Articles By David Fox

All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football
Path: /college-football/inside-numbers-baylor-offense-record-setting-pace
Body:

Kansas State’s Bill Snyder isn’t the first coach to be quick with a joke. Maybe that’s why when he says the key to beating Baylor this week is to “keep them from scoring 100 points,” he’s kind of being serious.

Baylor hasn’t hit the 80-point mark yet, but the only team that could stop Baylor from scoring 100 this year would seem to be Baylor.

The Bears are averaging 70.5 points per game this season, 11.3 more per game than Oregon, another team that knows a bit about explosive offense. Indeed, most of Baylor’s damage has come in the first three quarters. Starting quarterback Bryce Petty has attempted nine second-half passes this season. Running back Lache Seastrunk has two carries after halftime, yet he’s still second nationally in rushing yards per game.

When Snyder and his staff look at the film from Baylor’s 73-point, 864-yard throttling of West Virginia, they’ll see a versatile offense that pushes the tempo in ways that would make a handful of basketball teams blush.

“The system is well-defined and the players being in it for a time, whether starters or not, they have a feel for it,” Snyder said. “They spread you out like so many teams do. If you’re putting to many people inside, they throw it outside, if you put people outside they run it inside. The system is not complex, but they execute it very, very well.”

But Kansas State will also find a dominant team in the trenches as West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen saw last week.

“I’ve never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like they did,” Holgorsen told reporters after the game. “We’ve been pretty proud of how we’ve been playing defense around here for the last five games, and you can’t play defense when the line of scrimmage is pushed back five yards every time they run the ball.”

Under coach Art Briles, Baylor has had a Heisman Trophy winner in Robert Griffin III, an NFL first-round receiver (Kendall Wright, 2012) and two first-round linemen (Jason Smith in 2009 and Danny Watkins in 2011).

But the Baylor offense is running an unprecedented pace through the first four games of 2013. Conventional wisdom says Baylor will cool off as the schedule gets tougher into Big 12 play and especially against top league contenders in November.

Yet Baylor won’t need to keep up this pace to break records. The Bears can cool off in conference play and still break major college football records set by Heisman winners and national championship contenders.

Here’s a look at a few:

TOTAL OFFENSE

The 2011 Houston team, led by quarterback Case Keenum and coach Kevin Sumlin, needed 14 games to get to its total yards record. Baylor could get to that mark, but the much more attainable record would be yards per game. Houston and Heisman winner Andre Ware averaged 642.9 yards per game in 1989. Baylor would need to average 574.6 yards per game in the final eight Big 12 games and the bowl to match. That’s possible as Baylor averaged 582 yards in Big 12 play last season. Baylor is more than 40 percent of the way to Oklahoma’s Big 12 record of 7,670 yards, set in 2008 by a Sooners team led by Heisman winner Sam Bradford.

Also worth watching are the numbers for a balanced offense: Only two teams (1968 Houston and 1973 Arizona State) averaged 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. Baylor is averaging better than 400 yards passing and 300 yards rushing.

 RecordBaylor
Yards per game642.9 (1989 Houston)779.5
Total yards8,387 (2011 Houston)10,134*
Yards per play8.6 (2006 Hawaii)9.6
  *current pace

SCORING

Army’s Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, are a major part of college football lore, but Baylor is on pace top them by more than two touchdowns per game. And they’re not the only ones Baylor could catch. The 1983 Nebraska offense that averaged seven touchdowns per game was led by quarterback Turner Gill, Heisman winner Mike Rozier and No. 1 overall draft pick Irving Fryar. Baylor is ahead of that trio by nearly two TDs per game.

Again, the Big 12 record watch will focus on Oklahoma, who scored 96 offensive touchdowns in 2008 on the way to the national title game. Baylor already has 35.

 RecordBaylor
Points per game56 (1944 Army)70.5
Offensive TDs per game  7.0 (’83 Nebraska, ’12 La. Tech)8.75
Most offensive TDs96 (2008 Oklahoma)114*
  *current pace

PASSING

With the lopsided scores Baylor has put up, Petty is getting lifted in early in the second half. Unless Big 12 teams play well enough to keep the starting quarterback in the game, he’ll have to settle for records based on efficiency rather than sheer numbers. Petty will threaten Russell Wilson’s passing efficiency rating of 191.8 for Wisconsin in 2011. The Baylor quarterback sits at 229.6.

Backup quarterback Seth Russell hasn’t been so bad, either. Petty and Russell could match passing marks set by 1989 BYU (led by Ty Detmer), 1996 Florida (led by Danny Wuerffel) and 2011 Baylor (led by Griffin). The good news for Petty: All three quarterbacks who helped set team passing records won the Heisman trophy. Only Detmer didn’t win the Heisman in his record season (Detmer won in 1990).

 RecordBaylor
Yards per pass10.9 (1989 BYU)14.2
Yards per completion17.1 (1996 Florida)19.9
Passing efficiency   191.2 (2011 Baylor)218.95

SPEED

There’s not a record kept for the quickest average touchdown drive, but Baylor would have to be pretty close. The average Baylor TD drive takes 82.3 seconds, and many of these aren’t cheap, either. The Bears have started on their own 25 or deeper in their own territory on 20 of 35 touchdown drives this season. The Bears are helped by 11 plays for 50 or more yards in four games, most for any team in the country. Making the feat more impressive is that the next 11 in that category have played five or six games.

The average Baylor touchdown drive covers 65.2 yards on 5.3 plays in 1:21.3. Baylor has had more touchdown drives take less than a minute (14) than have taken more than two (six).

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-post-players
Body:

 The SEC won’t be the nation’s best basketball league, but one thing’s for sure: It’s going to be tough to bang around in the paint.

The SEC is home to four of Athlon Sports’ top 10 post players for 2013-14 in our ongoing list of college basketball superlatives. Kentucky alone has two in freshman Julius Randle and sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. Our top 10 does not include Florida’s Patric Young, who enters his final season with much to prove, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so against Kentucky’s duo plus LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III and Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes.

Meanwhile, the two teams that played for last year’s national title will hope two key players will take their postseason momentum into this season. Mitch McGary carried Michigan to the championship game, and Montrezl Harrell emerged late last season for the title-winning Cardinals.

Randle, though, is the second freshman to top one of our superlatives list with Kansas' Andrew Wiggins topping our countdown of the top 10 slashers.
Our list of the nation’s best post players players is the one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Inside-Out

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Post Players
1.Julius Randle, Kentucky
6-9/225, Fr.
Randle could give Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins a run for top freshman honors, though Randle may have a more complete supporting cast around him. John Calipari has described him as a “beast” who reminds him of the gritty Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
2.Mitch McGary, Michigan
6-10/255, So.
McGary was a revelation during the Wolverines’ run to the national championship game. Now, Michigan will see if those numbers can hold up through the course of a full season. With national player of the year Trey Burke gone, McGary will need to maintain his postseason form.
3.Johnny O’Bryant III, LSU
6-9/256, Jr.
O’Bryant will be one of the key cogs in what LSU hopes is its first NCAA Tournament team since 2009. O’Bryant was one of the SEC’s most dominant players in the paint on both ends of the court, averaging 13.6 points and 8.7 rebounds.
4.James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
6-9/230, Jr.
McAdoo appeared destined for superstardom last season, but like North Carolina’s ACC aspirations, those hopes didn’t materialize. McAdoo put up respectable numbers (14.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg), but he shot only 44.5 percent from the floor. He’ll aim to improve his efficiency as a junior.
5.Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
6-8/260, Jr.
Stokes battled through double teams last season to average 12.4 points and 9.6 rebounds, but the Volunteers forward improved down the stretch as he adjusted. He’s been one of the SEC’s elite players in the post, but the return of Jeronne Maymon may help him reach another level.
6.Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
7-0/244, So.
Cauley-Stein flourished late in the season, even before the season-ending injury to Nerlens Noel. Cauley-Stein returned from a midseason injury to average 10.1 points and 7.1 rebounds in the final 12 games. He’ll be a defensive force for the Wildcats as a full-timer.
7.Isaiah Austin, Baylor
7-1/225, So.
Austin may have been disappointed that a shoulder injury prevented him from entering the NBA Draft after one season. If Austin plays with an edge, Baylor cold have one of the top frontcourts in the country.
8.Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
6-8/235, Jr.
Harrell was one of a handful of Cardinals who broke out during Louisville’s title run, starting with 20 points and seven rebound against Syracuse in the Big East tournament championship game. Louisville is moving him to center to replace Gorgui Dieng. Will it hold for the full season?
9.Alex Kirk, New Mexico
7-0/245, Jr.
Kirk returned from back surgery to be one of the keys of New Mexico’s Mountain West championship. The seven-footer averaged 12.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, but he was also a defensive force with 63 blocked shots.
10.Davante Gardner, Marquette
6-8/290, Sr.
Gardner slimmed down as a junior to become an imposing presence down low. Coming off the bench, he averaged 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 21.5 minutes. His physical play pays off as he averaged 83.5 percent on five free throws per game.

Other Post Superlatives
Freshman to watch: Joel Embiid, Kansas
Most to prove: Patric Young, Florida
Returning from injury: Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
Transfer to watch: Josh Smith, Georgetown (from UCLA)
Breakout to watch: Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
Mid-major star: Augustine Rubit, South Alabama

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 4, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-games-october
Body:

The shortest season in major sports moves into its second month, and there’s still a ton to learn.

The ACC has two frontrunners in Florida State and Clemson, but neither have been able to get out of their own way in the past. The best of the two could be decided later this month, but a big win for either team will mean little if the Boston Colleges, NC States and Wake Forests of the world continue to be stumbling blocks.

The consensus is that Oregon and Stanford are the one-two punch in the Pac-12. Washington and UCLA will learn if there is room for any other teams among the league’s elite. Either that, or the Huskies and Bruins will find they’re not ready for the national spotlight.

And then there’s the offense-centric SEC, where Ole Miss’ daunting schedule continues into October and Florida tries to move on without two key players.

September was great, but October is when the weather cools and the first BCS standings are released. Here’s a guide to your appointment viewing for the next four weeks.

October’s Top 10 College Football Games

1. Oct. 19 Florida State at Clemson

The ACC Atlantic race and likely the ACC’s only hope of producing a national championship contender hinges on two things: This game in Death Valley and the ability of both teams to avoid their traditional stumble against a league also-ran. Florida State fell behind Boston College by two touchdowns in the second quarter before surging to a 14-point win, and Clemson won ugly in a Thursday night game against NC State two weeks ago. With the way quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston are playing, this also could be a game to determine postseason hardware. One thing to watch: Maryland could be a spoiler this month, facing Florida State this week and Clemson in College Park on Oct. 26.

2. Oct. 5 Washington at Stanford
The Huskies handed Stanford one of its two losses last season by defeating the Cardinal 17-13. That was before Kevin Hogan took over as starting quarterback for Stanford and before Washington found solid ground offense. The Huskies’ offense is much improved from last season, particularly along the line. Keith Price has been sacked only three times in four games (Washington allowed 38 sacks last season). And Bishop Sankey leads the Pac-12 in rushing. The Stanford defense, though, is just as physical and punishing as ever.

3. Oct. 12 Oregon at Washington
Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will earn his pay this month. In the second leg in critical two weeks for Washington, The Huskies go from facing a methodical Stanford team to the track meet that is the Oregon offense. As for Oregon, this will be their stiffest test to date this season.

4. Oct. 19 UCLA at Stanford
After Washington, Pac-12 South contender UCLA will take its turn facing the Pac-12 North tandem. Stanford took both meetings last season, defeating the Bruins 35-17 in Pasadena and then 27-24 the following week in the Pac-12 title game. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley had two of his three worst games in terms of passing efficiency last season against the Cardinal, so he may need to be the difference.

5. Oct. 26 UCLA at Oregon
This is Round Two in UCLA’s road swing from Mordor. Like Washington, UCLA faces Stanford then Oregon. The Bruins have lost four in a row to Oregon as the series returns to Eugene for the fourth time in five meetings (the last was a 49-31 loss in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Autzen Stadium). If the Heisman is going to come from the Pac-12, this could be the key game as Hundley faces Marcus Mariota for the matchup of the best dual-threat quarterbacks West of College Station.

6. Oct. 5 Ohio State at Northwestern
The biggest game in Evanston since at least when Pat Fitzgerald was on the field as a player instead of a coach. The Wildcats will hope Venric Mark is healthy, adding him to an offense that’s been dynamic without him for the first month of the season. With Mark, the Wildcats have the versatile playmakers and dual-threat quarterbacks who have given the Buckeyes trouble during their 17-game win streak.

7. Oct. 18 UCF at Louisville (Friday)
Louisville is cruising and the American Athletic Conference has given the Cardinals little reason to be intimidated by their upcoming schedule — three AAC teams are 0-4, and one has fired its coach. UCF, though, is the exception, The Golden Knights went toe-to-toe with South Carolina last week as the Gamecocks’ needed 28 consecutive points in the second half to put the Knights away. After Blake Bortles passed for 358 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Gamecocks, he showed he might be ready to take on the Cards.

8. Oct. 12 Texas A&M at Ole Miss
The Rebels perhaps showed they weren’t ready to take on the SEC’s elite after losing 25-0 to Alabama, but the brutal schedule continues into October. This will be the first game in Oxford since the Rebels faced Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 7. Will the Grove be preparing for a triumphant 4-1 team or an Ole Miss team riding a two-game losing streak after the road trip to Auburn?

9. Oct. 12 Florida at LSU
Even in this new-look SEC where offense reigns, Florida remains built on tough, physical defense and an offense that prefers to control the clock. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and his impressive group of receivers were able to pick up points against Georgia, but Florida may have the best pass defense in the league. For the Gators, they’ll find out quickly if injuries to Jeff Driskel and Dominique Easley have eliminated them from SEC contention.

10. Oct. 5 Georgia Tech at Miami
The ACC Coastal has had a quietly eventful two weeks with Georgia Tech defeating North Carolina and Virginia Tech taking out the Yellow Jackets less than a week later. Miami will try to notch its first major win in the division race when it hosts Georgia Tech — which could go from division frontrunner to 2-2 in a span of two weeks.

Other games to watch
Oct. 5 Maryland at Florida State
Oct. 5 Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (in Dallas)
Oct. 12 Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)
Oct. 12 Michigan at Penn State
Oct. 19 LSU at Ole Miss
Oct. 26 Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Oct. 26 Clemson at Maryland

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-inside-out-threats
Body:

 The top three names in our list of inside-out players for 2013-14 each have something to prove.

Creighton’s Doug McDermott returned for his senior season with an opportunity to lead his father’s team in its first season in the Big East. Instead of facing Drake, Bradley and Southern Illinois, he’ll face Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette on a regular basis.

Adreian Payne could have made the leap to the NBA, but Michigan State hasn’t been to the Final Four in the last three seasons in what constitutes a drought for the Spartans.

And Jabari Parker is the superstar freshman who’s gone toe-to-toe with Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins in the AAU circuit. Wiggins may is the No. 1 freshman and the presumptive top pick in the NBA Draft, but Parker will get a crack at him on Nov. 12.

Our list of the nation’s best inside-out players is the one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Slashers  | Next: Post Players

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Inside-Out Threats
1.Doug McDermott, Creighton
6-8/225, Sr.
The return of McDermott turns Creighton into an instant contender for the Big East title. If you’re wondering if McDermott was the product of the Missouri Valley, consider that he averaged 26 points in nine games against top-50 RPI teams, including 41 against Final Four-bound Wichita State.
2.Adreian Payne, Michigan State
6-10/240, Sr.
Like Gary Harris, Payne returned to Michigan State to compete for a national championship. A year ago, he was one of the most improved players in the country thanks to his pick-and-pop shooting. He averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds while making 38.1 percent of his 42 3-point shots.
3.Jabari Parker, Duke
6-8/235, Fr.
Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky’s haul of freshmen are getting more attention, but Parker is in a similar category. Described as a Swiss Army knife kind of a player, Parker will be a matchup nightmare with his versatility, athleticism and scoring ability. He could flourish from any spot on the floor.
4.Rodney Hood, Duke
6-8/215, So.
Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t taken many transfers at Duke, but all three before Hood have been major contributors. Expect the Mississippi State import to follow suit.  He and Parker will be an interchangeable and dangerous twosome for the ACC favorites.
5.Dwight Powell, Stanford
6-10/235, Sr.
Powell averaged 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, but Stanford may need more from him to escape the NIT. Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins would like to see him play more aggressively in his final season.
6.Aaron Gordon, Arizona
6-8/219, Fr.
The top newcomer in the Pac-12 turns the Wildcats into a legitimate Final Four contender. Gordon is in a class with Parker, Wiggins and Kentucky’s freshmen with his ability to play any spot on the floor. He’ll play small forward for Arizona but could easily play closer to the basket.
7.C.J. Fair, Syracuse
6-8/215, Sr.
The outlook for Syracuse improved dramatically when Fair elected to return to school. The steady senior led the Orange in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (seven) while making 46.9 percent of his 3-pointers. One star among a handful last season, he’ll need to take on a lead role for a team that can win the ACC title.
8.Ryan Anderson, Boston College
6-9/216, Jr.
One of the core members of Steve Donahue’s rebuilding effort at Boston College, Anderson anchors the frontcourt in a perimeter-oriented lineup. The 6-9 junior has been to the free throw line 287 times the last two seasons, converting 64.1 percent of the time.
9.LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
6-8/220, Jr.
Ross took off in the NCAA Tournament, becoming the second scorer Ohio State sorely needed to complement Deshaun Thomas. Now, he’ll need to be the No. 1 option. Ross averaged 15 points per game in four NCAA Tournament games while playing just over 20 minutes per game.
10.JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s
6-9/214, So.
Sampson stepped in as a freshman and led a talent frontcourt by averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. Expect him to lead the way again as St. John’s makes a bid to return to the NCAA Tournament.

Other Inside-Out Superlatives:
Freshman to watch: Preston “Chicken” Knowles, Houston
Junior college transfer to watch: Jonathan Holton, West Virginia
On the spot: T.J. Warren, NC State
Breakout candidate: Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
Underrated: Jamil Wilson, Marquette

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-6
Body:

In the Week 6 episode of the Athlon Sports Cover 2 podcast, co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox give a few quick reactions on what happened in an eventful Week 5 and then take a look at this week’s action.

In this week’s podcast:

• Braden runs down the headlines of the week (non-Lane Kiffin division): Aaron Murray came out on top for Georgia, but Zach Mettenberger rose to the occasion, Alabama’s quietly convincing win over Ole Miss, Ohio State’s championship-caliber defense and why Oklahoma is now the Big 12 frontrunner.

• In Kiffin news, we rate where USC stands as an elite college football job. Is it still an A-plus job, and who would our amateur ADs look at for the Trojans’ job?

• A quick look around the ACC, previewing Maryland-Florida State. Do the Seminoles have reason to worry against the Terps and where does the Coastal stand?

• Beyond USC’s loss, the Pac-12 made news as Washington, Stanford and Oregon flexed their muscles. Where do the Huskies stand going into their game against Stanford?
 

The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.

 

Thanks to Moon Taxi for sharing their tunes for bumper music. Their new album Mountains Beaches Cities is now available.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-slashers
Body:

 The Big 12 may be the best league for slashers in college basketball. It’s at least going to be the home of the best slasher for a season.

