock, which has been a staple of Clemson games since 1966.

This is not the first time one of college football’s venerated traditions has been the victim of violence. When it comes to rivalries, fan mischief ranges from amusing — kidnapping mascots or easily repaired vandalism, for example — to disturbing and potentially damaging to cherished traditions for generations to come.


Toomer’s Oaks Poisoned (2010)
In a saga that played out over the Paul Finebaum radio show in Birmingham, Ala., Crimson Tide fan Harvey Updyke called in under the pseudonym “Al from Dadeville” to reveal he had poisoned Auburn’s 130-year-old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. For generations, fans rolled Toomer’s Corner after Auburn wins. The trees were removed in April, and Updyke was released from a six-month jail sentence earlier this month.

Kidnapping of Reveille VI (1993)
Reveille VI, then a 4-month-old puppy who had yet to serve her term as A&M’s mascot, was kidnapped before the Aggies’ Cotton Bowl appearance. A Texas student claimed responsibility for dognapping Reveille, the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. Shortly after, Reveille was safely recovered.

The Origin of the Victory Bell (1941)
When the UCLA-USC series resumed in 1941 after a hiatus, USC students masquerading as UCLA fans stole the Bruins’ Victory Bell, which rings after every UCLA point. UCLA students responded by by defacing USC’s Tommy Trojan statue. USC then vandalized UCLA’s field. By the time the Bruins hatched a plan to kidnap USC’s student body president, both parties agreed things had gone too far. USC eventually agreed to return the Victory Bell if it became the game trophy.

Birth of Bevo (1917)
Texas A&M and Texas resumed their series in 1915 after a brief hiatus with the Aggies winning 13-0. Texas came back to win 21-7 the following season and planned to parade its Longhorn steer through College Station before the 1917 game. The Aggies responded by sneaking into the steer’s pen and branding him with “13-0.” Drawing inspiration from a billboard for Bevo Beer, Texas students altered the 13-0 to read BEVO.

Theft of Testudo (1948)
At one point the Maryland-George Washington series was heated enough that GW fraternity members stole Maryland’s 400-pound bronze statute of Testudo the turtle. In the 1949 yearbook, George Washington published a poem “Travels of Testudo” about the statue’s gambling trip to Reno. A year earlier, before the national championship lacrosse match, Johns Hopkins students stole Testudo and buried him.

Arizona Politics Spill onto the Field (1958)
Before 1958, Arizona was the only university in the state -- at least until Proposition 200 would change Arizona State College to Arizona State University. Angry and prideful Arizona fans burned “No 200” into the field at Sun Devil Stadium weeks before the two teams faced each other at Arizona. Arizona State got the last laugh as Prop 200 passed and the Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 47-0. (tip of the hat to Shane Dale)

Bill the Goat Stolen (2012)
How many college football pranks end at the Pentagon? Before last season’s Army-Navy game, Navy’s mascot Bill the Goat was stolen and left in front of the Pentagon. Army said it had no knowledge of the theft. Bill was returned safely.

SMU’s Long Game (1999)
Going beyond simple vandalism or kidnapping, the SMU band gets high marks for thinking outside the box. The band left rye grass seeds in the turf at Amon Carter Stadium, in its trademark "M" formation, to leave its mark. In 2007, SMU used weed killer to spell PONY on TCU’s field.

Green Raiders (2006)
Further proof that bitter rivalries span all levels: Middle Tennessee fans arrived at Floyd Stadium before a game against Tennessee Tech to find that their Blue Horseshoe statue had been painted green, only it hadn’t. Tennessee Tech fans snuck in during the night to paint it gold. Middle Tennessee hoped to change it back to blue, but the gold paint hadn’t dried, giving the statue its temporary green hue. (tip of the hat to J.R. Lind)

Are there any we forgot? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, and we'll add them to the list.

<p> The damage to Howard's Rock at Clemson was only the latest tarnishing of tradition</p>
Post date: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 14:50
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-mid-major-rankings-mwc-mvc

After Florida Gulf Coast reached the Sweet 16 and Wichita State reached the Final Four, teams outside of the college basketball power structure are starting to reach even footing. At least on the court.

Beyond the major surprises in the NCAA Tournament, this is an interesting time for mid-major programs. The Mountain West showed surprising depth last season, a trend that should continue as the league expands. Even though Creighton left the Missouri Valley and Temple, Xavier and Butler left the Atlantic 10, there’s plenty to watch in both leagues.

Wichita State already has the look of the MVC’s flagship program. The same could be said of VCU and Saint Louis in the A-10, provided they can hold off upstart UMass.

We took a quick look of seven conferences already this offseason. Here’s a snapshot of 11 key teams in the the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, West Coast and more.

Other conference snapshots:
Big 12

Big East

Big Ten

1. WICHITA STATE (30-9, 12-6 Missouri Valley, NCAA Final Four)
Key players gone: Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall, Demetric Williams
Top returners: Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early, Fred Van Vleet, Jake White
New faces: D.J. Bowles (freshman), Kadeem Coleby (Louisiana-Lafayette transfer), Earl Watson (junior college), Evan Wessel (redshirt)
The point guard Armstead and leading rebounder Hall are gone from the Final Four run, but the rising sophomore Baker played only 18 games last season. With Early, Baker and Cotton, there’s enough returning to win the Missouri Valley this season, especially if Van Vleet flourishes as a full-time point guard. The 6-foot-9 Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Coleby and local 6-5 guard Wessel will fill some gaps.

2. VCU (27-9, 12-4 Atlantic 10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Troy Daniels, Darius Theus
Top returners: Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Juvonte Reddic, Melvin Thomas, Briante Weber
New faces: Jordan Burgess (redshirt), Terrance Shannon (Florida State transfer)
Five of the top seven players return to VCU, including three who averaged double-figure scoring. Theus’ 2.4 steals per game will be missed on the defensive end, but there’s a lot to like about a VCU team that went 12-4 in its first season in the Atlantic 10. Shannon was an injury-riddled player at Florida State, but he’s a 6-8 senior who will be a key piece for the Rams if he can stay healthy.

3. GONZAGA (32-3, 16-0 West Coast, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Elias Harris, Guy Landry Edi, Kelly Olynyk
Top returning players: Gary Bell Jr, Sam Dower, Przemek Karnowski, Kevin Pangos, David Stockton
New faces: Gerald Coleman (Providence transfer), Angel Nunez (Louisville transfer)
The front line takes a hit without Olynyk and Harris, but Mark Few’s backcourt should be solid with Pangos (41.7 percent on three pointers) and Bell. Two centers who were part-time players last season in Karnowski (7-1) and Dower (6-9) will look to take a step forward in replacing the Olynyk. Gonzaga’s season was marred by losing to Wichita State in the round of 32, but the Bulldogs should remain a top-25 contender in 2013-14.

4. NEW MEXICO (29-6, 13-3 Mountain West, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Tony Snell, Demetrius Walker
Top returning players: Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Hugh Greenwood, Kendall Williams
New faces: Merv Lindsey (transfer from Kansas), Cullen Neal (freshman)
Longtime Steve Alford assistant Craig Neal was promoted to coach a team that returns four players who started at least 30 games. The Lobos may be the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, but that NCAA Tournament loss to Harvard will be tough to forget. Snell (12.5 ppg) is a notable departure, but the Lobos were a balanced team for most of the season.

5. SAINT LOUIS (28-7, 13-3 Atlantic 10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis
Top returners: Dwayne Evans, Grandy Glaze, Jordair Jett, Rob Loe, Mike McCall
Jim Crews has the job full-time and a chance to repeat in the Atlantic 10. Replacing Kwamain Mitchell’s 30 minutes per game will be tough. Four starters are back, not including the assist leader Jett.

6. UMASS (21-12, 9-7 Atlantic 10, NIT first round)
Key players gone: Freddie Riley, Terrell Vinson
Top returning players: Cady Lalanne, Raphiael Putney, Chaz Williams
New faces: Derrick Gordon (transfer from Western Kentucky)
Derek Kellogg’s program has steadily improved in five seasons. Now, the Minutemen have a chance to be the top team in the Atlantic 10, which will see Butler, Temple and Xavier depart. The 5-9 point guard Chaz Williams will be one of the top players in the league, and the 6-3 Gordon was a major pickup from Western Kentucky, where he averaged 11.8 ppg, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

7. HARVARD (20-10, 11-3 Ivy, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Christian Webster
Top returning players: Siyani Chambers, Steve Moundou-Missi, Laurent Rivard, Wesley Saunders
New faces: Zena Edosomwan (freshman)
Harvard’s upset of New Mexico signaled the young Crimson would be ready to take the next step in 2013-14. Last year’s team had only one senior (Webster), and one junior seeing significant minutes (Rivard). Led by Saunders and Chambers, Harvard will have a leg up on the the rest of the Ivy League the next two seasons.

8. BOISE STATE (21-11, 9-7 Mountain West, NCAA First Four)
Key players gone: Kenny Buckner
Top returning players: Anthony Drmic, Jeff Elorriaga, Igor Hadziomerovic, Derrick Marks, Mikey Thompson, Ryan Watkins
The Mountain West is expanding, but teams like Colorado State, UNLV and San Diego State are in transition. With two of the league’s top returning scorers, Boise State is geared up for another run to the NCAA Tournament. Leading the four-guard lineup, Drmic averaged 17.7 points, and Marks averaged 16.3.

9. SAN DIEGO STATE (23-11, 9-7 Mountain West, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Jamaal Franklin, James Rahon, Chase Tapley
Top returning players: J.J. O’Brien, Xavier Thames, Winston Shepard)
New faces: Josh Davis (transfer from Tulane)
The Aztecs have absorbed the loss of Kawhi Leonard and other key pieces in recent years. The next step is to replace Franklin, their top player the last two years, and the clutch Tapley. The key is the sophomore Shepard, a five-star recruit who averaged 5.7 points last season. Davis is a major pickup after averaging 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds for Tulane in 2012-13.

10. UNLV (25-10, 10-6 Mountain West, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Anthony Bennett, Anthony Marshall, Mike Moser, Katin Reinhardt
Top returning players: Khem Birch, Bryce Dejean-Jones
New faces: Jelan Kendrick (junior college), Christian Wood (freshman)
UNLV was the most talented team in a deep Mountain West, but the Runnin’ Rebels finished third in the league before losing to Cal in the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels will have eight players who were top-100 recruits at some point, and that’s taking into account the departures of Reinhardt and Moser via transfer. With something of a revolving door on the roster, the results have been mixed under Dave Rice.

And 1: BYU (24-12, 10-6 West Coast, NIT semifinal)
Key players gone: Brandon Davies, Brock Zylstra
Top returning players: Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino, Josh Sharp
New faces: Kyle Collinsworth (returning from mission) Eric Mika (freshman)
BYU missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven seasons in 2013, but the Cougars could return in 2014. The backcourt will lead the way with Haws and his 21.7 points per game leading the way. With Davies gone, BYU will need the power forward Mika to make an instant impact.

<p> The key mid-majors to watch for 2013-14.</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: New England Patriots, Tim Tebow, NFL
Path: /nfl/tebow-patriots-why-it-will-work-why-it-wont

Tim Tebow’s first minicamp workout as a Patriot is finished (he went 4 for 7). His jersey is on sale (he’ll wear No. 5). And New England coach Bill Belichick has thrown his first wet blanket on Tebowmania (“We’ll see how it goes”).

Just as Tebow’s NFL career hung by a thread, the Patriots swooped in and gave him a shot of reclaiming his pro career. Whether he’s a quarterback or a multi-faceted offensive weapon (or linebacker, for that matter) is up in the air.

Here are a few reasons Tebow and Pats are a good match, a few reasons it might fail and insight from the experts.

Why it might work

He won’t sniff the starting quarterback job.
The backup quarterback for Tom Brady is a little less popular than the one for Mark Sanchez, to say nothing of the third-stringer. Tebow starts behind Brady and Ryan Mallett, signaling Tebow’s status as an experiment. An injury to Brady is the only thing separating the Patriots from the “Tebow should start” firestorm, but Brady has made 71 consecutive starts.

He can flourish as a specialist.
The theory is that Belichick will find a way to capitalize on Tebow’s size, toughness and athleticism. New England is where a linebacker became a red zone receiving threat, where a Jets castoff from Chadron State amassed more than 2,100 yards from scrimmage in three seasons, where a converted MAC quarterback has been a key contributor on special teams and as receiver, and where a veteran receiver played cornerback during a Super Bowl run.

Even if Tebow is not a Mike Vrabel, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman or Troy Brown, he’s still the only read option quarterback on the Patriots’ roster. And with the two-year-old rule allowing emergency quarterbacks to be active for the entire game, Belichick has extra flexibility.

He’s in the right organization.
Tebow’s hometown organization of Jacksonville wanted nothing to do with him, so this is as close as a homecoming as the lefty could have. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted him in Denver, Belichick and former Florida coach Urban Meyer are close colleagues (and Vrabel is now Meyer’s linebackers coach at Ohio State). Three other members of Florida’s 2008 title team are on the Pats’ roster -- tight end Aaron Hernandez, linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham.

Why it might not work

He’s not suited to any position, provided he’s willing to move
Here’s what we know: Tebow is a liability as a passer. He’s a physical runner taking direct snaps or scrambling. There’s little evidence other than his build that suggests Tebow can play tight end, fullback or H-back in the NFL. Tebow has never caught a pass at the collegiate or pro level. He may not be the next Brad Smith or Kordell Stewart. That, of course, assumes Tebow is willing to be Belichick’s and McRoberts’ wild card in the offense in the first place.

Brady gets hurt
Even the most ardent (and sane) Tebow fan can live with the lefty backing up Brady, but what if Brady’s out of the picture? He’ll be 36 years old and already missed a season to a torn ACL. If Tebow is in a realistic position to start for New England, expect the Tebow brigade to speak up.

Reaction from the experts:

• USA Today’s Dan Shanoff, who established the TimTeblog, wrote in April he thought the Patriots were always the most logical landing spot. “Watch Belichich get Tebow 10 TDs, just to show he can.” Shanoff lists some of the same reasons Athlon did as to why it may work in New England, but notes some of the intangibles and the possibilities of it works out:

Just when you think things can’t get any more crazy, they do. Forget how last season played out and consider the long game: Given the widespread animus for both Tim Tebow and Boston sports teams/fans, it would take the Tebow insanity to new levels.

• Chris Brown at Smart Football notes Tebow has improved little as passer, especially since regressing at Florida in 2009, but he’s modestly hopeful he can clean up his deficiencies now that he’s in the right spot.

I still would: his flaws then are still his flaws now, but the talent is still there too, though somewhat obscured. The question is whether, in 2013, it’s too late for Tebow to learn any better. - See more at:
I still would: his flaws then are still his flaws now, but the talent is still there too, though somewhat obscured. The question is whether, in 2013, it’s too late for Tebow to learn any better. - See more at:
his flaws then are still his flaws now, but the talent is still there too, though somewhat obscured. The question is whether, in 2013, it’s too late for Tebow to learn any better. - See more at:

His flaws (in 2005) are still his flaws now, but the talent is still there too, though somewhat obscured. The question is whether, in 2013, it’s too late for Tebow to learn any better.

• Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media looks at the media circus angle for the Patriots. Yes, it’s going to be crazy at first. It’s red meat for the talking heads, but the media throng will shrink eventually. Timothy Burke at Deadspin notes ESPN mentioned Tebow 137 times in 120 minutes Tuesday.

• Ben Volin, who covered Florida during the 2008 national championship run, is back on the Tebow beat now that he covers the Pats for the Boston Globe. He’s one of the myriad reporters and columnists saying Tebow has landed in the perfect spot.

