Articles By David Fox

All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/five-thoughts-nov-17-college-football-playoff-rankings

If last year’s College Football Playoff rankings are in any way a guide  _ and there’s no guarantee that its is — this week might be the turning point.


The Nov. 18 rankings in 2014 had Nos. 1-2-3 lined up perfectly. Although Alabama, Oregon and Florida State would move around in the final three weeks, they’d end up exactly where they were on Nov. 18.


This was also the time last season when Ohio State started to make its ascent, which would end in the top four.


Should any of this matter in this year’s Playoff process? Probably not. Different teams. Different résumés. Different opponents in the final two weeks.


That said, what seems to be clear is that Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame are in win-and-you’re-in territory.


Everything else is just a guess.


1. Notre Dame is going to be the great mystery

Many of the committee’s pet phrases — game control, body clock and so on — have come up in the spur of the moment, but in writing as one of the criteria is “conference championships won.” That, of course, is irrelevant to Notre Dame, and how much that will impact the Irish in the final rankings isn’t clear. True, the Irish lost to their toughest opponent — No. 1 Clemson on the road — but clearly the committee thinks highly of Notre Dame’s wins. No. 16 Navy has rocketed up the top 25, and No. 24 USC entered the rankings this week. If No. 11 Stanford and USC both reach the Pac-12 title game, and Notre Dame has victories over both, would the committee go so far as to give partial credit for a Pac-12 title?


2. Maybe Baylor’s not out of it after all

Dating back to last season, Baylor has vexed the selection committee with its lackluster non-conference schedule. The September schedule, which included SMU, Lamar and Rice, would seem to erase a margin of error for Baylor. Yet the Bears lost their first game of the season, 44-34 to Oklahoma in Waco, and fell merely to No. 10. With games remaining at No. 6 Oklahoma State, at No. 18 TCU and Texas, maybe the Bears can climb six spots — as long as the Sooners lose. Baylor’s strength of schedule is ranked 76th by Sagarin, and the Bears lost at home to the best team they’ve faced. A competitive game, however, “validated the strength of Baylor,” committee chair Jeff Long said.


3. North Carolina is going to have trouble

With blowout wins over Miami and Duke, the Tar Heels have climbed at least in public notoriety in recent weeks. In a vacuum, moving from unranked to 23rd to 17th is no small matter, but the Tar Heels are little more than a fringe contender. North Carolina lost to a 3-7 South Carolina team, played two FCS opponents and avoided Clemson and Florida State in the ACC schedule. That’s a good way to get to 9-1 and perhaps win the Atlantic, but not a good profile for the top 10. And with a semifinal in the Orange Bowl, the ACC doesn’t have an automatic tie-in for a host bowl. The Heels may have to beat Clemson in the ACC title game to guarantee a major bowl — and it won’t be a semifinal.


4. Right or wrong, Ohio State is getting the benefit of the doubt

This could have been noted in any of the first three weeks the Buckeyes were ranked No. 3, but the committee is going with the eye test on this one. Iowa has road wins over two teams that have been in the committee’s top 25, Wisconsin and Northwestern. Ohio State is the only team in this week’s top 16 that hasn’t even played another CFP top 25 team. Many of the same players who won last year’s championship are still in Columbus, but this isn’t exactly indicative of “starting with a fresh piece of paper,” as the committee likes to say.


5. The final spots are worth watching

The final 5-8 spots are always interesting, if only as a peek into strength of schedule. Three three-loss teams entered the rankings with No. 22 Ole Miss, No. 23 Oregon and No. 24 USC. And getting close to that territory is one-loss TCU at No. 18. A team that was ranked in the top 10 two weeks ago might be in danger of slipping out. TCU lost its only significant game in the committee’s estimation and escaped close calls with Texas Tech and Kansas State.


New Year’s Six Projections

Orange Bowl semifinal: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Notre Dame

Cotton Bowl semifinal: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Ohio State


Rose: No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 11 Stanford

Sugar: No. 6 Oklahoma State vs. No. 8 Florida

Fiesta: No. 7 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Michigan State

Peach: No. 16 Navy vs. No. 10 Baylor

Five Thoughts on the Nov. 17 College Football Playoff Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 - 21:09
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-12-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts

The College Football Playoff race isn't close to being determined. With two weeks remaining in the regular season, teams are playing themselves in and out of contention. This has been a season of crazy finishes and heated competition on and off the field.


The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .


Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:


Michigan at Penn State

The Wolverines’ stifling defense has been ordinary in recent weeks. By a wide margin, Michigan has allowed more rushing yards in the last three games (579) than it did in the first seven (453). Opponents in those last three games have averaged 4.75 yards per carry against the Michigan defense. The Wolverines’ slump coincides with a Penn State offense that is slowly becoming more consistent. The Nittany Lions are averaging 6 yards per play in conference games this season, compared to 3.72 a year ago. This may come down to which quarterback — Jake Rudock for Michigan or Christian Hackenberg for Penn State — can crack the opposing defense.

Fox’s Pick: Michigan 28–20


Cal at Stanford

The implications of the Big Game have been dampened by Stanford’s loss to Oregon, likely knocking the Cardinal out of the playoff picture. The Pac-12 North title, though, is still in play as Oregon and Washington State have new life in the race. Cal ended its four-game losing streak with a rout of Oregon State and 453 passing yards and six touchdowns from Jared Goff. Cal may be able to pick up yards against the Stanford defense, but the Bears have showed little indication they’ll be able to contain a player like Christian McCaffrey.

Fox’s Pick: Stanford 42–28


Louisville at Pittsburgh

Louisville has quietly put together a four-game winning streak after a 2–4 start. A road trip to Pitt, however, figures to be the toughest test for the Cardinals in the second half of the regular season. Quarterback Kyle Bolin and running back Brandon Radcliff have taken charge of an improved Louisville backfield in the last two weeks. The most dynamic player on the field, though, will be Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd, who added a new dimension to the Panthers’ offense with his production in the run game.

Fox’s Pick: Louisville 31–24


UCLA at Utah

Few teams are more confounding than UCLA. Nevertheless, the Bruins control their own path to the Pac-12 Championship Game by virtue of playing Utah and USC to finish the season. UCLA’s defense had major lapses in losses to Washington State and Stanford, but the real question is if the Bruins’ offense can get efficient production against the Utah defense. The Utes lead the Pac-12 in rush defense while freshman quarterback Josh Rosen will try to avoid turnovers against a team that leads Pac-12 in interceptions.

Fox’s Pick: Utah 27–20


North Carolina at Virginia Tech

North Carolina finally has our attention just in time to go to Blacksburg for Frank Beamer’s final home game as the Hokies’ head coach. In other words, this will be an intriguing game if only for the intangibles involved. On the field, North Carolina has been clobbering teams on the way to an ACC Atlantic title. Despite Virginia Tech’s pedigree in the secondary, the Hokies may have trouble slowing an offense averaging 8 yards per play in the last two games.

Fox’s Pick: North Carolina 38–21


Mississippi State at Arkansas

Since a 2–4 start including losses to Toledo and Texas Tech, the Hogs have won four in a row and could finish second in the SEC West. This year’s Arkansas team, though, has a more well-rounded offense compared to last year’s squad that also got hot in November. Both quarterback Brandon Allen and running back Alex Collins have played the role of hero. After Alabama overwhelmed Mississippi State for nine sacks,  quarterback Dak Prescott will try to regroup against a lackluster Arkansas defense. The Hogs are last in the SEC in pass efficiency defense and have allowed a league-high 22 rushing touchdowns.

Fox’s Pick: Arkansas 31–27


Georgia Tech at Miami

Despite this season’s dual embarrassments of a 58-point loss to Clemson and a 38-loss to North Carolina, Miami can still play for a decent bowl with a chance to get to eight regular season wins and a 5–3 ACC record. That’s more than Georgia Tech can say, as the Yellow Jackets will miss the postseason for the first time since 1996. There’s little reason to put trust in either of these teams, but at least Georgia Tech isn’t losing in blowouts. Five the Jackets’ losses have been by one score.

Fox’s Pick: Georgia Tech 28–20


Purdue at Iowa

The Hawkeyes are coming off their worst defensive performance of the season, allowing 434 total yards and 7.6 yards per play to Minnesota. That’s a week after another pedestrian defensive game, by Iowa’s standards, against Indiana. In its last three games, Purdue beat Nebraska and played a one-score game with Northwestern. For the sake of keeping quarterback C.J. Beathard and others healthy, Iowa will hope this turns out like other routs against Purdue this season.

Fox’s Pick: Iowa 41–21


TCU at Oklahoma

Oklahoma seems to get stronger by the week while TCU’s season is hanging by a thread. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is starting to get Heisman attention, but the Sooners’ defense was just as impressive against Baylor. OU neutralized Corey Coleman and intercepted Jarrett Stidham twice. TCU’s Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson could be the most dangerous run-pass-catch duo in the country when healthy, but they’ve been hobbled. The stars are aligning for the Sooners.

Fox’s Pick: Oklahoma 44–35


Northwestern at Wisconsin

The race to keep up with Iowa in the Big Ten West is a matchup between two top-notch defenses and offenses that are still, in Week 12, trying to find identities. Wisconsin’s problem is easy to pinpoint. The Badgers have a young offensive line and have had limited contributions from running back Corey Clement. The Badgers expect Clement, who rushed for 949 yards last season, to play despite injuring his hand in an off-campus altercation last week. Northwestern would like to rely on running back Justin Jackson, but the passing game has struggled. The Wildcats pulled quarterback Clayton Thorson last week after two interceptions against Purdue. Yards will be tough to come by, though. Wisconsin is third in the Big Ten at 4.5 yards allowed per play. Northwestern’s defensive pace has slowed since the first month of the season, but the Wildcats are allowing only 291.5 yards per game and 4.2 per play when not facing Michigan and Iowa.

Fox’s Pick: Wisconsin 21–14


USC at Oregon

Oregon is heating up just as the window has opened for USC to win the Pac-12 South. Since the return of Vernon Adams, the Ducks have been progressively more efficient on offense — from 5.82 yards per play against Washington four weeks ago to 9.1 against Stanford. No question USC has been better under interim coach Clay Helton but the three close wins against the weaker teams in the Pac-12 — by 6 over Cal, by 8 over Arizona and by 3 over Colorado — are cause for concern.

Fox’s Pick: Oregon 42–31


Baylor at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State will try to replicate what led to a 49–29 win over TCU two weeks ago by pressuring Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham and forcing turnovers. Meanwhile, Stidham will look to adjust after throwing two picks and getting sacked twice against Oklahoma. Baylor’s defense won’t face as dangerous and offense as it did last week against OU, but Stidham may be facing a better defense — and on the road.

Fox’s Pick: Oklahoma State 41–38


Arizona at Arizona State

From the “where has this been all season” department, both Territorial Cup teams ended three-game losing streaks last week: Arizona in an overtime upset of Utah and Arizona State with a fourth-quarter comeback against Washington. Combine Arizona’s inconsistent offense with Arizona State’s pressure defense, and the Sun Devils may come out on top.

Fox’s Pick: Arizona State 31–24


LSU at Ole Miss

LSU was No. 2 in the first College Football Playoff rankings two weeks ago, but the Tigers have lost to Alabama and Arkansas by a combined 31 points, the latter at home. Most staggering has been the results in the run game on both sides of the ball for LSU. The Tigers have been outrushed 599–114 in two losses, effectively pushing Leonard Fournette aside in the Heisman race. The Rebels’ 43–37 win at Alabama in Week 3 now seems like a distant memory after Ole Miss lost to Florida, Memphis and Arkansas in the last games. Ole Miss’ defense has rarely been at full strength all season, so the Rebels are hoping the off week will allow them to regroup.

Fox’s Pick: Ole Miss 35–28


Michigan State at Ohio State

Both teams have work to do in order to make this the true heavyweight bout fans have been seeking all season. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was critical of his offensive line after a 28–3 win over Illinois. The timing for calling out the pass protection makes perfect sense. The Spartans aren’t as strong defensively as they’ve been, but they are 13th in sacks per game (2.9). Michigan State has its own problems protecting the passer in part because of season-long injuries on the line. The result has been a bum shoulder for quarterback Connor Cook, who was 6-of-20 with an interception against Maryland last week before he was finally pulled to preserve him for this week. Michigan State needs Cook healthy if the Spartans are going to atone for a loss to Nebraska to weeks ago and make a run at the Big Ten East.

Fox’s Pick: Ohio State 35–24


Texas A&M at Vanderbilt

The Aggies and Commodores have both made the switch to freshman quarterbacks in recent weeks and the results, predictably, have been mixed. Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur is the hotter hand right now, completing 13-of-26 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Kentucky. The goal for the Commodores will be to rely on their defense to make this an ugly game for Aggies freshman quarterback Kyler Murray. Vanderbilt has been tough on top-tier opposing quarterbacks this season, much less signal-callers who are struggling. Despite his recruiting profile, Murray falls into he latter category. He threw two interceptions against Western Carolina, giving him five picks and 4.8 yards per attempt in his last two starts.

Fox’s Pick: Texas A&M 21–14


Tennessee at Missouri

Missouri’s defense has been elite for most of the season, and the Tigers’ run game had their best two games of the year in the last two weeks. The difference, though, was the passing game. Drew Lock completed 19-of-28 passes for 244 yards with a touchdown and an interception, the first time in four games Mizzou quarterbacks completed half of their passes. Now, the question is if Missouri can keep that momentum in what will be coach Gary Pinkel’s final home game. Tennessee sleepwalked through a 24–0 win over North Texas. The game was never in doubt, but the Volunteers amassed only 409 yards against one of the worst defenses in college football. Tennessee is under pressure for a strong finish this season and will face two of the SEC’s best defenses in Mizzou and Vanderbilt.

Fox’s Pick: Tennessee 27–27


Colorado at Washington State

Let’s go ahead and put Washington State on upset alert. Colorado is still struggling to win in the Pac-12, but the Buffaloes are getting better. Colorado is fifth in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense. If the Buffs can get after Luke Falk, they’ll have a chance.

Fox’s Pick: Washington State 42–28


Wake Forest at Clemson

The Tigers haven’t been sharp against overmatched teams from NC State and Syracuse, which isn’t uncommon for heavy favorites at this stage of the season. Wake hasn’t scored 20 points in a conference game all season, so one can guess how this is going to go.

Fox’s Pick: Clemson 41–10


Boston College vs. Notre Dame (Fenway Park)

Boston College’s season may be notable for just one thing — an astounding lack of balance. The Eagles lead the nation in total defense and rank last in total offense. Perhaps BC’s defense will do enough to give Notre Dame trouble, but as the Eagles’ 3–7 record indicates, they can’t score enough to make it matter.

Fox’s Pick: Notre Dame 24–7


Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 166–54

Week 12 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/kentuckys-tyler-ulis-taking-charge-being-small-and-watching-his-friends-leave-lexington

Tyler Ulis may be the most unique player John Calipari has coached in the last decade at Kentucky or Memphis. Since Derrick Rose in 2005-06, Calipari point guards for the most part have been big and physical — and one and done. In 2015-16, the 5'9" Ulis, a sophomore, will be Calipari’s floor general a year after averaging 3.6 assists in 23.8 minutes per game in UK’s platoon system. Ulis joined Athlon Sports to talk about his new leadership role, his confidence even as an undersized point guard recruit, and his outlook on the Wildcats’ upcoming season.


Now that you’ve had time to reflect, how do you view last season’s accomplishments? That was clearly a great team, a great Kentucky team, but one that lost in the Final Four to another good team.


As a whole, we did a great job. We made history. It was fun playing with those guys. I got better individually, and playing with seven people who went to the pros, it was a special team. This year I think we’re going to come out and compete like we did last year but not fall short.


One thing that was evident at the SEC Tournament was how loose and relaxed you guys were. Was it always that way last season?


No, it wasn’t always that way. When we got to the SEC Tournament everybody started playing a lot better as a team. That comes with playing together all year. Eventually you want to click, and we started playing really good basketball.


So you felt like the SEC Tournament was a turning point, even though you didn’t lose during the regular season?


We were at our best in a lot of games during the regular season, but in the SEC Tournament we came out every game and played well. Everybody came in and did their job. For the most part, everyone played well.


Why do you think things changed then in terms of attitude?


We just had more chemistry as a team as the season went on. We were going on trips. Our guys started playing games together, started playing Super Smash Bros.


This interview and previews of every team in the country is available in the , available on newsstands or .


There was a moment during the SEC Tournament where you stared down Auburn’s 7'2" center Trayvon Reed. What do you remember about that moment?


I was standing on the block and he pushed me a little bit, so I pushed him back. We exchanged a few words. That’s about it.


How often has that happened in your career where you’ve stared down a bigger player?


It doesn’t happen often. But when it does happen, people are going to make a huge deal of it because of my size.


After last season, coach John Calipari told you, “Get your guys and let’s do this again.” Can you describe that interaction?


He texted me. It might have been right after the game (the loss in the Final Four to Wisconsin) or that night. It was a good moment because I felt like he trusted me with the team this year and he felt like we could do this again.


How did it feel to watch seven of your teammates go to the NBA Draft when you were returning to school?


It was a good feeling when guys that you played with saw their dreams come true and knowing you can do the same. I’m happy for all those guys, happy they got drafted. It worked out for the best for everyone. They helped me get better. I’m going to miss practices with those guys because it was non-stop competition.


Did you watch the draft and text those guys?


Oh yeah, of course. I congratulated them and tweeted them.


Related:  |


Was it weird to watch almost your entire team leave all at once?


It wasn’t weird. Those guys were ready. I figured they would be leaving because we had so many great players. They were ready to take their game to the next level.


Do you feel like this year’s team has to be your team?


I feel like that’s the way it’s got to be. Me, Alex (Poythress) and Marcus (Lee). We’ve got a lot of young guys coming in and a lot of people left. Derek (Willis) is going to have to step up, but he doesn’t have that much experience. Once everybody gets used to playing the game of basketball together, it will be the same way it was last year. We’ll have a ton of talented players who will share leadership.


A huge part of your game is your vision and playmaking ability. When was the first time you realized you could see things other guys couldn’t or could see plays develop better than other guards?


At a young age. High school, middle school, ever since I’ve been playing I’ve been known as a high-IQ guy, so I always used that to my advantage, like bigger guys always use their size as an advantage. I was always the smallest guy. That was always my gift. I always played that way, trying to find my teammates, trying to get everyone involved.


What was the first sense of validation that you could be a high-major player and the point guard at a place like Kentucky?


I’ve always felt like that. I’m very confident in my game. I can play at a high level. My parents always told me I’m going to get there. I’ve always had the confidence that my friends and family had. I just waited around for all the offers to come in.


You mentioned your confidence. Your height has been a topic ever since you were a recruit. How did that confidence in your abilities and your future develop?


I don’t know. But I just have been playing so long. I trust my game and I trust in myself and know everything is going to work itself out.