Andrew Wiggins turned the Big 12 projections on their head when he announced for Kansas. The team without a returning starter may be the preseason favorite.

But you only need to look at some of the names on this list to consider why the Big 12 would be an exciting league without him. Baylor’s Cory Jefferson and Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash are among our top five slashers for 2013-14, and neither may be the best players on their own team.

Our list of the nation’s best shooters is the first in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Scorers | Next: Inside-Out

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Slashers
1Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
6-8/200, Fr.
Wiggins single-handedly turned Kansas from a fringe top-25 team with no returning starters to a team knocking on the top five. In what’s probably his only year on campus, he could be the best freshman since Kevin Durant.
2Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
6-4/190, So.
Sulaimon was a secondary option last season with Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, but he showed plenty of ability to take over with 27 points against Boston College and 25 against Maryland. He’ll be a more versatile scoring threat on a team full of them this season.
3Jordan McRae, Tennessee
6-6/185, Sr.
One of the most valuable players in the SEC, McRae tried to will Tennessee to the NCAA Tournament, averaging 28 points per game during a five-game stretch late in the season. He averaged 37.7 minutes per game during the SEC season.
4Cory Jefferson, Baylor
6-9/220, Sr.
Jefferson is a big-time athletic forward who emerged as a senior, averaging 13.3 points and eight rebounds. If he carries his NIT performance (21.2 ppg in five games) to this season, Baylor shouldn’t be in the NIT again.
5Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State
6-7/235, Jr.
The McDonald’s All-American needed two years to deliver on his promise (playing with Marcus Smart didn’t hurt, either). Nash started his career trying to play on the perimeter but adjusted to playing closer to the basket, averaging 14 points and 4.1 rebounds.
6Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
6-8/215, Sr.
One of the heroes of Wichita State’s Final Four run, Early averaged 16.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. He had little expectations as a junior college transfer last season. Now, he’s a major name.
7Alex Poythress, Kentucky
6-7/239, So.
Poythress could have left school to be a first-round NBA Draft pick but returned to school. He had an uneven year at 11.2 points and six rebounds per game, but he’ll be a key veteran for a team with national championship aspirations.
8Treveon Graham, VCU
6-5/215, Jr.
VCU ran a four-guard offense, putting Graham at the de facto power forward spot as he averaged 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He may not need to do that as much with Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon in the frontcourt.
9Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
6-7/220, So.
The rare five-star freshman to sign with Wisconsin, Dekker helped the Badgers overcome the season-long injury to Josh Gasser. He’ll graduate from part-time status averaging 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds to a potential Big Ten Player of the Year.
10Geron Johnson, Memphis
6-3/197, Sr.
The junior college transfer was a sparkplug for a team filled with high-profile four-year recruits. Johnson averaged 10.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season, and he’ll be a key player in a loaded backcourt.

OTHER SLASHER SUPERLATIVES
Breakout to watch: LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
Off-court concerns: P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
Mid-major star: Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-scorers
Body:

 Great scorers find a way to get the job done.

These aren’t one-dimensional players who take 3-pointers or jump shots. These are the players you want to have the ball in their hands when the game is on the line.

They’ll create their own shot, they’ll take a jumper, they’ll drive to the basket or they’ll get to free throw line.

Leading the way in our superlatives in this category is Russ Smith. The Louisville guard still plays wild at times on both ends of the court, but those tendencies have been channeled to make him one of the most dynamic and entertaining players in the country for 2013-14. A player not normally linked with efficiency, he was named the kenpom.com Player of the Year  for his offensive metrics and role in the Cardinals’ defense.

Our list of the nation’s best scorers is one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Shooters | Next: Slashers

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Scorers
1Russ Smith, Louisville
6-0/165, Sr.
Smith could make the case as the nation’s most valuable players last season and one of the most improved. He became more involved in the offense yet his shooting efficiency numbers went up. He’s also adept at getting to the free throw line, shooting 80.4 percent.
2Tyler Haws, BYU
6-5/200, Jr.
Haws returned from an LDS mission to average 21.7 points per game. He may need to put up Jimmer-like numbers this season as BYU will have a depleted roster. A scary thought: This is the first time he’s gone through a full offseason program.
3Semaj Christon, Xavier
6-3/190, So.
Christon is primed to break out on the national scene after playing through an elbow injury for a subpar Xavier team last season. He still averaged 15.2 points and 4.6 assists. You’ll get to know him thanks to a year of experience and Big East exposure.
4Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
6-4/215, Sr.
Kilpatrick is a rarity in college basketball: The fifth-year senior. His experience will be an asset for the Bearcats, as will his scoring touch. He averaged 17 points per game, but they weren’t terribly efficient (14.4 field goal attempts per game).
5Jordan Adams, UCLA
6-5/220, So.
His injury late in the season was considered devastating to the Bruins’ postseason hopes. Despite Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson on the roster, Adams may have been the most valuable freshman, averaging 15.3 points per game.
6Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
6-3/190, Sr.
Brown started out as a dunker, but he made major strides last season to become a more complete scorer. The senior averaged 15.3 points, raising his efficiency numbers across the board.
7Bryce Cotton, Providence
6-1/165, Sr.
A good enough scorer to give a dogged defender like Russ Smith fits, Cotton led the Big East at 19.7 points per game. He started his season as the point guard but was too valuable a scorer to be a distributor.
8C.J. Wilcox, Washington
6-5/195, Sr.
Wilcox may be the best pure shooter in the Pac-12 and will be the key player on a team looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence. More consistent point guard play will help.
9Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
6-1/171, Sr.
Napier is the most valuable member of one of the nation’s best backcourts. A bit player on UConn’s 2011 national championship team, Napier showed plenty of clutch play as a junior when he averaged 17.1 points per game.
10Tim Frazier, Penn State
6-1/170, Sr.
Winning basketball games isn’t easy for Penn State, particularly when the Nittany Lions’ best player goes down with a Achilles’ injury in November. Frazier returns this season after averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists in his last healthy season.

OTHER SCORER SUPERLATIVES
Key veteran: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Super sophomore: Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
Breakout to watch: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
NIT to the big time: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-shooters
Body:

 Perhaps traveling a long way is an asset toward becoming a top shooter in college basketball.

That’s the trend for the year, it seems.

Senior Joe Harris arrived at Virginia from Chelan, Wash., to become a 41-percent shooter in his career with the Cavaliers. And Marshall Henderson, provided he plays this season, remains a well-traveled 3-point threat after moving from a Texas high school to Utah to Ole Miss.

Others have a Canadian flair. Four of the top 10 shooters on our list come from our neighbors from the North. Nik Stauskas (Michigan), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga) and Brady Heslip (Baylor) all come from Ontario while Olivier Hanlan (Boston College) is from Quebec.

Our list of the nation’s best shooters is the first in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Floor Leaders  | Next: Scorers

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Shooters
1Joe Harris, Virginia
6-6/226, Sr.
Before tailing off at the end of the season, Harris was shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range. With extra help this season, that Cavaliers won’t need him to take a dozen shots a game.
2Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
6-2/175, Sr.
The combustable Henderson attempted more 3-pointers than five teams and 34 more than any other player. Henderson wasn’t particularly efficient (35 percent), but his shooting helped transform the Rebels’ season. Can he do it again?
3Nik Stauskas, Michigan
6-6/205, So.
Like many 3-point shooters, Stauskas heated up and cooled down through the season, but when he was on, he was dangerous. In the Elite Eight against Florida, Stauskas went 6-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Canadian shot 44 percent from 3 during his freshman season.
4Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
6-2/182, Jr.
Pangos (and fellow backcourt mate Gary Bell Jr.) will need to adjust to playing on a team where the offense doesn’t flow through big man Kelly Olynyk. Pangos has been remarkably consistent from 3-point range, averaging 40.8 percent from long range in two seasons.
5Gary Harris, Michigan State
6-4/205, So.
A projected NBA lottery pick, Harris surprised many when he elected to return to school. He shot 41.1 percent from long range, but he should become a more complete guard as sophomore after shoulder troubles limited last season.
6Olivier Hanlan, Boston College
6-4/184, So.
The ACC Freshman of the Year is a perfect fit in what Steve Donahue wants to accomplish at Boston College. He’ll have plenty of momentum heading into the season by going 14 of 18 from the field and 8 of 10 from 3-point range in the ACC Tournament.
7Luke Hancock, Louisville
6-6/200, Sr.
The hero of the Cardinals’ national championship run, Hancock made 15 of 26 3-pointers in the final eight games. If not for a slow start last season, he easily would have been a 40-percent 3-point shooter for the season.
8Jabari Brown, Missouri
6-5/214, Jr.
Brown became eligible in December after his transfer from Oregon last season to contribute 13.7 points per game a 36.6-percent shooting from 3-point range.
9Anthony Drmic, Boise State
6-6/196, Jr.
Drmic helped to lead the Broncos’ prolific backcourt along with Derrick Marks. Drmic can penetrate, but he also made 80 of 204 3-pointers on the way to a team-leading 17.7 points per game.
10Brady Heslip, Baylor
6-2/180, Sr.
Heslip transferred from Boston College but will be one of the best 3-point shooters in Baylor history. Heslip is a 42.1-percent career shooter on more than 200 attempts each season at Baylor.

OTHER SHOOTER SUPERLATIVES
Breakout to watch: Kellen Dunham, Butler
Mid-major star: Travis Bader, Oakland
Transfer to watch: Coron Williams, Wake Forest (from Robert Morris)
NCAA Tourney hero: Ron Baker, Wichita State
Seventh-year senior: Ben Brust, Wisconsin
 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-point-guards
Body:

 Perhaps the two names atop Athlon Sports’ list of point guards and floor leaders for the 2013-14 season says something about how the year will transpire.

Oklahoma State and Arizona State are not likely candidates to have the nation’s best point guards, but Marcus Smart and Jahii Carson are not your average sophomores. And the best part about these two names is that both guards are drastically different. Smart is a 6-4 guard who can rebound while Carson is a 5-10 speedster.

The first blue blood program on the list is Kentucky with Andrew Harrison, who follows in the footsteps of other one-and-done point guards to play for John Calipari. He should improve a position that was a major liability in Kentucky’s failed bid to defend its national title in the NCAA Tournament.

Our list of the nation’s best point guards is the first in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.
 

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Floor Leaders
1

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
6-4/220, So.
The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year could have left school to be the top point guard taken in the NBA Draft. He averaged 16.3 points and 3.9 assists during Big 12 play, both among the top five in the league. He also led the league in steals (3.2 per game) in conference games. His intangibles are even better.

2Jahii Carson, Arizona State
5-10/180, So.
The speedy point guard reversed fortunes for Herb Sendek and Arizona State by leading the Sun Devils to the NIT. Carson led all freshmen nationally in scoring (18.5 points per game) and became the first freshman in 20 years to top 18.5 points and 5.1 assists.
 
3Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
6-5/210, Sr.
In 2012-13, John Calipari lacked a dynamic point guard for the first time since the Derrick Rose days at Memphis. That will change this season with Harrison arriving on campus. The freshman from Fort Bend, Texas, is another big, athletic point guard who will put his name with guys like Rose and John Wall.
4Aaron Craft, Ohio State
6-2/195, Sr.
If you’ve watched the least bit of college basketball the last three seasons, you’re familiar with Craft: He’s a consummate leader and floor general and an intense defender. And as Iowa State learned in the NCAA Tournament, he can nail the big-time 3-pointer.
5Keith Appling, Michigan State
6-1/190, Sr.
Appling may be under more pressure than any point guard on our list. The Spartans are a national title contender, but Appling needs to take the next step in his development. He improved his decision-making late last season when he led Michigan State in scoring (13.4 ppg).
6Joe Jackson, Memphis
6-1/174, Sr.
Jackson may go down as one of the top players in Memphis history after improving each his first three seasons. His biggest improvement last season was improving form long range from 30.2 percent to 44.7 percent in 22 more attempts.
7Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
6-6/200, Jr.
Dinwiddie has been the backbone of Tad Boyle’s reclamation project at Colorado, starting every game the last two seasons. Dinwiddie got to the free throw line 240 times last season, converting 82.5 percent of the time.
8Kyle Anderson, UCLA
6-9/235, So.
This will be one of the most intriguing positions to watch as the 6-9 Anderson takes more point guard duties with Larry Drew II gone from the Bruins. He’s not your typical point guard, but the Swiss Army Knife is a floor leader/floor general/point forward nonetheless.
9Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
6-0/178, So.
Ferrell had the unenviable task last season stepping into the point guard role on a preseason No. 1 team featuring highly touted veterans. With Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and others gone, Ferrell is now the veteran on a young team. His 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio shows he’s up to the task.
10Chaz Williams, UMass
5-9/175, Sr.
Williams is the centerpiece for UMass’ up-tempo offense/pressure defense philosophy. The Minutemen expect to be in NCAA Tournament contention with Williams running the point, which he does superbly. Williams scored or assistant on 48.7 percent of UMass’ field goals last season.

More point guard superlatives
Freshman to watch: Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
Transfer to watch: T.J. McConnell, Arizona (from Duquesne)
Seventh-year seniors: Grant Gibbs, Creighton, and Jake Odum, Indiana State
Returning from injury: Tim Frazier, Penn State
Mid-major star: Siyani Chambers, Harvard
Best you don’t know yet: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-top-50-coaches-2013-14
Body:

The national championship hardware remains in the state of Kentucky, but Athlon Sports’ top coach honors remain in East Lansing.

Last season, we ranked Michigan State’s Tom Izzo the No. 1 coach in the country, and we saw little reason to change that in 2012-13. The Spartans were in the thick of the Big Ten all season, finishing one game behind Indiana for regular season title in the toughest league in the country. Michigan State then reached the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in six seasons.

Izzo is 13 seasons removed from his only national title, but he’s also reached the Final Four four times since then.

That number may beg the question why Izzo, and not a more recent national champion, is our top coach. Simply put, he excels in all areas as a college basketball coach: NCAA Tournament success, regular season consistency, recruiting and player development.

Consider that no senior who has started with Izzo has finished his four years without reaching the Final Four. And Izzo has had this success without the benefit of churning out NBA Draft picks as freshmen and sophomores every year as many of his counterparts do. There’s nothing wrong with recruiting one-and-dones and sending them to the Draft, but Izzo has a formula that has worked for nearly two decades despite all the changes in the sport.
 

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Record (all at Michigan State): 439-178 overall (.712), 209-95 Big Ten (.693)
NCAA Tournament: 39-16, six Final Fours, one national championship
Tom Izzo will have two McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster in 2013-14 in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, a rarity for the longtime Spartans’ coach. Few coaches have weathered the changes in college basketball as well as Izzo — the changes in the NBA Draft rules, the ups and downs in the Big Ten and all the challenges that come with recruiting. Izzo has assembled the Big Ten’s most consistent program without a glut of first-round draft picks (none since 2006) or early entries to the NBA Draft (none during the one-and-done era). Consider this: Appling and Adreian Payne are looking to avoid becoming the first senior class to play all four years with Izzo and miss the Final Four.

2. Rick Pitino, Louisville
Record: 662-235
Record at Louisville: 310-111 overall (.736), 137-67 Conference USA/Big East (.672)
NCAA Tournament: 48-16, seven Final Fours, two national championships
Pitino further added his name to the record book by becoming the first coach to win an NCAA title at two different schools. He’ll have a chance to add a third title to the mantle as the Cardinals enter 2013-14 as a top-three team. In the AAC, he has no peer has an Tournament coach. His 48 NCAA wins are 15 more than the other nine coaches in the league combined. His teams are generally among the best defensive squads in the country with their ability to force turnovers. Pitino also is an excellent in-game tactician. But the legendary coach also has softened his demeanor in recent years. Just ask Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.

3. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
Record: 957-238
Record at Duke: 884-238 overall (.788), 350-153 ACC (.696)
NCAA Tournament: 82-25, 11 Final Fours, four national championships
Since 2007, Duke has lost in the NCAA Tournament to an 11th-seeded VCU, seventh-seeded West Virginia and 15th-seeded Lehigh. In that span, Mike Krzyzewski still managed his fourth national title and four 30-win seasons. Krzyzewski has passed Bob Knight on the all-time wins list and now chases Pat Summitt’s 1,098 wins in NCAA basketball. With a preseason top-five team on his hands in 2013-14, Krzyzewski remains at the top of his game.

4. John Calipari, Kentucky
Record: 568-166
Record at Kentucky: 123-26 overall (.826), 52-14 SEC (.788)
NCAA Tournament: 38-13, four Final Fours, one national championship
Calipari had his worst season since 2004-05 at Memphis as Kentucky went 21-12 and lost to Robert Morris in the NIT. True, this was not a typical Calipari team, but the Wildcats were on the verge of the NCAA Tournament before star Nerlens Noel went down with a leg injury. But Calipari should rebound in a way only he can. While his 2012-13 team plodded through an unimpressive SEC, Calipari was assembling one of the best recruiting classes of all time. Calipari could turn an NIT embarrassment into another Final Four appearance or more in 2013-14.

5. Bill Self, Kansas
Record: 507-164
Record at Kansas: 300-59 overall (.836), 137-27 Big 12 (.835)
NCAA Tournament: 35-14, two Final Fours, one national championship
The names and faces outside of Lawrence keep changing, but Kansas hasn’t fallen from its perch in the Big 12. Self has won at least 30 games in four consecutive seasons and reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in six of the last seven seasons. Even when the Jayhawks looked vulnerable for 2013-14 after losing all five starters, they signed the presumptive No. 1 draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, and landed transfer Tarik Black from Memphis. The new faces, including a signing class that ranked only second to Kentucky, will present a challenge for Self. He’s had the luxury of developing players like Cole Aldrich and Thomas Robinson from role players to All-America-type stars. Perry Ellis fits that mold for KU, but he's one of the few players with experience in the Big 12.

6. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Record (all at Syracuse): 920-314 (.746) overall, 362-191 (.655)
NCAA Tournament: 52-29, four Final Fours, one national championship
Last season was quite a year for Jim Boeheim. He crossed the 900-win mark (joining KrzyzewskI and Knight) and became the fourth coach to take a team to the Final Four in four different decades (joining Rick Pitino, Dean Smith and Krzyzewski). Now, one of the founding fathers of Big East basketball will try his hand at the ACC. In case you were wondering: Boeheim is 3-4 all-time against Duke and North Carolina.

7. Roy Williams, North Carolina
Record: 700-180
Record at North Carolina: 282-79 (.781) overall, 117-45 ACC (.722)
NCAA Tournament: 62-21, seven Final Fours, two national championships
Despite his stellar record, Roy Williams gets knocked for a few things: His teams crumble in the NCAA Tournament, and his teams don’t play defense. To those, we have two retorts. Williams has a better NCAA Tournament record at North Carolina (28-7) than he had at Kansas (34-14), a difference of nearly 10 percent and two national titles. And in 10 seasons under Williams, North Carolina has ranked in the top 25 nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings eight times.