In theory, Tebow is athletic enough to be a “slash” type of player like Kordell Stewart or Jim “Crash” Jensen. He’s big enough to play tight end (6 feet 3 inches, 236 pounds), smashes into defenders hard enough to play fullback, and throws well enough to be a trick-play asset on special teams.

• And on to the only place where Tebow is a sure thing: The Patriots opened the online store for Tebow jerseys, as noted by Sports Grid. The Pats’ email was sent before Tebow had a jersey number (Mallett wears No. 15, Tebow will wear No. 5).

• Odds are you’ll read some unintentionally bad columns about the Tebow signing. Might as well read one that’s trying to be awful from Grantland’s Andrew Sharp.  The tally: 36 paragraphs, 19 of them are a sentence or less.

<p> Are Belichick and Tebow a perfect match?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 14:35
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-early-rankings-pac-12

After several seasons in the wilderness, the Pac-12 finally started to regain some respect last season.

Five league teams reached the NCAA Tournament, the most since 2009. Three teams were ranked in the final Associated Press top 25 before the Tournament. And two teams reached the Sweet 16 with Arizona losing to Ohio State and Oregon losing to eventual national champion Louisville.

Now, it’s time to see if the Pac-12 can avoid slipping back to where it was two seasons ago.

Only three of 10 members of the Pac-12’s official first-team all-conference squad return, and none plays for traditional powers (Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie and Stanford’s Dwight Powell). Meanwhile, one of those traditional powers is starting over, at least on the bench. Steve Alford takes over at UCLA where he inherits a talented roster, but these are the same players who couldn’t save Ben Howland.

Led by Nick Johnson, Arizona may be the most equipped to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have coaching stability, returning veterans and an influx of talented newcomers.

Beyond UCLA and Arizona, here is who is back, who is gone and who is on the way in the Pac-12 for 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others (June 13)

1. ARIZONA (27-6, 12-6, NCAA Sweet 16)
Key players gone: Angelo Chol, Solomon Hill, Grant Jerrett, Mark Lyons, Keith Parrom
Top returners: Brandon Ashley, Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski
New faces: Aaron Gordon (freshman), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (freshman), T.J. McConnell (transfer from Duquesne), Elliott Pitts (freshman)
The top two scorers, Lyons and Hill, exhausted their eligibility, and Jerrett made a surprising call to enter the NBA Draft. Still, the Wildcats expect to be the Pac-12 favorites and a top-10 team. T.J. McConnell will take over at point guard after averaging 11.1 points, 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds in two seasons at Duquesne. He and Johnson (11.5 ppg) should make a solid backcourt pairing. Arizona also adds two freshman wings in Hollis-Jefferson and Gordon, a 6-8 forward who was the fourth-ranked recruit in the 2013 class. The key to the season may be getting Gordon to play the four.

Related: UCLA among top recruiting classes since 2000

2. UCLA (25-10, 13-5, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Shabazz Muhammad, Larry Drew II
Top returners: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker, Norman Powell, David Wear, Travis Wear
New faces: Wannah Bail (former Texas Tech signee), Zach LaVine (freshman)
After several seasons of underachieving, player departures and off-court distractions, UCLA hopes to move on under Steve Alford (with mixed results so far). Alford starts his tenure in Westwood with a good sophomore nucleus in Adams and Anderson. Other freshmen received more fanfare last season, but Adams was arguably UCLA’s most important player -- the Bruins lost to Oregon and Minnesota in the last two games without him. Beyond the sophomores, the Bruins need someone to take over the point guard spot vacated by Drew, who was fourth in the nation in assists. This team has the talent for another Pac-12 title, but UCLA has not been able to capitalize in recent years.

Related: Conference snapshot: Big 12

3. COLORADO (21-12, 10-8, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Jeremy Adams, Sabatino Chen, Andre Roberson
Top returners: Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie, Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott
New faces: Tre’Shaun Fletcher (freshman)
Even without Roberson, Colorado returns four of its top five scorers. Dinwiddie (15.3 ppg) and Booker (12.4 ppg) give the Buffaloes one of the league’s best backcourts. The biggest void will be on the glass, where Roberson accounted for more than a quarter of Colorado’s rebounds. The Buffaloes’ two top freshmen from last season, Scott and Johnson, will need to fill the void. Colorado should be able to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: ACC

4. OREGON (28-9, 12-6, NCAA Sweet 16)
Key players gone: Carlos Emory, Arsalan Kazemi, Willie Moore, E.J. Singler, Tony Woods
Top returners: Dominic Artis, Ben Carter, Damyean Dotson, Johnathan Loyd
New faces: Jordan Bell (freshman), Elgin Cook (junior college transfer), Mike Moser (transfer from UNLV)
The sophomore Dotson is the only one of Oregon’s top five scorers returning. Perhaps more than that, Oregon will miss Kazemi’s defensive prowess. Still, coach Dana Altman has enough at his disposal for another NCAA berth. Moser struggled in his last season at UNLV when Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch squeezed him from his natural role closer to the basket, but Moser was an All-America candidate before the season. As a freshman, Artis shot only 37.2 percent from the field, but Oregon was at its best with him running the point.

Related: Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

5. STANFORD (19-15, 9-9, NIT second round)
Key players gone: Andy Brown, Gabriel Harris
Top returners: Roscoe Allen, Aaron Bright, John Gage, Josh Huestis, Robbie Lemons, Stefan Nastic, Dwight Powell, Chasson Randle, Christian Sanders
New faces: Marcus Allen (freshman)
Stanford returns nearly every notable player from last season, including the top four scorers. Powell and Huestis were double-double threats on a nightly basis, but that hasn’t translated to a breakout season for the Cardinal under Johnny Dawkins. In his sixth season at Stanford, Dawkins is under pressure to produce an NCAA Tournament team.

Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves

6. CAL (21-12, 12-6, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Bak Bak, Allen Crabbe, Brandon Smith, Robert Thurman
Top returners: Justin Cobbs, David Kravish, Ricky Kreklow, Richard Solomon, Tyrone Wallace
New faces: Jabari Bird (freshman)
Crabbe (18.4 ppg) is a major departure for a team that struggled at times offensively. Bird, a 6-6 guard, could step into Crabbe’s spot and make a quick impact as a freshman alongside the veteran Cobbs (15.1 ppg). Solomon and Kravish form a solid, veteran frontcourt duo. There’s not a lot that jumps off the page for Cal, but the Bears should remain a postseason contender.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: American

7. ARIZONA STATE (22-13, 9-9, NIT second round)
Key players gone: Chris Colvin, Carrick Felix, Evan Gordon
Top returners: Jordan Bachynski, Jahii Carson, Jonathan Gilling
New faces: Richie Edwards (transfer from Valparaiso), Sai Tummala (junior college transfer)
The point guard Carson elected to return to school, and he’ll be one of the top players in the league. The sophomore will need some help around him, though, as Felix (14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg) graduated and Gordon (10.1 ppg) transferred to Indiana. Bachynski, a 7-2 senior, will anchor the frontcourt while 6-7 forward Gilling will provide perimeter shooting after leading the Pac-12 in 3-point attempts and baskets last season.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big East

8. WASHINGTON (18-16, 9-9, NIT first round)
Key players gone: Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye, Scott Suggs
Top returners: Andrew Andrews, Jernard Jarreau, Shawn Kemp Jr., Desmond Simmons, C.J. Wilcox
New faces: Perris Blackwell (transfer from San Francisco), Darin Johnson (freshman), Nigel Williams-Goss (freshman)
Washington is looking to rebound from back-to-back NIT appearances, though the Huskies did win the 2012 Pac-12 regular season title. Wilcox will hope to be healthy for a full season after averaging 16.8 points per game last year despite playing on a bad foot late last season. The sophomore Andrews and freshman Williams-Goss will look to lock down the point guard spot with Gaddy gone, and the 6-9 Blackwell should be an impact transfer after averaging 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds at San Francisco two seasons ago.

9. OREGON STATE (14-18, 4-14)
Key players gone: Joe Burton, Ahmad Starks
Top returners: Charlie Barton, Devon Collier, Eric Moreland, Roberto Nelson, Jarmal Reid, Olaf Schaftenaar
New faces: Angus Brandt (returning from ACL injury)
Oregon State will look for a rebound season in 2013-14 with the top two leading scorers returning in Nelson (17.8 ppg) and Collier (12.6). Moreland, who nearly averaged a double-double at 9.4 points and 10.6 rebounds, is also back. Perhaps the most important improvement in personnel is the return of Brandt, who started as a sophomore and junior before missing all but four games last season with a torn ACL.

10. USC (14-18, 9-9)
Key players gone: Dewayne Dedmon, Jio Fontan, Eric Wise, Renardo Woolridge
Top returners: Chass Bryan, Omar Oraby, Ari Stewart, J.T. Terrell, Byron Wesley
After Dedmon’s surprising leap to the NBA Draft, USC returns only two players who averaged more than 15 minutes per game. Point guard also may be a troublesome issue as Andy Enfield begins his rebuilding job with the Trojans.

11. UTAH (15-18, 5-13)
Key players gone: Glen Dean, Jarred DuBois, Cedric Martin, Justin Seymour, Jason Washburn
Top returners: Dallin Bachynski, Jordan Loveridge, Brandon Taylor
Utah showed signs of progress at the end of last season, earning nearly as many Pac-12 wins (five) as overall wins from the previous season (six). Utah will build around Loveridge, who averaged 12.1 points and seven rounds as a freshman. The Utes still have a long way to go after loading up on junior college players to fill out the roster.

12. WASHINGTON STATE (13-19, 4-14)
Key players gone: Mike Ladd, Brock Motum
Top returners: Will DiIorio, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Devonte Lacy, D.J. Shelton, Royce Woolridge
New faces: Que Johnson (partial qualifier), Brett Kingma (Oregon transfer), Jordan Railey (transfer from Washington State)
The Cougars’ top player, Motum, is gone, and they have few options to replace him. Que Johnson was Washington State’s top recruit last season, but he did not play as a partial qualifier. Coach Ken Bone will be looking for answers if Washington State is gong to be competitive.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the Pac-12 for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 11:45
Path: /college-football/most-shameful-college-football-games-2013

Everyone likes to win on Homecoming. A quick warm-up game to start the season isn’t bad, either.

The problem is, every program has to pay the bills, too. Guarantee games, in which major programs shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for games against overmatched opponents from the lower levels, are one of the downsides of college football.

Not all of these games are awful. Every year a few FCS teams, despite fewer scholarships and resources, step up to beat a major program (right, Michigan?).

But most don’t have a chance. These are the games both sides should be embarrassed to play.

This season, Miami and Al Golden receive top honors in this category, though it was a tough call. Oregon will fly a Louisiana team all the way up to Eugene just for a warm-up for two non-conference games against AQ opponents. But Miami gets the nod after we saw last season what happens when Savannah State faces a major conference team (or two).

A few things to establish:

• A shameful game is a proven, major conference program hosting a bad FCS team. And a bad FCS team isn’t just a team with a poor record last year. These are teams that have been the worst of the worst in lower Division I for a few seasons.

• Extra shame points go to teams bringing a bad FCS team across state lines and time zones. If a big-time FBS team is going to crush an overmatched opponent, giving an in-state or regional team a brief taste of major college football is the least the big brother can do.

• Lastly — and this is very important — we do not care why this game was scheduled, and we do not care what other games are on the schedule this season. Last year, Florida State picked up Savannah State because West Virginia backed out of a non-conference game last year. Seminoles fans still wasted time and money to watch a 55-0 beatdown.

So take our advice, skip these games. Don’t buy a ticket. Don’t watch on TV. And athletic directors on both sides, have a little dignity and stop scheduling these opponents.


1. Sept. 21: Savannah State (1-10, 0-8 MEAC) at Miami (team preview)
Welcome back, Savannah State. A year ago, Savannah State earned $860,000 just for losing by a combined 139-0 to Oklahoma State and Florida State to start the season. Mike Gundy practically apologized for not being able to stop his team from running up the score, but at least Florida State failed to cover the 69.5-point spread by winning 55-0. Last year, Savannah State was ranked 243rd among 247 Division I teams in the Sagarin ratings, earning its only win over Edward Waters of the NAIA. Miami coaching legend Howard Schnellenberger once said he’d play anyone, anywhere. This was not what he had in mind.

2. Aug. 31: Nicholls State (1-10, 0-8 Southland) at Oregon (team preview)
Generally, Oregon does a good job with its non-conference schedule. In recent years, the Ducks have faced LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Boise State and Fresno State with a handful of those games coming away from Eugene. Offsetting those games have been FCS guarantee games: Tennessee Tech, Missouri State and Portland State in the past three seasons. This year, the Ducks open with Nicholls State before facing Tennessee and Virginia. Oregon will bring the Colonels all the way from Thibodaux, La., to Eugene; a team that has gone 2-20 the past two seasons. And it doesn't look to get much better. After losing to Oregon State 77-3 in the final game of 2012, Nicholls State will face four consecutive FBS teams by visiting Western Michigan and Louisiana-Lafayette after Oregon.

3. Sept. 21: Idaho State (1-10, 0-8 Big Sky) at Washington (team preview)
Like Oregon, Washington isn’t afraid of stepping out of the Pac-12 for a big matchup. The Huskies have faced LSU, Nebraska, BYU, Boise State, Oklahoma and Syracuse in recent seasons. Washington opens with Boise State and Illinois before facing Idaho State, but as we said, that’s no excuse. Idaho State has gone 6-50 in the last five seasons and hasn’t won more than two games in a year since 2007.

4. Nov. 16: Idaho State at BYU (team preview)
Even if finding games is tough for an independent, BYU doesn’t get a free pass for scheduling the Bengals, either.

5. Sept. 14: Lamar (4-8, 1-6 Southland) at Oklahoma State (team preview)
Lamar didn’t play football from 1990-2009, but now the Cardinals find themselves playing in Stillwater four years after resuming the program. A signal of perhaps how this game could go: Lamar lost 54-2 for Hawaii’s only win before Thanksgiving last season.

6. Aug. 31: Austin Peay (2-9, 1-7 OVC) at Tennessee (team preview)
Butch Jones was the coach at Cincinnati in 2011 when the Bearcats defeated Austin Peay 72-10. Now, he gets to do the same as Tennessee’s coach. Austin Peay has had one winning season since 1984 and didn’t return to scholarship football until 2006.

7. Oct. 12: Western Carolina (1-10, 0-8 Southern) at Auburn (team preview)
As bad as Auburn was last season, the Tigers could handle the FCS and the lower levels of FBS. In 2012, Auburn defeated New Mexico State and Alabama A&M by a combined score of 93-14. Meanwhile, Western Carolina has gone 12-66 the last seven seasons which includes shutout losses to Florida, Florida State and Vanderbilt.

8. Aug. 29: Presbyterian (2-9, 0-6 Big South) at Wake Forest (team preview)
What should make this game more shameful for Wake Forest? That Presbyterian won two games last season with one over a Division II team that went 2-9? Or that the Blue Hose lost to Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt by a combined score of 117-3? Presbyterian is 12-44 in the last five seasons and ranked 240th in Sagarin last year.

9. Sept. 7: Tennessee Tech (3-8, 1-7 OVC) at Wisconsin (team preview)
Even with former Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech went 3-8 last season, including a 63-14 loss to Oregon. Interesting factoid: Provided Tennessee Tech defeats NAIA Cumberland University in the opener, coach Watson Brown against Wisconsin will “earn” his 191st career loss, passing Amos Alonzo Stagg for the all-time record (tip of the hat to Athlon’s Rob Doster).

10. Sept. 7: South Dakota (1-10, 0-10 MVC) at Kansas (team preview)
Kansas had better win this one, that’s for sure. South Dakota went 1-10 last season in the first season under Joe Glenn, who was fired at Wyoming in 2008 but was successful in the lower divisions at Northern Colorado and Montana.