When you were being recruited, you said that a primary reason you went to Kentucky was Calipari’s record of developing point guards. Where are you in that development?


Just make sure I stay healthy. Get more flexible. Get my body together. Get in the weight room, gain weight. Try to polish my game in every way. Right after the season ended, I got with the strength coach and we did a lot of work over the summer. I went back home, and my best friend back there worked me out a lot. We were in the weight room every day. I’m just trying to get stronger. Regardless of my size, I am pretty strong. I’m just trying to go out there and show it.


More than any position on the court, point guard has an identity that comes with it. For you last season, do you feel like you had one even though you were coming off the bench?


I felt like I developed an identity in practice because guys know what you’re doing. And they trust you, trust your game and trust you with the ball in your hands. With me and Andrew (Harrison) playing together, that could have gone wrong because we’re both point guards, but I trusted him and he trusted me.


You’ll have another big freshman point guard this season in Isaiah Briscoe. What did you learn from Andrew in how to handle that dynamic?


Andrew didn’t have to accept me coming in and taking some of his minutes. He never made a big deal about it, never made a problem of it. He just accepted it, and we both played together.


You’ve mentioned your size and how it becomes a big deal. Do you ever get tired of people asking you about your size and how stories always bring it up?


Not anymore. I’m not really focusing on what people say. I just try to listen to my family, my friends and coaches. I’m not trying to live up to anybody’s expectations. I feel like I know what I can do, and no matter what my size is, at the end of the day, you have to know how to play the game.


Was there ever a time when that bothered you?


Of course. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. I wasn’t getting recruited highly early in my career, and that was because of my size. That’s what a lot of people said. I kept at it, and kept working and it all worked out.


What was the toughest place to play last season?


LSU and Georgia and Texas A&M were pretty tough games. I actually like away games. I like the crowd and when they boo you. I like to feed off that.


Who was the toughest team to guard last season?


Probably Ole Miss. Everyone I guarded against Ole Miss seemed like they made a shot. It was a rough game.


Where would you want to play college basketball if not Kentucky?


Right now, this is where I want to be. I love it here. I grew up a Michigan State fan. That’s probably where I would want to be if I wasn’t at Kentucky.

Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis on taking charge, being small and watching his friends leave Lexington
Post date: Friday, November 13, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/30-second-shot-clock-wont-save-college-basketball

For fans who checked into college basketball last season just in time for March Madness, the sport appeared to be in pretty good shape.


Three of the four regional finals were decided by single digits, as were two of the three games at the Final Four in Indianapolis. Average TV viewership for the NCAA Tournament reached its highest point in 22 years.


Georgia State and UAB were the early underdog darlings, but by the final weekend, the mid-majors gave way to nine eventual first-round NBA Draft picks and four current or future Hall of Fame coaches in the Final Four.


Popular teams. Star coaches. Future pros. Close games. Compelling storylines. Villains.


Judging by three weeks of postseason play, the game had rarely been so compelling.


But for those you who were watching from November through February — and if you’re the type of person who buys this magazine, you probably were — you are well aware that these NCAA Tournament classics were not the norm for the 2014-15 season. For example, who can forget this unforgettable stretch of games in December?


• Wisconsin 49, Marquette 38 on Dec. 6

• Washington 49, San Diego State 36 on Dec. 7

• Eastern Michigan 45, Michigan 42 on Dec. 9

• Cal 45, Wyoming 42 on Dec. 10

• Nebraska 56, Cincinnati 55 in double overtime on Dec. 13


And that was just one week.


All of those games involved major programs. All five also involved bad offense (teams shooting less than 35 percent from the field) and a glacial pace (fewer than 120 total possessions in regulation).


Even higher-scoring, up-tempo games weren’t immune to slowing to a crawl when coaches hoarded timeouts until the final moments or when officials huddled around a tiny television at the scorer’s table. It wasn’t unusual for the final minute of a game to stretch to 15 minutes of real time.


If the pace of play in the sport isn’t in a state of crisis, it’s at least at a crossroads. Even in this era of tempo-free statistics that have revealed that points per game is not a true measure of effective offense, the downward scoring trend has been alarming.


Starting this season, the NCAA hopes the rules won’t be to blame if the game is unwatchable.


For 2015-16, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a handful of rules designed to increase the pace of play, reduce the sport’s physicality and speed up end-of-game situations.


“We’re trying to get the balance between offense and defense to swing more to the offensive side,” says Belmont coach Rick Byrd, chair of the playing rules committee.


Scoring has been on a progressive decline during the last 15 years. Teams averaged 67.5 points per game in 2012-13, the lowest average since 1952. After a brief uptick to 71.0 points per game in 2013-14, scoring returned to snooze-inducing levels at 67.6 points per game a year ago. The scoring average (per team) has been greater than 70 points per game only once since 2003.


During the height of the sport’s popularity, teams averaged better than 70 points per game every season from 1986-87 through 2002-03. That’s the era of Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill at Duke, Jerry Tarkanian teams at UNLV, Rick Pitino teams at Kentucky and pro pipelines at UConn and Arizona.


Those teams played with a 45-second shot clock until 1993-94 and a 35-second shot clock thereafter.


Reducing the shot clock to 30 seconds — still short of the 24 seconds used by the NBA and FIBA — is the clear headliner of sweeping rules changes and directives to the officiating community designed to speed up the game.


But it might not be the most significant change.


The real power to tip the game back in favor of the offense belongs to hundreds of de-centralized independent contractors better known as referees.


“I don’t see 35 to 30 being a huge player at all,” Kansas coach Bill Self says. “I think how the officiating will be called is where we’ll see the biggest difference, the freedom of movement and less physicality. I don’t see the shot clock being a major deal.”


The rules committee has urged the officials to clean up physical play in the post and has mandated that players be stationary when they set a screen and be allowed greater freedom when they are moving without the ball. Most important, the committee reinforced a rule guideline from 2013-14, forbidding a player from keeping a hand or arm on an opponent, putting two hands on an opponent, hand-checking and using an arm to impede a dribbler.


This was supposed to be a point of emphasis two years ago, but after only a few months, officials fell back into old habits, and hand-checking was back. The game continued to be physical on the perimeter. Coaches continued to push the envelope with ball screens that were illegal — by the rule book — but in practice could continue with impunity. Post play became a wrestling match.


“There’s a whole lot of different opinions about what rules would be good and what rules would be bad, but no one has come to me and said the game needs to be more physical,” Byrd says. “We’ve just sort of incrementally got to a point where a lot of physical contact that is illegal in the rule book is being allowed on both sides.”


The NBA issued a similar edict in 1999, urging a tighter interpretation of the rules on physical play and improving the flow of the game. Over time, scoring boomed; since 2008-09, the league average (per team) has topped the 100-point mark four times.


“The NBA, they hit it on the head and hit it out of the park when they changed the plan altogether and scoring went up and appeal went up and it became a much more enjoyable game for the fans,” says Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, who coached in the NBA from 2000-03.


The fear is that the officials will settle back into their old ways and the game will change only for a short time. Even if officials intend to call the game by the letter of the law as planned, the desired effect of more freedom of movement for offensive players might not be fully realized for a couple of years.


“It took two-and-a-half years from what we’re told by NBA folks by the time they were comfortable with what they got,” Byrd says. “We’re going to have to be patient.”




The move to the 30-second shot clock has been lauded by many in the college basketball world  — but beware of some unintended consequences. A number of coaches have said that the reduced clock will contribute to more zone defense and bring about an even slower game.


When the NCAA implemented the first shot clock at 45 seconds in 1985-86, scoring shot up from 69.2 points per game in 1984-85 to more than 76 points per game in a matter of four seasons.


Yet when 10 seconds were shaved off that shot clock in 1993-94, scoring increased for a season and then began its decline. The shorter shot clock and the scoring drop may only be a coincidence. Around the same time, players and coaches started to push the boundaries on physical defense, leading to the current predicament for officials.


Still, the decline is evidence that a shorter shot clock isn’t a cure-all.


Mississippi State coach Ben Howland fears that the officiating directives on physical play will result in more foul calls that will further slow the game to a crawl. He also believes that more teams will play zone defense.


“I think we’re going to see more zone, and what zone does is slow the game down,” Howland says. “You’re going to see more pressing and falling back into a zone and trying to get you to use more clock in the backcourt and then you have less time to attack the zone.


“I think you’re going to see less scoring, not more scoring.”


There’s also a fear that the goal of more possessions in a game — and thus more scoring — will diminish the effectiveness of unconventional offenses and random nature of the game. More possessions generally increase the likelihood that a more talented team will win a game. Teams that compensate for a deficit of talent with unorthodox, slower styles of play or more sets, cuts and passing might see their advantage diminished.


In part, that’s why the drastic move to the 24-second shot clock used by the NBA was not seriously discussed — even if some coaches would like the college game to go that direction.


“What I would be concerned about personally is if (the shot clock) goes any further it takes away the identity of the college basketball game from an offensive standpoint, the different kinds of offense people can run,” Byrd says. “You’re getting down there on the edge where Princeton can’t do their stuff very long. They would have to do what everybody else does and go one-on-one and use ball screens.”


On the other hand, pressing teams like VCU or Arkansas might have an edge when teams don’t have as much time to run offense in the halfcourt. And it’s tough enough to score against a team like Virginia in 35 seconds, much less 30.


“You can make a case that it helps the offensive-minded and you could make a case that it helps the defensive-minded because they don’t have to guard as long,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings says. “Over the course of time, the good coaches will be the good coaches and they’ll win the games.”




The idea, though, is that the college game had to do something, and that’s where other rules changes will leave less to the imagination.


The coaches lost a timeout in the second half and lost their ability to call a timeout during live play.


The goal is for the final minute of game time not to drag on for 15 minutes and alienate viewers looking for buzzer beaters.


Byrd says eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule was done to help the referees. Officials were trying to call the five-second rule while trying to call fouls, travels and double dribbles. The officiating of the five-second rule was so ineffective and inconsistent that the NCAA just ditched the rule.


Makes sense, but again, beware of some unintended consequences.


“We could see an NBA approach if you have a dominant ball handler like a John Wall,” Stallings says, “someone that is so superior that without there being a five-second (closely guarded) call on the dribble, they sit there and pound the ball like LeBron did in the NBA Finals and then they try to make a play in the final seconds of the shot clock.”


In that case, some coaches just don’t want to turn the college game into NBA Lite.


“I’m puzzled with the infatuation with the NBA,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins says. “We continue to go in that direction, and I think we have a better game. We have a game that is more pleasing to the eye. … There’s something to be said for someone who does a great job of guarding, playing in the halfcourt and doing those things.”


Panic, though, might not be in order. The game could open up only marginally as a result of rule changes.


The NIT, College Basketball Invitational and Tournament all used the 30-second shot clock after last season, and the impact was marginal.


In a piece for Deadspin, tempo-free statistics analyst Ken Pomeroy examined scoring in those tournaments compared to past years and compared to the NCAA Tournament.


Scoring in the NIT and lesser tournaments are generally higher than the NCAA Tournament anyway, but the difference was 5.6 points per game more in the smaller tournaments, adjusting for matchups and expected points, Pomeroy wrote. That’s 2.4 points per game more than the normal difference between the NCAA Tournament and the NIT/CBI/CIT.


Could an extra two-and-half points per game be on the horizon in 2015-16?


“The differences that we saw in the (smaller) tournaments are reasonable to assume that’s what we’ll see in the regular season,” Pomeroy says. “When you watch a game with a 35-second shot clock, there’s not much urgency. There’s some dead time early in the possession. I think that’s where things will change.”


Pomeroy’s study also indicated that offensive efficiency was not negatively impacted in the NIT, CBI and CIT with the 30-second shot clock.


Judging the shot clock by the minimal changes in the smaller tournaments would be hasty, though.


Stallings, whose team lost in the NIT quarterfinals to Stanford, says he didn’t change any strategies going into the tournament — there simply wasn’t enough time.


“I did like it; I think I’ll like it more when we play with it more,” Stallings says. “We got up against the shot clock a few more times than we would during a normal game. I also liked that we told our guys that the clock’s going to be running here and you’ve got to be aggressive, and they seemed to respond well to that.”


And if that nudge means fewer games decided in the 40s and 50s and more open play, the NCAA hopes March Madness isn’t the only time the sport is played at its full potential.

The 30-Second Shot Clock Won't Save College Basketball
Post date: Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/five-thoughts-nov-10-college-football-playoff-rankings

Since the selection committee last met, five undefeated teams took their first loss of the season. In theory, this should give greater clarity to the weekly proceedings, but the week-to-week horse race is never short on surprises.


This week, the new top four of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame separated themselves from the competition in the eyes of the committee. That’s not too far off popular sentiment.


But the committee also jumped Iowa into its top eight, seemingly giving the Hawkeyes a shot at the playoff if they can win out. The committee also continued to punt on making any strong statements about the Big 12.


Oklahoma State jumped from No. 14 to No. 8, a sizable move in a vacuum, but this is also an undefeated Power 5 team that just beat the No. 8 team by 20 points.


1. Iowa’s not in as much trouble as we thought

The Hawkeyes moved up from No. 9 to No. 5 and one spot out of the Playoff scenario. The snarky response is that Iowa’s 35-27 win over Indiana must have been impressive for the committee. Perhaps. More than likely, the committee reevaluated wins over No. 18 Northwestern and No. 25 Wisconsin, both on the road. Committee chair Jeff Long stated that Iowa had a better strength of schedule to date than Baylor, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Houston. A week after Long mentioned Baylor’s “explosive” offense as part of the reason the Bears were ranked sixth last week despite a weaker schedule, Long said Iowa is “not flashy (but) they’ve been solid on both sides of the ball.”


2. The Big 12’s backloaded schedule gamble is indeed a gamble

Long called Oklahoma State’s 49-29 win over TCU to be the "first piece of real strength" the committee had seen out of the undefeated Cowboys. Long also has stressed for two weeks in a row the difficulty of evaluating a Baylor team that hasn’t faced a team with a winning record. Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma all will face each other in the final month of the season. And it may not help that the league is top heavy — Texas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas State and Kansas are a combined 11-24 in the league, and only one of those wins (Texas over OU) is over the top four teams in the conference. Long also let slip that Ohio State is ranked in the top three in part on the eye test. The Buckeyes haven’t played a significantly tougher schedule than Baylor, TCU or Oklahoma State, yet they’re securely in the top four.


3. Notre Dame-Stanford is setting up to be a CFP elimination game

Other than Iowa, the two biggest beneficiaries from two top 10 teams losing last week were Notre Dame and Stanford. Notre Dame moved into the top four — and Long said the top four was clearly better than teams ranked fifth through eighth. Stanford moved from No. 11 to No. 7 with a 42–10 win over a bad Colorado team. The Cardinal face Oregon and Cal at home, so Stanford’s schedule before a Nov. 28 matchup with Notre Dame (which faces Wake Forest and Boston College). If both teams win their next two games before that meeting in Palo Alto, that could be a play-in game for Notre Dame and erase any doubt that a one-loss Pac-12 champion Stanford gets into the Playoff.


4. Speaking of Stanford...

This week’s top 25 confirmed what we kind of suspected: Stanford is getting a bit of a pass for its 16-6 loss at Northwestern in Week 1. Long noted that Stanford played that game at 9 a.m. Pacific time with an 11 a.m. kickoff in Evanston. The toll on Stanford’s body clocks was “significant,” Long said, though individual committee members weighed it differently. It probably doesn’t hurt Stanford’s case that the Cardinal have been dominant for most of their ensuing eight-game winning streak.


5. Navy’s win over Memphis must have been mighty impressive

Four Group of Five teams were ranked last week, but the highest-ranked a week later was one that wasn’t in the top 25. Navy debuted at No. 20, ahead of No. 21 Memphis, No. 22 Temple and No. 24 Houston. The Cougars, curiously, are the only undefeated team of the bunch. Navy defeated the former No. 13 team, Memphis, 45-20.


CFP Bowl Projections


National Semifinals

Orange: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Notre Dame

Cotton: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Ohio State


CFP Host Bowls

Rose: Iowa vs. Stanford

Sugar: Baylor vs. LSU

Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Utah

Peach: Navy vs. Florida

Five Thoughts on the Nov. 10 College Football Playoff Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 20:07
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-11-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts

After a week in which five previously unbeaten teams lost, the season is getting more clarity and yet championships and playoff spots are as hotly contested as they've been all year. This is a season of crazy outcomes and heated competition on and off the field.


The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .


Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:


College Football Podcast: Week 10 Recap

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Michigan at Indiana

Michigan is among the nation’s best defensive teams because of a physical approach and plenty of talent, but the Wolverines also haven’t faced a ton of fully functioning offenses, particularly an effective spread offense. BYU and Michigan State are the only top-50 offenses Michigan has faced this season. Indiana ranks 30th, but the Hoosiers have played stretches this year without quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard. If anything this might give UM a barometer of how it will fare against Ohio State. Indiana is winless in the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers have proven they can play with anyone for three quarters. Unfortunately for Indiana, those fourth quarters have been problematic — to put it lightly.

Fox’s pick: Michigan 38–24


Arkansas at LSU

The loss to Alabama was humbling for all around for LSU. Fournette had his worst game of the season. Brandon Harris threw his first interception of the year and completed only 6-of-19 passes. The defense also gave up a season-high 250 rushing yards. Arkansas is playing with the most confidence it has had all season. The Razorbacks are getting hot at the end of the season just as they did last season when the Hogs shut out LSU and Ole Miss in back-to-back weeks in November. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has suddenly fallen in love with the passing game, mainly because he has a quarterback who can do some damage. Brandon Allen has completed 52-of-76 passes for 975 yards with nine touchdowns and an interception in his last two SEC games, wins over Auburn and Ole Miss. Will Allen put up similar numbers against LSU on the road? Probably not, but it will be interesting to see Arkansas try.

Fox’s pick: LSU 28–24


Memphis at Houston

Memphis’ loss to Navy exposed what we’ve known for a few weeks: The Tigers were only going to go as far as their defense would carry them. Navy was the perfect team to exploit Memphis’ weakness, rushing for 374 yards and controlling the clock with the option. Three turnovers by Memphis didn’t help. Houston’s offense could be even more effective against the Tigers. The Cougars and Baylor are the only teams in the country that rank in the top 10 in both rushing and passing offense — and Houston has played a more challenging schedule relative to its talent level. This is an entertaining game that should end in Houston’s favor.

Fox’s pick: Houston 56–42


Utah at Arizona

In a game that flew under the radar because of its time slot and teams involved, Utah put up an impressive performance by scoring 34 points on an above-average Washington defense on the road. The Utes got back to what they do best, forcing turnovers and playing solid defense. Arizona has few answers this season. The Wildcats pressed USC last week, but Arizona’s defense can’t get off the field, and the quarterback situation has been uncertain for most of the season.