8. Billy Donovan, Florida
Record: 450-186
Record at Florida: 415-166 overall (.714), 174-110 SEC (.635)
NCAA Tournament: 31-11, three Final Fours, two national championships
Donovan is the only coach standing in the way of Kentucky hegemony in the SEC. The Gators needed some time to regroup after back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007, but they’ve won the SEC regular season title in two of the last three seasons. The Gators have lost in the Elite Eight in each of the last three seasons, but most teams would take three consecutive trips to the regional finals. Few programs will recruit to the same level as Kentucky, but Donovan never lacks for elite prospects in Gainesville.

9. Thad Matta, Ohio State
Record: 352-104
Record at Ohio State: 250-73 overall (.774), 111-45 (.712)
NCAA Tournament: 22-11, two Final Fours
More often than not, Matta has had the most talented roster in the Big Ten, especially since the Thad Five led the Buckeyes to the national championship game in 2007. The Buckeyes have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons, though the 2011 team that stalled in the Sweet 16 was a major postseason disappointment. In 13 seasons as a head coach at Xavier, Butler and Ohio State, Matta has claimed at least a share of a regular season title an astounding eight times.

10. John Beilein, Michigan
Record: 415-260
Record at Michigan: 112-85 overall (.589), 55-53 Big Ten (.509)
NCAA Tournament: 13-8, one Final Four
Beilein is, in college basketball coaching terms, a self-made man. He’s never been an assistant, making his route to Michigan that much more unique. But now that he’s made the journey from community college to Le Moyne to Canisius to Richmond to West Virginia to Ann Arbor, we’re getting an idea of what Beilein can do at a Big Ten powerhouse. Beilein is the most successful coach at Michigan since the Fab Five days, and he shows little signs of slowing down. He’s signed elite recruits like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III while developing a point guard Ohio State ignored in its own backyard (Trey Burke) into the national player of the year.

11. Shaka Smart, VCU
Record (all at VCU): 117-37 overall (.750), 50-20 Colonial/Atlantic 10 (.714)
NCAA Tournament: 7-3, one Final Four
Smart’s 117 wins through his first four seasons matches Brad Stevens’ record for the most wins in the first four seasons in of a career. If VCU wins 23 games this season, he’ll have the record for most wins in his first five seasons. More than wins, Smart’s teams have an identity based on the havoc defense. The Rams have led the nation in turnover rate the last two seasons, forcing turnovers on more than a quarter of possessions.

12. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Record: 321-140
Record at Wisconsin: 291-113 overall (.720), 144-60 Big Ten (.705)
NCAA Tournament: 16-12
The 2013-14 season was further testament that no matter what happens, Bo Ryan will have a top-four team in the Big Ten. Point guard Jordan Taylor moved on, then heir apparent Josh Gasser was lost for the season with a torn ACL in October. No matter, Wisconsin still finished 12-6 in the Big Ten, finishing in the top four in the league ever season under Ryan. Ryan has good reason to be confident in his formula: He’s been able to develop players in his system year in and year out. In 11 seasons at Wisconsin, Ryan’s teams have ranked in the top 10 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency eight times and in the top 30 of offensive efficiency eight times. The only knock, though, is Wisconsin’s bad luck in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers haven’t advanced beyond the Sweet 16 since 2005.

13. Sean Miller, Arizona
Record: 216-90
Record at Arizona: 96-43 overall (.691), 48-24 Pac-12 (.667)
NCAA Tournament: 11-6
It may be too early to say Sean Miller has returned Arizona to Lute Olson levels, but the Wildcats aren’t too far off. After a 16-15 mark in his first season, Miller has led Arizona to an 80-28 record in the last three, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2011 and Sweet 16 in 2013. With a star-studded freshman class led by Aaron Gordon, Miller has a team that will contend the Final Four, a milestone the Wildcats haven’t reached since 2001.

14. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh
Record (all at Pittsburgh): 262-86 overall (.753), 115-57 (.669) Big East
NCAA Tournament: 11-9
The 2011-12 season turned out to be a blip for Jamie Dixon at Pittsburgh. The Panthers went 5-13 in the Big East and missed the NCAA Tournament for his worst season as Pitt’s head coach. The Panthers quickly rebounded in 2013-14. Overall, a few numbers to consider: Dixon has one more Big East win than Boeheim since Dixon became head coach in 2003-04. Dixon also had 16 more Big East wins than Jim Calhoun from 2003-04 through the UConn coach’s retirement last season. And lastly, Dixon had only three fewer Big East wins (92) than Louisville’s Rick Pitino (95) when both programs were in the league. The only thing that’s missing is postseason success: Dixon has reached the Elite Eight and won Big East Tournament only once each.

15. Mike Montgomery, Cal
Record: 655-304
Record at Cal: 109-59 overall (.649), 59-31 Pac-12 (.656)
NCAA Tournament: 18-16, one Final Four
By going 12-6 in the Pac-12 last season, Montgomery is the first Cal coach to win 10 or more conference games in five consecutive seasons since Pete Newell did it in the ‘50s, a run that included the 1959 national championship. Montgomery may not replicate his run at Stanford, but Cal has proven it will be in the mix for an NCAA Tournament slot each season, no matter the changing personnel.

16. Mark Few, Gonzaga
Record (all at Gonzaga): 374-93 overall (.801), 178-22 West Coast (.890)
NCAA Tournament: 15-14
The West Coast Conference has become more competitive since Few took over in 1999-2000, but the Bulldogs continue to sit atop the league. Only once in his tenure has Gonzaga failed to win neither a West Coast regular season nor tournament title (2011-12). Gonzaga followed that with the best regular season in school history with a 32-3 record, 16-0 league mark and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That season was spoiled by a round of 32 loss to Wichita State, the fourth consecutive season Gonzaga failed to reach the second weekend of the Tournament.

17. Tom Crean, Indiana
Record: 274-178
Record at Indiana: 84-82 overall (.506), 33-57 Big Ten (.367)
NCAA Tournament: 9-7, one Final Four
Crean has brought Indiana back to national prominence in a way that’s been lacking since the Bob Knight era. Crean reestablished Indiana’s recruiting clout in state, starting with the signing of Cody Zeller and continuing with Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell. After a breakthrough season which saw Indiana win only its second post-Knight Big Ten title, it’s time to see if Crean can keep Indiana on top.

18. Buzz Williams, Marquette
Record: 136-71
Record at Marquette: 122-54 overall (.693), 60-30 Big East (.667)
NCAA Tournament: 8-5
Buzz Williams’ name keeps getting thrown out for other major jobs, but the stat-minded Texan is doing just fine in Milwaukee. Marquette is one of only four teams to reach the Sweet 16 in each of the last three seasons, joining Florida, Kansas and Ohio State. And he’s done this without the benefit of McDonald’s All-Americans. And despite the departure of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom before last season, Marquette won a share of the Big East title. 

19. Bob Huggins, West Virginia
Record: 651-261
Record at West Virginia: 133-75 overall (.635), 60-48 Big East/Big 12 (.556)
NCAA Tournament: 27-20, two Final Fours
West Virginia’s first season in the Big 12 truly was an aberration for Huggin. The 13-19 season was only the second losing season of his career and second losing conference season (the first for both being his first season at Akron in 1984-85). Perhaps Huggins had a mix that simply didn’t jell last season with Deniz Klicli trying to mesh with a handful of transfers and freshmen. Still, Huggins has made things work with wayward souls throughout his career, and he’ll try to do the same in 2013-14. The Mountaineers have regressed each season since reaching the 2010 Final Four, so there’s an element of concern here.

20. Jim Larranaga, Miami
Record: 491-329
Record at Miami: 49-20 overall (.710), 24-10 ACC (.706)
NCAA Tournament: 7-6, one Final Four
When Larranaga left George Mason for Miami, it seemed to be a cushy last job before he retired. Turns out Larranaga had a few more surprises. Seven years after taking George Mason to the Final Four, Larranaga won an ACC Tournament and regular-season title at Miami — the last ACC team other than Duke or North Carolina to do both in the same season was a David Thompson-led NC State team in 1974. Nearly as remarkable: Larranaga has had one losing conference season since 1993-94 while at Bowling Green.

21. Dana Altman, Oregon
Record: 483-280
Record at Oregon: 73-37 overall (.664), 32-22 Pac-12 (.593)
NCAA Tournament: 4-9
Who would've pegged Altman this close to the 500-win club? Odds are the Ducks coach will get there this season. He’s won 20 games in 14 of the last 15 seasons with Oregon and Creighton. Not bad for an interesting start to his tenure. He wasn’t the first choice for the Ducks, but Altman has been a success in Eugene. His teams have changed quite a bit in three seasons due to transfers in and out of the program, but three consecutive 20-win seasons is the best run at Oregon since 1935-39.

22. John Thompson III, Georgetown
Record: 277-131
Record at Georgetown: 209-89 overall (.701), 99-57 (.635)
NCAA Tournament: 8-9, one Final Four
Thompson’s tenure at Georgetown has been marred by early NCAA Tournament exits, but consider three of the last five teams that knocked the Hoyas out of the Tournament: Florida Gulf Coast, a Final Four-bound VCU and a Stephen Curry-led Davidson. Thompson’s career shouldn’t be defined by those exits. Georgetown surprised last season by winning a share of the Big East title, the third time the Hoyas have won the regular-season championship under Thompson.

23. Jay Wright, Villanova
Record: 379-229
Record at Villanova: 257-144 overall (.641), 114-90 Big East (.559)
NCAA Tournament: 12-10, one Final Four
Villanova bounced back from a losing 2011-12 season by going 20-14 overall and 10-8 in the Big East last year. The Wildcats aren't competing at the same level as they were in the late 2000s, but they’re showing signs of getting back. Villanova defeated each of the Big East’s tri-champs (Louisville, Marquette and Georgetown) at least once last season plus Syracuse. Wright also has a point guard in Ryan Arcidiacono who is poised to be one of the league’s breakout stars. After reaching the NCAA Tournament in eight of the last nine seasons, 2011-12 was an aberration.

24. Steve Fisher, San Diego State
Record: 466-252
Record at San Diego State: 281-171 overall (.622), 113-97 MWC (.538)
NCAA Tournament: 23-12, three Final Fours, one national championship
Fisher’s San Diego State tenure alone would give him top honors in the Mountain West. He took over a program that had never won an NCAA Tournament game and turned it into a regular conference contender and top-25 team. The last two seasons ended in disappointment as the Aztecs lost in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament to double-digit seeds, but Fisher has led San Diego State to a 55-23 league record in the last five seasons while improving the program’s recruiting profile significantly.

25. Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
Record: 400-239
Record at Vanderbilt: 277-176 overall (.611), 111-115 SEC (.491)
NCAA Tournament: 6-8
Stallings may always wonder how his team with the core of Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli never made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Commodores are in a rebuilding phase after those three left school with school’s first SEC Tournament title in 61 years. The overall record isn’t flashy, but Stallings has built a consistent program at Vanderbilt, not an easy feat. He’s one win a way from tying Roy Skinner for the most wins in program history.

26. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
Record: 333-153
Record at Wichita State: 139-70 overall (.665), 66-42 Missouri Valley (.611)
NCAA Tournament: 5-9, one Final Four
Marshall perhaps went underappreciated nationally before taking Wichita State to the Final Four last season, but perhaps more should have seen a breakout coming for the Shockers. Marshall increased his win total each season in Wichita and improved the Shockers’ postseason results each season. Before Wichita State, Marshall led Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament in seven of nine seasons.

27. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
Record: 419-353
Record at Florida State: 219-143 overall (.605), 89-89 ACC (.500)
NCAA Tournament: 6-7
Hamilton knows something about degree of difficulty: He has won a share of the Big East regular-season title at Miami and an ACC Tournament title at Florida State. After losing seasons in ACC play in five of his first six years at FSU, Hamilton has gone 52-30 in the conference in the last four seasons. The defensive-minded Hamilton turned FSU into a factor in the ACC after more than a decade of irrelevance.

28. Matt Painter, Purdue
Record: 201-100
Record at Purdue: 176-95 overall (.649), 84-56 Big Ten (.600)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Painter knew he would be rebuilding after the Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore class left campus. The Boilermakers performed admirably under the circumstances in a loaded Big Ten last season, finishing 8-10. This could be a key season for Painter, though, as his program enters the second season of the post-Hummel era.

29. Mike Brey, Notre Dame
Record: 384-194
Record at Notre Dame: 285-142 overall (.667), 136-79 Big East (.633)
NCAA Tournament: 6-11
Stability is the name of the game here as Notre Dame has won 20 games in each of the last seven seasons, reached in the NCAA Tournament in six of the last seven years and protected its homecourt. Still, Notre Dame has not reached the second weekend of the NCAA since Brey’s third season in 2003.

30. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
Record: 514-332
Record at Oklahoma: 35-28 overall (.556), 16-20 Big 12 (.444)
NCAA Tournament: 14-14, one Final Four
Oklahoma knew what it would get when it hired Kruger, and the well-traveled coach delivered. No coach is more reliable at taking over a tough situation and putting the program on the right track. Kruger went 11-7 in the Big 12 in his second season at OU and became the first coach to take five different teams to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV were the others). Kruger has done his work with a minimal amount of flash — he’s never coached a consensus All-American, hasn’t won a regular-season conference title since 1998 and hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2008. But programs don’t hire Kruger expecting John Calipari.

31. Tad Boyle, Colorado
Record: 121-80
Record at Colorado: 69-38 overall (.645), 29-23 Big 12/Pac-12 (.558)
NCAA Tournament: 1-2
Colorado is one of the lucky basketball programs that has seen conference realignment work in its favor. The Buffaloes are 21-15 in the Pac-12 with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 1962-63. Boyle, who also laid the groundwork at Northern Colorado, has restored interest in basketball in Boulder, both from fans and aspiring NBA Draft picks.

32. Fran Dunphy, Temple
Record: 468-238
Record at Temple: 158-75 overall (.678), 80-32 Atlantic 10 (.714)
NCAA Tournament: 3-15
A staple of Philadelphia’s Big 5, Dunphy is as consistent as they come. In the last 24 seasons at Penn and Temple, Dunphy has finished outside of the top three of the conference standings only twice. While he has a reputation as a good defensive coach, he’ll adjust: His 2010 team, for example, was a slow-it-down team that excelled in defensive efficiency. With Khalif Wyatt the last two seasons and with Dionte Christmas early in his tenure, his teams have pushed the tempo (relatively speaking) and have been stronger on the offensive end. With a young group in a new league, Dunphy will have to find a new formula for 2013-14.

33. Tony Bennett, Virginia
Record: 145-86
Record at Virginia: 76-53 overall (.589), 32-34 ACC (.485)
NCAA Tournament: 3-3
Bennett’s preferred style of play isn’t the most exciting, but it is effective. He’s reversed the fortunes of Washington State and Virginia while making stars of Klay Thompson, Mike Smith and Joe Harris. The Cavaliers went 11-7 in the ACC last season, but this could be a breakout season for program that hasn’t reached the Sweet 16 since 1995.

34. Dave Rose, BYU
Record (all at BYU): 209-66 overall (.760), 100-28 Mountain West/West Coast (.781)
NCAA Tournament: 4-6
BYU’s two-year tenure in the West Coast Conference hasn’t been as impressive as the Jimmer Fredette-led seasons in the Mountain West, but that could change this season with Tyler Haws returning. Still, Rose has never failed to win 20 games in his eight seasons as a head coach. Last season was the first under Rose in which BYU lost double-digit games.

35. Bob McKillop, Davidson
Record (all at Davidson): 452-279 overall (.618), 275-103 Big South/Southern (.728)
NCAA Tournament: 3-7
If you thought Davidson and Bob McKillop was just the Stephen Curry, you’d be sorely mistaken. True, Davidson and McKillop were never better than when Curry brought the Wildcats to the brink of the Final Four, but this has been one of the most consistent mid-majors in the country. Davidson has gone 51-16 the last two seasons with a pair of SoCon regular season and tournament titles.

36. Rick Byrd, Belmont
Record (all at Belmont): 273-165 overall (.623), 167-57 Atlantic Sun/Ohio Valley (.746)
NCAA Tournament: 0-6
The 273 wins there doesn’t list Byrd’s victories at the NAIA level, which brings him up to 663. In only 13 years as a Division I program, Byrd has made Belmont one of top mid-majors. The Bruins have reached the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive seasons, including a 30-5 year in 2010-11.

37. Fran McCaffery, Iowa
Record: 305-227
Record at Iowa: 54-50 overall (.519), 21-33  Big Ten (.389)
NCAA Tournament: 2-5
McCaffery resurrected Iowa to NIT status the last two seasons, and he should have the Hawkeyes in contention for their first NCAA Tournament since 2006. If Iowa reaches the Tourney, it will be the fourth reclamation job McCaffery has led to the Big Dance, joining Lehigh, UNC Greensboro and Siena.

38. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
Record (all at Iowa State): 62-39 overall (.614), 26-26 in the Big 12 (.500)
NCAA Tournament: 2-2
Only Iowa State could have hired “The Mayor,” who spent more time in NBA front offices than on the coaches’ bench at any level. Hoiberg returned to Ames to make his alma mater competitive, going 23-13 in the Big 12 in the last two seasons. Iowa State needs to be creative to stay competitive, and that’s what it got in Hoiberg. He’s succeeded with Division I transfers in Royce White, Korie Lucious, Will Clyburn, Chris Babb and now DeAndre Kane. And Hoiberg has been among the best in applying advanced statistical analysis and scouting to his program. The Cyclones led the Big 12 in points per possession and effective field goal percentage last year.

39. Frank Martin, South Carolina
Record: 131-72
Record at South Carolina: 14-18 overall (.438), 4-14 SEC (.222)
NCAA Tournament: 6-4
Martin’s intense coaching style isn’t for everyone. South Carolina’s exodus of transfers may be an indication of that. If he can replicate what he did at Kansas State, Martin will have a formidable program at South Carolina. The Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament three times in four seasons under Martin, including the Elite Eight in 2011.

40. Larry Brown, SMU
Record: 192-78
Record at SMU: 15-17 overall (.469), 5-11 Conference USA (.312)
NCAA Tournament: 19-6, three Final Fours, one national championship
Here’s a dilemma: Where should Larry Brown rank as SMU’s coach? His past credentials are impeccable with a national title at Kansas and a Final Four at UCLA (both were in the 1980s), plus an NBA championship and NBA coach of the year with two different franchises. Coaching in college and coaching in the NBA require different skill sets. Moreover, coaching in college in 1988 requires a different skill set than in 2013. Can Brown be as good a program CEO as Fran Dunphy, who we have listed ahead of him? We don't know right now. Brown's debut season at SMU was unimpressive, but the Mustangs were building for their new conference. Brown has brought in a slew of transfers and a major recruit in Keith Frazier. With better personnel against tougher competition in the American Athletic Conference, Brown will have a better gauge of what his third stint as a college coach will bring.

41. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Record: 204-124
Record at Cincinnati: 135-100 overall (.574), 57-67 Big East (.460)
NCAA Tournament: 3-5
Cronin doesn’t have look of an intimidating coach, but the Cincinnati native successfully whipped his alma mater back in shape. In the last three seasons, Cincinnati went 32-22 in the Big East, reached the NCAA Tournament each year and upset No. 3 seed Florida State to reach the Sweet 16 in 2012. The recruiting connections Cronin has built into New York and New Jersey will be tested as the American Athletic Conference is geographically separated from the area.