11. Sept. 21: VMI (2-9, 1-5 Big South) at Virginia (team preview)
Keeping the guarantee money in state is one thing, but this game is egregiously bad. Better to treat this game as a financial transaction than a source of entertainment. VMI is 19-80 since 2004 and was ranked 238th in Sagarin last season.

12. Sept. 7: Southeast Missouri State (3-8, 2-6 OVC) at Ole Miss (team preview)
Ole Miss just signed the nation’s No. 1 recruit, while SEMO is 6-16 the last two seasons with one winning season in the last decade.

13. Nov. 16: Chattanooga (6-5, 5-3 Southern) at Alabama (team preview)
Chattanooga is a mediocre FCS team, but Alabama has been proto-NFL for the last five seasons.

14. Sept. 14: Western Illinois (3-8, 1-7 MVC) at Minnesota (team preview)
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has made the rounds at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois. Maybe he’ll show a little compassion for a Western Illinois team that scored 17 points in its final five games last season.

15. Sept. 7: Missouri State (3-8, 3-5 MVC) at Iowa (team preview)
There’s no shame in losing big to Kansas State and Louisville as Missouri State did last season, but the Bears have not won more than six games since 1996.

<p> Which major powers should be embarrassed for these guarantee games?</p>
Post date: Friday, June 7, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-big-12-early-rankings

The Big 12 enjoyed one of the best offseasons of any major conference. Or at least one that will help the league enter 2013-14 with some degree of renown.

First, point guard Marcus Smart elected to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, turning the Cowboys into a potential top-15 team. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin followed suit by staying in school as well. Then, Bill Self landed mega-recruit Andrew Wiggins, prying him from Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.

Kansas and Oklahoma State will enter the 2013-14 season as frontline teams in the Big 12 with Baylor knocking on the door.

Iowa State and Oklahoma have enough personnel returning -- and arriving via transfer -- to keep those schools competitive. In the bottom half of the league, Texas and West Virginia were once consistent NCAA Tournament teams, but both are continuing to rebuild.

Here’s a quick look at the comings and goings in the Big 12 for 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
Big East
Big Ten
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others

1. KANSAS (31-6, 14-4, NCAA Sweet 16)

Key players gone: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young

Top returning players: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe

New faces: Tarik Black (transfer from Memphis) Joel Embiid (freshman), Conner Frankamp (freshman), Brannen Green (freshman), Landen Lucas (redshirt), Wayne Selden (freshman), Andrew Wiggins (freshman)
Kansas lost all five starters, but the Jayhawks had as good an offseason as any team. Kansas added the nation’s No. 1 prospect in Wiggins, a 6-8 wing who could be an elite defender on the college level. Moreover, Wiggins’ signing boosted a recruiting class that was already one of the nation’s best with three other top-50 recruits. Kansas also added coveted Memphis transfer Tarik Black, a solid big man who will add experience to the young roster. The Jayhawks also will expect a breakout season from Ellis, who averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 13.6 minutes last season.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: ACC

2. OKLAHOMA STATE (24-9, 13-5, NCAA round of 64)

Key players gone: Philip Jurick

Top returners: Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart
New faces: Stevie Clark, Detrick Mostella (freshmen)
Before Wiggins picked Kansas, Oklahoma State looked like a clear favorite in the Big 12. With Smart’s surprising return to school, Oklahoma State will still have an edge in experience over Kansas. Smart will be a player of the year candidate and has the supporting cast to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament with fellow McDonald’s All-American Nash plus Brown and Forte. All four averaged at least 10 points per game.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

3. BAYLOR (23-14, 9-9, NIT champions)
Key players gone: Deuce Bello, Pierre Jackson, A.J. Walton
Top returners: Isaiah Austin, Gary Franklin, Rico Gathers, Brady Heslip, Cory Jefferson 
New faces: Allerik Freeman, Johnathan Motley, Ishmail Wainright (freshmen)
Baylor has the roster to be a top-25 team and Big 12 contender, but the Bears continue to confound. The return of the 7-foot-1 Austin was a major boost for Baylor’s 2014 prospects along with the presence of three seniors (Franklin, Heslip and Jefferson). The frontcourt should be a strength, but Heslip needs help on the perimeter. The good news? Baylor has reached the Tourney in each of the past three even-numbered years.

Related: Top recruiting classes since 2000

4. IOWA STATE (23-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Chris Babb, Anthony Booker, Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee
Top returners: Melvin Ejim, Percy Gibson, Georges Niang
New faces: DeAndre Kane (transfer from Marshall), Monte Morris (freshman), Matt Thomas (freshman)
The top two scorers, Clyburn and McGee, are gone along with the point guard Lucious, but coach Fred Hoiberg will find a way to get the most out of his roster. The transfer pipeline to Ames continues with Kane, who averaged 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in three seasons at Marshall. With Niang (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Ejim (11.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg), Iowa State is a lock for another 20 wins and NCAA appearance.

Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves

5. KANSAS STATE (27-8, 14-4, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Jordan Henriquez, Montravious Irving, Rodney McGruder, Angel Rodriguez
Top returners: Thomas Gipson, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling, Nino Williams
New faces: Neville Fincher (prep school)
Bruce Weber did a great job with the returning cast -- at least before an early Tournament exit. Without the top two scorers (McGruder and Rodriguez, who transferred to Miami), Weber’s job is a little tougher. The returning cast of Southwell, Gipson, Spradling and Irving all saw plenty of work last season.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: American

6. OKLAHOMA (20-12, 11-7, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms, Amath M’Baye, Romero Osby, Steven Pledger
Top returners: Isaiah Cousins, Cameron Clark, Bobby Hield, Je’Lon Hornbeak
New faces: D.J. Bennett (junior college transfer), Ryan Spangler (transfer from Gonzaga)
Lon Kruger again proved to be an expert rebuilder, leading Oklahoma to its first winning season and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009. In 2013-14, the Sooners lose their top three scorers, all of whom averaged double figures. The rising sophomore class of Hield, Hornbeak and Cousins played plenty of minutes last season and will be expected to take a bigger role. Newcomers Bennett and Spangler, a pair of 6-8 forwards, give OU a little bit of size the Sooners sorely need.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big East

7. WEST VIRGINIA (13-19, 6-12)
Key players gone: Jabarie Hinds, Deniz Kilicli
Top returners: Gary Browne, Eron Harris, Terry Henderson, Aaric Murray, Juwan Staten
New faces: Remi Dibo (junior college transfer), Jonathan Holton (junior college transfer), Elijah Macon (prep school), Devin Williams (freshman)
West Virginia lost seven in a row to seal the first losing season for Bob Huggins since his first as a Division I coach at Akron in 1984-85. Losing Kilicli is a big loss, but two freshmen and two junior college signees will look to fill that spot in the frontcourt alongside Murray. Williams will help on the glass while Macon, who committed to West Virginia out of high school before going to prep school, can shoot from outside.

8. TEXAS (16-18, 7-11, CBI first round)
Key players gone: Jaylen Bond, Myck Kabongo, Julien Lewis, Sheldon McClellan
Top returners: Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes, Prince Ibeh, Demarcus Holland, Connor Lammert, Ioannis Papapetrou, Cameron Ridley
Texas is coming off its worst season under Rick Barnes, and answers don’t seem to be immediate. The top three scorers -- which included Kabongo in only 11 games -- are gone. Perhaps this will be addition by subtraction, but Texas’ recruiting prowess has diminished in recent years. The Longhorns bring in no top-100 recruits in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

9. TCU (11-21, 2-16)
Key players gone: Nate Butler Lind, Cornell Crossland, Garlon Green, Adrick McKinney
Top returners: Devonta Abron, Kyan Anderson, Charles Hill, Jarvis Ray
New faces: Amric Fields (injured last season), Karviar Shepherd (freshman)
Aside from the shocking upset of Kansas on Feb. 6, TCU was as overmatched as expected in its first season in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs might not be a Tournament team, but they could be better in 2013-14. The leading scorer Anderson is back, and Fields, the Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore, played only three games last season due to injury. TCU also signed a top-50 recruit in Shepherd.

10. TEXAS TECH (11-20, 3-15)
Key players gone: Josh Gray, Ty Nurse
Top returners: Jaye Crockett, Dejan Kravic, Dusty Hannahs, Daylen Robinson, Jordan Tolbert, Jamal Williams
New faces: Aaron Ross (redshirt)
Texas Tech had one senior on last season’s team, but assist-leader Josh Gray left for junior college. Tubby Smith inherits some experience in his first season at Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders aren’t ready to compete in the Big 12.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the Big 12 for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 10:40
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-early-rankings-acc

Even before adding the 2013 national champion, the ACC could reclaim its spot as the nation’s premier basketball conference.

In 2013-14, the ACC adds another bona fide basketball powerhouse in Syracuse, plus consistent Big East programs Pittsburgh and Notre Dame to expand to 15 teams. And that’s before Louisville takes the spot of Big Ten-bound Maryland in 2014.

As the ACC gears up for Syracuse playing in Cameron Indoor Stadium and North Carolina heading north to the Carrier Dome, it may be tempting to forget that the Florida schools — Miami in 2013 and Florida State in 2012 — won the last two ACC tournaments.

Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse should be on top again, but teams like Virginia, Maryland and even Boston College return enough parts to be surprise squads in 2013-14 as Notre Dame and Pitt help build the depth in the league.

Here’s a quick look at the ACC with who’s back and who’s gone for the new 15-team league in 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12 (June 6)
Pac-12 (June 11)
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others (June 13)

1. DUKE (30-6, 14-4 ACC, NCAA Elite Eight)
Key players gone: Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee
Top returners: Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee, Rasheed Sulaimon, Tyler Thornton
New faces: Rodney Hood (Mississippi State transfer), Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye, Jabari Parker (freshmen)
The losses of Curry, Kelly and Plumlee are huge, but Duke will be fine. The backcourt will be among the deepest in the country. Sulaimon stood out on the defensive end and proved capable of carrying the scoring load. Cook was second in the ACC in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. The freshman Parker, a 6-8 wing, will add some versatility to the lineup. Hood averaged 10.3 points at Mississippi State in 2011-12, and Dawkins averaged better than eight points per game in each of his last two seasons before sitting out in 2012-13.

Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves

2. NORTH CAROLINA (25-11, 12-6 ACC, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Reggie Bullock, Dexter Strickland
Top returners: P.J. Hairston, James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald, Marcus Paige
New faces: Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks (freshmen)
McAdoo and Hairston both elected to return to school after North Carolina struggled to live up to expectations last season. The Tar Heels didn’t find their groove until going to a four-guard lineup, so it will be interesting to see how incoming freshmen big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks impact the rotation. The Tar Heels’ hopes hinge on the development of McAdoo and Paige.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

3. SYRACUSE (30-10, 11-7 Big East, NCAA Final Four)
Key players gone: Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland, Brandon Triche
Top returners: Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, Baye Keita
New faces: Tyler Ennis, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson (freshmen)
Replacing the starting backcourt of Carter-Williams and Triche will be challenging as the Orange move to the ACC. Syracuse is counting on incoming point guard Ennis and shooting guard Patterson, who signed with Indiana before going to prep school, to take those roles. Fair is the only returning player who averaged more than 5.1 points last season. He’ll contend for ACC Player of the Year honors.

Related: Syracuse, Melo among top recruiting classes since 2000

4. NOTRE DAME (25-10, 11-7 Big East, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Jack Cooley, Scott Martin
Top returners: Eric Atkins, Zach Auguste, Cameron Biedscheid, Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant, Tom Knight, Garrick Sherman
New faces: V.J. Beachem, Demetrius Jackson (freshmen)
Mike Brey’s program at Notre Dame is as consistent as they come, winning between 21 and 27 games in each of the last seven seasons (the flip side is no Sweet 16 appearances in that span). Cooley, who averaged a double-double, is gone, and the Irish will have some long road trips into the Southeast and Tobacco Road. But the Irish return their leading scorer Grant among seven of the top nine regulars from a year ago.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: American

5. VIRGINIA (23-12, 11-7 ACC, NIT quarterfinal)
Key players gone: Jontel Evans, Paul Jesperson
Top returners: Justin Anderson, Darion Atkins, Joe Harris, Teven Jones, Akil Mitchell, Evan Nolte, Mike Tobey
New faces: Anthony Gill (transfer from South Carolina)
Virginia had too many bad losses to get into the NCAA Tournament last season. Perhaps a year of seasoning for Harris, Mitchell, Anderson and Tobey will bring more consistency. If so, the Cavs could finish among the top teams in the ACC. A major question mark may be at point guard, where Virginia adds two freshmen at the position.

6. PITTSBURGH (24-9, 12-6 Big East, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Steven Adams, J.J. Moore, Dante Taylor, Tray Woodall, Trey Zeigler
Top returners: Durand Johnson, Lamar Patterson, James Robinson, Cameron Wright, Talib Zanna
New faces: Michael Young (freshman)
Adams will be a high draft pick, but he averaged only 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in his lone season at Pitt. The bigger loss is Woodall (11.5 ppg, 5.1 apg). Moore and Zeigler also left via transfer. That means Patterson and Zanna will need to carry the Panthers in their new league. The point guard Robinson averaged 3.5 assists in 26.6 minutes as a freshman, so he’ll be expected to take a jump with Woodall gone.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big East

7. MARYLAND (25-13, 8-10 ACC, NIT semifinal)
Key players gone: Logan Aronhalt, Pe’Shon Howard, Alex Len, James Padgett
Top returners: Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare, Nick Faust, Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, Dez Wells
New faces: Roddy Peters (freshman), Evan Smotrycz (transfer from Michigan)
Len’s departure for the NBA draft hurts, but the Terrapins could have a squad ready to play in the NCAA Tournament. A handful of freshmen played last season in supporting roles, but Wells and Faust will be the leaders in the backcourt. The Terps’ prospects will be much better if the freshman Peters can hold down the point guard spot.

8. FLORIDA STATE (18-16, 9-9 ACC, NIT first round)
Key players gone: Terrance Shannon, Michael Snaer, Terry Whisnant
Top returners: Boris Bojanovsky, Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon, Ian Miller, Aaron Thomas, Kiel Turpin, Okaro White
New faces: Xavier Rathan-Mayes (freshman)
Florida State likely would have been a top-25 team had the nation’s top recruit, Andrew Wiggins, picked the Seminoles on May 13. FSU loses a go-to shooter in Snaer, and Shannon (VCU), while Whisnant (East Carolina) also elected to transfer. White (12.4 points per game) is the only returning player who averaged more than seven points per game, but the Seminoles have brought in three top-70 recruits in the last two recruiting cycles.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: SEC

9. BOSTON COLLEGE (16-17, 7-11 ACC)
Key players gone: Andrew Van Nest
Top returners: Ryan Anderson, Dennis Clifford, Oliver Hanlan, Patrick Heckmann, Lonnie Jackson, Eddie Odio, Joe Rahon
New faces: Alex Dragicevich (transfer from Notre Dame)
In three seasons, Steve Donahue has rebuilt the Boston College roster, yielding one of the ACC’s youngest teams the last two seasons. That comes full circle in 2013-14. The Eagles return every player who averaged at least 11 minutes per game last season. Boston College could approach the .500 mark in the league.

10. NC STATE (24-11, 11-7 ACC, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie, Rodney Purvis, Scott Wood
Top returners: T.J. Warren
New faces: BeeJay Anya, Anthony Barber (freshmen), Ralston Turner (transfer from LSU), Kyle Washington (freshman)
NC State is more or less starting over, which may not be a bad thing after the preseason ACC favorite finished fourth in the league and lost its first NCAA Tournament game. Warren (12.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg) is the top returner on a team that brings in another talented group of freshmen. Warren will be the clear leader here, but Turner (12.3 ppg at LSU in 2010-11) is another veteran.