Fox’s pick: Utah 35–21


Clemson at Syracuse

The only risk for Clemson is that spending two weeks at No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, clinching the ACC Atlantic and beating their chief competition before the postseason results in some kind of emotional letdown. Syracuse has lost six in a row and ranks 13th in the ACC in total offense and 14th defense.

Fox’s pick: Clemson 42–10


Kentucky at Vanderbilt

The Wildcats’ season has come unraveled. Kentucky has lost four in a row, the last three by an average of 27 points. If the Wildcats are going to rebound and get to six wins, the next two weeks (Vanderbilt and Charlotte) are their best chance to do it. The Wildcats expect running back Stanley “Boom” Williams to return, but they’re also mulling a quarterback change after Patrick Towles had one of the worst starts of his career against Georgia last week. Despite a 3–6 record, Vanderbilt has one of the SEC’s better defenses, and head coach/defensive coordinator Derek Mason has been able to devise schemes to keep opposing quarterbacks off balance.

Fox’s pick: Vanderbilt 14-10


Oklahoma at Baylor

Buying into Oklahoma is a tricky proposition. The Sooners have a way of showing well for a few weeks and then collapsing soon after — look no further than the loss to Texas earlier this season. Despite our better judgment, we’re back on the Sooners’ bandwagon. The Sooners have been dominant on both sides of the ball, albeit against Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State. Here’s what’s to like about OU right now: A balanced offense that can play in a shootout behind quarterback Baker Mayfield or slow the pace of the game with Samaje Perine in the run game. Jarrett Stidham looks like he’ll be fine as Baylor’s quarterback of the future, but he’ll be asked to take on the Sooners in a game with Playoff implications in only his second start.

Fox’s pick: Oklahoma 41-38


Oregon at Stanford

The marquee game in the Pac-12 the last few years won’t have the same luster it’s had in the past. Oregon’s three losses are to blame, but the Ducks are getting better. This is clearly a different team with a healthy Vernon Adams at quarterback. The Ducks put up 777 yards against Cal last week and 501 two weeks ago against Arizona State in overtime. This game will be more competitive than many will expect, but Stanford had Oregon’s number when both were at their best in 2012-13.

Fox’s pick: Stanford 41–28


Pittsburgh at Duke

These teams were once in front of the pack for the ACC Coastal, but both have lost two in a row. Duke has lost in more spectacular fashion, first on the wild kickoff return against Miami and then in a rout against rival (and current Coastal leader) North Carolina. Pitt lost to Carolina and Notre Dame, making this a de facto elimination game in the Coastal. Neither team is particularly great. Trust the team with more overall balance and may be less susceptible to an emotional hangover.

Fox’s pick: Pittsburgh 28–21


Miami at North Carolina

The Tar Heels are rolling now, mainly behind the play of Marquise Williams. He’s accounted for seven touchdowns in the Heels’ pair of wins over their chief competition for the ACC Coastal, Pitt and Duke. The defense has been the turnaround story of the year. Brad Kaaya has returned for Miami, but even with their star quarterback, the Hurricanes limped to a home win over Virginia. A let down might be a concern for the Heels, but this is also the last home game of the season for UNC.

Fox’s pick: North Carolina 38–24


Georgia at Auburn

The question heading into the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” is which team will be able to extend its momentum. Georgia ditched the Fauton Bauta experiment at quarterback and installed a plan in which Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey shared QB duties and running backs Sony Michel and wide receiver Terry Godwin took direct snaps. The result was 5.5 yards per play and 390 yards of total offense in a 27–3 win over Kentucky. At the same time, Auburn had its best rushing day of the season with 311 yards behind the emergence of Jovon Robinson, but the Tigers quarterback position will be in question. Starter-turned-backup Jeremy Johnson stepped in to completed 13-of-17 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in place of an injured Sean White.

Fox’s pick: Auburn 28–21


Oklahoma State at Iowa State

Oklahoma State has a few more believers after the Cowboys intercepted TCU’s Trevone Boykin four times in the Pokes’ breakout game. What will Oklahoma State do with their newfound attention? The Cowboys have one last road game before Oklahoma and Baylor and it’s against the same team and coach who ruined their national championship hopes in 2011. The Cowboys played close games with lesser competition earlier this year, so they’d be advised to leave no doubts in Ames.

Fox’s pick: Oklahoma State 42–20


NC State at Florida State

Jacoby Brissett may have unfinished business after playing the best game of his career in a loss to Florida State last season. The Seminoles won’t be caught off guard this time around, but they will be facing a rare bit of adversity for the first time in several years. The Seminoles lost earlier this year to Georgia Tech, but they haven’t had to play many seasons under Jimbo Fisher where their major goals — the national title and ACC championship — are out of reach.

Fox’s pick: Florida State 38-31


Washington State at UCLA

UCLA remains one of college football’s great mystery teams: Look like title contender one week, a dud the next. Meanwhile, we know what Wazzu is: an Air Raid team with questionable defense. That’s not enough to win every game, but it will win many. UCLA has faced a similar scheme an flourished in a 40-24 win over Cal on Oct. 22. UCLA has every reason to win this game, but we simply have a hunch. Washington State has won three of four, the only loss by two to Stanford.

Fox’s pick: Washington State 49–42


Florida at South Carolina

Florida is coming off a dismal offensive performance against Vanderbilt in a 9–7 win. South Carolina has been more competitive under interim coach Shawn Elliott, beating Vanderbilt and playing one-score games at Texas A&M and at Tennessee. That said, facing the South Carolina defense has been a nice confidence booster for SEC offenses. The Gamecocks are allowing a league-worst 454.6 yards per game in conference play. If there’s any upset potential it’s because Florida’s offense picks up where it left off against Vanderbilt and the absence of defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard — Florida’s top player in the front seven — allows quarterback Perry Orth and running back Brandon Wilds to pick up yards on the ground.

Fox’s pick: Florida 21–10


Maryland at Michigan State

The Spartans shouldn’t have too much trouble with a Maryland team that has lost six in a row and whose only victories are over Richmond and USF. If anything, this game could be a confidence builder for the Michigan State secondary that has been burned for 628 yards and five touchdowns the last two weeks. Maryland has thrown 25 interceptions in nine games this season, five more than any other team and 10 more than any other Power 5 team. The Terrapins thrown an interception every 11 passes — an astounding rate for a major team.

Fox’s pick: Michigan State 31–13


Alabama at Mississippi State

Alabama’s 25–20 win last year was the closest game the last six meetings, but Alabama led 19–0 at one point and intercepted Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott three times. Prescott has been far more secure with the football during his senior season, throwing only one interception to 18 touchdown passes. Prescott has proven he is the top quarterback in the SEC, but the Bulldogs don’t have much else. Prescott leads MSU with 418 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground; no one else on the roster has more than 220 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Alabama is coming off arguably the best defensive performance of any team this season, considering the opponent. Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette managed only 1.6 yards per carry against the Crimson Tide. Prescott presents a different challenge, but with the exception of the Ole Miss game, Alabama’s defense has been arguably the best in the country.

Fox’s pick: Alabama 31–14


Wake Forest at Notre Dame

Wake Forest has a decent defense, but the Demon Deacons’ offense is dismal. This is a team whose high point was beating Boston College 3-0 because the Eagles were even more inept on the goal line. Notre Dame will have to try hard to lose this one.

Fox’s pick: Notre Dame 38–10


Minnesota at Iowa

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard is battling through bumps and bruises, but he’s about to get some help. Leading rusher Jordan Canzeri is on track to return this week from a ankle injury, joining a running back corps that returned LeShun Daniels Jr. two weeks ago. The run game that was down to a third-stringer could be healthy for the stretch run. Minnesota has lost three in a row and four of the last five games, but included in that mix are games against three ranked teams (Northwestern, Michigan and Ohio State) and one close call with the Wolverines. Minnesota has put more on the arm of quarterback Mitch Leidner in recent games, and it’s easy to see why: Three of Minnesota’s last five opponents have held the Gophers to fewer than 100 yards rushing. Leidner is averaging 299.7 passing yards per game in the last three with mixed results.

Fox’s pick: Iowa 35–21


Last week: 16-4

Season to date: 151-22


Week 10 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/how-college-basketball-courts-went-crazy

A second-generation Georgetown fan, Kevin Rieffel has been watching Hoyas basketball for his entire life even though he grew up in Philadelphia.


In the days before ESPN2 was in every house, he and his father would drive to sports bars as far away as Maryland to watch John Thompson coach against Syracuse or St. John’s. At least once a year, they’d see a game in person, either in D.C. or near their home at Villanova.


Rieffel, naturally, went to Georgetown as an undergrad, and after he finished law school in Philadelphia, he became a season ticket holder.


Now, on his first trip to a Georgetown home game this season, Rieffel will ask a favor: He wants to step onto the floor — re-sanded and re-painted for this season — and take a free throw.


“If I get one request, it’s going to be that I can take a shot on it,” Rieffel says.


Georgetown would be foolish not to grant his request, considering Rieffel, a patent attorney in Philadelphia, is the person who designed the program’s new court on his lunch breaks.


When Georgetown opened a contest to submit designs for its new floor, fans — all-grey courts, stripes, an oversized bulldog logo at midcourt, a dog collar for the center court circle, and coach John Thompson III sitting on Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne (really).


The fan-submitted designs were garish in part because the contest was all in good fun and in part because fans surely were following the lead of new wild court designs that have been popping up in recent years across the country.


Oregon plays “deep in the woods” on a pattern that looks more like the view from a sleeping bag than a court for a major program. Xavier and Memphis run the floor across their respective city skylines. Notre Dame plays on an oversized shamrock. UCF and Oakland have brought the blacktop indoors. Cal State Bakersfield went blue. Manhattan has gone green.


Rieffel, though, had a feeling Georgetown wouldn’t go with an all-grey court with a silhouette of the National Mall (George Washington, which shares the District of Columbia with Georgetown, already has the latter on its home court).


Instead, Rieffel remembered a pattern from his youth watching Georgetown as the Hoyas entered the Allen Iverson era — the kente cloth pattern than ran down the sides of the jersey and shorts in the mid-’90s. Back then, Nike introduced the kente cloth, a pattern with origins in West Africa, to the Hoyas’ uniforms as a homage to Georgetown basketball’s place in the African-American community in the ’80s and ’90s.


Rieffel, who had been bouncing floor concepts off other Georgetown fans online, remembered the kente cloth. One of the designs he submitted featured a slightly larger block G at midcourt and the kente cloth pattern in the free throw lane.


Georgetown’s athletic leadership, including Thompson, was immediately attracted to Rieffel’s design.



“It’s a little throwback to those days, and that design is unique to Georgetown,” says Brian McGuire, Georgetown’s associate athletics director for facilities and operations. “I don’t think anyone else has used that look in college basketball. It’s a little bit of throwback, and it’s a little bit new. It was subtle enough and classic that it wasn’t off the deep end.”


Though Georgetown stayed with a traditional look, some basketball programs have embraced more radical approaches with their court designs. Georgetown went with history and subtlety. Some schools have gone for eyeballs.


Either way, the wave of creative court designs is another indication of just how important branding and marketing are in today’s collegiate athletics environment.


“A basketball floor is a billboard,” San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier says. “It’s a mural. It’s an opportunity to have some fun and make something relevant to your university.”


Bleymaier would know. He was the athletic director who turned Boise State’s football field blue in 1986. As the AD at San Jose State 27 years later, Bleymaier had five oversized Spartan warriors painted on the San Jose State basketball court. The redesign was so radical that the Spartans’ athletics logo — the kind of logo that’s normally at center court — has been pushed from the center circle to near the sideline.


Not all the new court designs in recent years are as gaudy as San Jose State’s, but they are becoming more and more common, from the smallest of Division I basketball programs to conference tournaments all the way to the Final Four.


The court for SEC Tournament last season featured a sideline-to-sideline logo bleached into the wood. The Missouri Valley Tournament in St. Louis featured a rendition of the Gateway Arch painted across the entire floor. Even the Final Four in Indianapolis featured a two-tone look.


Connor Sports, an Illinois-based manufacturer of sports floors for colleges, pro teams and events, estimates that it works on 26 Division I floors a year, not including courts for the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments, conference tournaments or early-season events.


In the last few years, requests from colleges have gone from simple shading and logos to more ambitious designs.


“The trend is that it’s not a playing surface,” says Lauren Gillian, brand manager at Connor Sports. “It’s a work of art, and (colleges) want to incorporate that into their programming.”


As usual, the mainstreaming of an outlandish design finds its origin in Eugene, Ore.


When Oregon opened its Matthew Knight Arena in 2011, the most striking part of the facility was the floor.


Nearly the entire court was taken up by some kind of design element, chiefly a perimeter of pine trees meant to honor Oregon’s Tall Firs team that won the first NCAA championship in 1939.



The concept was ambitious enough on a blueprint. The execution — which fell into the hands of Connor Sports — was another thing. Painting a floor like Oregon’s, and the others that followed, requires giant stencils, layered paint schemes and an assurance the colors will be suitable for television.


“It was challenging in a sense that it was something you’d never seen before,” Gillian says of Oregon. “We’re talking overlays upon overlays upon overlays to get that forestry effect that they wanted.”


Before Oregon, courts on and off college campuses had some subtle design elements painted onto the floor, comparatively speaking. The Ducks, though, opened the door for schools to ask places like Praters Athletic Flooring to push the boundaries.


“Oregon hits and either people hated it or loved it,” says John Praters, president of the athletic flooring firm based in Chattanooga, Tenn. “With us, we didn’t care either way. As long as the attention is on the floor, it’s a good thing because people are saying, ‘Maybe we can do that.’ Oregon has brought more attention than any other one.”


Other designs aren’t as intricate as Oregon’s, but they are — um — eye-catching.


Eight years ago, former Cal State Bakersfield athletic director Jeff Konya was searching for a way to differentiate his program from the slew of California-based mid-majors. Bakersfield’s program dated back to 1971 and had won three Division II national titles, but the Roadrunners didn’t join Division I until the 2006-07 season.


Bakersfield went the same route as Boise State football — and then some. The entire court was painted blue, save for the free throw lane. At center court, an oversized Roadrunners logo stretched from 3-point line to 3-point line in the foreground, with the outline of the state of California in the background and a ‘B’ where Bakersfield is located. If that wasn’t enough, Bakersfield used the court for an advertiser, adding McDonald’s golden arches near the sideline. The current iteration of the court, dyed by Praters Flooring, is only slightly less busy; Bakersfield removed the outline of the state of California and changed the full-bodied Roadrunner logo to an angry-eyed Roadrunner head.


Bakersfield hasn’t won much on that court, but the look has made an impression.


“I knew we hit a home run with the look when opposing teams would start taking selfies with the court in the background and we started to get an increase in terms of camp participation,” Konya says. “People just wanted to be around the court.”


Konya moved across the country last year to accept a job as the athletic director at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. His new school’s basketball program was more established — the Grizzlies have been to the NCAA Tournament three times since 2005 — but Konya wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to market the school.


But unlike a power program like Oregon, Oakland can’t exactly pay Nike, Under Armour or an outside firm for design concepts for its floor, so the Golden Grizzlies asked the same person who had been designing game brochures, event invitations and social media graphics.


She also happened to be a graduate assistant.


Konya enlisted Sarah Merritt, a former soccer player at Division III Alma College in Michigan, to pitch designs for a new floor at the O’rena. The best three would come up for a fan vote.


Merritt came up with one design with an oversized Grizzlies head bracketed by the outline of the state of Michigan on a traditional court and another with the name Oakland and the Grizzlies head stained into a conventional court look.


The winner, though, was an all-black court with the Grizzlies logo at center court. The rec center blacktop look, Merritt says, was aimed directly at recruits.



“I was recruited, so I know how geeky we are about what we wear and what we play on,” Merritt says. “If you want to try and get recruits, you have to do something crazy and different.”


Oakland’s is a different look, but it’s not even the only blacktop-inspired court in the game. When Central Florida rebranded from the Knight logo to a stacked U-C-F, the athletic program looked to its in-house art director to take a swing at a new look for the court in 2013.


Carlos Phillips had worked on design elements around stadiums and practice fields, the athletics website and on tickets and promotional materials. No project would be as visible as the UCF basketball floor.


He studied the Brooklyn Nets’ court and floors in Europe for inspiration before coming up with a blacktop. The stained wood outside the 3-point lines, though, is more gray than black. The reason: TV cameras.


“My first drafts were painted black,” Phillips says. “It’s very shiny and it would have been very hard for TV. That was one thing we wanted to consider. That’s why we didn’t go all black, because of the reflection.”


Many schools have used their floor to convey a sense of location for their universities — both for the eyes of basketball recruits but also for prospective students.


Xavier doesn’t have the luxury of having the name of its city in its school name. That belongs to rival Cincinnati. So how does Xavier hope to educate people who wouldn’t otherwise know that the Musketeers play in the heart of a metropolitan area?


The school painted the city skyline on its basketball court.


Xavier searched for a Cincinnati skyline that was just right and stumbled upon one from a designer in Spain. The Musketeers tracked down the designer, paid for the rights to the design and turned it into a stencil for the floor at the Cintas Center.


“What it does for us, you can look at it and know Xavier University is in an urban center, a metropolitan area,” says Brian Hicks, Xavier’s associate athletic director for external relations. “That was something we felt strongly about.”


Basketball fans and recruits could be forgiven for not knowing much about Florida International University. The Panthers haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1995, and they’ve been a non-factor for the most part while playing in three different conferences.


Yet if anyone happens to watch an FIU basketball game, they should know the campus is a quick trip from the ocean.


“I said, ‘Listen, I want water. I want sand. And I want palm trees,’” FIU athletic director Pete Garcia says he told his staff in 2013. “I want those three things.”



He got all of it and more with a basketball court that looks more like a postcard than a playing surface. Miami-based FIU has run with the theme. Seating sections are named after streets on South Beach. One half of the arena is painted to look like the ocean and the horizon line. The other half looks like the hotel-laden Miami Beach backdrop.


Manhattan briefly considered the New York skyline for its new court at Draddy Gymnasium, but the Bronx-based college decided to go another direction. When the Jaspers sanded their court down this offseason, they painted the floor Kelly green from 3-point line to 3-point line.



“We wanted to own the color green,” Manhattan athletic director Noah LeFevre says. “The color is a large part of our identity. From our perspective, the more green we could involve, the better.”


And here’s the thing about new court designs — many times they’re not new courts at all.


A basketball floor has a lifespan of about 15 to 20 years, but it will usually require some kind of repair and maintenance after each season. Floor designs — including 3-point lines or conference or sponsor marks — can be sanded down and re-painted.


Many courts are portable — they are disassembled in the arena, packed up on a truck, and sent to a warehouse where they are re-assembled and sanded, painted, stained and sealed over the course of 1-3 weeks.