42. Chris Mack, Xavier
Record (all at Xavier): 90-44 overall (.672), 48-16 Atlantic 10 (.750)
NCAA Tournament: 4-3
This could be a critical season for Mack’s momentum at Xavier. A Cincinnati and Xavier product through and through, Mack led Xavier to A-10 titles in his first two seasons and to the Sweet 16 twice in his first three seasons. With a depleted roster, Xavier slipped to 17-14 last season. The Musketeers have a potential All-American in sophomore Semaj Christon, so Mack should expect to return to form in his fifth season.


43. Steve Lavin, St. John’s
Record: 196-125
Record at St. John’s: 51-47 overall (.520), 26-28 Big East (.481)
NCAA Tournament: 11-7
Lavin’s record technically includes the majority of the 2011-12 season when he missed all but the first four games while recovering from successful treatment for prostate cancer. The Red Storm’s record with Lavin on the bench is 20-17 in the Big East. Beyond the record, Lavin has brought momentum back to St. John’s. Lavin took a veteran team to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, but he has replenished the program with standout recruiting classes in recent years. St. John’s should be a consistent contender in the new Big East.

44. Lorenzo Romar, Washington
Record: 330-217
Record at Washington: 237-129 overall (.648), 118-82 Pac-12 (.590)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Washington’s sixth-place finish in the Pac-12 was the Huskies’ lowest in the league since 2007-08, prompting Romar to clean house on his staff. Romar has had little trouble bringing talent to Washington over the last decade, but the Huskies haven’t always had consistent results. Washington has missed the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, but the Huskies won either the Pac-12 regular season or tournament title in four consecutive seasons from 2009-12.

45. Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s
Record (all at Saint Mary’s): 263-125 overall (.678), 117-55 West Coast (.682)
NCAA Tournament: 3-5
Saint Mary’s has become a regular challenger for Gonzaga in the WCC, finally breaking the Bulldogs’ stranglehold on the league with a regular season and a conference tournament title in 2012. This is a remarkable feat for a program that went 2-27 the year before Bennett arrived in 2001-02. Bennett has rebuilt the program thanks to an unorthodox pipeline to Australia that has brought point guards like Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova to Moraga. The Gaels have averaged 26.8 wins the last six seasons.

46. Josh Pastner, Memphis
Record (all at Memphis): 106-34 overall (.757), 52-12 Conference USA (.813)
NCAA Tournament: 1-3
Pastner had the unenviable task of following John Calipari at a pressure situation at Memphis. By his fourth season, Pastner turned in his best year at Memphis, winning 31 games, going undefeated in Conference USA and defeating Saint Mary’s in the NCAA Tournament. Pastner’s record against ranked teams and major conference competition isn’t great, but he’s about to get a few more chances to show his mettle against teams like Louisville, UConn, Temple and Cincinnati. With Pastner's recruiting prowess, Memphis should have the talent to go toe-to-toe with this programs on a regular basis.

47. Larry Eustachy, Colorado State
Record: 428-267
Record at Colorado State: 26-9 overall (.743), 11-5 MWC (.688)
NCAA Tournament: 4-5
Eustachy took over a veteran team in Fort Collins and did what everyone expected by taking his fourth program to the NCAA Tournament. Now that the seniors are gone, there’s little doubt he can maintain the momentum here. Eustachy revived a dormant Southern Miss program and led Iowa State to national prominence before landing in the Mountain West.

48. Steve Alford, UCLA
Record: 385-206
Record at UCLA: First season
NCAA Tournament: 5-7
Is Alford a better coach than predecessor Ben Howland? Maybe not, but UCLA hopes he’s a better coach for UCLA than Howland was at the end of his tenure. Alford led New Mexico to its best seasons since the late ‘90s, winning the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles in each of his last two seasons. Just as relevant to UCLA, Alford did so with a recruiting pipeline to Southern California. Here’s the catch: Alford’s teams have been seeded third in the NCAA Tournament three times in his last four trips only to lose before the second weekend.

49. Steve Donahue, Boston College
Record: 192-190
Record at Boston College: 46-52 (.469), 20-30 ACC (.400)
NCAA Tournament: 2-3
Donahue is building Boston College in a similar fashion as he did at Cornell — from the ground up. Donahue reached the NIT in his first season at BC, but he’s had one of the nation’s youngest rosters the last two years, and it’s shown. This season could be the turning point after BC went from 4-12 to 7-11 in the ACC a year ago. By his eighth season at Cornell, Donahue began a run where he led the Big Red to three consecutive Ivy League titles and the Sweet 16 in 2010.

50. Stew Morrill, Utah State
Record: 584-267
Record at Utah State: 366-129 overall (.739), 186-62 Big West/WAC (.750)
NCAA Tournament: 1-9
Before the last two seasons, Utah State was about as automatic as any program in the WAC. The Aggies won four consecutive regular season titles from 2008-11. He’s essentially college basketball’s Bill Snyder, recruiting junior college prospects at a high level and avoiding tough non-conference competition. Morrill’s peers rate him as one of the best Xs and Os coaches, according to a poll by ESPN, but his program will be tested in a tougher Mountain West.
 

Teaser:
College Basketball: Ranking the top 50 coaches for 2013-14
Post date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 07:35
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-pac-12-coaches-2013-14
Body:

The Pac-12 is finally starting to pull out of its funk from recent seasons. For a few years, the Pac-12 more closely resembled a mid-major, producing only two NCAA Tournament teams in 2012 and 2010.

Perhaps it’s no surprise the league’s coaches are in a state of flux. Five coaches remain from 2008-09, the last time the league sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament. Washington’s Lorenzo Romar and Cal’s Mike Montgomery are Pac-12 staples by now, but three other coaches remaining from that season — Arizona State’s Herb Sendek, Oregon State’s Craig Robinson and Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins — are under pressure to show improvement now.

The theme of the offseason in the league was the arrival of new coaches at both Los Angeles schools, Steve Alford at UCLA and Andy Enfield at USC. Neither hires were viewed as slam dunks. Alford has precious few signature moments in the NCAA Tournament and Enfield is only two years removed from being an assistant at Florida State.

Arizona’s Sean Miller, Oregon’s Dana Altman, Colorado’s Tad Boyle and Montgomery have all remade their programs into Pac-12 contenders and players on the national stage, meaning both L.A. coaches have work to do to catch up.
 

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC

1. Sean Miller, Arizona
Record: 216-90
Record at Arizona: 96-43 overall (.691), 48-24 Pac-12 (.667)
NCAA Tournament: 11-6
It may be too early to say Sean Miller has returned Arizona to Lute Olson levels, but the Wildcats aren’t too far off. After a 16-15 mark in his first season, Miller has led Arizona to an 80-28 record in the last three, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2011 and Sweet 16 in 2013. With a star-studded freshman class led by Aaron Gordon, Miller has a team that will contend the Final Four, a milestone the Wildcats haven’t reached since 2001.

2. Mike Montgomery, Cal
Record: 655-304
Record at Cal: 109-59 overall (.649), 59-31 Pac-12 (.656)
NCAA Tournament: 18-16, one Final Four
By going 12-6 in the Pac-12 last season, Montgomery is the first Cal coach to win 10 or more conference games in five consecutive seasons since Pete Newell did it in the ‘50s, a run that included the 1959 national championship. Montgomery may not replicate his run at Stanford, but Cal has proven it will be in the mix for an NCAA Tournament slot each season, no matter the changing personnel.

3. Dana Altman, Oregon
Record: 483-280
Record at Oregon: 73-37 overall (.664), 32-22 Pac-12 (.593)
NCAA Tournament: 4-9
Who would've pegged Altman this close to the 500-win club? Odds are the Ducks coach will get there this season. He’s won 20 games in 14 of the last 15 seasons with Oregon and Creighton. Not bad for an interesting start to his tenure. He wasn’t the first choice for the Ducks, but Altman has been a success in Eugene. His teams have changed quite a bit in three seasons due to transfers in and out of the program, but three consecutive 20-win seasons is the best run at Oregon since 1935-39.

4. Tad Boyle, Colorado
Record: 121-80
Record at Colorado: 69-38 overall (.645), 29-23 Big 12/Pac-12 (.558)
NCAA Tournament: 1-2
Colorado is one of the lucky basketball programs that has seen conference realignment work in its favor. The Buffaloes are 21-15 in the Pac-12 with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 1962-63. Boyle, who also laid the groundwork at Northern Colorado, has restored interest in basketball in Boulder, both from fans and aspiring NBA Draft picks.

5. Lorenzo Romar, Washington
Record: 330-217
Record at Washington: 237-129 overall (.648), 118-82 Pac-12 (.590)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Washington’s sixth-place finish in the Pac-12 was the Huskies’ lowest in the league since 2007-08, prompting Romar to clean house on his staff. Romar has had little trouble bringing talent to Washington over the last decade, but the Huskies haven’t always had consistent results. Washington has missed the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, but the Huskies won either the Pac-12 regular season or tournament title in four consecutive seasons from 2009-12.

6. Steve Alford, UCLA
Record: 385-206
Record at UCLA: First season
NCAA Tournament: 5-7
Is Alford a better coach than predecessor Ben Howland? Maybe not, but UCLA hopes he’s a better coach for UCLA than Howland was at the end of his tenure. Alford led New Mexico to its best seasons since the late ‘90s, winning the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles in each of his last two seasons. Just as relevant to UCLA, Alford did so with a recruiting pipeline to Southern California. Here’s the catch: Alford’s teams have been seeded third in the NCAA Tournament three times in his last four trips only to lose before the second weekend.
7. Herb Sendek, Arizona State
Record: 374-267
Record at Arizona State: 120-109 overall (.524), 53-73 Pac-12 (.421)
NCAA Tournament: 7-7
Give Sendek credit: He’s a survivor. Between his tenure at NC State and his recent years at Arizona State, Sendek is regular on hot seat list. The Sun Devils went 9-9 in the Pac-12 last season after two consecutive losing seasons. With Jahii Carson at point guard, Arizona State may have to improve from the NIT to the NCAA Tournament to keep Sendek surviving in Tempe. Sendek was 20-16 in the conference with an NCAA Tournament appearance with James Harden on the roster. He’s 33-57 in the league otherwise.

8. Andy Enfield, USC
Record: 41-28
Record at USC: First season
NCAA Tournament: 2-1
Enfield may be the coach to restore excitement to the USC basketball program as he brings Dunk City to Los Angeles. But he’s awfully inexperienced (two seasons of Atlantic Sun head coaching) to be taking his first major head coaching job, let alone on the other side of the country. He’s hired a staff that knows the lay of the land, so that’s working in his favor.

9. Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
Record (all at Stanford): 94-74 (.560 overall), 39-51 Pac-12 (.433)
NCAA Tournament: None
Non-losing seasons in the Pac-12 the last two years (10-8 then 9-9) and an NIT title in 2012 were enough to keep Dawkins employed at Stanford, but he remains way behind the standard set by predecessors Mike Montgomery and Trent Johnson. Sooner or later, Dawkins will be judged on NCAA Tournament appearances, or lack thereof.

10. Craig Robinson, Oregon State
Record: 108-117
Record at Oregon State: 78-89 overall (.467), 31-59 Pac-12 (.344)
NCAA Tournament: None
Robinson has led Oregon State to the postseason three times in five seasons, but the College Basketball Invitational isn’t what most programs would consider great success. Going 15-21 in Pac-12 was encouraging in Robinson’s first two seasons, but the Beavers haven’t elevated their play since then, finishing in a tie for last in the league in 2012-13. With a veteran team returning, Robinson will be under pressure to perform in his sixth season.

11. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah
Record: 63-63
Record at Utah: 21-43 overall (.328), 8-28 Pac-12 (.222)
NCAA Tournament: 1-2
The record is dismal, no doubt, but Krystkowiak inherited a mess at Utah, including player transfers like Marshall Henderson (Ole Miss) and Will Clyburn (Iowa State). Improving from six wins in his first season to 15 in his second was a major jump forward, especially as the Utes defeated Oregon and Cal amid a 4-1 finish.

12. Ken Bone, Washington State
Record: 147-114
Record at Washington State: 70-65 overall (.519), 26-46 Pac-12 (.342)
NCAA Tournament: 0-2
Bone had a long track record of success at Seattle Pacific and Portland State  before arriving in Pullman. The Cougars have had three losing seasons in four under Bone with a handful of off-court issues to go with it. This is one of the Pac-12’s toughest jobs, but Bone started with momentum from the Tony Bennett era.

Teaser:
College Basketball: Ranking the Pac-12 Coaches for 2013-14
Post date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 07:05
All taxonomy terms: SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-secs-coaches-2013-14
Body:

The SEC coaches countdown, much like the league in recent years, is a two-team race.

Kentucky’s John Calipari and Florida’s Billy Donovan are the only coaches in the league who have built programs who can challenge for college basketball’s biggest prizes on a year-to-year basis. Sure, Kentucky flopped in the NIT last season, but that season is sandwiched between a national championship and a potential preseason No. 1.

The rest of the SEC’s coaches are just trying to build or sustain momentum of any kind. Some have had some bad luck (Cuonzo Martin), some are on the verge of seeing the fruits of their rebuilding projects (Martin, Johnny Jones, Anthony Grant), and others are looking to replicate the high-water marks from earlier in their careers (Frank Martin, Kevin Stallings, Mark Fox).

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12

1. John Calipari, Kentucky
Record: 568-166
Record at Kentucky: 123-26 overall (.826), 52-14 SEC (.788)
NCAA Tournament: 38-13, four Final Fours, one national championship
Calipari had his worst season since 2004-05 at Memphis as Kentucky went 21-12 and lost to Robert Morris in the NIT. True, this was not a typical Calipari team, but the Wildcats were on the verge of the NCAA Tournament before star Nerlens Noel went down with a leg injury. But Calipari should rebound in a way only he can. While his 2012-13 team plodded through an unimpressive SEC, Calipari was assembling one of the best recruiting classes of all time. Calipari could turn an NIT embarrassment into another Final Four appearance or more in 2013-14.

2. Billy Donovan, Florida
Record: 450-186
Record at Florida: 415-166 overall (.714), 174-110 SEC (.635)
NCAA Tournament: 31-11, three Final Fours, two national championships
Donovan is the only coach standing in the way of Kentucky hegemony in the SEC. The Gators needed some time to regroup after back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007, but they’ve won the SEC regular season title in two of the last three seasons. The Gators have lost in the Elite Eight in each of the last three seasons, but most teams would take three consecutive trips to the regional finals. Few programs will recruit to the same level as Kentucky, but Donovan never lacks for elite prospects in Gainesville.

3. Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
Record: 400-239
Record at Vanderbilt: 277-176 overall (.611), 111-115 SEC (.491)
NCAA Tournament: 6-8
Stallings may always wonder how his team with the core of Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli never made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Now, the Commodores are in a rebuilding phase after those three left school with school’s first SEC Tournament title in 61 years. The overall record isn’t flashy, but Stallings has built a consistent program at Vanderbilt, not an easy feat. He’s one win a way from tying Roy Skinner for the most wins in program history.

4. Frank Martin, South Carolina
Record: 131-72
Record at South Carolina: 14-18 overall (.438), 4-14 SEC (.222)
NCAA Tournament: 6-4
Martin’s intense coaching style isn’t for everyone. South Carolina’s exodus of transfers may be an indication of that. If he can replicate what he did at Kansas State, Martin will have a formidable program at South Carolina. The Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament three times in four seasons under Martin, including the Elite Eight in 2011.

5. Cuonzo Martin, Tennessee
Record: 100-69
Record at Tennessee: 39-28 overall (.582), 21-13 SEC (.618)
NCAA Tournament: None
It’s tough to find a harder-luck coach the last three years than Martin. At Missouri State, the Bears finished last in the league his first season and won the Missouri Valley Conference by this third and final year. A loss to Indiana State in the MVC Tournament, though, relegated Martin to the NIT. At Tennessee, Martin had his team right on the edge of NCAA Tournament consideration, again, before being relegated to the NIT. Martin will get to the NCAA Tournament soon enough, and we’ll guess he’ll start making up for snubs the last three years.

6. Johnny Jones, LSU
Record:
224-174
Record at LSU: 19-12 overall (.613), 9-9 SEC (.500)
NCAA Tournament: 0-2
Jones returned to LSU with hopes returning his alma mater to national prominence. Since reaching the Final Four in 2006, the Tigers have won 20 games and reached the NCAA Tournament just once. Jones, who had a consistent 20-win program at North Texas, has LSU on the brink of returning to the field. His biggest task has been to recruit the talent-rich local area, something that came to fruition with the signing of five-star prospect Jarell Martin in 2013-14.

7. Mike Anderson, Arkansas
Record: 237-125
Record at Arkansas: 37-27 overall (.578), 16-18 SEC (.500)
NCAA Tournament: 7-6
Anderson arrived at Arkansas with hopes of returning the program to the heights reached under Anderson’s former boss, Nolan Richardson. That hasn’t happened yet. The Razorbacks have had talented teams, but they’ve languished in the bottom half of the league thanks to a dismal record away from Fayetteville. Since leaving UAB in 2006, Anderson has had a top-four conference finish only once (2008-09 at Missouri).

8. Anthony Grant, Alabama
Record:
162-77
Record at Alabama: 86-52 overall (.623), 29-27 SEC (.591)
NCAA Tournament: 1-3
Grant has twice led Alabama to a 12-6 record in the SEC and failed to reach the NCAA Tournament thanks to losses to bad teams in the non-conference schedule. Grant has had the talent in Tuscaloosa with a handful of four- and five-star prospects with the Crimson Tide, but the early-season losses are not a good trend. It’s worth noting Grant’s lone SEC Tournament win is over a sixth-seeded Duke team while at VCU in 2007.

9. Frank Haith, Missouri
Record: 182-117
Record at Missouri: 53-16 overall (.768), 25-11 Big 12/SEC (.694)
NCAA Tournament: 1-3
Haith’s hire at Missouri was a questionable one, and in the NCAA Tournament, the skepticism looks warranted: The Tigers have lost to No. 15-seed Norfolk State and No. 8-seed Colorado State in the last two Tourneys. However, Haith led Missouri to an improbable 30-win season and a Big 12 Tournament title in 2012.

10. Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss
Record: 173-100
Record at Ole Miss: 152-87 overall (.636), 66-64 SEC (.508)
NCAA Tournament: 1-1
Kennedy finally got Ole Miss out of the NIT (five times in six season) and into the NCAA Tournament last season. He just had to deal with Marshall Henderson-related headaches to do it. The Rebels reached the NCAA Tournament five times in six seasons under Rod Barnes from 1997-2002, but overall this is not a program accustomed to postseason appearances. At least in that department, Kennedy is ahead of the curve.

11. Mark Fox, Georgia
Record: 188-106
Record at Georgia: 65-63 overall (.508), 28-38 SEC (.424)
NCAA Tournament: 2-4
A peculiar fit for Georgia to begin with, Fox has dealt with a pair of unexpected early departures (Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins) to the NBA Draft early in his tenure with the Bulldogs. Basketball isn’t a point of pride at Georgia, but three losing seasons in four years under Fox has to be a concern. Before Georgia, Fox won at least a share of four consecutive WAC titles at Nevada.

12. Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M
Record: 243-212
Record at Texas A&M: 32-33 overall (.492), 11-26 Big 12/SEC (.297)
NCAA Tournament: 1-2
A successful coach in the low-major ranks at Southeastern Louisiana and Murray State, Kennedy has struggled in two years at Texas A&M. His best season was in 2010 when Murray State went 31-5 and defeated a fourth-seeded Vanderbilt team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

13. Rick Ray, Mississippi State
Record (all at Mississippi State):
10-22 overall (.313), 4-14 SEC (.222)
NCAA Tournament: None
Rick Stansbury left little for Ray at Mississippi State. Ray, a former assistant at Purdue and Clemson, rarely played with a full scholarship roster in his first season in Starkville.

14. Tony Barbee, Auburn
Record: 117-111
Record at Auburn: 35-59 overall (.372), 12-38 SEC (.240)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
The former Calipari assistant has not had Calipari results, to state the obvious. Last season’s 9-23 season was Auburn’s worst season since going 6-20 in 1972-73.

Teaser:
College Basketball: Ranking the SEC's coaches for 2013-14
Post date: Friday, September 13, 2013 - 07:22
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-games-rest-september
Body:

After three marquee games, Sept. 7 may end up being a slow week in college football. The schedule is littered with FCS games and off weeks before a mammoth Sept. 14.

Teams may not want to look ahead, but Athlon Sports does.

With the Week 1 madness out of the way, the season will start to take shape in the next four Saturdays. Here’s what we might learn before these huge games and why each of these 10 September games will be important into October and November.

TOP 10 GAMES FOR THE REST OF SEPTEMBER

1. Sept. 14: Alabama at Texas A&M
What we might learn before this game: With Alabama’s off week on Sept. 7, the Tide won’t have a chance to show if their offensive line struggles against Virginia Tech were an aberration or a sign of things to come. Alabama gave up four sacks and 12 tackles for a loss. Texas A&M’s defense got pushed around by Rice in the opener and faces a quality FCS team this week in Sam Houston State. Was the Aggies’ defensive performance due to first-game jitters and a handful of suspensions or is it a real reason for concern? Johnny Manziel’s on-field play is not in question, but will his combustibility become a liability?
Why this game will be important: This is Alabama’s toughest road game by a long shot. The Tide leave the state only two more times (Kentucky and Mississippi State) for the rest of the regular season. For the Aggies, there’s just the SEC West, the national title race and a Heisman on the line. The biggest game in College Station in quite some time.

2. Sept. 7: South Carolina at Georgia
What we know about this game: All the pressure is on Georgia as the Bulldogs try to avoid an 0-2 start. South Carolina has won three in a row. Aaron Murray is 1-10 against top-15 teams. As we said, a lot of pressure on the Dawgs to reverse field.
Why this game will be important: Sure, the Bulldogs can lose this game and still win the East, but a shot at any national prestige fades after a loss. The Gamecocks can establish themselves as the SEC East frontrunner and a potential national title contender with a win.

Related: Week 2 SEC Preview

3. Sept. 28: LSU at Georgia
What we might learn before this game: A kickoff return for a touchdown and an LSU fumble kept TCU in striking distance in the opener, but otherwise this looked an awful lot like a team that can challenge for the West. Only a home date with Auburn poses a threat against LSU between now and the trip to Athens.
Why this game will be important: Georgia cut loose Zach Mettenberger, and the now second-year LSU starter could spoil the Bulldogs’ season. If Georgia loses to South Carolina, the Bulldogs are staring down a 1-3 start. If LSU’s young defense and Cam Cameron’s new offense are clicking enough to defeat TCU and Georgia before October, they’ll be good enough to beat Alabama and Texas A&M in November.

4. Sept. 7: Notre Dame at Michigan
What we know about this game: Both teams handled their Week 1 opponents with ease. Strangely enough, Notre Dame’s Tommy Rees came out of the weekend looking better than Michigan’s Devin Gardner.
Why this game will be important: In the last two games, the winner has gone on to a combined 23-3 record while the losers have gone a combined 16-10.

Related: Week 2 Big Ten preview

5. Sept. 28: Oklahoma at Notre Dame
What we might learn before this game: Can Notre Dame trust Rees to lead the Irish to another top-10 season? Turnover-free against Temple is one thing. Turnover-free against Michigan and Oklahoma is another. The Sooners meanwhile were full of surprises early with their new athletic quarterback Trevor Knight and a stifling defense against ULM.
Why this game will be important: This is Oklahoma’s first road test before facing TCU in Norman and Texas in Dallas. While Notre Dame won’t impact OU in the Big 12 standings, the Sooners should have a good idea what kind of league contender they’ll be by the end of the month. With this game and the Michigan matchup, Notre Dame could be back in the title race or out of the BCS picture by the end of September.

6. Sept. 7: Florida at Miami
What we know about this game: Florida was impressive despite absences of tailback Matt Jones and cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy among others in the opener against Toledo. Miami was explosive as ever against FAU. It’s the Hurricanes’ big-play threats against Florida’s punishing D.
Why this game will be important: The last game between Florida and Miami in a while, the winner of this game will look the part of a conference contender when league play starts.

7. Sept. 21: Arizona State at Stanford
What we might learn before this game: Arizona State and Stanford are two of six FBS teams that didn’t play in Week 1, so anything will tell us something. Arizona State will show part of its hand by facing Wisconsin before Sept. 21, but Stanford catches San Jose State and Army before hosting the Sun Devils. Advantage: Cardinal.
Why this game will be important: For starters, this will be a competition between the two best defenses in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils, Athlon’s pick to win the Pac-12 South, will be in the midst of a four-game stretch against the Badgers, Cardinal, USC and Notre Dame.

8. Sept. 28: Wisconsin at Ohio State
What we might learn before this game: How much did Wisconsin miss quarterback Joel Stave last season, who was the Badgers’ top quarterback before missing all of November with an injury?
Why this game will be important: In Ohio State’s soft schedule, this game could be the key matchup in the Leaders Division.

9. Sept. 14: UCLA at Nebraska
What we might learn before this game: UCLA has an off week, and Nebraska catches a Southern Miss team that has lost 13 in a row. Not much, save for a disaster in Lincoln against Southern Miss.
Why this game will be important: Nebraska will learn if it needs to hit the panic button on defense after getting gouged by Wyoming in the opener. The Cornhuskers haven’t had an above average defensive performance since Nov. 23 against Iowa. That’s not a good trend against the Bruins’ Brett Hundley.

10. Sept. 14: Wisconsin at Arizona State
What we might learn before this game: Not a whole lot, probably: The Badgers and Sun Devils will have played Tennessee Tech, Sacramento State and UMass before this meeting.
Why this game will be important: Can Wisconsin’s normally stout offensive line hold up against the Sun Devils’ Will Sutton, the top lineman in the Pac-12.

Teaser:
Arizona State and Will Sutton have a wild month ahead of them
Post date: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-1-award-watch
Body:

The Heisman is but one award, and one award isn’t enough to contain the best of college football.

While we love prognosticating who will win college football’s most coveted individual trophy, we also love the glut of postseason awards that go to each position, each with a nod to the game’s history from Davey O’Brien and Doak Walker to Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe to Ray Guy and Lou Groza.

Everyone tracks the progress in the Heisman race, but Athlon Sports will try to keep an eye on who will take home college football’s positional awards.

Here’s our first look at the “other” trophies through the first week of the season.

Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd
The Tigers quarterback led the nation’s top win in the first week of the season, earning frontrunner status in our weekly Heisman poll and national player of the week honors. Boyd was especially crisp in the second half of the 38-35 win over Georgia, completing 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards with two touchdowns after the break.
Others: Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Georgia’s Todd Gurley
Gurley spent a good portion of the first half on the bench against Clemson after three carries and an 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Gurley still finished with 154 yards.
Others: Miami’s Duke Johnson, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk

Biletnikoff (Top wide receiver)
Our leader:
Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews
A gutty effort saw Matthews get hit in the stomach and get sick on the field in the fourth quarter only to return to catch a key fourth down pass in the Commodores’ go-ahead scoring drive. Matthews finished with 10 catches for 178 yards with a touchdown.
Others: USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins

Mackey (Top tight end)
Our leader: Indiana’s Ted Bolser
This was a quiet week at the tight end position as Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Arizona State’s Chris Coyle didn’t play. But it’s a good time to highlight the under rated Ted Bolser from Indiana. Bolser caught six passes for 78 yards with two touchdowns.

Outland (Top interior lineman)
Our leader:
Arkansas’ Travis Swanson
At first, we thought it might be tough for Swanson to gain notoriety if Arkansas struggled. That was not the case in Week 1, at least, as the Razorbacks ran the ball like Bret Bielema’s Wisconsin teams behind Swanson at center. The Hogs rushed for 292 yards on 51 carries against UL-Lafayette.
Others: Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan

Nagurski/Bednarik (Defensive player of the year)
Our leader:
South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney
Let’s not overreact to Clowney sitting for a few plays against North Carolina in the late-August South Carolina humidity. He’s still the best defensive player in the country. If Clowney’s not at full speed this week against Georgia, though, he may have company for that distinction.
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Clowney
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier

Butkus (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Anthony Barr, UCLA
Barr is still our preseason favorite and did little to disappoint against Nevada with five tackles and two tackles for a loss against the Wolf Pack.
Others: Northwestern’s Collin Ellis, Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier

Thorpe (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller
This may be another long year for Virginia Tech, but Kyle Fuller gave Alabama’s passing game trouble with an interception and two pass breakups in an otherwise undistinguished
Others: Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner

Lou Groza (Top kicker)
Our leader: Penn State’s Sam Ficken
Maligned for his early season struggles in 2012, Ficken extended his streak of made field goals to 13 in a row with kicks of 36, 35 and 46 yards against Syracuse.
Others: Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Tulane’s Cairo Santos

Ray Guy (Top punter)
Our leader: West Virginia’s Nick O’Toole
This probably isn’t a category that Dana Holgorsen wants to be the highlight of his season, but the Mountaineers averaged net 50 yards per punt off O’Toole’s leg in the opener.
Others: Alabama’s Cody Mandell, Wyoming’s Ethan Wood

Freshman of the year
Our leader: Florida State’s Jameis Winston
Throughout his redshirt year, we’ve been hearing Winston is the real deal. Even then, his 25-of-27 debut against Pittsburgh on the road defied all expectations.
Others: Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell

Coach of the year
Our leader: Washington’s Steve Sarkisian
After demolishing a Boise State team that’s rarely demolished, Washington may finally have all the pieces together for a special season in Sarkisian’s fifth year in Seattle.
Others: Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney

Broyles Award (Top assistant)
Our leader: Oklahoma State’s Glenn Spencer
For at least one week, Oklahoma State’s defense was the story as the Cowboys held Mississippi State to a field goal and recorded 10 tackles for a loss.
Others: Maryland’s Mike Locksley, Clemson’s Chad Morris, Oklahoma’s Mike Stoops

Teaser:
Roundup contenders for best defensive players, linemen and more
Post date: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-mountain-wests-coaches-2013-14
Body:

For much of the last four seasons, the Mountain West could argue it belongs in the same breath as the power conferences.

Indeed, the MWC has produced 16 NCAA Tournament teams in the last four seasons, including five last year, to mach the SEC in that span. The Pac-10/12 has produced only 13 in that time.

The work to improve the Mountain West to major league status is thanks in part to rebuilding jobs by coaches like Steve Alford, Lon Kruger, Tim Miles and Dave Rose, coaches (and teams) that are no longer in the league.

But some of the coaches who built the league’s current prestige are still here, chief among them San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, who has led the Aztecs to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Leon Rice at Boise State and Larry Shyatt at Wyoming are trying to replicate Fisher’s success by turning dormant programs into contenders.

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Ernie Anderson.


Other conference coach rankings
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten


1. Steve Fisher, San Diego State
Record: 466-252
Record at San Diego State: 281-171 overall (.622), 113-97 MWC (.538)
NCAA Tournament: 23-12, three Final Fours, one national championship
Fisher’s San Diego State tenure alone would give him top honors in the Mountain West. He took over a program that had never won an NCAA Tournament game and turned it into a regular conference contender and top-25 team. The last two seasons ended in disappointment as the Aztecs lost in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament to double-digit seeds, but Fisher has led San Diego State to a 55-23 league record in the last five seasons while improving the program’s recruiting profile significantly.

2. Larry Eustachy, Colorado State
Record: 428-267
Record at Colorado State: 26-9 overall (.743), 11-5 MWC (.688)
NCAA Tournament: 4-5
Eustachy took over a veteran team in Fort Collins and did what everyone expected by taking his fourth program to the NCAA Tournament. Now that the seniors are gone, there’s little doubt he can maintain the momentum here. Eustachy revived a dormant Southern Miss program and led Iowa State to national prominence before landing in the Mountain West.

3. Stew Morrill, Utah State
Record: 584-267
Record at Utah State: 366-129 overall (.739), 186-62 Big West/WAC (.750)
NCAA Tournament: 1-9
Before the last two seasons, Utah State was about as automatic as any program in the WAC. The Aggies won four consecutive regular season titles from 2008-11. He’s essentially college basketball’s Bill Snyder, recruiting junior college prospects at a high level and avoiding tough non-conference competition. Morrill’s peers rate him as one of the best Xs and Os coaches, according to a poll by ESPN, but his program will be tested in a tougher Mountain West.

4. Leon Rice, Boise State
Record (all at Boise State): 56-41 overall (.577), 22-24 MWC/WAC (.478)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
The former Mark Few assistant has led Boise State to two 20-win seasons in three years and the program’s second NCAA Tournament berth since 1994. More could be on the way as the Broncos return the core of last season’s team that went 9-4 in the MWC.

5. Dave Rice, UNLV
Record (all at UNLV): 51-19 overall (.729), 19-11 MWC (.633)
NCAA Tournament: 0-2
Rice returned to his alma mater with the promise of returning to the Runnin’ Rebels style of old. The players are here (No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett), but the Rebs have yet to find a mix that works consistently in Rice’s two seasons.

6. Larry Shyatt, Wyoming
Record: 130-119
Record at Wyoming (second stint only): 41-26 overall (.611), 10-20 MWC (.333)
NCAA Tournament: None
Winning 20 games at Wyoming is tough. Shyatt has done it in back-to-back seasons, the first time it’s happened in Laramie in a decade. The Cowboys were one of the last undefeated teams standing last season at 13-0, but the season was derailed after Luke Martinez’s suspension following a bar fight. Wyoming went 8-14 without him.

7. Craig Neal, New Mexico
Record: First season
Neal has tried to get head coaching jobs in the past, but one hasn’t opened up for him until Steve Alford left for UCLA. He’s never been a head coach, but he was Alford’s right-hand man through the rebuilding process in Albuquerque.

8. Dave Pilopovich, Air Force
Record (all at Air Force): 20-20 overall (.500), 10-13 MWC (.435)
NCAA Tournament: None
Elevated to head coach late in the 2011-12 season, Pilopovich at least made Air Force a tough out in the MWC last season. The Falcons defeated NCAA Tournament teams Boise State, San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico en route to 18 wins, the most for the Academy since 2006-07.

9. David Carter, Nevada
Record (all at Nevada): 74-58 overall (.561), MWC/WAC (.565)
NCAA Tournament: None
Nevada had a 13-1 season in the WAC spoiled by Louisiana Tech in the conference tournament in 2012. It’s been downhill from there with a 3-13 in the MWC last season. One of the most consistent mid-majors out West has been anything but.

10. Rodney Terry, Fresno State
Record (all at Fresno State): 24-39 overall (.381), 8-22 MWC/WAC (.267)
The longtime Texas assistant has an uphill climb at Fresno State, but players will come to Fresno (Paul George, Greg Smith).

11. Dave Wojcik, San Jose State
Record: First season
Wojcik helped Leon Rice rebuild Boise State. He’ll try to replicate that with the Spartans, who have won fewer than 10 games in seven of the last 11 seasons.

Teaser:
Steve Fisher rebuild the Aztecs to take the top spot
Post date: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2013-week-2-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The first week of the season revealed that the bottom of the Big 12 has more work ahead of it that perhaps we thought. Kansas State and Iowa State lost to FCS teams. West Virginia looked pedestrian against William & Mary.

And even if the final scores for the top teams in the Big 12 looked impressive Saturday, teams like Texas and Oklahoma aren’t without their questions.

Texas’ offense stalled early against New Mexico State before being unstoppable in the second half. The Longhorns’ second-week opponent may not allow Mack Brown’s team to find its footing.

Oklahoma’s defense was stifling against Louisiana-Monroe, and Trevor Knight showed he’d bring a new element of athleticism to the Sooners quarterback position. Now, OU faces West Virginia in an early conference game.

Those are the marquee games in Week 2 for the Big 12, but there are a handful of storylines worth watching elsewhere.

Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions
ACCBig Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Week 2 Big 12 Game Power Rankings
*All times Eastern, All games Saturday

1. Texas (-7) at BYU (7 p.m., ESPN2/Longhorn Network)
Which Texas offense will we see in Provo? The Longhorns fell behind New Mexico State 7-0, turing the ball over three times in the first five possessions. The Longhorns then went on a hot streak with touchdown passes of 54, 66 and 74 yards and touchdown runs of 24 and 55 yards. The game that started as an offensive disaster ended with a school-record 715 yards. The breakout player was running back Daje Johnson, who could be a big-play threat after averaging 14.3 yards on nine touches from scrimmage. The focus this week, though, will be on David Ash. The quarterback threw two picks against New Mexico State and will face a tough BYU pass rush.

2. West Virginia (+27) at Oklahoma (7 p.m., Fox)
Trevor Knight will be worth watching after few outside of the OU coverage area saw the redshirt freshman dual-threat quarterback against ULM last week. The redshirt freshman wasn’t crisp in the passing game (11 of 28, 86 yards, 3 TD, INT), but he showed a running ability (103 yards, 7.9 yards per carry) the OU quarterback position hasn’t had since a pre-knee surgery Jason White. A key question is how much OU can believe in its defense a dominant performance in the opener. ULM didn’t have a run longer than six yards. West Virginia's offense may be more formidable with Charles Sims, who rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against William & Mary. West Virginia racked up 778 yards on Oklahoma last season, albeit with drastically different personnel for the Mountaineers.

3. UL-Lafayette (+10) at Kansas State (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
The Wildcats will be looking for any answers in the run game after rushing for 41 yards on 23 carries against North Dakota State in the opener. North Dakota State is a stout defensive team on the FCS level, but the Wildcats need better production. Kansas State faced five third downs of 10 yards or more in the loss to the Bison. The UL-Lafayette defense, which returned only three starters, looked vulnerable against the run after allowing 292 rushing yards to Arkansas in the opener.

4. Buffalo (+27) at Baylor (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports regional)
Perhaps not much intrigue here, but it may be interesting to see what Baylor does to the same team that just faced Ohio State. The Buckeyes last week defeated Buffalo 40-20, aided by a defensive touchdown. Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack’s reputation will precede him after recording 2.5 sacks and a pick six against the Buckeyes. “If I had to compare him to somebody, if I watched two or three plays, I would say Von Miller,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “That's who he reminds me of. He's explosive, he's dynamic, he's quick, he's long, he's vicious, and he's a multi-position guy.”