11. GEORGIA TECH (16-15, 6-12 ACC)
Key players gone: Brandon Reed, Mfon Udofia
Top returners: Chris Bolden, Robert Carter, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Kammeon Holsey, Daniel Miller, John Morris
Georgia Tech hasn’t won 20 games since 2009-10, but the Yellow Jackets should get closer to that benchmark in Brian Gregory’s third season. The top four scorers are back, though none averaged more than 10.8 points per game. The frontcourt should be a strength with Carter, Holsey and Miller returning plus 6-5 wing Georges-Hunt.

12. MIAMI (29-7, 15-3 ACC, NCAA Sweet 16)
Key players gone: Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson, Kenny Kadji, Shane Larkin, Trey McKinney Jones, Durand Scott
Top returners: Rion Brown
New faces: Garrius Adams (redshirted last season), Angel Rodriguez (transfer from Kansas State)
No ACC team loses more than the defending conference champs. With Larkin heading to the NBA Draft, Miami lost its top six scorers. Brown proved capable of a 20-point game here and there last season, but he’ll need to do that more regularly. Adams, a point guard, was injured all of last season, while seven-foot center Tonye Jekiri needs to play more as a sophomore. Rodriguez will be a key addition if he receives a waiver to play immediately after averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 assists as a starter at Kansas State last season.

13. WAKE FOREST (13-18, 6-12 ACC)
Key players gone: Chase Fischer, C.J. Harris
Top returners: Arnaud William Adala Moto, Tyler Cavanaugh, Madison Jones, Travis McKie, Codi Miller-McIntyre, Aaron Roundtree III, Devin Thomas
New faces: Coron Williams (transfer from Robert Morris)
Wake Forest quietly won more ACC games (six) last season than it had in Jeff Bzdelik’s first two seasons combined (five). The bulk of last year’s team returns, minus leading scorer Harris. Williams was a three-point sharp-shooter at Robert Morris before transferring to Wake Forest as a graduate student.

14. CLEMSON (13-18, 5-13 ACC)
Key players gone: Devin Booker, Milton Jennings
Top returners: Adonis Filer, Rod Hall, Damarcus Harrison, K.J. McDaniels, Jordan Roper
Clemson lost 10 of its final 11 games, including seven in a row, for the Tigers’ first losing season since 2003-04. In Booker and Jennings, Clemson loses two of its top three scorers and top two rebounders. The remainder of the roster will be sophomores and juniors in 2013-14, so this could be the first of two key seasons for Brad Brownell.

15. VIRGINIA TECH (13-19, 4-14 ACC)
Key players gone: Robert Brown, Erick Green
Top returners: C.J. Barksdale, Christian Breyer, Jarell Eddie, Will Johnston, Cadarian Raines, Joey Van Zegeren, Marshall Wood
Virginia Tech won only four ACC games with the league’s top scorer, but now Green is gone. Brown, the Hokies’ third-leading scorer, transferred to UAB, so the expectations won't be great in James Johnson’s second season.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the ACC for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/9-college-football-teams-may-struggle-early

Yesterday, we looked at nine teams that could get off to quick starts thanks to manageable schedules in September and early October. Today, we’ll look at the other side.

These nine teams could have rough starts in 2013 thanks to difficult early season schedules.


ARIZONA STATE (Team Preview)
Sept. 5 Sacramento State (6-5, 5-4 Big Sky)
Sept. 14 Wisconsin (8-6, 5-4 Big Ten)
Sept. 21 at Stanford (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12)
Sept. 28 USC (7-6, 5-4 Pac-12)
Oct. 5 Notre Dame (Arlington) (12-1)

Arizona State had a top-25 offense last season, but the Sun Devils will face three top-20 defenses in the first five games (Wisconsin, Stanford and Notre Dame). Arizona State’s eight returning starters on defense also will be tested early, first by Wisconsin’s and Stanford’s physical run games, then by USC’s Marqise Lee. So if you’re keeping track, Arizona State will face the defending Pac-12 champion, the defending Big Ten champion and the BCS runner-up. And even Sacramento State defeated Colorado in Boulder last year.

Related: Athlon Sports preseason top 25 countdown

Aug. 31 Northwestern (10-3, 5-3 Big Ten)
Sept. 7 Portland State (3-8, 2-6 Big Sky)
Sept. 14 Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten)
Sept. 28 at Oregon (12-1, 8-1 Pac-12)

Sonny Dykes won’t have time to ease into his new gig at Cal. Oregon and Ohio State open the season in Athlon’s top three while Northwestern was ranked 24th. The Bears ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in total defense last season, so expect Kain Colter, Marcus Mariota and Braxton Miller to put up numbers. At least there’s Portland State to break up the misery.

Aug. 30 at Miami (7-5, 5-3 ACC)
Sept. 5 at East Carolina (8-5, 7-1 Conference USA)
Sept. 14 at USF (3-9, 1-6 Big East)
Sept. 21 Middle Tennessee (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)
Sept. 28 at Rice (7-6, 4-4 Conference USA)

FAU won’t see much of the stadium the Owls opened a few years ago. They start the season with three road games and only play in Boca Raton twice before November.

GEORGIA (Team Preview)
Aug. 31 at Clemson (11-2, 7-1 ACC)
Sept. 7 South Carolina (11-2, 6-2 SEC)
Sept. 21 North Texas (4-8, 3-5 Sun Belt)
Sept. 28 LSU (10-3, 6-2 SEC)

Georgia is Athlon’s pick to win the SEC East, but a 1-3 start is possible against Heisman contenders in the first two weeks of the season (Tajh Boyd and Jadeveon Clowney). If there’s a good time to face LSU, however, it may be early in the season as the Tigers find their legs on a rebuilding defense.

Aug. 29 USC (7-6, 5-3 Pac-12)
Sept. 7 at Oregon State (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12)
Sept. 21 at Nevada (7-6, 4-4 Mountain West)
Sept. 28 Fresno State (9-4, 7-1 Mountain West)
Oct. 5 San Jose State (11-2, 5-1 WAC)

Hawaii brought back the Rainbow Warriors nickname, a nickname that was nixed by June Jones. Hawaii has also gone back to pre-June Jones results. This opening schedule won’t help.

Aug. 29 at Vanderbilt (9-4, 5-3 SEC)
Sept. 7 Southeast Missouri State (3-8, 2-6 OVC)
Sept. 14 at Texas (9-4, 5-3 Big 12)
Sept. 28 at Alabama (13-1, 8-1 SEC)
Oct. 5 at Auburn (3-9, 0-8 SEC)
Oct. 12 Texas A&M (11-2, 6-2 SEC)
Oct. 19 LSU (10-3, 6-2 SEC)

Ole Miss won the Egg Bowl, won a bowl game and brought in a top-10 signing class. Still, maybe we should tap the brakes on the Rebels for now. The opening part of the schedule is brutal with four road games in the first five. We know about Alabama’s dominance and Vanderbilt’s resurgence, but don’t forget Texas defeated Ole Miss 66-31 last season. Welcoming Ole Miss back to Oxford are Texas A&M and LSU.

Aug. 30 Texas Tech (8-5, 4-5 Big 12)
Sept. 7 Montana State (11-2, 7-1 Big Sky)
Sept. 21 at Texas A&M (11-2, 6-2 SEC)
Sept. 28 at TCU (7-6, 4-5 Big 12)
Oct. 5 Rutgers (9-4, 5-2 Big East)

Before SMU begins play in the American Athletic Conference, the Mustangs will take a quick tour of its former Southwest Conference foes. SMU will have a tough time getting through Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU (the latter two on the road) with a win. Even SMU’s FCS opponent, Montana State, is expected to contend for that division’s title.

Aug. 31 Texas State (4-8, 2-4 WAC)
Sept. 7 at Nebraska (10-4, 7-2 Big Ten)
Sept. 14 at Arkansas (4-8, 2-6 SEC)
Sept. 28 at Boise State (11-2, 7-1 Mountain West)

After going 0-12 last season, Southern Miss probably needs to defeat Texas State in the opener to avoid extending its losing streak to 16 games. The game against Nebraska originally was scheduled to be in Hattiesburg but moved to Lincoln when Southern Miss needed the cash to buy out coach Ellis Johnson after one season.

Aug. 29 at Utah (5-7, 3-6 Pac-12)
Sept. 7 at Air Force (6-7, 5-3 Mountain West)
Sept. 14 Weber State (2-9, 2-6 Big Sky)
Sept. 21 at USC (7-6, 5-4 Pac-12)
Sept. 27 at San Jose State (11-2, 5-1 WAC)
Oct. 4 BYU (8-5)
Oct. 12 Boise State (11-2, 7-1 Mountain West)

Utah State enjoyed its best season in school history last season. Building momentum into 2013 may be tough with four of the first five games on the road. Before the Aggies play the first home Mountain West game -- against Boise State, no less -- Utah State will face two conference teams on the road (Air Force, San Jose State), two Pac-12 teams on the road (Utah and USC) and two in-state rivals (at Utah, BYU).

<p> Tough early schedules could trip up these teams in September</p>
Post date: Friday, May 31, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-big-east-early-rankings

The Big East will be a new league with an old name. One of the big storylines for the 2013-14 season will be the new Big East, an amalgam of the so-called Catholic 7, two Atlantic 10 teams and one Missouri Valley powerhouse.

At first look, the new Big East appears to be as competitive from top to bottom, other than perhaps DePaul and Seton Hall, as any league. The return of Doug McDermott to Creighton gives the league instant star power in a season in which the two likely favorites -- Marquette and Georgetown -- lost their top players to the draft.

In the middle of the league, Big East charter members St. John’s and Providence are gearing up for returns to the NCAA Tournament. Traditional Atlantic 10 power Xavier could say the same.

Here’s a quick look at the Big East and early rankings for 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
Big Ten
Big 12 (June 6)
Pac-12 (June 11)
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others (June 13)

1. MARQUETTE (26-9, 14-4 Big East, NCAA Elite Eight)
Key players gone: Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett
Top returners: Juan Anderson, Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson
New faces: Deonte Burton (freshman), JaJuan Johnson (freshman), Jameel McKay (junior college), Duane Wilson (freshman)
Vander Blue’s departure hurts and likely knocks Marquette out of the preseason top 10. Gardner (11.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Jamil Wilson (9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) still give Buzz Williams veterans to work with in 2013-14. In addition to the returners, Marquette may have a new point guard (Wilson) and two major freshmen in Johnson and Burton.

Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves

2. GEORGETOWN (25-7, 14-4 Big East, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Otto Porter
Top returners: Mikael Hopkins, Nate Lubick, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Markel Starks, Jabril Trawick, Greg Whittington
New faces: Josh Smith (transfer from UCLA)
The Hoyas won a share of the Big East title without a senior last season, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that the Hoyas’ centerpiece, Porter, is gone. Georgetown will return a healthy Whittington, who averaged 12.1 points and seven rebounds in 13 games last season. The Hoyas would love for Smith-Rivera to continue the momentum of the second half of last season into his sophomore year.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

3. CREIGHTON (28-8, 13-5 Missouri Valley, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Greg Echenique, Grant Gibbs
Top returners: Austin Chatman, Jahenns Manigat, Doug McDermott, Ethan Wragge
Creighton received a nice surprise when McDermott elected to return for his senior season, and now the Bluejays hope to get another. Guard Grant Gibbs is seeking a sixth season of eligibility. McDermott alone makes Creighton a possible NCAA Tournament team. Gibbs’ return may make Creighton a Big East title contender.

4. BUTLER (27-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Rotnei Clarke, Andrew Smith
Top returners: Alex Barlow, Kellen Dunham, Erik Fromm, Roosevelt Jones, Kyle Marshall, Kameron Woods
The top two scorers are gone in Clarke and Smith, but Butler should have the players to keep the Bulldogs in NCAA contention. Jones, Marshall and Dunham all averaged at least 9.5 points per game. Expect more from Dunham, a 6-6 guard who was Butler’s top recruit in 2012. His minutes dwindled late in his rookie year, but Butler needs more in 2013-14. It's worth noting the Bulldogs are in their third conference in three seasons.

Related: Butler among top recruiting classes since 2000

5. ST. JOHN’S (17-16, 8-10 Big East, NIT second round)
Key players gone: Amir Garrett
Top returners: Jamal Branch, Phil Greene IV, D’Angelo Harrison, Chris Obekpa, Sir’Dominic Pointer, JaKarr Sampson
New faces: God’sgift Achiuwa (redshirt), Max Hooper (transfer from Harvard), Rysheed Jordan (freshman), Orlando Sanchez (redshirt)
The Red Storm are poised for a rebound after missing the NCAA Tournament last season. Sampson averaged a quiet 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds last season. He’ll make up an imposing frontcourt with Achiuwa, who redshirted last season, and Obekpa, who averaged four blocks per game. Jordan was one of the nation’s top high school point guards.

6. VILLANOVA (20-14, 10-8 Big East, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone:
Achraf Yacoubou, Mouphtaou Yarou
Top returners: Ryan Arcidiacono, Darrun Hilliard, Daniel Ochefu, JayVaughn Pinkston
New faces: Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins (freshmen)
Besides Yarou, freshmen and sophomores carried Villanova back into the NCAA Tournament last season. The Wildcats will look to Arcidiacono (11.9 ppg, 3.5 apg) to carry the mantle for Point Guard U.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: SEC

7. XAVIER (17-14, 9-7 Atlantic 10)
Key players gone: Travis Taylor, Brad Redford, Jeff Robinson
Top returners: Semaj Christon, Dee Davis, Justin Martin, Isaiah Philmore
New faces: Brandon Randolph (freshman), Matt Stainbrook (transfer from Western Michigan)
Three of Xavier’s top four scorers last season were freshmen or sophomores for a team that started to look like an NCAA Tournament team in February. Christon (15.2 ppg, 4.6 apg) is a rising star in the backcourt, and he’ll get some help up front with the transfer of Stainbrook, a 6-10 center who averaged 11.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in his final season at Western Michigan.

8. PROVIDENCE (19-15, 9-9 Big East, NIT quarterfinal)
Key players gone: Vincent Council, Ricky Ledo
Top returners: Kadeem Batts, Bryce Cotton, Kris Dunn, LaDontae Henton
New faces: Brandon Austin (freshman), Rodney Bullock (freshman), Carson Desrosiers (transfer from Wake Forest), Tyler Harris (transfer from NC State)
Providence had four wins over NCAA-bound Big East teams last season, so the Friars are looking to get over the hump in 2013-14. Cotton led the Big East in scoring last season (19.7 ppg), leading Providence’s three double-digit scorers returning. The Friars never got a game out of the highly touted prospect Ledo, but he’s replaced by Philadelphia wing Austin.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: American

9. SETON HALL (15-18, 3-15 Big East)
Key players gone: Aaron Cosby, Freddie Wilson
Top returners: Fuquan Edwin, Tom Maayan, Brandon Mobley, Brandon Oliver, Gene Teague
New faces: Jaren Sina (freshman), Sterling Gibbs (transfer from Texas)
Seton Hall took a major step back last season, dropping from 8-10 to 3-15 in the Big East. Seniors Edwin (16.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Teague (11.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) return, but Cosby (12.6 rpg, 2.5 apg) elected to transfer. The Pirates will hope the freshman Sina is the answer at point guard.