The total cost to refurbish a court can range from a $25,000 for basic repairs up to $80,000 for a complete repaint. The entire process can range from a week to three weeks.


Figures like that make court designs an expensive change. Northwestern, for example, abandoned its purple-stained arc at Welsh-Ryan Arena after three seasons.


When Long Beach State was down to its final year of its old court in 2012, the 49ers took their branding to another level. The school’s marketing already leveraged its status as the only Division I program with the word “beach” in its name.


Not content just to say “The Beach” in signage, Dedan Brozino, Long Beach State’s former senior associate athletic director for external relations, wanted to show it. Though he’s not a graphic designer by trade, he sketched a new design for the court at Walter Pyramid with four palm trees — two facing the crowd on each side of the court.


“At the time we thought it would be negatively received, and if it is, it will be a one-year and done deal and we’ll go back for the traditional look,” says Brozino, who left Long Beach State to work for the Rose Bowl Operating Company.


On the contrary, when Long Beach State bought a new court before last season, the 49ers stained the palm trees onto the new floor with all four on the side of the court facing TV cameras.


What started as an experiment for Long Beach State and other schools is now standard operating procedure for dozens of programs. If one program can turn its court into a beach and others can turn their floors into blacktops, what’s next?


Praters believes the next step is in decals, once the scourge of the NCAA Tournament and other events. Praters says his firm has been able to build decals that won’t cause players to slip.


That means colleges can mix and match for sponsors. Or they can change a center logo for special events — for example, schools could change their logo to pink for breast cancer awareness or change it to camouflage to honor the military.


For a peek further into the future, take a look at the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers project 3D graphics onto their floor for pregame hype and lineups, and there’s no doubt at least one college or two has started to think about adding such a feature to their own arenas.


That might be a few years down the line. An NBA-level pregame graphics show is as much a lighting and projection issue as it is a flooring issue. But once a college is ready, don’t be shocked to see a court act as a canvas.


“These questions come about very often for us,” Gillian says. “We’re always thinking about what can we do to make the court the star.”

How College Basketball Courts Went Crazy
Post date: Monday, November 9, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/comparing-all-2015-16-preseason-college-basketball-rankings-and-picks

Preseason predictions are an inexact science, particularly in college basketball.


Stars leave. Coaches change. Players develop. That’s always been the case. Now, impact freshmen and transfers have proven to be gamechangers. Teams can turnover their rosters on a year-to-year basis and still compete with teams full of veterans.


This season appears to be especially tricky. For the first time in several years, there is no consensus at the top. As many as four teams have earned a No. 1 ranking from major publications.


As Athlon Sports releases its preseason college basketball annual, we still like to look at the landscape of picks around the country, and this season is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable in recent years.


2015-16 College Basketball Preseason Top 25


2015-16 Conference Champion Predictions
America East
Atlantic 10
Atlantic Sun
Big 12
Big East
Big Sky
Big South
Big Ten
Big West
Conference USA
Missouri Valley
Mountain West
Ohio Valley
Sun Belt
West Coast


Comparing All 2015-16 Preseason College Basketball Rankings and Picks
Post date: Friday, November 6, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-college-football-games-november-2015

Call us crazy, but something has been missing this season.


We can’t say it’s been a lackluster season — not even close. Wild finishes in Durham, Ann Arbor and Atlanta in the last three weeks have made this a season to remember.


It’s not a season that seems to be marching to an inevitable end, either. Every conference as at least two teams with hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. Even the American Athletic Conference has given us three teams in the first top 25.


No, what the season has been lacking is definitive statements by the top 15 or so contenders.


That’s about to change, starting this week. LSU-Alabama and Florida State-Clemson are true statement games. That will be followed by a round robin among the top four teams in the Big 12.


If the big games follow the trend of the craziness of the first two months, buckle up.


1.Nov. 7Tuscaloosa, Ala.

In the eyes of the selection committee, this is a top-four matchup, and we might not argue. Leonard Fournette faces the Alabama run defense. Derrick Henry faces the LSU defense. This already hurts.

2.Nov. 27Fort Worth, Texas

For two seasons, this has been the Big 12’s best rivalry. Art Briles and Gary Patterson don’t particularly like each other, and if freshman Jarrett Stidham steps in like his predecessors at Baylor, this could be the highest-scoring game between Playoff contenders.

3.Nov. 21Columbus, Ohio

No series has been more important in the Big Ten during the last three seasons, and this one could be a matchup of undefeated teams to determine the Big Ten East title.

4.Nov. 7Clemson, S.C.

The Seminoles can still win the ACC, but Clemson is on a path to the College Football Playoff. The Tigers have no more than two ranked teams left, Florida State and a potential ACC Coastal foe in the title game. A loss here likely ends Clemson’s bid for the Playoff.

5.Nov. 28South Bend, Ind.

The Irish were ranked No. 5 in the first College Football Playoff ranking, but Stanford at No. 11 has just as legitimate a shot at reaching the semifinal. The Cardinal have been on a hot streak since a bizarre loss to Northwestern. Wins over Notre Dame and the Pac-12 South champion could seal the deal.

6.Nov. 21Norman, Okla.

Another key Big 12 game has been one of the more competitive series: Five of the last six matchups have been decided by one score.

7.Nov. 21Ann Arbor, Mich

Meyer vs. Harbaugh I: The Wolverines’ loss to Michigan State probably knocks Michigan out of the Playoff race. Michigan’s defense and home-field advantage give the Wolverines plenty of ability to spoil the Buckeyes’ season.

8.Nov. 21Oxford, Miss.

If LSU defeats Alabama, this could be the game that determines the SEC West title. If not, it’s still a game that plays into Fournette’s Heisman race and a spot for a major bowl game.

9.Nov. 7Stillwater, Okla.

How legitimate is Oklahoma State in the four-way crowd atop the Big 12? The two-quarterback system is unconventional, but it scored 70 on the road against Texas Tech.

10.Nov. 14Waco, Texas

Oklahoma already has a loss to a bad Texas team on the résumé and Baylor’s non-conference schedule is so poor that this might be an elimination game for the Playoff. Baylor has won the last two meetings by a combined 63 points.

11.Nov. 28Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators may be able to walk to Atlanta and a 10-win season with Vanderbilt, South Carolina and FAU remaining. If the Gators can beat Florida State for only the second time since 2009, they’ll go to the Georgia Dome with more on the line the SEC title.

12.Nov. 21Stillwater, Okla.

Even if Oklahoma State is out of the Big 12 race by the time Baylor visits Stillwater, this will be a key game for the Bears. Baylor’s offense sometimes stumbles on the road, and this will be first of the Bears’ two big road tests.

13.Nov. 28Stillwater, Okla.

The wild finish in the Bedlam Game last year relieved pressure on Mike Gundy and put it on Bob Stoops. This is always a heated rivalry, but it could have national title implications for the first time since 2011.

14.Nov. 14Houston

The Tigers could face two ranked AAC foes on the road in November. We’re expecting this one to be the more entertaining game when Paxton Lynch faces off against Greg Ward Jr.

15.Nov. 28Tuscaloosa, Ala.

This game won’t live up to the preseason hype when many thought it could be for the SEC West. Auburn is getting better by baby steps, enough to make weird things happen in a rivalry game? We can hope.

16.Nov. 21Philadelphia

The Tigers’ offense is one of the most productive in the country while Temple has a stifling defense. These two teams could meet against in the AAC title game for a trip to a major bowl game.

17.Nov. 28Starkville, Miss.

The Egg Bowl is more interesting than it has ever been — especially if Ole Miss is still in the SEC West hunt. Ole Miss knocked Mississippi State out of the top four last season. Dak Prescott is equipped to return the favor this season. 

18.Nov. 21Salt Lake City

Josh Rosen goes on the road against a stout Utah defense. The Utes remain the leaders in the Pac-12. Which UCLA and which Utah shows up?

19.Nov. 28Los Angeles

Interim coach Clay Helton has USC thinking about reaching the Pac-12 title game for the first time. The Trojans could be the spoiler of the conference with both Stanford and Utah seeking a CFP spot or a major bowl game.

20.Nov. 21Palo Alto, Calif.

Washington State’s Air Raid came to upsetting Stanford. Did the Cougars establish a blueprint for Jared Goff to beat the rival Cardinal?

Ranking the Best College Football Games in November 2015
Post date: Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/five-thoughts-first-college-football-playoff-rankings

The month of November may end up having more games between College Football Playoff contending teams than the first two months combined.


Besides being great entertainment, those November matchups — starting this week with Alabama-LSU, Florida State-Clemson and others — will clear up a top 25 that is short on any real answers.


That the selection committee’s first College Football Playoff top 25 is a bit of a mess is to be expected and it’s by design. The Big 12 and Big Ten have backloaded schedules. Rivalry games and conference championship games promise to blow up the rankings as well.


With that said, here’s what we learned out of the first set of rankings:


1. The Big 12 got bad news

Sorry, Baylor, the committee still thinks your non-conference schedule should keep you out of the Playoff. Despite dominating results, the Bears are ranked behind two one-loss teams, Alabama and Notre Dame. Yet committee chair Jeff Long said No. 6 Baylor and No. 8 TCU’s explosive offenses gave those teams an edge over No. 9 Iowa, another undefeated team with a stronger strength of schedule. That said, Baylor is ahead of undefeated Michigan State, a team that has played close games against lesser competition despite a win over No. 17 Michigan.


2. The Big 12 got good news

No. 6 Baylor, No. 8 TCU, No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 15 Oklahoma will all play each other in the final month of the season. That’s an awful lot of résumé building for one month of the season. Alabama and LSU have similar opportunities, as does Ohio State, but the Big 12 has the most to gain.


3. The committee’s analysis of strength of schedule and big wins is still lacking

Repeatedly, Long justified rankings with wins over teams with winning records. Alabama has defeated three (Wisconsin, Georgia and Texas A&M) and Florida has defeated two (Ole Miss and Georgia). Though Long later clarified that the Tide beat a Georgia team with Nick Chubb on the road while Florida did not face Chubb, this continues a troubling trend of the way the committee defines strength of schedule and landmark wins. A case could be made for Florida with a win over No. 18 Ole Miss and loss to No. 2 LSU should be ahead of Alabama, whose best win is over No. 19 Texas A&M and whose loss is to the Rebels. No. 3 Ohio State has three wins over teams with winning records: Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Penn State. The Buckeyes and Crimson Tide probably pass the eye test for members of the committee — and that’s fine — but a blanket statement about opponents’ winning record is flimsy reasoning.


4. Iowa is already in trouble

The committee, this week at least, seems enamored with explosive offenses and wins over .500 teams. The Hawkeyes aren’t going to turn into Baylor and TCU overnight, and their remaining schedule has no teams with winning records on the schedule. Iowa’s two remaining 4–4 opponents (Indiana and Minnesota) are a combined 1–7 in the Big Ten. A Hawkeyes win over an undefeated Michigan State or Ohio State would seem to bring few guarantees.


5. We’ll see the Group of Five race take shape in real time

The early polls last year didn’t have Group of Five teams in the top 25 until the final weeks. The first committee this season had four: No. 13 Memphis, No. 22 Temple, No. 24 Toledo and No. 25 Houston. Remember, a team has to be the highest-ranked champion not simply the highest-ranked team. Conceivably, the AAC could have enough teams beat each other up, including an unranked team in the league title game, to allow a potential MAC champion Toledo to take a major bowl slot.


CFP Bowl Projections


National Semifinals

Orange: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama

Cotton: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Ohio State


CFP Host Bowls

Rose: Michigan State vs. Stanford

Sugar: Baylor vs. Florida

Fiesta: Notre Dame vs. TCU

Peach: Iowa vs. Memphis

Five Thoughts on the First College Football Playoff Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - 20:29
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-10-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts

The College Football Playoff picture is starting to get some clarity, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.


The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .


Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:


Rutgers at Michigan

Was the Minnesota game a fluke for Michigan or a sign of the Wolverines regressing to the mean? After a dominating defense carried the way for Michigan through he first half of the season, Minnesota outgained the Wolverines 461–296. The lackluster offense can be attributed in part to an injury to starting quarterback Jake Rudock and a shaky performance by backup Wilton Speight, but 461 yards to Minnesota? That’s a concern. First and foremost, Michigan needs to jumpstart its run game. Two of the Wolverines’ worst three performances on the ground this season have come in the last two games. Rutgers’ offense is in even worse shape. Quarterback Chris Laviano has led one offensive touchdown drive in the last two games against Ohio State and Wisconsin. 

Fox’s pick: Michigan 28–10


Florida State at Clemson

The most important game of the ACC season in shrouded in mystery. Florida State hasn’t committed to either Everett Golson or Sean Maguire as the starting quarterback, and running back Dalvin Cook has been hobbled with an ankle injury. Both Golson and Cook missed the Seminoles’ last game against Syracuse. Clemson gave up 41 points to NC State, including one touchdown on a kickoff return and two others on short fields. The Tigers, though, answered each time. Clemson has demonstrated time and time again that it’s ready for the stretch run while Florida State may be starting over.

Fox’s pick: Clemson 41–28


Utah at Washington

Washington made a statement with a 49–3 rout of Arizona last week, perhaps giving us some reservations about picking Utah. The Huskies have a solid defense, and freshman quarterback Jake Browning is coming into his own. Even though Arizona was without running back Nick Wilson, Washington still impressed by holding a Rich Rod offense to 2.9 yards per carry. Both teams will try to ugly the game up with turnovers. The advantage goes to the team with the veteran quarterback.

Fox’s pick: Utah 27–14


Kentucky at Georgia

Georgia’s move to start Faton Bauta against Florida proved to be disastrous, and it remains to be seen if he’ll get another shot at the job. Kentucky had two tough losses through the first six games of the season, but those close losses have turned into blowouts the last two weeks. The Wildcats lost by a combined score of 94–37 to Mississippi State and Tennessee, and now Kentucky will be without starting running back Stanley “Boom” Williams.

Fox’s pick: Georgia 24–17


Navy at Memphis

Navy is not getting the attention of undefeated Temple, Houston and Memphis, but the Midshipmen — whose only loss is to Notre Dame — is every bit the American Athletic Conference contender as the other three. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds’ next touchdown, his 78th, will break the career record, not for quarterbacks, but for everyone who has played major college football. Navy will look to control the clock with the option and keep Memphis QB Paxton Lynch off the field, and we’ve seen little out of the Tigers’ defense that shows Memphis can slow Reynolds. Then again, Navy has played only two top-50 offenses and one of them, Air Force, was another service academy.

Fox’s pick: Memphis 41–35


Arizona at USC

Arizona is going back to the drawing board on offense. Nick Wilson has been hurt, and Anu Solomon is coming off the worst performance of his career in a 49–3 loss to Washington. Rich Rodriguez said he’s changing his approach with Solomon after two sub-par performances. USC has played its best football of the season under interim coach Clay Helton, but the Trojans need to overcome a hand injury to one of their best playmakers, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Fox’s pick: USC 42–28


LSU at Alabama

As usual, this game should be a tense, physical matchup that will be determined by which team can run successfully and which team puts the pressure on a first-year starting quarterback to make a play in a pressure situation. Alabama and LSU rank first and second in the SEC in rush defense, each holding opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards. Yet neither has faced an elite running back like they’ll see on Saturday between Heisman contenders Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry.

Fox’s pick: Alabama 24–20


TCU at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State scored 70 points on the road against a not-terrible Big 12 opponent, and the Cowboys still have doubters. That’s with good reason. Wins over Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia were all by a touchdown or less, and Texas Tech put up 53 points against the Pokes. The Cowboys are good, but they haven’t shown exactly what separates this team from the other three Big 12 contenders. TCU, though, can stake a claim on having the best quarterback and wide receiver in the Big 12 (though Baylor’s Corey Coleman may object to the latter). All signs point to this being another Big 12 shootout, but the team with Trevone Boykin will have the advantage.

Fox’s pick: TCU 56–42


Vanderbilt at Florida

The Commodores’ defense can’t be overlooked. Vanderbilt held Western Kentucky and Houston to their lowest scoring and yardage totals all season. Trouble is, Florida did the same against Ole Miss and Georgia. The Gators aren’t getting world-beating quarterback play from Treon Harris, but the Commodores duo of Johnny McCrary and Kyle Shurmur have been turnover prone all season.

Fox’s pick: Florida 31–7


Arkansas at Ole Miss

For the first time this season, the Rebels ran the ball well against two SEC opponents, albeit against two of the three worst run defenses in the league. And despite three takeaways against Texas A&M two weeks ago, Ole Miss has been on the wrong end of the turnover margin in each of the last six games and at minus-10 overall since the Alabama win. Arkansas beat UT Martin last week as expected, but the Hogs gave up a season-high 519 yards in the process. 

Fox’s pick: Ole Miss 31–21


South Carolina at Tennessee

After weeks of frustration, Tennessee finally got the lopsided win it needed with a 52–21 win at Kentucky. Now, the Volunteers will try to extend a modest two-game win streak against South Carolina. The Gamecocks have their issues, but Perry Orth (192 passing yards, 90 pre-sack rushing yards) gave their offense a spark against Texas A&M. The overall talent for the Vols should be too much.

Fox’s pick: Tennessee 37–20


Cal at Oregon

Cal’s momentum has come to a halt with three consecutive losses in the Pac-12 South to Utah, UCLA and USC. Is Oregon better than any of those teams? Perhaps not. The Ducks look awfully ordinary on offense and just plain awful on defense. That might help Cal quarterback Jared Goff get back on track, but after two close road wins over Washington and Arizona State, Oregon may be ready to reboot its season when it returns to Autzen.

Fox’s pick: Oregon 38–30


Penn State at Northwestern

Northwestern and Penn State both have nice records and stout defenses, but neither bas been a sure commodity. Northwestern’s offense failed to reach 200 yards against Michigan and Iowa, so it will be looking to acquit itself against Penn State. Behind a strong defensive front, the Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in tackles for a loss by a wide margin and rank fifth in total defense. The offense has been a work in progress, but quarterback Christian Hackenberg has been on a hot streak of late, averaging 9.9 yards per attempt the last three weeks. Not surprisingly, this trend coincides with freshman running back Saquon Barkley’s return to the lineup.

Fox’s pick: Northwestern 24–21


Duke at North Carolina

Miami’s improbable win over Duke means this won’t be the ranked Duke-North Carolina game Tobacco Road would have hoped to see, but it’s no less meaningful. North Carolina is undefeated in ACC play, and Duke can lead the Coastal with a win over the Tar Heels. North Carolina has been under the radar, especially after an inexplicable season-opening loss to South Carolina, but the Heels have been stout on both sides of the ball. Coordinator Gene Chizik has turned around the offense, and quarterback Marquise Williams has responded to a near-benching with three straight weeks of standout play.

Fox’s pick: North Carolina 31–27


Iowa at Indiana

When quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard are healthy — as they are now — Indiana’s offense is among the best in the country. Iowa counters with cornerback Desmond King, who is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions. The big question will be if Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, who has been hobbled with a groin injury, is healthy enough to answer punch for punch if this turns into a back-and-forth affair.