5. Stephen F. Austin (+38) at Texas Tech (7 p.m., Fox Sports regional)
Texas Tech faces another offense that can throw the ball around in Stephen F. Austin. Despite finishing 5-6 last season, the Lumberjacks were among the leaders in the division in passing. The Red Raiders allowed SMU to complete 41-of-62 passes for 388 yards Friday in the opener. A question we may have to wait another game to learn the answer to: Was walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield’s 413 passing yards and four touchdowns against SMU a fluke, or will he give Kliff Kingsbury a decision to make when Michael Brewer returns?

6. Oklahoma State (-26.5) at UTSA (noon, Fox Sports 1)
Mike Gundy may have a quarterback dilemma on his hands after handing the reins to J.W. Walsh against Mississippi State. Gundy benched Clint Chelf after two possessions against the Bulldogs, going with Walsh and his running ability. Not that Gundy needs any advice, but he could ask the coach on the opposing sideline: Larry Coker was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State when Gundy was the Cowboys’ quarterback.

7. South Dakota (-23.5) at Kansas (7 p.m., local TV only)
In theory, this should be Kansas’ best bet to end an 11-game losing streak with a 1-10 FCS team coming to town. The Jayhawks have an influx of junior college transfers Charlie Weis hopes revives the program. Kansas starts with South Dakota and then faces Rice and rebuilding Louisiana Tech. If KU can't compete in those games...

8. Southeastern Louisiana (+44) at TCU (noon, Fox Sports regional)
TCU will regroup after its loss to LSU with one of the keys being improved play at the receiver position, no matter who is at quarterback. The Horned Frogs dropped a handful of passes in the loss as the passing game combined to complete 15-of-28 passes. Casey Pachall will remain the starter, but Trevone Boykin will be a change-of-pace QB.

Off: Iowa State

Big 12 Week 2 Pivotal Players

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas
The return of Jordan Hicks was supposed to be the big boost the Texas run defense needed this season. The BYU matchup will be a chance to prove that. Running back Jamaal Williams and quarterback Taysom Hill combined for 186 yards on 44 carries in the opener against Virginia. They’re both 200 pounds or heavier and tough to bring down, perhaps a problem for a Texas D that struggled with missed tackles last season.

Texas’ pass protection
BYU had seven tackles for a loss in the Virginia defeat to open the season, but the Cougars didn’t have a sack. The Longhorns’ line struggled in big games last season, and this game will put the five up front in the spotlight. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is one of the nation’s top pass rushers after recording 13 sacks last season, and sophomore end Bronson Kaufusi is a load at 6-7, 282 pounds.

Isaiah Bruce and Brandon Golson, OLBs, West Virginia
The linebackers will be key in containing Oklahoma’s new mobile quarterback Trevor Knight, who topped 100 rushing yards in the opener last week against ULM. Bruce was the star of last season’s lackluster defense, and West Virginia is looking for him to be the face of the D. Golson is a junior college transfer the Mountaineers signed to improve their problematic outside linebacker position.

Jake Heaps, QB, Kansas
Charlie Weis hopes the second of his two high-profile quarterback transfers pans out. Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist didn't even finish his lone season at KU as the starter, and now here comes Heaps from BYU. Heaps lost his starting job with the Cougars and is looking to reinvent himself in Lawrence. Heaps is also one of the last quarterbacks standing in a 2010 QB class filled with busts.

Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
With 11 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns against Wofford, Seastrunk has topped the 100-yard mark in five consecutive games, all Baylor wins. A remarkable part of this streak: Seastrunk has not hit 20 carries in any game during this streak. Another 100-yard game is possible against Buffalo, but the matchup against Mack will be an interesting one to watch.

Big 12 Week 2 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Oklahoma St (-26.5) at UTSAOSU 35-3OSU 38-10OSU 48-17OSU 51-14
SE Louisiana (+44) at TCUTCU 38-10TCU 38-7TCU 50-13TCU 40-13
Buffalo (+27) at BaylorBaylor 42-10Baylor 41-17Baylor 48-20Baylor 41-20
ULL (+10) at Kansas StKState 21-14KState 24-10KState 31-24KState 28-14
West Va. (+27) at OklahomaOU 41-17OU 37-17OU 41-27OU 33-10
Texas (-7) at BYUBYU 24-14 Texas 31-10Texas 31-20Texas 24-7
SFA (+38) at Texas TechTech 35-14Tech 45-14Tech 55-10Tech 51-17
S. Dakota (-23.5) at KansasKU 28-10KU 31-17KU 45-7KU 17-10
Last week:7-27-27-27-2

 

Teaser:
Texas, Oklahoma looking to solidify top dog status
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB
Path: /mlb/year-year-pirates-finally-end-historic-losing-streak
Body:

The Primanti Bros. sandwiches may taste a little better this morning in the Steel City.

The long wait to see a winning team in Pittsburgh is over after the Pirates ended  a record-long streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons by XXXXXX. That’s 82 wins for the first time since ’93, the first season after the Pirates were dismantled.

The two decades of rebuilding have been chronicled in the pages of Athlon Sports, and believe it or not, we’re may be as tired of writing about the perpetually rebuilding Pirates as the Pittsburgh fans are of watching them.

“Two or three more years” always seemed to be the mantra for the Pirates through mangers, general managers and players from Al Martin, Jeff King, Kevin Young, Jason Kendall, Bran Giles, Jack Wilson and on and on.

Here’s a look back at each season during the losing streak from the pages of Athlon’s preview annuals. All the unfulfilled optimism. All the predictions that, yes, in the end this season in Pittsburgh will be just like the last.

Some predictions were right on. Some where unintentionally humorous. Some were way off.

But, hey, now Pirates fans can take a minute to laugh at the last 20 years.

Or not.

1993
What Athlon said: How can a franchise that has lost Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Doug Drabek to free agency, and traded John Smiley and Jose Lind within a calendar year expect to win any time in the near future? “You can’t win every year,” manager Jim Leyland admits.
Projection: Sixth in NL East
Finished: 75-87 (fifth in NL East)

1994
What Athlon said: Through three team presidents and four general managers, Jim Leyland has endured, becoming the fourth-winningest manager in the franchise’s 107-year history. If he has his way he’ll pad those numbers before he’s through. Then he’ll leave the business the way he came in — as a Pirate.
Projection: Last in the NL Central
Finished: 53-61 (third in NL Central)

1995
What Athlon said: On one hand, the Pirates are moving forward. Under guise of new ownership, they are restocking their farm system. On the other hand, the Pirates don’t have any real meat to their organization.
Projection: None, due to the strike
Finished: 58-86 (last in NL Central)

1996
What Athlon said: Jeff King will be an important player for the Pirates, probably through the rest of this decade. Then he’ll move full-time to a 2,200-acre cattle ranch he’s leasing in rugged southwestern Montana, not far from his boyhood home in Colorado Springs. Perhaps then, Jeff King will be truly happy.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 73-89 (last)

1997
What Athlon said: Al Martin will probably be a Pirate into the next century if the team’s goal of becoming competitive again in 1999 proves achievable. He’s willing to endure the probable woes of the next two seasons and provide vocal support for management’s rebuilding plan.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 79-83 (second)

1998
What Athlon said: The Pirates will enter spring training thinking they can contend again. however, an overachieving team usually slips a bit the next season. Pirate management will continue to focus on 1999 and 2000 as the years the team will become a solid contender.
Projection: Third in NL Central
Finished: 69-93 (last)

1999
What Athlon said: This is the third year of the Pirates’ self-proclaimed five-year plan to build a championship-caliber team, and they need to start showing progress.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 78-83 (third)

2000
What Athlon said: The pitching staff is high on potential, if not results, and the club has built a stable of young talent. The move to a new park could usher in a successful era in Pittsburgh. Whether or not manager Gene Lamont’s around to see it or not.
Projection: Fourth in NL Central
Finished: 69-93 (fifth)

2001
What Athlon said: The Pirates may have to finish above .500 in their first season at PNC Park or GM Cam Bonifay could be gone.
Projection: Fourth in NL Central
Finished: 62-100 (last)

2002
What Athlon said: There’s too much for new GM Dave Littlefield to do, and too little money to make much of a dent this year.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 72-89 (fourth)

2003
What Athlon said: After his team on in Chicago to ensure a 10-win improvement over ’01, manager Lloyd McClendon shared some champagne with the troops, telling them he appreciated their hard work. McClendon vows there won’t be any champagne until it’s for real. That bubbly likely will be chilling for at least two more summers.
Projection: Fifth in NL Central
Finished: 75-87 (fourth)

2004
What Athlon said: The left field job is Jason Bay’s for years to come — until the Pirates can’t afford to pay him.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 72-89 (fifth)

2005
What Athlon said: During the winter, the Pirates completed a two-year project — they traded Jason Kendall and his (for them) onerous contract. During this season, they’ll try to finish a 12-year project — having a winning season. That doesn’t appear likely, again, but the Pirates just might be about to turn the corner.
Projection: Fifth in NL Central
Finished: 67-95 (last)

2006
What Athlon said:  With a solid rotation and performance turnarounds by Kip Wells and Oliver Perez, a smooth transition to closer by Mike Gonzalez and more offense, the Pirates could make a run at 81 wins this season.
Projection: Fifth in NL Central
Finished: 67-95 (fifth)

2007
What Athlon said: Zach Duke, Ian Snell, Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny have made a combined 134 major league starts. However, because they’re all homegrown products, they formed a strong bond last season and seem determined to be part of what they feel is an uptick in the team’s fortunes.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 68-64 (last)

2008
What Athlon said: The Pirates still have that big old elephant in their clubhouse — 15 consecutive losing seasons, one season short of the major league record for futility established by the woeful Philadelphia Phillies from 1933-48. Despite all the newness, the 2008 Pirates probably will match their cross-commonwealth brethren’s unwanted record.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 67-95 (last)

2009
What Athlon said: The starters bore much of the blame for the team’s 95-loss season. ... Ian Snell, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Matt Morris and and assorted others had much to do with that.
Projection: Last in NL Central
Finished: 62-99 (last)

2010
What Athlon said: Andrew McCutchen has already established himself as one of the Pirates’ cornerstones with his outstanding speed, developing power, tremendous range in center field and leadership qualities. He quickly made fans forget about the popular Nate McLouth.
Projection: Last in the NL Central
Finished: 57-105 (last)

2011
What Athlon said: While the team should be better this season, an kind of real turnaround won’t begin to take place until 2012 at the earliest.
Projection: Last in the NL Central
Finished: 72-90 (fourth)

2012
What Athlon said:  There is no denying that the Pirates are moving int eh right direction, as their major league roster are much more talented than when GM Neal Huntington took over in 2007. Manager Clint Hurdle also seems to be the man to take the franchise places. However, it would be premature to think the Pirates can contend this season. They still have too many holes and not enough depth. Yet if things break right, the first winning season since 1992 is a possibility.
Projection: Fourth in the NL Central
Finished: 79-83 (fourth)

2013
What Athlon said: Making a run at the postseason might be a stretch — even in the era of the second wild card — but a winning record appears to be a realistic goal in Pittsburgh.
Projection: Third in the NL Central
Finished: XXXXX

Teaser:
Through the pages of Athlon: A look at the sad days in Pittsburgh before McCutchen and Co.
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 19:55
Path: /college-football/now-what-clemson-and-georgia-look-back-top-10-openers
Body:

Clemson fans may still be partying in the streets, and Georgia fans may still be sulking even into the middle of the week after a wild season opener. But there’s still a long way to go before the rare top-10 Week 1 matchup is put into its proper context.

Since the formation of the BCS in 1998, only six season openers have involved two top-10 teams as then-No. 8 Clemson’s 38-35 win over No. 5 Georgia did on Saturday.

Though the top-10 matchup in the first week is rare, a top-10 team starting 0-1 is not. At least one top-10 team has lost its opener each season since 2002. All Georgia has to do is look at the resumes of those teams to know the Bulldogs are at a crossroads.

Preseason No. 3 Oregon in 2011 lost its opener to LSU 40-27 but went on to win the Pac-12. In 2010, preseason No. 10 Virginia Tech lost its opener to Boise State 33-30, but — after a detour losing to James Madison — the Hokies went on to win the ACC.

And as for Clemson, a top-10 team that defeated another preseason top-10 team in the opener, good things may be on the way. The last two teams to accomplish that feat, Alabama in 2012 and LSU in 2011, played for national championships.

Here’s a complete list of top-10 teams that lost their openers and how they fared. Some quick observations follow below.

PRESEASON TOP-10 TEAMS THAT LOST THEIR SEASON OPENERS SINCE 1998

*denotes team that also lost its second game

YearLosing TeamWinning TeamLosing team's final record (bowl)
2013No. 5 GeorgiaNo. 8 Clemson 
2012No. 8 MichiganNo. 2 Alabama8-5, 6-2 Big Ten (Outback)
2011No. 3 OregonNo. 4 LSU12-2, 8-1 Pac-12 (Rose)
2010No. 10 Virginia Tech*No. 3 Boise State11-3, 8-0 ACC (Orange)
2009No. 3 OklahomaNo. 20 BYU8-5, 5-3 Big 12 (Sun)
2008No. 9 ClemsonNo. 24 Alabama7-6, 4-4 ACC (Gator)
2007No. 5 Michigan*Appalachian State9-4, 6-2 Big Ten (Capitol One)
2006No. 9 CalNo. 23 Tennessee10-3, 7-2 Pac-10 (Holiday)
2005No. 7 OklahomaTCU8-4, 6-2 Big 12 (Holiday)
 No. 9 MiamiNo. 14 Florida State9-3, 6-2 ACC (Peach)
2004No. 4 Florida StateNo. 5 Miami9-3, 6-2 ACC (Gator)
2003No. 6 Auburn*No. 8 USC8-5, 5-3 SEC (Music City)
2002No. 7 ColoradoColorado State9-5, 7-1 Big 12 (Alamo)
2000No. 3 AlabamaUCLA3-8, 3-5 SEC
1999No. 4 ArizonaNo. 3 Penn State6-6, 3-5 Pac-10
 No. 9 Ohio StateNo. 12 Miami6-6, 3-5 Big Ten
1998No. 5 Michigan*No. 22 Notre Dame10-3, 7-1 Big Ten (Citrus)
 No. 8 Arizona State*No. 18 Washington5-6, 4-4 Pac-10


• Georgia is the SEC's first preseason top-10 team to lose its opener since 2003 Auburn when the Tigers lost to eventual AP national champion USC.

• The average record for preseason top-10 teams who lost their season openers is 9-4 overall and 6.2-1.8 in conference since 2002. All 12 of those teams made bowl games, but only two reached BCS games — 2011 Oregon and 2010 Virginia Tech.

• Top-10 teams that lost in Week 1 during the BCS era are 12-5 in their second games of the season, but none turned around to face a second top-10 team as Georgia will against No. 6 South Carolina. Three of the teams listed above faced ranked teams after their top-10 loss: 2005 Miami lost to Florida State, but turned around to beat No. 20 Clemson, 1999 Ohio State lost to Miami but defeated No. 14 TCU in Game 2, and 1998 Michigan lost to Notre Dame and defeated No. 19 Syracuse the following week.

• Of the 17 preseason top-10 teams that lost their openers, only six returned to the top-10 sometime during the season. Only one of those teams finished in the top 10: Oregon finished the 2011 season ranked fourth in the AP, only one spot lower than where the Ducks started in the preseason before losing to LSU.

• The top-five teams that lost their openers actually fared worse than teams ranked between sixth and 10th in the preseason. Top-five teams that lost in Week 1 went 57-31 (.648). Teams ranked sixth through 10th went 81-37 (.686). The top-five teams, though, are dragged down by the 2000 Alabama team that started the season No. 3 but finished 3-8. Without that outlier on their overall record, the top-five teams are 54-23 (.701).

• The best example of a second week hangover in a top-10 game situation is 2010 Virginia Tech. The 10th-ranked Hokies lost to No. 3 Boise State before losing to James Madison 21-16 the following week.

• In an ironic twist of fate, one of the more recent preseason top-10 teams to lose its opener was Clemson in 2008. The Tigers lost to No. 24 Alabama to start that season, which was the beginning of the end for Tommy Bowden. The Tigers fired Bowden midseason and replaced him with assistant Dabo Swinney, who led Clemson in its win over Georgia on Saturday.

• It’s worth noting the last time Georgia started 0-2, the Bulldogs won the SEC East. In 2011, Georgia started the season with a 35-21 loss to Boise State in Atlanta and a 45-42 loss to South Carolina at home before reeling off 10 consecutive wins.

• Now what of the top-10 teams that defeated another top-10 team in their opener? It’s happened six times with, in general, good results. Two teams preseason top-10 teams that began the season with a top-10 win ended up winning the national championship, 2012 Alabama and 2003 USC.

PRESEASON TOP-10 TEAMS DEFEATING ANOTHER TOP-10 TEAM IN WEEK 1 SINCE 1998

*denotes national championship team

YearWinning TeamLosing TeamWinning Team's final record (bowl)
2012No. 2 Alabama*No. 8 Michigan13-1, 7-1 SEC (BCS Championship Game)
2011No. 4 LSUNo. 3 Oregon13-1, 8-0 SEC (BCS Championship Game)
2010No. 3 Boise StateNo. 10 Virginia Tech12-1, 7-1 WAC (MAACO)
2004No. 5 MiamiNo. 4 Florida State9-4, 5-3 SEC (Peach)
2003No. 8 USC*No. 6 Auburn12-1, 7-1 Pac-10 (Rose)
1999No. 3 Penn StateNo. 4 Arizona10-3, 5-3 Big Ten (Alamo)

 

Teaser:
After the rare top-10 season opener, what’s in store for the Tigers and Bulldogs?
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 07:14
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-2-episode-2
Body:

In episode 2 of the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast, Braden Gall and David Fox talk about the ups and downs from the first week of games, plus a quick lookahead for Week 2.

Our topics in this episode:

• What was impressive about Clemson’s 38-35 win over Georgia and what would constitute of the Tigers’ patented letdowns.

• Where does Georgia go from here with South Carolina in Week 2 and why
we’re concerned about fatigue in the second week of September.

• A quick pass through the Johnny Manziel drama of the weekend: Why Braden is tired of the coverage and why David is craving more.

• Why Washington was the biggest statement win of the weekend.

• A request for really, really upset Georgia fans to contact the podcast.

• Why David changed his pick from Miami to Florida ahead of this week’s game and why Braden is feeling a little more confident about Miami, but still picking the Gators.

• In a not-so-cleverly named segment, our hosts each pick an overlooked game for Week 2 they’re going to watch.
The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com and our RSS feed. And coming soon to iTunes.

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.

Thanks to Moon Taxi for sharing their tunes for bumper music. Their new album Mountains Beaches Cities will be available Sept. 10.

Teaser:
This week's podcast looks back at Clemson and Washington and takes a peek at week 2
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 07:05
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-week-1-national-awards-boyd-takes-top-honors
Body:

Maybe this season will be different. That’s the talking point coming out of Clemson after the Tigers defeated Georgia 38-35 on Saturday.