10. DePAUL (11-21, 2-16 Big East)
Key players gone: Worrel Clahar, Donnavan Kirk, Moses Morgan
Top returners: Jamee Crockett, Charles McKinney, Cleveland Melvin, Brandon Young
New faces: Billy Garrett (freshman), Sandi Marcius (transfer from Purdue)
Maybe this new version of the Big East will be friendlier to DePaul than the last one. The top three scorers from last season return, led by Young (16.7 ppg) and Melvin (16.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg). DePaul will need six newcomers -- three freshmen, two jucos and a Division I transfer -- to perform better than the five players who left the program, chief among them Kirk and Morgan. Garrett is a local four-star point guard, and the 6-9 Marcius was a role player for Purdue.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the American Athletic Conference for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 11:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-teams-ready-for-hot-starts

Much of college football success and failure is based on who you play and where you play them. As we get closer to the first games of the 2012 season -- hey, we crossed the 100-day mark last week -- Athlon Sports looks at the teams that have good chances to surprise us early on.

By the end of September, we may look at the following nine teams surprised to see them 4-0, 5-0 or better. The schedule may have something to do with that.


Aug. 29 Illinois State (9-4, 5-3 MVC)
Sept. 7 Army (2-10)
Sept. 14 at North Texas (4-8, 3-5 Sun Belt)
Sept. 21 at Eastern Michigan (2-10, 1-7 MAC)

Back-to-back road games in September aren’t ideal, but Ball State should be able to handle North Texas and Eastern Michigan after defeating Indiana and USF in consecutive weeks last season. A 4-0 start seems likely for Ball State before the Cardinals try to take charge in the MAC West against Toledo on Sept. 28.

Aug. 31 Wofford (9-4, 6-2 Southern)
Sept. 7 Buffalo (4-8, 3-5 MAC)
Sept. 21 ULM (8-5, 6-2 Sun Belt)
Oct. 5 West Virginia (7-6, 4-5 Big 12)
Oct. 12 at Kansas State (11-2, 8-1 Big 12)
Oct. 19 Iowa State (6-7, 3-6 Big 12)
Oct. 26 at Kansas (1-11, 0-9 Big 12)

Like many teams in the Big 12, Baylor has a handful of questions on offense, starting at quarterback and offensive line. With two off weeks in September, the Bears will have time to work things out early, however. Baylor should have little trouble with Wofford and Buffalo. ULM’s Kolton Browning gave the Bears all they could handle last season, but he’s probably the best quarterback the Baylor defense will see until November. Kansas State is a tough road trip, but the Wildcats are re-tooling without Collin Klein.

Aug. 29 Indiana State (7-4, 5-3 MVC)
Sept. 7 Navy (8-5)
Sept. 14 Bowling Green (8-5, 6-2 MAC)
Sept. 21 Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC)

Indiana will find out in the first four weeks if it is bowl material in Kevin Wilson’s third season. The first three opponents all had winning records last season and the fourth is from the SEC, but all four games are in Bloomington. Indiana’s lackluster defense will learn where it stands when it faces three FBS teams ranked 60th or lower in yards per play last season -- Navy (61st), Bowling Green (87th) and Missouri (107th). Indiana needs to pile up wins early because the October slate features Penn State and road trips to Michigan State and Michigan.

Sept. 7 South Dakota (1-10, 0-8 MVC)
Sept. 14 at Rice (7-6, 4-4 Conference USA)
Sept. 21 Louisiana Tech (9-3, 4-2 WAC)

A bad FCS team, a middle-of-the-road Conference USA team and a squad with five returning starters and a new coach should be easy work for most teams. Maybe not for Kansas, which lost to Rice at home last season. If Kansas is going to end a 21-game losing streak to FBS teams, September would be the most likely time for that to happen before facing Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor in October.

Aug. 31 at NC State (7-6, 4-4 ACC)
Sept. 7 Lamar (4-8, 1-6 Southland)
Sept. 12 Tulane (2-10, 2-6 Conference USA)
Sept. 21 at Kansas (1-11, 0-9 Big 12)
Sept. 28 Army (Dallas) (2-10)
Oct. 5 at UTEP (3-9, 2-6 Conference USA)
Oct. 19 North Texas (4-8, 3-5 Sun Belt)
Oct. 26 at FIU (3-9, 2-6 Sun Belt)
Nov. 9 Southern Miss (0-12, 0-8 Conference USA)

A road win over NC State may be too much to expect for a Louisiana Tech team with one returning starter on offense, but Skip Holtz could still have a nice start as the Bulldogs coach. After NC State, Louisiana Tech’s next eight opponents went a combined 19-77 in 2012. After the Aug. 31 opener, Louisiana Tech won’t play another team with a winning record until Nov. 16 at Rice (7-6).

LOUISVILLE (Team Preview)
Sept. 1 Ohio (9-4, 4-4 MAC)
Sept. 7 Eastern Kentucky (8-3, 6-2 OVC)
Sept. 14 Kentucky (2-10, 0-8 SEC)
Sept. 21 FIU (3-9, 2-6 Sun Belt)
Oct. 5 at Temple (4-7, 2-5 Big East)

The MAC played the role of spoiler against the Big East last season (Kent State over Rutgers, Toledo over Cincinnati, Western Michigan over Connecticut). Ohio returns quarterback Tyler Tettleton and running back Beau Blankenship from the team that upset Penn State last season, so Louisville should be on alert. That said, if the Cardinals are indeed a top-10 team in 2013, they shouldn’t have much trouble with the first five games. After that, Louisville faces American Athletic Conference contender Rutgers on only five days rest on a Thursday night game on Oct. 10.

Aug. 29 UNLV (2-11, 2-6 Mountain West)
Sept. 7 at New Mexico State (1-11, 0-5 WAC)
Sept. 14 Western Illinois (3-8, 1-7 MVC)
Sept. 21 San Jose State (11-2, 5-1 WAC)
Sept. 28 Iowa (4-8, 2-6 Big Ten)

The third season has been the turning point for Jerry Kill’s teams at Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois. If that’s the case at Minnesota, the Gophers could be able to reel off four or five wins before hitting the meat of their Big Ten schedule. On paper, this should be a manageable start for the Gophers despite past close calls against these early season opponents. UNLV took Minnesota to three overtimes in Vegas to start last season, and New Mexico State upset the Gophers in Minneapolis in 2011. The biggest stumbling block in the first five games may be San Jose State and NFL quarterback prospect David Fales.

Aug. 31 Murray State (5-6, 4-4 OVC)
Sept. 7 Toledo (9-4, 6-2 MAC)
Sept. 21 at Indiana (4-8, 2-6 Big Ten)
Sept. 28 Arkansas State (10-3, 7-1 Sun Belt)

Missouri’s defense will be tested against Toledo and Indiana, and although Arkansas State won 10 games last season, the Red Wolves lost quarterback Ryan Aplin from last season. Missouri will need to rack up wins early if the Tigers are going to reach a bowl. Missouri’s October slate includes Vanderbilt and Georgia on the road, plus Florida and South Carolina. Lose early, and Missouri's in big trouble.

Aug. 29 at Hawaii (3-9, 1-7 Mountain West)
Sept. 7 Washington State (3-9, 1-8 Pac-12)
Sept. 14 Boston College (2-10, 1-7 Pac-12)
Sept. 21 Utah State (11-2, 6-0 WAC)

The toughest matchup in USC’s first four is against a Utah State team with 14 returning starters by a first-time head coach. The opener could get ugly as there no love lost between Hawaii coach Norm Chow and Lane Kiffin stemming from their days on Pete Carroll’s staff. Even a USC team with a new quarterback has a significant talent edge over the first four teams on the schedule. USC finishes September with a road trip to Arizona State, Athlon’s pick to win the Pac-12 South.

On the other side of the coin, some teams will raise expectations early in the season, but by late October and into November, we may wonder what went wrong.

Simply put, maybe the schedule got a little tougher.

Here are nine teams that had better be ready for a tough finish to the season.


Nov. 7 Oklahoma (10-3, 8-1 Big 12)
Nov. 16 Texas Tech (Arlington) (8-5, 4-5 Big 12)
Nov. 23 at Oklahoma State (8-5, 5-4 Big 12)
Nov. 30 at TCU (7-6, 4-5 Big 12)
Dec. 7 Texas (9-4, 5-4 Big 12)

Baylor makes up for its manageable early schedule by facing Athlon’s top four Big 12 teams in the final five games, including back-to-back road against against Oklahoma State and TCU. Texas Tech isn’t a pushover, either. Baylor has won the last two meetings against Texas Tech in Arlington, but those two games have featured a grand total of 205 points.

FLORIDA (Team Preview)
Nov. 2 Georgia (Jacksonville) (12-2, 7-1 SEC)
Nov. 9 Vanderbilt (9-4, 5-3 SEC)
Nov. 16 at South Carolina (11-2, 6-2 SEC)
Nov. 23 Georgia Southern (10-4, 6-2 Southern)
Nov. 30 Florida State (12-2, 7-1 ACC)

November is the make-or-break month for Florida’s SEC East hopes with Georgia in Jacksonville and South Carolina in Columbia. Florida’s November opponents, including Georgia Southern, went a combined 54-14 last season. Meanwhile, South Carolina won’t play on the road in November, and Georgia draws Auburn and Kentucky in its SEC slate that month.

Oct. 19 at Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten)
Oct. 26 Northwestern (10-3, 5-3 Big Ten)
Nov. 2 Wisconsin (8-6, 4-4 Big Ten)
Nov. 9 at Purdue (6-7, 3-5 Big Ten)
Nov. 23 Michigan (8-5, 6-2 Big Ten)
Nov. 29 at Nebraska (10-4, 7-1 Big Ten)

Iowa’s win total has decreased from 11 to eight to seven to four in the last four seasons. The Hawkeyes will have trouble ending that slide against in the final six games of the season. Five teams in that span are in the Athlon preseason top 25 (Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern). The exception is a road trip to Purdue. Iowa went 0-4 against those six teams last season, dodging games against Ohio State and Wisconsin.

MICHIGAN (Team Preview)
Nov. 2 at Michigan State (7-6, 3-5 Big Ten)
Nov. 9 Nebraska (10-4, 7-1 Big Ten)
Nov. 16 at Northwestern (10-3, 5-3 Big Ten)
Nov. 23 at Iowa (4-8, 2-6 Big Ten)
Nov. 30 Ohio State
(12-0, 8-0 Big Ten)
If Michigan is going to win the Big Ten, the Wolverines had better be ready for a difficult November. Three road games, two rivalry games and three of the league’s top playmaking quarterbacks (Taylor Martinez, Kain Colter and Braxton Miller). And if the Wolverines make it that far, they’ll play in a Big Ten title game.

Nov. 2 at South Carolina (11-2, 6-2 SEC)
Nov. 9 at Texas A&M (11-2, 6-2 SEC)
Nov. 16 Alabama (13-1, 7-1 SEC)
Nov. 23 Arkansas (Little Rock) (4-8, 2-6 SEC)
Nov. 28 Ole Miss (7-6, 3-5 SEC)

Mississippi State finished last season on a 1-5 slide. History could repeat itself against this schedule. The Bulldogs open November against three potential top-10 opponents, two of which are on the road. Then comes Arkansas in Little Rock and the Egg Bowl against an improving Ole Miss team that defeated Mississippi State 41-24 last season.

Nov. 2 at San Diego State (9-4, 7-1 Mountain West)
Nov. 8 Air Force (6-7, 5-3 Mountain West)
Nov. 16 Colorado State (4-8, 3-5 Mountain West)
Nov. 23 at Fresno State (9-4, 7-1 Mountain West)
Nov. 30 at Boise State (11-2, 7-1 Mountain West)

Opponents caught on to New Mexico’s Pistol offense by the second half of last season as the Lobos lost six in a row after a 4-3 start. Improved as New Mexico may be, it’s going to be tough for the Lobos to get through November with two or more wins. New Mexico will face the three teams that tied for the league title last season on the road in the final five games.

OKLAHOMA (Team Preview)
Nov. 7 at Baylor (8-5, 4-5 Big 12)
Nov. 16 Iowa State (6-7, 3-5 Big 12)
Nov. 23 at Kansas State (11-2, 8-1 Big 12)
Dec. 7 at Oklahoma State (8-5, 5-4 Big 12)

The Sooners likely will start the season outside of the Associated Press top 10 for the first time since 2000 (Athlon ranks OU at No. 17). Will Oklahoma finish that way, too? Three of Oklahoma’s last four games are on the road, all three against teams that have defeated the Sooners in the last two seasons. The lone home game is against Iowa State, which won’t be intimidated in Norman.

OREGON STATE (Team Preview)
Oct. 26 Stanford (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12)
Nov. 1 USC (7-6, 5-4 Pac-12)
Nov. 16 at Arizona State (8-5, 5-4 Pac-12)
Nov. 23 Washington (7-6, 5-4 Pac-12)
Nov. 29 at Oregon (12-1, 8-1 Pac-12)

Oregon State used to be a slow starter and strong finisher. That’s changed a bit as the Beavers finished 3-4 in 2012 and 1-4 in both 2011 and 2010. This season’s final five games will be tough again. Oregon State will face Athlon’s top two teams in the Pac-12 North (Stanford, at Oregon), top two teams in the Pac-12 South (at Arizona State, USC), plus a likely bowl team in Washington.

Oct. 26 Georgia Tech (7-7, 5-4 ACC)
Nov. 2 Clemson (11-2, 7-1 ACC)
Nov. 9 at North Carolina (8-4, 5-3 ACC)
Nov. 23 at Miami (7-5, 5-3 ACC)
Nov. 30 Virginia Tech (7-6, 4-4 ACC)

Best of luck to Jon Tenuta. In the final six weeks of the season the Virginia defensive coordinator will plan for Georgia Tech’s option, the ACC’s best spread offense coaches (Clemson’s Chad Morris and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora), the league’s best backfield (Miami’s Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson) and one of the league’s top quarterback prospects (Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas). Virginia’s bowl prospects were iffy to begin with. The Cavs better stock up on wins early.

<p> A quick look at early season and late season schedules that could shape 2013.</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 10:50
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-conference-american-early-rankings

The American Athletic Conference doesn’t have a logo or a site for its conference tournament. But it does have the defending national champion and clear top team for 2013-14.

In its first and final season in the American Athletic Conference, Louisville is the clear favorite with many of the key pieces returning from last season’s title winner.

Although the American won’t be as good as the former Big East, the league is hoping a handful of teams -- both from the old Big East and teams imported from Conference USA -- will keep the league flush with its share of postseason contenders.

The C-USA newcomers, most notably Houston and SMU, have been gearing up for this move. Memphis is, as usual, the best of this bunch, but the Cougars and Mustangs have added top high school recruits and transfers to at least make their first seasons in the new league interesting.

Here’s a quick look at the American Athletic Conference and early rankings for 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12 (June 6)
Pac-12 (June 11)
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others (June 13)


1. LOUISVILLE (35-5, 14-4 Big East, won national title)
Key players gone: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva
Top returners: Chane Behanan, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell, Russ Smith, Kevin Ware
New faces: Anton Gill (Hargrave Military Academy), Chris Jones (junior college), Terry Rozier (Hargrave)
Not so fast on slotting Kentucky as the national championship favorite. The Cardinals will have a chance to defend their title with the return of Russ Smith after early indications had the shooting guard headed to the draft. Chris Jones and Terry Rozier will ease the loss of Peyton Siva while forward Montrezl Harrell could be the Cards’ breakout star in 2013-14 after shining in the postseason.

Related: Realignment tracker for all college basketball moves

2. CONNECTICUT (20-10, 10-8 Big East)
Key players gone: None
Top returners: Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander
New faces: Kentan Facey (freshman), Lasan Kromah (transfer from George Washington), Enosch Wolf (suspended)
After a postseason ban, UConn should be back in the NCAA Tournament picture with the return of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. A problematic frontcourt from last season could get a boost with the team’s top freshman (Facey) and a 7-1 center who was suspended all of last season (Wolf). Kromah was a late addition after averaging 10.1 points per game at George Washington last season. The guard could be eligible immediately.