Fox’s pick: Iowa 35–24


Arizona State at Washington State

Washington State quarterback Luke Falk passed for 601 yards against Arizona State in only his second career start. The Sun Devils’ pressure, though, contributed to four interceptions. Falk will be a different quarterback this time around. He’s thrown only six picks in 448 attempts after throwing seven in 243 attempts last year. Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici can match Wazzu’s Air Raid, especially against that vulnerable Cougars defense.

Fox’s pick: Washington State 49–42


Notre Dame at Pittsburgh

This game might not be pretty with Notre Dame coming off a slugfest with Temple and Pittsburgh coming off a loss to North Carolina. Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer continues to acquit himself as the Irish’s No. 1 QB and not just a sub for Malik Zaire. Meanwhile, Pitt’s vulnerability on both sides of the ball finally caught up with the Panthers against North Carolina.

Fox’s pick: Notre Dame 31–21


Auburn at Texas A&M

Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin benched Kyle Allen last week and turned to his freshman — a freshman who has the benefit for playing the two worst defenses in the league in his first two starts. Murray flourished against South Carolina, passing for 223 yards and running for 156. Auburn finally got defensive end Carl Lawson back last week, and while he was disruptive (three QB hurries), Ole Miss still put up 558 total yards in the Tigers’ loss. 

Fox’s pick: Texas A&M 42–28


Michigan State at Nebraska

Purdue was supposed to be the type of opponent that would help Nebraska turn its season around. Instead, the Cornhuskers lost 55–45 to the Boilermakers and are in a state of disarray just before facing a rested and undefeated Michigan State team. Nebraska’s run game has gone cold the last two weeks with 82 yards against Northwestern and 77 against Purdue. Michigan State’s defense isn’t as stout as it has been in recent years, but the Spartans still rank in the top 30 against the run. On the bright side for the Huskers, Nebraska expects to get Tommy Armstrong Jr. back at quarterback after backup Ryker Fyfe turned the ball over five times in his first career start. 

Fox’s pick: Michigan State 38–21


Minnesota at Ohio State

Ohio State will need to return to Cardale Jones at quarterback after J.T. Barrett was suspended for a game due to a DUI citation. Jones was shaky in September, ultimately leading to Barrett taking a larger role as Ohio State’s season went on. Perhaps buoyed by the emotion of a rivalry game with Michigan and the departure of coach Jerry Kill, Minnesota played its best game of the season against Michigan before a clock management snafu at the goal line contributed to a 29–26 loss. Quarterback Mitch Leidner has topped 300 passing yards in back-to-back games for the Gophers, which usually isn’t a great sign for Minnesota, but he came up with a gutsy effort against the Wolverines that gave Minnesota chance for the upset. 

Fox’s pick: Ohio State 35–14


Last week: 16–4

Season to date: 135–18

Week 10 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/sec-basketball-2015-16-preview-predictions-and-all-conference-team

Say this for an interesting SEC offseason: The league lost one of its two best coaches to the NBA and the coaching lineup as a whole improved.


Florida coach Billy Donovan is now coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving the Gators in a rebuilding situation under new coach Mike White. Facing White will not only be a Kentucky team ready to contend for a national title and resurgent teams at Vanderbilt and Texas A&M, but also two first-year coaches who have Final Fours on their résumés.


A handful of SEC schools have been tasked with improving their basketball product in recent years, and they’ve responded with key coaching hires. Mississippi State jettisoned Rick Ray and replaced him with former UCLA coach Ben Howland. Tennessee hired a new coach out of necessity stemming from NCAA issues but brought in longtime Texas coach Rick Barnes. Alabama hired a former NBA coach of the year in Avery Johnson. And two years ago, Bruce Pearl made his return to the league at Auburn.


Oh, and LSU adds the consensus No. 1 freshman to the mix.


In 2014 and 2013, the SEC produced only three NCAA Tournament teams in each field. After producing five NCAA teams and a team in the Final Four for the second consecutive season, the SEC promises to be a deeper league in the coming years.


All SEC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, and on newsstands everywhere.


Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?

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2015-16 SEC Predictions

The Wildcats won’t be as deep in 2015-16, but there is still more than enough talent to win a national title. Postseason: National Champion


Kevin Stallings has a roster built for success, with a dominant big man (Damian Jones) surrounded by a host of shooters. Postseason: Sweet 16


The Aggies are poised for their first NCAA Tournament invite of the Billy Kennedy era. Postseason: Second round


The Tigers have reloaded with a superb freshman class led by do-everything big man Ben Simmons. Postseason: Second round

5.Michael White’s first Florida team lacks elite talent but will still be a factor in the SEC. Postseason: First round
6.Veteran guards will have to lead the way while young big guys adjust to more prominent roles. Postseason: First First
7.The arrival of Ben Howland and top recruit Malik Newman will make the Bulldogs relevant in 2015-16. Postseason: NIT 
8.Stefan Moody is one of the premier players in the league. Others must step up to make this an NCAA Tournament team. Postseason: NIT 

This will be Frank Martin’s best team at South Carolina. Is that good enough? Postseason: NIT

10.No SEC team outside of Kentucky lost more firepower than the Razorbacks. Postseason: NIT 
11.Bruce Pearl’s rebuild at Auburn is far more challenging than the one he faced at Tennessee. Postseason: NIT 

Rick Barnes inherited a roster lacking talent. It could be a long winter in Knoxville.

13.There are some intriguing pieces for new coach Avery Johnson, but not enough to be much of a factor in Year 1. 

Two of the top three scorers transferred from a team that went 3–15 in the SEC.



SEC Superlatives


Player of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU

Best Defensive Player: Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Most Underrated Player: Craig Sword, Mississippi State

Newcomer of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU

Top Coach: John Calipari, Kentucky ()

Teams in the : No. 1 Kentucky, No. 15 Vanderbilt, No. 25 Texas A&M


All-SEC First Team

G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky

G Stefan Moody, Ole Miss

F Ben Simmons, LSU

C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky

C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt


All-SEC Second Team

G Malik Newman, Mississippi State

G Danuel House, Texas A&M

G Kenny Gaines, Georgia

F Alex Poythress, Kentucky

F Cinmeon Bowers, Auburn


All-SEC Third Team

G Riley LaChance, Vanderbilt

G Charles Mann, Georgia

G Tim Quarterman, LSU

F Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida

F Alex Caruso, Texas A&M


Recruiting Roundup


1. Kentucky: The Wildcats are back in the top spot nationally with a five-man class that includes elite big man Skal Labissiere.


2. LSU: No. 1-ranked prospect Ben Simmons and fellow five-star Antonio Blakeney lead the nation’s No. 3-ranked class.


3. Texas A&M: A quartet of top-100 ranked prospects give the Aggies a top-10 class.


4. Auburn: Bruce Pearl landed a top-20 class led by athletic forwards Horace Spencer and Danjel Purifoy.


5. Mississippi State: New coach Ben Howland has a top-20 class, including top-10 prospect Malik Newman.


6. Florida: The Gators have a top-25 class that includes four four-star prospects.


7. South Carolina: Five-star guard Perry Dozier headlines Gamecocks’ class.


8. Alabama: New coach Avery Johnson has a five-man class that is led by four-star wing scorer Kobie Eubanks.


9. Missouri: Kim Anderson has six recruits in the fold. Four-star point guard K.J. Walton is the highest ranked of the bunch.


10. Vanderbilt: Athletic center Djery Baptiste leads a diverse four-man class.


11. Georgia: Mark Fox convinced William Jackson to stay in Athens as the top recruit in a four-man class.


12. Ole Miss: Guard Donte Fitzpatrick out of Memphis leads a four-man class.


13. Tennessee: New coach Rick Barnes has every position covered in the Volunteers’ five-man recruiting class.


14. Arkansas: Four-star combo guard Jimmy Whitt is the Hogs’ only recruit.

SEC Basketball 2015-16 Preview, Predictions and All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-9-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts

The College Football Playoff picture is starting to get some clarity, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.


The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .


Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:


College Football Podcast: Week 8 Recap

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Vanderbilt at Houston

The Commodores are coming off the first SEC win of Derek Mason’s tenure with a 10–3 win over Missouri. A modest win streak, though, seems unlikely. Vanderbilt has a solid defense, allowing only five rushing touchdowns all season, but Houston has been a juggernaut in the American Athletic Conference. Under first-year coach Tom Herman, the Cougars are seventh in the country in rushing at 291.6 yards per game.

Fox’s prediction: Houston 28–10


Syracuse at Florida State

Florida State’s 28-game ACC win streak ended on a blocked field goal for a touchdown against Georgia Tech, but a new win streak should start anew. The Seminoles haven’t lost back-to-back games since a three-game losing streak early in 2011. Syracuse has been competitive against LSU and Pitt, but the Orange are riding a four-game losing streak that includes defeats to Virginia and USF.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 42–14


Oregon State at Utah

Utah is coming off its first loss, a humble 42–24 defeat at USC, but truthfully, the Utes perhaps were never as good as their No. 3 ranking indicated. That said, Utah was undone by four interceptions in a road game against more talented if streaky team. After 17–13 home loss to Colorado, Oregon State has clinched a spot as the worst team in the Pac-12.

Fox’s prediction: Utah 35–10


South Carolina at Texas A&M

Texas A&M is a team in turmoil after managing just a field goal in a loss to Ole Miss. Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen has thrown four interceptions and completed just 43.2 percent of his passes in the last two weeks. The benching of backup Kyler Murray, though, has been puzzling and has hinted at dysfunction in College Station. Facing South Carolina won’t cure everything, but the Aggies should be able to end their losing streak.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 31–13


Clemson at NC State

NC State’s four FBS wins are over Troy (2–5), Old Dominion (3–4), South Alabama (3–4) and Wake Forest (3–5). Clemson has shown no signs of a team aching for a let down, and the Wolfpack have shown no signs of being able to challenge an above-average team.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 41–14


Texas at Iowa State

The Longhorns have found the answer for their beleaguered offense, and that’s run, run and run some more. Texas has thrown only 28 passes the last two weeks while rushing for 587 yards against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Meanwhile, throw out Northern Iowa and Kansas, and Iowa State is 228 rushing yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.

Fox’s prediction: Texas 35–10


Notre Dame at Temple

This is the biggest game for Temple football … ever? The Owls are 7–0 and ranked facing a one-loss Notre Dame team that still fashions itself a playoff contender. Unlike the other American Athletic Conference undefeateds Memphis and Houston, Temple is doing it with defense, leading the AAC in rush defense and pass efficiency defense. This will be strength-on-strength against the Notre Dame offense. Receiver Will Fuller and running back C.J. Prosise may be the best Temple has faced this season at either position.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 28–14


Oklahoma at Kansas

The Sooners have scored 44, 55 and 63 points in its last three Big 12 wins. The only reason Oklahoma won’t hit 70 against Kansas is if the Sooners don’t want to.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 63–10


Colorado at UCLA

The Buffaloes have an above-average pass defense (10 interceptions) to go with the worst rush defense in the Pac-12. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was brilliant last week against Cal, but, as with all freshmen, his consistency is always in question.

Fox’s prediction: UCLA 31–17


Maryland at Iowa

An off week gave Iowa a chance to heal, but not completely. Defensive end Drew Ott is still out for the season, and running back Jordan Canzeri is not expected back. Maryland put up a spirited performance against Penn State, but the matchup of the Terrapins passing game (a national-high 20 interceptions) against Desmond King (second nationally with six interceptions) is a nightmare for Maryland.

Fox’s prediction: Iowa 35–10


Georgia Tech at Virginia

The Yellow Jackets should be thrilled to be facing an opponent with more than one loss. Georgia Tech’s last six opponents are a combined 37–5 this season, and only a wild finish against Florida State prevented the Jackets from a six-game losing streak. Virginia is 2–5 and may soon join team like Miami, USC, South Carolina and Maryland in the coaching carousel. The Yellow Jackets’ run game got back on track against Florida State and now face a team that’s giving up 4.6 yards per carry.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia Tech 38–17


Tennessee at Kentucky

Tennessee played well against Alabama, containing the Crimson Tide’s run game enough that the Vols had a chance to win. In a vacuum, a near-miss against Alabama on the road would be signs of progress for the Volunteers, but Tennessee fans are getting tired of near-misses. Kentucky can get big plays in the run game, but the Wildcats need more from the passing game if they hope to match up with a more talented Tennessee squad.

Fox’s prediction: Tennessee 27–21


Miami at Duke

David Cutcliffe rightfully has the reputation of an offensive guru, but Duke is winning with defense this season. The Blue Devils are one of three teams in the country holding opponents to fewer than four yards per play. Miami is wounded with an interim coach and a potential concussion for quarterback Brad Kaaya.

Fox’s prediction: Duke 31–21


USC at Cal

USC showed Utah what can happen when the Trojans are playing to their potential in a 42–24 rout. The defense had four interceptions and three sacks while the passing game was efficient once again. Plus, USC is two weeks removed from a 590-yard effort at Notre Dame. Cal’s hot start cooled in two matchups with Pac-12 South contenders on the road. Most concerning is the play of Jared Goff and the offense. Goff threw five interceptions against Utah, and the offense averaged a season-low 4.8 yards per play against UCLA.

Fox’s prediction: USC 38–28


Stanford at Washington State

Washington State has quietly become a contender in the Pac-12 North at 3–1. It’s not a surprise how: The Cougars are throwing the ball all over the place and playing limited defense. Stanford’s defense is shorthanded with injuries and not very deep, but the Cardinal’s physicality might be too much for a team that already has trouble stopping the run.

Fox’s prediction: Stanford 42–21


Arizona at Washington

Washington expects freshman quarterback Jake Browning to return from injury against Arizona. That should be as much of a lift to the Huskies’ offense as facing Arizona’s lackluster pass defense. Throw out a game against Oregon State, and Arizona is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 73 percent of their passes for 8.9 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Fox’s prediction: Washington 28–21


Oklahoma State at Texas Tech

The Cowboys are getting it done with defense, holding opponents to 53.6 percent passing with six touchdowns and eight interceptions and a Big 12-best four sacks per game. Texas Tech can move the ball, as usual, and Patrick Mahomes mobility cuts down on sacks. With the Pokes facing Texas Tech’s defense, this game could be the Big 12 shootout of the week.

Fox’s prediction: Texas Tech 45–41


Ole Miss at Auburn

The Rebels defense had its best game of the season, holding Texas A&M to a field goal. Perhaps that’s as much a reflection of the Aggies dysfunction as anything else. Auburn’s Sean White continues to play safe football, but he’s not getting a ton of help from his receivers. The Tigers are still desperate for an SEC win while the Rebels’ SEC title hopes have been rejuvenated. Auburn’s defense is just as bad as it was a year ago.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 38–24


Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.)

The Cocktail Party has a way giving us the unexpected, usually with Florida spoiling Georgia’s hopes for a championship of some kind. This time, Florida is the team with hopes winning the East. The Gators proved at LSU that they can still be competitive with the best despite the shocking suspension of quarterback Will Grier. Georgia is trying to find its way on offense without Nick Chubb.

Fox’s prediction: Florida 28–21


Michigan at Minnesota

The Gophers have the Little Brown Jug and the Floyd of Rosedale in their trophy case right now, but both might be finding new homes with the way Minnesota has played of late. Michigan has had an extra week to get over its loss to Michigan State. On paper, this could get ugly with the worst scoring offense in the Big Ten (Minnesota at 20.4 points per game) against the best scoring defense (Michigan at 9.3 points per game).

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 28–3


Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 119–41

Week 9 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 14:56
All taxonomy terms: Magazines
Path: /magazines/athlon-cover-catch-charlie-whitehurst-talks-dabo-swinney-clemson-and-being-handsome

Charlie Whitehurst began his career at Clemson taking over for the immensely successful Woodrow Dantzler, who left school as the most productive quarterback in school history.


By the end of his college career in 2005, Whitehurst passed Dantzler by nearly 2,500 career passing yards. As Clemson continued to be an offensive powerhouse, Whitehurst watched his records fall to Tajh Boyd.


Whitehurst, who appeared on the Athlon Sports ACC preview cover in 2005 alongside the Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, led Clemson to two bowl games in three seasons, two bowl victories and two top-25 finishes. Now, Clemson is a College Football Playoff contender riding a streak of four consecutive 10-win seasons.


Whitehurst played for former coach Tommy Bowden but Whitehurst’s receivers were quickly becoming accustomed to their new receivers coach, Dabo Swinney. While Swinney built up the Clemson program, Whitehurst has spent a decade in the NFL, primarily as a backup.


In 2014 for the Tennessee Titans, Whitehurst started a career-high five games, but he’s become just as notable in Nashville for a style that looks like it belongs on a stage at a rock concert as much as on the football field. , confirming that, yes, the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town.


How closely do you stay involved in the Clemson program?

I was at the Notre Dame game a few weeks ago. We were on a bye week, so I went to go see them. I try to watch them when I can. I know they’re undefeated and they’ve got a solid quarterback. Dabo’s done a heckuva a job since he’s been there. It’s fun to say you went to Clemson. They’ve got a real shot at it this year.


Were you on the sideline for the Notre Dame game or did you get a seat? The weather was not good.

It was pouring down rain. I got wet pregame. I was down there and watched them warm up and run down the hill, but I found some shelter after that.


You were there when Dabo was receivers coach. Did you have any interaction with him or did teammates tell you about him?

He always seemed like he took his job real seriously. I remember one of the receivers, I asked him how’s Dabo as the new coach, and he told me, “He’s making us take notes in there. He’s really tough on us.” That’s what everybody does now, but back then we were running the spread and we didn’t have many plays. We didn’t have notebooks or big playbooks, but Dabo had his receivers taking notes. I didn’t know that every other college in America was doing that. But Dabo, he was demanding of those guys. He pushed them really hard. I think it made them better. …


He had a little cart that he wheeled in, like a substitute teacher, and he’d make a presentation and give them game plan to the receiver. It was weird, but my point is that he’s always doing the extra thing.


He’s always been a high-energy guy. We lucked into him, but my gosh, he could be there as long as he wants to.


He’s kind of character, a great motivator. Did you notice any of that or was he so early into his career that he didn’t really show that side?

You noticed it because he was out there pushing his position group really hard. I remember when I left he was a guy everyone really respected, and you knew he was a little different. It doesn’t surprise me. You say character, but that is who he is. He’s not trying to put on a persona. He’s a motivator. People really relate to him. He’s a leader. When he got hired, I said, my God, what a leader.


Swinney reacted strongly to a question about “Clemsoning” — meaning, a team that starts out hot, raises expectations, and loses a game in a major upset. That term aside, something has changed for Clemson in the last five years where that team is able to handle success in a way it didn’t before. What have you seen that’s changed?