And with Tajh Boyd running the show as a senior, fans at the Esso Club have someone they may be able to buck the Clemson trend of raising expectations only to see the Tigers’ hopes and dreams crumble later in the season. Boyd’s been there — the 2010 team that started 8-0 before losing three of the last five, including an embarrassing 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

Clemson’s long-term goals have yet to materialize, but Boyd is the player for right now, earning Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.

“This team is a veteran team,” Boyd said. “We have been every situation you could possibly image. We have been down 18. We have been up and lost. We just got absolutely blew out. It's situation like these where you know what type of team you have.”

ATHLON SPORTS WEEK 1 NATIONAL AWARDS

National Player of the Week: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd was the catalyst for Clemson’s 38-35 victory over Georgia. The senior quarterback took advantage of a rebuilt Bulldogs’ secondary, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions. Boyd also added 42 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. With Boyd at the controls, Clemson’s offense is one of the nation’s best. And the senior quarterback should be near the top of the Heisman watchlist after his Week 1 performance. 

National Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league.

National Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
The offseason hype certainly lived up to Winston’s debut. The redshirt freshman was nearly flawless in his debut, completing 25 of 27 passes (and one of the incompletions was debatable) for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Winston also added 25 yards and one score on the ground. The Alabama native was incredibly poised in his first start, and his emergence will make Florida State a factor in the national championship picture.

National Coordinator of the Week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense needed time to figure out its personnel and an approach that would work against Mississippi State. Glenn Spencer’s defense, though, did more than just hold serve. Oklahoma State limited Mississippi State to 333 total yards and a field goal, the first time the Cowboys held a major conference opponent to less than a touchdown since 1995. Oklahoma State was at its best in the third quarter when it held Mississippi State to 10 total yards and no first downs. The Cowboys added 10 tackles for a loss after averaging 6.9 per game last season.

WEEK 1 CONFERENCE AWARDS

ACC
Offense: Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Defense: Anthony Harris, Virginia
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Mike Locksley, Maryland

Big 12
Offense: J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Defense: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Freshman: Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech
Coordinator: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State

Big Ten
Offense: Allen Robinson, Penn State
Defense: Collin Ellis, Northwestern
Freshman: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Coordinator: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State

Pac-12
Offense: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Defense: Dion Bailey, USC
Freshman: Addison Gillam, Colorado
Coordinator: Justin Wilcox, Washington

SEC
Offense: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Defense: Robenson Therezie, Auburn
Freshman: Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
Coordinator: Cam Cameron, LSU

Teaser:
The Clemson quarterback earned our National Player of the Week in Georgia win
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 11:33
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-1-power-rankings-2013
Body:

Two Big 12 teams lost to FCS programs, and a third had a scare. TCU lost its marquee game to open the season.

Yet the Big 12 is more or less where though it would be.

The teams at the top are flawed, and there remains little obvious separation. Oklahoma State, our preseason pick to win the league, remains on top after its first game despite a sputtering effort from its offense. Oklahoma and Texas won in routs, but both the Sooners and Longhorns showed enough room for improvement to make us wary.

If we learned anything, the bottom half of the league — Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia — showed that they’re a ways off from competing with the top half of the conference.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamAnalysis
1.Oklahoma State (1-0, 0-0): The Cowboys didn’t look like a finished product on offense in the first game as J.W. Walsh took over the starting role. Parker Graham moved over from guard to play left tackle, vacated when Devin Davis suffered as season-ending knee injury. Despite the shifting on the line, though, the Cowboys didn’t give up a sack. Oklahoma State will have plenty of opportunities to tinker more against UTSA and Lamar in the next two week. This week: at UTSA
2.Oklahoma (1-0, 0-0): Bob Stoops insisted his team would have a similar offensive approach to years past with Trevor Knight at quarterback. Baloney. Knight was shaky as passer (11 of 28) with one interception and three more near-picks. But OU was content to let him run, though, as he rushed for a team-leading 103 yards on 13 carries, a rare feat for a Sooners QB. Oklahoma’s run defense was excellent against ULM, something that will be in focus in Game 2. This week: West Virginia.
3.Texas (1-0, 0-0): Texas has to wonder which offense is going to show up at BYU this week. David Ash threw two interceptions in the first half as the Longhorns trailed 7-0. Thereafter, Texas needed only 16 plays and less than 5:30 of game time to score five touchdowns in the second and third quarters. A matchup against BYU looks little less formidable, though, after the Cougars lost 19-16 at Virginia. This week: at BYU
4.TCU (0-1, 0-0): The Horned Frogs kept the loss to LSU close on a turnover and kickoff return for a touchdown, perhaps masking an ineffective passing game and lackluster defense. Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin combined to complete 15-of-28 passes for 5.2 yards per attempt as the Horned Frogs had difficulty sustaining drives with either quarterback. This week: Southeastern Louisiana.
5.Baylor (1-0, 0-0): Baylor had little trouble in its opener against Wofford. Even if it was against an overmatched FCS program, Bryce Petty looked like he’ll fit into the Art Briles' quarterback tradition as he completed 19-of-24 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns. Week 2 matchup we’re waiting to see: Lache Seastrunk against Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, the best player on the field in the opener against Ohio State. This week: Buffalo
6.Texas Tech (1-0, 0-0): Kliff Kingsbury may have a dilemma when presumptive starter Michael Brewer returns from injury next month. Baker Mayfield flourished in his first start, which ended with three fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Kingsbury treated Mayfield nothing like a true freshman walk-on, entrusting him to throw 60 passes in Texas Tech’s 87 plays against SMU. The Red Raiders get a warm up before facing TCU on Sept. 12. This week: Stephen F. Austin
7.Kansas State (0-1, 0-0): An uncharacteristic Bill Snyder performance in so many ways for the Wildcats in the opener. The offensive line and run game were a mess as K-State rushed for only 41 yards on 1.8 yards per carry. K-State finished 2 of 10 on third down and reached the red zone only once as North Dakota State scored the final 17 points. The Wildcats will be on upset alert again in week 2. This week: UL Lafayette
8.West Virginia (1-0, 0-0): At least Houston transfer Charles Sims delivered in the opener, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Mountaineers went for a balanced offense as the simplified passing game looked, well, simple against William & Mary. Odds are quarterback Paul Millard will need to be more productive Saturday. This week: at Oklahoma
9.Iowa State (0-1, 0-0): The overachieving Cyclones may be returning to Earth. The front seven is clearly rebuilding after allowing 6.9 yards per carry against Northern Iowa and 21-of-28 passing. Quarterback Sam Richardson showed potential in the Pistol formation, but the Cyclones still settled for field goals late. This week: Off
10.Kansas (0-0): The Jayhawks need all the perpetration they can get after losing 11 in a row last season. Kansas’ last win was over South Dakota State on Sept. 1 last year, so maybe that’s a good omen. This week: South Dakota

Big 12 Week 1 Awards


Offensive player of the week: J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy started his season with Clint Chelf at quarterback against Mississippi State, but only two series later, Oklahoma State needed a change. That’s no problem for J.W. Walsh, who was the second man up last season when then-freshman starter Wes Lunt went down with an injury. Oklahoma State inserted the dual-threat Walsh into the lineup Saturday and added a few tweaks that turned out to spark the Cowboys to a 21-3 victory. Running the option out of the shotgun in a four-man backfield, Walsh led the Cowboys in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also completed 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards.

Defensive player of the week: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson led a stifling effort against UL-Monroe, an encouraging development for a Sooners defense that struggled last season. Leading the way to bottle up quarterback Kolton Browning, Nelson had eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sacks as ULM averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the 34-0 win.

Freshman of the week: Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech
When Mike Leach coached Texas Tech, it seemed he could just plug any quarterback into his system and get a 400-yard passing day. It’s fitting then that Leach’s first quarterback at Tech has the same touch as a head coach. In his head coaching debut, Kliff Kingsbury sent out Baker Mayfield, a true freshman walk-on to take the first snaps. Mayfield looked neither the part of a freshman nor a non-scholarship player as he completed 43 of 60 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns in a 41-23 win over SMU on Friday. Both Mayfield and SMU starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert graduated from high school powerhouse Lake Travis (Texas).

Team of the week: Oklahoma State
The Big 12 favorite scored the biggest non-conference win for the league with a 21-3 victory over Mississippi State. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Cowboys again showed their ability to adjust on the fly on offense and showed a new look with a standout defense.

Coordinator of the week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense needed time to figure out its personnel and an approach that would work against Mississippi State. Glenn Spencer’s defense, though, did more than just hold serve. Oklahoma State limited Mississippi State to 333 total yards and a field goal, the first time the Cowboys held a major conference opponent to less than a touchdown since 1995. Oklahoma State was at its best in the third quarter when it held Mississippi State to 10 total yards and no first downs. The Cowboys added 10 tackles for a loss after averaging 6.9 per game last season.

Teaser:
Despite upsets, Big 12 still crowded on top
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:13
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-big-tens-coaches-2013-14
Body:

The Big Ten once again has perhaps the deepest bench of coaches in the country.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, then that teams like Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin had a hotly contested battle for the regular season title in the Big Ten last season. Each week in 2013-14 seemed to feature a different Big Ten team in the national spotlight.

In other words, if you’re going to get angry at Athlon for ranking your team’s coach third, fourth or fifth in the Big Ten, at least wait to see the national rankings.

The league features Tom Izzo and Thad Matta, whose longevity, consistency, regular season success and postseason wins put them at the top. Not far behind are Tom Crean and John Beilein, who revived proud programs, and Bo Ryan, who defies the odds each season with a contender each year despite a lower recruiting profile.

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings: ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Record (all at Michigan State): 439-178 overall (.712), 209-95 Big Ten (.693)
NCAA Tournament: 39-16, six Final Fours, one national championship
Tom Izzo will have two McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster in 2013-14 in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, a rarity for the longtime Spartans’ coach. Few coaches have weathered the changes in college basketball as well as Izzo — the changes in the NBA Draft rules, the ups and downs in the Big Ten and all the challenges that come with recruiting. Izzo has assembled the Big Ten’s most consistent program without a glut of first-round draft picks (none since 2006) or early entries to the NBA Draft (none during the one-and-done era). Consider this: Appling and Adreian Payne are looking to avoid becoming the first senior class to play all four years with Izzo and miss the Final Four.

2. Thad Matta, Ohio State
Record: 352-104
Record at Ohio State: 250-73 overall (.774), 111-45 (.712)
NCAA Tournament: 22-11, two Final Fours
More often than not, Matta has had the most talented roster in the Big Ten, especially since the Thad Five led the Buckeyes to the national championship game in 2007. The Buckeyes have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons, though the 2011 team that stalled in the Sweet 16 was a major postseason disappointment. In 13 seasons as a head coach at Xavier, Butler and Ohio State, Matta has claimed at least a share of a regular season title an astoudning eight times.

3. John Beilein, Michigan
Record: 415-260
Record at Michigan: 112-85 overall (.589), 55-53 Big Ten (.509)
NCAA Tournament: 13-8, one Final Four
Beilein is, in college basketball coaching terms, a self-made man. He’s never been an assistant, making his route to Michigan that much more unique. But now that he’s made the journey from community college to Le Moyne to Canisius to Richmond to West Virginia to Ann Arbor, we’re getting an idea of what Beilein can do at a Big Ten powerhouse. Beilein is the most successful coach at Michigan since the Fab Five days, and he shows little signs of slowing down. He’s signed elite recruits like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III while developing a point guard Ohio State ignored in its own backyard (Trey Burke) into the national player of the year.

4. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Record: 321-140
Record at Wisconsin: 291-113 overall (.720), 144-60 Big Ten (.705)
NCAA Tournament: 16-12
The 2013-14 season was further testament that no matter what happens, Bo Ryan will have a top-four team in the Big Ten. Point guard Jordan Taylor moved on, then heir apparent Josh Gasser was lost for the season with a torn ACL in October. No matter, Wisconsin still finished 12-6 in the Big Ten, finishing in the top four in the league ever season under Ryan. Ryan has good reason to be confident in his formula: He’s been able to develop players in his system year in and year out. In 11 seasons at Wisconsin, Ryan’s teams have ranked in the top 10 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency eight times and in the top 30 of offensive efficiency eight times. The only knock, though, is Wisconsin’s bad luck in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers haven’t advanced beyond the Sweet 16 since 2005.

5. Tom Crean, Indiana
Record: 274-178
Record at Indiana: 84-82 overall (.506), 33-57 Big Ten (.367)
NCAA Tournament: 9-7, one Final Four
Crean has brought Indiana back to national prominence in a way that’s been lacking since the Bob Knight era. Crean reestablished Indiana’s recruiting clout in state, starting with the signing of Cody Zeller and continuing with Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell. After a breakthrough season which saw Indiana win only its second post-Knight Big Ten title, it’s time to see if Crean can keep Indiana on top.

6. Matt Painter, Purdue
Record: 201-100
Record at Purdue: 176-95 overall (.649), 84-56 Big Ten (.600)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Painter knew he would be rebuilding after the Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore class left campus. The Boilermakers performed admirably under the circumstances in a loaded Big Ten last season, finishing 8-10. This could be a key season for Painter, though, as his program enters the second season of the post-Hummel era.

7. Fran McCaffery, Iowa
Record: 305-227
Record at Iowa: 54-50 overall (.519), 21-33  Big Ten (.389)
NCAA Tournament: 2-5
McCaffery resurrected Iowa to NIT status the last two seasons, and he should have the Hawkeyes in contention for their first NCAA Tournament since 2006. If Iowa reaches the Tourney, it will be the fourth reclamation job McCaffery has led to the Big Dance, joining Lehigh, UNC Greensboro and Siena.

8. John Groce, Illinois
Record: 108-69
Record at Illinois: 23-13 overall (.639), 8-10 Big Ten (.444)
NCAA Tournament: 4-3
Groce made an immediate impact at Illinois, leading the Illini to a win in the Maui Invitational, a 12-0 start and victories over Ohio State and Indiana. Not bad for a team that wasn’t nearly as balanced as other top Big Ten programs last season. Groce has an all-time conference record of 42-40 in five seasons as a head coach at Ohio and Illinois.

9. Tim Miles, Nebraska
Record: 86-106
Record at Nebraska: 15-18 overall (.455), 5-13 Big Ten (.278)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
Nebraska and Penn State are the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, but Miles has two things on his side: Plenty of enthusiasm and a new arena. Miles has already rebuilt one program, improving his win total at Colorado State every season from 2007-08 through 2011-12 and recruiting the core of last season’s 26-9 team.

10. Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Record: 18-14
Record at Minnesota: First season
NCAA Tournament: None
Pitino showed immediately why he’s more than just a famous name. FIU’s basketball program was a mess after three seasons under Isiah Thomas, but Pitino led the Golden Panthers to the brink of the NCAA Tournament in a two-point loss to Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Tournament final. The 11-9 season in conference was FIU’s first winning league record since 1999-2000.

11. Chris Collins, Northwestern
Record: First season
Northwestern is as hopeful as it’s been in a while with Collins taking over the only major conference program that has never made the NCAA Tournament. For better or worse, Collins takes over a program that has made the NIT in four of the last five seasons, but the former Duke assistant is hopeful to push Northwestern over the edge.

12. Pat Chambers, Penn State
Record: 64-69
Record at Penn State: 22-41 overall (.349), 6-30 Big Ten (.167)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
As if the Penn State job isn’t tough enough, Chambers has dealt with a season-ending injury to Tim Frazier and a transfer from Jermaine Marshall.

Teaser:
Michigan State's Izzo headlines deep crop of coaches
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

The standouts in Week 1 in the Big 12 were hardly the most logical suspects.

Our award winners this week include a quarterback who started the game on the bench, a true freshman walk-on, a linebacker from a team that struggled on defense last season and a defensive coordinator at a program where offense is king.

In short, a strange first week for the Big 12 wasn't limited to FCS wins over Kansas State and Iowa State.

Offensive player of the week: J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy started his season with Clint Chelf at quarterback against Mississippi State, but only two series later, Oklahoma State needed a change. That’s no problem for J.W. Walsh, who was the second man up last season when then-freshman starter Wes Lunt went down with an injury. Oklahoma State inserted the dual-threat Walsh into the lineup Saturday and added a few tweaks that turned out to spark the Cowboys to a 21-3 victory. Running the option out of the shotgun in a four-man backfield, Walsh led the Cowboys in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also completed 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards.

Defensive player of the week: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson led a stifling effort against UL-Monroe, an encouraging development for a Sooners defense that struggled last season. Leading the way to bottle up quarterback Kolton Browning, Nelson had eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sacks as ULM averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the 34-0 win.

Freshman of the week: Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech
When Mike Leach coached Texas Tech, it seemed he could just plug any quarterback into his system and get a 400-yard passing day. It’s fitting then that Leach’s first quarterback at Tech has the same touch as a head coach. In his head coaching debut, Kliff Kingsbury sent out Baker Mayfield, a true freshman walk-on to take the first snaps. Mayfield looked neither the part of a freshman nor a non-scholarship player as he completed 43 of 60 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns in a 41-23 win over SMU on Friday. Both Mayfield and SMU starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert graduated from high school powerhouse Lake Travis (Texas).

Team of the week: Oklahoma State
The Big 12 favorite scored the biggest non-conference win for the league with a 21-3 victory over Mississippi State. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Cowboys again showed their ability to adjust on the fly on offense and showed a new look with a standout defense.

Coordinator of the week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense needed time to figure out its personnel and an approach that would work against Mississippi State. Glenn Spencer’s defense, though, did more than just hold serve. Oklahoma State limited Mississippi State to 333 total yards and a field goal, the first time the Cowboys held a major conference opponent to less than a touchdown since 1995. Oklahoma State was at its best in the third quarter when it held Mississippi State to 10 total yards and no first downs. The Cowboys added 10 tackles for a loss after averaging 6.9 per game last season.

Fifth Down

• Half of the Big 12’s primary quarterbacks were not the odds-on favorites when preseason camp began. Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight and Kansas State’s Jake Waters were named starters in preseason practice despite more seasoned players on the roster. Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield filled in for the injured Michael Brewer. Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh relieved Clint Chelf early. And West Virginia’s Paul Millard was not revealed as the starter until he trotted onto the field.

• Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight rushed for 103 yards becoming the first Sooners QB to top 100 yards rushing since Jason White in 2001 — before the eventual Heisman winner had two knee surgeries. Knight also became the first quarterback of the Stoops era to rush for more than he passed (86 yards).

• Oklahoma had its best defensive performance against the run since September 2011. The Sooners held ULM to 1.7 yards per carry and 38 yards on the gorund, the lowest figures since OU held Florida State to 1.04 yards per carry and 27 rushing early in 2011.

• Texas’ 715 total yards against New Mexico State was a school record and the first 700-yard game in school history. Not bad considering that three of the Longhorns’ first five possessions ended in a turnover.

• Baylor’s 69 points against Wofford was the Bears’ highest-scoring game since an 88-0 win over Stephen F. Austin in 1929. That may not seen to be a big deal against an FCU steam, but given the Big 12’s results against other FCS teams, Baylor has reason to be proud.

• Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk has rushed for 100 yards in five consecutive games, a school record. Seastrunk rushed fro 112 yards on 11 carries against Wofford.