Related: UConn among top recruiting classes since 2000

3. MEMPHIS (31-5, 16-0 Conference USA, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Antonio Barton, Tarik Black, D.J. Stephens, Adonis Thomas
Top returners: Chris Crawford, Shaq Goodwin, Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson
New faces: Markel Crawford, Kuron Iverson, Nick King, Austin Nichols, RaShawn Powell (all freshmen)
Two former Memphis players -- Tarik Black and Antonio Barton -- are hot commodities in the transfer pool, but the Tigers should be able to absorb those losses with another highly ranked recruiting class, including three top-50 forwards. The new faces will be led by an improving Joe Jackson, plus Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson, who each topped 10 points per game last season.

4. CINCINNATI (22-12, 9-9 Big East, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Cheikh Mbodj, JaQuon Parker, Cashmere Wright
Top returners: Jeremiah Davis, Sean Kilpatrick, Titus Rubles, Jermaine Sanders
New faces: Jermaine Lawrence (freshman)
Losing the point guard Wright will hurt, but Kilpatrick (17 ppg, 5.2 rpg) elected to return to school. The arrival of versatile forward Lawrence was a major recruiting victory for Mick Cronin and another big get out of New York/New Jersey for the Bearcats.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: SEC

5. TEMPLE (24-10, 11-5 Atlantic 10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: T.J. DiLeo, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Jake O’Brien, Scootie Randall, Khalif Wyatt
Top returners: Will Cummings, Anthony Lee, Dalton Pepper
Lee (9.8 ppg) is the only returning player who averaged better than six points per game last season, but Temple is nothing if not consistent. The Owls have won between 21 and 29 games with an NCAA Tournament appearance in each of the last six seasons. Two of Temple’s top freshmen from 2012-13, wing Daniel Dingle and big man Devontae Watson, played only 16 games last season.

6. HOUSTON (20-13, 7-9 Conference USA, CBI quarterfinal)
Key players gone: Leon Gibson, J.J. Thompson
Top returners: Danuel House, Valentine Izundu, J.J. Richardson, Jherrod Stiggers, TaShawn Thomas, Tione Womack, Joseph Young
New faces: Danrad “Chicken” Knowles (ineligible last season), Jaaron Simmons (freshman)
Houston is gearing up for tougher competition with Young (18 ppg), Thomas (16.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg) and House, the Conference USA freshman of the year, all returning. With the freshman Knowles, a 6-10 forward, eligible after missing all of last season, Houston could be a surprise team in the AAC.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

7. SMU (15-17, 5-11 Conference USA)
Key players gone: None
Top returners: Brian Bernardi, Cannen Cunningham, Jalen Jones, Ryan Manuel, Nick Russell, Shawn Williams
New faces: Keith Frazier (freshman), Crandall Head (transfer from Illinois), Markus Kennedy (transfer from Villanova), Yanick Moreira (junior college transfer), Nic Moore (transfer from Illinois State)
A slew of transfers are eligible for SMU in Year 2 of Larry Brown’s rebuilding project. Moore led the Missouri Valley with 135 assists as a freshman in 2011-12, but the big addition will be Frazier, a McDonald’s All-American shooting guard. They join a team that returns three double-digit scorers.

8. UCF (20-11, 9-7 Conference USA)
Key players gone: Keith Clanton
Top returners: Calvin Newell, Tristan Spurlock, Isaiah Sykes, Daiquon Walker, Matt Williams, Kasey Wilson
The Knights return from a postseason ban bringing back every key player other than Keith Clanton, who averaged 14.8 points per game and a team-leading 8.5 rebounds. Isaiah Dykes emerged as a stat sheet-stuffing threat with 16 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

Related: Grading Eddie Jordan and other hires for 2013-14

9. RUTGERS (15-16, 5-13 Big East)
Key players gone: Eli Carter, Austin Johnson, Dane Miller, Mike Poole, Derrick Randall, Jerome Seagears
Top returners: Kadeem Jack, Wally Judge, Myles Mack
New coach Eddie Jordan will try to rebuild with a depleted roster that saw Carter and Seagears transfer to SEC schools. Mack (13.6 ppg), Judge (7.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Jack (5.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) isn’t a bad place to start, but few coaches have been able to succeed in Piscataway.

10. USF (12-19, 3-15 Big East)
Key players gone: Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, Jawanza Polland, Kore White
Top returners: Martino Brock, Anthony Collins, Javontae Hawkins, Zach LeDay, Victor Rudd
New faces: John Egbunu (freshman)
The bottom fell out after USF reached the round of 32 in 2012. The Bulls still have point guard Anthony Collins, who averaged 6.5 assists as a sophomore and improved his shooting percentage from 39 percent to 50 percent. John Egbunu, a rare top-100 recruit to sign with USF, gives the Bulls size in the frontcourt.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the American Athletic Conference for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 10:45
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-sec-early-rankings

In 2013-14, Kentucky will try to pull off a rare college basketball feat by going from national champion to NIT, then back to national champion. As our league-by-league snapshots continue into the SEC, we take a look at the teams who might make things difficult for the Wildcats next season.

Florida should continue to be a challenger for Kentucky with a veteran team boosted by a handful of transfers and high-level freshmen. Beyond that, the question in the SEC is depth after another lackluster season. Unexpected departures during the offseason may make Tennessee and Alabama bubble teams again. And personnel losses at Ole Miss and Missouri mean a return to the Tournament is not guaranteed.

The college basketball calendar is getting moved up with Midnight Madness shifting from mid-October into September. The look ahead to the 2013-14 season has also been moved up as Athlon starts to take stock for the upcoming year in college basketball.

Here’s a quick look at the SEC and early rankings for 2013-14.

Other conference snapshots:
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12 (June 6)
Pac-12 (June 11)
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others (June 13)


1. KENTUCKY (21-12, 12-6, NIT first round)
Key players gone: Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Nerlens Noel
Top returners: Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer
New faces: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, James Young (all freshmen)
The Wildcats will be back in national title contention thanks to a recruiting class that includes six of the top 15 prospects in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Kentucky missed out on consensus top prospect Andrew Wiggins and still finished with the nation’s top signing class. The Wildcats now have nine McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster. Even if last season went awry, John Calipari has proven he can win a title with freshmen of this caliber. The question, especially after last season, will be leadership and the contribution of the veterans.

Related: Kentucky, Florida claim top recruiting classes since 2000

2. FLORIDA (29-8, 14-4, NCAA Elite Eight)
Key players gone: Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario
Top returners: Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguette, Patric Young
New faces: Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech transfer), Damontre Harris (South Carolina transfer), Kasey Hill (freshman), Chris Walker (freshman)
Florida will look to get over the Elite Eight hump with one of the deepest teams in the league. Young and Wilbekin are back, and Yeguette expects to be healthy after offseason knee surgery. Much will depend on the newcomers. Hill is one of the top point guard recruits to come to Florida under Billy Donovan. Finney-Smith, a McDonald’s All-American in 2011, was one of the top freshmen in the ACC at Virginia Tech, averaging 6.3 points and seven rebounds. With Chris Walker, Florida will have one of the top front lines in the country. Guard Eli Carter transferred from Rutgers and could receive a waiver to play immediately after the player mistreatment scandal in Piscataway.

3. TENNESSEE (20-13, 11-7, NIT first round)
Key players gone: Trae Golden, Kenny Hall, Skyler McBee
Top returners: Jeronne Maymon, Jordan McRae, Josh Richardson, Jarnell Stokes
New faces: Robert Hubbs, Darius Thompson (freshmen)
Cuonzo Martin has to wonder what Tennessee would look like with a full roster. In his first season, Stokes wasn’t eligible until midseason. In his second, Maymon missed the entire season following knee surgery. Martin’s third season will start without his point guard Golden, who abruptly left the program. Stokes is a rising star, and Maymon is healthy. But the point will be manned by a freshman in Thompson.

4. ALABAMA (23-13, 12-6, NIT quarterfinals)
Key players gone: Moussa Gueye, Trevor Lacey, Andrew Steele
Top returners: Rodney Cooper, Nick Jacobs, Retin Obasohan, Devonta Pollard, Levi Randolph, Trevor Releford
New faces: Jimmie Taylor, Shannon Hale (freshmen)
With the core of last year’s team returning, Alabama hopes to reach the NCAA Tournament after finishing the past two seasons on the bubble. Five of the top six starters expect to return, but the only loss there will be a big one. Lacey, who averaged 11.3 points and 3.2 assists last season, surprised Anthony Grant with his intentions to transfer.

5. LSU (19-12, 9-9)
Key players gone: Charles Carmouche
Top returners: Shavon Coleman, Anthony Hickey, Malik Morgan, Johnny O’Bryant III, Andre Stringer
New faces: Jarell Martin, Jordan Mickey, Tim Quarterman (all freshmen)
LSU returns three players who averaged double figures in scoring last season with Carmouche the only notable departure. The Tigers add the nation's fifth-ranked signing class, led by forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey. This could be a comeback season for LSU in Johnny Jones’ second year.

Related: Grading the notable coaching hires for 2013-14

6. MISSOURI (23-11, 11-7, NCAA round of 64)
Key players gone: Keion Bell, Laurence Bowers, Alex Oriakhi, Phil Pressey, Negus Webster-Chan
Top returners: Jabari Brown, Tony Criswell, Stefan Jankovic, Earnest Ross
New faces: Wesley Clark (freshman), Jordan Clarkson (transfer from Tulsa), Johnathan Williams III (freshman)
Pressey’s perhaps ill-advised jump to the NBA Draft leaves Missouri with just one starter returning in Jabari Brown. Clarkson, who averaged 16.5 points at Tulsa in 2011-12, adds to a glut of 6-5 guards with Brown and Earnest Ross. The Tigers will need role players Stefan Jankovic and Tony Criswall to step into bigger roles in the frontcourt.

7. OLE MISS (27-9, 12-6, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Reginald Buckner, Murphy Holloway, Nick Williams
Top returners: Marshall Henderson, Aaron Jones, Derrick Millinghaus, Jarvis Summers, LaDarius White
Henderson’s return means the Rebels have a chance at reaching the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time in more than a decade. But Ole Miss lost a good chunk of the supporting cast (Buckner and Holloway). It’s going to take more than Henderson chucking 3-pointers for Ole Miss to duplicate 2012-13. Jarvis Summers (9.1 ppg) is the only other returning player who averaged more than 6.4 points per game.

8. ARKANSAS (19-13, 10-8)
Key players gone: Hunter Mickelson, Marshawn Powell, B.J. Young
Top returners: Coty Clarke, Fred Gulley, Kikko Haydar, Rashad Madden, Michael Qualls, Rickey Scott, Madracus Wade
New faces: Alandise Harris (transfer from Houston), Moses Kingsley (freshman), Bobby Portis (freshman)
For a team that didn’t have a senior last season, Arkansas managed to lose a lot for 2013-14. Powell and Young declared for the NBA Draft, and Mickelson transferred to Kansas. Only two players -- Clarke and Wade -- averaged more than five points per game and 20 minutes.

9. VANDERBILT (16-17, 8-10)
Key players gone: Sheldon Jeter
Top returners: Kevin Bright, Kyle Fuller, Josh Henderson, Kedren Johnson, Rod Odom, Dai-Jon Parker
New faces: Damian Jones (freshman), Eric McClellan (transfer from Tulsa)
A rebuilding year in 2012-13 means almost everyone returns for the Commodores, but Vanderbilt is still looking for go-to players. Hopes are high for McClellan, who averaged 8.5 points as a freshman at Tulsa.

Related: 2013-14 Conference Snapshot: Big Ten

10. TEXAS A&M (18-15, 7-11)
Key players gone: Elston Turner, Ray Turner
Top returners: Alex Caruso, Fabyon Harris, J-Mychal Reese, Kourtney Roberson, Andrew Young
New faces: Antwan Space (transfer from Florida State)
Elston Turner (17.5 ppg) and Ray Turner (9.2 ppg) will be tough to replace as the Aggies try to rebuild around Harris. Reese and Caruso were highly touted recruits who struggled as freshmen. Space was a top-100 recruit but seldom used in his only season at Florida State.

11. GEORGIA (15-17, 9-9)
Key players gone: Sherrard Brantley, John Florveus, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Vincent Williams
Top returners: Nemanja Djrisic, Kenny Gaines, Brandon Morris, Marcus Thornton, Donte Williams
New faces: Cameron Forte (junior college transfer)
Caldwell-Pope either led Georgia in scoring or tied for the team lead in all but three games last season. It’s going to be tough for Georgia to overcome that kind of loss, but the bulk of the roster will be sophomores and juniors. This could be a key year for Mark Fox.

12. SOUTH CAROLINA (14-18, 4-14)
Key players gone: Lakeem Jackson, LaShay Page, Shane Phillips, Brian Richardson, R.J. Slawson, Eric Smith
Top returners: Michael Carrera, Bruce Ellington, Mindaugas Kacinas, Brenton Williams
New faces: Ty Johnson (transfer from Villanova), Demetrius Henry (freshman), Sindarius Thornwell (freshman)
The rebuilding job at South Carolina is going to take a while. Not shockingly, the Gamecocks lost some depth due to transfers over the last two seasons. But Frank Martin also added a highly touted freshman guard in Sindarius Thornwell. Carolina will have to wait on Johnson to be eligible after the first semester and Ellington to join the team after football season. This is not a roster ready to be competitive in the SEC.

13. AUBURN (9-23, 3-15)
Key players gone: Rob Chubb, Noel Johnson, Frankie Sullivan, Josh Wallace
Top returners: Chris Denson, Ashauhn Dixon-Tatum, Shaquille Johnson, Allen Payne, Jordan Price
New faces: KT Harrell (transfer from Virginia)
The Tigers lose the inside-out duo of Frankie Sullivan and Rob Chubb, two of the top three scorers from last season. Returning guard Chris Denson averaged 11.9 points per game in fewer than 25 minutes.

14. MISSISSIPPI STATE (10-22, 4-14)
Key players gone: Wendell Lewis
Top returners: Trivante Bloodman, Colin Borchert, Roquez Johnson, Jalen Steele, Craig Sword, Fred Thomas 
New faces: Travis Daniels, Fallou Ndoye, Imara Ready, De’Runnya Wilson (freshmen)
Mississippi State had the SEC’s thinnest roster last season, and it showed. At least the Bulldogs returns almost everyone from last season’s team and add a four-man signing class to boost depth. There’s still a long way to go in Starkville.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the SEC for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-basketball/2013-14-college-basketball-big-ten-early-rankings

The college basketball calendar is getting moved up with Midnight Madness shifting from mid-October into September. The look ahead to the 2013-14 season has also been moved up as Athlon starts to take stock for the upcoming year in college basketball.

The Big Ten was the nation’s top conference in 2012-13 with four teams reaching the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Although the league couldn’t take home a title, Michigan reached the national title game.

The 2013-14 season could be another banner season for the Big Ten as teams like Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and more return enough personnel for deep runs in the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s a quick look at the Big Ten and early rankings for 2013-14.

Upcoming conference snapshots:
Big East
Big 12 (June 6)
Pac-12 (June 11)
Mountain West, A-10, MVC and others (June 13)


1. MICHIGAN STATE (27-9, 13-5, NCAA Sweet 16)
Key players gone: Derrick Nix

Top returners: Keith Appling, Branden Dawson, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Travis Trice, Denzel Valentine
Nix is the only one of the top seven scorers gone from a team that went 27-9. Harris considered the draft, but the smooth-shooting guard returned after averaging 12.9 points per game and 45.6 shooting from the field. Payne took his decision down to the wire, but his return gives Tom Izzo a veteran team with Final Four potential.