We’ll see how the season goes. Clemson’s had some really good seasons and been in some good situations and then you don’t win the big game, but there’s, what, six or seven teams in the last six or seven years that haven’t done that and they won the national championship. There aren’t 20 teams a year that don’t do that. But I get it. It takes a while. The recruiting takes a little time. The facilities, the coaches. It takes time to get talent in there. It takes time, and it’s hard to win every game.


Clemson is one of the top 10 teams in terms of producing NFL players. Do you have a relationship with these guys even if you didn’t play with them in college?

You try to talk to them before the game. But I’m the oldest one. I don’t think there’s a player in the NFL that I played with. There’s not a lot of guys I personally played with. You usually say hello.


Speaking of being one of the older Clemson guys still in the NFL, you’ve had a 10-year NFL career. Do you ever think, wow, I’ve got it pretty good.

I’m proud of how a lot of it has gone. How many people get out of the game and wish they had done more. I have some regrets and some things that could have been better. But to last 10 years, I am pretty proud of that.


You’ve gained a bit of local celebrity status in Nashville. What do you think of that?

I don’t know if that’s true or not.


Well, you were on a most beautiful people list.

I think when you grow your hair long and play quarterback, little things like that, it’s like “Who is this guy?” It’s a great town, if we can get this going in the direction we think it’s going, we’ll get a lot of support and it will be a lot of fun. It’s a great a football town.


Do you get recognized moreso than other backup quarterbacks?

I’m not sure. Maybe. I don’t have an issue with it or anything. I can go anywhere I want. You see people out at dinner who are in the music business, and who am I compared to some of those people?

Athlon Cover Catch-Up: Charlie Whitehurst talks Dabo Swinney, Clemson and Being Handsome
Post date: Friday, October 23, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/iowa-hawkeyes-2015-16-basketball-team-preview-and-prediction

If Iowa continues the current pattern of success under Fran McCaffery, a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 1999 awaits this season.


The Hawkeyes have improved in each of McCaffery’s first five seasons as head coach. A losing season in Year 1 was followed by a winning season that included a victory in the NIT in Year 2. The Hawkeyes advanced to the NIT title game in McCaffery’s third season and to the NCAA Tournament a year later, where it lost in the First Four.


Iowa continued its ascent last season by finishing in a tied for third place in the Big Ten and by winning an NCAA game for the first time since 2001.


“That was the whole goal,” says 7'1" senior center Adam Woodbury. “The year before I got here they made the NIT and won a game. And then we were able to go a little further and a little further, and we’re trying to improve on things.


“I think that’s what everybody does except for a team like Duke. They can’t really improve on what they did last season. It’s a key to get better as a program and to sustain our success.”


Four starters return from last season, but All-Big Ten power forward Aaron White isn’t among them after using up his eligibility. His absence will create more scoring opportunities for senior forward Jarrod Uthoff, who was a third-team All-Big Ten selection last season, and for Woodbury, who has started 104 games as a Hawkeye.


All Big Ten predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, and on newsstands everywhere.


Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?

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It’ll take some getting used to not having White on the roster, but the team he left behind is loaded with size, experience and depth on the frontline. Uthoff is a star in the making, while Woodbury is an underrated and underappreciated presence in the post.


Uthoff can score facing the rim or with his back to the basket. His only shortcoming is that he’s too unselfish and passive at times.


Woodbury wasn’t asked to score much during his first three seasons, but that should change without White in the lineup. Woodbury runs the floor extremely well for somebody his size, and he worked hard during the offseason to improve his jump shot. He needs to attack the rim more often, but he passes well for a big man and brings toughness.


Sophomore Dom Uhl showed flashes last season while playing limited minutes. He is expected to get the first shot at replacing White in the starting lineup.


Junior college transfer Dale Jones also will be in the mix, along with 6'6" junior Peter Jok when McCaffery uses a smaller lineup. Jok started 21 games at shooting guard last season but is expected to play more at small forward this season.


Iowa Hawkeyes Facts & Figures

Last season: 22-12 (12-6 Big Ten)

Postseason: NCAA second round

Consecutive NCAAs: 2

Big Ten projection: 7

Postseason projection: NCAA first round




When it comes to experience, Iowa’s backcourt compares favorably with every team in the Big Ten, and the country for that matter. Seniors Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons, along with Jok, have combined to start 122 games for the Hawkeyes, including 97 by Gesell, who plays mostly point guard. Gesell is probably the best all-around player in terms of offense and defense among the three, while Clemmons is the best defender and Jok the best shooter.


Redshirt freshman Brady Ellingson was a prolific 3-point shooter in high school, and that outside production is just what Iowa needs to complement the returning players. Clemmons said in June that he expected Iowa to use a three-guard lineup on many occasions this season.


Key Losses: G Gabriel Olaseni, F Aaron White

Top Players: G Mike Gesell, G Anthony Clemmons, G/F Peter Jok, F Jarrod Uthoff, C Adam Woodbury




This class will improve Iowa’s athleticism but has nobody of elite status. Shooting guard Andrew Fleming should provide a much-needed perimeter shooting threat, while Illinois natives Brandon Hutton, Isaiah Moss and Christian Williams will add quickness on the wing. Dale Jones averaged 16.9 points last season at Tyler Junior College in Texas and is a threat from long range.


Final Analysis


McCaffery has brought stability, enthusiasm and expectations back to a program that was in shambles when he took over in 2010. Iowa will try to make the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season, which hasn’t happened since 1990-93. At this stage, and with four starters returning, anything less than another trip to the NCAAs would be considered a disappointment and a step backward. This could be McCaffery’s best shooting team at Iowa. With Uthoff, Jok, Gesell, Clemmons, Ellingson and newcomers Andrew Fleming and Jones, Iowa has a stable of capable shooters. That should create better floor spacing and more room for Uthoff and Woodbury to perform near the basket.

Iowa Hawkeyes 2015-16 Basketball Team Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/acc-basketball-2015-16-preview-predictions-and-all-conference-team

Old-school ACC fans who remember the days of a Tobacco Road-focused lineup may find themselves pinching themselves at times this season.


Conference expansion in the ACC has been football focused, even if basketball powerhouses like Louisville and Syracuse have been added. This season, however, the three teams at the top are classic ACC basketball powers. Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are all poised to contend for the Final Four. All that’s missing is Maryland, a charter ACC team that will have a top-five team in the Big Ten.


The ACC will have plenty of intrigue beyond those top three. Louisville, now facing a lurid off-court scandal, needed two graduate transfers from mid-majors to stay afloat. Notre Dame expects to score in bunches again, even without Jerian Grant. Florida State and Miami have rebuilt after missing the NCAA Tournament, and NC State will be plenty talented.


All ACC predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2015-16 Preview Magazine, and on newsstands everywhere.


Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?

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2015-16 ACC Predictions
1.Lost three one-and-dones, but Duke welcomes in another elite recruiting class that will be ready to contribute. Postseason: National Runner-Up
2.Depth and experience should carry the Heels on a deep NCAA run. Nine players from a 10-man rotation return. Postseason: Final Four

Had Justin Anderson stayed, the Cavs would be the ACC favorite. Still, the bulk of a 30-win team is back, and so is coaching wiz Tony Bennett. Postseason: Elite Eight

4.Every key player from an Elite Eight run is gone, but Rick Pitino added two of the nation’s top transfers. Postseason: Second Round
5.Suffered some big losses after coming one basket away from Final Four, but Mike Brey still has plenty to build around. Postseason: Second Round
6.Adding a top-10 recruiting class — including three freshmen who can help right away — will get the Noles back in the NCAA Tournament. Postseason: Second Round

Every key player returns after reaching 2015 NIT title game. Postseason: First Round

8.NCAA penalties didn’t stop Orange from landing a strong recruiting class, but Jim Boeheim will miss nine ACC games. Postseason: First Round

Losing leading scorer Trevor Lacey (who went undrafted) from the Pack’s Sweet 16 team was a major blow. Postseason: First Four

10.Coming off a rare down year. The roster boasts experience, but big questions remain on defense. Postseason: NIT 

Pressure is building on Brad Brownell after four straight years without an NCAA bid. Postseason: NIT


Expect improvement in Year 2 of the Danny Manning era. 

13.Maryland transfer Seth Allen will help, and so will playing so many freshmen last year.  

Brian Gregory was given one more year — just barely. In his four years, Tech is just 19–51 in ACC play.


Firmly in rebuilding mode. Eagles will be one of the youngest teams in the conference.


ACC Superlatives


Player of the Year: Brandon Ingram, Duke

Best Defensive Player: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

Most Underrated: Sheldon McClellan, Miami

Newcomer of the Year: Brandon Ingram, Duke

Top Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke ()

Coach on the Hot Seat: Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech ()

Teams in the No. 2 Duke, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 5 Virginia, No. 23 Louisville


All-ACC First Team

G Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

G Marcus Paige, North Carolina

G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State

F Brandon Ingram, Duke

F Zach Auguste, Notre Dame


All-ACC Second Team

G Derryck Thornton, Duke

G Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame

G Sheldon McClellan, Miami

F Brice Johnson, North Carolina

F Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina


All-ACC Third Team

G Damion Lee, Louisville

G Grayson Allen, Duke

F Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

F Anthony Gill, Virginia

C Tonye Jekiri, Miami


Recruiting Roundup


1. Duke: The No. 2-ranked class nationally features four five-star prospects, including point guard Derryck Thornton.


2. Louisville: This diverse four-man class ranks No. 7 nationally, and there are big expectations for powerful guard Donovan Mitchell.


3. Florida State: Wing scorer Dwayne Bacon is the gem of Seminoles’ top-10 class.


4. Syracuse: The Orange just missed on the top 10 nationally but have four talented four-star prospects coming to campus.


5. Virginia Tech: Sitting just outside the top 25 nationally, the Hokies’ class includes four four-star prospects.


6. Wake Forest: Danny Manning landed two post players with potential and an athletic four-star guard in Bryant Crawford.


7. Notre Dame: Shooting, toughness on the perimeter and a physical inside presence are coming Mike Brey’s way.


8. NC State: Maverick Rowan is a sharpshooting scorer, and Shaun Kirk is a slashing athlete.


9. North Carolina: It is only a two-man class, but four-star prospect Kenny Williams is known for his shooting ability.


10. Clemson: Speedy point guard Ty Hudson is the top recruit in the Tigers’ class.


11. Boston College: The Eagles are loading up with a five-man class of three-star recruits.


12. Pittsburgh: Four-star guard Damon Wilson is known for his versatile play and scoring ability.


13. Miami: The Canes added a couple of high-potential forwards.


14. Virginia: Rugged and skilled big man Jarred Reuter is the Cavaliers’ lone recruit.


15. Georgia Tech: Brian Gregory is adding some size with Sylvester Ogbonda.

ACC Basketball 2015-16 Preview, Predictions and All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News, Magazines
Path: /college-football/week-8-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts

The College Football Playoff picture is starting to get some clarity, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.


The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .


Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:


Washington at Stanford

Stanford is averaging 48.5 points per game in Pac-12 play, including more than 50 points at home the last two weeks. The Cardinal’s 16-6 loss to Northwestern in the opener appears to be an aberration as Stanford has the look of a national title contender. Washington is getting better, particularly on defense where the Huskies are averaging 10 tackles for a loss per game in Pac-12 play. The Huskies, though, don’t have the offense to hang with Stanford.

Fox’s prediction: Stanford 42-20


Washington State at Arizona

Time to start taking Wazzu a little more seriously. The Cougars lost to Portland State in the opener, but they swept the Oregon schools the last two weeks and had a third-quarter lead against Cal on the road three weeks ago. Arizona is still without linebacker Scooby Wright, and running back Nick Wilson didn’t play in a close call with Colorado. With Washington State’s passing game behind Luke Falk and Arizona’s offense, this should be a wild one.

Fox’s prediction: Washington State 49-41


Utah at USC

Utah is undefeated, but we’re skeptical about the Utes. Utah ranks 70th in total offense and 50th in total defense. The Utes dodged Cal by six points and beat Arizona State in a 34-18 victory that was closer than the final score indicates. Despite the turmoil in Los Angeles, USC held its own for a time against Notre Dame, but ultimately the Trojans’ inability to stop the run caught up with them. Utah will use the same strategy with Devontae Booker.

Fox’s prediction: USC 31-28


Tennessee at Alabama

Tennessee saved its season two weeks ago with a win over Georgia, but Alabama is quickly rounding into form as the class of the SEC. The Volunteers have allowed more than five yards per carry in each of the last two games, which isn’t a great trend ahead of a matchup with Derrick Henry. The Tide have a stifling run defense this season, meaning Josh Dobbs may need to hit some plays downfield for Tennessee to stay competitive.

Fox’s prediction: Alabama 41-28


Kentucky at Mississippi State

Every Kentucky game has been decided by one score, and the margin of error for Mississippi State is pretty slim. In other words, expect another close one. The Bulldogs, though, have Dak Prescott. He’s arguably the SEC’s MVP as Mississippi State is likely going to make a bowl game despite not having anything in the way of offense beyond Prescott.

Fox’s prediction: Mississippi State 31-28


Clemson at Miami

A case could be made that Clemson is the top team in the country right now. The Tigers’ 34-17 win over Boston College shouldn’t be overlooked — Clemson averaged 6.8 yards per play against an Eagles team that hadn’t allowed more than 3.8 in a game all season. Meanwhile, only one team, Notre Dame, has topped 300 total yards against the Tigers.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 38-21


Iowa State at Baylor

Iowa State has faced Texas Tech and TCU the last two weeks, allowing 959 combined passing yards and 10 touchdowns. The Cyclones might not have much left for Baylor, which isn’t an ideal situation.

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 66-21


Missouri at Vanderbilt

It’s probably best to just avoid this game. Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary has thrown five interceptions the last two weeks, and Missouri has failed to score a touchdown each of the last two weeks. Both teams have good defenses … so take the under.

Fox’s prediction: Missouri 10-7


Pittsburgh at Syracuse

Pitt is quietly getting into the ACC race thanks to three straight one-score wins over underachieving Virginia Tech, Virginia and Georgia Tech. Pitt, which ranks seventh in the ACC in offensive and defensive yards per play, is doing just enough get by. That should be enough to beat a Syracuse team that’s lost three in a row.

Fox’s prediction: Pittsburgh 28-17


Kansas State at Texas

Who knows what we’re going to get out of either team. The same Texas team that lost 50-7 to TCU ran all over Oklahoma in a 24-17 win. And the same Kansas State team that put a scare into TCU lost 55-0 to Oklahoma. Kansas State has Texas’ number (6-1 vs. the Longhorns since 2006), but Charlie Strong is on the verge of turning the Longhorns around while Kansas State is still patching things together at quarterback.

Fox’s prediction: Texas 28-21


Indiana at Michigan State

Everyone has seen Michigan State’s unlikely win over Michigan, but few probably watched Indiana’s collapse against Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights scored the final 28 points in a 55-52 win. The Spartans already have a talent edge, and they’re the ones riding the momentum of a wild win. That said, Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld should be able to test a Michigan State secondary thinned by injuries.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 49-31


Western Kentucky at LSU

LSU’s run of good fortune in facing backup quarterbacks comes to an end in a big way. The Tigers haven’t faced a team’s No. 1 quarterback since Week 2 against Auburn, and even that comes with a caveat since Auburn soon benched then-starter Jeremy Johnson. That means LSU has truly faced just one No. 1 quarterback this season, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty is one of the nation’s most productive QBs, leading the Hilltoppers to at least 500 yards in all but one game this season. LSU has to be on guard.

Fox’s prediction: LSU 35-28


Texas A&M at Ole Miss

Both teams need a win, badly. Texas A&M hardly looked like a playoff contender in the loss to Alabama, and Ole Miss’ win over Alabama now seems like a distant memory. The Rebels will get a big leg up when offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil returns, just in time for a matchup with Myles Garrett. The focus, though, needs to be on the quarterbacks. Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly has thrown six interceptions in four games since the win over Bama while Kyle Allen threw three interceptions against the Tide. The difference is that Texas A&M has a plan B in Kyler Murray.

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 42-35


Auburn at Arkansas

Auburn’s quarterback change from Jeremy Johnson to Sean White stopped the bleeding from a turnover standpoint, but Tigers still can’t stop the run. That’s not a good trend ahead of facing Arkansas. The Hogs managed just 44 rushing yards against Alabama, but that’s more a reflection of the Tide than Arkansas.

Fox’s prediction: Arkansas 35-24


Duke at Virginia Tech

This has been a season to forget for the Hokies, but things may be turning for Virginia Tech this week. Michael Brewer will return at quarterback after missing the last six games with a broken collarbone. Virginia Tech needs a spark in a big way, and that may be it.

Fox’s prediction: Virginia Tech 21-13


Northwestern at Nebraska

The Wildcats are close to closing the door on their dream season. Northwestern’s offense has been nothing short of inept the last two weeks, and even the Wildcats’ stout defense is starting to fail them. Michigan and Iowa rushed for a combined 495 yards and eight touchdowns against Northwestern. Nebraska has had its issues this season, but the Cornhuskers have a solid run game. As long as Tommy Armstrong avoids major mistakes, Nebraska should have the upper hand.

Fox’s prediction: Nebraska 35-10


Florida State at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech’s run game got back on track against Pittsburgh with 376 yards and 9.4 per carry, but the Yellow Jackets still lost. Florida State isn’t dominating, but the Seminoles are the most turnover-averse team in the country.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 31-21


Texas Tech at Oklahoma

Psst. Texas Tech is better than you think. The Red Raiders are plus-six in turnover margin and second in the Big 12 in takeaways. The Red Raiders still can’t stop the run, but Oklahoma — despite having Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon — prefers to air it out. This game has high shootout potential with former Red Raiders quarterback Baker Mayfield having the advantage for OU.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 49-35


Wisconsin at Illinois

Wisconsin is patching together a successful season despite below average production from its offensive line and run game. Credit the passing attack and a stingy defense.

Fox’s prediction: Wisconsin 28-14


Ohio State at Rutgers

The return of Leonte Carroo has jumpstarted the Rutgers offense, but the Scarlet Knights are still lacking in so many other areas. All signs point to J.T. Barrett taking the first snaps for Ohio State, and if the Buckeyes are approaching their potential, this won’t be a contest.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 49-21


Last week: 12-8

Season to date: 104-36

Week 8 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, October 19, 2015 - 13:47
All taxonomy terms: Magazines
Path: /magazines/athlon-cover-catch-steve-taneyhill-talks-south-carolinas-future-coaching-high-school

More than most, Steve Taneyhill knows what South Carolina can be — both the good and the bad. As quarterback at South Carolina from 1992-95, he led the Gamecocks to their first bowl win in school history. From afar as a high school football coach in the state, Taneyhill has watched the highs of the Steve Spurrier era and the lows of the 1-21 stretch in 1998-99.