Teaser:
Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh and Oklahoma's Corey Nelson take top honors
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 15:41
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-1-recap-clemson-lsu-make-statements
Body:

The first weekend of college football season delivered in all the ways we hoped it would.

Clemson gave us a legitimate party-crasher for the SEC’s dominance and raised the bar for a Tigers fan base used to having their dreams crushed in the unlikeliest of ways.

LSU and TCU delivered on gamesmanship early as neither suspended stars, Jeremy Hill and Devonte Fields, played, but both TCU quarterbacks did. And a series of wild sequences from the end of the first half to a key turnover to a kickoff return kept things interesting for TCU.

In the personality department, Johnny Manziel was Johnny Manziel and he did so efficiently in less than a half of play.

And then there was the ongoing story of FCS teams rising up to defeat FBS program. The day Saturday ended with eight FBS teams losing to lower-division programs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 1 RECAP: THREE AND OUT

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM CLEMSON 38, GEORGIA 35

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Clemson could be in for a special season. The offense is special, no doubt: Tajh Boyd (right) can get the big play, but he also picked up third downs on the ground late in the game, Sammy Watkins flashed his 2011 form, and Roderick McDowell picked up where Andre Ellington left off. The defense needs work, but few teams will be able to stress Clemson like Georgia did. The Tigers have proven they can go toe-to-toe with SEC teams with three wins in four matchups in the last year, but can Clemson get through the ACC unscathed?

The Clemson secondary is still a question. Todd Gurley rushed for a 75-yard touchdown on his first carry of the game, but Georgia averaged 3.6 yards per carry thereafter. That’s a good sign for the Clemson front seven. However, this looks like the same old Tigers’ secondary. Aaron Murray completed 20-of-29 passes for 322 yards, signaling Clemson’s pass defense could be a liability for yet another season.

Georgia could be in trouble next week. Georgia was gassed at times in the second half in the humidity as the defense spent 76 plays on the field against Clemson. Now the Bulldogs have to turn around from a deflating loss to face South Carolina. The Bulldogs potentially will be without starting receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who suffered a knee injury early in the game.

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM LSU 37, TCU 27

The LSU offense: We don’t want to know how the sausage is made. The Tigers have to love the end result with 401 yards and 5.6 yards per play against the stout TCU defense, but there were still signs of the same old LSU offense. Zach Mettenberger (right) made a beautiful behind-the-shoulder throw to Odell Beckham in the second half, but Mettenberger also completed fewer than half of his passes (15 of 32). At the end of the first half, LSU turned a third and goal from TCU’s 2 to a third down at the 12 when the Tigers were called for a delay of game after their own timeout and then were flagged for a false start. And later, Alfred Blue fumbled inside the Tigers' 10 to set up a TCU touchdown — a rare fumble by an LSU running back, but a momentum-changing fumble nonetheless.

TCU is still going to contend in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs lost, but they don’t look like they’re eliminated from Big 12 contention by any means. TCU closed the deficit to a field goal with 8:44 remaining despite playing without its top defensive player Devonte Fields. Meanwhile, the rest of the Big 12 looked far from perfect.

Crazy things happen. LSU brought us the wildest sequence of the weekend at the end of the second half and that was after LSU was called for a delay of game after its own timeout. Then, the Tigers moved back another five yards on a false start. LSU risked letting the clock run out on a scoring attempt when a player lost a helmet, resulting in a 10-second runoff, on a third down play before the presumptive field goal. The officials at first ruled the end of the half thanks to the helmet removal (there were 5 seconds remaining at the time). Nearly the entire TCU team made it off the field before officials reversed the call, noting LSU’s incomplete pass stopped the clock to negate the runoff. After TCU retook the field, LSU kicked a field goal to end the half.

MOVING THE CHAINS

Maryland’s C.J. Brown. The Terrapins finally got a look at what their offense could be when the quarterback position isn’t a revolving door. Even if it was against FIU, C.J. Brown gave Maryland the quarterback play it had been lacking in his first start since missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Brown completed 20-of-24 passes for 276 yards with three touchdowns while rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns. For better or worse, Maryland’s best playmaker, Stefon Diggs, had only six touches on offense, most of which after the 43-10 win had been decided.

Northwestern without Kain Colter. Northwestern played most of its week 1 game without Kain Colter, who was out with an “upper body injury,” and Venric Mark contributed little. Their absence was felt, particularly in the red zone, but Northwestern still managed to defeat plucky Cal 44-30 on the road. A big heap of the credit goes to Collin Ellis, who had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Allen Robinson’s second half. Robinson was suspended for the first half against Syracuse for reasons Bill O’Brien says are between the receiver and the coach. In any event, Robinson transformed a stagnant Penn State offense in the second half.  Robinson caught seven passes for 127 yards with a touchdown in Penn State’s 17-point second half in the Nittany Lions’ 23-17 win. Robinson’s return was boost for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed 22-of-31 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his debut.

FALSE STARTS


Texas A&M’s defense. Johnny Manziel’s first-half suspension was not the biggest concern for the Aggies. Not even close. Texas A&M allowed Rice to put up 508 yards as the defense stayed on the field for 86 plays. Rice averaged 6.1 yards per carry and pushed the Aggies’ defensive line around early in the game. Some of the issues were due to suspensions as nose guard Kirby Ennis, safety Floyd Raven and cornerback Deshazor Everett were suspended for the first half due to offseason arrests. Linebacker Steven Jenkins, defensive end Gavin Stansbury and cornerback De’Vante Harris — all starters — were also suspended for the first two games. Everett returned for the second half, enough time to pick up another suspension after being flagged under the new targeting rule. All those absences will either help build experience among the backups or could end up being a liability when the SEC schedule starts.

Nebraska’s defense. Bo Pelini is having trouble selling his bona fides as a defensive coach these days with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were shredded at the end of last season by Wisconsin and Georgia. The opener, though, was a new low. Wyoming, a team that went 4-8 last season and ranked 70th in total offense last season, amassed 602 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play against the Huskers in the 37-34 loss. Making Wyoming’s outburst most puzzling, the Cowboys went 1 of 8 on third down. Nebraska faces UCLA in two weeks.

Boise State. The Broncos have had heartbreakers and losses to inferior teams, but Boise State has never had a performance this bad during the Chris Petersen era. The Broncos lost 38-6 to Washington, giving Boise State its first loss of more than four points since a 39-27 loss to Hawaii in 2007 and its worst loss since 48-13 to Georgia in the 2005 opener.

HEISMAN MOVERS

Tajh Boyd, Clemson. Five total touchdowns in the marquee game of the weekend is enough to put Boyd near the top of the conversation if he wasn’t there already.

AJ McCarron, Alabama. McCarron will have opportunities to make up ground to make voters forget his forgettable performance against Virginia Tech. Receivers dropped passes, the offensive line struggled — Cyrus Kouandjio in particular — and Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller had a standout game with an interception and two pass breakups. But McCarron’s stat line will stick out as he finished 10-of-23 for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. A loss to Iowa won’t be on the NIU resume this season. And if Lynch is going to make a bid to be a Heisman finalist, he needed a game like he had against Iowa — even if he played little role in the dramatic finish. Lynch completed 25-of-41 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns while rushing for 55 yards on 23 carries.

STAT WATCH

2. Return game touchdowns for Alabama’s Christion Jones. It takes a special effort to do something that’s never been done at Alabama, but junior receiver Christion Jones managed that. He took the first touch of Alabama’s season back for a touchdown on a punt return. Then he added a 94-yard kickoff return for a score in the second quarter to become the first player since at least 1944 (that’s how far complete records go back) to return a punt and a kickoff for a score for the Tide. Oh, and he added a 38-yard touchdown catch.

5. FCS teams defeating major conference teams. To put that in perspective: No more than four FCS teams have defeated major conference teams in a season since 1985, according to footballgeography.com. The action started Thursday when Towson defeated Connecticut 33-18 for the most lopsided FCS-over-FBS win since 2000. That mark was crushed Saturday when McNeese State defeated USF 53-21. Two-time FCS champion North Dakota State defeated Kansas State 24-21 on Friday, Eastern Washington defeated Oregon State 49-46, and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 28-20.

6-13. Iowa’s record in one-score games since 2010. Iowa’s signature ability to win close games is a distant memory. With 1:24 remaining in a tie game, Jake Rudock threw an interception to set up Northern Illinois at the 30-yard line. After two run plays, NIU kicked a 36-yard game-winning field goal for a 30-27 win. Iowa has lost seven in a row and has lost six games decided by one score since the start of the 2012 season.

THREE OBLIGATORY MANZIEL POSTS

 

BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART

Khalil Mack, Buffalo. A name to remember around the NFL Draft: Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. He was the best defensive player on the field in Ohio State’s 40-20 win over Buffalo. Mack returned an interception 45 yards for at touchdown to go with 2.5 sacks and nine tackles. The MAC isn’t all about offense.

Southern Miss’ losing streak goes on. The nation’s longest losing streak hit 13 games and figures to go a bit longer. Southern Miss lost 22-15 to Texas State in Hattiesburg, a game that was the Eagles’ best chance for a win until at least October. Southern Miss rounds out September at Nebraska, at Arkansas and at Boise State.

Louisville’s schedule got worse. Everyone knew the Cardinals’ schedule was going to be a liability for their perception and their postseason. Before the Cards even played a game it got worse: Louisville’s opponents went 4-7 in the first week, and the most impressive by a wide margin win was Cincinnati’s 42-7 victory over Purdue. Louisville’s opponents’ other three wins were over Akron, Southern and Robert Morris. Meanwhile, USF and Connecticut lost decisively to FCS teams. Rutgers had the best chance for meaningful win for the American Athletic Conference, but the Scarlet Knights lost 52-51 in overtime to Fresno State.
 

THREE CLOSE CALLS
Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34
West Virginia 24, William & Mary 17
Illinois 42, Southern Illinois 34
WHO SAYS COLLEGE HAS NO PRESEASON?
Baylor 69, Wofford 3
Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3
Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9
BEST THREE GAMES NEXT WEEK
Florida at Miami
Georgia at South Carolina
Notre Dame at Michigan

THREE SUPERSUBS

J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State. Clint Chelf spent all of two possessions as Oklahoma State’s primary quarterback, but it’s tough to argue with Mike Gundy sticking with J.W. Walsh, no matter what Chelf’s family members may say. Once inserted into the lineup, Walsh gave the Cowboys offense a lift running the zone read out of a diamond formation late in the first half. Walsh completed 18 of 27 passes for 135 yards and led Oklahoma State in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown ion 13 carries. Gundy left little room for controversy by saying Walsh would start the Cowboys’ next game against UTSA.

Jordan Hall, Ohio State. The Ohio State offense isn't all Braxton Miller. With power backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith suspended for the opener, Hall took over. The senior rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the 40-20 win. Hall missed most of all of last season with a foot injury and then a knee injury. He’s expected to occasionally play the H-back role when Hyde and Smith return to the lineup, but this day will be tough to ignore.

Mack Brown, Florida. Thanks to suspensions and injuries, the Gators were shorthanded throughout the offense. Running back Mack Brown adequately provided the power run game attack Will Muschamp prefers. With Matt Jones out with a viral infection since July, Brown rushed for 112 yards with two touchdowns on 25 carries in the 24-6 win over Toledo. The Gators had been hoping for Brown to take on a greater role in recent years, but entering Saturday, the senior had only 40 carries in three seasons.
 

THREE PLAYERS EJECTED UNDER NEW TARGETING RULE
Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
Chris McCain, Cal
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
THREE GREAT DEBUTS
Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
THREE DUBIOUS DEBUTS
Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Willie Taggart, USF

THREE INJURY CONCERNS

Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss. The Rebels defeated Vanderbilt 39-35 in a thrilling Thursday night opener, but all is not well in Oxford. Star linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche is out for four to six weeks after suffering a torn meniscus. Meanwhile, starting offensive lineman Aaron Morris is likely done for the season after a torn ACL. Ole Miss has a brutal start to the season after facing Southeast Missouri State next week. The Rebels are at Texas (Sept. 14), at Alabama Oct. 28), at Auburn (Oct. 5), vs. Texas A&M (Oct. 12) and vs. LSU (Oct. 19).

Brandon Mitchell, NC State. If first-year coach Dave Doeren didn’t have enough challenges in turning NC State into an ACC contender, he was dealt another blow with an injury to starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell. The senior was 3-for-3 for 93 yards before leaving the opener with a broken bone in his foot. The Wolfpack still defeated Louisiana Tech 40-14, but NC State rounds out September with Richmond, Clemson and Central Michigan.

Tyler Russell, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs quarterback walked off the field in a daze after a shot to the head in the second half against Oklahoma State. Even if Russell is held out of the next week, the Bulldogs might not be in serious trouble against Alcorn State.

Teaser:
Clemson raises stakes for season, LSU ready to contend for SEC
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 11:44
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-big-easts-coaches-2013-14
Body:

The new Big East has a leg up on other basketball leagues that don’t have major college football. That’s clear. Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s and even Butler and Xavier are established basketball brands.

The resumes of the league's coaches, though, may be a bit lacking compared to the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12.


Only two Big East coaches have a Final Four appearance, and neither claimed the top spot in our league coach rankings. That honor belongs to Buzz Williams.

The Marquette coach is accomplished as anyone during the last three seasons, but he has a grand total of eight NCAA Tournament wins in his career.

Beyond Williams and mainstays Jay Wright at Villanova and John Thompson III at Georgetown, there’s an interesting dynamic to watch in the reformed league. Steve Lavin and Ed Cooley have rebuilt their programs in the shadow of Louisville and Syracuse, and now could be poised to take a major step up in a league without a clear power program on top.

Doug McDermott and Chris Mack have accomplished much at the Missouri Valley and Atlantic 10 levels, but the day-to-day competition will be improved in their new conferences (at least on days when they’re not facing DePaul).

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings: ACC | American | Big 12

1. Buzz Williams, Marquette
Record: 136-71
Record at Marquette: 122-54 overall (.693), 60-30 Big East (.667)
NCAA Tournament: 8-5
Buzz Williams’ name keeps getting thrown out for other major jobs, but the stat-minded Texan is doing just fine in Milwaukee. Marquette is one of only four teams to reach the Sweet 16 in each of the last three seasons, joining Florida, Kansas and Ohio State. And he’s done this without the benefit of McDonald’s All-Americans. And despite the departure of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom before last season, Marquette won a share of the Big East title. 

2. John Thompson III, Georgetown
Record: 277-131
Record at Georgetown: 209-89 overall (.701), 99-57 (.635)
NCAA Tournament: 8-9, one Final Four
Thompson’s tenure at Georgetown has been marred by early NCAA Tournament exits, but consider three of the last five teams that knocked the Hoyas out of the Tournament: Florida Gulf Coast, a Final Four-bound VCU and a Stephen Curry-led Davidson. Thompson’s career shouldn’t be defined by those exits. Georgetown surprised last season by winning a share of the Big East title, the third time the Hoyas have won the regular-season championship under Thompson.

3. Jay Wright, Villanova
Record: 379-229
Record at Villanova: 257-144 overall (.641), 114-90 Big East (.559)
NCAA Tournament: 12-10, one Final Four
Villanova bounced back from a losing 2011-12 season by going 20-14 overall and 10-8 in the Big East last year. The Wildcats aren't competing at the same level as they were in the late 2000s, but they’re showing signs of getting back. Villanova defeated each of the Big East’s tri-champs (Louisville, Marquette and Georgetown) at least once last season plus Syracuse. Wright also has a point guard in Ryan Arcidiacono who is poised to be one of the league’s breakout stars. After reaching the NCAA Tournament in eight of the last nine seasons, 2011-12 was an aberration.


4. Chris Mack, Xavier
Record (all at Xavier): 90-44 overall (.672), 48-16 Atlantic 10 (.750)
NCAA Tournament: 4-3
This could be a critical season for Mack’s momentum at Xavier. A Cincinnati and Xavier product through and through, Mack led Xavier to A-10 titles in his first two seasons and to the Sweet 16 twice in his first three seasons. With a depleted roster, Xavier slipped to 17-14 last season. The Musketeers have a potential All-American in sophomore Semaj Christon, so Mack should expect to return to form in his fifth season.


5. Steve Lavin, St. John’s
Record: 196-125
Record at St. John’s: 51-47 overall (.520), 26-28 Big East (.481)
NCAA Tournament: 11-7
Lavin’s record technically includes the majority of the 2011-12 season when he missed all but the first four games while recovering from successful treatment for prostate cancer. The Red Storm’s record with Lavin on the bench is 20-17 in the Big East. Beyond the record, Lavin has brought momentum back to St. John’s. Lavin took a veteran team to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, but he has replenished the program with standout recruiting classes in recent years. St. John’s should be a consistent contender in the new Big East.

6. Greg McDermott, Creighton
Record: 229-161
Record at Creighton: 80-30 overall (.727), 37-17 Missouri Valley (.685)
NCAA Tournament: 2-5
McDermott may be best suited as a mid-major coach. There’s no shame in that, but it will be interesting to see how he and Creighton perform in the new Big East, especially once his son Doug McDermott is gone. Greg has an 86-58 all-time conference record as a Missouri Valley coach at Northern Iowa and Creighton compared to 18-46 against the Big 12 while at Iowa State. He’s the big question for McDermott: Will the level of competition in the new Big East be closer to the MVC or the Big 12?

7. Ed Cooley, Providence
Record: 126-101
Record at Providence: 34-32 overall (.515), 13-23 Big East (.361)
NCAA Tournament: None
The Rhode Island-born Cooley has coached in the Northeast most of his career, and may be the perfect fit in returning Providence to contention. The Friars improved from 4-14 in the Big East in his first to 9-9 in his second, and that was without one of his top recruits, Ricky Ledo. This season could end a decade-long absence from the NCAA Tournament for the Friars.

8. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Record: 94-98
Record at Seton Hall: 49-49 overall (.500), 18-36 Big East (.333)
NCAA Tournament: None
Willard’s rebuilding job at Seton Hall hit a snag last season as the Pirates went 3-15 in the league after an NIT appearance a season earlier. We know Willard can rebuild — Iona went 2-28 the year before he arrived and 21-10 four years later. He hopes he’s a point guard away from getting closer to .500 in the league.

9. Brandon Miller, Butler
Record: First season
Given Butler’s track record of hiring coaches, we wouldn’t be shocked if Miller quickly moved up the rankings, even if duplicating Brad Stevens’ run would be an impossible task. Miller took a year away from college basketball two seasons ago, but Butler knows what it’s getting in its new coach. He’s an alum who coached at Butler and under a former Bulldogs coach Thad Matta at Ohio State.

10. Oliver Purnell, DePaul
Record: 424-343
Record at DePaul: 30-64 overall (.319), 6-50 Big East (.107)
NCAA Tournament record: 0-6
Programs know what they get with Purnell. He’s taken over rough situations at Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson. He’s made them competitive in their respective leagues. Then he takes the next rebuilding job. DePaul, though, may be a job too difficult to salvage. The only hope is that the new Big East will be more forgiving than the last one for the Blue Demons.

Teaser:
Marquette's Buzz Williams takes top spot in new conference
Post date: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 08:00

Pages