2. OHIO STATE (29-8, 13-5, NCAA Elite Eight)

Key players gone: Deshaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel

Top returners: Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson, Amir Williams

New faces: Marc Loving, Kameron Williams (freshmen)
Much of Ohio State’s season will depend on how the Buckeyes replace Thomas’ prolific scoring. Ross may be a breakout star next season after he averaged 15 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State needs that kind of scoring performance year-round from the rising junior. The Buckeyes know they’ll get defense and floor-general point guard play from Craft. The development of Ross, Williams, Scott and Thompson will determine Ohio State’s season.

Related: Two Ohio State recruiting classes among nation's best since 2000

3. MICHIGAN (31-8, 12-6, NCAA national runner up)

Key players gone: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Top returners: Spike Albrecht, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas
New faces: Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton (freshmen)
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. didn’t shock anyone by going to the draft. McGary and Robinson returned for their sophomore seasons to give the Wolverines a chance to building on last season, though a return to the Final Four may be tough. The pressure will be on McGary to prove he can carry his tournament momentum into a full season. The freshman Walton, a top-50 consensus recruit, has the unenviable task of stepping into Burke’s shoes at point guard.

4. WISCONSIN (23-12, 12-6, NCAA round of 64)

Key players gone: Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans
Top returners: Ben Brust, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson

Players come and go, but Wisconsin is pretty much automatic to contend in the Big Ten and reach the NCAA Tournament under Bo Ryan. In 2013-14, the Badgers return one of the Big Ten’s most underrated freshmen in Sam Dekker plus a healthy Josh Gasser, who was expected to be the Badgers’ point guard in 2012-13 before tearing his ACL in October.

5. INDIANA (29-7, 14-4, NCAA Sweet 16)

Key players gone: Remy Abell, Maurice Creek, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller
Top returning players: Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey
New faces: Luke Fischer (freshman), Evan Gordon (Arizona State transfer), Stanford Robinson (freshman), Noah Vonleh (freshman), Troy Williams (freshman)
Indiana can’t help but take a step back with all those losses, but the Hoosiers have recruited well enough to stay in the mix in the Big Ten. The pressure will be on the point guard Ferrell. Indiana’s roster turnover was exacerbated by the transfer of Abell to Xavier, but Gordon -- the brother of former Hoosiers one-and-done guard Eric Gordon -- averaged 10.1 points a year ago for Arizona State.

6. IOWA (25-13, 9-9, NIT runner up)
Key players gone: Eric May
Top returning players: Melsahn Basabe, Mike Gesell, Roy Devyn Marble, Zach McCabe, Josh Oglesby, Aaron White, Adam Woodbury
New faces: Jarrod Uthoff (Wisconsin transfer)
Iowa finished with a better Big Ten record than two NCAA teams (Illinois and Minnesota), but the Hawkeyes lacked the big-time wins to seal a bid. The top four scorers -- Marble, White, Gesell and Basabe -- are back to give Iowa a core of veterans that could lead the Hawkeyes to the Tournament for the first time since 2006.

7. PURDUE (16-18, 8-10, CBI second round)
Key players gone: D.J. Byrd, Sandi Marcius
Top returning players: Raphael Davis, Donnie Hale, A.J. Hammons, Anthony Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Terone Johnson
New faces: Kendall Stephens, Bryson Scott (freshmen)
Last season was a rebuilding year for Purdue, but the Boilermakers still finished 8-10 in the toughest Big Ten in several seasons. Purdue started three freshmen (A.J. Hammons, Ronnie Johnson, Raphael Davis) for much of last season. Byrd (10.1 ppg) is the only major loss for Matt Painter.

8. ILLINOIS (23-13, 8-10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Tyler Griffey, Sam McLaurin, Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson
Top returning players: Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand, Nnanna Egwu, Myke Henry
New faces: Jon Ekey (transfer from Illinois State), Austin Hill (freshman), Kendrick Nunn (freshman), Rayvonte Rice (transfer from Drake)
Illinois enters John Groce’s second season without Paul and Richardson, two players who carried the load for most of last season. This should remain a perimeter-oriented team with Tracy Abrams the returning leader in scoring (10.6 ppg) and assists (3.4). Rice, who is from Champaign, Ill., is eligible after his transfer from Drake, where he averaged 15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in two seasons. Egwu (6-11) is the only returning veteran taller than 6-6.

9. MINNESOTA (21-13, 8-10, NCAA round of 32)
Key players gone: Joe Coleman, Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams
Top returning players: Maverick Ahanmisi, Elliott Eliason, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, Maurice Walker
New faces: Dre Mathieu (junior college transfer), Malik Smith (FIU transfer)
Richard Pitino will build his first team at Minnesota around the backcourt of Andre Hollins (14.6 ppg) and Austin Hollins (10.7 ppg). The guards were further boosted by the arrival of Malik Smith, a three-point threat who averaged 14.1 points per game for Pitino at FIU. Replacing the rebounding void left by Mbakwe will be a challenge.

10. NORTHWESTERN (13-19, 4-14)
Key players gone: Reggie Hearn, Alex Marcotullio, Jared Swopshire
Top returning players: Kale Abrahamson, Drew Crawford, Tre Demps, Dave Sobolewski, Alex Olah
New faces: JerShon Cobb (suspended)
Chris Collins’ first team at Northwestern will be led by wing Drew Crawford, who received an extra season of eligibility after missing all but 10 games with a torn labrum. Besides Crawford, Northwestern returns point guard Dave Sobolewski (9.8 ppg), Tre Demps (7.8 ppg) and Alex Olah (6.1 ppg).

11. PENN STATE (10-21, 2-16)
Key players gone: Sasa Borovnjak, Nick Colella, Jermaine Marshall
Top returning players: Tim Frazier, Jon Graham, D.J. Newbill, Brandon Taylor, Ross Travis
New faces: Josh Johnson (transfer from Pittsburgh)
A glimmer of hope was lost when Marshall, who averaged 15.3 points per game, left to play overseas. Still, Penn State returns D.J. Newbill (16.3 ppg) and Tim Frazier, a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2011-12 who missed all but four games last season with a ruptured Achilles.

12. NEBRASKA (15-18, 5-13)
Key players gone: Andre Almeida, Dylan Talley, Brandon Ubel
Top returning players: Ray Gallegos, Benny Parker, David Rivers, Shavon Shields
New faces: Walter Pitchford (Florida transfer)
Nebraska fans know how to support a team. The Cornhuskers already have sold out tickets at their new downtown Lincoln arena. For basketball. The on-court product, though, continues to be a work in progress. Second-year coach Tim Miles loses two of his top three scorers in Talley and Ubel.

<p> Who's gone and who's back in the Big Ten for 2013-14</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 12:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-greatest-discontinued-nicknames

There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but there may be a name change.

After more than a decade as simply the “Warriors,” Hawaii announced Tuesday the school’s men’s athletic program would return to their original nickname of Rainbow Warriors. The women remain the Rainbow Wahine.

The “rainbow” was originally dropped for the football team at the start of the June Jones era, but now that it has returned, we decided to look back at some other college football nicknames that have been retired, perhaps never to return.*

These are the best retired and discontinued nicknames in college football history. Some schools retired names when the names of schools changed -- all those A&Ms that became State Universities dropped "Aggies" for something new. Normal schools (i.e. teaching schools) quit being the Normals, the Normalites or Teachers because who wants to be normal in college football anyway?

Other schools dropped names because -- unless you're Dan Snyder -- Redskins just isn't appropriate.

Some schools upgraded where others took a step back. Really, Arkansas State? You could have been the Gorillas instead of the Red Wolves?

Anyhow, here are the best of the best old college football team nicknames.

*with a little help from the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia.


Arizona State Bulldogs
Arizona State parted with Bulldogs in 1946 for the Sun Devils, giving us the mascot Sparky and then “Fear the Fork.” Good move.

Arkansas Cardinals
Arkansas changed its name to Razorbacks after coach Hugo Bezdek compared his 7-0 team in 1909 to a “wild band of razorback hogs.” Bezdek’s comment provided the impetus to never-ending “Woo Pig Sooie” enjoyment.

Arkansas State Gorillas
After going by Aggies, Gorillas and Warriors, Arkansas State opted for Indians in 1931. Indians stuck until it was no longer OK to be a sports team going by “Indians.” Arkansas State changed its nickname to Red Wolves in 2008. Fellow Sun Belt team Louisiana-Monroe also changed from Indians to Warhawks.

Army Cadets
Black Knights was an unofficial nickname since the 30s and 40s but changed in 1999.

Ball State Hoosieroons
In another time, David Letterman, Jason Whitlock and Papa John all would have been Hoosieroons.

Buffalo Bisons
The grammatically incorrect Bisons changed their name to Bulls in 1931 to avoid confusion with other Buffalo-based teams. That was fine until the Bills came along in 1960.

Kent State Silver Foxes
It’s true. Kent State changed its name from Silver Foxes to Golden Flashes in 1927. Strong.

Speaking of which, what’s going on in the MAC?
Bowling Green quit being the Normals in 1927. Eastern Michigan went form the Normalites to the Men From Ypsi to the Hurons before just giving up and going by Eagles. Akron shortened its name from Zippers to Zips. UMass went from Redmen to Minutemen. Miami (Ohio) went from Redskins to RedHawks. Toledo shortened its Skyrockets nickname. Ohio decided Green and White was not a mascot at all. Western Michigan went from Hilltoppers to Broncos. Northern Illinois cycled through Profs, Cardinals, Evansmen, Northerners and Teachers. Central Michigan went from the Normalites to the Dragons to the Chippewas. College football needs more Dragons.

FIU Sunblazers
Florida International started as the Sunblazers, giving us one great mascot. Golden Panthers was too much, so now they’re just the Panthers.

Maryland Old Liners
Old Liners referred to Maryland soldiers during the Revolutionary War. The school newspaper (The Diamondback) and the school yearbook (The Terrapin) inspired the name change in 1935.

Nebraska’s informal nicknames
Cornhuskers is perfect along with Big Red and Blackshirts, but shouldn’t we pine for the Treeplanters, Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes and Old Gold Knights?

Nevada Sagebrushers and Sage Hens
Nevada had a two-word nickname long before the Wolf Pack.

North Texas Eagles
Got to love a program that changed its bland nickname to one that referenced its most famous players -- Mean Joe Greene -- in 1966.

Northwestern Purple and Syracuse Orangemen
This serves as proof that schools with great journalism programs are not great at picking team nicknames.

Notre Dame Catholics and Ramblers
When Grantland Rice wrote one of the most famous first paragraphs in sportswriting history:

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.

The Four Horsemen weren’t even Fighting Irish. They were “Ramblers.” And before that, the would have been simply “Catholics.” What started as a derisive term from opponents, Fighting Irish became the school’s official nickname in 1927.

Oklahoma Rough Riders and Boomers
Oklahoma adopted its current name from the school pep club -- The Sooner Rooters -- in 1908. Like Notre Dame, Oklahoma took a put-down and turned it into a nickname. “Sooners” referred to settlers who left for the Oklahoma Territory before the Land Run of 1889. “Boomers” left when land was officially opened by President Grover Cleveland.

Rutgers Queensmen
The State University of New Jersey was originally Queen’s College, thus the Queensmen. Rutgers adopted Knights and later added Scarlet Knights. Although if Rutgers really wants to claim New York as its territory, it might not hurt to claim a borough or two.

Stanford Indians
After objections by the Native American community in 1975, Stanford dropped the Indians nickname but didn't adopt the Cardinal until the 1980s.

UCF Knights of Pegasus
Knights of Pegasus stood until 1993 when Central Florida became the Golden Knights. Boo.

USF Brahman Bulls
USF Bulls is dull for a moderately new football program. Brahman Bulls, in use before the school had a football team, wasn’t much better.

USC Methodists and Wesleyans
The two were retired by 1912 when USC adopted the Trojans name. Song Girls came decades later.

Texas Tech Matadors
Texas Tech retired the Matadors in 1932 for Red Raiders. A shame. Mike Leach would have had fun as a Matador.

Troy Red Wave
Like Hawaii, Troy backtracked. Troy went from the Bulldogs to the Teachers, to the Trojans to the Red Wave and finally back to Trojans in 1973.

Tulsa Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets nickname had stuck by the early 1920s, but new coach Howard Archer wanted to change the name to Golden Tornadoes. Georgia Tech was using the Golden Tornadoes moniker at the time, so Tulsa settled on Golden Hurricane.

Originally, UCLA was nicknamed the Cubs as homage to the Cal Golden Bears. UCLA then played as the Grizzlies from 1923-28 before settling on the Bruins.

Utah State Highlanders
Arkansas State, Colorado State, Kansas State, Michigan State, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State all changed their names from Aggies. Utah State changed to Aggies. There can be no Highlanders.

Washington Sun Dodgers
Perhaps it wasn’t a great recruiting tool that it rains a lot in Seattle -- hence the Son Dodgers, maybe? If it wasn’t that, maybe the 1919 “Sunny Boy” logo just needed to go.

West Virginia Snakes
The Mountaineers made their first appearance in 1905. The nickname needs to return for someone, though, just so we can hear a 60,000-person crowd hiss on third down.

<p> Hawaii brings back the Rainbow Warriors nickname. What other discontinued nicknames should make a comeback?</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 13:55
Path: /college-basketball/top-25-college-basketball-recruiting-classes-2000

Even though Kentucky lost out on Andrew Wiggins on Tuesday, the Wildcats may still have a signing class for the ages.

The Wildcats bring in six McDonald’s All-Americans for 2013-14, and Wiggins, the consensus top prospect, would have added to an embarrassment of riches. Instead, Wiggins heads to Kansas where he headlines the No. 2 class -- a recruiting haul that could be No. 1 in most years.

Where those classes end up no one knows, but all signs point to these being some of the best on paper.

These are the freshman classes Kentucky’s and Kansas’ freshmen are up against -- national champions, All-Americans and NBA lottery picks.

In this ranking, we put most weight on college production, particularly for classes that had mutliple high-level contributors. We also considered longevity and pro potential in assembling this ranking.


1. 2011 Kentucky
The class: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer
John Calipari’s best recruiting class produced a dominant regular-season team (38-2, 16-0 SEC), the national champion and the top two players in the NBA Draft. Anthony Davis joined Kansas’ Danny Manning and UCLA’s Lew Alcindor as the only players to win the Naismith Award, to win Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors and to go first in the NBA Draft. Kidd-Gilchrist was a second-team All-American and the second overall pick while the point guard Teague was the No. 29 pick in 2012.

2. 2004 Florida
The class: Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford, Joakim Noah
The ‘04 class formed the core of Florida’s back-to-back national championship teams in 2006 and 2007. When they all left for the draft in 2007, Horford, Brewer and Noah were top-10 picks, and Green was a second-rounder. Noah was the only All-American in the group, earning second-team honors in 2007, but he and Brewer ended up as NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Players.

3. 2002 Syracuse
The class: Carmelo Anthony, Billy Edelin, Matt Gorman, Gerry McNamara
Before one-and-done players were commonplace, Anthony had one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history, leading Syracuse to the national title in 2003. After averaging a double-double and earning NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors, Anthony went on to be the third overall pick in the NBA Draft after LeBron James and Darko Milicic. McNamara stayed all four years to become a beloved player for Syracuse, vociferously defended by Jim Boeheim in a famous tirade.

4. 2002 North Carolina
The class: Raymond Felton, Damion Grant, Sean May, Rashad McCants, David Noel
Signed under Matt Doherty and unleashed under Roy Williams, this trio was the nucleus of North Carolina’s 2005 national title team. Three became NBA lottery picks -- Felton at No. 5 overall, May at No. 13 overall and McCants at No. 14. May was a consensus All-American his last season, and Felton won the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s top point guard.