Taneyhill may be best known as one of the more colorful personalities in SEC history. Think of him as a pre-Johnny Manziel figure, just with a blond mullet.


Taneyhill appeared on the 1995 cover of Athlon Sports and since then has coached state title winners and first-round draft picks in South Carolina high schools. From his perspective as the coach of Union High, Taneyhill shared his thoughts of where the Gamecocks can go from here in the post-Spurrier era.


How much have you stayed involved with South Carolina?


When Spurrier got the job, he called me that first week and wanted me to come back around a little bit more. When (Lou) Holtz was there, he didn’t do that with former players. I think because I played when Coach Spurrier was at Florida and started four games against him and he heard maybe the rumblings that former players weren’t welcome, he invited me to come basically anytime I wanted. I started to go back when I could, but it’s hard during the season. I went for bowl practices and clinics and spoke to the team on numerous occasions. Pretty much anytime I’m around, Coach Spurrier welcomes me. We’re friends. I’ve gotten to know the staff because of that. There was a time when Brad Lawing (former South Carolina assistant, now defensive ends/outside linebackers coach at Florida State) was the only one I knew because he was there when I was there. But I’ve come to know G.A. (Mangus) and (Shawn) Elliott and (Steve Spurrier) Junior and those guys.


What was your relationship with Spurrier when you were a player, if any?


That was one of the weeks I always ventured down to the defensive rooms just to see the things they were doing because what he was doing at Florida was really and truly the first time that stuff in the passing game had started. My senior year, John Reaves, came to be our offensive coordinator. He had been at Florida, so we started running a lot of the same stuff. Even today, I call a couple of plays the same as they call them at Carolina because I got them from Coach Reaves who was with Spurrier.


What did you think when you heard the news that Spurrier had retired from South Carolina? Were you surprise that it happened or at least the way it happened?


I was surprised. I was down there last year during the bowl practice and talked to coach a little bit, and I thought after the bowl win he seemed excited. He had a little of that fire back. Coach Spurrier visited my school one day in January and we talked for a bit. I hadn’t saw him, and I figured everything was good. But as a fan, I hate to watch the game this Saturday and not see him on the sideline.


From your perspective as a high school coach in South Carolina or other coaches that you’ve talked to, is South Carolina at a crossroads? How do you view where South Carolina is going to go from here?


I have a player on my team who has been offered by South Carolina, a junior wide receiver (Shi Smith), he’s probably the top junior in the state. I have been witnessing his recruitinment. They offered my guy in the ninth grade. I don’t necessarily think it’s recruiting effort (that's missing). I think it’s recruiting (as in) who we sign. What we did in those 11-win seasons, we ought to be able to get on those national-level recruits. I don’t know where there at, but there not there. I just know how they recruit my guy, which is completely different because he’s an underclassman and the rules are different. I don’t think it’s effort in recruiting. It’s who we sign. Listening to Coach Spurrier and he said this is a recruiting business and he basically he said we need a younger guy. Recruiting is the lifeblood and if you don’t have it, it’s hard to compete in the SEC. We’ve got to sign some better guys. On offense, they ain’t got but one wideout that’s doing anything (Pharoh Cooper). On my team alone in high school, I’ve got five wideouts. I’m not saying they can play at South Carolina, but they can all play. I think wideout is one of the easier positions to recruit across the country just because everyone’s throwing the ball. I just look there and nothing against those other guys, but No. 11 is the only one making plays. I’m not down here, so I just don’t know. On offense, they don’t have many playmakers.


What is the recruiting landscape in South Carolina as far as where kids want to go?


I think the state of South Carolina every year has great defensive linemen and wideouts. You can find those kids in our state. Clemson’s not having any trouble getting wideouts. In our state, we have about 20 kids that go Division I and a lot of those kids play right away. As a kid here, when you get that letter, it’s not like in the state of Georgia, you’re looking for a letter from UGA. Here in South Carolina you’re waiting for both (South Carolina and Clemson) because the state is pretty much split. As a high school coach, I want a kid to go to Clemson or South Carolina. I want a kid to stay in the state. As a former Carolina player, I wish South Carolina would get the majority of the talent. It’s tough for me because I’ve lived two lives. I’m a high school coach, so I like everybody. I’ve never had a player play at South Carolina. I’ve had a player go to Clemson (the late Gaines Adams who played for Taneyhill at Cambridge Academy). I’m the coach who is this guy with everybody. And sometimes I’m the guy who played at South Carolina, so it’s a fine line.


How did you get into that double life and get into coaching?


It was definitely something I fell into. My dad was a basketball coach for 30 years, and my sister was a college basketball coach for 20 years. I never thought it would be me. I never thought I’d have enough patience to deal with it. Going back to when I played Arena Football, I got a call from a small private school in Greenwood, S.C., and they asked me if I’d be interested. I thought it would be better than playing Arena Football, so I gave it a shot. I kind of knew from the first day that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. It’s as close to playing as you can get. You’re still part of a team and have that competition every day and part of that routine that all athletes get into. I never thought I’d be a coach because of the patience that it takes to deal with players and parents and administrators. I’m happy that it happened.


When did you realize you had the patience to juggle all that?


I was in a great place at Cambridge Academy with great kids and great parents and a place that really wanted to win. We went 7-4 and everyone was excited and it just felt right. The next year we went 7-5 and made it one game further (in the playoffs) and the next year we won it all. You always want to get back to that. I’ve been fortunate to win it five times. That first year and seeing the kids and how excited they were, I had taken over a group that had never really won.


During your playing days you were known as a free spirit and trash talker, how do you feel when you watch a guy like Johnny Manziel when he was at Texas A&M or the reaction to Manziel?


I’ve been through it. That’s the first thing. You’re on a big stage as a young guy. He was having the time of his life having fun. Yeah, there was trash talk and celebrations and all that but it was just fun. A lot of people take a lot of things seriously — as long as you’re out there being successful and giving all that you’ve got. I was the same way. I’m going to battle and have fun at this thing. Now, there’s a lot more rules and you’ve got tone it down.


On a more serious note, Gaines Adams passed away five years ago. How has that changed your approach to the game? Adams was a defensive end at Cambridge Academy who signed at Clemson and was later selected No. 4 in the NFL Draft. Adams died Jan. 17, 2010 at age 26 due cardiac arrest caused by an enlarged heart.


I talked to my team just because of his story. Someone needs to tell that story. He was a guy no one looked at as a college football player or the fourth player in the draft, but he worked and didn’t take no for an answer and never backed down. That drove him. When it happened, it shook me pretty good because we were friends. I talked to him every Sunday when he was in college and every Monday when he was a pro player. What it did was, I always going to do my best to develop relationships with my players. It made me work a little harder to get to know all the kids because you never know when time’s up. In that situation, it was such a shock. After it was all said and done, I was in an OK place because we helped each other. I helped him and he helped me to become a better coach and understand the kids on a different level and get to know them better instead of being the guy on the field yelling at them all the time.

Athlon Cover Catch-Up: Steve Taneyhill talks South Carolina's future, coaching in high school
Post date: Friday, October 16, 2015 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-7-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts

The college football season is heading for its most important week, and the competition off the field among fans is nearly as heated as the competition on the field on game day.


The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .


Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:


College Football Podcast: Week 6 Recap

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Saturday’s Games


Iowa at Northwestern

Iowa’s run game and defense carried the Hawkeyes in two Big Ten wins over Wisconsin and Illinois. Kirk Ferentz’s team likely will need more from quarterback C.J. Beathard, who has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the last two games, against Northwestern’s defense. The Wildcats offense has a long way to go after last week’s shutout against Michigan, but Northwestern will face a defense without its best player, Drew Ott, who is out for the season.

Fox’s prediction: Northwestern 21–13


Missouri at Georgia

After back-to-back losses to Alabama and Tennessee, Georgia needs this game not just to keep its head above water in the SEC East race but to maintain respectability. This will be the third time Missouri has faced Georgia not long after an injury to the Bulldogs’ starting running back. Nick Chubb broke out last season in a 34–0 rout of the Tigers. Sony Michel and Keith Marshall will look to replicate that with Chubb out this season. Missouri’s offense, meanwhile, ranks last in the SEC in yards per play (4.6).

Fox’s prediction: Georgia 24–14


Oregon at Washington

The Ducks are reeling after their third loss of the season, this one at home to arguably the lesser of the Washington schools. Meanwhile, Washington is celebrating after a 17–12 win over USC, which, as it turns out, has as much to do with the Trojans’ turmoil as the Huskies’ turnaround. This will be a matchup between Washington’s young and punchless offense (4.8 yards per play vs. FBS teams) and Oregon’s porous defense (5.8 yards per play). Oregon has won 11 in a row in the rivalry, but that may be about to change.

Fox’s prediction: Washington 35–28


Ole Miss at Memphis

Memphis has lost six in a row in the series, but the Tigers haven’t faced Ole Miss in the Liberty Bowl since 2009 and rarely with a top 25-caliber team. Both teams rank in the top 11 nationally in total offense and better than 525 yards per game. Memphis, though, doesn’t have a defense to match. Ole Miss has had its defensive lapses, but the Rebels still have the talent edge.

Fox’s prediction: Ole Miss 41–31


Alabama at Texas A&M

Alabama is six weeks into the season, and we’re not totally sure if the Crimson Tide is the best team in the SEC or simply one of the pack of solid, if flawed, teams. The Alabama offense turned in another uneven performance for three quarters against Arkansas. The Crimson Tide run defense has held all but one opponent (Georgia) to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, but Texas A&M’s offense — like Ole Miss — is built to challenge Alabama in the secondary and in tempo. Don’t look now, but the Aggies may have the SEC’s best defensive player (Myles Garrett), quarterback (Kyle Allen) and freshman (Christian Kirk).

Fox’s prediction: Texas A&M 31–28


Boston College at Clemson

Expect Boston College’s defense to put up a fight against Deshaun Watson. The Eagles are allowing only 7.2 points per game. BC, though, is averaging just six points against FBS opponents, the worst average in the country. Clemson’s defense suffered little drop off despite losing a host of players from last year’s standout squad.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 31–7


Louisville at Florida State

The Cardinals are probably better than you think. Louisville’s three losses have come by a combined 13 points (Granted, it’s only FBS win is by seven over NC State). Florida State probably isn’t as good as you think, but the Seminoles still have Dalvin Cook, who is as adept at saving the day for FSU as he was in the Louisville game last year.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 35–28


Virginia Tech at Miami

The Hokies put together a competent game offensively against NC State just in time to face a Miami team that’s allowing 5.6 yards per play against FBS competition. Virginia Tech’s defense is holding its own with cornerback Kendall Fuller out, but Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya may be the best QB the Hokies have faced since the opener against Ohio State.

Fox’s prediction: Miami 31–24


Nebraska at Minnesota

Minnesota may not have the best defense in the Big Ten, but the Gophers aren’t too far off the pace of Michigan and Northwestern. When the Gophers get good field position (i.e., when they’re playing Purdue), the offense can be functional. Nebraska, though, remains an enigma. The Huskers are getting gashed on defense and are minus-five in turnover margin — and their late-game collapses have led to four losses this season.

Fox’s prediction: Minnesota 24–17


West Virginia at Baylor

West Virginia’s promising season has gone sour with back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and that’s before a visit to Baylor in a revenge game. The Mountaineers’ passing game has gone cold, contributing to a minus-4 turnover margin (WVU was plus-9 in non-conference play)

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 41–21


Florida at LSU

The Gators’ season has been turned upside down by the season-ending suspension for quarterback Will Grier, who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs this week. Backup Treon Harris has starting experience, but he hasn’t thrown a pass since Week 2 and has completed just 53 percent of his career passes. This should be a defensive struggle, but Florida’s margin of error has diminished. That’s not ideal against a team with Leonard Fournette on the other side.

Fox’s prediction: LSU 20–14


Oklahoma at Kansas State

After a mystifying loss to Texas, Oklahoma faces a team that has matched up well with the Sooners. Kansas State has won two of the last three meetings, but oddly enough, Oklahoma hasn’t lost in Manhattan since 1996. The Sooners’ run game has gone dormant for some reason, and Kansas State is allowing a Big 12-low 105 rushing yards per game, a stat skewed in part by the Wildcats’ clock-chomping ball-control offense.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 35–28


TCU at Iowa State

Pity the poor Iowa State defense, the Cyclones just lost 66–31 to Texas Tech and now get TCU and Baylor in back-to-back games. The Horned Frogs’ beleaguered defense should get a bit of a breather.

Fox’s prediction: TCU 63–21


Michigan State at Michigan

The rivalry has been lopsided in favor of Michigan State with the Spartans winning the last two matchups by 23 and 24 points and six of the last seven overall. Michigan is poised to change that trend. The Wolverines’ defense has been the most dominant unit in the country, albeit against offensively challenged teams like BYU, UNLV, Oregon State and Northwestern. Michigan State has the best offense the Wolverines have faced this year, but the Spartans are facing injuries all over the field, most critically on the offensive line.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 28–10


Vanderbilt at South Carolina

South Carolina’s injury list remains worth monitoring. Running back Brandon Wilds was cleared to play against LSU but did not against the Tigers. Quarterback Connor Mitch returned to practice. Lorenzo Nunez (shoulder) did not play against LSU. Vanderbilt’s defense remains one of the more underrated units in the league.

Fox’s prediction: Vanderbilt 17–13


Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech

This is a matchup with arguably the most surprising team in the ACC against the most disappointing. The Yellow Jackets offense has been ineffective in four losses this season, averaging 3.4 yards per carry in the last four games. Pittsburgh is missing running back James Conner, but has made the offense work with efficient play from Nathan Peterman at quarterback. The Panthers are allowing just 2.9 yards per carry this season.

Fox’s prediction: Pittsburgh 28–20


Arizona State at Utah

Mike Bercovici rebounded from his lackluster start against USC with solid performances against UCLA and Colorado. The Sun Devils’ run defense also has clamped down for just 2.1 yards per carry and 62 yards per game in Pac-12 play. Utah’s Devontae Booker will have trouble finding running room, so the pressure will be on quarterback Travis Wilson, who threw two picks against Cal.

Fox’s prediction: Utah 31–27


Oregon State at Washington State

Statistically speaking, the Beavers’ pass defense is not bad. Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in fewest yards allowed per game and is fourth in pass efficiency defense. Facing Washington State — rather than Stanford, Arizona and San Jose State — is a different animal.

Fox’s prediction: Washington State 54–28


USC at Notre Dame

Notre Dame faces a USC team in crisis. The Trojans are coming of a listless performance in a loss to Washington, and coach Steve Sarkisian has taken a leave of absence stemming from concerns over his use of alcohol. The Trojans regrouped under an interim coach last season, and this is still the most talented team in the Pac-12. Notre Dame has kept itself afloat despite injuries, but most teams are beat up after a matchup with Navy or another physical team. Notre Dame will be no exception. The Irish are on upset alert.

Fox’s Prediction: USC 28–21


Penn State at Ohio State

Ohio State’s quarterbacks had a solid performance last week against Maryland even as Urban Meyer went with the unconventional plan of using backup J.T. Barrett as a red zone specialist. Ohio State’s defense has to find a way to prevent the lapses that enabled big plays the last two weeks. Penn State’s defensive front is salty, but we’re not yet believers in the offense, especially as the Nittany Lions’ running back depth has been tested.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 35–14


Last week: 17–3

Season to date: 92–28

Week 7 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, October 12, 2015 - 15:02
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-transfers-2015-16

Besides the NBA’s one-and-done rule, few trends in college basketball have changed the game quite like the explosion of transfers, graduate or otherwise.


Two of the biggest beneficiaries of transfers — Fred Hoiberg and to a lesser extent Billy Donovan — are off to NBA jobs. The transfer train, though, hasn’t stopped. A handful of teams may sink or swim with transfers.


Oregon, which may supplant Iowa State as transfer central, landed a veteran guard from Villanova. Wichita State has two transfers to complement veterans Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. Louisville dramatically altered the outlook for its season with transfers from mid-majors. Even Tom Izzo is getting in on the transfer market with Eron Harris.


The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .


Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?

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Impact Transfers for 2015-16


G Seth Allen, Virginia Tech (from Maryland)

After winning only 20 games combined in two seasons, Virginia Tech is desperate for ACC-caliber players. Allen checks that box. He would have lost his job at Maryland to Melo Trimble last season, but Allen averaged 13.4 points and shot better than 40 percent from the field in his final season with the Terrapins.


F Ryan Anderson, Arizona (from Boston College)

With Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson gone, Arizona needs an experienced forward and fast. Anderson fits that need after averaging 13.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in his three seasons at Boston College.


F Robert Carter Jr., Maryland (from Georgia Tech)

Maryland had a small lineup for most of last season, but that’s about to change for two reasons. One is the arrival of freshman center Diamond Stone. The other is Carter. The 6'9", 240-pound forward averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds for Georgia Tech in 2013-14.


G Dylan Ennis, Oregon (from Villanova)

Villanova signed freshman Jalen Brunson, so point guard minutes were going to be even tougher for Ennis to crack with the Wildcats. Instead, he transferred to Oregon, where he’ll play his natural position and lead a young Ducks backcourt. Ennis averaged 9.9 points and 3.7 rebounds for Nova, numbers that should get a boost at Oregon.


G Conner Frankamp, Wichita State (from Kansas)

Frankamp, who will be eligible in December, averaged only 2.5 points per game at Kansas, but he should flourish for Wichita State now that he’s not buried on the roster. He’ll give Gregg Marshall another outside shooter to team with Ron Baker and Evan Wessel.


G Sterling Gibbs, UConn (from Seton Hall)

Seton Hall’s locker room was fractured last season, contributing to nine losses in the last 10 games. Gibbs still averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists. Starting for Kevin Ollie at UConn — where point guards have long flourished — could be an ideal situation.


F Anton Grady, Wichita State (from Cleveland State)

While Frankamp adds another shooter to the Shockers’ attack, Grady gives Wichita State a standout defensive presence in the frontcourt. Grady averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds for Cleveland State in 2014-15.


G Eron Harris, Michigan State (from West Virginia)

Imagine if Harris had been eligible last season for Michigan State, a team that made the Final Four while the West Virginia transfer redshirted. Harris averaged 17.2 points and shot 42.2 percent from 3 on 211 attempts in his final season in Morgantown. He also converted 85.6 percent of free throws, a weakness for the Spartans for most of last season.


G Terry Henderson, NC State (from West Virginia)

Henderson is stepping in just in time for NC State. Departed seniors Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner accounted for 73 percent of NC State’s 3-point field goals and 69 percent of the Wolfpack’s 3-point attempts. Henderson was 89-of-230 from the arc (38.7 percent) in two seasons at West Virginia.


F Damion Lee, Louisville (from Drexel)

Lee was arguably the best transfer available for 2015-16 after averaging 21.4 points per game at Drexel. The 6'6", 200-pound wing made at least 60 3s in each of his three full seasons with the Dragons. Lee, a senior, will provide the Cardinals with some veteran leadership.