5. 2006 Kansas
The class: Mario Chalmers, Micah Downs, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright
Rush and Chalmers were the keys to Kansas’ first national title in 20 years when the Jayhawks won the 2008 championship. Chalmers hit the game-tying three-pointer to send the title game against Memphis to overtime before winning NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Rush was a three-time All-Big 12 selection. A year earlier, Wright, Chalmers and Rush won 33 games en route to the Elite Eight. Downs played one season at Kansas before finishing his career at Gonzaga.

6. 2001 Connecticut
The class: Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor
Gordon and Okafor led Connecticut to a national title as juniors in 2004 to cap a 33-6 season. A shot-blocker extraordinaire, Okafor was a consensus All-American and the second pick in the NBA Draft after Dwight Howard. Gordon followed his teammate as the third overall pick.

7. 2002 Illinois
The class: James Augustine, Dee Brown, Aaron Spears, Deron Williams
A class recruited by Bill Self enjoyed most of its success under Bruce Weber. Brown and Williams led Illinois to a 37-2 season in 2004-05, reaching the national final that year. The Illini, though, lost to the North Carolina team led by May, McCants and Felton. Brown was a consensus first-team All-American in 2005 while Williams was a second-teamer that year. Williams left for the draft where he was selected third overall, but Brown stayed for his senior season to become a second-team All-American.

8. 2006 Texas
The class: D.J. Augustin, Kevin Durant, Matt Hill, Damion James, Justin Mason, Dexter Pittman, Harrison Smith
In retrospect, Texas going 25-10 with a second-round exit with Kevin Durant in 2006-07 looks indefensible. Durant was dominant in his only season in college as one of two freshmen to win the Naismith Award (Anthony Davis was the other). The class paid off over the years with Augustin, a first-team All-American and ninth overall pick, leading Texas to a 31-7 season and the Elite Eight in 2008. James was a third-team All-American in 2010 and the No. 24 pick.

9. 2006 Ohio State
The class: Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook, Othello Hunter, David Lighty, Greg Oden
The “Thad Five,” Thad Matta’s first major recruiting class at Ohio State, produced two top-five picks (Oden and Conley) and the No. 21 pick (Cook). Though his NBA career has been injury plagued, Oden was a star college player, earning second-team All-America and National Defensive Player of the Year honors. Besides Oden, Conley was a second-team All-Big Ten pick, and Cook was the league’s sixth man of the year for a team that reached the NCAA final. Lighty stuck around to be a leader and key cog on the Buckeyes’ 2010-11 Big Ten title team.

10. 2010 Ohio State
The class: Aaron Craft, Jordan Siebert, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas
This star-studded class for Thad Matta had more of a lasting impact for the Buckeyes than the Thad Five. Sullinger, Thomas and Craft led Ohio State to an Elite Eight in 2011 and a Final Four in 2012. Sullinger was a two-time All-American before leaving school after two seasons. The team led by Thomas and Craft reached the Sweet 16 in 2013. This class has formed the core of teams that have won at least 30 games in each of their three seasons.

11. 2006 North Carolina
The class: Wayne Ellington, William Graves, Ty Lawson, Alex Stephenson, Deon Thompson, Brandan Wright
Along with Tyler Hansbrough from the 2005 class, the Tar Heels’ ‘06 class formed the core of a team that went to the Elite Eight in 2007 and the Final Four in 2008 before winning a national title in 2009. Wright was the highest draft pick of the group at No. 8 in 2007, but Lawson was the 2009 ACC Player of the Year and Ellington was the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. Lawson (No. 17 overall) and Ellington (No. 28) were drafted in 2009.

12. 2009 Kentucky
The class: Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, John Wall
Calipari’s first class at Kentucky would be outdone by later classes both in the NCAA Tournament and in the NBA Draft, but this was a dominant class nonetheless. This class went 35-3 overall and 14-2 in the SEC before falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia. All four were first round picks -- Wall at No. 1 overall, Cousins at No. 5, Bledsoe at No. 18 and Orton at No. 29.

13. 2005 North Carolina
The class: Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough
Hansbrough was one of the most accomplished four-year players in recent decades, earning first- or second-team All-America honors all four seasons. The consensus national player of the year as a junior, Hansbrough led North Carolina to a national title in 2009, his final season. Green wrapped up an underrated career in which he averaged 9.4 points on rosters never lacking for talent.

14. 2004 UCLA
The class: Arron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Josh Shipp
This class set the bar for Ben Howland at UCLA as Afflalo, Farmar and Shipp were the top three scorers on the 2006 national runner-up (32-7, 14-4 Pac-10). Farmar was a first-team Pac-12 selection in 2006 while Afflalo returned in 2007 to become an All-American and the top player on another Final Four team. Shipp, who played in three consecutive Final Fours, ended up the No. 12 scorer in UCLA history, only 37 points behind Bill Walton.

15. 2007 Purdue
The class: Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, Scott Martin, E’Twaun Moore
A bad-luck recruiting class left Purdue fans wondering what could have been accomplished. Even so, this group turned out pretty good. The trio of Hummel, Johnson and Moore went 52-19 overall and 26-10 in their first two seasons, reaching the Sweet 16 in 2009. Hummel, however, endured a season-ending injury in February 2010 and missed all of 2010-11. The Boilermakers still went 28-8 in the Big Ten in that span. Johnson was a first-team All-American in 2011, Hummel a three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and Moore was a two-time first-team all-conference pick. Martin finished his career at Notre Dame.

16. 2003 Connecticut
The class: Josh Boone, Charlie Villanueva, Marcus Williams
The class produced three first-round draft picks, but also the core of the 2004-05 team that was a No. 2 seed bounced in the second round of the NCAAs by NC State, and the 2005-06 team that was a top seed but lost to 11th-seeded George Mason in the championship game. All were role players for the 2004 title team.

17. 2010 Kentucky
The class: Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb
This haul lacked the oomph of the class that preceded it (led by Wall) and the class that came after (led by Davis), but formed the nucleus of a Final Four team even without the ineligible Kanter.

18. 2007 Kansas State
The class: Michael Beasley, Jacob Pullen, Bill Walker
Beasley broke many of Durant’s Big 12 records and, like Durant, topped out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Pullen led K-State to an Elite Eight appearance in 2010.

19. 2010 Syracuse
The class: C.J. Fair, Baye Keita, Fab Melo, Dion Waiters
Waiters (fifth overall) and Melo (22nd) were first-round picks. Fair and Keita played in the Final Four this year.

20. 2007 Syracuse
The class: Jonny Flynn, Donte Green, Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine
The class produced first-round draft picks (Flynn and Green), regular season success ... but unfulfilled promise in the NCAA Tournament, never advancing past the Sweet 16.

21. 2006 Duke
The class: Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek
Henderson was a lottery pick (No. 12), while Scheyer, Thomas and Zoubek were key players on the 2010 title team.

22. 2006 Connecticut
The class: Jerome Dyson, Curtis Kelly, Stanley Robinson, Hasheem Thabeet
Led by 2009 Big East Player of the Year Thabeet, this class produced three starters on the Huskies’ Final Four team in 2009.

23. 2008 Kansas
The class: Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor
Marcus Morris was the 2011 Big 12 Player of the Year. Markieff was selected one spot ahead of his brother at No. 13.

24. 2008 Butler
The class:
Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, Chase Stigall
The class formed the core of the 2010 national runner-up. Hayward was the ninth overall pick in the draft.

25 or better? 2013 Kentucky
The class:
Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dominique Hawkins, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, Derek Willis, James Young
Calipari may have outdone himself by landing six of the nation’s top 15 prospects.

25 or better? 2013 Kansas
The class
: Joel Embiid, Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins’ announcement Tuesday means Kansas will be just fine despite losing five starters.

<p> Will Kentucky and Kansas add their 2013 hauls to the mix of top recruiting classes since 2000?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 11:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Football
Path: /college-football/notable-names-who-will-be-snubbed-college-football-hall-fame

Tommie Frazier’s long wait for the College Football Hall of Fame ended Tuesday when the former Nebraska quarterback was inducted after his third year on the ballot.

That Frazier, who quarterbacked two national championship teams and finished second for the Heisman in 1995, waited three seasons was a mystery. But Frazier is in this year, along with Florida’s Danny Wuerffel, Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, Ohio State’s Orlando Pace, Miami’s Vinny Testaverde and nine other players and coaches.

Other accomplished players and coaches will have a much more difficult time reaching Hall of Fame status, if at all.

The College Football Hall of Fame has criteria that will make it tough for a few notable names.


In most modern cases, this is first-team recognition by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Sporting News. And this makes sense. To be in the Hall of Fame, at least one service should deem a player to be the best at his position in one season, right?

Maybe not, All-America teams feature only one quarterback. Play in a season with one or two quarterbacks who stand above all others and it’s awfully tough to get that one first-team All-America nod. Players from non-traditional powers will also have a tough time meeting that criteria.

(Arizona State's Pat Tillman, who was not a first-team All-American by the major services, has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. A worthy exception to the rules.)

Coaches have their own requirements — 10 years and 100 games as a head coach with a .600 win percentage. Sure, a Hall of Fame coach should probably win better than 60 percent of his games, but not if he cut his teeth — and eventually won — at tough jobs.

These rules are — putting it kindly — problematic.

Names who will be snubbed in the College Football Hall of Fame

Jason Babin
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: The defensive end is the FBS career leader in tackles for a loss, and he’s second to Terrell Suggs in sacks. But he played at Western Michigan and topped out at second-team All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2003. Not that all mid-major stat sheet-stuffers are worthy of Hall of Fame inclusion, but Babin was a first-round pick who went on to be a two-time Pro Bowler.

Second-tier Big 12 quarterbacks
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why they should be in: Let’s name the names: Landry Jones, Chase Daniel and Collin Klein. Jones is the career-leading passer for the Big 12 and Oklahoma. Daniel was Heisman finalist who led his team to two Big 12 title games and the brink or the ’07 national championship game. Klein finished with 86 total touchdowns (56 rushing, 30 passing) and went 21-5 his last two seasons. The problem? Contemporaries like Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck, Johnny Manziel for Jones and Klein and Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford for Daniel relegated these quarterbacks to second-team status or lower.

Rich Brooks
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: Go ahead and be underwhelmed by Brooks’ career losing record (45.5 percent) in 290 games as a college coach, but go ask about him in Eugene and Lexington. Without Brooks, there’d be no Mike Bellotti or Chip Kelly at Oregon. In 1994, Brooks led Oregon to its first Rose Bowl since the 1919 season. And at Kentucky, he and Bear Bryant are the only coaches with four consecutive winning seasons.

Reggie Bush
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: “Citizenship”
Why he should be in: The Hall of Fame doesn’t forbid players who received NCAA sanctions to be enshrined, but it does say a player’s “post-football record as a citizen is also weighed.” On the field, Bush would be an easy pick for the Hall of Fame, but it may be tough for a player who had to return his Heisman to crack the College Football Hall of Fame.

Pete Carroll
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Too few seasons
Why he should be in: The criteria states a head coach must work for a minimum of 10 years. Carroll coached nine with seven consecutive top-five finishes, two national titles and five Rose Bowls.

Colin Kaepernick
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Chris Ault -- who was already in the College Football Hall of Fame as an active coach -- invented the Pistol offense years earlier, but Kaepernick brought it to the masses as a collegian and a pro. He led Nevada to its best season as an FBS program while becoming the only quarterback to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards in his career.

Case Keenum
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Passing for 19,217 career yards at the Conference USA level wasn’t enough to make Keenum a first-team All-American among a loaded group of quarterbacks from 2007-11.

Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Too few games
Why they should be in: The two coaches defined the Pac-12 for the post-Pete Carroll era in divergent ways. Harbaugh’s physical, balanced teams produced two Heisman finalists (Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart) and the best Stanford season since 1940. Kelly’s Oregon teams were the best at running the no-huddle spread on the way to three conference titles. The NFL came calling for both, meaning Kelly (53 career games) and Harbaugh (50 FBS games, plus 35 at FCS San Diego) don't meet the 10-year or 100-game requirement. Harbaugh, however, is eligible as a player.

Pat Hill and David Carr
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage/not a first-team All-American
Why they should be in: Hill won 58.3 percent of his games at Fresno State, but it’s tough to imagine that program without him. The same could be said for Carr, a Heisman finalist who passed for 4,299 yards in 2001 when it wasn’t commonplace to have numbers like that.

June Jones and Colt Brennan
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage/not a first-team All-American
Why they should be in: June Jones has been as successful as anyone running the Run and Shoot. Along the way, he’s revived two programs in trouble. Jones still holds the record for best single-season turning around, improving Hawaii from 0-12 to 9-4 in his first season there, eight years before taking Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl. Later, he became the first coach to take SMU to a bowl game since NCAA's death penalty. Hawaii's Brennan holds FBS records for touchdown passes in a season (58 in 2006), and career passing yards per game (387.9)

AJ McCarron
Why he might not meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: It’s worth including this active player because it’s conceivable McCarron could be the starting quarterback for three national-title winning teams and never be a first-team All-America quarterback thanks to dynamic contemporaries like Griffin, Manziel and more.
Ed. note: McCarron was named Walter Camp first-team All-American following the 2013 season, making him eligible for the Hall of Fame.

Joe Montana and Tony Rice
Why they don’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why he should be in: Yes, Notre Dame players can be snubbed for awards. Rice was a Heisman finalist and a national-championship quarterback who happened to play at the same time as Andre Ware, Troy Aikman and Major Harris. Montana’s pro career, of course, overshadowed the time he finished eighth in the nation in passing in 1978.

Ray Rice
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Rice’s best season coincided with consensus All-America mentions for Arkansas’s Darren McFadden and UCF’s Kevin Smith. Rice has two of the top four single-season rushing totals in Big East history and his the second-leading rusher in the history of the league with 4,926 yards. He was the top player on the best Rutgers team in program history.

Howard Schnellenberger
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: In his 277-game career, Schnellenberger gets penalized for taking over hopeless college jobs at Miami and Louisville, plus building Florida Atlantic from the ground up. That makes him the architect of three programs. He led Miami to its first national title in 1983 and Louisville to the Fiesta Bowl in 1990. All that time at tough jobs causes him to fall short of the win percentage requirement (51.4 percent). Even if Schnellenberger retired in 1994 before a 5-5-1 season at Oklahoma and a 41-56 run at fledgling FAU, he still would fall short of the 60-percent mark (56.2 percent at Miami and Louisville).

Joe Tiller
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Win percentage
Why he should be in: Tiller brought the spread to the Big Ten and made Purdue relevant along the way. The Boilermakers endured 12 consecutive losing seasons before he was hired and reached the Rose Bowl (albeit with an 8-4 record) by his fourth season). He went to bowl games in 10 of 12 seasons at Purdue, but finished his career with a 57.8 win percentage in Lafayette and at Wyoming. It’s worth noting Tiller’s best quarterback, Drew Brees, also doesn’t meet Hall of Fame criteria by never being a first-team All-America selection.

Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe
Why they doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not first-team All-Americans
Why he should be in: Wolfe (5,164) and Turner (4,941) are the MAC’s No. 1 and 2 career rushers, but playing for Northern Illinois made it tough to crack All-America teams. Turner was a Sporting News second-team selection in 2003, and Wolfe was an AP third-teamer in 2006.

Pat White
Why he doesn’t meet the Hall of Fame’s criteria: Not a first-team All-American
Why he should be in: Noticing a trend with quarterbacks circa 2006-08? There were a lot of good ones, and White ends up getting squeezed out. He was the most successful West Virginia quarterback since Major Harris, he became the first quarterback to start and win four bowl games, and he holds the record for career rushing yards for a quarterback (4,480).

<p> Notable names who will be snubbed in the College Football Hall of Fame</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 11:00