G Trey Lewis, Louisville (from Cleveland State)

Remember Louisville’s 3-point shooting woes from a year ago? That shouldn’t be the case this season thanks to the arrival of Lee from Drexel and Lewis from Cleveland State. Lewis made 96-of-227 (42.3 percent) of his 3-pointers last season while averaging 16.3 points per game. Louisville shot 30.7 percent from 3 as a team last season.


G Tyler Lewis, Butler (from NC State)

Lewis, a McDonald’s All-American in 2012, will be looking for a fresh start at Butler. He averaged only 3.9 points per game in two seasons with NC State, but he was an efficient distributor. Lewis averaged 3.6 assists per turnover in just under 20 minutes per game at NC State in 2013-14.


F Sean Obi, Duke (from Rice)

Even if Obi doesn’t get as much attention as Duke’s star-studded freshman class, he could be a critical addition. The 6'9", 270-pound Nigerian is a rebounding machine. He averaged 9.3 boards per game as a freshman at Rice in 2013-14 and ranked second in the nation in defensive rebound rate on


G Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland (from Duke)

Sulaimon’s departure from Duke was not without controversy — he was Mike Krzyzewski’s first midseason dismissal. Sulaimon’s production slipped in each of his three seasons at Duke, so he’s looking for a fresh start. Maryland needs him to step into Dez Wells’ shoes on the defensive end.


G Mo Watson Jr., Creighton (from Boston University)

Creighton’s top two ball handlers, Austin Chatman and Devin Brooks, combined for 222 assists last season. Watson had 248 helpers alone at Boston University in 2013-14. The point guard led the Terriers to a Patriot League regular-season title, averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 assists.

College Basketball's Best Transfers for 2015-16
Post date: Friday, October 9, 2015 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-freshmen-2015-16

Months after three freshmen helped Duke to a national championship, the 2015-16 freshman class is littered with question.


Two of the top freshmen in the country — Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere and Kansas’ Chieck Diallo — have yet to be cleared to play this season by the NCAA. And if they are declared eligible, it’s unclear if it will be for the entire season.


Elsewhere, the consensus No. 1 player in the class, Ben Simmons, doesn’t play for a consensus top 25 team.


For our purposes, we’re considering Labissiere and Diallo part of the freshman class in our fourth and final installment of the “All-Class” series.


The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .


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First-Team All-Freshman


G Derryck Thornton, Duke

The Blue Devils scored perhaps their most important recruiting victory when Thornton reclassified from the class of 2016 to 2015 and committed to Duke. The move gives the Devils a true pass-first point guard to replace Tyus Jones. Like Jones, Thornton is a five-star prospect.


G Malik Newman, Mississippi State

Arguably the most heralded recruit in Mississippi State history, Newman will be the top playmaker on a team full of veterans. He’s a 6'3", 175-pound guard who will play the point, but he’ll also be the go-to scorer for Ben Howland in his first season in Starkville.


F Ben Simmons, LSU

The 6'10", 225-pound Simmons will be a matchup nightmare. He can play all five positions, run the floor and pass. He’s a “point forward” by trade who is LSU’s most anticipated recruit since Shaquille O’Neal.


F Brandon Ingram, Duke

Mike Krzyzewski is doing just fine in the one-and-done world. Out goes Justise Winslow, and in comes Ingram. The 6'8", 200-pound North Carolina native will step in on the wing for Winslow, giving the Blue Devils length and some perimeter shooting.


C Skal Labissiere, Kentucky

His eligibility for at least part of the season is in doubt, but when he’s on the court, Labissiere — a center who arrived in Memphis after the tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010 — is a skilled big man with potential to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.


Second-Team All-Freshman


G Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Villanova already has a standout point guard in Ryan Arcidiacono, but when was the last time Jay Wright had too many guards? Brunson is a left-handed point guard who should immediately step in to fill the void left by Darrun Hilliard in Villanova’s potent attack.


G Allonzo Trier, Arizona

Neither of Arizona’s last two big-time freshmen, Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson, needed to shoulder the load offensively. That may change for Trier, a five-star 2-guard who can score from just about anywhere on the court.


G/F Jaylen Brown, Cal

The addition of two top-10 prospects to Cal’s returning veterans has positioned the Bears among the favorites in the Pac-12. While forward Ivan Rabb is a local kid from Oakland, Brown comes all the way from Marietta, Ga. A top-five recruit, the 6’7”, 220-pound Brown can play four positions and should be a dynamic scorer.


F Cheick Diallo, Kansas

After the Cliff Alexander flameout, Kansas will welcome any production from its big-time forward signee. On that, Diallo should deliver. He was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. He’s a little raw skill-wise but makes up for it with competitiveness.


C Diamond Stone, Maryland

Stone will give Maryland — an undersized team a year ago — a true inside-out game with his offensive ability around the rim, complementing the Terrapins’ standout 3-point shooters.


Honorable Mention All-Freshman


G/F Dwayne Bacon, Florida State

With his ability to attack the rim, Bacon could be a big-time scorer for a team that averaged only 66.6 points per game (10th in the ACC) last season. He’s no ordinary freshman, either; he’ll be 20 when the season starts.


F Thomas Bryant, Indiana

Indiana’s biggest weakness last season was on the interior. The Hoosiers launched 3-pointers but couldn’t defend a lick around the basket. Now, Tom Crean’s team adds a 6'10", 220-pound McDonald’s All-American with a 7'6" wingspan. If Bryant is a force in the post as expected, Indiana will have a more complete team that could contend for the Big Ten title.


F Henry Ellenson, Marquette

The arrival of Ellenson, a five-star prospect from Rice Lake, Wis., is the first major recruiting victory for Steve Wojciechowski — and the biggest recruiting victory for Marquette in decades. He’s a skilled power forward who could be Marquette’s top offensive weapon.


G Jamal Murray, Kentucky

When Murray reclassified from 2016 to ’15, the combo guard changed the complexion of Kentucky’s recruiting class. The Wildcats struck out on some top names in April and May, but Murray gives UK a standout jump shooter at the 2 and backup to Tyler Ulis at the point.


F Ivan Rabb, Cal

Rabb was the first big-time prospect to sign at Cal this offseason — and the first in quite some time. It was his arrival that helped pave the way for Jaylen Brown later in the spring. Rabb, though, is no sidekick. He’s a top-10 prospect who should be an athletic power forward and rim protector.


F Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

Swanigan’s arrival at Purdue could represent a major shift in the Big Ten this season. Not only did Swanigan abandon his commitment to Michigan State in May, but his flip to Purdue also gives the Boilermakers one of the strongest frontcourts in the country. Swanigan is a skilled 6'9" forward who joins 7-footer A.J. Hammons and 6'7" Vince Edwards on a talented frontcourt.


LSU's Ben Simmons leads group of freshmen with questions
Post date: Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-sophomores-2015-16

The NBA Draft, as usual, culled the freshman class of 2014.


The annual exodus of top prospects left only one of the top 10 and seven of the top 20 prospects from the 247Sports composite. The sophomore class, however, has its share of potential superstars.


Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis watched most of his teammates go to the draft, but he’ll still inherit the point guard position of a top team.


Maryland’s Melo Trimble didn’t arrive with the fanfare of other freshmen in 2014 — he ranked No. 31 in the class — but he may be the top candidate out of this class to be a National Player of the Year.


The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .


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First-Team All-Sophomore


G Tyler Ulis, Kentucky

Kentucky’s best playmaker last season may have been coming off the bench. The 5-foot-9 Ulis managed to finish in the top 10 in the SEC in assists per game (3.6) despite averaging only 23.8 minutes.


G Melo Trimble, Maryland

Trimble is a big reason Maryland has its best team in more than a decade. He enters this season on a tear, averaging 18.2 points over the final 12 games last season.


G/F Daniel Hamilton, UConn

The talented wing should help UConn to a bounce-back season after averaging 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds as a freshman.


F Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga

The son of Arvydas Sabonis will threaten to average a double-double after recording 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 21.7 minutes last season.


C Jakob Poeltl, Utah

The 7-footer may have only scratched the surface of his potential at the end of last season. His return to school was one of the more surprising NBA Draft decisions.


Second-Team All-Sophomore


G Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State

G James Blackmon Jr., Indiana

G Grayson Allen, Duke

F Justin Jackson, North Carolina

F Angel Delgado, Seton Hall

College Basketball's Best Sophomores for 2015-16
Post date: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-juniors-2015-16

If Kansas is able to extend its streak of Big 12 championships to 12 titles, the key player may be one of the two point guards on the All-Junior team.


One is the Kansas point guard, Frank Mason. The other is the point guard of the team that won the last two Big 12 tournaments, Iowa State’s Monté Morris.


As the Athlon Sports “All-Class” teams look at the juniors, the Big 12 guards aren’t the only ones looking to make a little history. One forward is trying to get back to the Final Four for the third time. Another is trying to get there for the first team. The top junior center is just trying to get to the NCAA Tournament.


The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .


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First-Team All-Junior


G Kris Dunn, Providence

Dunn was arguably the most underrated player in the country last season, finishing first nationally in assist rate and fifth in steal rate on KenPom. Dunn averaged 15.6 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.


*Dunn, a redshirt junior, was erroneously listed on the All-Senior Team in an original version of this post. He has been moved from the All-Senior team to the All-Junior team.


G Frank Mason, Kansas

The speedy Mason solidified Kansas’ point guard position last season, averaging 12.6 points and 3.9 assists per game. Mason also improved his 3-point shooting by more than 10 percentage points to 42.9.


G Monté Morris, Iowa State

Morris is the leader of the up-tempo Iowa State attack, averaging 4.7 assists per turnover in his career. He took a leap as a scorer last season from 6.8 points to 11.9 points per game.


F Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

The breakout star of the NCAA Tournament — at least personality-wise — returns as the clear leader of the Badgers. The athletic forward is poised for a career year after averaging 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds last season.


F Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina

Meeks transformed his physique as a sophomore and became a force on the offensive glass, averaging 2.6 offensive boards per game. In all, the 6'9", 265-pound Tar Heel averaged 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.


C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Jones could have made a run at SEC Player of the Year if Vanderbilt had been an NCAA Tournament team. He averaged 14.5 points per game and shot 56.2 percent from the floor in a breakout season.


Second-Team All-Junior


G Bryce Alford, UCLA

G Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame

G E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island

F Jamel Artis, Pittsburgh

F Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson


College Basketball's Best Juniors for 2015-16
Post date: Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/week-6-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts

The college football season is just getting interesting, and the competition off the field is nearly as heated as the competition on game day.


The  gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week?  and compete for .


Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior writer David Fox:


College Football Podcast: Week 5 Recap

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Saturday's Games


Maryland at Ohio State

The Buckeyes will go from playing the top-ranked total offense in the Big Ten on the road (Indiana) to playing No. 13 at home (Maryland). Ohio State has hardly looked the part of a No. 1 team, but the Terrapins are struggling mightily on offense with six points in the last two games.

Fox’s prediction: Ohio State 31–7


Illinois at Iowa

Who could have expected this to be a meaningful Big Ten West game? Iowa and Illinois knocked off preseason favorites Wisconsin and Nebraska last week. Illinois lost big in its only road trip of the season to North Carolina, and Iowa has a stout defense with six interceptions in the last three games.

Fox’s prediction: Iowa 28–17


Florida at Missouri

Both teams are strong in the defensive front seven — the Gators and Tigers are both in the top seven in tackles for a loss per game. Florida, though, is finding answers on offense while Missouri is playing it safe with freshman Drew Lock. Gators quarterback Will Grier will need to continue his hot streak on the road.

Fox’s prediction: Florida 24–14


Baylor at Kansas

This … this is going to be ugly. Baylor has defeated Kansas by 46 and 45 points in the last two meetings. The Bears might top that this time.

Fox’s prediction: Baylor 63–10


Georgia at Tennessee

Georgia has won five in a row over Tennessee, but the last two have come by a field goal each. Georgia is coming off its worst performance of the season on both sides of the ball, but Tennessee hasn’t put together a complete performance against an FBS team all season.

Fox’s prediction: Georgia 31–20


Wisconsin at Nebraska

What was supposed to be a showdown of the top two teams in the Big Ten West is a must-win game of sorts for both teams to bounce back from losses. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong is completing 47 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in the Huskers’ three losses to “name” teams this season. Wisconsin has allowed 3.7 yards per play in the last four games, albeit all at home.

Fox’s prediction: Wisconsin 24–20


TCU at Kansas State

This game will be closer than you expect because it’s Kansas State and the game is in Manhattan. The Wildcats have been stout against the run, but Trevone Boykin has been averaging better than nine yards per attempt in each of his last four games.

Fox’s prediction: TCU 38–28


Miami at Florida State

Florida State is still seeking its signature moment of the season after playing close games with Wake Forest, Boston College and USF. Everett Golson has been turnover-free, but he’s hardly been an explosive quarterback. The Seminoles will need more out of him if Dalvin Cook continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury. Miami has struggled, but the Hurricanes lead the ACC in turnover margin at plus-nine.

Fox’s prediction: Florida State 41–21


Cal at Utah

Jared Goff, a 70-percent passer, runs into a defense that’s held its last two opponents to under 50-percent passing. Cal has quietly improved a defense that leads the Pac-12 in takeaways (18) and sacks (18).

Fox’s prediction: Cal 35–28


Arkansas at Alabama

Georgia was the first team to crack 100 rushing yards and three yards per carry against the Alabama defense — and Nick Chubb had to rush for an 83-yard touchdown to do it. Arkansas is getting better, but probably not good enough to upset the Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Fox’s prediction: Alabama 28–10


Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)

Texas is 1–4 and a mess on offense, defense and special teams. Oklahoma is 4–0 and as legitimate a playoff contender as any team in the Big 12. On paper, there’s no reason Texas should touch Oklahoma, but this rivalry does strange things.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma 42–21


LSU at South Carolina

South Carolina’s run defense has improved in the last two games, which is more of a function of facing UCF and Missouri than anything else. LSU’s passing game is suspect, but Leonard Fournette has been able to bail out the Tigers in any situation.

Fox’s prediction: LSU 35–10


Oklahoma State at West Virginia

It’s strange times in the Big 12 when Oklahoma State and West Virginia rank Nos. 1-2 in total defense and middle of the pack in total offense. Oklahoma State can prove it belongs in the Big 12 title discussion. The Mountaineers have to prove their pass defense isn’t as vulnerable as it looked against Oklahoma.

Fox’s prediction: Oklahoma State 31–27


Colorado at Arizona State

Colorado’s rushing offense ranks third in the Pac-12, but that’s a bit of a mirage based on games against UMass and Nicholls State. Meanwhile, Arizona State’s attacking defense has held USC and UCLA to fewer than 100 yards rushing (USC, it’s worth noting, passed for 379 yards and five touchdowns against the Sun Devils).

Fox’s prediction: Arizona State 37–14


Georgia Tech at Clemson

The Yellow Jackets are averaging an uncharacteristic 3.9 yards per carry during their three-game losing streak. The run game has put more of the responsibility on Justin Thomas to win games with his arm, which is not a good place for a quarterback who should be running the option. Meanwhile, Clemson’s defense is doing just fine despite losing the bulk of its talent from last season.

Fox’s prediction: Clemson 38–20


Virginia at Pittsburgh

Without James Conner and a stable quarterback situation, Pittsburgh’s offense is below average at best. Virginia’s defense is worse, allowing 6.9 yards per play against teams not named William & Mary.

Fox’s prediction: Pittsburgh 24–10


Navy at Notre Dame

The Midshipmen are undefeated and have one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks in Keenan Reynolds, who should set the career touchdowns record this season. Facing the Navy option probably isn’t ideal for a shorthanded Notre Dame team.

Fox’s prediction: Notre Dame 27–14


Northwestern at Michigan

Which defense will give first in a matchup between the top two teams in the Big Ten in total D? Northwestern’s offense is getting better, but Michigan’s run game is bulldozing opponents right now.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan 21–13


Boise State at Colorado State

Colorado State’s defense is sagging just as Boise State is starting to round into form. The Broncos have outgained their last three opponents by an average of 286 yards per game.

Fox’s prediction: Boise State 42–17


Michigan State at Rutgers

The Spartans are still seeking an easy win. Even Purdue made Michigan State sweat. The Spartans have had their share of injuries, but Rutgers has had its share of being Rutgers.

Fox’s prediction: Michigan State 37–20


Last week: 15–5

Season to date: 75–25

Week 6 College Football Picks: Challenge Athlon Sports Experts
Post date: Monday, October 5, 2015 - 14:49
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News, Magazines
Path: /magazines/college-basketballs-best-seniors-2015-16

One of the recent clichés in college basketball is that the four-year senior is disappearing.


True, underclassmen led the way for Final Four squads for Duke and Kentucky, but the postseason award circuit has its share of seniors. Three of the last five national players of the year were seniors. After no seniors were on the 2013 consensus All-America team, five were on the teams in 2014 and 2015.


Seniors this season might lead the way for Naismith and Wooden Awards. This week, we’ll take a look at our “All-Class” teams for 2015-16, starting with the seniors. Each of our starting five on the All-Senior squad could be viable player of the year.



The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, .


Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?

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First-Team All-Senior


G Yogi Ferrell, Indiana

Ferrell ranked in the top 10 in scoring (16.3 ppg), assists (4.9), free throw shooting (86 percent), 3-point shooting (41.6 percent) and minutes played (34.9 per game). He's a versatile scorer who could lead one of the best offensive teams in the Big Ten.


*In the original post, Providence guard Kris Dunn was listed in error as a guard on the All-Senior team. He is a redshirt junior. Ferrell was moved to the first-time in his place. Michigan's Caris LeVert replaced Ferrell on the second team.


G Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

He’s a fast-talking Bahamian named Buddy who happens to be the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year. The Sooners will take aim at the Big 12 title behind Hield, who led the league at 17.4 points per game. 


G Marcus Paige, North Carolina

Paige battled a foot injury that cut his numbers for most of the season. He found his stroke in the final month of the season, averaging 17.1 points and 4.8 assists while shooting 45.8 percent in the final eight games.


F Georges Niang, Iowa State

Niang returns as Iowa State’s go-to player again. Though his scoring dipped by more than a point per game (15.3 ppg), he improved his 3-point shooting (40 percent) and free throw shooting (80 percent) dramatically in 2014-15.


F Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

Wiltjer could make a run at National Player of the Year honors after averaging 16.8 points per game and finishing ninth nationally in offensive rating. The question is how he fares without playmaking point guard Kevin Pangos.


Second-Team All-Senior


G Gary Payton II, Oregon State

G Fred VanVleet, Wichita State

G Caris LeVert, Michigan

F Perry Ellis, Kansas

C A.J. Hammons, Purdue

College Basketball's Best Seniors for 2015-16
Post date: Monday, October 5, 2015 - 08:30